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Quotes: Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins & Andre Roberts (11.11.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Did not participate – Jason Hatcher, knee/ rest, Keenan Robinson, shoulder/neck. Limited was [Chris] Culliver, knee; Dashon Goldson, wrist/hamstring; DeAngelo Hall, toe; Andre Roberts, ankle. Full was Bashaud Breeland, hamstring; Kerrigan, hand. [Terrance] Knighton was full with his migraines. [Josh] LeRibeus was full with his shoulder and elbow. Chris Thompson was full with his back."

On placing LB Jackson Jeffcoat on the Reserve/Injured list:

"Jackson Jeffcoat, well, we decided to make a change, get Houston Bates up for a couple reasons. Special teams-wise, he's a pretty good special teams player for us and we thought it was important to get him up and just decided to make a change… He had back spasms or something like that, so he had an injury settlement."

On if he is sure NT Terrance Knighton's headaches are not going to relapse prior to Sunday:

"I don't think you're ever relatively sure. I think, today, he said he felt pain free for the first time in a while, which was good news. But tomorrow's another day, we'll have to wait and see how he does. So hopefully whatever he's doing to help the migraine issue is working, but, you know, it's a concern. We just have to take it day by day and see how he's doing each morning."

On CB Will Blackmon and if he expected this level of performance from him:

"Yeah, we didn't really know what to expect. You know, we hadn't seen him play. He hadn't played in a while. He'd never played for us, but we knew that he was a veteran guy and had played a lot of football. We were hoping to get some of that veteran leadership in here, a guy that could play all the positions and learn fast because he had to come in here and play quickly with all the injuries that we had. You get a rookie in here and hasn't done any of the stuff, it's hard. You get a veteran who's played the coverages that we play, it's a little bit easier. He came in here and adapted very quickly, picked up the terminology like that, was able to play outside, was able to play nickel, so it was a big addition for us and he's been great."

On signing C Brian de la Puente and if he could push for a starting role in the next few weeks:

"Yeah, I think we're going to throw it at him, see what he can do, see how much he can pick up. But, again, kind of like [Will] Blackmon, we wanted to bring in a veteran guy who's played, made the calls, knows the offense a little bit. He's got to pick up the terminology, which is going to be hard for him, but he's more of a true center. Right now, [Josh] LeRibeus has done a fine job in the substitution of Kory [Lichtensteiger] but his snaps are a little awry. We're trying to work on it and fix that issue. Spencer Long has never really played center either. So we wanted to get a true center in here with Kory's injury. That's why we went out and got a veteran guy like de la Puente and he's got to pick it up quickly."

On if he feels more comfortable going into the second half of the season at 3-5 this year compared to last year:

"You never feel comfortable at 3-5. You know, I think there's always got to be a sense of urgency no matter what your record is and we have that getting ready to play an excellent New Orleans Saints team historically. They can put up the yards. Their defense is excellent on third down, so it'll be a great challenge for us. But I think the most important is – a coach's cliché – is the most important and that's take one game at a time. We can't look beyond the New Orleans Saints. Each game is very important. Each rep we take at practice is very important. Every minute we spend in the meeting rooms is important and hopefully our guys understand that. So, you know, no rest for the weary, man. We've got to get up and play hard."

On C Josh LeRibeus:

"Well, I think, his blocking has been pretty good in the pass protection. You know, the run game, he's had his share of issues. Everybody has, based on our run production, but the big thing and the biggest concern is the location of the shotgun snaps. They're all over the place. We messed up a few snap counts which gave them their only sack. The big thing is he's just got to continue working on the location of the shotgun snaps, but everything else, he's done a pretty good job, you know, for being a first-time center. We're not giving up on Josh but we just want to have more consistent snaps from the shotgun. Doesn't say that Josh is going to go to second team. It doesn't mean [Brian] de la Puente is going to start. We've just got to get another guy in here with more proven experience at the center position."

On LB Will Compton:

"Will Compton is going to play a lot. We're waiting to see how Keenan [Robinson] is going to do with his injuries and all that stuff, but we anticipate Will playing a lot."

On if Compton will start on Sunday:

"Right now, he will, yeah, based on the fact that Keenan [Robinson] didn't practice."

On if de la Puente can play other positions:

"I think we're going to focus on center, right now. The good thing is, if he is playing center, then Josh LeRibeus can play both guard spots and center, you know, so we have that covered as far as our backups are concerned. If something happens to Josh, you have de la Puente, or if something happens to de la Puente, Josh can play center. And obviously Josh can play both guard spots."

