Q: How has the first week been?
A: It’s been great. I’ve been in the playbook just trying to get adjusted to things. It’s a little different than the offense that I come from so I’m still learning.
Q: What’s so different about it? For you, what’s the biggest difference?
A: It’s going from a concept-type offense and then back at my school you had a digit system. Everything is a lot easier, you can just tell. You can line up and you tell somebody they have a number route and they’ll know what to run instead of here it’s the whole concept of a play.
Q: Can you get an idea of how you will be used in this short amount of time? Or is it really still learning everything?
A: Really right now we’re all still learning. It’s a new offense for everybody. They just got it maybe two, three weeks ago. Everybody else is still learning as well. Right now it’s really just, it’s up in the air and it’s up to coach where and how he’s going to use me.
Q: Did you learn multiple spots or do you start by learning a specific spot and then sort of branch out from there?
A: I kind of teach myself by learning one spot and then learning the whole play as well so that way you don’t’ have to just play one spot, you can get substituted in here or there.
Q: What spot it that? I assume it’s on the outside?
A: I kind of taught myself the X right now and learned the Z as well so when they’re in the two-minute and you don’t switch sides you know exactly what’s going on. And then you move on to the inside because coach says he would love for me to go inside and do some things. Kind of just learning it all day by day.
Q: This offense is supposedly fast-paced. Can you talk about building up the rapport with the quarterbacks, Eli, I don’t know how much he’s been doing but just building up that rapport with reading his body language.
A: Right now for me it’s a lot of learning the offense, not so much what the quarterback’s doing. Just feeling adjusted and that way, when it is time to get on the same page with him, it will be a lot easier because I know what I’m supposed to be doing and he obviously knows what he’s supposed to be doing. It will be a trust thing for me.
Q: I don’t think Rueben Randle is a personal tutor for you but he is someone who you know. He’s learning the offense too. What kind of relationship have you… since you’ve been back with him?
A: It’s been great with Rueben. He kind of, when I came into LSU he taught me the ropes there. He’s teaching me things now. Like you said, he may not be (my) personal tutor but he’ll teach me what I need to know as far as the position that he plays and the opposite side as well.
Q: What about just the personal comfort zone of having someone you know look after you?
A: It’s definitely comforting to have a piece of home out here in my new home. Just hanging out with him and kind of rekindling our relationship has been fun.
Q: What about Victor Cruz? I’m sure you’ve worked with him now?
A: Absolutely. Victor was one of the guys that I watched a lot last year and he’s one of the people that I model my game after so to be able to have him in the room and to be able to pick his brain has been great for me.
Q: How quickly after you were drafted did Randle reach out to you?
A: It was crazy because he texted me before the draft actually happened and he was like, ‘Good luck today, just praying for you.’ That type of thing. And then after the draft your phone just goes off so he kind of waited maybe two days or something like that and then he hit me up and it was just like it’s great to have that big brother back in your life.
Q: How many years did you play together at LSU?
A: We only played one but it was a great year.
Q: Were you on the field together a lot?
A: Absolutely. We usually played, him and I were starting at the time and we did a lot of me and him lining up on the same side. Just being next to him and then being back it at again, it’s like you never left.
Q: Do you think that could help?
A: Definitely. Playing with him and just knowing, kind of being able to read each other’s minds to an extent, even though we only played for a year, it’ll make it easier after we played for a year or two or however many.
Q: Obviously you know Eli from the past, camps and stuff. What was that like when you came here? What did he say to you and what kind of chemistry, if any, do you have?
A: It’s been pretty surreal actually. Going to the Manning camps and throwing with him and back in high school I think it was my sophomore or junior year, he came back to school and he was throwing. The coach always tells me about him and Peyton were deciding who gets to throw with me. We had other receivers out there but they were young. One day, thinking that maybe I’ll get to play with one of the Mannings, and now here I am, it’s pretty surreal.
Q: Has he said anything to you about that?
A: He messes with me all the time calling me a ‘Greenie’ and stuff like that, how it’s great to have another ‘Greenie’ on board so I always joke with him about it.
(Note: Greenie is the nickname for the Isidore Newman School athletic teams. Eli and Beckham both attended Newman School in New Orleans.)
Q: What do you think of this new offense?
A: I like it. It’s nice to kind of get something new, get the guys excited again. I’m just happy to be out there throwing the ball around again.
