Quarterback Kirk Cousins
On the level of enthusiasm today and where it came from:
"I think all these guys are competitors and the game matters to us. It's not a hobby, it's a job. It's important. Even if it's practice in June, we have a blast and we compete and I think it's a good quality to have as a team."
On managing offseason opportunities as a starting quarterback:
"I think my wife and I have a good filter of how to say yes and how to say no and great opportunities do come your way as an NFL player and you'd like to take advantage of as many as you can. You end up saying no to a lot more than you say yes. As a college quarterback, too, you have a similar experience. I mean, when you're at a campus with 40,000 students and you're winning football games, you have a lot of opportunities there, too. So, I learned in my early 20s how it's tough to say no, but you have to do that in order to protect what's most important."
On his offseason plans:
"Yeah, I think you said them all… It's a good balance between resting, recharging the batteries, clearing the mind and also getting built back up ready for training camp and ready for a long season. I mean, I tell my family and friends that once I go back at the end of July, 'I'll see you in the winter at some point, hopefully later than sooner.' It's a long time once you leave in July, so it's important to not just physically but mentally and emotionally be ready to go. And that requires some rest in late June and early July and I try to balance that with the preparation of the throwing and the lifting and doing what I need to be doing to be ready."
On how LB Preston Smith has improved:
"Well, I know as a second-year player, he's probably going to be a lot more effective than he was as a first-year player. You have to go on raw talent your first year and this game is a thinking man's game and it requires a lot of intelligence. I don't care what position you play. So, I would like to think that Preston will take another step forward by being here a second year. The game will slow down for him and he'll be that much smarter and become a wily veteran, and that's what you're looking for. So, he's been effective as a pass rusher, as a playmaker, and he's got a lot of size so certainly there's potential and big expectations."
On when and how his competitiveness began:
"I don't that that it ever started or stopped, I think I'm just a competitive person. As you grow and you learn and get more confident as a player, maybe it comes out a little more easily. Really, I don't know that I try to trash talk – I really don't try to taunt the opponent – I really just try to cheer on my own teammates. So, it's always yelling at my own guys to get them fired up, it's really not trying to get in the ear of the defense. But, if it brings energy, I think it's a good thing."
On his back-and-forth energy with LB Will Compton:
"Yeah, Will's a great leader; I think he does a really good job of getting the other 10 guys on the field to play better when he's in there. I think that's the sign of a good player and it's hard to account for, it's hard to measure. When a guy steps in a huddle, 10 other guys play at a higher level because he's in there. I think everybody's looking for that type of player and if you can find one, it's something special. I believe Will is that player."
On the impact of having WR DeSean Jackson present:
"You know, he's a great player and he's a difference maker. We've told him that, he knows that. So, when he's here, our offense is able to function at its highest potential and the same is said of so many guys – Trent Williams, Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson – I mean, the list goes on and on of guys you want to have and you know you're going to be better because of. He makes a difference and that's why we have him and why we're excited for what he can do this fall."
On how he will measure individual and team success:
"Great question, it's hard to measure success in individual goals; there are so many things that are out of a player's control. If we have a bunch of injuries or… you never know what could come your way that has to change the expectations. But, winning football games is ultimately how we're measured, it's what we're preparing for and that's all that matters. So, wins and losses will ultimately be what it comes down to. How to get there is very complicated and there's a lot of different ways to prepare and study and explain maybe why we're winning or why we're not winning. But, wins and losses are all that matters and ultimately winning this division and getting a home playoff game is where we have to get to have chance to do the ultimate goal of getting to the final and winning it all."
On in what areas he has improved most after a full offseason as the starter:
"I don't know how quite to articulate all the details and specifics because there are so many different areas, but it's similar to anybody. Anybody in this room who's worked a job for a few years, you are – I would think – a much better writer or journalist or you're better at covering this team than you were two, three, four years ago. You just have a better feel for it and whatever the details are that make it better – I don't know – but you are better. And I think the same is true for me as a quarterback. You know your teammates better, you know what routes you like, what routes you don't like, you know what Sean McVay is thinking when he calls a play, you know what Coach [Matt] Cavanaugh wants from your footwork and from your reads in certain situations. There are so many different situations that come up in a football game and to be prepared for every single one of them, you have to experience them first-hand once or twice to be ready, and I think the accumulation of these experiences is really what's helping me develop."
