Jay Gruden Talks OTAs and Who Has Impressed Him So Far

After the Washington Redskins completed OTAs Wednesday, Jay Gruden addressed the media to give updates on how the team is progressing so far.

On what advice he received from his brother, Jon, who attended practice:
“Not much, he just in came in to watch how we’re doing things. He’s still an avid football fan obviously. He likes to stay up-to-date on what’s going on around the league. Obviously his sons are close to my sons, so it’s good to get together with him.”

On if his brother’s presence caused flashbacks:
“Yeah, I mean there are certain things that trigger your memory, you know coaching points that he’s had throughout the history of some of these plays that we’ve run. I can remember and [it] brings back memories, and they’re good, solid, valid points that you’d like to bring up to your team and pass them along to the next group of guys doing them. So it’s always good to have him here. He’s a great presence. Hopefully I’ll get him to talk to the team a little bit tomorrow and pick his brain some more here after practice, maybe play a little golf, all that.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s absence:
“He got dinged up a little bit yesterday but he’s okay. He just went back to Atlanta for the night. You know he’s a cagey veteran. He felt he wanted to be with his family today, so I let him off. He’s a little bit dinged up with his chin, hurt his chin a little bit yesterday, but he’ll be okay. “

On the importance of defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and nose tackle Chris Baker:
“Very much so, you know we expect big things out of Chris and Jarvis, and they’re doing a much better job of getting off blocks and transitioning from a run-type of front to a pass rush on the playactions. Everybody down there, from all those defensive tackles, linemen are doing a good job. [Defensive end Kedric] Golston’s doing a good job – they’re all rushing the passer a lot better. They’re still maintaining their run gaps and playing good run defense also at their pad level but transitioning from a run-style stance to a pass rush isn’t easy for a lot of people but our guys are doing a good job. And Baker’s going to be a major part of our nickel pass rush also, as is Jarvis Jenkins at some point. The more the merrier as far as guys rushing because you want to keep those guys fresh with the no-huddle attacks. The way they are you’re going to have to have different defensive linemen in there rotating, you know playing at a high level and all those guys can contribute.”

On if nose tackle Barry Cofield is doing more work sooner than anticipated:
“Yeah, that’s the trainers’ call. He’s further along than I think he anticipated even, and I think the trainers, I think you’re right, but we’re still going to obviously modify what he’s doing and make sure he is full-go before he’s ready. He’s champing at the bit to get back out there but we have to probably pull him back a bit and make sure he’s 100 percent ready for training camp.”

On if he expects Cofield not to practice fully until training camp:
“I would say not full-go ‘til camp, yes.”

On the safeties:
“I’ve been impressed with our safety position. There’re some things that they are still working with and [Defensive Backs Coach] Raheem [Morris] is coaching them up on in it. There are some different techniques they are using. Phillip Thomas has done some good things. Obviously he’s a young kid. He was hurt last year but he’s doing some good things out there. You know we got a couple of other safeties. [Bacarri] Rambo is still continuing to grow. He got some key playing time last year. I think he’s learned from what happened last year and he’s hoping to build that experience into better play and more stable play. We have some safeties out here that can compete but to have veterans like [Brandon] Meriwether and [Ryan] Clark out there leading the way, it’s good for these young guys to see and then when they are in there they can progress and learn from them.”

On Bacarri Rambo’s play in practice compared to his play in games last year:
“That’s going to happen for young guys. Certain guys handle things differently, but don’t expect a Pro Bowler by a rookie safety. It’s hard. Very few and far in between as far as that position goes. It’s a difficult position. There’s a lot of checks that happen from formation checks, checks in the coverage and all that good stuff in the front, all that, so it’s a very tough position to come in as a rookie or a young kid and play. It takes a year or two or three sometimes for those guys to pick up everything Coach [Jim] Haslett wants him do or Raheem wants him to do. And the more reps he gets in these OTA sessions and Training Camp and preseason, you build on the experience every week and every year, it’s going to make him a better player but we have high hopes for him. He’s got great ball skills. He’s not afraid to tackle. He’s got to do a better job tackling. Obviously we missed too many tackles as group last year, not just him but everybody, so we think he is progressing nicely.”

On the punting battle between Blake Clingan and Robert Malone:
“We feel good with where they are so far. You know this is early, this is OTAs but Coach [Special Teams Coordinator Ben] Kotwica is working with them and he feels confident we have our punter here on our roster right now. But preseason will tell. You’ve got game-type situations, nerves get a little bit… It’s easy to putt on the practice green, you know what I mean? Sometimes when you get on a real golf course, the three-footers get a little bit tougher. We’ll see how he does, but we feel really good. Malone is banging them. Both of them are banging them. Malone has hit the roof in the bubble a couple times. He’s got a powerful leg and Blake has done a nice job. So it will be an interesting competition but I do feel strongly that we will find our punter in one of those two guys.”

On wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s progression and getting a lot of targets in practice today:
“He feels good running straight, it’s just sometimes coming out of cuts a little bit he’s still a little bit tentative and we’re just watching him. But he looked good obviously. We hoped that he could run this week. That’s what our hopes were. That’s why we kept him out last week. It was a minor deal we thought and he thought. Once he got clearance from [Head Athletic Trainer] Larry [Hess] and he felt good about it, he was out there running and it’s good to see him out there push it a little bit for the team and everybody else. But he did a good job today. He’s still not probably 100 percent, he’s probably working through a little bit of pain just a little bit.”

