Q: It’s not full gear, but how good was it to see some of the cracking going on today with the shoulder pads on?
A: It was good. It’s always good to get started that way, it was real good to see. The majority of the time we were on our feet. There was a few occasions where I didn’t appreciate it, but it was good to see them; they were very enthusiastic about it, you like to think that would be maintained.
Q: Have you seen Eli kind of enjoy his interactions with Nassib and almost adopt a teacher kind of role in a way?
A: Oh, I’ve seen that since day one, yeah, oh yeah. Eli has done a real good job at that, and he continues to do that, and he does enjoy that role.
Q: Is that something that you talked to him about maybe when you drafted Ryan?
A: Well, I talked to him about bringing in a young player and how challenging it was going to be for the young guy, and I’m sure he remembers his early days. He really does try to help.
Q: How is
A: Yeah, he’s doing pretty good, yeah. Boy that interception yesterday was really good, really good, so I like very much what I see. He really enjoys being back, and he has a big smile on his face. He’s worked hard, I like it.
Q: It’s an unusual situation, I mean guys when they leave, they usually don’t come back. They usually don’t get a second chance.
A: Well, here’s a second chance. Another chance. He did pretty good when he was here, I like that thought.
Q: A guy like
A: Yeah, I mean there’s no question that the last year was a problem, in terms of the continuous development of any player. He just missed some time. But he’s back on track and I hope that he’s going to stay out there, that’s the key for all these people. The thing that they must understand is you’ve got to practice, you’ve got to practice.
Q: Some of the defensive guys seem to have a little chip on their shoulder. Do you like …?
A: I do like it. I’m going to like it more if it’s maintained on Sundays. They do have a lot to prove.
Q: Did you like what you saw from the run defense today? It’s the first time you’ve seen it with pads.
A: It’s early on. The best thing I can say is I liked the enthusiasm. I like the fact that from a defensive standpoint it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room in there. But it’s early. That’s kind of the way it goes for offensive linemen. Figuring it all out, etc. Young guys, but as we advance in camp, it will continue to be very competitive.
Q: You used a lot of jumbo packages on defense where you had
A: That’s being experimented with right now. Just matching personnel, but matching it with some large bodies. Some large people inside.
A: I’m not sure. They told me that he had some kind of a foot injury but I don’t know what to expect.
Q: And Hakeem is still limited?
A: He’s limited.
A: We’ll see. He’s working his way back into football and that’s what he needs. He’s had his moments where he hasn’t been able to compete and play. Now he’s back at it and let’s hope he continues.
Q: How nice has it been to have Sam Madison around again?
A: It’s good to have Sam. Sam’s good. Very good medicine. Sam was like that as a player when he was here with us. He was working and he’s coaching and he did a nice job in that capacity. He did a good job with all the young corners then. The guys seem to respond and like the fact that he’s here right now.
Q: Those young corners he played with, they’re now the old corners, so they have a connection to him obviously.
A: They do have a connection and they’re happy to have him back. Back and around.
Q: Victor missed the offseason. Are you kind of surprised at how he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat out there?
A: I don’t know what you’re seeing. He’s knocking some rust off. He definitely is. He’s made some really nice plays. He’s coming along and he’s definitely going to get there. I wouldn’t tell you he’s (there). He’s working. He’s out here. We know that’s the formula for him and he’ll work his way through camp and he’ll be ready to go.
Q: How were you injured?
A: I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. But, you know, that’s football. You can’t focus on the negatives, you have to focus on the positives. The positives are: I’m going to be back, I’m going to be healthy, that’s all I’m looking forward to.
Q: How many holes have you punched in the wall now that you’re not out there?
A: Well, now it’s getting a little more frustrating and today is going to be tough because they’re doing what I love to do today and that’s hit. So today is going to be the hardest day to watch. I’m sure it’s not going to get easier as camp goes on, but you know, I have an end goal in sight and that’s what keeping me going now. When things like this happen to me I just use it as extra motivation. I’m going to come back stronger from this than I ever have.
