It’s good to have the guys back, it was nice to see them all and to have our meeting; our meeting there was good enthusiasm and everybody was paying attention. You know, first at camp, everybody’s like that anyway but… it was a good group today, we met and had a good session this afternoon. This little conditioning run was just to observe, to see who’s worked and who hasn’t worked. I was pleased with that. We have one player overweight, I’m not going to name him, but the rest of the players all came in at their assigned weight, which is a good thing, and we’re excited, we’re anxious to get started. We know, certainly, the challenges that we have ahead, but we’re really looking forward to it, and I like that sense of commitment that I felt this morning when we met them individually and this afternoon when we had a chance to speak to the team.
So it’s the beginning, it’s the start of camp 2013. We’re here, at our own facility, we’re excited about that, the grass is in excellent, excellent condition. It looks like the state fair around the outside here, but we’re anxious to get going. I’m excited, looking forward to the challenge ahead, looking forward to the idea of putting this team together, sensing the true commitment, feeling the energy, so I’m excited to get going.
Q: Tom, is anybody starting on PUP?
A: Yeah, there will be some that start on PUP. Snee is on PUP, Hynoski is obviously on PUP, JPP is on PUP,
Q: What about Baas and Jernigan. They were on the side, were either one of them-
A: Yeah, I’m not sure why Baas was, to be honest with you. Baas has been doing everything, he came in, and he’s in outstanding shape, but they chose to hold him over there on the side. Jernigan, a little tenderness, you know, so I hope we don’t have to deal with that. Not on PUP at this point, but I haven’t been inside yet.
Q: Do you like the leadership that you have going into this season, do you like the core in that regard?
A: Well, you know, let’s let the leadership rise to the surface. You know, we certainly do have people in position. We have people who have been in leadership roles for a long time here, we certainly have a solid, solid crew of veteran guys, some of whom certainly feel a deep desire to have a better year than we had a year ago, so we have people in position. We’ve had exceptional leadership from this group in the past, and I think that will remain, hopefully, the case this year.
Q: Can training camp set the tone for the season or is it too far away to be symbolic in that regard?
A: I certainly think it does set the tone. I don’t think there’s any question about that. Now that’s not saying anything with regards to the difficulty of the season on your schedule, but if you feel like there’s an exceptional work ethic or great moral… there’s outstanding leadership, the practices are the way you want them to be and you can see the progress throughout the course of preseason, I think it does set the tone.
A: He’s in good shape now. He’s lighter, quite a bit lighter than he was when he reported. So I think that based on that fact alone, I’m excited to see how he works.
Q: You didn’t get to see
A: His weight is exactly like it always is and he’s anxious. He’s excited.
Q: This is a lot of training camps for you. Where do you characterize your own competitive drive to start another one?
A: I’m excited. I really am. It’s time. You’re sitting around on vacation, or whatever you might call it, and you know. I’ve been doing it long enough to know. It’s kind of like when the horse turns. It’s time to go.
Q: You don’t call it vacation?
A: Yeah. It’s vacation.
Q: How has JPP looked?
A: He’s coming. He’s done well. He’s worked hard. I’ve seen him the last two days on the machines in there. His weight is good. He’s optimistic.
Q: Do you have a new phrase or motto for this year?
A: We have a couple of things going, but I’m not going to share it.
Q: It’s been two times where you’ve won a Super Bowl and didn’t make the playoffs. Are there lessons you have learned from those years?
A: You know from a couple of years ago, the ‘finish’ aspect of it was a huge motto and our players really responded to that. Last year’s experience at the end of the year was not a very pretty one. We finished our season… our 16th game went well, but we played against two very outstanding teams, one of which won the World Championship, but we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing. So I think that’s on everybody’s mind. We’re better than that.
Q: So is it just reminding them of what they didn’t like from that previous season that seemed to work the last two times?
A: There’s always a theme that comes out of that. I’m not going to share that with you right now, but there’s a theme that comes out of the experience that you have and the players are constantly reminded one way or another. One day I might be verbal about it. The next day it might be up in the corner of the video screen. The next day it might be on the door to the meeting room, but they’re constantly reminded of what it is that we’re zooming in on and that has been good to a point. A couple of years ago at the end of the season, we grabbed the “all in” thing that was tremendous and one of the questions that I have about going forward here is that we really tried to sustain that feeling because we knew how important it was to us a couple of years ago, but it didn’t work the way we exactly wanted it to. And there are a lot of reasons.
