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Quotes: Merritt, Giunta, & Nicks

Posted Aug 2, 2013

Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Secondary/Safeties Coach David Merritt, Secondary/Corners Coach Peter Giunta, WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Mathias Kiwanuka, TE Brandon Myers, and DT Cullen Jenkins speak to the media


Coach Tom Coughlin


Good afternoon. It’s a nice day outside, beautiful day. Had the pads on, had a little 9 on 7. It went okay, but you can see we have a lot of work to do. The majority of the day was more of a third down type of a day. The first group had a pretty good two minute drill. The defense really did make a couple of plays, but we’ve got a ways to go with that phase of it.

Q: Would you normally do goal line on the first day of pads or no?
A: Have you been watching us the last few years? Last time we ran a goal line, I lost a linebacker and a running back. We’ve been practicing short yardage and goal line, really since the spring. But the live part of it we haven’t done yet, if we’re going to.

Q: Can you give us an injury update on Webster and Pugh?
A: Webster says he feels pretty good. He did feel a little strain in the groin area, so they’re going to do what they have to so that it doesn’t turn into something. It’s difficult, so he’s got some downtime. Pugh took a shot in the head yesterday. He had a headache this morning, so he’s going through the (concussion) protocol.

Q: Did they diagnose a concussion?
A: Yes, they did. He’ll be out until he passes all the protocol.

Q: How did it happen?
A: He got hit.
 
Q: Could you talk about the running back tandem of Brown and Wilson and the potential that they bring to the table?
A: Well, they both have playing experience.  They both are talented.  Obviously Brown is bigger.  He’s fast, he does catch the ball well out of the backfield.  David is a big threat for a big play any time he touches it.  Kickoff return, catching a ball out of the backfield, making a great cut down the field.  They are an explosive duo and hopefully we’re going to give them some opportunities to get in the open field.  There’s great competition for the third spot.  Sometimes we’ve played three guys around here.  We’re always looking.
 
Q: Also with Brown, could you talk about his perseverance and him putting himself in a position where he’s valuable?
A: Well, his perfect perseverance.  The injury, actually losing almost a whole year, going elsewhere, and then us bringing him back here and the way that he showed us last year when we needed him.  He stepped up, first of all, in that Carolina game.  He’s ground it out.  He’s been grinding away and he’s certainly earned the opportunity that he’s gotten here and I hope he takes full advantage of it.
 
Q: Has Michael Cox done anything to impress you?
A: Yeah, he’s done a few things.  He’s done some nice things on special teams.  He’s done some pretty good things on kickoff returns and today in 9 on 7 he had a couple good runs.
 
Q: Nicks said he’s going to be back in one or two days.  Does that sound right to you or no?
A: That’s what it sounds like.  That’s the plan.  Hopefully that’s going to, the doctor thought he’d make it back for Tuesday.

Q: Kiwanuka was saying he’s happy just settling in, being at one position.  Do you see a reflection of that out here?
A: Sure, absolutely.  Just the way he carries himself.  He’s worked very hard and it looks like his confidence level is way up there because he’s got his hand on the ground.  I know he’s enjoying it.  It’s going to benefit all of us, him moving back to end.
 
Q: Is there always going to be a temptation with him …?
A: The more you can do.  Hopefully that won’t be the case, but never say never


Secondary/Safeties Coach Dave Merritt

Q: What kind of progress have you seen from Stevie Brown in his second year here?
A: I’ll tell you what, he picked up where he left off last year. Stevie Brown is able to continue to show us that he has range. He made a couple of plays as far as breaking from one side of the field all the way over to the opposite hash and that’s tremendous for us. Of course, we’re trying to practice healthy and we’re trying to be safe and so therefore we don’t necessarily run through the players, but the range that he is displaying is actually a little more than what he displayed last year. One of the things that you guys will probably see is Stevie Brown in the box a little bit more this year, so we’re excited to get him down and he’s starting to understand what I’m looking for in block protection and block destruction. So with Stevie Brown being able to be versatile and not just become a post player or not just become a deep half player is going to help us out.

