Mondays and Wednesdays are media days for the Washington Redskins, but most beat reporters favor "hump day" because it offers so much more. In addition to answering questions about the previous week's game, the Redskins provide injury updates, comments about their upcoming opponent and, in some cases, a zinger or two that's unexpected.
So before his players shuffled off to practice for Sunday's home game versus Atlanta, Coach Mike Shanahan got candid with the personalities that cover them.
Here's what Shanny had to say (per Redskins.com), with some analysis thrown in for good measure.
Mike Shanahan: [Safety] Brandon Meriweather is out. [Cornerback] Cedric Griffin did not practice with a hamstring injury. [Receiver] Brandon Banks was limited in practice with his [sore] hip. Also limited were [Receiver Aldrick] Robinson with a concussion and [running back Evan] Royster with his knee. Full practice was [left tackle] Trent Williams and [receiver] Pierre Garcon.
The Redskins must be relieved that Williams and Garcon are fully practicing again. That's a sign of improving health for both players and a clear indication that they did not re-aggravate their foot and knee injuries against the Bucs.
And, in case you missed it, Meriweather and Robinson were involved in a pregame collision that knocked Aldrick unconscious and resulted in a re-injured knee for Meriweather (which was the same one he had recovered from). Both players were scratched from the Tampa game and their return is cloudy at best. Fortunately, Robinson is okay, but he was diagnosed with a concussion. According to Shanahan, "he'll have some tests [Thursday] and if he's cleared with those tests, he'll be able to practice." Meanwhile, Meriweather's latest recovery time is "at least a week," according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post.
On Trent Williams' decision to play last Sunday
MS: Any time a football team elects somebody captain, to me, it's the highest honor a player can get because he's elected captain from his peers. And they thought enough of him to elect him captain, especially after what happened to him last year. I think he felt a responsibility to play [while] hurting. So, I thought he played at a very high level. I like his attitude. I like his demeanor and it was big for him to play in [the Tampa Bay] game. Hopefully he can play at a very high level this weekend [against Atlanta].
At the quarter mark of the season, the Redskins have the league's second highest-scoring offense. That's a credit to the offensive coaching staff (Mike and Kyle Shanahan) and to the dynamic players the team has added to its offense (i.e. rookies RGIII and running back Alfred Morris and free-agent acquisitions like Garcon). But Washington's offense almost ground to a halt when Williams got hurt in the Cincinnati game and was replaced by backup Jordan Black. Black is a veteran, but he was called out of retirement this summer, when Washington had injuries to its O-Line in training camp. The Redskins are scary thin at tackle, so if Williams misses time due to injury or another suspension, a massive oil leak may occur in the offense's engine.
On Billy Cundiff's game-winning field goal and the effect it had on his confidence
MS: It would have been a lot easier on my heart if we would have [scored] a touchdown. No, you want guys to step up and that's part of this game. You go through some tough times and when you go through a tough time, you want to be able to prove to your teammates that you can play and make the big field goal and he did that.
Cundiff missed three straight kicks (from 41, 57 and 31 yards) before nailing the one that counted the most. He's now six of 10 this season and better get his act together. Shanahan gave him a small vote of confidence, but Cundiff's next bad game could be his last.
On RGIII's "on-off switch" as a rookie (from joking around to being serious)
MS: Everybody has a different personality. It's very natural for him to be very business-like, but he does have a great sense of humor and can change very quickly from being very serious to being very jovial. But things come pretty easy to him. He's very natural. I don't think you really know somebody until you spend some time with them, through the tough times and through the good times. It just takes time getting to know people. But I've been impressed with the way he handles himself, the way he relates to people and his work ethic. Everybody can see his skill, but you just never know if a guy is going to take it real serious and be a natural leader [and] he's done all of those things that you hoped he would do.
RGIII has the "it" factor, but he's not cocky about it. It's obvious that he was brought up to be respectful of others and humble when he should be. But let's not forget that he's just 22 and 22-year-olds can act childish sometimes. The Redskins are cognizant of that and will allow Griffin to have fun, but they won't have to worry about babysitting him because Griffin is mature beyond his years. He has certainly shown that characteristic on the field and seems determined not to make the same mistakes twice.
On Griffin's decision to play with his "hands-up" on fakes, so he could avoid hits on Sunday
MS: We kind of emphasized to him when to slide. He's a competitive guy and he's going to compete as hard as he can. But we also shared with him how important it is to stay healthy and that if you don't show your hands or don't do it quick enough, you're going to take some shots that you don't have to take. He's going to learn every game. There's going to be learning experiences for him. When a defensive end is coming at you at 280 pounds and runs a 4.5 forty, take your hands and show him you don't have the ball because if not, he's going to take a shot at you.