Q: You said at the end of last season that you wanted to go back and try and figure out things. Did you find anything that you would do differently this year?
A: I don’t know about me doing it differently, but you learn. You learn as you study.
Q: This is your 10th year with Eli. Both of you are linked in that regard. What is it like going into a camp knowing he’s your quarterback?
A: It’s great. It’s a good feeling, especially because of the type of individual that he is and how focused he is and how hard he’s working during the season and what he’s looking to improve on in his particular game and the way in which he can influence and lead and he’s thought about all of those things and I’m excited to see him work here in camp.
Q: Did you have an opportunity to work out with Victor Cruz the past few weeks?
A: No, I haven’t. The last few weeks we’ve been in different places and I haven’t gotten to work with him, so it will be good to get back out here. Obviously, Victor is a guy who’s been training and is going to be ready. He knows the offense well so it should not take us long to get back on track and get to work. Obviously, we don’t have many practices before this first pre-season game so we have to get right back at it.
Q: How long does it take from the time you report to training camp until you start feeling like you have the motor oiled, so to speak?
A: It shouldn’t take very long. Having been here and been working, my arm strength is in shape, it’s ready to go and it’s ready for practices. I expect that first day, we should be coming out here and getting completions and guys getting open and being on the same page, especially the veteran guys, guys who’ve been here a number of years, like Victor and Hakeem. We’re still getting the young guys going, a lot of that is just getting them keyed in, making sure they’re doing it the exact right way, doing things how they should be done and that’s what usually gets you on the same page. it’s getting comfortable knowing that they’re going to do it right every time.
Q: We don’t know how well Hakeem is moving around yet, obviously you saw him a little bit during the off-season, what are you anticipating from him?
A: I think Hakeem was just being smart and making sure he comes into training camp healthy and into the season healthy. Having gone through that stretch last year with his foot during OTAs and with his knee during the season, so from what he’s told me, he’s 100 percent, he’s ready to go and that’s what we’re expecting and that’s what we need him to be.
Q: It’s been a long time since you’ve had a close to 100 percent Hakeen Nicks to throw to. Is that something you’ve been looking forward to seeing, knowing how big a part he is to your offense?
A: Yeah, definitely. Hakeem is a big part, he is a playmaker, he stretches the field, he breaks tackles. He’s a guy who you’ve got to get the ball in his hands because he makes big plays happen. So, to have him full go, full speed and healthy and confident that he’s healthy will make a big difference in our passing attack. I think, just from looking at some of the numbers, that out big plays were way down last year. I think a big part of that is not having Hakeem in the mix and having him making some of those big plays for us.
Q: A lot of teams make big splashes in the off-season by signing a free agent and making some moves. You guys didn’t do that much. What are your thoughts on where this team isand the outlook overall considering that nothing major was made in terms of changes?
A: I think that’s a good thing. Usually, you feel like you have quality players on your team. Obviously, we signed back our left tackle, we signed back one of our main receivers, those are big splashes because they’re good players and you have them back on your team where they know the offense and you know what to expect from them. So, I feel like we have talented receivers, we drafted a running back in the first round last year, we have
Q: Does training camp No. 10 and starting season No. 10 mean anything?
A: Each year it’s exciting. I look forward to training camp. I look forward to getting better and I’m coming in here energized with something to prove to myself and to my teammates, that we have got to get back to playing better football. I have to play at a higher level and we’ve got to get back to being precise and everything being done the right way to ensure that we’re winning these games that we should be winning.
Q: Tom said that at the end of the season, the team was better than that. Is that something that’s carrying over for you guys?
A: Yeah. I think at the end of last year was tough. We had, obviously, some games where we played very poorly and lost. We still had a couple of games that we played close that we could have beat some teams and it would have been the difference of making the playoffs and not making it. We’ve just got to ensure that we get out to a fast start like we’ve been able to do these past years, but we’ve got to finish strong and we’ve got to find ways to win those games in November and December because that’s usually what’s going to make the difference… kind of where you know where you stand in that playoff race. You have to win those key games to ensure that you’re making it into the playoffs.
Q: After you won your first Super Bowl, you were hungry for your second. How hungry are you for a third?
A: Each year you’re hungry for it and I’m hungry for my third, and as a team, I’m hungry for each player. Either guys are trying to get their second and some guys are trying to get their first and I think you want everybody to have that experience to know that you are the best team in the NFL that year and that’s just an accomplishment. That feeling is contagious and it is something that you desire each year and so we’re working hard and trying to do everything during the offseason and during this training camp and during the season to ensure we get another chance for that taste.