Q: How has Cooper Taylor picked up the defensive system?
A: Cooper is just like any rookie. He’s in a situation where he’s overthinking a lot of the defense, but when you stop and take your hat off you look at this kid… We put him in a lot of roles this off-season. We had him playing the strong, free and the will linebacker position. 6-4, 230. You have a guy like that…you don’t want to waste that type of talent and so one of the things we were able to do with Cooper is to overload him a little bit this off-season and then back off and if we have to go back there, at least he’ll have a library of information that he can call on as far as playing the will linebacker. Big, strong, smart kid out of Richmond, as we all know, so he’s coming along.

Q: What have you seen so far that has made you think that the guys can fix some of the big plays that they gave up last year?
A: You guys are seeing the same thing I’m seeing. Our corners, and we all know that the ball went outside. The ball would go deep and outside, which they kept it away from the post safety. I talked to a couple of my buddies who coach on other squads and it’s a big fraternity and they say they’re going to keep it out of the middle of the field away from Kenny Phillips and Stevie Brown and the ball started going up outside. But as you look at what’s going on right now with our corners and how they’re competing and how they’re actually getting the technique down at the line of scrimmage, we’re starting now to pick off those passes that were once big plays on our defense last year and so just the fact that knowing that we have corners that can go out and play a third from a press alignment or from an off alignment and then able to play the proper technique and leverage has been tremendous for us to see and we just need to sustain it. If they can sustain this going into the preseason and going into the year, it’s going to be great for us.

Q: You said you’re excited about seeing Stevie Brown in the box. I’m sure Antrel Rolle is excited about seeing that.
A: Oh my gosh, Antrel talks about it all the time. Antrel has gotten beaten up over the past couple of years playing the nickel position. You all remember when he was in Arizona. He started as a corner, he moved to safety, they kept him in the middle of the field and one year he had probably six or seven interceptions. So as much as Antrel can, he’s going to try and put Stevie in the box, but we’re going to control that. Antrel is doing great for us as well. Antrel being able to play the safety position now… Whereas he had to come in and play the nickel and had to lose weight and try to play all the slot receivers, which is a different world. And by him being able to play the safety position for us now is a tremendous lift in his spirit because now he can play the half, he can play the third, he can play quarters, he can rotate down in the box and he doesn’t necessarily have to rotate out on the receiver and go out and play man to man, so he’s more of a safety this off-season and during this camp.

Q: How much more motivated are the guys this year coming off of last year? Have you sensed that at all?
A: You know what? They are motivated, but at the same time we all know that sometimes they can end up going into a regressive state and they have to continue to keep that high level of intensity going on and one of the things I told the guys is just make sure you play with a swagger. You’ve got to come out here every day and be yourself and don’t let anyone get you down and understand that this is your livelihood. This is what you do and we’re only in New York/New Jersey to do one thing and that is to play football and so I constantly remind the guys of that. A lot of guys get it twisted. They get in here and they run into the city to run and do appearances and do things like that. Antrel and I had a great conversation his first year with the radio shows and all of the things he had going on outside of the building, he had to refocus and get it back in line and understand that he’s only here to play football and that’s what all of these guys are here to do. They’re here to play for the New York Giants. When you have your chance to have a day off and go into the city and do all of the things that you can experience with your families, that’s great. But now it’s the football season. It’s time to strap it up and the motivation has to stay high because that’s what is going to help us during the season.

Q: Did Antrel come in heavier this year?
A: I wouldn’t necessarily say heavier, but he didn’t have to worry about trying to keep his weight down, so to speak, close to the 200 mark. Right now, Antrel is probably weighing about 208. You guys may not think five pounds makes a difference, but it does. It does when you’re playing a guy such as Cruz or you’re playing a guy such as Wes Welker in the slot. That extra five or 10 pounds that you carry will limit your ability to change directions.

