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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (9.22.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:

"Chris Baker returned today, he's full. Did not participates were DeSean [Jackson], Perry Riley [Jr.], Justin Rogers, Martrell Spaight. Tom Compton was limited. Morgan Moses was full. D-Hall, Terrance Knighton, Shawn Lauvao were full. Kory Lichtensteiger was full. And [Jason] Hatcher did not participate today, rest reasons."

On if the team has made a roster move to make room for CB Chris Culliver on the active roster:

"Yeah, we're going to put Spaight on injured reserve."

On if he is disappointed in losing a second rookie draft pick for the season as the result of a concussion:

"Well, we're disappointed but we mainly want to make sure he gets healthy. He plays a very tough position – linebacker, obviously – and we want to make sure he is fully recovered. With these things you just never know how long. I think we're doing the right thing in that regard as far as letting him sit out this year. He'll be ready to go for offseason program."

On if the protocol for monitoring concussions has become stricter this year:

"I think there's more awareness obviously. With more awareness comes… it is more strict. I think that everybody involved – trainers, doctors and the independent people – are aware of the importance of taking time with these injuries and making sure the players are fully recovered. That's what we're doing with Spaight."

On the severity of Spaight's concussion:

"Well, it's a concussion enough to put him on IR, yeah."

On sending only four or five pass rushers on third downs last week:

"I'm happy with the results. I think we're doing very well on defense. Each game plan will be different. Down and distance will determine some of the rush patterns that we use – sometimes five, sometimes six, sometimes four, sometimes three. I think that's the beauty of what we're doing defensively right now. We are not vanilla. We are able to do different things, be able to play some man coverage, play some zone coverage, different drops, different hooks, zone responsibilities. To try to keep a quarterback where he doesn't know exactly what the coverage is – man, zone, what zone it is – is very important, especially when you are playing the likes of an Eli Manning this week who can dissect any coverage. It's going to be important for us to hold our shells, give him some disguises and give him some different looks."

On his level of confidence heading into Week 3 with only four inside linebackers:

"Well, it's going to be a grind for those guys. I think they can do it and I think they can handle it. Keenan [Robinson] is playing at a very high level right now obviously. [Will] Compton is going to have to step up his game and [Terrance] Plummer is going to have to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. After that we'll have to make decisions on who can be our fourth inside backer. We might have to move somebody else in there, [LB] Trent Murphy or somebody else if some emergency happens. But I feel good about those three guys. Those three guys have had excellent camps and [are] playing very well. Hopefully we've got to hold the fort down."

On if the league should give teams more roster spots for Thursday games:

"That'd be nice, but you know, for us, it wouldn't matter. We don't have really that many more guys to dress. Most of the guys that are inactive are injured so it wouldn't help us very much in that regard right now. Perry Riley, DeSean [Jackson], so those guys wouldn't be able to play anyway. It is what it is, man. Every team has to go through this. And the good thing is once you play Thursday night, if you have something positive happen, you have got a nice, long weekend to rest and recover and get ready for your next opponent — would be Philly. All that we're focused in on is getting these guys mentally ready to play and then, come Thursday, grind through it and try to get a big win against a very good football team."

On if he saw RB Matt Jones' speed on his college tape:

"Yeah, he showed that when he burst out in the open field. We brought him in for a visit before the draft and talked to him and showed a couple of his long runs. He did show that burst. And, you know, big, strong, fast men like that are hard to find. That's why we're very lucky to get him when we got him. He does have a rare combination of size and speed and he's got good vision right now. We've just got to keep him going, keep him fresh."

On if there is a comfort level in having most of the starting secondary back:

"Yeah, you're absolutely right, there is. D-Hall, you can see him gaining more and more confidence in his skillset. Getting [Chris] Culliver back and now you have [Bashaud] Breeland, that was some breathing room. Obviously [Will] Blackmon did some great things when he came in on the dime situations. Those guys are starting to mesh and starting to gel. It's early yet. We still have a long way to go. We're going to face obviously different challenges every week. This one will be a great challenge with obviously the receivers that the Giants have and the quarterback that they have so they'll get a stern test this week and we'll see how they respond."

On if the team's tackling has been better, and if so, why:

"I think it's a little bit of everything. I think also, you know, I think we're playing with great vision. When you're playing with vision on the ball, I think guys are able to react and we're bringing more people to the tackles, not just one guy. A lot of times if you, a lot of people play man coverage and their backs are turned to the ball, one guy misses, it's a big play. But right now, if one guy misses, there's usually a couple guys right there in position to clean it up and they work extremely hard at that in the offseason. We couldn't do tackling drills but we preached tackling and fundamentals and we do that every day in practice. Coach [Perry] Fewell and Coach [Robb] Akey and Coach [Kirk] Olivadotti do an excellent job preaching the fundamentals of tackling so, right now, it's paying off obviously."