Q: It’s been 10 years since your first training camp.
A: It’s gone by quickly. It really has. Each year I’m very grateful to be here and have another opportunity to play for the New York Giants and compete for championships for the Giants and the organization. They put a great team together, a great coaching staff and coach Coughlin and everybody is going to be on the same page and determined to go out there and win a championship and that’s what we’re trying to do.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: Is it great to be back since you have not been here?
A: It feels good to be back, man, see some of the guys, I’ve been smiling all day, coming in here, and seeing Eli, Hakeem, and all the guys, man, it’s just been a good day so far to say the least.
Q: Does it teach you to appreciate it more in the broader sense?
A: Absolutely, I always appreciate this moment, appreciate this field, this organization, this opportunity that was given to me, I’ve always appreciated it, and I’m glad to be out here fulfilling that appreciation right now.
Q: I know after you signed you and Eli were going to try to get together, but you didn’t, I suppose, right?
A: Yeah, we didn’t get a chance to, it was difficult with the birth of his second child, and me just running around, and our difficult schedules, but I’m excited to get out here with him and start getting stuff squared away, getting our timing back together. I assume it won’t take us very long so we’ll see how it goes.
Q: How good can this offense be, if you look at some of the pieces you guys have added—you’re back, if Hakeem is back at 100 percent, Ruben Randle has made strides… do you look at this offense on paper and think big things?
A: I think we can definitely do some big things. I think we have all the talent in place, I think we have all the tools, it’s just a matter of us coming together as a team and as a family, and if we can do that, I mean the sky’s the limit for us. But we have to treat these camp days one day at a time, and really get better in these moments and these times that we have with just us on the field before we face an opponent. But I think the upside of this team is tremendous.
Q: It’s been a long time since you played with a healthy
A: It’ll make all the difference. Hakeem is a special player, and when he’s healthy and all of us are out there on the same accord, playing together, we're a tough team to beat. So I think when he’s out there healthy and everybody’s clicking and everybody’s on the same page, I think it’s just going to be beneficial to the success of our team.
Q: Not making the playoffs, how long does that linger? Does it linger?
A: It’s lingered. I think throughout the offseason as you’re watching the playoffs, it kind of gives you that bad feeling in your gut a little bit, but as you watch the playoffs and you get in and the team that wins the Super Bowl, you wish them much success and once that’s done, you want to turn over and you want to fulfill that void, that playoff void that was the year before. You win a Super Bowl then the next year don’t make the playoffs, so it’s difficult, it’s difficult but you want to fill that void and I think this year we get that chance again to fill that void, and potentially have a great season and head into the playoffs.
Q: Coach Coughlin said your weight was right on. How important was that to you after not being here for several months, that your weight and conditioning is where it needs to be coming in?
A: That was big for me, that was one of the things I was concerned about. I mean, I would go train on my own, and myself and my trainer would make these simulator kind of OTA days, but obviously it wasn’t the same as physically being out here. But the biggest thing was nutrition and just making sure my body was healthy enough and I did a great job, my trainers did a great job, and I came in right spot on in where I wanted to be, and you know, it’s just a testament to how hard my team worked on the other end, and we got here together and here we are, so we’re good.
Q: Did that stuff about you being underpaid come out correctly or incorrectly? Do you have any comment about that?
A: It was rather incorrectly. I don’t feel underpaid at all. I was very excited about my contract, very excited about where I am with this team. I’m excited about the position that I’m in with this team and I’m excited about everything. I don’t look at anybody else in terms of what they got and what I got. I’m excited about this team. It was just a general feeling, an honest feeling at the time of how I felt and it got kind of depicted in the wrong way. I’m excited, man, I’m here. If you look at the statistics, I’m not even supposed to be standing in front of you answering these questions right now. For me to be here with a contract that’s over six years and with one of the best franchises in football ….
Q: Now that you have your contract, and you’ve called it a dream several times, what’s left for Victor Cruz to prove?
A: Just continue to be the player that everyone has seen so far. Continue to be consistent. Continue to catch the ball well. Continue to score. Eliminate the drops and continue to be the same person that I am, smiling from ear to ear whenever I’m making plays. Just continue to be that person that everybody has known and the playmaker that everybody has come to love and care about. So I just want to continue to be that person. We’re here to win championships as well, so that’s what our focus is on as a team and individually I just want to help fulfill that goal as a team.
