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Quotes: Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins & Trent Williams (01.06.16)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Limited were Dashon Goldson with his shoulder and his rib, [Jason] Hatcher with his neck and knee, Matt Jones with his hip, Perry Riley with his foot and [Quinton] Dunbar with his quad. Full participation was [Chris] Thompson with his toe, Jeron Johnson with his chest, Trent Williams with his knee, DeSean Jackson with his knee and [Dashaun] Phillips with his neck stinger."

On his level of confidence in C Kory Lichtensteiger:

"I feel good about it. He's been here in all the meetings, obviously, so from a mental standpoint he's good to go. We'll keep him after here today and let him get his pads on a bang around a bit to see how he feels. So that will be telling tale."

On Lichtensteiger's intangibles:

"Well, intangibles, he's like another quarterback on the field. Very, very intelligent, not to say Josh [LeRibeus] isn't, but he's got a great handle on the offense – his calls. Obviously his snaps are very good. He's very quick getting up to the second level. You know, it's just a matter of him getting back into football shape and making sure that he's in that position and then physically to make sure he bangs around and feels good with that shoulder and arm, but he looks good so far."

On if there are long-term health concerns with DB Kyshoen Jarrett:

"As far as Kyshoen is concerned, we're obviously optimistic, but you never know. That's something that we're just going to have to keep treating him, get him tested and make sure we do all the right steps to get him back. We don't know as far as long term prognosis."

On CB Cary Williams:

"We brought him in, needed another veteran guy and he fits into the same mold as [Will] Blackmon, Mason Foster and Alex Smith – guys that have played a lot of football where this game won't be too big for them, that they can come in and play significant reps and not be overwhelmed with the terminology or the competition. He's a very confident corner, played a lot of ball. We have confidence that he can pick this system up and contribute."

On if the recent rise in sacks are attributed to LB Preston Smith's emergence or more blitzes:

"I think it's a combination. One, we've had leads and we've made teams one-dimensional. At the end of games, guys are able to pin their ears back and rush. That's a big difference. You know, we jumped out on Dallas, 21-0, so our guys were able to rush. We jumped out on Buffalo I think and guys have been able to rush the passer. We're getting it from a lot of different guys, which is what I like to see. I like to see [Chris] Baker, I like to see [Jason] Hatcher get a few, I like to see [Ryan] Kerrigan, I like to see Preston Smith, [Trent] Murphy has got a few. Terrance Knighton even got one against Chicago, which was exciting. So guys are getting them. [Will] Compton got one, so they're all rushing with great intent. Ricky [Jean Francois] got one. They're all doing it in numbers."

On if Kirk Cousins has become the quarterback he imagined he could be:

"We had high hopes obviously. He's our starting quarterback and we have a lot of weapons around him. I think once our weapons got entirely healthy we felt good about our offense and our scheme. Kirk has probably done a little bit better than a lot of people have thought. But in-house, I think a lot of people around here have a lot of confidence in what he can do with the football. He's got the great arm talent obviously. It's just a matter of him going through his progressions and getting the ball to the right people on time and letting the people do the work for him. That's what I think he's done a great job of. He's taken some shots down the field and hit them, but he's also taken the check-downs to the backs or tight ends or what have you or maybe the quick element of the play and letting the receivers do the work for him. He's doing a great job of not only in the running game but in the passing game of distributing the ball to the right people, which is the most important part of playing the position."

On Cousins' rapport with receivers:

"It's improved a lot. Number one, he's taken all of the reps, and I have said reps is the most important thing for a quarterback. So he's getting to know his receivers. We've got DeSean [Jackson] healthy, Jordan Reed healthy. He missed some time. Obviously he's had good rapport with Pierre [Garçon]. Pierre has been a mainstay. Jamison Crowder is a rookie, so he's getting more and more reps and feeling more comfortable with the offense. Then you know Chris Thompson out of the backfield and now we've got Pierre [Thomas] getting more reps, so all these guys, the more you work together with a quarterback in the system, the more comfortable you are. It's not just the quarterback. It's the receivers running the routes and knowing man or zone, Jordan Reed obviously attack and technique, breaking to the open spot and Kirk anticipating the window. I think everybody in general has a better feel of where to go, how to get there and Kirk is doing a great job of knowing who to get it to. Obviously Green Bay will pose a totally different change for him as far as the defense is concerned reading coverages. They play some different things back there. They have a good pass rush with a lot of guys that can get to him. So it'll be very important for us to continue with our pace on offense and getting the ball to the right people."