Q: What do you like most about it? How does it differ from what you’ve done in the past?
A: There are some similarities and some differences than in the past. We’ve got some aspects of it that are kind of fun because the philosophy is to attack. That’s kind of what makes us kind of enjoy it now and grasp it.
Q: Did your system at Syracuse have any West Coast concepts to it?
A: Yeah, my system in college was primarily West Coast so there was some carryover from college to Coach McAdoo’s system.
Q: How do you see it helping you or fitting some of your skills and your ability?
A: It’s something that I’ve done in the past, which I kind of got away from last year. Now that we’re back in and stuff, the lessons that I’ve learned in the past are kind of becoming relevant again. It’s been nice to be able to have that background now when I’m trying to learn something new.
Q: Do you think it fits your skills better than a vertical kind of attack that you were running last year?
A: Yeah, more or less. Getting the ball out quick, having a good running game and playing fast, which is something that I think I do pretty well and something that I fit pretty well into.
Q: Are there fewer decisions to be made in this type of offense?
A: It’s kind of hard to tell right now just because we haven’t been up against a defense yet so we’ll see when the time comes.
Q: Obviously you guys are just getting into it, but with Eli injured, how has that helped you? Have you seen an increase in reps?
A: Yeah, during his rehab I’ve gotten a chance to get a few more reps with him being a little limited. It helps me develop, helps me get a little bit of a better feel with receivers and the system as a whole.
Q: Has it been a drastic increase for you?
A: This is my first offseason so I don’t really know how it works in terms of reps. To be honest with you, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe ask me that question next year.
Q: How important is that No. 2 job for you to secure? I know you have a little bit more competition this year?
A: That’s the goal right now, to secure that backup spot. We have a great competition going on in our room. We have so great guys in there. We’re all learning, we’re all grinding right now, helping each other. It is what it is.
Q: They brought in a bunch of quarterbacks; they re-signed Curtis Painter, they brought in Josh Freeman. How do you view that?
A: I don’t really see it as anything. It’s the same reason why they bring in guys for other positions. It’s just trying to create competition, trying to make guys better, trying to make guys play at their best at all times.
Q: Having had this opportunity to have an offseason, does that help you with building camaraderie as opposed to coming in late like you did last year?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I think my progress from this offseason compared to last year is like night and day. I didn’t have to deal with the draft and all of those workouts and stuff like that like I had last year. Now all I have to do is focus in on what we have to do here.
Q: Do you change your mindset at all knowing what the competition is now? Last year there was a lot made about will you play or make the team, that kind of thing. Is the mindset different for you?
A: My mindset has always been the same since I started playing this game. I want to go out there and play the best that I can, earn my position and leave it all out there. Then the chips will fall where they may.
Q: Are the expectations different?
A: No, I don’t think the expectations are different. My expectations, my goals are to earn that spot and stay with this team. It kind of goes without saying.
Q: How have your first few days gone?
A: They’ve gone really well. I’ve gotten to know the guys on the offensive line. Right now it’s just learning the offense, that’s the biggest thing right now is really a lot of mental repetitions and dong that here in the meeting rooms and then when I go home, getting those reps in as well.
Q: A lot of people who know what you did in college say that you’re about as pro-ready as a center could be for the NFL. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?
A: I don’t know if anybody’s pro-ready because the players are so much better and faster and stronger. I think there are some people that are more well-prepared than others. I’m coming in, I’m going to work hard just like I did in college and treat it like I did then. I’m going to have to earn what I want to get. That’s kind of my mindset right now.
Q: Obviously you’ve only been here a week or so but what do you see being the biggest transition from what you did at Colorado State to what they’re doing here?
A: The change in terminology right now is what I’m dealing with, that’s the biggest change. The concepts of plays are the same, the concept of the offense is the same, it’s just the terminology is so much different, so that’s going to be the thing that I’m going to have to really pick up as quick as I can.
Q: How do you do that? What is your routine?
A: Here, in the meeting rooms, going over with coach Flaherty, all of the calls in the offense and then when I get home, it’s watching film and just quizzing myself for about an hour, two hours every night.
Q: There’s also an element of non-verbal communication, knowing what the guy next to you is going to do. Coming in cold, how do you kind of expedite that?