Q: Where are you with your rehab? Are you ahead of schedule? When are you eyeing coming back?
A: Well, I’m going to do everything in my power to get back for the first game. That’s my goal, that’s my intention, but ultimately that decision isn’t up to me. I want to just get back to playing football at the earliest possible date. Everything is going really well in rehab, making advances and strides every day. I’m just excited with my progress and I know that the trainers are happy with where I’m at too.
Q: Did they give you any kind of timetable as to when you’ll be able to get back on the field?
A: With this rehab, it’s kind of a step-by-step process, in increments. That’s going to be determined. I’m going to try to get back there at the earliest date, and you know, we’re being aggressive in my rehab and haven’t had any steps backward. We’re going forward the whole time, so the trainers are happy with where I’m at, too, so I feel good about things.
Q: I would think the fact that you can stand on the field during the two hour practice, your’re able to walk around, I think that’s obviously a good sign to making the progress that you’re be making.
A: And the fact that I can go through that and not have any pain, not have any issues, go through my rehab and not have any setbacks. That’s definitely a lot of positive signs right there. I feel good and I’m only going to get better. I’ve just got to keep rehabbing and working hard like I’ve been.
Q: How much strength and stability do you have to gain for them to clear you?
A: I don’t know, you have to ask them. I’ve been working on everything possible, I’ve been working on strength, stability, conditioning, doing everything, upper body lifts, stay toned, don’t lose that strength in the upper body, when I get cleared, and when I come back I’m going to hit the ground running. I don’t want to have to make up time that I’ve lost, I’m making up that time right now.
Q: Are you helping the Rutgers kid who they’ve brought in for camp?
A: Absolutely, he’s a great kid, nice guy and it’s my job, as a veteran player, to help new guys that they bring in. It doesn’t matter, regardless of the position, it’s my job. I feel like I’m a leader now on this team, been with these guys for a few years now so it’s what I have to do.
Q: Are you concerned at all that they might bring in a more established fullback?
A: When something like this happens, you know they’re going to bring in somebody. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t concern yourself with worrying about that because the minute you do that is the minute that your focus goes away from rehab and doing that type of thing. That was my focus, that’s all I was worried about this summer, was rehabbing back, doing everything I possibly could, with that vision going forward getting ready for the season.
Q: How strange is it having Aaron Ross gone and then back? It seems like he never left.
A: Another new, old face (laughs). No, I mean it happened so quickly, it seems like he’s been here the whole time, like we never really missed him, always kept up with him, what he had going, me and him have a very close relationship on and off the field, but I’m happy to have him back and hopefully we can pick up right where we left off and get back to playing our style of football.
Q: It seems like he slipped right back in there…
A: Yeah, right back in there. It’s easy when you’re a guy that you’re comfortable playing with, a bunch of coaches that you’re used to being around so it’s easy to get right back into things and try to get better and the way you were when you left.
Q: A lot of your defensive back teammates have been talking about the emphasis placed on improving communication, can you talk a little bit about what exactly you’ve been doing to improve that?
A: Well, just communicating. We just left from a meeting and that was one of the words that I heard at least about ten times that came out of Sam Madison’s mouth, you know, ‘communicate.’ You have to communicate, and he was talking about different things so communication has to be at its best. We should communicate on every play and that was one of our faults and the reason why you give up a lot of big plays, but I think this year we took a great emphasis on being a great communication team, turning one of our worst things into the best things and I think it’s going to pay off when it comes to the season.
Q: When you talk about communication, obviously, it’s making sure everyone’s on the same page and hearing the same thing.
A: Yes, ma’am. I mean if you’re all wrong, you’re alright. You know what I mean, if all 11 of us are on the same page, that’s all you need to communicate it doesn’t matter what anything else is being done so if we can keep that kind of communication throughout the year and every play in the game, we’d be wonderful.
Q: You know how it is for a cornerback, and it’s easy to see guys run by you and if you’re the closest guy, you get blamed, so you got a lot of criticism last year. But when you look back at last year, was it as bad as people say, were you happy, unhappy with your performance?
