Here are some of the topics Jay Gruden discussed during his conference call with reporters on Monday.
—We covered the extensive injury list in a separate post. To sum it up, there is a lot of pain but perhaps few if any missed games.
—Talking about the offense in the fourth quarter, Gruden said that he “challenged” Kirk Cousins. Then he backed off a bit on a follow-up question. “I didn’t really, just, ‘It’s the fourth quarter, man.’ It’s his time,” he said. “It’s time for him to make the plays that he’s going to make. We had a lot of confidence in him and he had a lot of confidence walking out there and performed well.”
—Yesterday, I wrote about the Redskins’ improvement in defending the run (with the appropriate small sample size warning). When asked about it, Gruden pointed to improved personnel. “I just think overall the team defense, I think we’re better personnel-wise, quite frankly,” he said. I think that helps. I think when you add Jonathan Allen… I think Matt Ioannidis had a heck of a game and you bring in Ziggy Hood, who is playing good nose guard football.” Hood and Ioannidis are not new to the team but both are playing better than they did last year, particularly the second-year player Ioannidis. He also mentioned free agent acquisitions Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee.
—Rookie RB Samaje Perine came in to spell Rob Kelly a bit early in the game and then took the main load when Kelly went out in the second quarter with a rib injury. While gained 67 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, his 21 rushing attempts were key to keeping the clock moving. “I think he did a nice job, really,” Gruden said when asked about the rookie’s debut from scrimmage. “I think I felt him run with a lot of power. Even after his 10th, 12th, 15th carry, I still think he had power left in the tank, which was good to see.”
—At the time of the press conference, the Redskins’ statement on putting Su’a Cravens on the reserve/left team list, ending his season, had not yet been issued. Gruden was asked about a Sunday report that he had talked to Cravens about coming back. “No, I haven’t heard anything from Su’a or about Su’a,” he said. That’s what you call a flat denial.
—In his first two years as a starter, Cousins completed 68.3 percent of his passes. This year his completion percentage is 61.2. His passer rating is down for 99.3 to 82.9. It’s complicated, said Gruden. “I think there are a lot of things involved in his completion percentage,” he said. “We have taken more shots. We haven’t done as many of the quick passing game that really get your stats up to around 70 percent. I think those will come. I think the quick passes will come and I think we will hit some more shots down the field.”
MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS
—Early in training camp, fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson couldn’t fully participate in practice as he recovered from a shoulder injury. In Week 2, he started at strong safety. “I think he has just progressed,” said Gruden when asked about the change. “We started him in training camp – obviously he wasn’t on PUP, but he was unable to practice, but he was getting all the walkthrough reps, so he was getting all the mental reps, which is important for him. Then when he was able to practice, he just got in there and made some plays. He is a big, physical guy that can run and we are excited about his prospects.”
—Junior Galette has played 39 snaps in two games. He got a sack against the Eagles but it was wiped out by a penalty. Still, Gruden likes the way he’s playing. “Oh, yeah, we’re happy with where he’s at,” he said. “We’ll try to get him more and more in there, but with Kerrigan and Preston, we’re trying to get all three of them on the field from time to time. But I like where Junior is at. He’s getting better and better.”