A: Yeah, that’s been difficult. Being a center, it comes on me knowing what every guy’s supposed to do. So that’s coming along. I’ve got to gain the trust of the guys besides me and they’ve got to be able to trust me to make those calls. That’s the thing we’re working on right now, mental repetition, making sure I’m getting the calls down so they can trust me and we can be as efficient as possible with all of the calls.
Q: Coach has said that the center is going to have more responsibility for the line calls. Is that something you did a lot in college?
A: Yeah, in college I did everything we’re doing here, but like I said, the terminology is all different. We’re probably reading the defenses a lot more here as centers. That’s the adjustment I have to make. I’m working every day to get that down and do it as fast as I can.
Q: Do they just have you strictly working at center? I know it’s early but do you expect to work more than one position?
A: Yeah, I was told I’d be in at guard a couples times but it’s only been a week. That will come. I’m just focused on learning everything right now.
Q: Is this, in a way, like learning a new language?
A: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.
Q: How different, how challenging intellectually is it?
A: I think it’s pretty comparable. There may be some different wrinkles here with the Giants but everywhere you go, every new offense you learn, you’re going to have to learn all the new words and terms and plays. I think it’s just the adjustment every player to a new team is going to have to make.
Q: What are some of your overall impressions of some of the guys on the line? Has anybody taken you under their wing? Chris Snee or Geoff Schwartz or anyone like that?
A: I feel like our offensive line is a really good group, tight group of guys. It was easy for me to come in and relate to those guys. I have been training with Geoff, so I knew Geoff and I’ve gotten to know J.D. pretty well, so fitting in with those guys was no problem. They’ve taken me under. I’m just excited to continue to learn and continue to work with these guys.
Q: Does it bring you guys closer together because everyone is learning a new offense at the same time?
A: Yeah, I think so. I’m about four weeks behind them because they’ve been here longer. I think it does kind of level the playing field a little bit since we’re all, like you said, all learning. We’re able to work together and progress together.
Q: What’s the difference in guard for you? What are the challenges that are different for you to play guard compared to center?
A: Center is making more of the calls so center is probably more intellectually harder. Guard you’ve got to be able to pull and get out and things like that.
Q: Are you watching films of the Packers’ offense from last year because that’s where McAdoo is from or are you watching stuff that David Baas and Shaun O’Hara did before you were here with the Giants?
A: Some of it is Giants film and some is with Green Bay.
Q: You’ve got the offense down 100 percent and you’re ready to roll?
A: I don’t have it down 100 percent but I feel like I’m doing pretty well picking it up and it’s going well.
Q: Do you feel like maybe the toughest adjustment for you will be once the pads come on, maybe some of the pass blocking, stuff like that? Or do you think it’s now in the classroom?
A: I think once you get the fundamentals down once the pads come on and you’ve been repping it so much, and the way they build it up in phase one, two and three, and you build towards the pads, it kind of just falls into place.
Q: What do you feel like the opportunity is here for you? They’ve really struggled at running back.
A: I think the opportunity is just to come in and compete and get better. Being around the guys in my circle, the running back group, and the whole offense as a whole, everybody’s really together, there’s a good feeling in the locker room about the offense. I think it’s just an opportunity to compete and get better.
Q: Is it shocking to you as a running back that the top running backs in the country are going as late as they are in the draft? That people aren’t really drafting running backs high the way they used to?
A: I don’t think it’s shocking to me. The draft has come and gone at this point. I’m not really worried about it anymore. I’m just glad I ended up here because I think it’s the perfect fit for me.
Q: Why do you think it’s the perfect fit?
A: Because my family is all around here. I grew up in New Jersey, I live in Pennsylvania now so I’m about an hour and forty-five away. I’m coming back home.
Q: How different are the blocking responsibilities? That’s something that usually, in order for young running backs to get on the field, it takes a little bit longer to perfect. Is that something that you find challenging? Is it that much different than what you’ve done in the past maybe?
A: I don’t think the responsibilities are that much different. I know I’m going to have to be a lot cleaner in terms of pass blocking fundamentals but I’m using a lot of the same protections now that I used in years past.
Q: Is that what you’re kind of focusing on? The fundamentals?
A: Yes, absolutely.
Q: This team in the past has had success with a three-headed monster at running back. If you’re there, David Wilson can come back healthy and Rashad Jennings is there, what is that trio capable of and how do you guys complement each other?
