Hey everybody. I’m not really prepared to answer a lot of questions today but I’ll try to do my best on some of them. I’m going to start by saying that at a young age I had a dream to play in the NFL. I did that, I played in the NFL and I scored touchdowns and I broke tackles and I broke and set records. I practiced with my teammates, got to play for Coach Coughlin, got drafted by the Giants. So at no point should anybody feel like this is over because in life everything has obstacles. We all go through our own obstacles every day. The main thing is, when you’re going through those obstacles, to stay focused and embrace faith and keep your dreams. Even if one dream seems to fade away, set another goal and set another dream and try to reach that. That’s the main thing. … Any time… life will knock you down sometimes. I realize that I knew that since a young age. Everything hasn’t been smooth sailing for me hardly ever. I try to put the smile on my face and make other people happy. That’s what I enjoy in life. I continue living. When life knocks you down, I always say plan to land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up. But if you’re flat on your face, that can kill your spirit. Always think of it in that aspect – if you can look up, you can get up. So far, I can look up and I plan on getting up and living my dream and setting another one for me to live out.
Q: Is it too early to tell what it is that you want to do with the next phase of your life?
A: I know… I have a couple ideas. As far as that goes, I guess you will just have to follow closely and see where I go from there.
Q: You were so optimistic, even the day before, on Twitter. Were you shocked when the doctors told you the news or did you kind of sense that it was coming?
A: I prepared for both sides. You can’t ignore the facts. Like I said, I always try to find the best in situations so when I knew I was going into that situation, I’m looking at the best side. No need to dwell on the negative side and dwell on the negative. You start to dwell on the negative and you start to feel sorrow. You don’t want to ever dwell on that moment because at that point, you’re not living. … I’m still living and I’m still healthy and doing the things that I can do, except football. That doesn’t last forever, anyway. Mine’s been cut short and I’ve accepted that. I appreciate the opportunity from the Giants of being able to play and being up here and doing all the things I love. … Like I said, when I was a little kid growing up, my dream was to play in the NFL and I did that. I set that goal when I was real young and I set small goals in between because setting one big goal and just expecting to get there the next day, that’s very unlikely. I set small goals, like I want to be the fastest guy on my team. From eight years old, I’m speaking from when I was really young, I’d wake up and say, ‘I want to be the fastest on my team. I want to score a touchdown. I want to be the starter. I want to score the most touchdowns on the team. I want to break the records.’ I get to high school and I broke records that were set. I reached those goals. As you continue to reach more goals, the pressure builds up and when the pressure builds up, the intensity increases. It gives you a thrive and a drive to keep going. You can do great things when you get that. You start doing these things and accomplishing these goals and getting closer to your dream and then people start to support you. The thing that wakes you up every day is that you don’t want to let those people down. … When it started off, I didn’t want to let my parents down. I always tried to do the right thing by them and honor my parents. Very religious, it says, ‘honor your father and mother.’ I tried to do that to the best of my ability. More and more people started supporting me. My whole school, all my teammates… all my teammates start supporting me. Once again, I’m speaking from high school, college. Your teammates start to support you. Then a whole city gets behind you and at that point, you don’t want to let your city down, you don’t want to let your family down, your friends down, your teammates, teachers, all these people supporting you and helping you reach your dream. … Then you go to college and the whole state supports you. Then you go to the NFL and you have all these NFL players, great players that will probably be in the Hall of Fame one day, and they support you. Coaches that have won Super Bowls, they get behind you and they support you. That’s just been a great feeling, man. These are tears of joy. Don’t for a second do you all think that I’m pitying myself or sad because I got to live my dream. I’ll set another dream and be great at that because I always look at trying to be great at whatever I do. I always had the aspect because in order to get a scholarship, you’ve got to have grades. When you get those grades, you have to be the best in your class. Try to be the best in your class. My competitive spirit always raised me up to excel and do what I can there. I always say I’ll be looking at my teammates this year, and forever, that I played with wishing them the best. Every time I watch a Giants game or a football game and see people play that I actually had a chance to meet, I want to watch them go on the field and I want to see them try to be great because it can be taken away. When they go on the field I want to see them, every Sunday or Thursday or Monday… I want to see those guys do great and be great and push themselves. That’s where my joy comes from. I’ve got a long life to live. I’m 23 years old and I’ve been blessed with an amazing head start, being drafted in the first round. And to a great organization with the Giants, which supports me. I’ve been told that by the head leaders of the organization. They support me in whatever I do and if I need anything, don’t hesitate. I plan to be alright. … These are just tears of joy because as I speak, I realize how much people have helped me along the way. When you push the pause button, you get to look at that. But I plan on pushing ‘play’ real soon. Moving on in future endeavors, I’m excited.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve gotten emotional?
