BALTIMORE—After his team failed to do much of anything against the Ravens on Thursday, Jay Gruden conducted a press conference that went exactly how you'd expect from a coach who just watched a 23-3 loss.
A chunk of his answers were on the shorter side, and most of his responses were delivered without enthusiasm. But there was one juncture where Gruden perked up and spoke above the reserved tone that he used for nearly every other question.
"Yeah, he popped up, didn't he?" Gruden said about Nico Marley.
"He's an energetic fireplug, that's for sure. He makes plays. He has to continue to do it. We have three more games left to evaluate all these guys. This is a good start in the evaluation process, so now we gotta look for guys who consistenly play well and get better."
Marley certainly did pop up, especially in a contest that was your quintessential first exhibition of the season. The undrafted linebacker broke through for a sack, nearly notched another one and posted four tackles overall.
Afterward, Marley sounded more than pleased with what he called "his first job interview."
"It felt like a dream come true," he said, moments after Will Compton yelled out his name upon seeing a group of media surrounding the 22-year-old. And when asked about the sack, he was very straightforward: "Coach called my number, it was my time to make a play so I had to step up."
The longer Marley's been with the Redskins, the more real his pursuit of a spot in Washington feels. The Aw, that's nice, they're giving the short dude a chance to put on a uniform stage is very much over, and now it seems like he has a decent chance of at least sticking on the practice squad.
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But as Gruden mentioned, he needs defenders who "consistently" play well. So while Marley's held his own through camp at Richmond and his first action in the preseason, plenty more interviews lie ahead.
He sounds prepared, though.
"Get better. That's it," he said in regards to his mindset.
"Single-minded focus, tunnel vision. Play like a lion, go out there and ball."
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