Q: What was this offseason like for you? The whole franchising and signing?
A: Typical offseason for me. Just no plan, working out. Trying to get better.
Q: Was there any doubt that you were going to get the contract done?
A: I wasn’t worried about that. My play took care of itself and we finally got something done. Now, I just worry about football.
Q: When it did get done, what was your reaction?
A: OK. It was OK.
Q: Does it change in your mind now that there is a huge commitment in you?
A: I’ve been here eight years, man. I’m a vet. I know the game and know how to play the game. Teach the young cats. It was the same way when I came in and I was looking at (Justin) Tuck. I have to teach the young cats, the rookies that are coming in and the other rookies from last year. Make sure they play, help the team get better and help the team win another Super Bowl.
Q: How do you feel coming off your surgery?
A: I feel good. I’m walking and I’m running. I’m here at OTA’s participating in every activity that they have. I’m OK.
Q: How special is it to you to continue your career with the Giants?
A: I’ve been here for the long run. It looks like I’m going to retire a Giant. Not yet though.
Q: Do you think there is enough here to be legitimately considered to make a run?
A: I think if we put in the work, be consistent, do what the coaches tell us, we have a very good chance of getting there again and actually getting to the Super Bowl. That’s the goal. Everyone starts OTA’s thinking that we’re here to put the trophy in the case. That’s what we start to do right now. I think if we do what coach asks and we’re consistent, we’ll get there.
Q: When you were watching the game in Green Bay, the pass rush wasn’t as good as it is when you’re out there. Were you thinking that at all?
A: No. I was just upset with myself. You can’t predict injuries. That’s one thing you can’t do. I felt that I would’ve helped tremendously out there, but I couldn’t be out there to help my team.
Q: You had so much success last year and now most of the guys are back. Because of that continuity do you feel that you guys could get even better this year?
A: We’re here to just get chemistry. That’s what we have OTA’s for and training camp. Guys have to know how guys play with each other. Every year you come in there’s something different that you have to work on. There’s something different that I have to work on. That’s why we’re here. To get good chemistry with each other. We know how each other rush. You bond with your teammates. We’ll get there.
Q: Is this locker room comfortable with being potential Super Bowl contenders?
A: Like I said before, if we put in the work, we should get back to the playoffs. Hard work beats talent. I live by that. You put in the work, we should get to the playoffs.
Q: There are people that think this team can be special.
A: You put in the work, you’ll get to the playoffs.
Q: How do you replace Hankins?
A: It’s next man up. Hank was a good player. I understand his situation. He did what’s best for his family. I had a brief talk with him. Hank’s a good guy. I watched to see him grow here as a player and as a man. I had some great times with him. He moved on. Next man has to step up. Jay (Bromley) and Robert (Thomas), even the other guys they bring in. They have to step up and fill that void. We’ll do the best we can to help them out, teach them to get after the quarterback and stop the run. We’ll be alright.
Q: Was that disappointing to lose him?
A: It’s not disappointing. It’s a business. Just like you report and tell stories. If you don’t have a good report nobody is going to listen to you, right? It’s a business. You have to understand that.
Q: Do you pay much attention to the draft?
A: I don’t pay much attention to it. I’m just hoping that the guys that we draft can come in and help us right away. That’s the big thing here. Even as a rookie, rookies can help too.
Q: Do you feel that way about the offensive moves you have made?
A: I don’t worry about the offense. They do their thing and we’re going to do our thing.
Q: Do you feel like this year, in your game personally, you’ll be able to do as much as you’ve ever been able to do?
Q: Did you feel that going into last year?
A: I felt that I was just getting warmed up. Like I said, you can’t predict injuries. I was just starting to get on a roll. I’m over the hump, still rehabbing and trying to get better. Once I get over that hump, I’ll be good to go. I’m set.
Q: Was anything related to overuse?
A: No, I don’t think it was overuse. I know my body. It wasn’t overuse. Me personally, I can play every snap that I can. It is what it is. This is football. I love playing football. My son understands it now. He says, ‘Dada, football?’ I’m on the football field running. It wasn’t an overuse thing. It’s just something that happened.
Q: What does the loyalty the organization has shown to you mean to you?
A: It means a lot. I’ve been here eight years and I’m still going. It means so much. For everything I’ve been through, they stood behind me. I’m here.
Q: There were some reports that Dallas was interested in you. Was that ever serious?
A: Yes. A lot of teams were interested in me I’m pretty sure. I’m here. That’s the most important part.