A: This is the first time. Like I said, it’s more joyful tears. It’s not because I can’t play anymore. Like I said, in speaking to you all, I’ve realized how many people supported me and believed in me.
Q: From last Tuesday until the final decision Monday, what was going through your mind?
A: When I tell you all I remained positive and stayed positive, that’s what I did. I’m not saying it because I’m in front of the cameras and have microphones in front of me. When I’m by myself, I stay positive. That’s what I was all the way through this whole thing. I expected to come back, I trained. I was limited because the doctors didn’t want me to put too much strain on my body because it could affect the healing process. I had all intentions in playing the 2014 season with the Giants. I trained and prepared that way and went out to practice every day, ran hard, learned the new playbook. At no moment was I negative or thinking about not playing.
Q: When the burner happened last Tuesday to when you got the final decision, what was your process there?
A: It’s scary. It was a scary feeling, you can’t hide that fact. But at the same time I felt fine afterwards. I felt perfectly fine afterwards and was still optimistic. We said we were going to see the doctors and see what they said. They looked at the MRIs and they saw what they needed to see and they felt that nothing had really changed, but at the end of the day the doctors wouldn’t clear me because it was a risk for me to be out there with my condition. All the way up until that point I was optimistic, but at that point you just have to do what’s best for your life. The doctors did that and I prayed that the doctors would give me the same answer that God would give me if I asked straightforward. We don’t have that capability. I can ask, but God works through people. I asked him to do that with the doctors and they gave me the answer. That’s why I’m comfortable with that answer.
Q: What changed from when they cleared you a week before to what they saw on Tuesday? Did the condition get worse or was it just a stinger combined with the…?
A: No, it was… everything was fine, the MRIs. That’s what I was told. The doctors have dealt with situations like this before and they know the best answer to give me so I can live and have a healthy life. I don’t have a family yet, and I want to have one and I want to be able to enjoy it.
Q: Did you give any thought to seeing other doctors, fighting the diagnosis? I don’t even know if it’s physically possible but trying to find someone who would clear you to play?
A: That crosses your mind, but at the same time these doctors did everything they could to get me back on the field. At that point why would they tell you something that wasn’t accurate and they didn’t feel was in your best interest?
Q: Are you going to need any additional procedures on your neck?
A: No, I’m fine. Just football.
Q: Any ideas what you want to do now? Coaching, announcing, anything, staying close to the game and staying close around here?
A: Yeah, all those things come into mind. Like I said, you’ll just have to follow 4stillrunning closely to see what he does next. Whatever it is, I’m going to try to be great at it and thrive in it.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: You didn’t do much on Sunday night.
A: That’s one way to put it.
Q: Was that kind of the plan for you? In your fifth season, I can’t imagine it’s very meaningful for someone who’s been around so long.
A: The first game is always the one where you get 14 to 16 snaps and you kind of just take what you can get. But there was some good stuff in those snaps and it felt good to just face somebody else, run some routes against somebody else with that game type of intensity, that game type of feeling. So it felt good.
Q: What were your feelings on the offense overall on how it functioned the first time out against an opponent?
A: It started off a little rough, but I think once we kind of settled down – that third series when we drove the length of the field and got a touchdown – I think that’s us settling in, really being comfortable, and Eli getting comfortable with the play-calling and us getting into a little bit of a rhythm, so that was good to see.
Q: We actually probably haven’t seen as much of you in training camp catching the passes and stuff like that. Is that a function of the play-calling or are your plays still being installed?