On how the decision regarding the third active running back will be made:

"Well, special teams will factor into it a little bit, but really we want to play the three healthy backs and [Matt] Jones is limited right now. Unless he shows us some major improvement tomorrow and Friday he's going to be the odd man out. We'll see how he's doing tomorrow and if all four are healthy then we'll have to make that determination come Friday or Saturday. Chris Thompson is banged up a little bit with his toe. I think it's between those two guys right now. We'll make a determination on Friday or Saturday."

On the role he sees for Cary Williams on Sunday:

"He'll play corner. He's a corner, so he'll play outside corner. We'll find a role for him if need be. We've got to see how Dunbar is doing, see if Dunbar is improving a little bit and with [Will] Blackmon we've got to find out who'll move into nickel and all that. We're working through that right now at practice. Today was an introductory day, really, getting them out there, getting them lined up, introducing Cary to the defense, and finding out who's going to play where."

On if Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers looks different this season and what challenges he presents:

"I think Aaron's still Aaron. He's a heck of a quarterback. You know, the one thing about him is he's exceptional in the pocket. If they've had some protection issues — they've played against a very-good pass-rush team in Arizona on the road and they had a great pass-rush scheme and got to him, they got ahead in the game and forced Green Bay to be one-dimensional. And then last week against Minnesota, Minnesota did some good things with their front, but Aaron's still Aaron. He does a great job of if people aren't there, buying time and creating plays that aren't drawn up on the script. He can scramble, buy time for the receivers and find open windows and open running lanes for himself but I think the key for him is to keep him where he's not one-dimensional. That's the same for a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL. Unfortunately for them, the last couple of weeks they've had to be a little one-dimensional there towards the ends of the games. He is, obviously, still a frightening guy to watch on tape. He's explosive. He makes every throw — tight windows — moves around in the pocket, buys time. People who say he's had a down year don't know the quarterback position because he's still an exceptional quarterback at the top of his game."

On if Cousins works harder with the more success he has:

"I think that's exactly right. He does work harder — equally as hard as he does when he has a rough game and as when he has a great performance where it's almost flawless. I think that's the way you have to be at the quarterback position. I think that's the way all the great ones are. They come in and prepare the following game after a great win or a tough loss the same way, and it's studying the game tape, studying what you do, studying what your offense does — tendency-wise — how to attack the opposing defense, and then studying other quarterbacks and making yourself better and that's what Kirk does. He's a very humble guy and he knows he still has a long way to improve and the only way to get there is to study and work hard and that's what he's going to do and that's what you love about him."

On if it felt different to go to practice today after being used to the grind of a 16-game season:

"A little bit. I think, today, was a little cold out there and the ground was a little wet but for the most part, I think our guys Wednesdays, no matter who you're playing, when you're playing, Wednesday is a tough day. It's an introduction to the new defense and really a lot of teaching and coaching going on out there and getting lined up and trying to look through what we're doing defensively and offensively and special teams. I think the tempo, you'll see the tempo pick up a lot more tomorrow and Friday and the excitement level start to rise. But I think everybody knows exactly what's at stake in this game and very excited to play it."

On how he tempers expectations for Cousins entering the postseason:

"I think he's just got to rely on his teammates like he's done all year and not put too much pressure on himself. A lot of times you want to make the game about yourself and put all this pressure on you and get a little tight, but I think if he just relaxes and plays the game and distributes the ball effectively like he's been doing all year and let DeSean [Jackson] and Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson and Pierre [Garçon] do the work for him, I think he'll be fine. But we have to help him. Everybody's got to play. Everybody's got to do their part for us to win the game. Everybody has got to play with great effort, great energy and do their job and not worry about anybody else or what they're doing. We've just got to continue to focus on what we do as the Washington Redskins and make it about us and we'll be fine." 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On the potential return of C Kory Lichtensteiger:

"Kory'll help. He's a talented player, an experienced player, very athletic, just the ultimate competitor. He's never going to quit, he's never going to stop. You love having that. It's been really good to get Josh LeRibeus a lot of work because now we feel like we have a really experienced center who can come in if anything were to happen. He's also been a really talented guard for us. So I think it helps to build the depth on our team with the way we had to do this year."