Q: Does Eli’s experience make it easy to pick up where you left off even with the missed OTAs?
A: Definitely, I think having Eli’s experience, he knows exactly where he wants to place the ball and I know more or less where he wants it. It’s just a matter of physically doing it, physically getting the routes down, but Eli’s a tremendous help in terms of understanding the playbook. Understanding what he wants out of each and every one of us and it will be easy for us to get back on the same page I assume.
Q: Super Bowl in your own backyard, what does that mean to you?
A: It’s an exciting opportunity. We understand it’s enough motivation. We don’t even need to talk about it, it’s there right in front of us. We just have to go get it and it’s something that we’re looking forward to and if we can get there and we’re putting all our eggs in that basket, that’s what we play for. We just want to take it one step at a time. We’re not looking ahead, we’re not looking too far to the future. We want to get a good training camp in and take it one day at a time and once we get better, we’ll cross that bridge as the season progresses.
Q: Pierre Garcon said he thinks the Redskins could have the best offense ever this year, if you’ve heard that. You guys seem to be coming back healthy, with an experienced quarterback, do you think you can compete at that high level?
A: I think anytime we lace up and go out and touch the field against an opponent, we want to put our best foot forward. I’m excited for that and Pierre Garcon is supposed to say that, it’s his team. If he doesn’t say that, he wouldn’t be a Redskin, he wouldn’t be a good teammate. We’re excited about the opportunity to play everyone in our division and every team that is on our schedule.
Q: How hungry is this defense to have a better year, to make a statement, to get back to Giants defense?
A: I think hungry is an understatement for what we have in mind, what we’re trying to pursue as far as the defense. We’re just trying to be more consistent, trying definitely to develop that intimidating factor, but like you said it’s better done than said and it’s something you have to go out there and prove on the field. No one’s gonna give us anything, believe me.
Q: Does that consistency have to start right away, tomorrow?
A: I think the consistency started when we first got back out here in the spring. It’s a foundation that we tried to build on at that point and time and right now it’s just a carryover and make sure it’s sustained and stay consistent throughout the season.
Q: Do you do a lot of studying of your defense during the offseason to try to figure out what went wrong and what you need to fix?
A: I don’t think it really required so much of a study, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory the way we went out there and played the best of the best defense some weeks and went out there and played the worst of the worst defense some weeks. Like we said, just being on a more consistent basis and having that enthusiasm knowing that that play may be the determining factor of a win or loss throughout the game.
Q: Do you still believe you have the personnel here to be a much better defense than last year?
A: Absolutely. We had the personnel last year, and we have the personnel this year. Right now our main focus is this year. We can’t worry about last year. Last year is last year. We’re just looking forward to being a bigger, better, brighter defense. Like I said, it’s just making sure everyone…around each and every play. And it’s all going to start with practice, you know. How you practice is going to reflect in how you play in the game.
Q: When you go through a long off-season and you don’t have a postseason the year before, does that fuel your hunger?
A: I think it definitely fuels my hunger for the mere fact that I’ve experienced winning the Super Bowl here in the state of New Jersey/New York and that was probably the best feeling I’ve had in my life. Once I had the taste of that, I definitely want to go back and at least have the opportunity to play for the world championship each and every year. So like I said, I can only speak for myself and I’m sure my teammates feel the same way, we’re equally determined to go out there and prove the team we can be.
Q: And Antrel, having the Super Bowl here, how does that influence the season throughout the year?
A: I don’t think it influences the season at all. We have 19 other games to worry about before that game approaches. Just like any other team, we’re just very determined to be there. Just the fact that it’s going to be here at our stadium is just the cherry on top. We’re definitely looking forward to it. We’re going to aim high. We’re going to aim extremely high, as high as we can aim, each and every week and try not to have any letdowns.
Q: All the talk going into the season is of the 49ers and the Seahawks and there hasn’t been much talk about you guys. Do you guys kind of like that as a different road than the one you all had last year?
A: Talk is cheap, play the game. Teams and writers or sports analysts or whoever, they’re going to determine who’s going to win the Super Bowl before the spring even comes, so on and so forth. At the end of the day, the players have to go out there and play the game; not the coaches, not the fans, not the spectators, and not the analysts. So at the end of the day, like I said, the players have to go out there and play the game. And may the best team win.