Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gruden pleased with rookie performances at Mini Camp

May 16, 2015
Redskins Park

The Washington Redksins Head Coach Jay Gruden was pleased with his teams performance in yesterday mornings Redskin Rookie Camp Practice held at Redskins Park, for Rookies, CFA tryouts and invited 1 year veterans. Below are the comments of Coach Gruden provided by the Washington Redskins PR Staff.  A video portion of the press conference  is provided by Clarke County Sports. To see the official  full length video provided by the team go to

On his impressions of the rookies so far:
“I think part of the plan is to throw them some information and see how they can retain it, and then see how they can translate the information they receive on the field. It’s a challenge for a lot of them. I think, overall, they made good impressions on us, a lot of them did. It’s exciting to see. They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve  studied, and they go out there and practice with great urgency and tempo. So, I was impressed with a lot of them.”

On Preston Smith’s length:
“There’s no question. His length is what draws you to him initially, and then you watch him play, and he uses that leverage to his advantage. Especially in the run game, when people are at the point of attack, he does a great job of using that leverage to his advantage and then using that length in his pass rush. He can get people off of him, and then he has good hips and he can finish plays. Preston has been impressive.”

On if anything surprised him about Smith and Brandon Scherff:
“Well, first off, we’re in shorts, and we’re not going crazy hard tempo…  For Brandon, shorts is not what he wants. He wants the pads. I think he’s done some good things. Obviously, moving over to right tackle is not just a transition that’s going to be immediate and easy for him. He’s going to have to take some lumps, but the good thing about Brandon is he’s a very focused individual. He studies very hard, he takes coaching extremely well and he’s got the best coach to coach him up. But I think you see the progress from yesterday morning to yesterday afternoon to today, it’s a significant change for him already. And I think he’s going to continue to get better. And then Preston, I think what you see is what you get. You’ve got a tall, young kid with huge upside, and it’s our job as coaches to get that upside out of him and get him to work. I think for the first three practices, throwing at them what we’ve thrown at them, I think they’ve done good.”

On Smith’s transition from defensive end to outside linebacker:
“It’s going good. It’s a matter of getting the calls and dropping when he’s supposed to drop and rushing when he’s supposed to rush, and then playing the run and then transition his run to a pass rush. I think he’s doing a good job. I talked to him today about trying to get a little bit more suddenness to him, and he’s just saying, ‘I’m getting my bearings straight. I’m getting my plays down.’ You’ll see it once camp continues to hit and he gets more comfortable with the terminology, but I’ve been impressed with him.”

On Connor Halliday:
“Well, we brought in two quarterbacks here to look at for that fourth spot, but there’s no law that says we have to bring four. We have three guys who are going to really fight for every rep as it is, so in a way it’s not bad to have three. Connor, I can’t speak for the decision that he made. He just chose to jump on a plane and head to the house. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him yet. He just left me a voice message, but I’m sure he had personal reasons behind it. But moving forward, we have three quarterbacks on our roster. We’re looking at another two guys out here today, and one more practice today, and then we’ll make a decision about whether or not we bring four to camp.”

On Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan:
“He’s detailed, for sure, and he’s a grinder. That’s two things about him that are two great qualities, and our line needs it. They’re going to work their butts off, not only on the practice field, but in the classroom. And every drill, every waking moment they’re awake and they’re in this building and out on this practice field, he’s going to be in their ear, working them. And they’re going to get better as a result. So far, every lineman that we’ve had in here for Phase 2, Phase 1, the veteran guys, along with the rookie guys have bought into it, and have worked extremely hard with the fundamentals that he’s teaching, the techniques, the scheme. All of that I think will pay huge dividends down the road.”

On the futures of Arie Kouandjio and Matt Jones:
“The thing about Matt is you think of him as a big power-type back, but really Matt has done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive – making moves on the second level, getting to the second level. In the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers. He has done some good things. He has got natural hands, so we’ve been very impressed with both of them. Kouandjio is a detailed guy. He loves football, man. He practices hard. He wants to hear every ounce of criticism, every ounce of coaching that he can get and he tries to translate that onto the next rep. Great kids, both of them, but for the first three practices, I don’t want to sound overly optimistic, but I am with those two guys. They’ve done some good things.”

On if Jones could help split the workload with Alfred Morris:
“We’ll see. That’s what training camp is for and the preseason games, and Alfred is a darn good halfback, so in order to take carries off of him, you’ve got to show a lot. So far, Matt has taken the right steps to take a little bit of the load off of Alfred. But like I said before, Alfred is our feature back, obviously, but in the NFL nowadays it’s important to have two, three guys that can carry the ball. If you want to commit to running the football, you’ve got to have a couple guys that can tote it, so Matt will just add to the number.”

On Jamison Crowder:
“The thing about him is that he has got great football IQ. If you’re a slot receiver, you need that, and you need to know how to run routes against different leverage points. He’s done some good things outside too, but in order to be a good, effective slot receiver, you’ve got to be able to field zones and man, inside technique, outside technique, bump, head up, outside, and then know how to set them at top of your break. Right now, he’s showing that he can take what we’re teaching him in the classroom and translate it effortlessly to the playing field. He’s got good, strong hands, and obviously, based on what we saw on the college tape, we know going across the middle that he’s got no fear. Obviously we’re not hitting right now so it might be a little skewed, but based on what we saw in college, we know that he’s a tough guy over the middle. He’s got all the traits we you want in slot receiver, and obviously, he’s a heck of a punt returner.”