On if they had thought C Kory Lichtensteiger might be able to return in a couple of weeks:

"Yeah, I'll be honest, we didn't know. You know, it's a nerve thing and he didn't have a lot of strength last week. He went to see a nerve specialist and got a little bit of strength back, feels a lot better than he did but we just don't know how long it's going to be before he gets full strength back. The problem is, when you sign a veteran center like de la Puente, you have to cut somebody. We were in a tough situation there. We didn't want to release anybody not knowing how long Kory's injury was going to be. He could be better in three weeks or four weeks. It could be six. We don't know so we had to make a decision. I think, for Kory to get his strength back and to put him back out there at 80 percent, we just made a decision to make sure he gets to 100 percent, you know, if we make it to the playoffs."

On his biggest concern at this point in the season:

"Well, 3-5 is your most concern. You're concerned about the final production, losing five games like we have. There are a lot of positives we can build. If you're talking to 'Positive Jay' here, I'll say our pass protection has been outstanding. Kirk [Cousins] has done a good job of improving. 'Negative Jay,' on offense, our running game has done terrible the last four games, quite frankly, and we had a lot of drops. Defensively, we haven't stopped the run too well and haven't gotten off the field consistently on third downs, but there are some good things. The most important thing is we have to coach our guys up, be positive, build off the things we've done well and obviously fix the things that we need to be fixed. I still have confidence in this football team, no question about it. It's going to take a lot of guys stepping up, you know, not just coaches, but players. We've got to step up and play better. We've got to step up and coach better and good things will happen. I have seen enough positive qualities – come-from-behind victories, good tackling, good pass rush, good coverage -- I've seen enough positive things in this football team to have confidence moving forward."

On the team huddling prior to the start of practice:

"I mean, they do that quite a bit. It's a football team. I think they just want to get the week off, started off right and strong. I think D-Gold [Dashon Goldson] did that and had a few words for the team. That was a players' thing only. I don't know what they said but it was good. We had a good practice today — good tempo, good everything."

On if RB Chris Thompson could be placed in a featured role:

"Well, I think his role is what it is. He's a very good third-down back right now and he can get some touches when he gets them on third down or on passing situations coming from behind like he has. I think the role that Matt [Jones] and obviously Alfred [Morris] have right now, they're going to continue with it. I think we're going to get better production out of them in the second half of the season. That's our goal. That's our intent. We're not looking to make mass changes at the running back position. I want both of those guys to get their touches and when they do get them, I want them make some more yards after contact. If there isn't a hole, make a hole and good things will happen — protect the football."

On how he knows when he should scale back a player's workload or demand more out of a player:

"You know what, I think each case is different. You can't coddle some and make other guys practice. I think you have to have a trust factor with the player too. Jason [Hatcher] lays it all on the line. He had a great training camp, busted his butt. He's been a veteran guy, played a lot of football and I know that his knee has some soreness to it after he plays on Sunday and he needs maybe some extra time and there are certain guys like that. That's just different. Every case is different. Some guys you need to push a little bit more. Some guys need a little bit more rest."

On if he will consider starting Jeron Johnson at safety:

"We're looking at changes, yeah, with Jeron and Kyshoen [Jarrett] could get some reps back there also."

On mental mistakes in the running game:

"We don't have a lot of mental mistakes in the running game. I think guys are going to the right people for the most part. We're just physically not getting it done from time to time. It might be a cutoff we don't get. We don't get our head across the way we should or could. We may lose on a double team. We might give up too much penetration. We might not get up to the backer fast enough. Our tight end might get beat on an inside move on an inside run, which can't happen. A lot of it is physical – hat placement, fundamentals – more so than… Mental is you go to the wrong guy. You don't see that very often, so we've just got to keep continuing to teach the fundamentals. Like I said the other day, it's a lot of new guys playing, like [Derek] Carrier we just got. [Josh] LeRibeus is playing center for the first time. [Spencer] Long is playing left guard for the first time. [Morgan] Moses and [Brandon] Scherff were together for the first time on the right side. So we've got to bear with them and continue to let them grow and develop. We don't expect a perfect product all the time, but we do expect them to get better and they will."

