Q: You said JPP was looking for more work during practice. Have you been able to give him more?
A: Yeah. He’s done more in practice. He’s gotten a few more snaps.
Q: How has
A: The same. He’s working his way back.
A: He didn’t practice. No.
Q: Is there something that Da’Rel Scott can do in this game that might prevent you from bringing in a veteran running back next week?
A: Play well when the opportunity comes, like he did the other night.
Q: Will he get a lot of opportunities?
A: We’ll see.
A: There’s no doubt that he’s had an opportunity like very few have. He’s a young guy. He does some good and he does some bad, but he certainly is out there giving it all he has and he’ll grow. He’ll get better.
Q: You’ve always been hesitant to start first round picks right away.
A: I don’t know. If Pugh does start, this will be our second one. The first one didn’t do too bad.
Q: For so much of camp, Victor or Hakeem would miss time. How good does it feel to look around to see all of your weapons?
A: You’ve got to practice. The quarterback needs to have people practice. They need to work together. They need to see things. Make sure they’re on the same page. You’re right. It is good to have everybody out there.
Q: Are you hesitant to put
A: It depends. We’re going to see how he finishes the week out in practice. I know he’s getting stronger every day.
Q: Is he still limited at all by the shoulder?
A: He is. We’ve limited him. He tells me every day that he’s getting better, getting stronger, feels better and, to be honest with you, when given the opportunity, he’s practiced well.
Q: How hard have you seen Perry Fewell work this offseason?
A: Very hard. Our whole staff has worked very hard in all three phases. Not just on defense.
Q: Is Pugh a guy that’s good at making corrections?
A: Yes. Yes, he is. Coachable. Very coachable.
Q: Do you have to cut back your game plan with all the changes on the offensive line?
A: You have to do what you have to do. I’m not going to say one way or the other, but you’ve got to have the ammunition.
Q: Out of your five captains, Antrel is the only one who has not been a Giant his entire career. What do you think it says about the way he has kind of immersed himself here?
A: I think it says volumes about the young man and the way that he has come here, the way we started and the transition that he’s made into the New York Giant culture and the way he feels about his team and this franchise and his teammates. I think it says an awful lot about him.
Q: With Nicks and Cruz back out there, does
A: Yes, he has. I think (Louis) Murphy has done a good job, too, to be honest with you, but let’s get Rueben going and get him started and see how he does in each game, week in and week out. He’s hung in there. He’s practiced every day. He’s done that. That’s a big plus. He’s been much more mature, if that’s the word, as far as his study habits and so on and so forth. We’re all rooting for him to come in to his own.
Q: How is
A: He’s doing pretty good. He’s another guy that the training room wanted him to have more activity in practice and we’ve been able to accommodate that.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
Q: What are your thoughts on
A: Veteran safety. A very strong mentality as far as physical football. We like him in the run game. He’s developing for us in the pass game. We like the chemistry he’s had with the defense.
A: Yeah. We’re certainly hopeful that it does. He’s such a good athlete. You want to use him in more ways than you probably should, but having him focus on one position bodes well for him.
Q: What kind of challenge does Dez Bryant pose for your secondary?
A: He has had really good games against us. He’s an elite receiver. He’s one of the elite receivers in the league and so it’s always a challenge. He’s always a threat anytime he’s on the field, not only as a receiver but as a punt returner. He’s an all-around good football player.
Q: How much of a leap has
A: We really believe that he has benefitted from going through an OTA and being healthy during the OTAs and going through an offseason and going through training camp taking a lot of reps and not missing any practices and we’ve seen him improve more and more every day. We’ve seen his confidence get better and better every day. We think in the preseason games he’s responded extremely well, so we just look for him to keep growing and developing into the player that he can be.
Q: Do you look at him as potentially an elite player?
A: It’s too early to say that. We’re going to play one game at a time and let him grow one game at a time.
A: We think he’s ready. We’re not going to shy away from putting him on the field. We believe that he’s going to go out and prove himself and we like the way he’s looked in practice as well as the preseason games. It’s game time.
Q: What role will he play for you guys?
A: He’ll play our nickel position.
Q: Is he also an option as an emergency safety if there were injuries?
