Press Conference: Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden

redskins-helmetHead Coach Jay Gruden

On the plan for defensive end Jason Hatcher:

“Slowly but surely. Get him in some individual drills, see how he does and hopefully we’ll get him ready by the third week of preseason, maybe fourth, but we will see how he does. It depends on how he feels after he trains and making sure there is no other damage or what have you, but he’s coming along very well.”

 

On tight end Jordan Reed:

“He got sick. He had a 24-hour virus, I think it was. He was throwing up a little bit. He should be OK tomorrow, I hope.”

 

On tight end Mike Caussin:

“He has a sore knee. His knee swelled up a little bit and we kept him out, just inflammation a little bit from a past injury, I believe. We are monitoring him and hopefully we’ll get him back for Cleveland.”

 

On running backs Chris Thompson and Roy Helu, Jr.:

“Thompson sprained his ankle on a catch that he caught across the middle. It’s very minor but we’re going to monitor him, so I don’t have any idea. If the swelling goes down quickly, he might be ready for Cleveland, we’ll see. Roy Helu has a mild knee sprain and he’s day to day.”

 

On what stood out to him from the game and what he wanted to correct today:

“Defensively, I was impressed with the way we ran around, flew around to the football and we played some good situations. We got some red zone, we got a red zone stop in there, we had fourth down stop in the red zone, we stopped some screens, we had good pressure on the quarterback and that was exciting. Overall I was just impressed with the communication and then pursuit to the football and then the tackling I thought was outstanding. Very few missed tackles, which was exciting. When you see the guy on the ground for the Patriots, you freeze the film and you see six or seven red hats around the ball, that’s what I like to see. It was good pursuit football and good sound football and it was good. It was a good start for our team. Offensively, obviously the running game was very good. I like the way our backs were finishing runs, getting yards after contact. I like the way our receivers were blocking. And in the passing game, I thought we were pretty disciplined in our routes and didn’t have any drops – I don’t think that I can remember. So guys were flying around and they were all doing the right thing. I was impressed with the rookies the way they came out and there were very few mental mistakes, so it was a good day for a lot of people. Obviously there is a lot to work on and there is a lot we can do better, but very pleased with their effort and their knowledge of the scheme so far.”

 

On if he has an update on Stephen Bowen and Leonard Hankerson:

“I really don’t. That’s something Larry [Hess] will have to talk to you about, but they are working their tail off and you can see progress. Every day I see Leonard out there working hard, running routes, with Larry on the side doing everything he can in his power to get ready. Whether it’s going to be for the season opener, whether it’s later, we don’t know yet. Same with Bowen. Bowen, I talked to him today, he said he felt as good as he’s ever felt in a long time, so that’s progress that he’s making. He’s got to get out there, do the drills and the key is after he does the drills, what happens. Is there is soreness? Does it swell back up? So we have to just make sure that we take it day by day, just keep working at him and see how they do once they put the work in, see how their body handles it.”

 

On the signing of safety Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith:

“He’s a big, good-sized kid. Ran around good at the workout, so we thought it was important to give him an opportunity. He fits in there. We had to let go of Peyton Thompson today, but you know we needed a little bit of safety help with Ryan Clark’s injury, so we’ll give him a shot. But he’s a good-sized kid and ran around good and has some knowledge of the defense.”

 

On if there is concern safety Ryan Clark’s hamstring may take longer than a couple days:

“No. Well, I don’t know – it’s a hamstring [laughter]. Those things are… anybody who’s pulled a hamstring, you never know, but Ryan has the treatment that he needs. He’s getting all the work done that he has to get done and he’ll be ready I think sooner than later but you just never know with those things. Then when you come back, you’ve just got to make sure you take it slow and make sure it’s totally healed before you go full speed so we’re going to be very safe with him.”

 

On if he was surprised how well the communication went on Thursday:

“It was very good. The quarterbacks did a nice job. I was trying to get the play out as fast as I can. The only delay of game [that] happened was my fault, really, because I was waiting to see the replay on the screen to see if Aldrick caught the ball and took so long. We were waiting, waiting, waiting to see if I should throw the flag or not because the booth didn’t see the replay either. And then then the referees winded the clock. I probably should have taken a timeout there, but I had to see if Aldrick caught it and we took the delay, but other than that, it was a pretty clean game by everybody. Defense, I think the communication was clean with Coach [Jim] Haslett and the linebackers and then obviously the quarterbacks did a nice job of getting the play out quickly and getting everybody set.”

 

On calling plays and being the head coach for the first time:

“It was… difficult [laughter]. It was different, because after the offensive series I like to usually go talk to the offense or talk to the quarterback, look at the pictures and I did that a couple times, I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go out there and coach!’ It’s something to get used to and this is what the preseason’s for. It’s not just the players, now. Preseason’s for the coaches, too, and how we handle our business and our communication and what we go through on game days. It was a great opportunity for me, personally, to go through that and figure out my routine on game day and I learned some things during the game that I’ve got to do better.”