On if there are mental mistakes with the run defense:

"That's fundamentals, too. We're missing tackles. Yeah, we don't have a lot of, 'Oh gosh, I never saw this team run an inside zone before.' Sometimes we just get bounced out of the hole or we miss a tackle in the hole or what have you. Schematically, we're always looking to improve our scheme offensively and defensively as coaches. And then we've just got to do a better job fundamentally and making sure we're teaching the fundamentals so the guys can play fast and they're doing the right thing and when they get in the right spot, finish plays. I think offensively and defensively last week, that's the most disappointing thing. We were in the right [spot], we just didn't finish plays, whether it was dropping passes or missing tackles. We've got to do a better job of coaching them up and letting them go."

On if he draws on his playing experience when allowing veterans players to rest when needed:

"Oh, I don't know. I don't think playing has to do with anything. I think it's just understanding individuals, individual needs of each player. All of them are different, you know? All you guys are different. I mean, I can tell you that right now."

On the process of QB Kirk Cousins learning when to take shots downfield and if Cousins can learn to hold the ball longer to allow deeper plays to develop:

"Yeah, we've tried to take a few shots here and there. We've just haven't been as successful with them for whatever reason. But there is a fine line. Sometimes he could hold in the pocket maybe and give a deeper-developing route more time. Sometimes he feels the pressure and his clock goes off, which you can't fault him for that. I'd rather him get the ball out of his hands, hit a shallow cross than wait for a 20-yard deep crossing route if he feels pressure and risk taking a sack when he can get a completion and move the chains like he did with Crowder the other day; he did an excellent job on third-and-11. But I think it's just a process. You know, we take the deep shots. We'd love to hit them, but sometimes he's got to let them fly, sometimes he's just got to be a little bit more patient."

On if Cousins is still building trust with WR DeSean Jackson on deep throws:

"I think both of them are building it back up. Like today, you could see DeSean running faster, and I think DeSean is building up his strength more. DeSean was frustrated after the game. We all were, obviously, with the production of the offense, but when you watch the tape, you could see that DeSean is building his legs back up. And Kirk hadn't really thrown him deep balls and let them fly – DeSean is a different guy to throw to. He really is. He's got a different tempo and a different speed when the ball is in the air. That doesn't come from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday and then playing on Sunday. So we've got to really continue to work those two to take some shots with them and Pierre [Garçon] and everybody else also down the field. But it'll come."

On if this week's game is a good opportunity for Cousins to be more aggressive:

"It's a good opportunity for everybody to be more… we all have to be more aggressive, no matter who we're playing. There's no question about it. You play passive in the National Football League, you're going to get your head beat in. We're going to all be aggressive and I know they're going to be aggressive attacking us. So it's going to be an excellent football game. But the New Orleans Saints, statistically aside, none of that matters. They're going to come in and they have a very important football game to win against us and we have a very important football game to win against them and it's going to be a heck of a game."

On the differences between Patriots QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees:

"Well, they're both excellent quarterbacks. They know exactly where everybody is. They have a great clock in their head. They can buy time in the pocket. They're both very accurate, obviously. The only difference really, Tom has probably won more games and more Super Bowls and done it just a little bit longer at a more consistent rate, but Drew statistically is up there with anybody. So when you're talking about the great quarterbacks in the NFL, you start with Tom Brady and then Drew is not far behind, you know, and Peyton [Manning], obviously, [Aaron] Rodgers, all those guys. But great quarterback [Brees], very successful, great offensive coach in Sean Payton, so it'll be another heck of a challenge for our secondary."

On the centers:

"We're working de la Puente out here to get him the reps to make sure he gets them in case he has to play and we'll make that determination."

On if it is 'conceivable' that de la Puente could start on Sunday:

"It is conceivable, yes."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On missed opportunities against New England:

"Just came up short on some drives, all for different reasons. Ultimately it was just we weren't good enough. We weren't where we needed to be. I think, as I said on Sunday after the game, I think it'll help us in our preparation to have an edge to us, stay that much more focused and know that when you make a mistake or you aren't on top of the details, it'll get you beat. That alone should have us ready to go."

On how long it will take to get game-speed timing down with WR DeSean Jackson:

"I think we're getting it down. I think it doesn't take forever. I think we'll be ready to go. What do you do? You just work. You practice, you go out there, you discuss routes after you have them and talk about what he saw in the coverage and what I saw and when I should be letting it go and where he wants the football thrown, all that. It's all the usual stuff that you go through, preparation, watching film and talking through routes. He looks really sharp, so I'm excited about it."