A: We’ve thought about it. There’s no definite, but we have a plan.
A: After Stevie went down Antrel came to me and said we’re going to get together and we’re going to spend some time off the field together and because Antrel is a veteran guy and Ryan is a veteran guy, they know how to communicate with each other. So they’re on the field, off the field… They are constantly talking and communicating with each other, so I don’t think that will be a problem with their chemistry and what we’ve got to do on the field.
Q: How does the defense look different this year?
A: We’ve got bigger butts. Sean Rodgers is in there.
Q: How big is it having them in there to stop the run?
A: I think it’s a huge factor in helping us be a better run defense. The mass, the size, the strength is noticeably different for us.
Q: How much of a motivating factor is it knowing the defense was ranked 31st in the league?
A: For us as a defense, it’s quite motivating. We feel like we can definitely improve on that and we will improve on that.
Q: How did you take that? Was it tough to think about that number?
A: It never goes out of my mind. You never want to be ranked last or near last in anything you compete at and as a professional, you want to improve each and every year. We’re very motivated to erase that number and be a top defense in the league.
Q: What do you see up front that makes you think you will improve on last year’s sack total?
A: I think we just have to let the season play out because sometimes offenses present opportunities for you to have multiple sacks and sometimes offenses don’t present those opportunities based on the system that they’re running. But with a healthy group of young men, I think we have an opportunity to improve on our sack numbers, but we have some good blitzers on the edge. We believe that not only just the guys up front, but our guys at linebacker can help us improve on those numbers. We’re not just putting that on the front guys. We’re putting that on the whole defense to improve those numbers.
Q: How compromised was JPP last season?
A: You have to ask him that question.
Q: I know you can’t make the medical decision as far as JPP for Sunday, but in terms of what you’ve seen in practice, do you think he can be effective against the Cowboys from what you’ve seen in practice?
A: Well, JPP’s one of the best defensive players in the league. If he’s not full strength, I still think he can be effective. If he’s full strength, yes, he’s definitely effective. He’s had good games in Dallas, so that’s really on the player. He’s looked better and better each day, but again, I think that’s a question for JPP.
Q: Does Ryan Mundy reflect his Pittsburgh background, just in that physicality against the run? Could you almost tell where he’s played before?
A: We believe that, yes. He brings a physical presence.
Q: Back in April, it seemed that when you drafted
A: They’re not behind. The competition is really good, so that bodes well for those guys. They’ve got some veterans in front of them that are teaching them and they’re learning. They’re good football players. They’re going to become better football players. I wouldn’t say that they’re behind. It’s just the competition is really good and that’s good for us.
Q: Are you still planning on doing a true right and left cornerback, instead of a number one and number two this year? Prince and Corey?
A: It’s scheme oriented. We can do that week to week. We can do it game by game, etc. We haven’t really nailed it down and made a decision on any specifics like that.
Q: You guys don’t have a long history, at least with you here, with blitzing linebackers. It sounds like that’s what you’re leaning towards a little bit. What led to that decision? Personnel or just trying to get something going?
A: We just want to be aggressive. We want to take the fight to our opponent and we’ll use all the weapons we can possibly use in order to be an aggressive defense.
Q: Antrel said yesterday that Jason Witten isn’t going to catch 18 passes again. Do you have that same confidence?
A: I always have that confidence. Jason’s a very good football player and he has excellent chemistry with Tony and so the players on the field, we have to get that done on Sunday to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Q: Antrel was elected as one of the captains. Does he have different duties with you, or how does that change?
A: I don’t think it changes our relationship. I’ve always looked at him as one of our leaders. Even though he does not have the patch as somewhat of a captain or the lead person within the defense, I think him being elected captain by his peers just confirmed that. I’m very happy for him and very proud of him and his peers for saying what he means for our football team.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride
Q: Is it tougher to gameplan this year against the Cowboys than it has been in years past considering how much they’ve changed on defense with their new scheme?