A: I mean I always want to compete in the championship, that’s what I’ve done a lot of my career in college, as well as here, but, I would never point a finger and say who was supposed to be here, who was supposed to be there, it doesn’t matter, I’m a cornerback… I was always taught to have short-term memory as well. You know, when I go back and have to defend, I know who was supposed to be where, and we’re all honest, me and Ross, me and Terrell, sit down and we’re very honest with each other, so it may have looked a little worse than it seemed, but it’s all good. A year, another year to get better and ultimately to win championships.
Q: Was it near your standards personally, do you think you personally played well?
A: Well, we didn’t collect rings last year, so I don’t think anybody played well, well enough to make the playoffs, or well enough to compete for a championship, so we know we have to correct that to get back to that style of play.
Q: You talked about communication, that you weren’t on the same page last year, why weren't you on the same page?
A: I guess it could be a bunch of different reasons, I couldn’t put my finger on one. It was a lot of younger guys, a lot of different guys playing with each other, a lot of guys not used to playing with each other… you know you have injuries, so a bunch of things could happen that can cause that but I think this year what we’re doing, we’re starting it right now. In day two and three of camp, we are already preaching ‘you have to communicate.’ If you’re not communicating right, it’s hard to get everyone on the same page and ultimately, hard to make a defense work.
Q: You gave a lot of credit to Sam Madison early in your career for helping you along, what does it mean to you to have him back here even for a few weeks?
A: What is it, infinity times infinity? (laughs) To have him back, you know not on the field, he can see everything now, it’s harder when he’s on the field with you trying to get himself better, but now he’s on the side watching, and he can critique, can be very critical and I use the constructive criticism to ultimately make my game better.
Q: How much is it a motivating factor to have the Super Bowl right here at that stadium?
A: I think playing in the shadows of that, that should motivate everybody to come here every day and work the hardest. We step outside, it’s going to be there regardless if we’re in it or not, so if that doesn’t motivate you or move you to want to come out here and be the best you can be, nothing will.
Q: Is there a lot of talk around the building about that?
A: No, sir. We didn’t set the schedule, we didn't pick the site of it, we understand that’s where it is, so we understand that we’re going to be working hard every day. Everybody goes to win a championship, so that's where we want to be, there’s no secrets about that.
Q: Is the defense on the spot this year? Because you guys pretty much took the blame last year.
A: You fall to one of the worst defenses in the league, yes, we want to be the top five or even the best defense in the league, so we’re coming out here with those motivating factors for us to get better.
Q: Does that come with an attitude?
A: It sure does, yes sir.
Q: Do you feel that over these first couple days, there is a mood or an attitude specifically to the defense?
A: Yes sir. It’s an attitude to come out there and be the best defense, you can’t just come out here and expect people to lay down (…) and roll over, so, it is an attitude that we’re committed to and hopefully will help us out later on in the year.
Q: Do you think several guys on the defense may have something to prove this year to show that-
A: I think the entire defense, but speaking of leaders, all leaders want to be at the best, like I said we want to be known as one of the best defenses, want to be known as some of the defenses we had around here a long time ago, the Giants normally are known for their defense, so we want to get back to that style of play, nobody wants to let that fall on their shoulders, you know, not being the best, so we’re going to be out here working hard to do that.
Q: Tuck was saying that maybe the defensive mentality was to rely on the offense to bail them out, that they’ve got to get back to ‘we’ve got to bail out the team'.
A: Yeah, we have to. Defense wins championships, offense wins games and sells tickets. So understanding that, we want to win championships so we have to be the best defense that we can possibly be.
Q: There are a lot of long-time veterans that have been here awhile, won a lot, that are playing possibly in their last year of their contract, and you’re included in that. How does that affect your mentality going into this year?
A: Nothing at all. We ought to control what’s going on day by day, we take it one day at a time, just as well as we take it one game at a time, so, with that being said, we’re going to go out here, get better today at practice, and continue to do that throughout the year.