Shanahan's message better be loud and clear to Griffin because teammates and fans have expressed general concern for the Heisman Trophy winner's well-being through four weeks. All you have to do is watch a replay of Tampa Bay's defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who burst through to halt a red-zone run by Griffin in the third quarter on Sunday. I ran it back three times in slow mode and cringed every time I saw his right knee bend awkwardly. RGIII even grabbed the knee for a split second, but shook it off to trot off the field.
On Redskins receivers leading the NFL in yards after the catch
MS: First of all, you have to have players that have the ability to do that and Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan have that ability. You're not always able to get those guys, but we were able to get a couple of those guys and then you get a guy like Leonard Hankerson and a guy like Aldrick Robinson, who has always had the ability, but has now stepped up and made some plays for us. So, you're constantly looking for those types of guys and that's the difference between winning and losing.
It's really nice to see Shanahan speak so highly of Robinson because he worked his tail off to earn a spot on the 53-man roster this year. I have personally rooted for Aldrick since his breakout preseason game against Chicago and scoffed when I heard somebody say this week that he may disappear after sustaining his concussion. Nothing can be further from the truth. Robinson has proven to be a playmaker during the regular season and should continue to be. Playmakers see the field on Mike Shanahan's team, especially those who carry an underdog status.
On Alfred Morris' success and if he has met or exceeded expectations
MS: When Alfred first came in, you knew you had a guy that's pretty special. It was just the way he ran, his body lean, and the way he handled himself. You could see that throughout the preseason and each game that he played, he gave you more confidence that he could be the go-to guy. And by the end of preseason, you knew that you were going to give him the chance to be a starter. And each game, he gets more confidence and I think you can see, he's pretty natural at the position.
That's a lot of yous in one sentence, Mike. But we believe you. The kid's legit and it's why he's starting again this week on fantasy rosters across the land. Morris is also learning how to be a role model. Recently, his enthusiasm for the game became contagious, when he created a touchdown celebration for some newfound friends.
On the improvement of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan (whom the Redskins face at home on Sunday)
MS: You can see that he reads coverages well. He knows where to go with the ball. He doesn't have any wasted steps and he makes most of his decisions off the first hitch or second hitch. He [also] doesn't hold the ball too long, so he's got everything you look for. He's a natural thrower and he's played very well.
Shanny went on to praise the Falcons' other offensive stars, which include running back Michael Turner, receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez. But he forgot to add that Ryan is ranked fourth in the NFC in passing (1,162 yards) and he's thrown just two interceptions. According to CBSSports.com, "Matty Ice" also leads the league in touchdown passes with 11 and passer rating (112.1). Ryan's scoring strikes are frightening because the Redskins have allowed just one less (10) through four games this season.
On injuries the last few years to safeties on the Redskins' squad
MS: It's been crazy this year because I thought we had more depth at that position than we had [at any of them]. We had six guys that I thought would make our football team and I like all six of them. And to lose three guys like we have is quite unusual. But now we're getting safeties that are safeties slash corners and sometimes with the three, four and five receiver set, that safety has got to be like a corner and in some situations those safeties are a little bit smaller. Everybody's looking for that 6 foot 2 and a half inch guy at 230 pounds to play pass defense as well as run support, but there's not too many of those guys out there.
Shanahan's safety quote is telling because he replaced a beleaguered DeJon Gomes with Reed Doughty against Tampa, after Gomes got shell-shocked by A.J. Green and Cincinnati's other receivers the week before. Madieu Williams played okay against the Bucs with a couple of tackles, but rookie seventh-round draft choice Richard Crawford has not been the difference maker he was in the preseason, when he faced second and third-string opponents. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Crawford, and that means "Not For Long" if you can't cover first-stringers.
On the progress former Green Bay running back Ryan Grant is making and if he will be active for Sunday's game against Atlanta
MS: He's getting more comfortable with the system and I can't [say] for sure if he's going to be dressing. But, from what we've seen, I like the guy. He learns very quickly. He's very sharp and he's got some running skills. So, it's a good addition for us.
Since losing Roy Helu for the season, Washington's depth has been shallow with Evan Royster spelling Morris on some passing downs. Fullback Darrel Young has been nicked up, so Shanahan is probably anxious to get Grant into the mix. It sounds like Ryan is close, but he'll likely need a full week of practice to be active. I'm guessing that he'll suit up next week at home against a Minnesota team that he's familiar with from his days in the NFC North. But I could be wrong and he may take snaps away from Morris this week. Let's hope not, for Alfred's sake, and for the sake of fantasy managers who fear the return of "Shanahanigans" in Washington's backfield.
Joe Versage is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage Takip et: @JoeVersage
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes by Mike Shanahan in this article were obtained via Redskins.com, from Wednesday, October 3rd's media day at Redskins Park.
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