Q: You were a big supporter of Will Hill last year. How disappointed were you with what happened?
A: To be honest with you, Will is working hard and disappointed. Yeah, we all would have liked for that not to have happened, but at the same time it’s another learning chance for Will and being a Jersey kid and being able to play here in front of his hometown and in front of his home fans, it’s a great jewel that’s out there in front of him to grab. But as far as disappointment, I let Will know that I’m always proud of him and I’m always going to be his fan and so I try not to use that word around him. He hasn’t heard it from me that Will, I’m disappointed in you. No. I’ve never said that to him, but internally yes. Do we want the four-game suspension? No. But at the same time, Will is going to come back and he’s going to be ready to go.

Secondary/Corners Coach Peter Giunta
     
Q: Besides the obvious physicality when you look at Prince, he’s bigger, he’s stronger, what is the thing that maybe we don’t see that you see in terms of his development?
A: Well, Prince understands the defensive package right now, he feels much more comfortable with what we are doing defensively.  He’s got a great relationship with the players, and more importantly he’s had a full off-season to work out and get in shape.  He’s a completely different player now because he’s had the opportunity to work the whole time. (Until this offseason) he’s been rehabbing the whole time; there’s a huge difference between rehabbing and between conditioning and getting ready to play football.

Q: And Aaron Ross, on the other side of the spectrum, is a veteran who’s seen it all before, but yet, after coming back from Jacksonville he also looks like he’s a different player, why?
A: If you have something you really like and somebody takes it away from you, and you don't have it anymore, and then you get it back, you really appreciate it a whole lot more.  He really appreciates the players that he’s around, the system, Coach Coughlin, the whole Giants organization is where he wants to be.  So he’s excited about playing for us again.

Q: How much of a help is it having Sam Madison back?
A: It’s fun.  You know, Sam was a really good player for us here, he’s got a great relationship with Corey, Aaron and a bunch of the guys.  You know we’ve shown him on tape because he’s on a lot of the teaching tapes that we have, so when the guys see him on tape now they get a chance to meet up and get to work with him a little bit on the field, it’s kind of fun.  It was one thing for myself or David to tell them what to do on the field, Sam’s a guy that we coached, he did it for us, won a world championship with us, so when they (…) what I did on the field, it’s different (…) because he can reinforce the things that we’re teaching with the guys and he can answer some questions on what it’s like to be on the field as a player, and can tell them ‘this is what works, this is why they’re telling you to do that,’ and it’s great that way.

Q: How encouraged are you in the end of early going in terms of the guys really being ball hawks considering the struggles you guys had last year?
A: You know, we really tried to emphasize this whole spring about getting back to playing sound, fundamental techniques, and the guys spent a great deal of time working at it this spring and they studied tape a lot, they studied themselves -- what they did well, what they did not do so well, and how they had to improve going into next football season -- so that’s what we're excited about.  We’re excited about the way they’re attacking and playing the ball in the air and if you have good numbers and have players that are good players that compete against each other, it raises everybody’s level of performance, and that’s what we’re looking forward to, to raise our level of performance based on the competition we have because everybody wants to play, and the more guys you have that can play, the better off you are.

Q: In looking at the film last year what did you see was a primary problem?
A: We didn’t play good, solid technique consistently enough.  We had our ups and downs, we had too many breaks in our concentration, our focus, our techniques. It was a number of different things, not just one specific thing.  We’ve got to get back to playing good, solid fundamentals.  I think we have a good, solid group keeping it together and if we communicate well together, we’ll be great.

Q: Anybody maybe towards the bottom of the depth chart that not a lot of people have heard of that has impressed?
A: The young guys, they’ve all stepped up and really played.  Charles James, kid of Charlestown Southern, he’s a walk-on rookie free agent we signed, he’s done a very good job as a nickel guy.  Junior Mertile’s made two really nice interceptions, one in the red zone, one down in the field, he has the ability to catch the football. We’re looking forward to see how he plays physically.  And Terrence Frederick was with us all last year on the practice squad but we never got to see him play (in the preseason).  We want to see what they can do in the game.  Laron’s from New Orleans and Terrence from the Pittsburgh Steelers, so we want to see how they play as Giants this year in the preseason games, so we’ve got a lot of good young kids that are competing and pushing each other along, other than the guys that you know about that were on the roster last year.   