On if he would be open to signing an extension during the season:
"I don't know all the rules but my understanding is I wouldn't be allowed to. So after July 15, I don't even know when I would then be allowed to again. So I'm not even that well-educated on it, which goes to show how much I'm asking the agent to handle it all. That's my understanding is July 15, let's just go play football and we'll see you on the other side."
On the difference in facing the Redskins' secondary this year:
"Well, obviously a second year under Coach [Joe] Barry has got to help them. Like we just talked about with experience, there's value there. I think they've added some really good pieces on all positions. It's exciting. I think we have good potential and I love seeing what they're doing, the confidence they're playing with. I think a guy like DeAngelo Hall at safety is a good fit. I think Josh Norman is a great fit at corner. I think Will Compton is a great fit at middle linebacker. I think guys like Preston Smith – who we talked about – Ryan Kerrigan, Kendall Reyes, everybody is fitting in and finding their role and it's going to help up come the fall."
On guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses:
"I think that's where a lot of the excitement comes from. When you look at certain players who played at a high level last year with limited experience – and you can go on beyond just those two, but certainly those two – and then you look and say, 'OK, if they can stay healthy and they're going to play another year now, how much better can they be? How much better can we be as a result?' So there's a lot of excitement there. You see them every day, pre- and post-practice working with Coach [Bill] Callahan and you just keep stacking days on top of each other and if you do that, good things are in store. So very, very excited to have those two guys and our entire offensive line. There's a lot of pieces in place, and it's just a matter of executing now, being on all the details so we can count on one another and then staying healthy is going to be a big portion of it too."
On how his faith has helped him:
"There's nothing more important to me than the fact that my life is built on Jesus Christ and I just trust that he has a plan for my life. No matter what happens, I lean on that… [Music plays inside weight room] That's Creed right there – I think that's my cue [laughter]."
*Head Coach Jay Gruden *
On WR Josh Doctson and TE Jordan Reed:
"Josh is improving. We have a couple of days left here and there is just a little tendonitis on his Achilles. We just want to make sure we get it taken care of now so it doesn't act up anymore. He probably could go; we're just being a little precautionary. Jordan Reed just turned his ankle last week. He wanted to practice today. We just kept him out."
On if he expects Reed to practice this week:
On the progress made this offseason:
"I feel good. I think when you walk out of the OTAs and the time you have with them in the offseason, you want to see them getting stronger and faster. And I feel like in the strength & conditioning room, Coach [Mike] Clark and Chad [Englehart] have done an excellent job of that. And then obviously we get out here on the field, we want to try and teach our offense the way we practice, the way we do things, practice habits, our system –offense, defense and special teams – and obviously the way we practice intensity-wise. I think we accomplished a lot and then add on the fact that we have worked a lot of situational work – red zone and third down – a lot of good stuff that we got worked on, not just by the coaches but for the players also."
On the upbeat, competitive practice:
"It's good. You know, it's hard sometimes because we've got a lot of good trash talkers but eventually we are going to have to play. It's all fun and games out here. When the game starts, we have to eliminate all that stuff but it doesn't happen very often – just a few select guys. Kirk [Cousins] kind of eggs it on a little bit when he gets excited. I think he just gets so fired up sometimes when he makes a good play and some [on] defense take offense to that because they gave up a big play. Overall it's all fun. Guys are good having fun out there and that's part of it. We want them to work hard, play hard, but we also need them to have fun and enjoy going out there."
On RB Robert Kelley:
"He has done good. He is one of those guys that you really don't know a lot about, but, 'Who's number 22? Who is that? That's Kelley making another big play.' He has got great, low center of gravity when he runs the ball. I think he is going to be a tough guy to tackle when it's all said and done. He went to Tulane and did some good things and I think he has a chance. We will see what happens when we get the pads on."
On the difference WR DeSean Jackson makes:
"He makes a big difference; he has been an excellent receiver in the NFL for a long time and very productive. I think he is top two or three guys in most 50-yard gains in the NFL history, close to it I hear. He is a big-time problem for defenses. He's a big-time weapon for an offense, so anytime he is out on the field he is very helpful to our team. So we are going to continue to use him and we are glad he is healthy."