A: Well, I don’t have plays specifically for me, but I think that’s just kind of the way it is. I’m begging for more reps out here in practice, but coach is kind of pulling me back, just making sure I’m staying healthy and making sure we’re good to go for the rest of preseason and into the regular season. There are some plays that when I go in there, coach kind of circles them and knows that I can take advantage and if I get the ball, then so be it. But it’s one thing at a time. We’re definitely still installing a lot more plays as we go along here.
Q: He’s not holding you back for any physical reason?
A: No, no, not at all. He just wants to give younger guys reps and get everybody acclimated. There’s only so many reps to go around so I just know that when I’m in there, I have to make the most of my reps and take it from there.
Q: Do any of those younger guys stand out to you?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I think Marcus Harris, from the game he had and streaming into practice, he’s been really taking advantage of his opportunities, couple guys being down and things like that. He’s really coming to the forefront here as a good player. We’ll see how it goes, but he’s definitely one of the guys that’s standing out.
A: Absolutely, I’m always pulling – well, I pull for everyone – but I’m always pulling for the no-name guys that kind of make it through the ranks because I was there. I was in their shoes, I know what it feels like, I know exactly the things that he’s going through in his mind, and how it plays out. So those guys talk to me all the time and things like that. I always pull for those guys and I’m happy he’s doing well. He had a pretty good game this weekend.
Q: [Odell] Beckham is not an undrafted free agent, but he is a rookie and he hasn’t gotten out here a whole lot. Can you put yourself in his shoes and how much is he really getting behind by not being able to practice?
A: Yeah, that’s tough. As a first-round pick and as a rookie wide receiver, especially, you want to get those reps, you want to get that game-type feel when you’re out here, and it’s tough because he hasn’t gotten it. But he’s being locked in mentally, he’s being locked in physically in the training room, trying to get himself back out here and getting himself ready to play. It’s just a matter of him feeling good, him feeling confident in his hamstring that he can come out here and play. But he’s definitely ahead of the curve from a mental standpoint as far as the game plan. He’s locked into everything, he knows all his plays; I’ve been quizzing him all the time. I’m giving him little things to think about while we’re out here on the field, making sure he’s locked in. It’s unfortunate that he can’t be out there, but his time will come.
Q: I know you’re working on your own stuff on offense during training camp, but have you been able to get a look at or get a feel for how good your secondary is going to be this year?
A: Our secondary is really good and I know because they give me fits each and every day I’m here. It’s good to go up against guys that are like that because that’s what we’re going to face all year long. Guys are going to try to be physical and press us and things like that, and we have to be ready for that. Our defense, from what I’ve seen so far, is really, really good and I’m excited for this season. They challenge us receivers to be the best that we can be, so it’s only going to benefit both sides.
Q: They seem a little loud out there, especially from Walter Thurmond’s area. Have you ever played up against a cornerback as quiet as [Dominque] Rodgers-Cromartie seems? He doesn’t sound like he does much talking out there.
A: He talks a little bit. It might not be as loud as you guys can hear it from the sideline, but he talks a little bit. He talks in a different way, but his game speaks for itself. He’s a very inquisitive player. He’s a very smart player. He knows exactly what he needs to do on each and every defensive call and sometimes he plays above that. He’s a really good player and he’s definitely one that’s made me better in his short time here already.
Q: David Wilson came out here and talked to us today. I don’t know if he’s had a chance to come and talk to the team or do anything individually, but he said one thing – that he challenges you guys to be great: be great as a team, be great as individuals. What kind of message does that send when you see what’s happened to him?
A: It’s great. He’s a guy that was one of the hearts and souls of our team, really energetic guy, and it’s just unfortunate that something like that has happened to him. But it means a lot for him to still be connected to us, to still be around, to still feel like he’s a part of this family, because he is. We just wish him the best. We know that it’s not the ideal opportunity for him; he’s been playing this sport since he was a little kid and for him not to be playing it anymore is really sad, honestly, and it’s something that I can’t relate to, no one can. It’s something that we just have to stick behind him and make sure he’s ready in any way, shape, or form for the rest of his life and the rest of his other career.