On if he has any indication if wide receiver Leonard Hankerson will be ready for training camp:
“None whatsoever. I said that last week about that injury. It’s totally different. Different guys handle it [differently] at different positions and the rehab could be longer for certain guys, so we’ll wait and see. He’s working very hard, I know that. He’s in there with [Head Athletic Trainer] Larry [Hess] every day and they’re working extremely hard to get right.”

On why he chose to use a no-huddle offense during practice:
“Tempo, No. 1. We’re trying to pick up the tempo. Also, from a communications standpoint, football is a lot about communication nowadays. A lot of teams are running a no-huddle, so from a defensive standpoint, you’ve got to be able to communicate your calls, get in the right front and talk about it and make sure everybody is on the same page. Offensively, it’s a good way to dictate tempo and keep defenses from substituting and keep them out of their blitz packages, all that good stuff. There’s a reason for us offensively to utilize it and there’s a reason not only from a point of view on gameday, but also getting our defense ready for that kind of attack on Sundays. Obviously, Philadelphia… I’m reading everywhere that a lot of teams are doing more no-huddle, so it’s good for our defense to do the work.”

On offensive coordinator Sean McVay calling plays in practice:
“They’re scripted. We’re [running] scripted plays. It’s just who reads them to them [the players] right now. But yesterday, he called an unscripted period or two and it’s good work for him. We’ll see where he’s at and how comfortable he is calling plays. There’s coming a point in time where he’s going to call some plays, too. We’re both going to have input in the game and [Offensive Line] Coach [Chris] Foerster jumped in there and called a play today, so we’re going to have some input. We have some guys that feel very strongly about this offense and know it very well, so the more input the better, but ultimately I’ll be calling plays, but I’ll obviously listen to a lot of input from those two guys.”

On Griffin III’s chemistry with his receivers:
“I’m very happy with the way it’s going. We’re not perfect and I don’t think anybody is right now. There’s been some out of route too sharp, not sharp enough, maybe a little bit short, maybe a little deep. But I think the more we watch it, the more we rep it, the more comfortable he’s going to be of knowing where people are and what depths and how they’re coming out of their cuts. Precision is very important, and accuracy, obviously, in any offense, but especially in the type of offense we’re running. When we want the ball out of his hands on time, we need the receivers to be precise. [Wide Receivers Coach] Ike Hilliard is doing an outstanding job of getting that taught and so far it’s progressing at a great pace. I think our receivers are doing an excellent job of being in the right spot and Robert is buying in and able to anticipate throws.”

On who initiated the joint practice with the New England Patriots at training camp:
“Well, first I heard of it, I think [Patriots Head Coach Bill] Belichick may have called [Director of Football Operations] Paul Kelly, emails Paul or Bruce [Allen] and asked if I’d be interested in it. Since I had some experience with it in Cincinnati with Atlanta, I thought it was a great experience for our players – and our coaches for that matter – so I was open to the opportunity. It’s a great change. You get into practice and you’re going through the one-a-days, you’re going through the walkthroughs in the afternoon and you do that about nine or 10 times and you’re like, ‘Gah.’ This is a great way to change it up a little bit and go against someone else and see where you are with your personnel – see their ones against your ones, twos against their twos, threes against their threes and it might juggle the depth chart a little bit after that.”

On learning a lot from the joint practice with Atlanta when he was in Cincinnati:
“I think from a rep standpoint I was able to get guys reps against other people that wasn’t necessarily scripted. You know, a lot of times you script these plays and you kind of know where the defense is, you know what players are going to get, but these are unscripted plays and you’re able to see how players react to different types of things. One of the major issues in football is how players adjust and if they can’t adjust to different looks, then they’re not going to be very effective. It’s a great opportunity for us to see how our players both offensive line, how we pick up different stunts and different fronts and defensive line, different blocking schemes, obviously route combinations against different coverages and different type meets in the secondary. And how people adjust and how our quarterback adjusts and how they see things, so it’s good for everybody.”

On if guards Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus switched sides during practice to gain versatility:
“That’s exactly right. On gameday, we usually dress seven, sometimes eight linemen. Usually seven, so your sixth guy has to play center-guard-guard, your other guy has to play both tackle spots, so it’s very important for guys to be flexible with what they do.”

On LeRibeus:
“LeRibeus has done good. He came in and his weight was down. He’s in good shape and he’s made some improvements from what I saw last year. You know I don’t have a lot of history with him obviously, just what I’ve seen this year, but he does look a lot better this time of year this year than he did last year from what I hear, but he’s doing well.”

On linebacker Keenan Robinson playing a leadership role:
“I think as long as he’s communicating the calls, that’s important, and as long as he’s playing hard and doing the right thing, that’s leadership enough in a lot of cases. There’s not – you don’t have to be a Ray Lewis-type of leader to play middle linebacker and be successful. There’s been linebackers who aren’t quite that vocal that have been very successful. Keenan’s just one of those guys and I’m more about the play than I am about the talk anyway. As long as everybody knows what to do, let’s go out and play hard everybody and the leaders will emerge eventually.”

SOURCE: Washington Redskins Media

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