On what growth has he seen from QB Kirk Cousins since last year's Thursday night game:

"I think just confidence in the system, where to go with the football and hopefully it continues to grow. He had a good day against the Rams. I don't think he's even near his potential yet. He's still growing and a young quarterback. He will make his mistakes from time-to-time but I think the ability that he has right now, the confidence that if he does make a mistake to bounce back and get ready for the next drive is probably the difference in Kirk right now as opposed to, you know, feeling like the world's about to end after an interception. He's ready to bounce back and do right by his team. So, he's got to understand those things are going to happen. I think he's grown through all that. Every rep that a quarterback gets in the NFL is a learning experience and he's continuing to learn and grow."

On if there are specific conversations he's had with Cousins about a possible mindset change:

"Well, I just think the knowledge of being the starting quarterback and having the trust that you're going to be in there, I think is important. And we're catering all the reps to him right now. He's getting all of them. He's learning from them and instead of getting sporadic reps here and there, when you're catering the meetings to him and all the reps in practice to him, it's huge. Repetition is king and he's getting all of them and it's making him a better player."

On how important it is for a quarterback to know he can work through his mistakes:

"It's important. You know, I played the position. Last thing you want to do is when you throw an interception or incompletion is look to the sideline and hear the people booing and [see] another guy warming up. It's a stressful enough job as it is. To have the confidence that you are able to weather through some storms is important. We have the faith in him that he will bounce back if there are mistakes, which he will make some mistakes here. There's 14 games left and I'm sure he will make a few here and there, but I have confidence that he has the ability and the mental toughness to bounce back. That's important for a quarterback to have that."

On the difference in Cousins on the fourth quarter touchdown drive and not feeling like he had to win the game himself:

"Well, we have conversations like that all the time, just sometimes it doesn't work out that way. He was very efficient with the ball and made key completions in key moments in that game to keep that drive alive which enabled us to run the ball and put the ball in the end zone and go up by two scores there late. It was great to see not only him produce but Jordan Reed make a big play, Chris Thompson make a big play, Matt Jones make the big runs. That's the beauty of our offense. If we can get it going at a consistent rate, it's going to be everybody, not just the quarterback but everybody getting their touches and being diverse on offense with the running game, play-action and the dropbacks. I think he's coming along very well. We're 1-1 right now, a long way to go obviously, a huge division game Thursday night. Quarterbacks are judged by long distance, the 16-game seasons. The jury is still out but we have total faith that he'll do well."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On being able to put the team in a good spot in the division with a win Thursday:

"Well, this early in the season every week is a chance to put yourself in a good spot. Wouldn't really matter how the other teams are doing because this early in the season so much can happen. We know that a road win here against New York would be very, very important. We're working this week with that in mind."

On the differences in the Giants' defense with a new defensive coordinator:

"You see a lot of pressures now. You see them doing a lot of different coverages and fronts and looks. They give a good variety to throw at you. They don't have very many tendencies so they'll keep you guessing. They do a good job with that. They've got some good players so it'll be a good challenge for us on a short week of preparation, and we've got to maximize our time."

On if Defensive Backs Coach Perry Fewell, the Giants' former coordinator, helped him study the Giants' schemes and personnel:

"The scheme's different but certainly he knows a lot of the players and can offer input as to their strengths, weaknesses and what they can offer. It'll be helpful to gain his insight."

On differences in throwing to a premier wide receiver:

"If you've got good players at any position it makes a big difference. They certainly have them and we feel like we do too. You try to let your best players shine and give them a chance to be successful. That's what play callers and myself as a quarterback are trying to do."

On why the team is having more success on third down this season:

"I think it goes back all the way to last season, just learning and growing through opportunities. Every time you are out there is a chance to get better. Even when things didn't go well last year, I always said, 'I'm learning and I'm getting better.' I think that I worked hard this offseason to improve on third down. The coaches worked hard and made it an emphasis that we'd improve in that area. It's still very early but certainly an area that we want to continue to be strong in."

On in what area he has improved on third down:

"I think in all the things that make up a third down, whether its understanding concepts, reads, coverage recognition, blitz protections, pick-ups, footwork, ability to move off-schedule, overall confidence – all the things that affect a quarterback's play on third down have improved."

On the importance of gaining yardage on third-down-and-long even if they don't convert:

"I think it's important to realize that defenses know it's third-and-long too. So they're going to cover deep and cover the chains. Their goal is to not let you get that completion to move the chains, but they're going to allow you a completion underneath. It's all about the old adage 'take what the defense gives you.' Obviously you want to take the shot when it is there but never force it. That's a balance that quarterbacks have to walk as long as they're playing the position – when do I push it down the field and when do I take the check down? The ones that are really good are the ones that are able to make those decisions at a high level."

On if he likes the short week:

"I guess you just do what you are asked to do. I don't really want to talk about whether I like it or don't like it. I just think that it's about doing what you are asked to do at all times. This week we are asked to play on a Thursday so we're going to go out and do it."