A: I mean, two years ago they were much different than they are. In the last two years, you had a different regime which was totally committed to confusion, disguise, overload blitzes, and pressures. Now you have a guy that has a little different approach. I think he’s got much more mixing, but is more inclined to be coverage. Not necessarily the two deep for which he’s famous for, but he’ll mix in single high, but it’s a one funnel. Lot of mixture of a one man dog or that type of thing. I won’t say it’s conservative, but it’s certainly a much different approach than it’s been the last two years and it really resembles what it was a few years earlier with Wade Phillips.
Q: You’ve been forced into some changes with your offensive line. How much does that factor into your game planning?
A: You don’t know. That’s the million dollar question. You’d like to say it’s not going to influence at all what you’re doing, but I don’t know how realistic that is. I think you have to take into account the matchups and make some decisions where you have to offer some assistance. Where do you have to slide a certain way? Do you have to put the back to a certain side? Do you have to put a tight end somewhere? Maybe, before where you focus more on letting your guards handle the inside guys and maybe you’re looking to help the tackles. Maybe now, that’s not the case. Maybe you have to help inside more. We’ll have to wait and see.
Q: Will you go with a regular, traditional rotation of running backs this week, with Da’Rel or somebody else?
A: We don’t know. We’ll play it by ear. We’d like to see David go maybe a little bit more than what we’ve done in the past. With the weather and everything else, you just don’t know how it’s going to play out. Da’Rel is going to play. There’s no question about that and he’s going to have to play well for us. He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing. What that translates into is number of plays. I’d be less than honest if I told you it was going to be 20 or 30 percent. I think he’s going to be in the game. There’s no question about that, but you’d like to see David go out and have a bang up day. Make a couple of big plays for us and give us what we hope and feel he’s capable of, which was a couple of dynamic plays. Some athletic plays that not everybody can do.
Q: Da’Rel wasn’t even sure he was going to make the roster on Saturday. What about him made you keep him?
A: It just shows you how tenuous things can be for all of us, but especially in our business. You know what he did? The three times in a row where we gave him the ball and then that slip screen, I thought he showed as much of a physical presence in his running game that you’d like to see. You know he’s got the speed and you know if there’s a hole there, he’s going to exploit that and he’s got a chance, speed-wise, to go the distance, as he did a couple of years ago on that fake punt. No one’s going to catch him. It’s like David. When there isn’t a hole, can you make people miss, or can you break a tackle and run through. I thought he hit it with tremendous toughness. It was three plays in a row and they just jumped off the field at you. He’s been doing a good job, from the Pittsburgh game on, with catching the ball and blocking on third down. That’s been encouraging, but I think we were just waiting to see that …, just show us something special as a running back. I thought he did.
Q: How much better is Hakeem physically than what you had last year?
A: I think he’s a lot better. I think if there’s no setbacks, and I don’t think there are, I think he’s going to continue to get better. He’s finally getting some extended work, which he hasn’t’ had. I think his leg strength and fitness, his endurance, everything is just going to get better and better. It’s encouraging because last year, if he went out one day, he would swell up. You have to admire him and we all did appreciate his toughness, but the reality of it was he was playing far less than full strength.
Q: Doesn’t that change almost everything about what you’re able to do having a guy like Hakeem be full speed?
A: Yeah, when he is at his best, I think it forces people to defend you a little differently. It reminds you of the days when you had Plaxico in his hay day. When Hakeem is that way, people are less likely to line up and play you press man and challenge you that way because they know there’s a chance, and a pretty good chance, he’s going to make some big plays for you. When they’re not afraid of that, they can just say you go up line in a bump and run, I’m not worried about it. They take that extra defender and deploy him wherever it is. Is it in the running game? Is it doubling Victor? Is there somewhere else they’re going with this? It certainly opens up the potential to take away some other things that maybe you had an advantage in. Now, all of a sudden they neutralize with numbers.
Q: It seemed when you brought in
A: I think it’s like anything that’s new. I don’t think anybody is as good as they are when they’ve been in the system or done something for a while. He is a person like many that I think would hopefully get better. I think he’s working at it. Maybe there are a few more options that we give that were not available to him in the previous offense. He had a couple of different coordinators too and it wasn’t really until his last year that all of a sudden he had these numbers. There were four years that there were no numbers. Once he gets it down, I think it will show that he’s productive and has the potential of being an effective part of your offense. I think he’s still very much in the formative stages, or learning stages. I think we’ve been encouraged by, A., his attitude, B., when he looks like he’s comfortable with something, he does it pretty well.
