Q: Are you pleased with how JPP has handled his rehab?
A: He’s done exactly what he’s been asked to do, and I’d say he’s making good progress.
Q: You have the two guys coming off the PUP today, Nicks coming back, is that unnerving for you at all?
A: Not really. The guys coming off the PUP or even Nicks were very reduced to the number of snaps, so as long as they follow through with that, I was fine.
Q: It seems you really stress guys staying on their feet…
A: Yeah, we don’t want them on the ground. We don’t want them on the ground, there was too much of that today.
Q: It seemed like today you were discussing that with Perry Fewell…-
A: Well I wanted to. I told him a couple of times but there wasn’t anything discussion. We just said, ‘What are we doing knocking people down…’ We’ll get it, we’ll get it under control.
Q: They come back with a day off with some energy?
A: Sometimes a little too much.
Q: Do you have, in addition to the health questions with
A: Well, I think the major thing is to get him on the field, get him practicing, bring him along accordingly, and then let him indicate or show us. I’m not speculating, he’s here for a reason. He’s been an outstanding football player, we think he can be again. Of course, we’ve got to get him on the field. So this is a good start, it’ll be slow, but we’ll get to that point.
Q: Do you know what position he is at this point?
A: He’s a corner.
Q: He’s a corner? They was some talk that maybe you’d have to shift him to safety.
A: I don’t know where that came from. We’ll see. Wherever we need him, he’ll be ready to play.
Q: What about
A: (Donnell) rolled his ankle, he’ll probably be okay. I don’t know really what happened to Torain. He got knocked off balance, he fell to the ground, he was kind of slow back in the back, so I’m going to have to wait. I’m not sure. Hope he’s fine because we want him to play, and Ryan we want running the football.
Q: Something with
A: Brewer got dinged this morning a little earlier. I don’t know about that yet.
Q: Any news on
A: He’s feeling better. He was out today with his helmet on, and he was running on the side. Hopefully that’s a good sign.
A: He needs work. He needs to practice. He needs to be up front with a guy not too far away, react quickly and make all the adjustments. So we all need practice. He’s done it and he’s done it very well, so he’ll come along fast, but he does have to practice like everybody else.
Q: How did Nicks look out there today?
A: Well, we had a few snaps. I would have to look at the tape. I’m glad to see him out there working. We didn’t over-work him. He did a few reps, and if he’s fine with that, I’m sure we’ll extend more as we go forward.
Q: Do you see the defensive end position still being as strong as it’s been known to be? Especially with some of the young guys, do you still see it that way?
A: That’s the idea. We’ve had some good work out of quite a few of those guys; some ambition. Mathias and Tuck, we’ve seen Moore, we’ve seen Tracy have good days. So we’ve seen a few guys have good practices and seem to be improving. I think when JPP comes back and we can kind of balance that up, we’ll be okay.
A: From our standpoint right now, obviously we’re practicing against each other. David has worked diligently in learning the offense and being more confident about his job and from that standpoint he has a better awareness as far as what his job is. Now physical and that kind of thing, that will be tested this week. We’re looking forward to that and having an opportunity. We don’t have a true blitz drill here and that kind of thing where he needs more physical work and that kind of thing. But playing against a physical team such as Pittsburgh will be a very good test for him. We’re going to try and put him in as many situations as we can being the first game and as he grows through the games… He knows what his goal is. He’s got to put a hat on. Not only does he have to know his job, he has to physically be able to do his job and we’ll put him in situations where he still has to just be a solid, productive player for us.
Q: Are you wondering how the running game is going to be without Ahmad Bradshaw?
A: No, not really. I think we saw some flashes a year ago. We saw
Q: What about the third running back spot? Has anybody stepped up?
A: It’s just like you said. The competition is the best thing that you can have and we have Da’Rel Scott that they had drafted here to fill those shoes. We brought in Ryan Torain as well. You got
Q: What about Michael Cox?
A: He’s a very talented young man. He has the ability to do certain things, but he has to, like all young running backs, they have to learn the system. You just can’t toss them the ball and say go do this just like we went through a year ago with David in situations. He has to feel comfortable about learning our offense and we’re comfortable with him that we can trust him in most situations. But he does show us a lot of good talent out there right now.