Re: competition at middle linebacker
A: Players and more competition for the position, so I’m not preparing to beat Dan every practice. I’m preparing to be the best middle linebacker that our team needs. I think that’s more my philosophy on it and competition is good. Competition helps everyone improve and competition helps getting things correct and I think that without competition, we obviously wouldn’t have this sport. It’s good to start in camp now, so when we get to the season, we’re still trying to be the best linebacker you can be.
Q: And how has it been for you? Do you feel like it’s been three years in the making for you to get to this point? To try to be the starting middle linebacker?
A: Yeah, it’s been 25 years in the making. It’s been my dream my whole life to be a starting linebacker in the NFL and tasting it here and there my first season and second season, gets you really excited for this opportunity. When we come into the sport, all we really want is an opportunity and when we get that opportunity to make the most of it. It’s a lot of learning, a lot of physical play and that’s what I try to move for and get better every day.
Q: Corey was just talking about the attitude on your defense. What kinds of things do you think go hand in hand? Do you think good defenses need attitude or a certain kind of mood to be successful?
A: You need a passion. It’s really tough to play defense when you’re just going out there and hoping, but we need to be a little angry. We need to be aggressive. I know I play the best when I’m in between angry and having fun. Sometimes you see red and that’s not good. You don’t want to see red the whole time because then your head’s not in the right place. When you’re having fun and everybody’s bouncing around you can see that when we play really great defense. I’ll just reference the Super Bowl season, but you saw the end of that season where everyone was bouncing around. If someone made a big play, everybody’s congratulating them. We need that camaraderie, we need that passion, we need that sense of having fun out on the field, to come back into our defense. That way, we can play aggressively, but also play smart.
Q: How do you instill the toughness and bring it every play?
A: Well, it starts today. I think we put pads on today and that’s what, as a linebacker and as a defense, that’s what we go through all the spring and the first couple days of camp with no pads, and this is when we can really get our run fits, get the aggression, the jams on the wide receivers and kind of get everything moving the way we want to. We want to make it tough for the offense, our offense, to get their plays run so they can get better for the season and we can as well.
Q: Everybody is talking about the linebackers. Do you guys talk about the pressure of being on the spot at all?
A: No, I haven’t had much time to watch any TV lately with all the camp and stuff going on. We know that things start and end with our linebacking corps and that’s very apparent, in any defense at any level. We make the first call, we make the last call and then the play goes on. We need to set the tone right away at the linebacker position and that will get everybody fired up and start to play that physical ball we need to play.
Q: The other day Jerry Reese talked about how the league is driven around offense and sort of everything caters to the offense, I know that’s nothing new now. Does that ever bother you? Does it get frustrating? Do you consciously have to be aware of that, that it’s all about offense to an extent?
A: I think one of the things about playing defense is you almost like that underdog feel. You like having your backs up against the wall. It’s that fight mentality. When everybody’s focusing on the offense, that’s when we feel like our backs are against the wall and we say, ok were going to fight now. We’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to show them that the offense can do what they can do, but we’re still going to score. We’re still going to get the ball. We’re still going to make yards for our team and make some plays.
Q: What do you think they specifically want from you in order to win that middle linebacker job?
A: I think they want consistency. I know that’s something that Coach Coughlin talks a lot about, is consistency. That’s consistent play mentally, consistent play physically, and leadership role. I know we’ve had great leadership at yjr linebacker position in the past and we’ve been a little bit inconsistent, so I hope to take over that leadership role and play with the consistency that gives the confidence in the coaches and the players.
Q: Do you feel that even though it’s only been really 3 or 4 practices here in training camp. Do you feel like these guys are starting to respond to you? Do you feel more comfortable with that?
A: I think so, and you can tell people will look to me for a call or a question. That’s really my thing. If I can answer everyone’s question about what they’re supposed to be doing each play, then I know that I know the defense well and I know that everybody is going to have confidence when they line up.