 

On what he saw from special teams:

“Some really good things. We only punted one time which was good, but we covered he punt excellent; Akeem Davis went down there and forced a fumble. Kickoff, we had the offsides on the kickoff, which was very, very close, but other than that we covered pretty good. We missed a tackle on one kickoff and he squirted out there and Zach Hocker, made a heck of a tackle but overall I think our special team effort is where it needs to be. Now we just have to clean up some things with our protection and our vice and the gunners and all that good stuff running down there, the angles and the pursuit angles. Overall, I think they are buying in and I feel very good about the fact that they are buying in and they understand the importance of special teams and that is exactly where we want to be right now. Now it’s a matter of cleaning up our techniques and adding some things as we go along. The players that actually played special teams I thought did a good job with their effort and I think Coach [Ben] Kotwica is pretty pleased. Obviously all three phases of the game, there are some things to clean up.”

 

On using tablets on the sideline:

“The only weird thing was they were backwards. You know, you read left to right, but we actually had to go backwards, so it took a little while to get used to that, but it’s a good idea. It’s nice. It comes up quick for you, it pops up on there, but it’s a little bit different. I’ve never really been one to overuse those things. I like to just get a brief look at it and see if there is any blitz or any different coverage we need to see, but other than that I just like to move on and get to the next series. But those tablets do come in handy and I think it’ll take some getting used to by the coaches, but I think they were good.”

On if he experienced any connectivity issues:

“We did not. It was very clean. It was a good process for us. I don’t know how they [the Patriots] had it and we didn’t, but hopefully they get it cleaned up for the opposing team if that was the case.”

 

On what he hopes Hatcher will bring to the defense:

“Well ,we brought him here to rush – rush the passer. You see the progress that we’ve made, even just our first preseason game, just the pressure on the quarterback and [Patriots quarterback] Ryan Mallett just never really had a comfort zone of delivering the football. He felt pressure, and even though we didn’t get a ton of sacks, I felt like the quarterbacks knew that the pressure was there and Jason is going to be another element to that, an inside presence pass rush. With [Brian] Orakpo, [Ryan] Kerrigan, [Trent] Murphy, [Chris] Baker, [Jarvis] Jenkins on the inside, we have a system of guys, a number of guys that can come in there fresh and get after the quarterback. And also, in base downs, he can play the run a little bit and do his thing, but he’s a dominant player. He had 13 or so sacks last year and he’s going to be an added impact to our team once he gets healthy.”

 

On cornerback Tracy Porter:

“We know Tracy has got great ball skills. He’s got great speed. His cover ability is well-known. And he had the shoulder surgery. We kept him out of the game just to make sure his shoulder is 100 percent. We’ll probably keep him out one more week and maybe see if he’s ready to tackle Week 3. But he’s healthy. He’s ready to go. We just want to make sure he feels good about it from a mental standpoint. It’s strong enough. He’s going to get some more – just continue to rehab. But he’s doing a great job out here. He’s running around. I think he’s ready to play, but we just want to be very cautious with him and make sure he’s totally 100 percent before he gets out there and starts live tackling but he’s in good shape.”

 

On if the players are adopting his mindset:

“Yeah, I hope so. That’s what we are trying to do. We’re trying to adopt a physical style of play, obviously. Offense and defense, protect the quarterback, dominant in the run blocking, and obviously stopping the run and getting after the passer are very key elements. But there’s other elements that’s very important in football – your mindset is very important, how you handle bad events, how mentally tough you are and when things don’t go so well from a week to two weeks or from a play to a quarter, whatever it is, how you react. Only time will tell on that. We didn’t have a lot of adversity strike in the first game, but I think it’s going to be important how we handle adverse situations moving forward because some will come.”

 

On if it is a matter of finding the right players or instilling that mindset in existing players:

“A little bit of both. You know, you want to find the right guys that are very competitive and can handle that type… You have to be mentally tough to play football, there’s no question about it, because there are so many ups and downs throughout the course of the season that you have to react in a positive way when things don’t go so well and you have to still react solidly when things go well. You can’t get too big a head. But we have a group of guys out here that are battling every day, they’re competing, and we’re on the right track, but only time will tell when adversity strikes how they react and that’s our job as coaches to make sure we keep everybody pulling in the same direction.”

 

On what the team needs to work on following the first preseason game:

“Everything. Our run game was solid, but we can get better. Our protection was solid, but we can get better. Our routes were good, but we can get better. Our quarterback play was pretty good, but it can be better. There’s not a phase of the game that I saw that didn’t need work. We were far from perfect. We’re always striving for perfection. I doubt we’ll ever reach perfect, nobody ever does, but we’re going to sure as hell try. But as long as the guys know that every day is a work day and we have a long way to go before we get Houston as far as where we want to be progression-wise, I think we’re in good shape. But we have a lot to work on, no doubt.”



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