Q: Has catching the ball been something you have been working on?
A: Absolutely. It’s something that I didn’t do enough and just like anything else it came with practice.
Q: How big of a role do you expect to have this season?
A: I am just looking to contribute anyway I can, and continue to do well in practice. Have the coaches have faith in me so they can get me on the field in any capacity they think I can fit in.
Q: What do you think about the tempo change being in the NFL?
A: The game is faster and I think it’s faster in a sense that the guys across from you have more experience so they know what to do. Right now I have to catch up a little bit but I have a lot of good people around me that are helping me to study the right things and what I have to do to catch up.
Q: Has your mentality changed from college?
A: I think there is going to be a couple of things that are different about it, but I think it has pros and cons. Being a work horse at Boston College, every time I lined up I saw eight or nine bodies in the box and now sometimes I am coming out and it’s only five and six, so that is definitely a positive. It’s also good to learn from the other running backs that are getting there time on the field because they are all explosive and have great upside and different things they can do so I can learn a lot from them as well.
Q: Is the goal line run something you think you can possibly excel at?
A: Absolutely. As long as it’s running the ball I think it’s something I can excel at.
Q: Some running backs like to be the guy. If you’re part of a rotation, how will you make that adjustment?
A: I think it’s going to be an adjustment just because I am in a new environment and setting. I learn a lot from stepping back and just watching what other running backs are doing as well. I feel like I can fill in the role they want me to fill. At the same time I am young and I need to gain experience and I think I can do a lot of that sitting back sometimes and letting the older guys show me how it’s done.
Q: Do you feel like your strength is late in the game?
A: Absolutely. I would probably say pride and being able to finish in the fourth quarter and being able to wear the defense down and the secondary. I definitely will work towards making sure I can finish in the fourth quarter and come back stronger than my opponent.
Q: Do you feel like that in a way can be taken away because of the amount of carries you will be getting?
A: I don’t think so, we will see.
Q: What has it been like coming into a new locker room and at the same time you have a new offensive coordinator? How is the energy in the backfield?
A: The feeling in the locker room is good. It’s good to be in a new environment with the Giants. I feel like I want to be here my whole entire career. In terms of the running back group, David just got back and that is a big plus for us. He is so dynamic and fast. You saw him out there running the outside zone. His ability to stop and get moving again is unparalleled. We’re just excited that we are at full strength and we are just going to move forward from here.
A: I feel like I did a lot of preparing over the summer. Day one went pretty well and I’m just trying to progress and make the strides that I need to make.
Q: How do you see the distribution kind of going? Jameel obviously had something yesterday, do you expect to be more in the middle now or stay on the strong side a little more?
A: Yesterday I was at SAM all day. With Jameel down today I think I will be playing middle today and then once he gets back we’ll see what they want me to do. Just taking it one day at a time.
Q: What’s the difference for you? How do you look at the two spots and the difference in responsibilities for you in those spots?
A: As a linebacker you have to understand the whole defense as a whole. That’s what I’m starting to do, I’m starting to understand how the pieces fit together to where it’s easy to kind of go back and fourth like this one day to another. It’s just picking it up and understanding what the coaches want out of you.
Q: They say that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. What kind of first impression did you want to make on these coaches and what kind of impression do you think you made?
A: The impression I want to make is that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win and get back to the championship level that the Giants organization wants to be at. I’m continuing to try to show that every day with the way that I work with my selflessness for the team and the effort I give in trying to be the best.
Q: What have some of the veterans told you?
A: They just helped me with the playbook. I follow guys like Jon Beason, McClain. You’ve got Kiwanuka, who I really respect and look up to, he’s been here a long time. I see how they carry themselves and how they handle themselves and I try to mold myself after guys like that.
Q: Now that Beason and McClain are out, do you feel added pressure or added responsibility out there?
A: Every day I try to prepare as if I’m the starter and going into it as the starter so it’s no different for me. There’s no added pressure. It’s what I expect going into every practice and every game so I’m just excited for another opportunity to come out here and compete.
Q: What do you believe your strengths are?
A: My versatility, my ability to do multiple things at a high level and my intelligence to pick things up and my physicality. I’m not a guy who’s going to shy away from contact or be afraid to use my hands and things like that.
Q: They trust you with the middle linebacker, that’s a big spot here. What do you think you showed them that made them so quickly give that responsibility to a rookie when guys started getting hurt?
