Jay Gruden: "We Know How Important Division Games Are"

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on the field against the Carolina PanthersPhoto: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden addresses media following Wednesday's practice.

Statement on NBC Sports Washington Writer Rich Tandler's passing:

"I first want to say, I heard about Rich Tandler today and I just want to say sorry. He was a good man, a good writer, and I offer my condolences to his family… very sad, sad, news today."

On injuries:

"Injury front did not participate was [Troy] Apke; [Jamison] Crowder; [Paul] Richardson, shoulder-knee; [Shawn] Lauvao, calf; [Adrian] Peterson, shoulder-knee, [Brandon] Scherff, knee; and Danny Johnson, forearm. Limited were Chris Thompson, rib and knee and [Ryan] Kerrigan, chest. Everybody else was full."

On the challenge the Dallas Cowboys run scheme presents for DL Jonathan Allen and DL Daron Payne:

"We faced some diverse run schemes already. You don't think New Orleans [Saints] is, but they're very diverse with all the jet sweeps and traps and the toss cracks. Then Carolina [Panthers] comes to town and they have the zone reads and the quarterback powers and all that stuff. We've had some diversity we faced already, but Dallas is another unique-type team. They can line up and bust you between the tackles and they can get outside and the quarterback can run. It's a great challenge for those guys and those guys just have to hold up against Zack Martin (Cowboys guard) and [Joe] Looney (Cowboys center) and those guys on the interior and hopefully free up the linebackers."

On if there are any players who are ruled out for Sunday:

"Nobody definitely, I would say…yeah no. I'd probably say [Troy] Apke. He hasn’t practiced in a while. It's going to take him some time to get back, then [Jamison] Crowder probably. He's probably the most 'iffy right now of the group but we'll see. There's still some time."

On if LB Ryan Kerrigan's injury was from Sunday's game:

"Yeah I think so, yeah. He practiced on a limited basis. I didn’t know he was hurt until I just saw this list."

On if he will look at film from the Indianapolis Colts game in preparation for Sunday:

"A little bit, but I think we're studying more on what Dallas is and who their players are. You know, we let that one go. You're right, similar type movements upfront we didn’t handle very well but there's some plays that we had for the make and we should make. With Dallas, [Demarcus] Lawrence (Cowboys defensive end) and [David] Irving (Cowboys defensive tackle) and those guys up front, they're pretty good. They're fast, they're physical and they pursue the ball extremely well. They have linebackers [Leighton] Vander Esch (Cowboys linebacker) and obviously Jaylon Smith (Cowboys linebacker) and if Sean Lee (Cowboys linebacker) plays, it can follow the football extremely well."

On if RB Adrian Peterson will be missing practice occasionally from now on:

"I think that will probably be the case whether he's nursing an injury or not. You know, I think he's the type of guy that could use a day here and there."

On DL Stacy McGee and CB Josh Holsey:

"Yeah, I'm hoping Holsey could start tomorrow. We might start his clock tomorrow. Stacy got his first day. He's down a bunch of weight. He looks great. He's in great physical shape. I think he felt a little weird with the pads on for the first time, but I think it's great to get him a good week or maybe two to get him up to speed and get his pads a poppin' and see how he does."

On if McGee will be ready for Sunday:

"Yeah we'll see. We have Caleb [Brantley] here ready to go, but we also might need that spot we're holding for possibly another position depending on how these guys…you know, you look at the list, you can almost see that we're going to have to add somebody somewhere. That's why we needed the spot."

On S Troy Apke:

"No, he came back and he was fine. Then he repulled it in practice. Had I known he was going to repull it in practice, I would’ve put him on IR but I didn’t know that. Hopefully he'll be alright (laughter). These dang rookies, I'll tell ya."

On DL Daron Payne's addition to the defense and stopping the run:

"Yeah, makes a lot of difference, especially when you're last in the league in run defense statistically. I know the last few games really put us over the top. We weren’t that bad for the first handful of games, but when you have a weakness, you have to address it. Daron Payne was what we thought was the best run-stopper and Vita Vea (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in the draft and we're lucky to get him. Obviously, paid huge consideration for adding a player of that caliber, now if it was just an ordinary guy, we wouldn’t have taken him in the first round. But we felt like he could be a dynamic, not only run player but also help us in the pass rush."