A: I can’t really say how they’re going to build that three-headed monster. I’m not really too sure yet, I’m just getting here and learning as much as I can, but I think that each running back brings a lot of different specialties to the table and I’m just excited to see what we’ll be able to do on the field.
Q: You and Rashad Jennings kind of have similar playing styles in the sense that you’re kind of the big, bruising back. Do you talk to him about how he’s been able to have success in the league?
A: I really like Rashad, he’s got a real welcoming personality and there are a lot of things that I’m learning from him but I’m really just trying to get the plays down now and really understand the offense.
Q: How much does the level of success you reached in college, a Heisman finalist and everything, what does that do for your confidence coming into the league?
A: College football and professional football are two completely different games. It’s a lot faster, a lot more physical, so I’m just coming in with a blank slate and looking to see how my game is going to develop from here.
Q: We talked a little bit on the conference call with you but you didn’t have a lot of experience last year and in past years with receiving out of the backfield. Is that something that they identified that you have to work on?
A: They’re not really going to handicap me at all. I have to be just as effective passing and running as the other running backs in the group. It’s something that I’m definitely working on.
Q: Any of the BC guys take you under their wing and try to show you the ropes? You’ve got some big name BC guys here.
A: Yeah, Kiwi definitely introduced himself to me and Herzlich sat down and had lunch with me and we just talked. They all just let me know that they’re around for whatever I need. It’s just really comforting to know that I’m coming from such a strong network. Like I said, it feels like I’m still home.
Q: What are your impressions, you said you grew up a Giants fan, of being able to wear the Giants helmet, being able to wear the Giants jersey. Did that dream come true, not only to be playing in the NFL but to be playing for your favorite team growing up?
A: It’s kind of surreal, the idea of having an opportunity, but you know what, every day I come out here and practice and it becomes more and more real. The guys in front of me, I want to learn from them and get better. I just want to add to what the D-line is in New York City as far as the New York Giants and that’s a lot of pressure.
Q: What do you see yourself bringing to the line?
A: I want to get to the quarterback, first and foremost, but I know in order to do that you have to stop the run, which I know I’m more than capable of doing. I have great guys around me to teach me that like Jenkins and Patterson, those guys have helped me out a lot by watching them, just like JPP and Kiwanuka, just run and get the quarterback and get to third down.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you’ve seen so far that you can really tell you about the jump from college to pro?
A: Yeah, there’s not a big separation between talent among positions. It’s not like this guy is great and this guy is nowhere near him; everybody’s pretty close. JPP is a great athlete but at the same token technique will help Kiwanuka be just as good if not better than him at certain things. Those guys worked extremely hard on their craft.
Q: Are they having you play mostly the three technique right now? Is that what you’re learning right now or are you trying to learn both the three and the one?
A: Coach makes sure that we learn the inside of the line because there have been instances throughout the course of the season where somebody might go down and a D-tackle might have to play end or the three technique. I’m learning from the shade to the nine, all of that. I want to be more versatile so I can be on the field more.
Q: They talked about you getting up to 315-320 and adding muscle. How do you view that and how hard do you think that will be for you? And where have you played in the past?
A: Throughout the course of my senior season the heaviest I probably played at was 296. Then I put on weight in the offseason to better my chances for the draft and everything like that. I’m probably only around 303/304 right now but I’m getting in great shape. As far as the 315/320 mark, we’ll see what time has. If I can ball at this weight, then they really can’t say anything so I really just have to do the best I can at this weight and be as strong and fast as possible.
Q: Were you surprised to see that also? And then you see those numbers. Because like you said, that’s like 20 pounds more than you’ve played at in the past.
A: Yeah, it’s just different. I don’t know what the future holds for me, those guys, that’s what they do. They have players come in and that’s happened to some of their players. If you can be effective at any weight, then you know you’re an asset to this football team.
Q: How easy is it for you to put on the weight?
A: I put on weight every year I was in college. I came it at probably 260-something and I put on weight every single year. My senior year I was playing at 296 and then after that going to the all-star game I was playing at 307 and kept that weight throughout the whole combine process. I’ve been able to put on weight pretty good and have still been able to move and be fast at it. I’m not sure how that will work but they have a great nutritionist here, they have great food here, so if I have to do it, I’ll make sure I focus on it.
Q: So how have your first few days gone of learning this defense?
A: I’m not going to lie, the first week everybody was kind of swimming. But I think we’ve caught up and I think this is great what we’re doing, instead of doing minicamp and doing this has been extremely helpful to everybody.
