Jay Gruden On Alex Smith: "Every Week He's Getting More Comfortable"

Washington Redskins Head Coach, Jay Gruden, speaks to members of the media following practice Wednesday.

On injuries:

"Alright did not participate was [Jamison] Crowder, ankle; [Shawn] Lauvao, calf; [Adrian] Peterson, shoulder; [Quinton] Dunbar, shin; [Zach] Brown, illness. Limited were [Paul] Richardson, knee/shoulder; [Brandon] Scherff, knee; [Ryan] Kerrigan, chest; [Chris] Thompson, rib/knee; [Morgan] Moses, elbow and Fabian Moreau, ankle. Everybody else was full."

On if OL Shawn Lauvao's injury is residual:

"Residual, kept him out. Just took a day off of him."

On if there is an update on CB Quinton Dunbar:

"Not really no, no. That's something that's going to take a little bit of time. He's going to try to run tomorrow, see [how] his leg feels and see if it can hold up or not. We'll make a decision hopefully by Friday."

On if the doctors said Dunbar's injury was a nerve issue:

"Yeah, it's a nerve issue. He got hit on the shin area, lower leg and we think it might have done something to the nerve or something, trying to figure it out. He's in some pain when he runs. It gives out on him a little bit. We're going to try to strengthen it and hopefully he can do a little bit of running tomorrow and we'll see where he's at."

On the challenge of executing on offense to score more points:

"Yeah, that's what we're trying to get to. The big thing is we have to make the plays that are there. We've made some really good plays in tight windows and all that stuff, not taking away anything from that regard, but some of the plays we've missed. We are beating ourselves up over it a little bit. So, move on, learn from them and then try to attack the Giants appropriately. Stick with the plan. Guys are doing good overall, got some wins but I know we can do a lot better offensively."

On the players on the Injured Reserve list:

"Trey [Quinn] is doing better. He's jogging right now. I think hopefully by next week there's a chance he could maybe start practicing but I don’t know. We'll wait and see. Byron Marshall is doing a lot better. Rob Kelley is doing pretty good. You know, we get two guys to pluck off that thing. We have to make a decision which two and that'll come soon probably with some of those guys. We'll see how we come out of this Giants game before we do anything."

On DL Stacy McGee:

"McGee has been practicing. He's doing a lot better, yeah. He's getting his feet under him and he's got a chance to be active either this week or next week possibly."

On if being ranked high in time of possession in the NFL is helping the defense:

"I think it's big. I notice it and I also notice the field position. I think Tress Way did an amazing job on Sunday pinning them [Dallas Cowboys] and making them go 85, 80 yards, 90 yards a couple times. You know, third quarter we're obviously struggling when it comes to scoring touchdowns. But, we held the ball for I think 12 minutes in that quarter, which is pretty good, got some points. We also kept the field position in our favor. As long as your defense is playing good, that’s not a bad recipe right there. But we do have to get better on offense punching the ball in. Time of possession has been good for us and our defense."

On the importance of field position:

"Yeah, it's big, you know, it's big. It's hard unless you get some chunk plays to go 85 yards consistently on 12-, 15-play drives. I think with our run defense, the way it's starting to pan out to be, I think it’s hard to pop runs. Then our pass rush is getting better and better and our coverage is getting better. We know how difficult it is when we're backed up at our own 15 to go 85 yards consistently on 10-, 12-, 13-play drives without the luxury of a 45-yard gain or something like that. Field position is a major stat I believe in the NFL."

On QB Alex Smith:

"Yeah, you know, when you have…we did some good things I think. Every week, he's getting more comfortable not just with the way we're calling plays, the way we're doing things, with the people around him and the protections and all that stuff. There's a lot for a quarterback to do in pro football. When terminology is new for you and your players around you are kind of new and the clocks going and the fronts are moving and all that stuff, sometimes you're going to have a missed opportunity from time to time. He's getting more and more comfortable and he's going to get better and better. I like where he's at and I know that he knows we can do a lot better on offense."

On the miscommunications with Smith:

"Yeah, I think we've had a lot of similar carry over concepts from Kansas City and from where he's been with San Francisco. He's been taught different things. Sometimes I take that for granted. He's a 15-year vet and he probably doesn’t need to know how to read this certain concept because he's done it so many times. But, we might have a little tweak on it. It might be Jordan Reed might be number one of his progression or it might be the back or what have you. We're all getting that communication on a daily basis. Then each week, there's a new set of concepts that we might have to add for the defenses we're playing. They might play a totally different coverage. So, we have to be able to adjust and coach them up properly so we're thinking on the same page."