Q: There is not a lot of contact in camps anymore. Is that difficult or frustrating when you’re also trying to play with passion and aggressiveness?
A: I think that saying there isn’t a lot of contact might be a … a little bit. There is a lot of contact, it’s just not a lot of full tackling. You get on the line of scrimmage and you got Shaun Rogers going against 600 pounds of a double team and us coming downhill and making hits. There isn’t a lot of take to the ground physicality, but you do learn to play with that aggression and that punch that you need to have.
Q: Should you need to tackle to be able to be ready to tackle?
A: Yes, you do. That’s why we do so many tackling circuit drills before practice and angles and everything is about technique. I think nowadays, I don’t know exactly how many days until our first preseason game, but they don’t want people to get hurt. You go in the preseason game and that’s when you first get live bullets and you make some plays there.
CB Aaron Ross
Q: Does it sometimes feel like you never left?
A: Yes. I was talking about it with Corey yesterday. It feels like I haven’t missed a beat. Like I always said, the guys and the coaches accepted me from day one when I returned. The playbook hadn’t changed, so it feels great to be back.
Q: You’re playing like it feels great to be back. Have you been happy with your performance your first couple days of camp?
A: I’m happy with it, but I know I can get better each day. I feel really comfortable out here. It feels like I’m refreshed. I’m happier. It feels like a huge load is off of me. The coaches are really breaking down the defense so we understand what the safeties are doing, what the linebackers are doing, and so on. It’s making the defense come together for us.
Q: When you step away like you did and you come back, do you have a better understanding of the defense? Does anything change in your approach? What type of effect does that have on you?
A: I think it’s just the years from my career that are making me understand the defense. Pretty much defense is run the same. Number threes are run the same, number twos are run the same. You just have to learn what the linebackers and the safeties are doing and then you’ll understand your job a little more.
Q: What happened in Jacksonville? Why do you think that didn’t work out?
A: Really, it was just one of those things where we didn’t click. The defense didn’t quite come together but it was a great experience. But I’m very happy to be back here.
Q: Did you feel comfortable down there?
A: I felt like we just didn’t click. The defense there, we just never turned on. I think that was the biggest thing. I felt comfortable as far as being in Jacksonville, but as far as being on the field, it just didn’t work.
Q: What’s it like having Sam Madison around?
A: Love it. That’s like my big brother. My rookie year when I came in Sam took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, taught me what to do, how to take care of my body, how to study, how to take notes. He’s doing exactly the same thing he did my rookie year. Sam is a huge bonus to our secondary, especially with the corners.
Q: Last year the secondary took heat for a lot of plays that were given up. As you come back from the outside looking in, what can be done to help that?
A: I think the coaches are doing a great job. They’re breaking down the defense so everybody can understand what’s going on. All the corners will know exactly what the safeties are doing; all the safeties will know exactly what the corners are doing. We can all be on one accord. I think that’s the biggest way that we can eliminate the mistakes in the back.
Q: You were here two seasons ago when Prince was a rookie. Can you compare and contrast what you see in him now that you’re back?
A: It’s still the same Prince, as far as his personality. But it’s a different Prince on the field. He’s really matured on the field and I think he understands the game a little more. But as far as Prince being Prince, it’s like I never left. He’s still the little brother of the group, but on the field, he’s definitely impressing a lot of people. He’s understanding what’s going on and he looks like he’s feeling very comfortable out there.
Q: How do you think this defensive line stacks up to the one from when you were here a year ago?
A: We’re loaded. It seems like anybody that you put in, from the defensive tackles to the defensive ends. (Adrian) Tracy is coming along and more of the young guys too. Guys like Tuck are already proven, but when you see the young guys come in and it seems like it’s not just a drop-off on us, that’s something to look forward to. We can go in there and they can know that if they take a play or two off, it’s not a huge drop in the performance.
Q: How much pressure does that take off of you guys in the back?
A: A lot. All I have to do is cover for three or four seconds. I know if I can do that, then we’ll get the QB scrambling or get him on the ground.