Q: When you’re as versatile of a player as you are, can that sometimes be… I don’t want to say a curse but can that make it hard for you to figure out where you fit in with a pro defense?
A: Coach has me playing free safety. I think that’s a good fit for me, I think that’s a good fit me for me on this defense. It gives me the ability to do a lot of things, which I’m used to. So it’s a pretty good deal.
Q: Have you had an opportunity to learn that hybrid linebacker spot as well or does that come with that position?
A: Not yet, but who knows? We’ll see what happens.
Q: How much time did you spend in the slot? Going against tight ends giving up five or six inches in this league?
A: I spent a lot of time on tight ends in college. Technique just comes in. You just take them where they want to go and just make a play on the ball.
Q: Have you talked to Antrel Rolle at all or when you first got drafted? Has he said anything to you?
A: We talked on Twitter a little bit. He reached out to me, we kept in contact and we’ve been talking. If I have a question, I go to him. Just trying to get in and get close.
Q: He’s another guy kind of like yourself where he’s physical and can guard tight ends. Do you model your play at all after him?
A: I think you have to in this defense. He’s the kind of guy you look to a lot to try to figure out how things are done. ‘Okay, do it like that.’
Q: How much have you done on special teams? How familiar are you with it and what are the challenges of trying to learn it?
A: If you’re a football player, I don’t think it’s that hard. I did it through college except my senior year. I’m used to it and I know that’s part of the place that I’ll have to really focus in on and get things done. We’ll see what happens.
Q: How much do you think your skills, what you do, you’re a safety, you hit, you tackle how much do you think that helps you translate over to that area?
A: I think it helps a lot. Being able to go downfield and make an open field tackle, just being physical at the line of scrimmage, getting out on kickoff, punt, things like that. I think it’s going to be helpful.
Q: A lot of the offensive rookies are talking about how the veterans aren’t that far ahead of them after they got a lead on them in the new playbook. For a defensive rookie that comes in, the veterans are already established in what you guys like to do. Do you feel more of a learning curve that you have to make up for in a quicker amount of time?
A: With all of the extra meetings that we do, the veterans have the day off and the rookies come in and we still meet. That’s really helpful. I think it’s helped a lot with our progression of us learning all of the new stuff. We’re putting stuff in every day so every day you kind of have to be on your toes. Having the playbook and bringing it home, it’s just how much you want to put into it really.
Q: Maybe there’s a flip side, you can turn to the veterans. The offensive guys are turning to veterans and Eli used the word ‘swimming’ a couple weeks ago. For you, can you turn to the veterans and get some help that way?
A: Yeah, absolutely. They’re there to help you just like the coaches are. Antrel has done a great job of that.
Q: How much has this been a whirlwind for you? You guys had to come in quick and sort of just jumped right into it. You’re not even really settled in regards to living arrangements and stuff. How wild and strange has it been?
A: It was pretty wild. Once I got drafted I came out the next day. I’ve been here ever since. I’m from California, so it’s a six-hour flight. I’m far away from home but they’ve made me feel at home here. The organization is great and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Q: What’s the biggest change between California and here in Jersey?
A: The weather is great right now. I know the winters are brutal but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Q: How has the first week been going?
A: It’s going great. They just kind of threw the playbook at us and we’re learning, picking it up fast enough. I feel like I’m adjusting to things pretty well so far.
Q: Where have they told you you’re going to work most?
A: They want me to learn the middle linebacker spot and the SAM spot, so I’m kind of doing some dual learning and making sure I know both.
Q: Some of the offensive draftees have come in talking about how everybody is learning the new playbook. For you guys on the defensive side, all of the veterans know the system. Do you find that as a help?
A: Definitely. You’ve got some veterans in the locker room who really know what they’re doing in Beason and Spencer Paysinger and guys like that. I’ve been clinging to those guys early on and learning from them and watching them, seeing how they do things. It’s just the little parts of the game that give them the edge. I’m trying to pick up on those things. I think it benefits me a lot.
Q: Do you think there is going to be an opportunity to play or do you think special teams is going to be…?
A: I always have the mindset… I feel like I can play with the best. I’m just trying to learn the defense and earn my teammates’ respect and the coaching staff’s respect. I’m ready to do whatever the team needs so we can win.
Q: What would be your preference if you had to pick where you’d play?