On the Saints' success indoors and how much that can help an offense:

"I think it can help a little. But in this league you've got to play in all different elements. I think they've proven they as an offense can do it anywhere. I think playing in domes can help you maybe be a little more consistent. It's just one less thing to have to worry about. But in this league you've have got to deal with it eventually."

On building chemistry with C Brian de la Puente:

"It's very, very important. It takes time. We're not going to be as far down the road this Sunday as we will be three Sundays from now. It takes time. I'm really impressed with Brian's recall and how quickly he is picking things up. His approach to the game and the way he is a professional I think will help him and help us as an offense to learn on the fly."

On if he can be a little bit more aggressive against the Saints:

"I think there will be chances to read the coverage out and see where we can throw the football. I think a shot called is not always a shot taken. You've got to be able to see it clearly. Every team is going to call their shots and it's a matter of decision-making-wise on my part and then throwing the ball with accuracy to give the guy a chance to make the play. Sometimes some of our shot calls can end up being four-yard completions to the tailback because it just wasn't there."

On how the struggles in the running game limit the passing game:

"We can still make plays but your offense is going to be much more dynamic and keep defenses guessing when you can run the football. We're not going to get away from the run game. We're going to continue to try and improve it and commit to it. When you can run the football, things open up."

On the fine line between taking opportunities downfield as opposed to checking down:

"I think that's quarterbacking is being able to be that good decision maker and to not allow previous plays to affect your read in a way that would make you start to predetermine. You have to read things out honestly and see the coverage for what it is, go through your read and through your progression every single time and be disciplined with it. When you do that, usually good things happen. You've just got to be smart. Where coverage tells me to go with the football, and then when I do make the decision to throw the ball, accuracy is just as important."

On if he is developing timing with Jackson:

"I think we're getting there. I think last year when I was first playing, I had very little experience with him. So, it's great to have all those reps banked from this past year. I'm excited to have him out there. He's excited, he's working really hard. It's just a matter of making the read, making the throw and enabling him to go make the plays."

On the red zone passing plays during the field goal drive against the Patriots:

"I think that first play you're talking about, I think the best decision probably would've been to give Jordan Reed an opportunity on the outside versus man-to-man coverage. As I progressed across the field, I do believe there was a chance to get DeSean [Jackson] the ball there in a tight window. That would've been, you know, more of a hindsight-type of thing than actually realistically in the moment when you don't know what's going to happen. And then the second play, you know, I gave him a ball there that wasn't able to move the chains on third-and-13. So, that wasn't a poor catch or anything like that. I checked to a play and it didn't give us a chance, so we talked about maybe checking into a different play or doing something that would've enabled us to throw to the end zone there."

On balancing between motivating or alienating teammates after bad plays:

"You have to walk that balance. When anybody is in a leadership position leading people, you have to understand, 'OK, when do I light a fire under them and get on them a little bit? And when do I nurture them and walk them through it?' That's leadership and that's why they write millions of books about it because people want to find that balance and don't quite know how to. But, you've got to have good relational moxie, understand how to relate to your teammates, how to relate to each guy individually and what they respond to. Like I said after the game, I think our receivers have great natural hands and they're professionals. They certainly weren't trying to drop the football, so they'll be able to work through it and catch a lot of tough passes going forward."

On the performance of the offensive line:

"These guys have worked really, really hard. They stay after practice and they come in early for meetings. It's a thankless job sometimes and they've done a phenomenal job. We've taken very, very few sacks and I can help them by getting the ball out of my hand and finding ways to not hold onto it forever so they don't have to hold up in protection forever. But, they've done a really good job there and that's a huge piece of our offense and playing quarterback is when you can have time to throw, it makes a major difference. I'm very, very grateful to the work they've done to make that happen."

On the message in the huddle before practice today:

"Nothing fancy. Just wanted to remind everyone that it was going to take a great day of practice, a great week of practice, and whether it was an individual period or a team period or a special teams period to really be locked in and understand that we've got to be performing at a high level on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, not just on Sunday. If we do that during the week, it gives us a great chance to be successful on Sunday. So, it was just a good reminder before we went to our individual drills to take everything and be very, very focused with it."