Q: When you’re looking for undrafted free agents and you guys have always seemed to have a lot of success for that really, what do you look for?
A: Number one is character, do they fit into the Giants organization, do they fit with the other guys you’d have in your room because that's critical, what kind of people they are, number one.  Then do they have the physical skills to play in the National Football League.  You know Charles (James) is a little undersized, they may not test the best, they don't have the best speed, the best size but they’re football players, you want to get football players that have good character and that’s what we look for, football players with good character, and that’s what we have.

Q: What have you seen from Corey to maybe make you think he’s going to have a bounce-back year?
A:  Well, he’s been very consistent in the spring and in the offseason here, in his coverage technique and his coverage skills. He did a great job of taking care of himself in the offseason.  He had no off-season injuries or issues that would have set him back, so we’re looking forward to him bouncing back and we have some other god people to put around him, so we think that will be a big plus for us for Corey.

Q: Sometimes we see a player get beaten, and saw Corey last year, did he have a bad season last year?
A: We always try to match him up on the best receiver so he was constantly challenged, and maybe we can alleviate a little bit of that pressure this year, but he can contest a lot of balls, be in position and guys have to come up with the plays, and we’re looking forward to him getting back and making his share of the plays.  Once you make two or three plays, the ball’s not thrown in your way very often, and that’s what you have to have.  And if you’re having success and making plays, then people don’t attack you that well or that often, so we can mix our coverages and get him off the star all the time, then I think Corey will have a great season.

Q: And how close are you to making the switch to lining up left and right?
A: Yeah, I mean right now the way they’re playing, we can play left and right, because they’d come on last year, Prince would come on then he’d be injured for a game or two, the same thing with Jayron, he’d go in and sometimes when they were back playing they weren’t 100% when they were playing but they were out there competing so you didn’t have much of a choice but to break forward. Both guys both lacked experience. Now they both gained experience and played in a lot of games last year so they can go right and left and you can match guys up different ways. We have Aaron back, hopefully Terrell will be back, obviously Jayron, all gained experience, so they all play different. They were both rookies last year.


WR Hakeem Nicks


Q: Has it been frustrating not being able to be out on the field?

A: I don’t feel frustrated at all. It’s only the second week of camp practice. I think, coming off a season like last year, I’m trying to be smart and I think the training staff is as well. Just taking it like that, I don’t have a problem with. But frustrated, not at all.

Q: When did you first notice the injury?
A: It’s really, I wouldn’t even categorize it as an injury. I think it’s just being smart, you know, coming off the problems that I had last year with the knee and the foot. I just don’t want it to be nothing ongoing so we’re just going to take it…I’ll be back out there as soon as they let me. I think it will be in another day or two.

Q: Did it just suddenly develop? The coach categorized it as tightness. Did something trigger it?
A: I think it just comes with the pounding from training camp. You go out there, like I said, coming off last season, we just tried to play it safe, play it cautious. I think it’s nothing serious. If it was a game-planning situation and we were going into week one, I definitely don’t think I’d be sitting out or nothing like that. Just being so early in training camp, we just want to be smart about it.

Q: Would you say you and Coach Coughlin were on the same page as far as that goes? Have you guys been talking regularly?
A: Yeah, we talk daily about it. I think we’re on the same page. I’m obviously going to respect his decisions as well, being our head coach, and respect our trainers’ decisions as well because they know what they’re doing, too. And it’s for the best interest for both sides.

Q: Are you concerned with the lacks of reps between OTA and this week?
A: I don’t really have any words.

Q: How quickly do you think you’ll be completely back in the swing of things?
A: I think it’s just going to be a matter of making sure I’m in shape, which I have no doubt about. Just getting back in the flow of things. Me and Eli are always on the same page, we talk all the time, whether it be meetings or just out on the field. Just watching him as well, watching him practice actually helps me a lot to because I get to see what he’s looking at, his progressions and stuff like that. That helps me when I do get back out on the field.