A: I definitely think SAM linebacker is the position that I feel most comfortable with. That’s what I did last year. But that’s because I did it last year, I feel like I can come on the inside as well. I definitely have a passion for rushing the passer, passing situations and things like that but I can also cover and do things like that.
Q: How wild is it that after the draft Xavier Grimble ended up here with you?
A: I was excited when Xavier came. Me and Xavier are close; we’ve been with each other for a few years now so I’m glad he’s out here. We’re kind of leaning on each other. We’re good friends.
Q: Were there any other teams that looked at you as a MIKE?
A: A lot of teams talked about SAM and MIKE. I think a lot of teams saw me as a dual guy and liked the versatility to where they could play me in either spot.
Q: What do you concentrate on here? Obviously you’ve got to learn multiple spots but what position do you start at and put your primary concern on?
A: Right now they have me concentrating on middle linebacker. My focus is there, that’s what I’m focused on. They also want to make sure I know the SAM as well.
Q: Kiwanuka, as a linebacker at times, would put his hand on the ground. Is that something you could see yourself doing potentially down the road?
A: I’m here to do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do, whatever they see for me. If that’s what they want, I feel like I’m definitely capable and that’s something that I would like to do. I’m ready to do whatever the coaching staff feels is best for the team.
Q: Did you reach out to Xavier after the draft? Did you talk at all and send texts?
A: I definitely talked to Xavier. They were definitely interested in him and I kind of told him that and was asking him if he was going to come. He was pretty passionate about it and was excited to come out, so it kind of worked out.
CB BENNETT JACKSON
Q: A lot of guys get to the league and they have to refresh themselves with playing special teams. You’re a guy who made an impact last year and throughout your career. Could you talk about how important that is to making an impact and sticking on a roster?
A: I feel like there are three parts to a team: offense, defense and special teams. Everybody wants to play defense or they want to play offense. Especially when you get to the NFL, you’ve just got to make the roster and help the team the best you can. I’m going to go out and work and try to get on whatever I can. I enjoy playing special teams. I have a great time with it. I feel like it’s an extremely important part of a game and how the game is determined so it’s extremely important to time.
Q: How quickly did you realize the struggles the Giants had on special teams last season? Did you familiarize yourself with any of that? A lot of returns taken back for scores. I’ve got to imagine improving special teams plays is a priority in this building.
A: Yeah, it’s something that we’re covering through the meetings and whatnot. I haven’t had a chance to get deep into it as I want, but obviously that’s something we’ll continue to learn more about and continue to work on and improve.
Q: How surreal has this been for you? The fact that you grew up here. I don’t know whether or not you were a Giants fan growing up as a kid, but how surreal is it that you’re 35 miles away from home?
A: It’s crazy. My mom was probably the most excited just because I’m not leaving too far.
Q: Do you live at home now?
A: I actually live a little closer to here. Not home, I’m trying to stay away from there as much as I can. It’s great. Growing up in New Jersey, I never had a particular favorite team but I’ve always liked the Giants. I always came to a couple games so it’s just kind of like you’re living out your dream. Finally when you get the chance to actually go out and be a part of such a great organization, it just motivates you that much more to work harder.
Q: Can it be a struggle, especially at this level, to balance special teams and learning your position?
A: It’s definitely a struggle. It’s not easy but if you put the time into it and you try to learn it and you give it your effort on the field, you’ll get it down. All of the players around you are extremely helpful, the coaches are extremely helpful. They’ll tell you what you need to do. I feel like I’m getting it. Obviously we still have a lot more to do but I’m just going to continue to be a student and try to learn as much as I can.
Q: Is there a particular veteran that has taken you under his wing?
A: I wouldn’t say there was one. There have been a bunch of guys that have helped me out. I know Prince talks to me every day, tells me if I have something here or there. Mostly I’m pretty much on it but if I have a question, him or Charles James, they’ll shoot me a quick thing and let me know what’s going on.
Q: Did you come out early because you have an agent that told you would probably be drafted?
A: It was pretty much I would say my decision. I had an agent, I talked to my family. I think it was kind of in-between but I made the decision completely by myself. I think it was a good decision, just looking at my health and where I was. I didn’t have the greatest workout I wanted to have at USC but my ultimate goal was always to play in the NFL and I had a shot so I’m about to take it.
Q: What do you need to show them?