On Saints QB Drew Brees:

"I've met him a couple times briefly. Again, I think there's a few guys at the top of the league who have just done it at a high, high level for a long, long time. Those guys are the ones you have the utmost respect for and you try to study them and learn from them and ask questions about people who have been around them and say, 'How do they do things? What makes them successful?' He's certainly one of those guys. When you look at what he's done statistically it's very, very impressive. He's doing it again this year. Fortunately it's not my job to have to stop him. He's one of the best of all-time. He's a great example and sets the bar high for the rest of us young quarterbacks to follow after."

On things from Brees' game he tries to incorporate:

"He plays with a great base, he's got a quick release. You can see how he progresses quickly in his reads and in his decision making. He has great command, all those things are traits that are important to have as a quarterback in this league and things that I'm always trying to develop and improve upon and become more and more consistent with."

Closing statement:

"Happy Veterans Day."

Wide Receiver Andre Roberts

On being selected as the Redskins' Salute to Service Award nominee:

"It's awesome. I have an opportunity to win this award or get nominated for this award and it's pretty awesome just because I get a chance to work with these kids. I'm sure – if you haven't heard by now – the little video that I did, I work with some kids during the summer time, the military kids. I get to work with them and their families and get to meet some of the vets and the wives that are a part of the families. It's a good opportunity just to work with him."

On why he is passionate about working with military kids:

"Both my parents were in the Army. It was an easy avenue for me to get into, especially coming from The Citadel, going to a military school. It was an easy avenue to get into. Like I've said, it's just a blessing to be able to work with the kids. I love working with kids. It doesn't matter if they're military or not, but being a part of that family and understanding what some of these kids have to go through with the military aspect of moving and things of that nature, losing parents, it's just a blessing to be able to work with them."

On his college experience compared to his teammates and if he laughs at their stories from college:

"Yeah, I get the same thing. I laugh at them, just like… They — in the text messages — put some of my military pictures in there, which is funny. I didn't have any hair at the time. Some of those guys going to school, you get to wear pajamas and miss classes and things like that. I think it is OK, every once in a while, to be able to be able to just skip a class, as a college student going through that grind especially playing a sport, but it's one of the things that I wasn't afforded the opportunity to do was miss class or we would get punishment. Wearing uniforms every day, getting up early, are some of the things we had to do at our school but I think that made me a better man."

On what makes it a 'natural fit' for the NFL to honor the military:

"Well, I think most people like to compare, you know, sports and working hard, working through grinding, you know, being a family, playing for one another. People like to compare that to the military and I think if you really look at it, there is no comparison. We do know who the real heroes are, fighting for our country and serving our country, but I think that's the big comparison. They like to bring that together in the NFL and help each other with that."

On having to move around as a military kid:

"I would say, personally, I didn't have to move around a lot, but I did move around a good bit. I was born in Alaska, moved to Texas after two years, lived there for four years, moved to South Carolina. My parents went to Korea for a year, so I moved with my grandparents down in the Virgin Islands, and then we moved back to South Carolina. Three or four times, I wouldn't say it wasn't too bad compared to some of the stories I've heard."

On the event with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) families tonight:

"Being a part of the military family, I've had friends in that same situation. I do get what they're going through. But, at the same time, like you said, I just want to be there to brighten them up if they have any questions, if they want to talk to me about anything, any of their experiences, I'm there. They can ask me and I can give them a great answer."

On what he learned from his parents' sacrifices:

"Well, I'm very appreciative of what my parents did in high school. They didn't make us move. They told us that if they had to go somewhere again, they would just retire because they were coming up on 20 years. That was awesome, but, you know, moving all the time and making new friends, that's tough but, at the same time, you understand as you get older the responsibility that they have and what they do to put you in a good situation. They're there for you. They may leave here and there, but they're always there for you. It's pretty awesome just looking back seeing what they had to do – going to Korea. For kids, we think, 'Your parents are leaving us,' but for them, they're like, 'We have to leave our children.' Obviously, going back and looking at it like that, it's pretty crazy what they had to deal with as well as what we had to deal with."

On if his background has helped him deal with adversity in his career:

"Definitely. Like I've said, I think it's helped me grow as a man. Obviously going to a military school, it's a little bit tougher dealing with the academics, military, the football and sports aspect, but that's really the biggest thing. It helps you grow as a man, helps you with adversity. Things are going to be changing all the time no matter what. That's any profession in life, so once I get done with football, obviously, football helps with those things, too, but once you get done, you can get through that transition a little bit easier. Not saying that guys from other schools didn't get that same treatment, but definitely going to a military school and coming from a military family and things changing more often, it does help a lot more."

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