Q: Obviously we’ve all made a big deal about
A: We’ll see Sunday. I will say this, I have been more proud of that than anything else. I think he has really made a determined effort to be an effective blocker. He’s never going to be 6’2, 240 pounds. He’s not that kind of kid. He has shown a willingness to go after people and be aggressive. He’s done a tremendous job with what we call chipping, where he’s looking to help and sees a lineman and he’s stroked them pretty good before he’s releasing to the passing game. Of all of the things he’s done, this preseason, he’s shown a realization of how important that aspect of the game is for us. To play running back in the NFL is not just carrying the ball. There are a lot of other components to it. He also has caught the ball pretty well. I don’t think that’s ever been something that anyone thought he could do. I think it’s something he’s still getting better at. I think he’s going to continue to grow with it, but when we throw it to him he’s caught it.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: Do you find that some teams over-kick the players in camp?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Is it possible to do that?
A: Oh yeah. It’s possible if you’ve got two guys or one guy over-kicking. So you’ve got to manage them. They’re professionals and they’ve got to do what you’re saying and not do more or less, so that’s the big thing.
Q: What led to Rueben Randle being named the punt returner?
A: Just what he did for us last year. The other guys we were looking at didn’t really separate themselves in the preseason.
A: Yeah. I was seeing what he could do. He did a good job. He had a couple of good returns, so we were just seeing what he would add as a player on the roster or practice squad.
Q: What did
A: He runs hard. He made good decisions, so that’s the biggest thing we’ve seen from him so far.
Q: Is it a tough thing for a guy to field that first kick in the first game?
A: I’m sure for any rookie it’s hard to take the first snap, but once you take the first snap then… It’s going to be faster than it was in preseason and so they’ve just got to get used to that.
Q: David Wilson is no longer your kick returner?
A: He could be. He still takes reps back there and we’ve got Rueben back there and we’ve got Cox back there and Jernigan. You always want to have enough guys in case you need them.
Q: Would it be an emergency thing to use Wilson at kick return?
A: I don’t know. That would be Tom’s decision, Jerry’s decision. I just get them ready and we decide how best to use them.
Q: When you go through final cuts, do you pretty much know who you’re going to have?
A: Not necessarily. There’s always a couple of surprises since I’ve been here and you try to best lay it out for the people that have got to make decisions what you feel about that. Obviously, they have their opinions with the offense and defense and usually you come to a pretty good consensus. Sometimes you are surprised.
Q: Were you sweating on cut down day? Were you worried about what was going to happen?
A: Yeah, you know my situation. So I definitely was sweating. I had my family here to kind of keep my mind away from whether I got the call or not so I definitely had strong support from my family so I just had to keep praying and have my faith that I would be here on Monday.
Q: When did you realize that you were on the team? Did somebody call you or did you just have to wait until the end of the day?
A: I just had to wait until the end of the day. My brother looked up the final roster and that’s when my friends started calling me so that’s when I found out. Even though I didn’t get the call all day, going into it, once I see my name on the roster, that’s when it’s final.
Q: So you make the roster and you get the opportunity with Andre hurt, does your mindset go from not just being on the team but having a big role now?
A: My mindset, just like I said before, I prepare myself like I’m going to play every game, whether I’m third, fourth in the rotation or whether I’m first or second. I have to prepare the same way just because of the situation. I have to make sure I’m on top of it, make sure I prepare myself and just make sure they trust me in the game.
Q: I guess it’s no secret that they brought in a lot of veteran running backs this week for workouts. Do you feel like you have a chance on Sunday to say that you don’t need those guys?
A: 100 percent. I have a huge opportunity to let the organization know that we don’t have to bring in anybody yet. So I just have to have my faith and prove to them that I deserve to be here and that they don’t need to bring anyone else in.
Q: How high is your confidence right now coming off that game against the Patriots?
A: Very high. I always have to prepare myself like any other game so I’ve been studying and watching film and all that so I’m very well prepared. I have to prepare some more, a couple days until Sunday night, so I just have to stay in my books, stay on my iPad and prepare myself as much as I can.