On if former undrafted LB Will Compton and former fifth-round CB Josh Norman bring different energy levels because of how they entered the league:
"I don't know, I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but they all had to work for every minute they've got and they have taken advantage of the reps. When you are a fourth- or fifth-round pick, you don't get a lot of reps. They are few far and between but when you do get them, you have to take advantage of them. They both have done a great job of that throughout their careers and they have a long way and still a lot of things to prove in the NFL and they're going to continue to do it. They set great examples for the younger guys. You know, if you are a fourth- or fifth-round pick or free agent, the opportunity is there for you. You have to just take advantage of it, and they obviously proved they can do that."
On LB Preston Smith:
"He has done great. The most impressive thing with him is in the weight room. That's what I wanted to see him grow and develop. He's stronger, he's bigger and looks a little quicker. That's awesome. He is already a smart guy, knows the defense. Now he has the added strength and conditioning. He is going to be a force for us. He had nine sacks or eight sacks for us last year for us and he is just getting better and better. The more comfortable he gets with the terminology and the scheme – when to long stick, when to run the hoop, whatever it is – the more violent he can play."
On RB Matt Jones' improvement in his second season:
"We haven't done a whole lot in year two yet. There are still a lot of things we have to improve on from pass protection to reading out the runs honestly to ball security. Catching the football, routes, there is a lot he can improve on. There is a lot he has improved on and will improve on. That's the thing that young backs go through, and the great backs in the history of the NFL, they all just continue to get better and better and that's what we think Matt will do. He will just continue to get better – bigger and better."
On his message to the team at the end of minicamp:
"I think we've had a great start to the season, we really have. I think the way we have gone about our business in the weight room and in the meeting rooms and then on the practice field with the intensity they practice with, we can carry that over to next year. Training camp, I think good things will happen to us. We just have to stay focused, stay humble and get after it."
On guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses:
"They've done a great job. Coach [Bill] Callahan is excellent and – I think I mentioned this last week –the more reps you get together with the same guy next to you is very beneficial. And the more times you see the same play over and over again against different defenses – the movement and how you handle it – the better you're going to be. Both of them are big, strong, athletic guys that the more they see, the better they're going to get and we expect great things from that side for a long time."
On what he's seen from other tight ends in Reed's absence:
"I've seen Niles Paul really make an unbelievable… he's done an unbelievable job in rehab to get himself to this point. We didn't expect him back until training camp, but he was champing at the bit. Basically, he was in my office all the time saying he was ready to go, so finally I gave in and said, 'Go practice!' He's done a great job, man, so we're excited to see him get back in form. And Logan [Paulsen] has done a nice job coming back from his injury from a year ago. He's strong, he's physical, so he's done a nice job. Vernon Davis, really, coming in and learning the system, he's had the longest way to go just because it's brand new terminology, but he's picked it up very well and you can see his speed and explosion, not only in the passing game, but in the running game. So, those are three guys have done a nice job and we have some other young guys that are competing out there and doing a good job."
On if he feels the energy level and competitiveness has gone up another level:
"I do feel like that. I think that with confidence comes… they're getting more and more confident. Offense is getting more confident, defense is getting more confident, special teams. But, that brings a lot of energy. When you think positively, good things are going to happen, but it also brings out great competition. They can see the great competition out there. When you line up as a receiver and you see [Bashaud] Breeland one play, Josh Norman next, [Quinton] Dunbar the next play, I mean, those guys are competing so you better bring your 'A' game or you're not going to catch a ball. So, it makes everybody work a little bit harder. Offensive line, if you're a tackle, you're lined up against [Ryan] Kerrigan one play and here's Preston Smith, here comes Trent [Murphy], here comes Ricky [Jean Francois], here comes [Chris] Baker. You know, we've got a whole bunch of guys that are rushing and they're competing. That's the good thing. It says for the quality of the depth that we have on our roster that we're starting to grow and get because if you take a play off and you're not competing, you're going to look bad, and that's it."
On left guard and center positions:
"With left guard, I think Arie Kouandjio has done a good job, Spencer Long has done very good, we're just trying to cross-train Spencer to be a center in case something happens on a game day and he's adjusted. He's made his mistakes and we've had some fumbled snap issues and some snap count issues, but for the most part, he's learning. That's what these sessions are all about, so we feel good about where he is in the progress standpoint and we'll get him going into training camp."