On how the receivers have helped his development and success:

"I think the first thing they've done to help me is they get open. It's hard to complete a lot of passes if guys are covered so when you have talented players they tend to get open. That's the case with Pierre [Garçon] and Jordan [Reed] and DeSean [Jackson] and Jamison Crowder – the list goes on and on – Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, Andre Roberts. I just feel good about…. you don't just get open on accident. They're talented but they work hard. They prepare hard during the week. They communicate well with me and all of that leads to success on Sundays. I feel very fortunate to have the group of receivers that I have to work with because it makes my job as a distributor a lot easier."

On if he finds himself making different throws because he trusts his receivers:

"I think there are throws at times that are a little cloudy, a little 50-50, that when you really trust the guy and you believe that he's going to make it right, you let the ball go. There have been times where they've proven me right. I've said to DeSean and Pierre on multiple occasions that I feel bad because maybe I didn't get them the ball enough. They got the ball some but maybe not enough because I know how much they can help our offense when they do get the football and how they make us right. I want to get them the ball as much as I can. They know that and that's why they've been patient with me and continue to just keep working and trust that it will eventually come their way."

On trying to treat this week as a normal week:

"We just talk process, process, process. I heard a quote the other day through [Quarterbacks] Coach [Matt] Cavanaugh that he had read about being fascinated with the process. Most people want to be fascinated with the results – Did you win or lose? Did you throw a touchdown pass or did you throw picks? I'm fascinated, or we try to be fascinated with the process. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday leading up to the game, what are we doing and are we doing it well? Do we have a good routine and are we sticking to it? I think to be a mature team and a mature organization, you want to be process-focused. We've tried to grow in that area this year. I think to the degree we've been able to do that at a high level, I think it's helped us on Sundays."

On Lichtensteiger saying the offense is helped by Cousins' command before the snap:

"Yeah, I agree with Kory 100 percent. I think the quarterbacks who are successful in this league consistently have really good command. To have really good command you have to do the things you just said – understand defenses, protection calls, snap counts – all those things that are the game within the game. The longer you play, the more decision making you have over the system itself, the more of a say you have in how things are run, the better you're able to run the show and have that command. So throughout a 16-game season that's really helped develop me."

On players saying he works harder with the more success he has:

"I don't know. I guess I don't quite know what 'working harder the better I do' means, but I try to just continue to prepare and develop and, again, regardless of the result still prepare the same way the next week, regardless of what's happened, previously. So, just keep trying to grow and learn and trust that if I do that, good things will happen."

On game-planning meetings to script the first 15 plays:

"You know, the week is a process, so as we go, Wednesday we put a lot of first- and second-down emphasis. Thursday becomes more of a third-down emphasis. Friday becomes a red-zone emphasis. Saturday is more short-yardage, goal line. So, by the time you get to Friday afternoon, you have a good chunk of your game plan in, that's when you can kind of start to sit down and walk through how you feel the game is going to go. [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] and I have that conversation, but then Saturday is when Sean can take all the different situations — the full list of plays that we've compiled over the week – and start to put together how he sees the first 15 plays playing out. That's something that happens very late in the week once you've compiled all of your preparation and Sean's done a good job of it. Obviously, they've done a good job of communicating what they want from us because it's ultimately us that have to go out and execute it. Again, it's week-to-week. You never know what each week is going to present but regardless of if we have a fast start or a slow start, it's obviously important that we finish strong."

On how important is it to be efficient in the red zone:

"I do think red-zone efficiency is critical to winning in this league. When you get down inside the 20, to come away with field goals usually comes back to haunt you. So we've made it an emphasis going back to April of being good in the red zone, situational football, coming away with touchdowns, coming away with points. There have been times we get down there and we don't even get points — that'll really hurt you. So we've been better in the red zone this year, I think we were Top 10, and that helps, but it'll continue to be an important emphasis in the playoffs just like taking sacks and turnovers and third-down efficiency. Those are things that are critical to winning in this league and the teams that go far and make the playoffs tend to be very successful in those areas and the red zone is one of them."

