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Quotes: Jay Gruden, Alex Smith 8-27-2018

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the status of LB Zach Brown:

"He has missed a couple days of practice but he'll be OK. [He] just has an oblique strain."

On if Brown will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season:

"I would think so, yes."

On players on the bubble to make the final roster:

"They are pressing a little bit, but they should be. There's great competitions not only for the fifty-three but there is ten practice squad spots to be had too. That's a pretty good gig also. It's going to be fun to watch these guys play; give them a look at an extended period of time. You know a lot of times they get in there for two or three plays at an end of a drill, or what have you, but now we can look at them for a whole half – a whole game, a lot of them. We will see how they do over an extended period of time."

On if QB Connor Jessop will play this week against the Baltimore Ravens:

"There's a chance. We have a package of plays ready for him. He'll be ready"

On where he stands in crafting the 53-man roster:

"You know, you try not to predetermine. You want to let these guys play it out until the bitter end and that’s kind of what we’re doing. Injuries will play a part of it; numbers at certain positions will play a part of it. Like, we don’t know how many tight ends we’re going to keep, how many backs we’re going to keep, how many offensive linemen we are going to keep, and that has an impact on inside backers, safeties and corners. So, that’s the biggest thing is the numbers at each position is the most difficult, and that’s something we are going to have to discuss and talk about, but there’s still quite a few jobs that are still open for the taking, and like I said, the ten practice squad spots are also equally as important."

On QB Colt McCoy and potential roster moves associated with the injury:

"Yeah, Colt’s fine, he went to get his thumb checked out, and he’s got a sprain. He should be OK. [On being the backup week one] Yeah that’s the plan for sure."

On RB Adrian Peterson running behind J.P. Holtz:

"Yeah, he did, and he’s run well behind a fullback in the past and he’s also run well without a fullback. I think he can adapt either way. J.P. Holtz did a nice job and that’s something we are considering. He can also play tight end a little bit so he’d be possibly the fourth tight end slash fullback which would impact some other position whether its running back or inside backer, or offensive lineman."

On the depth at linebacker:

"Yeah, that’s a tough battle right there and that’s another ‘How many are we going to keep?’ four, five, and that’s a tough one. They’ve all shown they deserve to be linebackers in the National Football League -- even [Jerod] Fernandez has done some good things. So, watch, wait and see. Shaun Dion [Hamilton] for a rookie has come in here and done a pretty good job, [Martrell] Spaight has made some splash plays in the preseason games. [Zach] Vigil has done a great job as far as communication is concerned; he’s like the backup Mike Communicator, so that’s an important spot. Obviously, Josh Harvey-Clemons fills a void as far as dime coverage, and he’d done better in base, so that’s going to be the toughest one I think, one of them."

On if there is anyone else that can play fullback on the roster:

"No, not really, unless we try to train somebody. I think we have enough runs out of our 11-personnel, Tiger, 12-personnel, that we may not need it, but if we do want a couple, we might be able to cross train somebody on our roster and we’ll figure it out later."

On facing Baltimore Ravens QB Robert Griffin III and if he can still be a starting quarterback:

"Yeah, without a doubt, anybody that can run and throw, you have a spot. It’s very, very, important nowadays. Mobility, RPO’s, zone reads, and all that stuff, but it depends on the roster and who he’s competing with."

On talks with scouting departments on evaluating teams for players before roster cuts:

"Oh, they are on that already. They’ve seen every preseason game. They already have their evaluations done so it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing who becomes available and we’ll talk about that." [On waiting until Saturday] "You have to, you know, you try and get your grades ready, try to preview who people might cut, and then go from there, but you just never know until it happens."

On if roster cuts weigh on him:

"Yeah, it’s hard, it’s always hard, but I think a lot of them will put enough good on tape that they’ll get an opportunity somewhere and it could be with us later as we learned last year. We called back a lot of guys; not only practice squad guys, but like Arie Kouandjio is a great example. We had to let him go, then he went to Baltimore [Ravens] practice squad, we called him up on a Friday, and started for us on Sunday. You know, an opportunity lost here, they could get another one somewhere else, you know, you are upset for them, because of how much work they put in, and they are all such great kids and you want to see them do well, but we know the NFL and what it’s all about and every year this happens. But hopefully they’ll bounce back and do well."