Q: Does that help put things in perspective for everybody? Sometimes you’re always going, but is that a moment when everybody slows down and really thinks about how lucky they are to be here?
A: One thousand percent, it definitely shows you how lucky and fortunate you are each and every day to come out here and play this game. You really look at your injuries and the things that you might be complaining about, like a sore hamstring or a sore quad or an ankle that may be bothering you, but you still get to come out here every day and have a chance to play. That opportunity has been taken from him for medical reasons and it puts everything in perspective of life and not just on the field, but your own life off the field and how it affects everyone around you. It really took me back and got me thinking a little bit as well.
Q: I’m sure you heard some version of what David said…
A: No, I didn’t. I just came out now.
Q: When he told you what the doctor said a couple days ago, was that one of the harder things that you’ve had to do as a coach, to hear that?
A: It always is. When you have one of your players and however it comes to the end, it’s not very pleasant. The only thing is, again, to repeat myself, we had to brace ourselves with the second injury because, whether or not it was good news or bad news, it was right in front of us. We knew it was going to have to be dealt with. It was very disappointing. I was upset; I was disappointed. David made me feel better, just like I told you the other day.
Q: What do you try and tell players? The unfortunate reality is you’ve been through those kinds of conversations before and it’s not the first one. What are you trying…?
A: Well, with David, David beat me to the punch. ‘God has another plan for me.’ That’s exactly what he said. Life’s full of challenges. All I do is try to tell them to prepare yourself for the next challenge and the next adventure is what it really is. I think he’s already started thinking about that, which is great.
Q: Do you know how long Peyton Hillis will be out?
A: I don’t, I don’t. Looks like it will be a little while.
Q: Is that an ankle sprain?
A: It’s an ankle/foot kind of thing.
Q: Do you have enough there at running back now? You just lost David, now you lose Peyton for a little bit.
A: Let’s hope we don’t lose another one today because that’s the way this game goes. If you have one down at one position, that position gets it again. Let’s hope we can practice today and not have that issue. Yeah, we do have… again, repeating myself, the fullbacks can play running back, too.
Q: It looked like Geoff Schwartz had…
A: Yeah, he’s got a sore knee so he had… he got started yesterday and then they had to come out.
Q: It looked like Beckham was able to do more running yesterday than he had.
A: It sounds like he’s getting close. They have him doing a lot of things, they’re going to push him a little bit more today and then they’re going to get a quarterback to throw to him and see how that goes, too. So he’s getting closer. I wish Trindon Holliday were in the same boat. It doesn’t seem like he’s quite as far along.
Q: With Peyton Hillis, is it just a sprain or is it something more severe?
A: It’s a sprain, as far as I’m concerned. There is some language behind it. I think it’s a sprain. The degree of which it takes to get him back out there, there’s some speculation on that. I hope it’s as fast as possible, but I don’t know if that’s the case.
Q: Any thought at all of bringing another free agent running back in just to be sure?
A: I just said both fullbacks can play running back so if we have to do that, we’ll do it. Right now it’s probably not our thought, but if this thing goes on and on with Hillis, then we would have to do something.
Q: Is this also kind of a nudge for guys like Kendall Gaskins and Michael Cox, kind of at the back end of the depth chart, to step up and…?
A: Opportunity presents itself in many different ways.
Q: Walter Thurmond, how has he looked and what does it mean to have a guy who has won the title the year before come in?
A: Well, he’s come right in and jumped in there and played pretty much every snap, either at the nickel or the corner position. We’ve got some guys around here that have won, too. He’s another one, and that’s a good thing.
Q: How has Trumaine McBride looked?
A: He intercepts a ball and runs 80 yards every day and they tell me he can’t play. I’m looking at them like, ‘Who has the two heads right here?’ Every day he takes one and goes 80. He looks pretty good to me.
Q: Is he going to play on Saturday?
A: Right now they’re saying that he’s got one more to go.
Q: Do you think the position of linebacker itself is now becoming specialized as well? Or do you try to have your linebackers be every-down linebackers?
A: It’s been that way for quite some time. You’d like it if they could play all three but some guys are better adept to first and second down, stop the run, and other people come in and play in the pass downs. You’ve just got to have versatility in terms of your roster. If you’ve got some people that can play one and not the other, you better have somebody that can go in there and play.