On Kouandjio responding to a challenge:
“We kind of knew that he would step up to the challenge, but that’s just the way he is and I think I’ll do it again this afternoon – hopefully the defensive lineman gets a little bit of a better rush on of him. But to be able to step up to the challenge is what football is all about, man, because you’re going to get challenged every day, every rep. Come training camp time, we’re going to have [Stephen] Paea go against him one time and then here comes [Jason] Hatcher. It’s going to be some tough days for him. As long as they continue to work hard and take the good with the bad and take the coaching, good things will happen for all of them.”

On tryout running back Blake Sims’ transition from quarterback:
“Randy Jordan has done a good job with him. He’s come in and he looks like he’s been playing the position for a while. He’s just got to get his pads down a little bit – we don’t have pads on. He runs a little upright, but he’s got some natural running ability. You saw that in college at the quarterback position. When he breaks contain, I never, ever saw the first guy tackle the guy. He always made the first guy miss and the second guy miss and he always got the four or five yards needed for the first down. He’s got some natural running ability and it’s good to see him out here. We’ll get another good look at him today and see what happens.”

On what Sims has to do to adapt to the running game:
“He’s a runner, and runners can adapt to anything. We’ve run inside zone before, we’ve run power before, so it’s really not a lot of change. We just might add a few more different wrinkles off of those schemes is all it is. Alfred can do it all. He’s proven to be a good outside zone runner, but also he’s done a good job with the inside zone. He’s done a good job with the inside zone with his own read attached to it. We ran power a few times, they ran it before I got here and we ran it last year and he’s done good at that. The key to being a good back is having the flexibility and the versatility to run different schemes, inside, power, gap, whatever you want to call them, outside zone, catching the tosses, being able to catch the ball when asked to and protect. Alfred’s been proving that he can do them all, and Matt Jones has shown in the first couple days that he’s a candidate to do them all also.”

On tryout quarterback Anthony Neyer:
“He’s come in here and, you know, those guys have a lot of information thrown at them and its different terminology that can mean totally different things than they’re used to and he’s done a good job. How we found him, you know, our scouts out there, they saw him I think at the pro day and he threw the ball very well and we took a flyer on him and he’s come in here and done some good things.”

On if Scherff will play with a chip on his shoulder:
“Well, I think that the one thing that you like about Brandon is he doesn’t need a chip to play hard. You know, he’s going to play hard no matter what. So there’s no really added motivation that you have to give him on a week-to-week basis, on a play-to-play basis, on day-to-day basis. Out here in rookie minicamp, he’s out here trying his butt off and trying to finish plays and listen and pay attention and translating what he learns to the field. So where you draft a guy, who you draft him in front of, none of that matters at this point. All that matters is that they’re on our team and we’ve got to coach them up and they’ve got to do their work to get themselves ready for Week 1.”

On Evan Spencer:
“He had a slight hamstring [issue].”

On having the first-year veterans participate:
“Well, it’s important for us to see… You know, when you’re on the practice squad throughout the year, you’re mainly servicing the other side of the ball and you’re really not getting a chance to show what you can do other than, ‘Here’s a card, take this gap’ or ‘Play this coverage if you’re a DB or run this route if you’re the tight end.’ Now it’s a chance to use our terminology, our fundamentals, our scheme and see how they adapt and how they play. Some of them have done a good job. Both our tight ends – [Je’Ron] Hamm and [Chase] Dixon – have done a good job, done some good things. Robert Thomas did some good things today. So it’s good to see them, see how they have progressed with what they have done in the weight room, what they’ve learned in the classroom to what they’re doing now.”

On drafting bigger players:
“Yeah, if you want to get big, we got the big thing taken care of. Now we’ve just got to make sure they can play. You know, size is great, man. You’d like to have big people, man, because like Scot [McCloughan] says, it’s a big man’s game. Crowder might have something to say about that. There are some guys that are effective at different sizes but we like the guys. Mainly the thing that we liked about our guys was their mental make-up – how much they like to prepare, how much they like football. That’s important. You think that’s easy to say that everybody would, but it’s not always the case. There’s different agendas amongst different people, but you can tell the guys that we drafted, their No. 1focal point is to be successful football players for this franchise so it’s exciting to see and size does help.”

On if the plan is for Scherff to start immediately at right tackle:
“That would be…  that’s the intent right now. But I think with Brandon, he’s a good football player, number one. He’s a good offensive linemen. We’ll find a spot for him but obviously we start him out at right tackle, but you know Morgan Moses is going to have something to say, Tom Compton is going to have something to say about that, you’ve got Spencer Long inside. But I think with the type of player that he is, the way he takes coaching, the size, the power that he has, we’ll find a spot for him and he’ll be a heck of a player for us. But I think right tackle is the initial spot.”

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