Q: Are you going to be OK for minicamp and training camp?
A: We’ll see.
Q: Are you still restricted?
A: I don’t know. I’m just out here doing whatever I can. As of right now, I’m doing whatever I can to help the team. That’s all.
Q: What surgeries did you have?
A: I had two abdominal and two groin surgeries.
Q: That was a little more extensive than you thought?
Q: Was it two different times?
A: Four things at one time in one surgery.
Q: What’s your message to Giants fans about how good this team can be?
A: To the Giants fans, we’re going to put the work in this year and try and put the fifth trophy in the case. I know we fell short last year, but it was great to be back in the playoffs. We’re trying to get back to the playoffs this year. Let’s roll. We need the fans and all the support we can get. I’m ready to roll and so are my teammates with me.
Q: You said last year that you don’t view yourself as a leader. Is that the same now?
A: I lead on the field. That’s just me, period. I’m still the same Jason. I lead on the field.
Q: That hasn’t changed?
A: That hasn’t changed. I’m starting to be a little bit more vocal. A little bit.
Q: Do you feel that your best days are ahead of you?
A: Yes, definitely. I think the best is yet to come. Like I said, I love this game. I wouldn’t trade anything for it. Still blessed to be playing this game. I’m just ready to bring it. I feel much better. My weight is 265. I think I’m going to play at that weight. I came in at 290 my rookie year. 290 to now.
Q: What did you play at last year?
A: Last year I played at 275.
Q: What’s the advantage for you?
A: I’m quick. Faster and stronger.
Q: Why’d you want to do that?
A: I’m older. When you get older, you can’t stay the same. You can’t eat the same. You have to change. Football consists of changing. You have to change things to get better. That’s what I’m doing.
Q: Did the team suggest it?
A: No, I did.
Q: (Michael) Strahan lost weight at the end of his career. Did you ever talk to him about that?
A: No, not really. I never heard that. I guess I’m doing the right things.
Q: Since you’ve been here, it’s been an opener with Dallas every year. Do you like that and would you like to see that again?
A: Me personally, I don’t care who we play the home opener. We’re just trying to win as many games as possible to get where we want to go. No matter the opponent we have to play, we have to knock them out one by one. We can’t just jump ahead of ourselves. We’re going to take it one by one. Whoever we play first. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the Cowboys. It’s always them.
Q: Have you set a goal for this defense?
A: There’s no goal. Like I said, it’s just the consistency we have to have. We have to come out and work hard. Guys are doing that now. At the end of the day, we have to come out here and work hard. We have to be relentless. That’s what we’re doing.
Q: Are you ready to go and how excited are you?
A: Definitely ready to go. Very excited just to be back with the boys and being around the brothers.
Q: How much does the disappointment of last year still resonate with you?
A: It’s definitely still in the back of my head. It definitely is on my mind every day we step on the field and come into this organization. We come in trying to build as a team because we have a lot to prove.
Q: What’s it mean to have JPP back?
A: It means a lot. We have two great defensive ends coming off the edge and making great plays.
Q: What was your reaction like when you lost Hankins?
A: It was big. It was a tough loss. We lost a brother. We wanted him back and tried to make something happen. Ends didn’t meet.
Q: What’s the goal for this defense? What do you look at as a team moving forward?
A: The goal for the group is ultimately to try and be number one. What we look at as a team, we have the same guys coming back mostly. Just getting better as a group.
Q: How about for you personally? What has the focus been this offseason?
A: My focus was muscle endurance. That’s one of the biggest keys because I take a lot of snaps. Also, just coming out of my breaks faster and making a lot of plays.
Q: You made a big leap from year one to year two. Could you make another jump in year three?
A: We’ll see. We’ll see when the season comes. I’ll have a lot of game plan things coming towards me. We’ll see how that comes, but I’m looking for the opportunity to make those plays again.
Q: You made the playoffs last year but it ended quickly. How much does that motivate you and drive you to be back this year?
A: It drives me each and every day. It drives me now. That game hurts. We had the opportunity to make plays and we didn’t make it happen. We’re trying to do that in this year coming.
Q: Does that come up a lot with your teammates when you’re back here talking?
A: No. You’ve brought it up today and that’s the first time we’ve talked about it. We have it in the back of our head but we don’t really bring it up. We talked about it and went over it. Other than that, we just keep it moving now.
Q: Is the schedule release something that you look forward to as a player?