Q: What can you tell us about Ryan D’Imperio?
A: He’s done a nice job of filling in for
Q: Andre can do the pass blocking, but there’s got to be some questions in your mind if the other guys can do it. Are you starting to get a better idea on that?
A: The preseason, you’re actually excited about playing these games. So it’s going to be a great test for us right now. A lot of it is ‘want to.’ There are a lot of examples of guys that have done it. Woodhead has done a great job for his size, so you’re showing players and Ray Rice and a lot of different players that have done a great job of being complete running backs. That’s where I have to do a better job of showing David and creating that ‘want to’ and that technique and the more he actually gets a chance to actually hit somebody, the better he’ll get. You only get better at doing. You can’t get better at not having an opportunity to actually hit somebody. So we’re going to give him as many hits and opportunities as we can.
Q: Where do you think the ‘want to’ is now?
A: I think the ‘want to’ is there. Like any young running back through every year in the NFL, there’s two things a young running back has to do in the NFL and it’s protect the quarterback and take care of the ball. That’s what he has to do. When he was in high school and in college in some places… All they had to do was run. You come into the NFL and you’re not just a runner. You’re everything. You’re accountable to everyone and it’s a stepping stone for a lot of runners over the years and it’s just one area that he’s got to learn to get better at, but I won’t say he’s afraid to in any way. Not at all. The guy has got courage. He just has to learn how to.
Q: With Michael Cox, were you guys surprised that he was still on the board at that point in the draft?
A: The guy has talent, but you can say that every year about a lot of guys you never heard of. We can say that about Terrell Davis. I remember when Terrell Davis got on the field. I went to the sheet and said, ‘Who is this guy?’ He actually was in the combine and ran 4.8 or 4.7 and everybody ignored the guy. You look towards these kinds of guys and hopefully you find one and maybe we did and maybe we don’t. We’re looking forward to it. The scouts did a great job of finding him, working him out, bringing back the message and said we really need to look at this guy real close and maybe we found a guy.
Q: What does David Wilson have to do to be the every down back?
A: Like any other back at this level of ball, you have to obviously be a playmaker as the runner. You’ve got to be a great faker. You’ve got to be a great pass protector and you’ve got to be a pretty effective route runner. Most of his career, he’s been able to catch the ball and he’s been able to run the ball, but he hasn’t really had to take upon that great responsibility of protecting the quarterback and that’s an area where he really wants to get better at and I think he will. He’s worked hard. He’s come and met with me an awful lot. He’s watched a lot of tape of some past players that we’ve had here in doing that. Now he has to just go out and do it.
Q: As a runner, how exciting is he to watch at times?
A: He’s explosive. He’s a track runner. He has some qualities you’ll get excited about and it’s good to have that kind of a weapon right now, but he’s got to be able to do the other things because that’s what we do. We’re going to throw the ball here. That’s how we’re going to win games here, but we have had great balance in running and throwing and having that tradition, but you’ve got to take care of Eli. There’s a lot of pride and respect with the offensive line. That’s your job. So we’re looking forward to it.
Q: Any concern with David also wanting to return kicks?
A: No. Tiki has done it here in the past before, so no. There will be situations where we’ve had rotations before where in the past I said Ahmad is up, you do this. Brandon you’re up, you do this. Andre Brown, you’re up, go ahead and return one. Get the ball past the 50. He’s excited about it. There will be a situation where you never know when he’s out there, but you’ll be excited that he is hopefully.
QB Coach Sean Ryan
I’ve been really impressed with Ryan (Nassib)’s work ethic. He’s in constantly. Yesterday, they had a day off. Ryan comes in for extra help. I’ve been impressed with his note taking, his studying of the film and really trying to understand concepts. What I mean by that is not memorizing things, but understanding that we’re doing this because of this reason. ‘This play is designed to attack this coverage’ and I think he’s done a good job of grasping that. Obviously, his physical attributes… He’s got a strong arm. We knew that going in and I think with him getting more comfortable with the concepts that are going to start to show more in terms of his accuracy. He’ll be thinking less and relying on his athleticism and arm strength, which he has all of. But I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic and just his professionalism for a rookie. Right from day one he’s really kind of taking the reins and gone with it. I’ve been impressed.
Q: What can change with Eli? Can he still learn new things and get better every year?