On TE Jordan Reed and RB Chris Thompson being ready for Week 1:

"Really good, Chris looks fantastic, really. He's been great in his pass blocking and obviously his routes. He's hitting the hole. He looks great. I think he is ready to go. Jordan Reed is getting there -- I think the more he works the more runs. He had a great day today just getting in and out of his cuts, getting the feel with Alex and the different formations. He's on pace to be ready."

On if the quality of players that provide depth has improved:

"Yeah. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. When you're here for four [to] five years like I have been, you have also good veteran guys that know your system that are more comfortable and zip through it a little bit easier, effortlessly. They're good leaders and you are able to keep guys on your team with you that are good for the locker room and obviously very good players. So, that has a big impact also. Then you have a couple [from the] drafts that you are able to build your team with and a couple of good free agents. Yes, we definitely feel good about our depth. I feel good really about my core group of veteran guys that are very, very, good players. You got to have that along with some good young people which we do."

On if he is preparing for Week 1 differently from previous years:

"We're 0-4 so we should do something different. We haven't won one yet [as Redskins head coach]. We've had a couple close ones. Shoot. I can't remember all of them; I went through them the other day. One, we got to have a better sense of urgency coming out of the first game. We got to start fast and eliminate the turnovers. First two [season openers] we had a couple of special team FUBARS, first two years. A punt return for a touchdown, a blocked punt for a touchdown, we threw an interception late against Philadelphia last year in the red zone which cost us. We got to clean up the mistake the first game of the year and be on our assignments and be fundamentally sound."

On if he watched the last four season openers on film:

"I went through all of them in my mind (laughter). Yes, and I used some examples already in some meetings."

QB Alex Smith

On the game against Denver Broncos:

"I think some missed opportunities certainly for us in the pass game. You know little things, which it always is. For me, you never know which plays end up making the difference and in a preseason game, limited opportunities, we knew that. You don’t know how many series you’re going to get but certainly you never know which play is going to make the difference with your opportunities out there. For me looking back, certainly that second play taking the sack was costly. I felt like we had the chance to get some great rhythm going after we ripped off that first run. I would love to have had that one back. Other than that, I mean, there were some chances there to be made. It was close, playing against good defense. They were playing fast and we were just off here or there. Some good things to learn from for us especially those fourth down situations, some third down stuff to learn from and build off of."

On his comfort level with the amount of reps he got in the preseason:

"Yeah, I am. Preseason is a unique, unique deal and those games are very unique. Every team handles them differently in how much they prepare, prep and game plan and things like that and health obviously factors into that. I don’t think necessarily playing however many more snaps come opener necessarily makes that big of a difference at this point in my career. So, I think we’ve gotten great work in camp. From day one, there’s been a sense of urgency every day. We’ve made the most of every day I feel like. You know those are obviously decisions that get made and like I said, you don’t know. Obviously, you prepare the best you can and coaches try to make the best decisions they can based off all the variables and you move forward. There’s certainly no dwelling on the fact that of ‘Oh I wish I would’ve played a little bit more.’ Listen we -- the opener is sitting right where it is and we’re still preparing for it."

On the benefit of watching film on other teams during preseason:

"Yeah, yeah but at the same time though, I mean I could make the argument you’re like ‘well I don’t want to put a lot of tape out there for these guys -- the opponents that we’re playing. I mean it’s such a double-edge sword and I think you could talk yourself in circles with that argument, so I think you try to do the best you can. Like I said, there is no perfect answer. There’s no right answer. I think if we’d have played a bunch of snaps or we didn’t, I don’t think that necessarily is going to have a crazy bearing on the outcome of the opener I guess is my point. I don’t think there’s any perfect or right answer like I said. I think you just try to make the best decision based on all the variables. I think we’ve gotten great work to answer the question -- had a week of practice against the Jets was amazing, going against our defense everyday gives us plenty of different looks. This isn’t a defense that only plays one look. I mean they make us prepare for everything, so no I do feel prepared."