A: No, not really. I take it week by week, game by game and practice by practice. Not really big on the schedule.
Q: Have any of your teammates impressed you so far?
A: It’s only day two. We haven’t done too much just yet. I haven’t really paid attention to all the guys. All of us are just trying to get our work in and get stronger.
Q: Thoughts about playing on Thanksgiving if that was the case?
A: It’s a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to it. The more games we can play in a special moment like that in front of all the fans. That’s one of the biggest games on that day.
Q: How’s Darian Thompson look?
A: Good. He’s been running with us. He’s full speed. He definitely looks very healthy and in the meeting rooms, he’s still as smart as he was when he first stepped in.
Q: Do you feel like you and him will be a good combination this year?
A: Definitely. We pray for no injuries and stay as strong as we can. Stay out of that medical room. Things happen, but at the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do in staying healthy.
Q: He could almost be like another added player and make a big difference out there?
A: Definitely. He’s smart, fast, quick and knows the game. He has the knowledge. In doing so, that’s what you need as a partner, leader and secondary person to run a defense.
A: Before we get started, I would like to address what has been going on in the news the past couple of days. However, because this is a pending litigation, I will not be able to answer questions or go into specific details on the matter. I will say that I have never done what I have been accused of doing. I have no reason, nor have I ever had any reason to do anything of that nature. I have done nothing wrong, and I have nothing to hide, and I know that when this is all done everybody will see it the same way. Again, I can’t answer any questions, but if you have anything about the upcoming season I will answer those.
Q: Are you angry to be portrayed this way?
A: Definitely. It is one thing to write about my football or my play— when you are attacking my integrity, it definitely makes me angry.
Q: When they talk about integrity, do you take that personally Eli?
A: One hundred percent. I think my track record of how I’ve handled myself since I’ve been here in New York, since 2004, speaks for itself. I’ve tried to do everything with class and be a standup citizen, and that is what I have done and that is being attacked right now.
Q: I understand because of the pending litigation that you are limited to what you can say, but can you just clarify that one email that became public where you asked (Equipment Director) Joe Skiba to come up with some helmets that could pass as game used?
A: Again, I cannot go into details about specifics. I will say that is taken out of context and there is some other filings that have gone on recently that will clear up a lot of those things.
Q: Can you describe the toll it has taken on you, Eli?
A: I’m handling it. Obviously this was first reported three years ago. I’ve been dealing with it for a long time, but just more angry than anything having to deal with it and knowing that I’ve done nothing wrong and still being attacked.
Q: Do you think this thing will be worked out in due time?
A: It will all work out, and I think when it all does, I’ll be cleared of this and everybody will see that I have done nothing wrong.
Q: To have Governor (Chris) Christie call you a liar, what was your reaction to that one?
A: I can’t get concerned with that. I think, again, my track record speaks for itself and so do the Giants, their history and their history of doing things the right way speaks for itself.
Q: Can you say whether that email that came out, there were others before and right after that in the same chain of emails that would, you say, put it into proper context?
A: I think you will see with the filings that are out there that you will get a better understanding of everything.
Q: Eli, given how you have conducted yourself over the course of 15 years, are you surprised at how quickly some rushed to judgment when there is something like this portrayed a certain way?
A: Sure, definitely. I have done everything the right way and have been a standup citizen and obviously you get— someone starts something up and everybody turns against you very quickly, it hurts a little bit.
Q: Peyton (Manning) went through some similar dynamic— more serious charges against him, that he went through— have you talked to him about how he dealt with it? Do you take from him how he dealt with it to help you in this?
A: I have talked to Peyton about things going on, but yeah, I obviously witnessed him and how that, how he went through that, and it hurt him and it was tough for him at the time and so I understand, but we have talked and it has been good to have someone who has been through a similar situation and being in the same position that we have done and (are) doing things the right way and then being attacked.
Q: Is it something you hope is resolved by the time the season starts? I know we have seen a September date in the papers, so…
A: Always. Always anything that is cleared up sooner than later is better.
Q: Have you heard from the league or is it something you felt the need to reach out to them just to make sure that they are aware of your side?
A: I have heard nothing from the NFL.
Q: You said you have nothing to hide and you have done nothing wrong— are you also making that same statement about what is going on inside the Giants locker room as well?
A: The whole Giants staff has done things first class and done things the right way. I have total confidence they have done everything by the book.
Q: What is it like to have Brandon Marshall as a wideout this year?