A: Yeah, absolutely. It seems like every time we do that and you’re going to get that question and I understand it’s a 10-year guy, a 10-year vet and a two-time Super Bowl MVP. But we’re constantly working on things that he can improve on. He spent four individual practices in the spring working on his drop mechanics from under center and working to the left and working to the right and through the gun and we’re constantly evaluating that. Even though it’s a 10-year guy, when you look at it, every game is a little bit different. Every coverage or personnel that we attack is a little bit different and us understanding that and understanding how it fits and affects our schemes changes week to week. So there’s no question he can keep improving and one of the biggest things I’ll say is why he keeps improving is because he continues to work at it. He wants to keep improving. By no means is he content with where he’s at. So he’s striving to get better every day and that’s as big of a reason why he’ll continue to improve as anything else.
Q: How about
A: I’ve been encouraged by Curtis’ ability to pick up the offense quickly. You can tell that Curtis has been around. He’s been part of some different systems. He obviously has to use our terminology and learn our terminology, which is essentially learning a new language. So it’s never an easy thing, but I think in terms of our pass concepts and our run game, I think his understanding and ability to pick it up quickly has been pretty impressive.
Q: What’s that room like now that you have Eli and
A: Our room has a lot of give and take. I don’t put Ryan in a spot where he only has to ask questions. I’ll bring questions to him. I’ll show a play and bring a question to him. ‘Hey Ryan, tell me what you’re seeing and what are you going through here?’ So it gets everybody talking in a comfortable way where he doesn’t have to feel like he’s asking the question or slowing the meeting down. There’s a lot of good feedback and conversation in that room that goes on every day.
Q: It seemed that the general manager indicated that you expect to be ready for game one this year, is that a change?
A: Like I said, I’m sitting on the field day by day, I’m rehabbing, I don't know when my return will be, but at the end of he day I’m going to go out there when I feel comfortable.
Q: Compared to a couple weeks ago are you better?
A: Yeah I’m doing better each day so that's a good thing. The trainer sees it and everybody else sees it.
Q: You were able to stand on the practice field the other day to watch practice I think for the first time, I mean that has to be a forward step in your progress I would think, right?
A: Actually I’ve been out there before, probably in the (field house) with everybody. I’ve been watching practice over there and I can’t really do anything, all I can do is get mental reps or whatever, and that’s all I can do.
Q: But just standing on the grass field, which can be uneven-
A: I’ve been doing some running lately, and it feels good. Like I said, it’s basically day by day, you know, at the end of the day it’s if I come back quick or I just stay and just relax and see where I’m at with it.
Q: What is the last hurdle that you have to clear for the doctors to say ‘okay, now he can start practicing’?
A: It’s not really the doctor’s decision. I say it’s not the doctor’s decision anymore because it’s basically on me. It all depends on my recovery and how my back feels and if I can go out there and practice with the team but I’m going to have to get a couple practices in before, IF, I decide to come back before the first game. I already know I’m going to be taking on two guys, double team, triple team maybe so, I’m not in a rush to come back and put myself in that position.
Q: So what question do you have to answer yourself before you then tell coach and the trainers ‘I want to practice today’?
A: It’s basically how my back feels, you know? And right now I’m still at that stage that I know I can’t go out there and perform. So, I’m not going to try and rush back. Like I say, it’s up to me and my recovery is coming along and right now my recovery is coming along perfectly fine. I’m getting better every day, like I said, and it’s basically up to me, you know? When I feel comfortable going out there and taking on blocks and ready to run like the wind again, that’s when I’ll be out there. But right now, I’m just taking it day by day and taking it easy.
Q: Do you have a number in your mind of how many practices you’ll need-
A: I don't know, I don’t know. That’s the part of my recovery too. I’m in there consistently working on my abs, my back, restricted on my back, that’s all I can do, and sit in the meetings and look at, you know, my D-linemen. It’s boring sometimes, but at the end of the day you’ve got to, it’s the mental part of being there that gets you going.
Q: Is it important for you to be back for week one-
A: No, that’s not important to me at all. I already know that the D-Line that we have here is going to go out and get the job done. And I’m very confident that Kiwi, Tuck, all them get the job done and that’s all it takes. They don’t really need me out there right now and I’m just going to focus on my recovery. Everything will be all right.