OT Justin Pugh
Q: Are you excited or is this just a job?
A: No, I’m excited to get out there and play. Just to get out there and compete and play in a big game and help this team win.
Q: Are you going to throw up like
A: I’m more of a dry heave guy. I dry heave a lot. Actually, at Syracuse I remember one time we played Pittsburgh and I actually threw up on Ryan’s (Nassib) foot. I normally don’t throw up but that was one time that I did.
Q: A lot of guys will look at Dallas and say “they’ve got DeMarcus Ware” and if I’m a defensive coordinator and see a rookie on that side, I’m going to flip flop. Do you sit there and say “well, I may see him, I may not” or what?
A: Yeah, I’m going to go out there and whoever I go up against I’m going to go out there and compete. That’s all I can do. I can’t hope that they don’t line him on my side. Getting into that is just a sticky situation, so I’m going to go out there and play whoever they line up against me.
Q: What kind of advice has Chris Snee been able to give to you? I know he’s taken you under his wing and he’s really worked with you a lot. Can you just talk a little bit about what he’s shared with you and how that’s been a difference for you?
A: He’s been great for me. Just being out on the field and making sure that, if I do something wrong on one play, forget about it, we’ll drive on, we’ll get better the next play and I think it’s something just to keep me going and make sure I’m staying focused.
Q: Chris started as a rookie, too. Is that something that you guys talk about?
A: We talk about it a little bit but he reminds me that I just have to go out there and prove that I deserve to be out there playing. I think that’ something that I will go out and try to prove to the guys in this room. I’m really concerned about being out there and playing for your teammates.
Q: How did growing up an Eagles fan help you prepare to hate the Cowboys?
A: I think growing up an Eagles fan you realize the intensity of the rivalry in this division. Just knowing what goes into every game is vital; even it being the first one, it’s a huge one.
Q: You talk about winning over your teammates. It sounds like this is your biggest priority to some degree.
A: I think just to earn the respect of the guys in the locker room is something you always want to do as a rookie. The same thing as a freshman coming into Syracuse, you want to know your role, you want to be seen and not heard and I think that’s the best way to earn the respect and earn your stripes in the locker room, to go out there and play hard and show them that you can compete and play at this level
RB David Wilson
Q: Have you come up with your annual list of goals yet for the season?
A: No, no.
Q: When do you usually do that?
A: This year I just want to be effective, so I just want to take it one at a time.
Q: You’re not going to do it anymore?
A: No, I still know and I still set goals for myself, but this year I want to not just focus on my goals but going out there and winning the games. Whatever I need to do.
Q: You talked the other day just in terms of everything that comes with this position, it’s not just getting the ball and making plays. When you look at where you’ve come from last year, do you feel like you’re a different player or do you feel like a different player that’s getting a different opportunity?
A: A mixture of both. It’s just that I know more of the offense this year and I can be more effective that way because I know if I’m asked to do something, I can do it. Last year I had limitations on not knowing certain things and not being able to react on the fly when certain opportunities were presented. Just having a year under my belt makes me more knowledgeable about the game.
Q: You were as confident last year about making plays and knowing what you can do. But it’s different this year, it has a little bit of a different feel, right?
A: Yeah, it’s never been a physical thing. It’s more so a mental thing because there was a lot more thrown at me and there was a lot more I had to learn. My mind was tying up my feet sometimes. Even the game or practice, like you see when I had an opportunity on kickoff return, there’s not much to think about on kickoff return, just run and read the blocks and that’s what I’m naturally knowing to do because that’s how you play football. That’s something I’ve never forgotten; it’s just having more knowledge of the game.
Q: As a rookie, dealing with those limitations you’re talking about, you’re a first-round pick, you probably wanted to do more than you were asked to last year. What was that feeling like? Was it difficult?
A: No, because I got to release all that on kickoff return and I had success there.
Q: Any kind of frustration or were you just able to let it all out on kickoff?
A: Yeah, not really frustration, but just the same way as I say I want to be effective and help the team win this year was the same thing last year and I had a way to do that because I had a job on kickoff return.
