Jay Gruden is present, tense at training camp-opening press conference

Posted at 12:02 AM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 00:02:23-04

Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. - Practice makes perfect.

So, it might be a blessing that Thursday, the Redskins hit the field for their first workouts of training camp. Because currently, things don't seem to be ideal in burgundy and gold.

"I'm really concentrating on guys that are here right now," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said early on in his Wednesday afternoon press conference.

During the camp-opening media briefing, the 'Skins bench boss was peppered about players who will not be on the field for Thursday's first practice. The largest loss - literally and figuratively? Pro Bowl offensive lineman Trent Williams, a no-show at camp due to reported dispute with the team.

"Right now there are some things that he has to work out individually and personally - with his agent, professionally - whatever that may be," Gruden said of the seven-time Pro Bowl selection. "I don't take anything personal in this business, for sure. I love Trent, I love what he has done for this franchise and this team, but we expect him back soon."

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden talks to quarterback Alex Smith. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A return "soon" is not the case for franchise quarterback Alex Smith. Gruden confirms Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury last October, has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

"It’s on Alex right now," Gruden noted. "Alex is on PUP. Our job is to do everything we can to get him right. His job is to come in here and help in any way he feels fit to do so. So if it's in meeting, helping out our young quarterbacks… he’s got Case Keenum who’s never been in the system, Colt [McCoy] has been here for a while, but he’s hasn’t had many starting games and obviously, Dwayne [Haskins] is a rookie. So, having his influence and his leadership in that quarterback room will be beneficial. But the most important thing for me, and for this organization, is for Alex to get well. So, if he needs to take time and do some rehab, or what have you, then he is free to do that. I know that he wants to be a part of this and help out in any way that he can."

Linebacker Mason Foster had 35 more tackles than anyone else on the Redskins last season. The team cut him Tuesday - two days before camp.

Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

"I think there is no real good timing to release a player like that," Gruden admitted. "He was a good player for us, a great player for us, led the team in tackles, but we feel really good about the youth that we have at linebacker."

Could Gruden be makin' like Mason and be on his way out of Washington? Entering his sixth season as a bench boss, Gruden is the longest-tenured NFL head coach without a playoff victory.

"I think that this is the greatest coaching job in pro sports and it is an honor to be the head coach of the Redskins and with that comes great expectations, and we haven't lived up to them the past couple of years," Gruden said. "Performance is king and our record these last two years we were 7-9. In the National Football League, you got to win to keep your job, and we have to get it turned around. [Owner, Dan M.] Mr. Synder and [Team President] Bruce [Allen] have given me a great opportunity to coach this franchise for five years, going on six, and I have every intention to believe, every reason to believe, we have a great football team and we are onto something special here."

And if not, Gruden could soon join Williams, Smith and Foster as Redskins being acknowledged for their absence.