A: I think I’m continuing to show that. I want to continue to show, one, that I can pick it up because the first thing is I have to be able to make the right call, close in correctly and make the calls and all of the adjustments. And then with my play making ability and what I can do to help the team. I don’t think I’ve done anything yet. This is just day two of camp. I did OK during OTAs and minicamp but I’m continually trying to show them what I can do and bring to the table.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve surprised them with the speed at which you picked things up?
A: I think they’re definitely happy with how fast I’ve picked things up but it’s a long ways. I still have a lot of things to correct from yesterday and still, I’m taking steps every day to improve, to make sure I know what I need to do and I’m playing at the level that they expect of me and I expect of myself.
Q: Coming from a football family, your dad played, so how much does that help you?
A: Like you said, I come from a football family so this is something that I feel like I’ve been born to do my whole life and is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Every day I take it with a grain of salt. I’m grateful to be here and I just want to help this organization win.
A: I’m ready to go, it’s been a long time coming, the excitement and stuff, jitters and stuff. It’s going to be a good day.
Q: Does it feel different being out there now on the field that training camp has started? You’ve been talking about what this season represents for you and for this defense. Now you get going, does it feel any different?
A: It doesn’t, not too much. I feel a little more comfortable out there, one more year in but as far as different, no, not really. It’s just like our coaches said, faces change but the expectations don’t. Honestly we feel real comfortable and we’ve all got one common goal. We come out there with the same common goal each year – to get better and, at the end of the year, finish out the best that we can be. It’s the same feeling, honestly.
Q: When you come into training camp in year two and you’re not a rookie, what are you focusing on for your game when you’re out there on the field?
A: Just being the best I can be and making sure my weaknesses and my strong points… keep my strong points my stronger points and try to be more balanced and just try to be the best player I can be to put my team in the best situation.
Q: Can you tell the difference physically and mentally from this time last year and now?
A: Yes sir. It was funny, in the meetings yesterday coach was like, ‘I saw you take on the two block,’ and I wasn’t able to do that last year. I can tell a little bit of a difference. I got stronger and wiser, which comes with more years and more experience. At the end of the day it’s still the same mindset.
Q: Can you set goals for yourself now that you are an experienced NFL player? I use that term loosely because you got limited reps last year but can you do that?
A: My goal is still the same. I always set my goals high, that way I can do out and try to achieve them and if I don’t achieve them and if I came close to them it’s still a big success. Honestly my goals are still the same.
Q: The new helmet, I saw the new facemask yesterday. It’s looking pretty good. The new league regulations coming out about the cage, were you worried? Does that fit the regulations?
A: No, sir, I wasn’t worried at all. We have one of the best equipment staffs and they told me last year when I had the facemask that was similar to Tuck’s that it was probably going to be outlawed pretty soon. With this new facemask they made sure it was cleared by the league. I’m excited because it’s cleared by them but at the same token it looks pretty good. It’s a little different.
Q: Did you have a problem last year with guys maybe getting into your helmet?
A: Yeah, naturally you have that problem just playing in the trenches. We’re using our hands, they’re using their hands so close, combative people sometimes slip their hands in your facemask but it wasn’t as big of a problem as other people might see.
Q: What do you like about it? The way it looks or the way it works?
A: I really like the way it looks. I just like being different and unique. I figured my fashion style is a little off the top so I figured that facemask kind of represents me pretty well.
Q: It’s hard to stand out in this league in terms of your uniform.
A: It is but you can find little ways around the corner I guess. At the end of the day it’s not so much about fashion it’s about going out there and playing. It’s all about that.
Q: You go out and play and then…
A: Yeah, I guess that fits into that old saying – you look good, you feel good, you play good. It’s one of those things.
Q: A little nervous seeing your next middle linebacker carted off?
A: Not really, I think it was more of his shoe. He told me, “My feet are killing me, man!” and normally that happens when you’re starting out, your feet get sore because you’ve got to run so he’ll be fine.
Q: Your group as a whole, how do you view it, compared to groups you’ve had
A: To me, and I’ve been coaching now for 33 years, it’s a tough group. There’s a lot of tough guys in it, it’s a different mentality. I like that, if you have tough linebackers, then really the defense as a whole seems a lot different with a mentality, and to me I like that. That means good things.