Safety Antrel Rolle
RE: being elected one of the team’s captains
A: I was extremely honored. As a young kid, you always dream about certain things. You dream about playing in the NFL, you dream about making Pro Bowls. I know being named captain of the New York Football Giants is a huge accomplishment. It’s something I never, ever even imagined would take place. I’m definitely excited for it and I thank my teammates for even having that trust in me and the accountability in me to even name me a captain. I’m extremely honored.
Q: Were you surprised?
A: No, I wasn’t surprised. But then again, it’s not something that I can call. I’d rather take it from my peers than from myself any day. Obviously something’s going right, they see something in me, I see a lot in myself and just keep going out there and continue to do what I’ve been doing.
Q: You’ve been a leader obviously before today, but does this mean you do even more? Do you take on more responsibility or do you just kind of keep doing what you have been doing?
A: Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. If they named me captain for doing what I have been doing, why change it? Being a captain definitely holds its value and there’s a huge standard and reputation you have to live up to, but at the same time, it’s not about me being a leader. It’s about getting other people to lead and having a team full of leaders. It’s not about one guy, two guys, three individuals, it’s about going out there as a team.
Q: What’s the message you and the other leaders send to this game?
A: Just to start fast. I think this will definitely set the temp of our season, to get the bitter taste out of our mouth from last year and how we finished off. Just go out there and play consistent ball. We know that we’re a great team, we just have to prove that we’re a great team consistently. That’s something that we’ve done off and on but never on a consistent basis. I think that’s the message thus far.
Q: Does the defense have a chip on its shoulder as far as the ranking last year?
A: We don’t have a chip on our shoulder for the rankings, we have a chip on our shoulder just because that’s the way we attack the game each and every week. It doesn’t matter if we were ranked the number one defense last year, we’ll still go out there and play with a chip on our shoulder because in this game you can’t be complacent. You can’t be complacent, that’s when you find yourself in a hole you really don’t want to be in.
Q: Were you a captain in Arizona?
CB Terrell Thomas
Q: Antrel says he calls you “Little ‘Trel”
A: Yeah, man. I need to nip that in the bud right now. I just thought about that. He can kill that, he can kiss my you know what and take that right where it came from. I’m no little ‘Trel. T2, Terrell Thomas, Duece, whatever you want to call me but I’m no little ‘Trel. I think he’s just excited because he doesn’t have to play nickel anymore, he can just go back to playing safety and I think he’s just happy for me. All the hard work I put in. A lot of guys see me and I think he’s been one of my biggest supporters.
Q: He said part of that was that you have a lot of roles that you’re learning right now and going through. So would emergency or backup safety be one of those…?
A: If the case calls for it, yes. I told you guys in the spring that I’ve been trying to learn the safety position to be a utility guy. The more I can do, the better chance I had of making the team. I played safety before here so it’s nothing new. Knowing that we had a three-safety package, we lost Deon, we lost Kenny and Ryan is new and the nickel is kind of similar. That’s what I kind of wanted to venture into, that area, just to try to get on the field as much as possible.
Q: Have you taken any snaps at safety?
A: Just mental.
Q: You’ve always had a pretty good voice here. Do you feel like you still have that even though you haven’t been playing the last couple years?
A: Definitely. Guys are excited that I’m back. My leadership is speaking for itself. I’ve always been a guy to lead by example, always vocal. I believe if you know the defense, you can teach the defense, so if I see anything, we always help each other take self criticism very well so we can get better, we’re all for one. We all keep each other accountable and it makes us better. Getting a guy back like me, as far as being a veteran and being interchangeable in the defense, just helps us all.
Q: How do you look at the challenge? Sunday night you’re going into Dallas against a proven quarterback who can light it up sometimes. How important is it for your defense to start off well?
A: It’s a big challenge. Last year we weren’t too good, we were 31st and I think we’ve been thinking about that all year. We’re all accountable, everybody knows their job communicating and being physical. That’s our number one goal is to go out there and win Week 1. We’re going against a great opponent with great weapons on the outside, the running game, tight end and quarterback, so we definitely have our hands full but we’re definitely a great defense as well and it’s going to be a fight. We’re just getting ready for it.