On if Payne has played up to his expectations:

"Yeah no doubt, no doubt, you saw him yesterday or last week. Even though he didn’t have any sacks, he ran down a screen, forced a fumble, he runs to the football, he holds the point of attack extremely well, gets off blocks. He's a good player."

On his message for scoring more points in the second half:

"We've got to do better at halftime of addressing what we need to do to attack the defense. Also, we've just got to do a better job of finishing plays. We've left a lot of plays out there that schematically look to be OK, we're just not finishing. We've just got to do a better job in that regard, try to get in better situations. The Arizona game, we had a pretty big lead, so we kind of hunkered down a little bit, try to run some clock. Same with Green Bay, we tried to work the clock a little bit more, just try and keep Aaron Rodgers over there tying his shoes. Then last week, we had a couple of mishaps, but we've addressed it. Mainly, it's coming in at halftime, getting the coaches together, getting the plan together, how we are going to attack and continue to attack."

On TE Jordan Reed and if he can still be effective when defenses game plan for him:

"Yeah, it's hard to double tight ends. You can do it, but it's hard. Some of these teams that play these zone coverages, it’s a matter of him finding the zone and finding the hole and he's really pretty good at that. He's also good at separating man-to-man but he's really good at finding holes in zones. Sometimes they can roll a coverage to him, or what have you, but he's just got a great knack for finding holes, that’s what makes him so effective. When you're beating zone coverage you have to do that, then beating man-to-man, he can beat the guy, whether it's a safety or a linebacker. He will take that just about any time. We just don’t see a lot of man-to-man, with a few exceptions."

On focusing on consistency and what you can control:

"Yeah, that has an impact. Last year with the offensive line, it had a major impact. This year, some of our skill [positions], you are talking about Chris Thompson and obviously [Jamison] Crowder now, and who else is on this list? Oh, Paul Richardson. When you have a new quarterback working with new receivers and they're not available to practice, it has an effect. Josh Doctson has missed a lot of time here and there, so I think that has had a little bit of an effect. Any quarterback wants to have that continuity and it’s not always perfect. You are going to be working with young receivers or new receivers year in and year out, but throughout the course of the year, you would like to work with the same guys. That hasn’t been the case but we've just got to make do. Guys like 'Mo' Harris have got to step up, Brian Quick, Michael Floyd, who just got here, he's got to step up so that’s the way it is."

On facing a division opponent at this point of the season:

"I don’t think it matters really. I think it's good to get some games under your belt before you face, because they are such important games you know? Division games, we learned, obviously last year going 1-5, how much of an impact that can have on your entire season. But tiebreakers and all that stuff means a lot and obviously being Dallas, you'd like to have, with a new quarterback and some new, young, defensive players, you’d like to have some kind of games under your belt before you reach the Cowboys, so it's good that its Week 6, or 7 whatever it is."

On Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence:

"I think his relentlessness really. He's a very skilled rusher, but what makes him special is his relentlessness. He can be blocked, he can be doubled and somehow, I don’t know how he does it, he gets through, and not necessarily getting sack after sack after sack, but has a presence and it affects the quarterback a lot. I just think he's very talented, but the way he plays, the effort that he plays with is second to none."

On what concerns him about Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott:

"Well I think number one, we have to gang tackle like always, but I think there is going to be certain defenses where we are going to possibly have a free hitter, whether it's in the hole or within four or five yards, we've got to make the tackle. These one on one tackles against 'Zeke' are easier said than done but that’s what has to happen. Great backs can make the unblocked player miss, or run through him for another five or six yards and that’s what he's done in his career. They get hat-on-a-hat-on-a-hat because there is always a free player coming and that guy has got to make his presence felt and make that tackle, or at least hold him up until guys get off blocks and can make the tackle."

On if Dallas has done anything different coming into this game:

"No, I think they are going through it. I think Dak [Prescott] (Cowboys quarterback) and those guys are going through it a little bit, they have some new receivers too, a couple new lineman, a center, a couple new tight ends because [Jason] Witten (former Cowboys tight end) is not there. It takes some time, I think everybody has expectations we should score 40 points a game. Some teams are doing that right now, but teams with a lot of new players on their roster, some new receivers, new tight ends, it might take some time."

On the teams scoring 40 points a game:

"Well I think some of those teams have a ton of skill, a ton of weapons and they're executing at a very high rate, so that's it."