Q: What do you mean by a tough group?
A: I have a feeling that we play out here in shorts, but that once the pads go on then the guys in my group and the guys that have been here, they enjoy the contact, the enjoy listening to the air go out of the other man’s body, and to me, that’s what you want.
Q: I’m sure every linebacker coach wants to say that about his group, but you see that more in this group you think?
A: I think so, yeah. That’s what I sense. We’ll see, but I have a feeling that’s what
Q: There’s only a couple different people here, you’ve had these guys in the past, is that a new mentality for guys like Spencer and Jacquian?
A: I think they’re older, they’re fourth year guys now. They’re stronger. They come in and they’re only 21 years old and then you mix in the newer guys and you get a sense for that. That’s what I’m hoping and that’s what they want to be, so we’ll see what
Q: A guy like Devon Kennard, obviously he’s a rookie, he’s a fifth round pick, any reservations having a guy like that handle the responsibilities of a middle linebacker?
A: Not at all if he can do it. Pittsburgh, I think, started Jack Lambert right? He turned out pretty good. So if he can handle it, and get everyone lined up and understand the nuances and where he belongs, he’s a pretty thick kid, he can hit people, so that’s good.
Q: Physically he doesn’t look like a typical rookie.
A: No, he doesn’t. He’s a thick dude.
Q: If you had to go that direction and have a rookie in there week one, Jon’s not ready, and say something happened to Jameel, how much of an undertaking is it for a kid like that to be in that spot, to sort of have to process all that and get used to the speed of the game at the same time?
A: Well, I mean that’s why you play pre-season games, we’ll find out a lot about him, but he played at USC which is pretty good football, so he’ll probably have a pretty good
Q: What’s Jon been doing, I know it’s only been a couple days here at camp, but what’s his role been on the practice field?
A: He’s on the practice field, he stands with the group, he just can’t take reps. He’s in the meetings, and he does everything that everyone else does, he just can’t take reps.
Q: How do you go about planning with him, do you have to sort of envision him there week one? Or do you have to plan as if he won’t be there week one and move on
A: He’s not there until they tell me he’s there. I have to plan accordingly. I can’t just sit there and do one of these. I’ll plan as if he’s not going to be there, and then when he’s
Q: Prior to McClain hurting his foot, how was he looking to you, and how does he fit
A: Well I mean, we were only halfway through practice and his shoes were hurting him,
Q: But you also got the spring with him.
A: Spring was good! Yesterday was half of a practice, but I like what I see. He’s a tough
Q: In the past you guys have had some injuries in the linebacking core, because of the versatility of guys like Kennard and guys that can play different spots, do you feel like you guys are more insulated against things that happened like maybe last season?
A: I think as a whole, the group is very flexible. We all understand that we have to be able to play multiple positions. There’s only 46 uniforms given out on Sunday, you might have five, you might have six linebackers period so someone has to learn double- duty. And to me that’s the greatness of the game, when you have smart guys like we have in that room, the flexibility for a coach is great. You love it because you can insert a guy here, and then, “oh shoot something happened over there,” and you can take him from over here and stick him there, it’s like playing dominos. The flexibility is great, you can’t have guys that can only play in one tiny role, you can’t do that in the NFL, you have to play multiple positions.
Q: How do you see Spencer in that regard? Is he an option for you in all three spots?
A: Absolutely, because he’s athletically to play the Will both in the nickel and in base. He’s big enough – he’s 240-something – to play the Sam in base. He’s played the Mike in nickel, he’s had the control of the huddle. To me he’s one of those guys – just like Herzlich is – who can do anything. And Kennard has kind of fallen into one of those roles, and I think he came in and saw those guys and said, “Look, it’s the norm. You learn everything.” I always like to go play tricks on them and tell them ‘look, go play Sam’ and it’s just to see how they react, and if they can line up and react and play the defense, then it’s going to be pretty good.
Q: Every team obviously expects every draft pick to contribute, but when Kennard’s taken did you think you had more than a fifth round value?
A: I liked him on film; obviously our college scouting liked him on film. He played at USC and he played under four different coordinators, and played four different positions, so I think he kind of got lost in the college shuffle a little bit there. Again, we’ve got to go out and see him in live games, but based on what you see of him on film, he’s not going to shy away from that part of the game. He’s not going to shy away from the game, he’s calm, cool, and collected. It’s the speed of the game, and we’ll see how he plays. Based on what we do out here, I don’t think he’s going to have a problem.
