Jay Gruden: "Each Week Is A Great Challenge"

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden speaks to the media Tuesday at the Inova Sports Performance Center.

On T Trent Williams and RB Chris Thompson:

"Yeah, we're just doing walkthrough right now and… Chris is with the trainers working. As was Jamison [Crowder], as was [Quinton] Dunbar and then we'll have another walkthrough this afternoon. Hopefully we'll get these guys a little bit of running and get a better feel after practice today. Not practice, a walkthrough."

On if there is anyone who he can rule out for Thursday's game:

"I'm not for sure on anybody right now. It's just hard to gauge because we are walking through on a short week. I think some guys will have to make significant improvement. Trent is a little bit different because of his thumb. It's just a matter of if he can feel comfortable gripping with that cast on. If he does, then I think he'll go, but only time will tell."

On if giving up more rushing yards in lieu of defending the pass:

"I think we are going to have to switch it back a little bit. Obviously Zeke [Elliott] is a major force and Dak [Prescott] running with his legs is very important to try and corral him a little bit with some of the zone reads and the bootlegs and the quarterback runs. We had a good plan against them last time but I know Dallas will have an answer as we should try and improve on what we've been doing the last couple of weeks. A little combination of everything like I said yesterday, there are times when it might have been a linebacker who missed a fit or a defensive lineman who got out of a gap or somebody missed a tackle. I still like where our run defense is at, we've taken a couple hits the last couple of weeks, but they are playing hard and running to the ball."

On the details of QB Alex Smith's injury:

"You know what, they told me kind of what it was, but I don’t really… I know that he had surgery and we're just trying to get him better and told the players to hopefully go see him and all that stuff. If you want the details we can probably have a report from Larry [Hess]. I'm not really much into the exact surgery procedures. Doctor [Robin] West and Alex, I just know he's in a lot of pain and had a surgery."

On the differences in the Dallas offense since WR Amari Cooper was acquired:

"Well, he's another weapon for them. It's not like they didn’t have any weapons before they got him. This is a guy who was a first round pick, very talented player. I think they will probably try to take more shots with him and open up the playbook a little bit more with more shots. They took some shots on us last time without him, so I don’t know how much they can change in a day or two. The last couple of weeks with Amari, they've tried to get him the ball and he's an excellent receiver. Fortunately, we've played some pretty good receivers in the last few weeks with Julio [Jones] and [DeAndre] Hopkins and the list goes on and on and Amari is just another one we throw in there so we've just got to go out and compete."

On dividing time between reviewing the game against Houston and preparing for Dallas:

"Yeah, we were really brief reviewing. We didn’t have a lot of time to really hone in. We tried to make a cut up of a few of the plays we need to improve upon and some of the things we did well, but it was quickly moving on to Dallas. I think the coaches really, once we got in here Monday morning, it was a brief glimpse of the film, correct the mistakes that we had and then move on to Dallas and try to get a plan together for the players."

On his evaluation of CB Josh Norman tracking the top receivers:

"I think it's been good, I really do. I think in [Quinton] Dunbar's absence, we've had to travel a little bit more and I think he's doing a pretty good job. You're talking about Mike Evans and [DeAndre] Hopkins and Julio Jones and he's done a pretty good job. He had a couple of holding calls – one was legitimate – but for the most part, I think he's done a nice job competing, as has everybody else. Each week is a great challenge, different skill set for each receiver he plays against but Josh is a guy that's going to study and he's only got a couple of days to study Amari [Cooper] and [Cole] Beasley and whoever else they put out there, so I'm sure he'll get it done and do a great job again.

On if the familiarity of facing Dallas makes the road atmosphere easier:

"We've played some tough road games. I think everybody who's played in the NFL is used to road games. Dallas is a beautiful place, beautiful stadium, beautiful venue for a football game, but I think we have to handle the noise offensively without a doubt. The only guys that it might have a minor effect on some of the rookies, but talking about Daron Payne who played at Alabama, who played in plenty of big games on the road, so I think everybody will be fine."

On if the Dallas offense looks different since they added Cooper and changes offensive line coach:

"Not really no; no. They've tweaked it here and there as they do every week for every opponent, so I'm sure we'll see a few different things than they played versus Atlanta. Atlanta has an entirely [different] defensive scheme than we do in their base fronts and sub fronts and all that, so I'm sure we'll see some new wrinkles. I think it's about studying what they did against us last time, understand that they had a change and that they'll probably attack us a little bit differently. But, you never can tell. I think there have been a few tweaks, but we just have to be ready."

On what the offense will gain if RB Chris Thompson returns:

"Well, you gain a guy who's a great player. He's a guy… before his injury last year, I think he was one of the top running backs in the league as far as total yardage out of the backfield, running the ball and catching the ball. He had a lot of yards when he was playing here before he got his injury. He's a great weapon, not only a weapon, but he's great in protection. We blew a couple of protections last week and we've just got to get better in that regard. Our third down backs have got to step it up and make sure we're sound in protection number one, and then when we're asked to win against a linebacker, they've got to win in the pass routes. Chris Thompson is pretty consistent in doing both."

On Thompson's elusiveness:

"Yeah, he's got natural quickness really and he's a tough kid. We try to get him in positions where we can get him out in space and make some plays and he very seldom drops the ball. I can't remember the last time he had a drop. He's got great hands, runs great routes, creates separation with his quickness and then after the catch. He's a special guy."

On how much he knew about QB Colt McCoy before he joined the team:

"A little bit, I didn’t follow him a whole lot. I know he was in Cleveland, but at Texas, he was one of the all-time winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football. You've got to have a little bit of respect for the guy to know that he can compete and play. But it wasn’t until we really got him that I got to know him and watch him play and progress, that I thought we have a pretty special guy here in the building. When you have a chance to have two quarterbacks, last year we had Kirk [Cousins] and Colt, this year we had Alex [Smith] and Colt, it's a heck of a benefit. We're paying him pretty good to be our backup for a reason in case something like this happens, we feel very comfortable. I've seen him out here. I know nobody else has. They probably just remember him playing in Cleveland, maybe a little bit of preseason [and in first year here, but I've seen him progress as a player, as a person throughout his stint here. But now it's a matter of live reps, he hasn't taken a lot. Last week was the first time he's taken them since preseason and he didn’t take any last year in the regular season, just in the preseason. So, I think that's the biggest issue we are going to see, is how he handles the live reps, the entire game plan with the cadence, the protections, all that. It's just a little bit different than sitting on the sidelines and helping out your buddy. I fully anticipate he is ready to go and I think he'll have a big day."

On if he likes McCoy:

"Yeah, I like everybody. I even like you [Laughter]. Yeah, I do like Colt. I like his competitive nature and I think he brings a lot to this football team. When you're running scout team, it's not always easy, but he brings a competitive fire to the defense. He helps the defense considerably. He helps our receivers get better, talking to them, our [running backs]. He's made our team better as a result of him being out here working with the young kids on scout team and now it's his opportunity to work with the ones (first unit) and I'm excited to see it."

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