A: That I’m just a hard worker, tough and am willing to do anything to contribute to the team, special teams, offense, whatever coach asks.
Q: There was an impression coming into the draft that there were the catch-first tight ends and then blocking-first tight ends. How do you see yourself fitting into that equation and then what did the Giants ask of you when you got here?
A: I think I bring versatility. When I was at USC I think that was one thing that we always focused on – being an all-around tight end. It seems to be sometimes lost in the game. I want to be the guy who can block and catch passes. I want to have an all-around game, that’s what I work towards.
Q: You seem to have a really big fan in Coach O. He had a lot of nice things to say about you before the combine, including that you could be an all-pro in this league. Do you feel the same way? Do you feel like you can do it?
A: I have no doubt if I put the time in, put the work in, you never know what the future holds. I’m going to work extremely hard. This is the NFL, this is the last shot so this is a great opportunity to try to attack that goal. That’s where I want to be, so hopefully the work takes me there.
Q: Where were you expecting to get drafted? Did you have any idea?
A: I was hearing a lot. Some people said third, some people said sixth. I rarely heard undrafted but I did hear it.
Q: When you have that injury that you had to play with, does that kind of put something in your head that says, ‘Why risk it another year here when I can go get paid?’
A: I don’t really think of it that way. I enjoyed my time at USC. I played through two coaching staffs and I just felt that I was going to have to learn a new system anyhow, having been there for four years, and I wanted to just move on and try the NFL.
Q: You mentioned some of the tight ends that have come through this building, they also have a history of having undrafted free agents make this roster. Have you talked to any of the guys that are in this building now that are on the same path or were on the same path that you’re on now?
A: If you look around the NFL, there’s a ton of undrafted free agents and late-round picks that are great players. I don’t really think where you get drafted matters that much. I think it’s all about the opportunity you get and what you do with it. That’s my approach. I wasn’t drafted but it doesn’t really mean much to me. I got an opportunity, so if I do well, nobody will probably remember it.
Q: You had mentioned that you had studied some film on Mark Bavaro. A different era but still a pretty good tight end in this franchise’s history. What have you been able to take from his film?
A: Just his toughness and his humbleness and just how he let his actions on the field speak the most. I always like to look at the guys who were great before and look at what they did and, you know, mold yourself after that. You can’t go wrong with following somebody who has already done it before. That’s kind of my thing, to look back and try to envision myself doing the same type of thing.
Q: Were there other teams that were interested in you that you talked to?
A: Yeah, I received a lot of phone calls after the draft as far as free agency went. The 49ers, the Falcons, the Redskins, Raiders.
Q: So why here? What made this a good option for you?
A: They were the first team to call. I felt like they showed the most interest. I felt that they were genuine, the Giants are a great organization. I heard nothing but good things about it. It was kind of a no-brainer really.
Q: When you get all those calls after the draft, do you ask the question, ‘Well if you liked me so much, why didn’t you use a pick on me?’
A: It’s definitely something you wonder about. I was really just happy that there was still the opportunity there. When I didn’t get drafted I was kind of wondering how it works, where I was going to end up. I received a lot of phone calls after so I felt like it was pretty much the same type of feeling. I still celebrated with my family and everything and I was still excited.
Q: How soon after the draft did you decide that it was the Giants?
A: It was pretty soon. They were one of the first teams to reach out. I just felt comfortable with the conversations we had and the opportunity that I would have here to come out and show what I have.
Q: Had they talked to you before the draft? Or your agent?
A: Not much. I think slightly, I hadn’t heard much from them. After, I talked to them quite a bit.
Q: The Bavaro film idea, did that come from anyone?
A: Not really. I had heard his name a few times and was just talking to a guy who was telling me how great he was back in the day. I just ended up going to my computer trying to find some highlights, read a couple biographies just to see how he did it. It was pretty cool to see, he was a great player.
Q: Before or after you got the number?
Q: Was that one of the reasons why you got the number?
A: Possibly yeah, I would say so.
Q: You found the 49er film, I guess? The film of him dragging all of those 49ers?
A: Yeah, definitely.<
Q: What makes you think that you will show up this year? That you’re ready to make an impact?
A: Well, it’s my third year, my weight’s down, we’ve got a new OC, new tight ends coach. Everything is fresh; it’s like a clean slate. I’m just ready to go.
Q: What has held you back? Why haven’t you made an impact yet?