Q: Were you out there long enough to tell anything about your knee?
A: Yeah, actually, the knee is feeling great, the foot’s feeling great. That’s definitely a positive. My goal is to come out the first day and the first two days just kind of explode, make sure I still have everything like I thought I would. Everything felt real good.

Q: How do you balance being smart but also making sure you are getting enough practice time?
A: I’ve got to protect myself from myself as well, me being so competitive. So the training staff and coaching staff, they kind of worked with me on that but I see myself in another week definitely picking it up extremely a little bit more but I just wanted to come into camp, take it slow, coming off a season like last year, take it slow and do the things I need to do to make sure there are definitely aren’t going to be any setbacks. It’s a big season for us and we’re going to take it one day at a time.

Q: Did you learn lessons from last year? Is this something you may have pushed through last year?
A: Probably. I think if this happened last year, I would have just kept pushing my body through, pushing my body through. But, being a little wiser and knowing the game a little bit now, knowing the business side of things, you just kind of want to be smart. At the same time, you don’t want to take advantage of just not being able to practice and turning into a lazy factor, so that’s definitely not the case. We just want to be smart about it and make sure you’re taking care of your body because, if you can’t be out on the field when it’s time to produce, then you’re no good to the team.

Q: When you see guys like Maclin and Pitta, does that kind of stick in your mind? Stuff like that that happens in training camp?
A: Hats off to those guys, those guys are great athletes. I’m sorry it had to happen to them, especially at such a critical moment in their careers. That’s not something I really think about. Prayers go out to them and for them to bounce back but that’s nothing I really think about. Football, you know, anything could go any day. As soon as you step out on the field, you’re at risk. That really doesn’t cross my mind.

Q: How did it make you feel to hear Victor, your fellow receiver, call you the number one receiver on this team?
A: Me and Victor, like we always said, we’ve always had a good relationship. We understand our offense. The great offense coach Gilbride has been running here for years, we understand it, we understand our roles in the offense. The outside receiver is the main, number one receiver in this offense. That’s what I’ve been doing since I got here. Victor has definitely stepped up and been a great slot receiver in this offense. We just have to keep on playing, hand and hand, and contribute to this offense the best way possible. But with Eli and coach Gilbride, with this offense, I think the sky’s the limit.

Q: What are your thoughts watching Rueben Randle?
A: Rueben Randle has been making great progress. When Mario Manningham left, we kind of lost that third wide receiver spot, which we use a whole lot, definitely the Super Bowl year. Bringing that back to the table is definitely going to help us and he’s eager to go out there and make a name for himself, which he showed flashes of last year. I don’t have any doubt about him coming out and making plays.

Q: With you at full strength, Victor at full strength and what you see from Rueben now, what can that mean to an offense?
A: I think, with Eli distributing that ball around, I think the sky could be the limit. But we have to go out there and make sure we’re playing under the schemes and things that we’re supposed to be doing and doing it to our full capabilities.

Q: Just to clarify, the trainer said about another day or two?
A: Yeah, each day I come in and they’re just going to let me know what they think. I know it definitely won’t be more than another day or two.

Q: Can you understand why some of the fans are thinking “uh oh, he’s got something wrong, he can’t practice,” and they’re in a panic, the message boards are going nuts, “uh oh, Hakeem’s got problems.”
A: That’s just because some people on the outside looking in really don’t understand. But, hopefully, they understand now, just coming off a season like last year, I just want to be cautious about it and make sure I’m able to perform when it’s really time and it really counts.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka

Q: So how has it been with one position?
A: It’s great.  I mean, it’s fun.  It’s the position I was kind of born to play, I feel like, so I’m just having fun being back out here.  

Q: Even when you were sort of at one position, you really weren’t…
A: Yeah, that’s where I feel like the easy transition has always come from because when I was a linebacker, I would put my hand down on the ground on third down and I was still going back and forth between meeting rooms.  It wasn’t like this was completely foreign to me.  Just being with the guys.

Q: So when was the last time you were strictly at one position …?
A: We’d have to go to the film on that one.  It depends how you really consider one position.  