On being teammates with RB Adrian Peterson:

"I don’t give it too much thought other than obviously pretty cool to play with Adrian. I’ve been a fan of his from afar for a long time and obviously watched him play a lot of games from the other sideline and cool to share a backfield with him, but other than that, this isn’t really a time necessarily for reflection like that. [I’m] pumped to play together. We’re both trying to go out and prove something. We’re both trying to go help this team win ball games, doing everything that we can to do that. I mean come offseason, I think we can reminisce."

On if the possibility of not playing against the Baltimore Ravens pushes him to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals:

"It’s both. I mean I think the best competition is to go against each other. I think play fast, still get and take advantage of reps, working on things. I’ve had a great opportunity the last couple weeks now to get some great reps with Jordan [Reed], with CT [Chris Thompson] out there in the practice field in a good environment, in a competitive environment. Those have been invaluable. For us, getting Jamison [Crowder] back in and working, so that’s been great. It’s been great, like I said, going against our defense every day. They make you prepare for everything. They have every defense I think known to man in their call sheet so they make you prepare for a lot, which is great work for us as an offense. So, yeah, but a little bit of both, I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch the Arizona [Cardinals] game the other night. You know, you are slowly getting ready for that, but at the same time, we’re just trying to -- I’m trying to win every play I can against our defense out here. "

On where he feels the offense is at:

"I mean that’s a progression that never ends. You know you’re always working on that regardless of the injuries. I mean that there there’s always going to be injuries and guys working back in and you’re always trying to get better in a lot of facets of your game as an offense. I think our strength eventually will be for one, I think the talent and the play-making that we have, but I think our ability to do just about anything on a football field when it comes to offense. I think being able to stretch the field vertically, horizontally. I think being able to pound the ball to spread them out, misdirection. I mean I think to be able to do a lot that is a strength of ours. I think with that the guys have to be able to handle a lot mentally, you know, and I think the details that I just talked about they get magnified sometimes because we do a lot and we put a lot on everybody and I think that’s a great thing and I think that we have high expectations for ourselves. That’s part of the deal is that the details get magnified."

On how the talent of this team stacks up against previous teams he has made the playoffs with:

"Yeah, I’m not going to compare any teams, or guys, or anything like that. Without a doubt, we have the talent to go do everything we want and everything we talk about. We got what it takes. I think that’s a bigger challenge because of that, because we’ve got the talent, that’s a bigger challenge laying right in front of us. Right? There’re no excuses, and that’s exciting. So yeah, absolutely we’ve got what it takes."

On using his mobility:

"It’s a fine line and you’re never going to be totally right. You know, I was trying to use my legs on the second play of the game [vs. Denver Broncos] and took a six-yard sack, so you’re never going to be totally right, but you certainly hope it bails you out. I think the ability to extend plays and remain a passer, I think the ability to use your legs and become a runner, I think those are things that can really help you over the course of a game and over the course of the season. I think there’s a lot of hidden yardage out there, I think if you can help convert one or two first downs a game with your legs, whether it be extending the play, or moving them and running, is all kinds of hidden yardage that stacks up over a season and sometimes can be the difference in wins and losses. So, you just try to let those plays come to you, you try not to force it. Your job is to be a passer first, but certainly when those opportunities present themselves, you’d love to be able to recognize them and capitalize."

On trying to gain chemistry with each player and specifically WR Jamison Crowder:

"There are so many nuances, from the play call that we have on, and how that play call stacks up for the twelve different looks. He could get, leverage-wise, defensive calls, and I mean, it’s being able to handle that on the fly, at the snap. He [Crowder] and I having the communication obviously with what we are coached to do and going out there and executing and everybody has their own flavor and a little bit of the reps is just getting on the same page with that. Right? Having a feel for a guy, body language; you know Jamison has such good body language. He’s easy to throw to and very natural to read as a quarterback. I mean it makes my job easy."

On WR Cam Sims:

"Cam from day one kind of come in and made plays, I feel like. I mean physically, he’s a very gifted guy. He’s made the most opportunities when he’s been out there. Certainly, I think is a guy who I know in the quarterback room we feel comfortable about giving fifty-fifty balls to, giving him a chance to go make plays, and more often than not he’s made us look good. You know, got a little sidetracked here and [Cam is] a little banged up, but nice to get him hopefully back out there because I think he’s got a bright future."

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