Q: In college he played a defensive end/pass rusher. Do you foresee him using those
A: He can do that, we have some things in for him where he’s a rusher, but we also have some things where he’s a Mike backer. He played Mike backer at USC too; he’s played them all, so that makes him very versatile.
A: .... Yeah [Andre Williams] is a rookie, he’s got a lot of burst, a lot of energy and he’s very fresh, so I was excited about what he did.
Q: Do you have to rein that in a little bit?
A: No, right now we have a number of halfbacks in camp, so I am going to let them go and show
Q: Where is he at in terms of blocking? He said that was going to be a big adjustment for
A: It is because they were basically an I-formation team there at Boston College, so the blocking is going to be a work in progress all the way along. We are going to do drills all the time, and he’s coming along. He is big, strong and physical, and that is what you are looking for. We just have to continue to practice the technique because it is not ever the same in practices and in the game. We are trying to make that as close as possible.
Q: How can you get that as close as possible when you are not in pads and you’re not feeling
A: I think what you really do is preach the technique. You show a lot of tape. You preach the technique about what is going to happen and then you really find out and grow from when you get in pads and have a couple of collisions, so to speak. Then you learn from there, but that is how you learn. Your technique has to be proper going into that.
Q: Is catching the ball out of the backfield something he can do?
A: He is improving in that area. He definitely knew that was a problem he had to get better at coming out of Boston College, not having a lot of touches catching the ball. He has worked very hard at that and he is improving in that area.
Q: There is a difference between a certain type of guy who is not good at catching the ball and a guy who has never done it before, right? As a running back, you have to have good
A: You do, you have to have certain types of hands. A lot of times the backs, they are either fast and can block or they can catch. It is always hard to find a guy that can be good at all three, and again he knew coming out of college and that was a rap. He just said I just did not get that many opportunities and so we have given him more opportunities and so far he has improved in that
Q: Was that a really old school offense he played at Boston College or did they not ask him to do a lot of catching the ball?
A: I think it is their identity. I am not going to comment on what they did. Obviously they fed him the ball and he was the nation’s leading rusher, so what they were doing had to be right. Every offense is a little bit different. I know they featured him in the run game exclusively there, so when you come to the next level you have to do more multi-faceted things and he is working very hard in that area, as you can see in practice.
Q: How has it changed for running backs? It used to be a glamour position and now they are talking about not drafting a running back at all and things of that nature? How has that evolution taken place and what do you as a coach look for differently now then maybe six to
A: I think just because the throwing game has become so much bigger now for all teams throughout the league, so you are looking for that 2,000-yard rusher, but most of the teams have been looking for that elite quarterback that can be the guy to carry them all the way to and win Super Bowls. A lot of people, because there has been an emphasis on the pass, the rules have been changed more so you can throw the ball easier. They have taken some away from the running game, but I think a lot of teams still know at the end of the day you still have to have great balance. What you are looking for in a running back is obviously a guy that can run the ball well. In a perfect world you like to see a guy that can run it, block, and catch and so that is what we are trying to bring out of our entire group, including Andre as we continue to work. Because of that you don’t always see some of the stuff the NFL coaches are looking for, but we are finding it’s a process, so we’ll find out the little things we’re looking for. Again, can you run, can you be a difference-maker, can you score touchdowns, can you block and can you catch? That is what we look for for our backs and hopefully Andre will continue to bring to the
Q: How different do you view David Wilson, maybe as some of the other guys that you have?
A: He is a little bit small, but he’s heavier than you think. When I looked at him, I said, ‘Boy he looks like he’s a smaller back’ because we have some big backs here, to say the least. David certainly brings that spark of burst. He’s got the burst, the excitement; he can take the ball to the edge and do a good job. Obviously, having to sit out most of the spring, he brought great energy out here yesterday. He was really doing a good job. I think what he is, you have a couple, three or four, bigger backs on our roster and you have that quick back that can be a difference-maker so that hopefully is how we will get him on the field and show his skills.
Q: Has that been obvious already?
A: Yes, I have seen it, but as the backs will tell you and they have gotten to know me well enough, but let’s see when the pads come on. That is what it’s all about. It is a physical position and you have to be physical.