A: Obviously injuries last year but in my rookie year, just being a rookie. That’s it.
Q: What went wrong with the injuries last year? It seemed like you thought you were going to get back a lot sooner than you did once you hurt the foot in the preseason. Do you look back at that and say, ‘I wish I had done things differently?’
A: It was just one of those things that takes time. You’re expecting something but it ends up taking longer. When I came back, the first game I sprained my ACL. It was just tough luck.
Q: We didn’t really have much of a chance to talk to you after that Detroit game. That was about the worst-case scenario for you, you get out there, you get out on kickoff…
A: As far as the injury, that was the best-case scenario. I didn’t need surgery, I just needed rest. It was good from that standpoint.
Q: How do you see the tight end being used in this offense? Is it any different than the past couple of years?
A: Yeah, it’s completely different. We move around a lot more in the backfield, different routes. I feel like it’s more fitted for the things that I’m good at.
Q: Where do you see yourself? In the past we’ve kind of known you as that blocker. Do you see yourself as more of a threat in the receiving game, too?
A: Yeah, definitely. Especially with this offense, the tight end gets a lot more looks.
Q: So the tight end will be doing some H-back stuff in this offense?
A: Yeah, fullback, also the tight end splits out wide. They move around a lot.
Q: How frustrated have you been for your first three years?
A: Pretty frustrated, actually. Everyone wants to play as soon as they get here, but there’s nothing you can do about injuries and that pretty much took up my whole second year. I’m just moving forward from there.
Q: When you were drafted, you were called the JPP of tight ends. What did you think of that at the time and can you be the JPP of tight ends?
A: At the time, I didn’t think much of it, people kept talking about it. We’re both athletic and didn’t have a lot of college experience. Obviously I do feel like I can do that coming into this year, so we’ll see.
Q: You feel like you can do what?
A: Be the JPP of tight ends.
Q: Why? What specifically?
A: Just my athletic ability and fitting in with this offense. It’ll be good, a good opportunity.
Q: How much have you changed your offseason approach to this year? The way last year ended, all of the changes that have happened.
A: Yeah, definitely. I stay extra every day, stay and get extra film. I’m on the elliptical every day trying to get my weight down more so I’m just doing a lot of things differently. I feel like I’m more mature, I’m more of a professional now, so I have that approach.
Q: What are you down to?
A: 270, I want to get to 265.
Q: Why? What’s the benefit?
A: Just the offense, running around, being quicker in my routes in and out of breaks. I think I’ll be good at 265.
Q: You say the offense, does that mean you’re looking to run more routes than maybe you have in the past?
A: Yeah, more routes and just being in better shape really.
Q: What’s your relationship been with Coach Gilbride?
A: It’s been great. He’s younger, so he kind of relates on a different level. Not that Coach Pope didn’t relate, it’s different when you have a guy that’s closer to your age. I think that helps out some. He’s always willing to meet extra whenever I want, so that helps, too.
Q: How different is it coming in this year knowing the position is totally wide open? It’s not like there are any established veterans with a resume in front of you?
A: It’s just a huge opportunity. They laid the opportunity right in front of me. I just have to go take it and make the most of it.
Q: The heaviest you were was what?
A: I was up to like 285 last year, now I’m down to 270. I want to get to 265.
Q: Is that what the team wants you at? 265?
A: Yeah, around there.
Q: Were you at that weight because they wanted you to block more last year?
A: It was just my… I wasn’t working out as much off the field, doing extra stuff so my weight was getting over. Now it’s something I have to focus on.
Q: Why not? Why weren’t you doing that extra? Is that just learning how it works here?
A: Yeah, just being a professional. Having to do all of the little things.
Q: Did you watch the draft?
A: I watched the first round. That was it.
Q: You were curious to see whether they would pick Ebron?
A: No, I wasn’t worried about it.
Q: You had inside information, huh?
A: No, I just knew that if they drafted one or not, it wasn’t going to change what I was going to have to do.
Q: But when they didn’t…?
A: When they didn’t, it proves that they believe in me, me and the guys we have here.
Q: Coach Coughlin said after the draft that the tight ends who are here have to realize that this is their opportunity, now or never. Do you sense that?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m doing extra stuff, watching extra film because I do feel that pressure and I know this is my third year, so, like you said, it’s going to be now or never. That’s just my mentality that I’m taking every day.