Q: What exactly are you feeling or not feeling that’s keeping you off the practice field?
A: There’s only been eight weeks, and the recovery time is probably like, two, three months (…) It’s just not right if I go out there because I’m going to mess something up, you know what I’m saying? Like I said, it’s up to me, and I don’t feel comfortable going out there, my body’s not right for that right now, you know?
Q: So are you surprised at all, maybe, that Jerry said that this morning that you would be back for week one?
A: Not at all. At the end of the day, you know that your coaches and general manager and head coach want you out there, to help the team out, but, it’s all on me, like I said. I’m focused on coming back 100%, not being like 85%, you know what I'm saying? And I know I’m going to be a big factor of the defense, so I’d rather come back 100% and that’s it.
Q: When did they give you the go-ahead?
A: I spoke with the doctor last Thursday and this was the game-plan; to give my body a little time to rest. It wasn’t really reported, but I had a (hamstring) strain. I wanted to let that fully heal so it wasn’t an aggravating thing throughout training camp. They wanted me under their supervision and not have me rush things. Last year I came out right away and, unfortunately, I tore my ACL. They wanted me to take it a little bit slower this year.
Q: Did you come into camp with the hamstring?
A: No. I strained it during the conditioning test. It wasn’t bad. I was actually supposed to practice last week, but they just wanted to give me a couple more days of rest. I know the defense and I’m proven here. I just have to stay healthy and get back to my old ways.
Q: So the hamstring was the thing that put you on PUP. Do you think if there was no hamstring you would have not been on PUP?
Q: Have they set a schedule for you as far as how many reps you can do? I imagine they’re going to increase it every day, but have they told you how you’re going to start?
A: Individual and 50%, going on from there just working my way up. All progressing towards the season. There’s no rush, it’s kind of a “let’s get back out there.” Last year it was right away but this year we’re going to take it a little slower.
Q: Even with a slow schedule in effect, do you anticipate playing as early as week two of the season or is that too early?
A: My goal is week one, without a doubt. I know everything, I just have to get back out there and show that I can still play this game. I’ve done so all this spring and in the summer. I have to prove it out here on the field. I’m ready to take upon that challenge.
Q: When you say week one, you mean Pittsburgh this week or Dallas for the regular season?
A: I’m talking about regular season. Preseason, that’s up to them. Obviously I’m not going to play in Pittsburgh because I just started practicing. But as far as the rest of the preseason, I would love to get out there. I think I need to get out there to get back into the game and get that live experience.
Q: How much do you think you need?
A: Very little. I started a couple games here. It hasn’t changed too much. But I definitely think I need to get out there. The biggest thing I’ve been preaching is just getting back on that horse. I’ve attacked my rehab throughout this whole time for the past two years and I’m excited for the challenge, but until you get back out there, you won’t know what you’re really facing.
Q: After all you’ve been through, how big is this day for you?
A: This day is not big. This is the first day. It’s a starting point. It’s exciting. A lot of people have been rooting for me and I’m happy just to be in this position, and to be blessed to have another opportunity. But this is just day one. It’s a long road ahead of me, I know that. It’s going to be a…road, but I’m not afraid of it. Any challenge comes with a test. I just have to be prepared for it.
Q: When you first got hurt two years ago, you were on the verge of doing good things in this league. Two years later now, having not played, what do you think you can still be as a defensive back?
A: Only God can answer that. I’ve worked really hard. My numbers are not too far off. I’ve been training hard. My upper body is a lot stronger to really help me out in my press or my technique. If I lost a step, who knows how my body’s going to respond. But as far as training with other athletes, until I get out there on the field, I truly don’t know what I can do. But testing-wise, I’m pretty much at 100%.
Q: Are you coming back as a corner or are you switching to safety?
A: I’m coming back as a football player. I don’t know what they’re going to do with me. We’ve talked about the safety role, the nickel role, the corner role. I think it’s whatever I can take on. I think the sky’s the limit. I’ve been learning everything. I kind of already knew the safety corner position, safety nickel position. I’ve been trying to learn the safety position so I can be on the field more, contribute more, and communicate more to younger guys and just be a leader with the secondary.
Q: When you said the individuals and 50%, is that 50% a speed count or a snap count?