On what differences he anticipates in the style of play from the regular season to the postseason:

"Yeah, a good question. I'm grateful that I've had experience — as small as it was — in the playoffs my rookie year. I think it helps to have something to lean on. What I noticed was the biggest difference had nothing to do with on the field, it was the environment at FedExField. I just remember it tangibly being an electric environment, very exciting, and noticeably different from the regular season for whatever season. That's fun. That's exciting to think about. On the field, I don't know that it's much different. I think it's still football. I think Weeks 1-17, the guys on the field are playing for everything. It's their livelihood. It's how they feed their families and I don't know that that desire changes a whole lot come the playoffs. I think it's still a way to feed your family and a very intense game and you're going to get the best from everybody that's out there. So, on the field, I think it's a fast game but it's always been fast."

On the team giving out "You Like That" towels and if the slogan adds pressure:

"I think it's fun. I think it's fun to give the fan base something to cheer about. I felt like the last couple of years they were dying to cheer for us and we just didn't give them enough to get behind. So I love the thought of giving our fans something to get behind, something to be proud of and we take great pride in our ability on Sunday afternoon to give them something to cheer about. We'll be very disappointed if we don't. I expect it to be a great environment and just adding those towels and the phrase can only help galvanize our fan base and create a spirit of belief and intensity in that stadium, which is what we are looking for."

On if he's had a chance to look back on his progress from August until now:

"You don't have much of a chance as you'd like maybe to go back and reflect at this point of the season because of how much you do have to look forward, but I've had a couple of experienced players tell me how important it is to look back and to enjoy or celebrate the good that has transpired because if you don't you'll probably burn yourself out over time. We have grown a lot, not just myself, but as team. As an organization, I think we are doing things that are causing us to head in the right direction. That's positive. That's gratifying. That's rewarding. You know, we continue to also look forward and say, 'OK, where can we take it from here?'"

On what he expects this postseason with the attention paid toward his growth and success:

"I think it's fun. It's what you work towards. If this environment or this setup is something that you don't expect or something you're uncomfortable with, then I would say 'What were you working towards in the first place?' So it's a step in the right direction. We feel like, as I said earlier, we're heading in the right direction, but again there's a much bigger goal that lies ahead that we're still going to see if we can get there. So a lot of work left to be done and we're just excited about the opportunity we have to go chase it."

On who stands out on the Packers' defense beyond LB Clay Matthews:

"I believe Sam Shields is a very experienced corner with elite speed. He does a very good job. You know, B.J. Raji is a phenomenal nose guard. Mike Daniels is a guy I go back to playing against in college. He plays with a lot of leverage, is very strong and they just gave him a new contract for a reason. I think [Ha Ha] Clinton-Dix does a great job at safety, as does Morgan Burnett. They have players all around the field. I think they're an organization that has built a culture where they have consistent success and stability and continuity that goes a long way. So that counts for something as well."

On the difference in preparing for a playoff game as a starter as opposed to a backup:

"Well, I didn't do a press conference before the last playoff game [laughter]. That was different, but I've always said a backup you try to prepare like you're the starter. It's still a different preparation in a sense that you're not getting the active reps during the week. The meetings may not be quite as catered to you, but if as a backup you're not preparing like the starter then you're kind of asking for trouble. So it has a different feel being the starting quarterback. Again, you just try to stay focused on the same processes I have all year long. I'd be a fool to change something now."

On facing Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in his first career playoff start:

"I think Aaron is at the top. I feel like I've stood up here and said that about Tom Brady when we played the Patriots. I feel like I've said that about Drew Brees when we played the Saints, but, I mean, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. He's tough to beat. Very talented player, great quarterback, sets the bar high for the rest of us. He's a guy I study and learn from much like the other two I mentioned. So I think it's very important that I stay within myself, just do what I need to do and what I'm coached to do to help our offense. It's not my job to stop Aaron when he's on the field and we'll see where we are at the end of it. I think it's important that we operate well on offense, convert on third downs, score points in the red zone – all those things that I talked about that are critical to winning because of the fact that they have such a great quarterback on the other side that if you don't make good on those opportunities, typically they'll make you pay."

Tackle Trent Williams

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On trying to treat this week as a normal week:

"Yeah, I mean, it feels normal. Obviously in the back of your mind you know it's a playoff game, so it's an emphasis to bring your A-game. As far as the way we go about it, we don't really change up too much. Same way we've been going about it."