Q: Well, when were you switching?  I guess your second year right?
A: Probably about my second year.

Q: You’ve always talked about not just the on-field stuff, but the off-field stuff is the big difficulty.  Spend time in this room, then go to this room.  Does it clear your head more?  You’re in one room and you don’t go anywhere else?
A: Yeah.  It’s definitely easier because you’re not worrying about what you’re missing in the other meeting room and what’s being said and trying to track coaches down, in their off time, to get all the rest of the information.  Whatever this team asks me to do, I’m going to do it.  As long as we get some wins out of this, I’m good for it.

Q: They’ve told you before you can do this, then we need you here, then here.  Are you pretty convinced this is where you’re going to be, where you’re going to stay?
A: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it this year.  It’s a year to year basis around here so we’ll see how it goes.  For this year, that’s where I’ll be.  

Q: How would that translate into production?
A: I think it will have a huge effect.  I mean … sitting in one room, you can focus on one job and one task.  I feel like it puts you in a much better competitive advantage to watch film, to study, to work on your own technique.

Q: Do you have any goals in mind?
A: I have my own goals.  I think the main thing for us as a team to make sure not only do you make it to the playoffs, but you have a successful season in our eyes, which is a Super Bowl championship.  

Q: What are your thoughts on Damontre Moore, some of us sat down and compared him to you a little bit, with him…
A: I think the jury is still out. I think for a young guy who is physically gifted, he is very talented, he pays attention, and he’s got that drive and that power.  You see him flying around the field.  For a young guy like that it’s about staying in tune with the material.  He’s got all the physical gifts and he’s got to stay healthy.  But I think the guy’s …

Q: Coach Nunn talked about trying to get tougher this year.  Do you guys feel tougher this year?
A: I think we’re always tough.  Maybe it didn’t show up on film but … I take pride in being tough when I get out there on the field.  For that component of the question ……

Q: Have some of the guys taken Moore under their wing a little bit?
A: I think as a group, it’s still really early, but in a group we have tremendous leaders in that room and helping down the line, whenever we see something, these veterans, they help younger guys out.  I think a lot of guys do a pretty good job with helping out.  

Q: See a difference in Justin Tuck this year?
A: I think he’s healthier.  I think his desire, his will, his drive has always been there.  Injuries are a part of the game and that’s just something you can’t get away from. While he’s healthy and he’s out there, he’s great.

TE Brandon Myers

Q: Any of Mike Pope’s drills in particular that you haven’t been used to?
A: Every drill.  It’s been totally different and it’s been good.  It has helped me out, in the run and the pass, so it’s exciting.

Q: What’s it like playing with Eli Manning?
A: It’s great.  He’s been there, he’s proved it; you know, if you’re on the same page as him, he’s going to find you, and that’s what we’ve kind of been building, the same page, and like I was saying earlier hopefully when it’s third down, or something like that, if you can do it in practice, he’s going to trust you in the game, so that’s my job as a tight end.

Q: Does he like to do a lot of independent work, when in the film room you both sitting there talking about it-
A: Yeah, I mean we’ll see something on film and then we’ll talk about it, in the classroom, or on the field.

Q: What’s the next step in your development as a player, you put up big receiving numbers last year, and I’m sure you still want to get better as a player.  What do you still want to do as you become a Giant?
A: To be an all-around tight end has always been what I’ve strived to be.  Catches are nice and whatever, but if you can be out there every down, run play, pass play, blocking, you’re blocking some pretty big guys, so I’ve always tried to stay on the field and not be a situational tight end, but an every down tight end.

Q: The Giants have always stressed blocking from the tight ends, so why make that decision to come here if you weren’t sure if that was one of your best assets and then how have they been able to coach you up?
A: I mean, obviously, last year I didn't block as well as I’d have liked to, but coming here with an organization like the Giants with a coach, with a quarterback, with a winning tradition… it was important for me to come here to, like I said, be an every down tight end; yeah, that’s the tight end’s job, to block, and run routes, so I just try to do that and get better at everything I do each and every day.