Q: Can you talk about Mathias Kiwanuka and the job he’s done for that vacant spot left by Justin Tuck?
A: He’s practiced well. He’s been in here, yesterday he practiced very well. We’ve always counted on him. We’ll continue to do that. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and then some. I hope it keeps going.
Q: I guess you had to like him staying after with Cooper Taylor yesterday and just kind of helping him out with special teams stuff?
A: These guys are good at that. All of our guys are real good at helping the young guys. They do an excellent job of that.
Q: Do you think your linebackers are all every-down type linebackers?
A: No, not necessarily.
Q: How did you like working with the tablets on the sideline?
A: It seemed to be okay. There are some reservations that they provide you with even before you start out. Things that have to do with the sun and that type of thing, but we didn’t have any issues in that first one.
Special Teams Coach Tom Quinn
Q: Is the kicking competition as close as it seems to us on the outside?
A: Yeah. You guys have seen it every day. They’re both competing and have really strong legs. They both have pretty good accuracy at this point. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Q: Seems like one has more experience and one has more leg strength. What do you value more?
A: You value a kicker who can make the kicks. You try to put the young kicker in some situations and try to test him. The thing about Josh [Brown] is that he does have a strong leg. A lot of times, you have an old kicker and a young kicker and the young kicker has such a strong leg. But Brandon [McManus] will really have to beat him out in all areas to win the job and he knows that.
Q: Has it been tough without Trindon Holliday as one of your returners?
A: Trindon and [Odell] Beckham. But it does give opportunities to Preston Parker and [Marcus] Harris, as well as some other guys. We’d like to see Charles James punt return. Their losses, somebody’s going to gain from it. So, next guy up. Preston had a couple of good returns last week. It will be [good] to see some of the other guys we can get out there.
Q: Has [Preston Parker] been making an impact on special teams through training camp? It seems like he’s come on pretty strong.
A: He’s got experience in the league. He was in Tampa. He’s kind of picking up. He’s got to focus on ball security, which is his big thing.
A: We want to give Harris, Parker, James, [Jayron] Hosley, and those types of guys a chance to return kicks and punts.
Q: Talk about Corey Washington as a special teamer and a gunner. What have you seen from him?
A: If he’s going to make the team, he has to contribute on special teams. Back in the day, we had David Tyree and Domenik Hixon, two excellent receivers who played on all four special teams and really contributed. That’s what you’re looking for is for a guy that can play on offense but can also contribute on special teams. Because on game day, 46 guys are active and you need everyone.
Q: How much does his size help in that regard?
A: He’s got some good size. Marcus Harris has been doing well as a receiver. Corey has been doing well. He’s just got to play big and learn how to practice. Coming from college is different, he’s never done any special teams. It’s always a new experience. You have to make sure that he understands what we want from him and be able to go ahead and get it done.
Q: From a coordinator’s perspective, because most coaches say if he’s going to make the roster it’s going to be on special teams, what’s it like to be that final line for a lot of players?
A: Well, they have to be good enough on offense and defense. If it does come down, you hope that special teams will tilt him one way or the other. We tell them from Day One, you control the special teams depth chart by how you do on offense and defense.
Q: Was that an uncharacteristic error by Cooper Taylor on Sunday night?
A: Yeah, it’s fundamental. You have to put your hat on the guy and redirect him. He did not do that.
Q: Is he [Cooper Taylor] a guy that had issues with that?
A: He was a gunner when he first came in. With his height, weight, and speed, that should be a very natural position for him. We’re still working with him and trying to get him better. But that’s something he has to work on.
Q: Is the inside position more natural for him [Cooper Taylor] rather than an o-lineman?
A: You want to get faster on your punt team, that’s one way you do it. You have a big safety that can run as well as [hit]. He’s got the size, so somewhere…
Q: What did you think of the longer extra points and do you see that catching on in the league?
A: I don’t know. It’s a little bit different. You see after the touchdown everyone goes up to the two [yard line] then slides back. We’ve been doing it all camp, so it hasn’t been an issue.