On General Manager Scot McCloughan:

"Scot is hands-on. You're going to see him on the sideline. You're going to see him in the locker room. He's almost like another coach in a sense where he's going to be around, he's going to be there hyping the guys up. Obviously with the talent he's brought in in a way changed this locker room just in one offseason, you can tell he knows what he's doing. And, I mean, to be honest, I feel like he saved us in a way. Bringing him here and the veterans he put in place and even the young guys he put in place from the top of the roster to the bottom of the roster, I think he's done an outstanding job."

On players' reaction to McCloughan's hands-on approach:

"It definitely hypes you up to see him step out of his office – or his owner's box where he could be – down there on the sideline and hyping guys up, telling you, 'Come on, let's go. We need this possession,' or what have you. It's definitely a pleasant surprise. I think guys really feed off of it."

On entering the season with a young right side of the offensive line:

"To be honest, if that would have been anybody else and having the young guys over there, I probably would have been worried a little bit, but from working with them and from seeing them play, from seeing them practice day in and day out, I knew we'd be OK. I knew those guys just had to learn to communicate and work together. They've done an outstanding job this year. I mean, Morgan [Moses] has really grown up, really taken steps. Everybody's seen what [Brandon] Scherff's done. I mean, he's a Top 5 pick, so I'm really not surprised with the talent that he possesses, but I think the way he grew up during the season… he just never gets rattled, man. He never looks worried, no matter how hard Coach is coaching him, no matter where we are at what point in the game – whether it's late, we're down, whether we're up. He's the same guy. I think that's really big coming from a rookie."

On the challenge of potentially reinserting C Kory Lichtensteiger into the lineup:

"I think it's all benefits from us – from a teammate's standpoint. Now, as for Kory knocking rust off or what have you, I don't know. That's up to him. You'd have to ask him. But, I mean, he's been around. He's never left. He stayed in meetings. He's always at practice. Even that last few weeks, he's been practicing, getting reps. From having him back as a teammate, I think it's nothing but beneficial for us."

On Lichtensteiger staying around the facility while on the Reserve/Injured list:

"I think you said it – it felt like he never left. I knew he was on IR, but seeing him every day in meetings and even him still stopping me and asking questions about a game plan he knew he wasn't playing in, I thought that was big from a leadership standpoint. He's one of those guys that has been here a minute, so a lot of people can bounce questions off of him and draw from his knowledge. So I thought it was big."

On how he feels after being inactive in Week 17:

"The week off definitely helped. I know we're in 'Week 18,' but I feel great, man. The rest, it helped a lot."

On the difficulty in blocking for a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers who frequently escapes the pocket:

"Like I said before even when Robert was at quarterback, at the end of day, we have to do our job which is to sit and block the D-end and if the quarterback decides to scramble, he runs where he sees fit. You really can't block for that. It's just him making an off-schedule play."

On how McCloughan changed the locker room:

"Like I said, bringing in veteran guys like Dashon Goldson, like Pot Roast [Terrance Knighton], Ricky Jean [Francois], just bringing in guys like that who have been in tough positions, who've been on playoff pushes, guys who've been around the game and know the game inside and out. This is a young team. The core of this team is really young, and having guys around like that, it just helps you mature a little faster."

On what he takes from the playoff experience in 2012:

"The atmosphere and the importance of just any bad play, any penalty, things like that in a playoff atmosphere tends to sting a little more than it does in a regular season game. Obviously the intensity is going to be sky high for both sides. Everybody is playing for their playoff lives and it's a one-game season for both teams. You can expect their total best and we've got to bring our total best."

On how different it feels to be preparing for playoff game in January:

"It's night and day. Obviously, it comes from two ends of the spectrum. Obviously having something to play for, being able to suit up in January is huge, man. I just preached to the guys not to take it for granted. This is my sixth year and it's only my second playoff appearance. It don't come too often. Few and far between, so we've got to take advantage of it."

On how he would describe Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan to someone who has never met him:

"I think the word we like to use is he's a grinder, you know? He's not a butthole; he's not an 'up in your face yelling at you' coach. But he does expect a lot out of you. He's going to use every second of the day he's allotted to work. It's done nothing but help us, so nobody's complaining."

On the difference in QB Kirk Cousins in the last nine games:

"Experience, obviously getting all of his playmakers back and Kirk is a great talent. We as an organization, we've all known that for a long time now. So we're not surprised. And I think, to answer your question, I think his numbers speak for itself. He's been outstanding."

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