A: I am definitely excited about Brandon, been here the last few days, got to work with him a few weeks ago. A talented guy, I think he’ll be a great leader of this team and a great playmaker, and to give us another weapon, you are always excited about that.
Q: One other question about this— considering the money you have made in your career just playing football, people might wonder, why even get involved in a memorabilia business? The amount that you make off of that obviously pales in comparison to what you make as a football player. What is the motivation for even putting yourself out there like that where something like this could happen?
A: Well, I sign autographs like a lot of people do. I owed Steiner jerseys— I did not receive any benefits from that and that was just part of my agreement, but I never personally sold or made any money off a jersey or helmet.
Q: I know (CEO of Steiner Sports) Brandon Steiner is a standup guy, but I am just saying why do athletes who make a considerable amount of money playing football, why even have a contract with a memorabilia dealer?
A: Well, it’s just autographs. It is just a way to sign your name, and I think a lot of people do it. It is just part of the business.
Q: How do you feel about your team? It is obviously early, but there are a lot of pieces that have been added— do you have a good sense about this team for this season?
A: I feel good about the guys that we have. I think everybody has come in excited, excited to get better— especially (from) the offensive standpoint, committed to do whatever it takes to play at a higher level. Our defense was outstanding last year and they are committed to even get stronger and better, so I think we do have a good group of leaders on this team, great character and that we’ll work and do everything possible to have great success.
Q: Have you had a chance to do a full review of your own play from last season, and if so, what have you seen?
A: Well, we’re going through that right now, and I have done it a little bit on my own. I think it’s good to look at it by yourself and make your own analysis but also to have the coaches and get coached and have great communication and talk to make sure we’re on the same page of everything. I know I have to play better. I have to complete more passes, throw more touchdowns, throw less interceptions, and I am going to work to do that.
Q: With this team coming off a playoff appearance and being on the upswing as it is, does this draft take on more significance? Are you more curious about some of the guys you can add that might be the final pieces to a championship puzzle?
A: Well, I think the draft is always important and if you can get a few guys that can come help you right away and fill some spots, it’s great, but I think obviously it’s going to be the nucleus of guys that you already have on the team that’s going to be important. I think even getting playoff experience last year— a lot of guys, it was their first time playing in a playoff game— to get that is invaluable. That is important, even though it didn’t go our way, to kind of fuel that hunger and know what it’s like to get to a playoff game— the work it takes, the commitment it is going to take to win some playoff games, people know what we need to do.
Q: Does it seem like yesterday the season ended?
A: It does. It’s good to be back. The offseason flew by. It’s good to be back with the guys working towards our goal.
Q: Were you able to recruit a few teammates to join you down there in Arizona working out?
A: It’s John Jerry. Me and John Jerry. It’s our second year down there and we got a lot of good work in.
Q: How much do you hold on to how last season ended?
A: I don’t think we hold on to it. I think we keep it there for motivation. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to. I think we hold onto it from that standpoint and use it as motivation to carry into this year to progress and get even deeper in the playoffs this year.
Q: Do you remember what it was like leaving the locker room in Green Bay?
A: Yes. Just the feeling of being in that locker room after the game and the disappointment we had. That’s going to be something that I can carry on and help bring some motivation to go further this year and in years to come.
Q: What’s your reaction to the signing of Brandon Marshall?
A: I’ve watched him from a distance. He’s a very talented player. It’s exciting to have guys like that on your team. You hear that he works extremely hard and is a good addition for our locker room. It’s exciting to have a guy like that.
Q: What about a guy like DJ Fluker?
A: It’ll be good. He’s a big player. A mean player out on the field. Any player we add that has attitude like that can be good.
Q: Is this a big year for you? Contract year?
A: I’m not really looking at anything contract-wise. I’m just looking at how last year went. I’m a much better player than I was last year. That’ll be motivation for me going into this year.
Q: Was there anything physical? It looked like you got stronger as the year progressed?
A: I had some hand stuff going in. I had to get my hand operated on. That’ll be good this year. I’ll be ready to go. I’m feeling a lot better than I was last year.
Q: It was after the season was over?
A: Yes. I’m feeling a lot better. I’m much healthier this year. It’s taught me a lesson to keep working on the body and make sure it stays healthy and ready to go.
Q: You’re going to be ready to go for OTA’s and mini camp?
A: Yes. I’m good to go. I’m full go. Ready to get after it. Excited for what’s in store.
Q: Snapping hand, what was wrong with it?