Q: Is it because you weren’t asked to do much of it in other schemes when you played or it’s just something you’ve had to develop physically to be able to do better?
A: Yeah, it takes time to learn how to block, especially when you’re going up against guys like Justin Tuck, guys like that.  It’s not going to be pretty, but all you can do is trust your technique and finalize what you work on with the coach and get better.

Q: What do you think about Adrien Robinson, he’s got a lot of size on him.
A: Yeah, he’s got a lot of potential.  The thing I stress to him every day is detail.  For a young guy you think, ‘Oh I know the right guy, who to block, you know I did my job’; it’s all about technique, even if it’s a walk-through.  Or if it’s a run after the catch, stuff like that, and I’ve kind of just been on him about a release, that I’ve been told from older guys.  But yeah man, sky’s the limit for that guy, if he can bring it all in, bring it together, I think he’s going to be a special player.

Q: Safe to say that you guys have developed a good kind of relationship as far as going back and forth?
A: Yeah definitely.  We all have a great relationship.  Obviously, we’re all competing with each other for playing time, but it’s kind of like the Giants, you know, it’s do it for your brother type of thing.  So I want to see those guys succeed, and I want to succeed as well… it’s a good room to be in.

Q: That’s the motto this year, right?
A: That’s right, yeah, ‘do it for your brother.’

Q: You talked about Tuck being hard to go against.  Can you just talk about him and his renewed sense of urgency after a couple of banged up years?
A: You know, I wasn't here for the banged up years, but, I mean, he’s pretty dang good right now so, I’d hate to see what he was, like you said, a couple years ago but he’s a great player.  He’s a good teammate because he’ll tell you if he sees something. You know, he’s been around, he’s done it, he sees if you’re doing something a certain way, you can ask him and he’ll tell you.  But he’s definitely a tough player, he only makes me a better player when I go against him, which is all you can ask for.


DT Cullen Jenkins

You know, that’s one of the things that I liked about here, the fact that the defensive line is one of the strong points, the leaders of the defense. I take a lot of pride in trying to play well and help out. Coming here and being able to help out on this defensive line, you can’t ask for anything better than that.

Q: Do you get a sense from the guys who were here last year, the sack numbers were down from where they would like them to be, that there is some extra motivation to kind of get back to where they have been in the past?
A: It’s not just the sack numbers, everything from the play against the run, the records, everything. There is a big sense of urgency here in improving in all areas.

Q: You were his teammate last year, how surprised were you by Riley Cooper’s situation these past couple of days?
A: I was really surprised. When I saw it, I’ve known Riley the two years there, we talked quite a bit, joked around a lot. We were friends there. He always was real cool with me. He made some unfortunate comments, I know he wishes he could have them back, but everybody makes mistakes.

Q: Can that wreck a team? Can that divide a team?
A: It depends on the mindset of the team. If you have guys who understand that it was just a mistake or that it was just something that was unfortunate, you can get past it pretty easy. If you turn it into a problem, especially with the media, they will keep it going if you give them something to keep it going.

Q: How do you think you would handle it? If you were there now, because you know the guy.
A: We were friends, we would still be friends after this. He made an unfortunate mistake, he has apologized about it, you forgive him and you move on.

Q: They had you at end earlier in the week, do you have any preference on whether you play inside or outside?
A: No preference really. Each position has its benefits. I like being able to move around and go to different spots, I like to spend a little time outside at end at times and also be inside at tackle at times.

Q: They’re different skill sets though, right?
A: Yeah, you definitely have to change over your mindset that, you know, when you move in the different positions, you have to approach each one of them with a different attitude as far as your steps, reaction time and stuff, what type of blocks you can get.

Q: How big a help has Justin Tuck been? He does some of that moving around a little bit, just helping you download everything.
A: He’s been a big help. Especially coming in and you’re learning a defense, obviously I went through the offseason, but you’re still trying to get familiar with everything. And then you’re not just learning one position, you have to learn the whole defensive line with everything that comes with it. He’s been helpful, we’ve talked at times, he helps me out with stuff if he feels like I’m struggling a little bit.