On what he learned from the short week last year:

"Well, it's important to recover, get good rest, but at the same time you need to maximize your time and prepare and go through scenarios and watch as much film as you can and talk through concepts. There's probably a little more that needs to be done when we get to New York than usual when you travel because when you travel, by then, a lot of your preparation has been wrapped up and you can kind of start to relax and rest. Being that we have such a short week, I think when we get to New York I'll still be wanting to go over stuff. Then Thursday all day in the hotel we'll have a lot of time to review and go over and run through some things just mentally, more probably than I would on a normal game day."

On when he will stop his preparation:

"It's always a balance you want to find. The longer I play the better I'll know where that balance is for me. I think part of being a young player is figuring that out. When you have a night game, you have so much more time during the day than a 1:00 kickoff. That's time that you want to understand how to best use it to be ready for the kickoff."

On learning from his experience against the Giants last year:

"Well, I'm a different player. I feel like I've improved, partly because I went through those experiences and learned from them. I remember it being I think 24-14 in the third quarter. We had just scored to come out of the half, made it 24-14 and we were right there. Then the turnovers started to pile on. I learned that when you get down and you want to get back in the game, you can't get it all back in one play. It's better to take what they give you and punt and, sure, maybe you're not going to come back as quickly, but at least you're not turning the ball over and giving them an even greater chance of  pulling away. The lesson of patience and just taking what they give you… For two and a half quarters of that game I thought we played pretty good football on the offensive side of the ball. Could've done some things better, move the ball on third down. but we did some good things and I think there were some more positives from that game than the narrative was written."

On if he feels sharper this year:

"I think overall I'm recognizing things better. I still have a long ways to go. It's a process. With a new coordinator for the Giants the recognition is different than what it was last year. It's not so much being familiar with them from last year isn't going to carry over to this year quite as much. But I do feel like I'm another year advanced as a quarterback and another year from now I'll be even better."

On how long it took to recover from the game last year:

"I think it was a tough one. I hadn't really thrown four interceptions in a game before that I could remember. It was a first-time experience for me. Yeah, it was frustrating. It was difficult. We had come off a tough loss against the Eagles and then, the loss to them, to the Giants was tough. Facing adversity and ultimately I believe it's made me stronger as a quarterback, as a player, as a person. You know, I'll use all that hopefully to help me as a quarterback this season."

On the team's emotions:

"We're excited. You know, we're 1-1 with a chance to go 2-1, a chance to take a step forward in our division, a chance to get a win against a division rival on the road, what a great opportunity, great challenge. We need to have an outstanding couple of days of preparation left to be ready for that challenge. "

On if he felt a sense of urgency during the fourth quarter scoring drive last week:

"Yeah, I felt a need to win. I felt a need to move the ball on third down. I felt the need to go and score there. Fortunately, we were able to do it. They did present some challenges, brought some pressures, and have had success getting home and have some good players. I'm pleased with the way we executed, and it took all 11. It takes all 11 on a drive like that to make plays and find ways to get it done. I was pleased with what we did. The main point is we've got to keep doing it. We got to make it a consistent theme that we're able to do that as opposed to just one-time-and-done."

On what difference it makes to know that he can ride out mistakes as the starter:

"I don't think it makes a huge difference. I think in this league there's so much expectation and so much attention and scrutiny that whether you're the solidified guy or you're trying out, you have to prove yourself. You've got to go out and play well to stay in this league. You're being evaluated every play. I feel like every play is a chance to change your life, so I don't know that I suddenly feel just this ease and this peace that comes from Coach [Gruden] telling me that it's my team. I understand what's at stake. I'm excited for the opportunity. Like I said from the day I was named the starter, it's a great opportunity and I want to make good on it… It is a good opportunity. Again, I need to play well enough to make good on it and hopefully be the quarterback here for more than just this season, for a long time."

On how much it helps his growth to have the offense run the ball so frequently:

"Yeah, if we can run the ball well, it's going to help anybody. It's going to help our passing game. It's going to help me as a quarterback. It's going to help our play-calling. It's really where you want to start and finish, moving the football, on the ground. I'm excited that we've made a commitment to it and we've been able to stick to it and it's a long season. There's going to be games maybe where it's not clicking. That's part of the process. It'll be key that when that happens that we can still find ways to move the football and win but it certainly is a great start to the year to be running the ball the way we are."

On if it is a big week because of the current state of the NFC East:

"Every week is big in this league. You've only got 16 games — you've got to make good on them. Usually the difference between winning the division or finishing runner-up or whatever could be only a game or two. Every week's important, especially divisional games, especially one on the road. When you watch these games, the Giants could easily be 2-0. We know that. They know that. These games tend to come to the last two minutes and who makes the final play. The difference between a team that's 0-4 or 4-0 can be very, very minimal. Every week you're going to get a serious challenge in this league. Thursday night will be no different."

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