A: I tore some ligaments.
Q: Did you have a surgery?
Q: What point in the season did that occur?
A: Second preseason game.
Q: You went the whole season with it?
A: Yes. We went to the playoffs and want to go further. We’re excited about the guys we have in this room and excited to get that going.
Q: You had a pretty good year last year.
A: No, I didn’t. We spent the last two days, watching negative plays and dissecting. You find a lot of things that you want to get better at. That’s the only good thing about watching those. You get a list of things you need to improve on.
Q: What do you think DJ adds to this group?
A: He’s the biggest human being I’ve ever seen. He adds size, strength and I think he’ll bring a good attitude into the room. He’ll fit in well with us.
Q: How does he change how it works for you?
A: I can’t worry about that. I don’t make those decisions. I just have to make sure that I take care of my business, progress, become a better player and help our team be more successful this season.
Q: The interior lineman market has risen. Does that make you feel good at least when you see that?
A: I can only control what I can control. If I don’t take care of business, I’m not going to see anything like that. I’m going to work on myself, do everything I can to make myself better and in turn, make our team better.
Q: You said you didn’t have a great year last year, what exactly didn’t you like?
A: All around. There were things that I took from every aspect of my game that I saw that I can improve. Definitely going to work on that this offseason and into this year.
Q: You are a graduate now?
A: I am a graduate, college graduate, UCLA graduate.
Q: Congratulations. Are you graduating to starting RB too?
A: (Laughter) It is training camp right now, so just building the foundation right now, just trying to get it all situated.
Q: How much different is this offseason going to be for you? Obviously last year you were playing catch up from the get go…
A: Yeah, definitely this is my first experience coming to training camp, OTAs, so I’m definitely taking it all in and actually having a foundation to build off of, so that’s important for me.
Q: Obviously there is an opportunity here for you with (former Giants RB) Rashad (Jennings) gone— how did you process that news and how does it affect you do you think?
A: It doesn’t affect my mindset or my training habits at all. With Rashad here or Rashad gone, I am going to prepare and train like a starter. That is what I always say, so I thank Rashad for laying down a template for us to emulate.
Q: Have the coaches or anybody in the front office said there is a bigger role for you if you take it?
A: No, it is just everybody has the same opportunity right now with training camp, OTAs, so we are all competing for the starting job coming out here and working out.
Q: What do you feel like you need to improve on in year two?
A: Everything. I think I can always improve on pass blocking, picking up signals, recognizing defenses, making better cuts in and out.
Q: Did you do anything after the season as far as like just looking back at your whole season — because obviously when it’s going it is probably going in a blur, but what did you take away from it?
A: Yeah, I definitely looked at myself. I critiqued some of my running plays and some of my pass blocking during the offseason, so I’m looking forward to coming back here and working on them.
Q: What did you feel like you did well?
A: Toward the end of the season I felt more comfortable. The game definitely slowed down for me so I was able to make better runs.
Q: How many credits did you have to complete?
Q: Are you walking?
A: I walked last year around this time. I just needed to come back and finish up.
Q: So how did you finish up, online?
A: No, I had to go to class.
Q: Oh really?
A: Yeah, I had to actually go to class and sit down and take midterms and tests.
Q: What was that like?
A: It was dope. It was good being back in the college atmosphere, but I definitely don’t miss taking midterms and finals.
Q: So when did you actually finish?
A: March 24th.
Q: Did that start like immediately, when your offseason started basically?
A: Yeah, so as soon as we left here after Green Bay I went back to California. I was two, three weeks late so I had a midterm in two weeks and then I had to hit the ground running, really.
Q: The offense didn’t do what people wanted it to do last year— how do you feel like you are positioned to improve this year?
A: Yeah, the ceiling is high for us. We have a lot of playmakers both on offense and defense, which is going to help the offense out a lot, but on offense we have big time guys so I think that the sky is the limit for us.
Q: There is a buzz that the Giants might look at taking a RB, maybe a bigger guy to compliment you— do you think that is necessary? Is that a load kind of between the tackles that you feel you can handle as well?
A: Man, if I was making those types of decisions I’d be getting paid a lot more money (laughter), so whatever Coach McAdoo and (GM Jerry) Reese decide is perfect for us. We can always accept more compliments.
Q: Does it make any sense, or would you rather they didn’t?
A: Does it make sense? (Laughter) Like I said, if I was making those decisions I’d be getting paid a lot more money.