On being 4-2 approaching the deadline and if that makes searching for players easier:

"I mean, you never know what could be out there but I feel good about the players we have. I think the depth that we have is solid and I like where we're at. If a great opportunity comes up to get a player, that’s fine, but if we don’t get anybody, I'm great with the guys we have. I think defensively, we've got good depth on the defensive line, the linebackers, outside backers are doing extremely well, safeties play well together, corners, we've got a little bit of an issue there with the injuries with [Quinton] Dunbar and obviously Danny's [Johnson] broken arm, but he played fine with it. Fabian's [Moreau] ankle, but I think he'll be ok, but overall defensively we are in good shape. Offensively, we stayed away from the injuries except for receiver, but I think guys have stepped in, [Michael] Floyd and [Brian] Quick and those guys have done a good job. We don’t really have an issue where we say 'oh my gosh, we have to get somebody', so I feel good about the guys we have."

On facing another top running back and balancing pass coverage with the Giants' top receivers:

"Yeah no doubt, that’s the defensive coordinator's problem and nightmare. It's good that our front is doing a very good job against the run without having to bring a lot of safeties in a lot of times, but Saquon [Barkley] is a different guy. He's a combination of [Alvin] Kamara who can catch it out of the backfield and the quickness and Zeke Elliott who's got the power and the speed. He's got both. So, definitely a guy you have to figure out how to stop because their offense runs through them. I think he's like 39 percent of the touches or yards or what have you. Obviously, Odell [Beckham Jr.] and [Sterling] Shepherd are great receivers and [Evan] Engram is a good tight end. A lot of weapons to choose from over there, we've just got to be sound in what we do, disciplined with our eyes and pursue to the football like always."

On the Giants trading two defensive starters:

"Well, I think the Giants have been playing a lot of guys so I don’t know. I'm not in their building, I don’t know why they did what they did but I know that they played a lot of guys in their rotation and obviously they feel good about the things they got in that deal. But, we're going to prepare for the system that they are in and obviously try to attack the people who we think we are going to play against so that’s all we can do. They still have very good defensive personnel over there, guys that can rush the passer with [Olivier] Vernon, guys that can cover; they still have [Janoris] Jenkins and obviously Landon Collins. They have some pretty darn good players over there even without those two they lost (Eli Apple and Damon Harrison) so we're getting prepared for the Giants and expect a very hard fought game like it always is with the Giants."

On coaches feeling more comfortable with going for it on fourth down:

"I don’t know. It depends on the circumstance and the situation really. Like we had a fourth down with four seconds to go in the half and it counted for a fourth down, we just threw a Hail Mary. Sometimes the rewards outweigh the risks really. If you don’t get it you expect your defense to get the stop, and if you do get it, it’s a chance to really change the momentum and field position and get points on the board. It depends on the defense you are going against and the backs that you have or the plays that you might have dialed up for that defense. A lot goes into the thought process there but sometimes like I said it's worth the risk."

On running the ball on first down rather than passing:

"I don’t know, I think Adrian [Peterson] has been doing a pretty good job of getting some yards on first down and our [running] backs, and I think we've had some opportunities to throw the ball but when we are in a lead like we had then, we've had success running the ball so it’s nice to stick to it sometimes. But, we'll probably get that number skewed back to 50-50 here pretty soon, but I think the intent here is to be a physical football team. We have a big offensive line, our tight ends are blocking a lot better now, our receivers with the absence of Chris [Thompson], Paul [Richardson Jr.] and Jamison [Crowder] we have a pretty big set of receivers that are good at blocking safeties and corners and all that so it really provides our running game a spark so sometimes the running game is a little better option."

On the return of CB Josh Holsey to practice and what he envisions from him:

"We just started him off PUP, it's his first practice, he's got maybe a 21-day clock going, we're just going to get him acclimated and back in the system and we'll see how he moves around and all that. It's the beginning stages of his rehab and progress but he looked good today."

On RB Adrian Peterson not practicing and if it's rest versus serious injury:

"No, it's rest, yes. I don’t envision him practicing Wednesday the entire year really. This is a good chance for him to get in the hot tub and cold tub and all the cool things we bought for our recovery center [Laughter]. He can get a sleep tank for all I care [Laughter]. You know this guy; he got to walk through reps this morning. He worked on the new run; footwork and all that stuff this morning, got some work in the rehab room. He'll get the meetings this afternoon and tomorrow morning and he'll get some work tomorrow and Friday. But, this is good for him, he's put enough Wednesday's in his career, he can miss one or two... or 16. [Laughter]"