A: Snap count.
Q: So you’ll be going full speed?
A: Yes, just like I was doing during mini-camp, with individuals and everything.
Q: Are you nervous?
A: A little bit. But I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this moment, and I think it’s natural to be nervous because I haven’t played in so long. After tearing your ACL it’s kind of a drag. Training camp…but my faith is in God and in my preparation. That’s how it’s been since day one, and I’m just excited to have this opportunity to prove a lot of doubters wrong.
Q: Do you have a lot of sympathy? It seems to be going around the league a lot.
A: Yeah, it’s a tough injury to overcome. It’s a true 10-11 month injury and it’s hard mentally. But the doctors have gotten a lot better; the science has gotten a lot better to overcome it. A lot of people have been having positive results. Obviously a hiccup here and there, but you look at a guy like Thomas Davis, who’s overcome three ACLs back to back. I’m trying to follow his path. It’s definitely something you can overcome at this day and age.
Q: You mentioned they’re going to count your snaps like they did with Domenik Hixon. Did you talk to Domenik about how they managed it to kind of get an idea about what you’re in for?
A: Not really. I kind of already knew. We were pretty much on the same pace last year. I think it’s a little bit slower this year, but I was only doing half the reps. I was in a better condition going into training camp and given a different procedure and it wasn’t my third ACL. They want to take it slower this time.
Q: What kept you going through the whole process?
A: The doubters; the people telling you that you can’t do it. My daughter, my family, my fans; it’s not about me anymore, it’s about the person looking up to me wondering “is he going to overcome this” or “how can he overcome this.” I want to motivate them. So many people are going through a lot more. When I was rehabbing in Pensacola, there was this lady who got in a car accident and she had her 28th surgery and was still smiling and kicking. It motivated me. I was down there with the Wounded Warrior Project with some of the military people. A guy served for 15 years and got shot for the first time. He was having a hard time, but he was still fighting through it. It’s just little things like that that help you find a way to motivate yourself.
Guard Chris Snee
Q: You talked earlier in camp you were very confident you were on the right schedule and everything. Was today pretty much where you were heading?
A: Yeah, pretty much. The other thing was just to, like I said, condition as hard as I could for that first week and see how it felt and make sure there were no setbacks, and I feel good and I’m comfortable with everything and they are, too, and get out there and do some work today.
Q: Are you full-go today or are you still limited in any kind of reps, or-
A: I’m sure it’ll be. You’ll have to ask coach but I’m sure it’ll be. It won’t be full speed right away.
Q: Is there a number in mind that you feel like you have to play in terms of preseason games?
A: Yeah, I feel like I have to, I’m pretty sure that I will. Will it be this Saturday? I don’t know, but maybe some guys think they can get away without playing in the preseason but I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into Dallas without having done some reps in this preseason, so that’s my expectation and I’m pretty sure that’ll be the case.
Q: Are you going to take all of the first team reps today or are you going to split it?
A: I was just told ‘here you go, you’re off PUP.’ You know, a little ceremony, maybe a little cake… I don’t know as far as repetitions or anything like that, I just know that I’ll be in pads and that I’ll be out there playing.
Q: Did your duration of the training camp on PUP surprise you at all, or did you kind of go in knowing it would be a week or so?
A: That’s what I had pretty much expected and was told. The thing is that I still feel good, there were no setbacks, so everything is going as planned and I’m comfortable with going back out there and resuming football activity.
Q: What are the things you’ll be thinking about in your mind as you actually go out there and start doing things? It’s pull pads today so there will be a little bit of hitting… I mean what are you anticipating?
A: This is the time just to get the rust off. The last time I was in a meaningful stance it was in December, so just take this time and do what I do every August and just knock the rust off and get my body right.
Q: You’ve been here for a while. How much is this organization in sync with a player when it comes to deciding when to come back after being injured?
A: They certainly, definitely put the player’s interests first, that being their health. You don’t want to rush someone back and then have a setback and you’re lingering on throughout the course of the season. They sit down with you, they talk about it, you come up with a plan together, one that works for both sides and just makes sense, and that starts with Ronnie Barnes, the head trainer, Jerry Reese, Coach Coughlin, they all have that interest in mind and that’s the player’s health.