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Lions quotes: Friday's comments from Jim Schwartz, Gunther Cunningham

Quotes from Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham's media session after Friday's Detroit Lions practice.

Jeff Gross

Below is a look at what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had to say after Friday's practice. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)


On what makes the Redskins stretch play difficult to defend: "It does exactly what the term is. It stretches the defense. You typically defend the gaps along the defensive line. What happens is when they run sideways like that the gaps become bigger. You have to then defend the whole and not just one part of it."

On a defense assuming that offensive players are always playing at 100-percent: "I think a lot have been made of (Robert) Griffin's knee. We're certainly ready for him being 100-percent, running the ball and doing all the things that made him successful last week. Honestly, players, coaches, I don't know that we think the same way as everybody else about it. If a player is out there then we have to defend him. If he's available we'll use him to attack. If he's not, we'll move on to the next guy. That's just life in this business. We don't over think that very much."

On if DE Ezekiel Ansah has exceeded expectations: "We drafted him at number five for a reason. He had a little setback at the end of training camp just missing practice time. When he has played, he has played very well. That's what we have expected. We didn't draft him as a developmental player. I think we were very clear about that. I think I've said this before, the greatest reward is the opportunity to do more. He'll be rewarded."

On what makes WR Pierre Garçon a threat: "He's an experienced player. They have good receivers. Santana Moss is a veteran player that has been around for a long time. Pierre Garçon is the guy that is really a focal point of their offense. Getting him the ball a lot of different ways like jailbreak screens, bubble screens, balls down the field. A lot of that is setup with their play action. If they can run the ball well in the stretch, if they can run the option well then that can set up some shots down field. We're going to have to defend the whole field when we play those guys. It's not just about (Alfred) Morris and it's not just about Griffin. It's about their passing game also. They have some tight ends that are very good receivers also. They have a lot of tight ends. I think they have rotated about four different guys through there. All of them can make a play in the passing game."

On G Larry Warford fitting in right away as a rookie: "I think that's a fair assessment. We saw that each step along the way that there was really nothing that was too big for him. He has picked things up very quickly. I think that was the same experience we had with him at the Senior Bowl when we had our chance to be with him for a week. He adapted to the environment very quickly. He learned very well. When he went out on the field he was able to compete against high level players. All rookies have had ups and downs. He still has a lot of things that he is going to improve on and things that he is working through. He's been up to the competition and it hasn't been too big for him. He's done a nice job in that right guard for us."

On what's the key for being amongst the best third down defense: "We spend time on third down. We have guys that can rush. We have guys that can cover. We try to put them in good positions. It's an important down in the NFL. It's stopping a drive or keeping a drive alive, that's all the difference in the world. Also, keeping points off the board. You get a third down stop in the red zone and it might be a four point play. Go from a touchdown opportunity to a field goal, get a third down stop in the fringe area that might be a three point play on defense. We certainly spend a lot of time on it. It's important to us. We want to be a good third down team defensively and offensively. I think we have players that can do it."

On how short is Darius Slay's leash moving forward: "That's a bad term. I don't think that's the way we look at it at all. I think he's going to be a very good player. He's made good plays for us. So has Rashean (Mathis). Rashean is a multidimensional player for us and a very experienced player. When we get into the game, whether it's before the game or during the game, we make the decisions we think best help us to win that game. We don't have any other agenda."

On how valuable is P Sam Martin's net average: "We didn't draft him to be a bad punter. We drafted him to be a good punter. That was a deficiency for us last year. We lost that last game against Arizona. We didn't lose it because of Sam. Sam had an outstanding day punting and an outstanding day kicking the ball off."


On this week's practices: "We have worked hard this week to get ready for the next game. We had a tough loss, I think Arizona is a really good football team, there's no doubt about that. We were in position to win and we need to win those games. This week's practices have been good though. I think the guys will be ready; there is no doubt about that."

On what he needs out of CB Darius Slay: "Darius is an important part of the team, that's why we drafted him. He can run, he's a good athlete and he's young and he's a rookie and he has to learn sometimes. I think the way we are handling things is great. I've read a couple of articles on (Jets CB Dee) Milliner that didn't sound so great. You have to be careful on how you handle people at this age and he is a good player and he's going to be a real good player."

On CB Bill Bentley: "It's one of those week-to-week things. He was real good against Minnesota and then not so good against Arizona. It takes time. Young guys have to learn that in this league you can't close your eyes for one second because the next team you play is looking right at you and see what you do right and what you do wrong and they try to attack you. Bill has had a good week of practice as well and he will be ready to go."

On Bentley's confidence: "He is pretty level headed that way. He is really mentally tough and I think a lot of it has to do with his background. He came from nothing and he has a goal in mind about how he plays. I think he was pretty distraught after the game but he made some really good plays as well."

On what scares him about the Redskins offense: "Everything. I was telling someone today, one thing about Mike (Shanahan) he is not just a guy. He is really just a bright, bright man. I know him socially, I know professionally and I have known him for a long time. I've probably coached against him more than any other coach in the league and we have to be ready. They are under pressure. They have lost two games so we better be ready when we walk out there. They will have all of it going. I have read some of (Redskins Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's) quotes and I don't know if he meant to make those quotes but they were pretty good. He gets you ready. He was talking about the fact they haven't run the option enough and things like that. It helps you to read those things."

On if it is harder or easier to face a coach you know so well: "He is going to find something you do wrong and its coming out in the first 15 plays. Played (Mike Shanahan) one year and he ran 18 plays in a row on the first drive and they scored. All I could say to the defensive guys was ‘if it takes them 18 plays to score we're going to win'. We won with two seconds with a 54-yard field goal. 17-14. He is really, really good. I think one of the things, he has changed the league in many ways, that stretch run that they have. When Alex Gibbs was with him they started all of that. He takes backs that no one else looks at and they're 1000-yard rushers all the time. He struggled early there in Washington, last year they were really good at the end of the season. They had the injury to the quarterback but he is a heck of a coach and heck of a good friend."

On if he wants Redskins QB Robert Griffin III to run: "I don't care what he does as long as we beat him. He's one heck of an athlete. I've never seen a guy throw the ball the way he does right now. He throws it to his left and his front foot is almost 15-degrees behind him and that arm he has makes up for it. I saw him make some great plays. He hasn't run as much and they're getting a lot of pressure to run him. I believe he is going to do whatever it takes to try and beat us."

On getting CB Rashean Mathis to play here: "Getting Rashean really helped in a lot of different ways. He can play in about three spots back there, he is really bright, he is one of the veterans. He's like James Hasty, I got him at (age) 32 in Kansas City and Rashean is like that. He is really a heady football player, its helped the young guys."

On CB Chris Houston's play this season: "I don't know what happened on the sideline but I was really upset the first couple of plays, the way he was playing the run. I don't know what happened but after that he probably played the best football game he's played since he's been a Detroit Lion. He tackled as well as I've ever seen him tackle. I was kidding him this week, I said, ‘You took up the slack' meaning he didn't stay back when the runner was breaking. He was ducking his head in the tackle and tight end gap making plays. I was really impressed. I thought he had one bad play, that skinny post or whatever you guys want to call it, to number 18, he should've covered that guy."

On if the Redskins changed Robert Griffin III's style of play: "What they've done, a lot of teams are doing, is hand the ball off and back pedal away from the hand off. If he fronts out with a fake then he is live and you treat him like a running back. But I watched San Francisco a couple days ago, they're all doing that, they are handing the ball off backing the quarterback out of there, which is a logical thing to do. If you treat him like a running back, he is going to get hit and those injuries are going to happen. I do see a different style now."

On the defense getting off the field on third down: "I think we have better (defensive backs) as a group. They're probably brighter and understand the concept in the passing game more and they're knocking balls down. Linebackers are intercepting them, (DeAndre) Levy has reached his potential that we saw when he was coming out. The defensive line has a lot to do with it. Their size and their length and their height, it's tough to throw over those guys. Carson Palmer did a great job by the way. Back when he was at Cincinnati I thought he was one of the top three or four quarterbacks in the league. He hasn't lost that arm, he can still throw it. I think on third down, we have a better group of people out there. We are playing the scheme a lot better than we did the last couple years. I think having people available to play helps."

On how much pressure Robert Griffin III puts on the defensive ends: "The heck with the ends, how about me and the rest of the coaches? He is something. He is a heck of a player. I don't even know if you call him a quarterback, he is just a really good football player all around. He seems to have a high level of character and all those things. He's proud to be a leader, I hear all those things. I've seen him on tape but I've never met him. He puts a lot of pressure on you."

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