General Manager Jerry Reese
Good afternoon, welcome to Giants training camp again at the new Quest (Diagnostics Training) Center. I really don’t have a lot for you guys but I have a couple of numbers that I’ve been bouncing around in my head. The (first) number is 190. That’s 190 days until the Super Bowl is played at MetLife Stadium over there. So, it makes me think about sense of urgency for our team, and the other number is the number 1. And that is, we’ve been to the playoffs one time in the last four years. So, that’s below our standards. We have to play more consistent. I think those are two things that I want to focus on the most.
Q: It’s also worth noting that you won a Super Bowl in that time but when you look back at those past four years, how much does the Super Bowl weigh versus the fact that you were home for the playoffs in the other years?
A: Well, it never takes away the sting. I still think about the season we went 8-8. I thought that was one of our best teams and we went 8-8. So, nothing takes away the sting except getting in the tournament and having a chance to win the Super Bowl. So, again, you know, one playoff trip in the last four years is just below our standards. We want to do better and we will do better.
Q: You were also pretty close to the playoffs last year, which I know is not good enough, but when you look at this team that you’re bringing back, do you feel it’s close to getting back to that playoff or Super Bowl level?
A: Yeah, we’ve been close but close is not good enough. I think that, the ‘consistent’ word that I talked about earlier….to get in, you have to be consistent. At times last year we looked like a good football team and other times we looked like a bad football team. I want us to be consistent every week and look like that good football team.
Q: You’ve got a lot of people back . You’ve got your core back, so to speak. You didn’t go out and make a flashy, big free agent move. What was your philosophy in going with the guys that you had?
A: Well, we just try to do what’s best for the Giants. I say this every year, we don’t really have a template on how we do things, we just try to put the best roster together the best that we can, anyway we can do it. Sometimes we can do it the draft. Obviously we like our draft picks, but sometimes in free agency, with our salary cap situation, and sometimes the free agent market just isn’t a good market for you as well for what your needs are. We think we put together a nice roster, but, again, our roster, to get all the pieces we want, it probably won’t be finished until Week 1 when we get ready to go to Dallas.
Q: You have a lot of one-year guys, guys whose contracts will end. Does that add to the sense of urgency like you were talking about earlier?
A: Well, I think when guys are on one-year deals it’s definitely a sense of urgency for them as well. If you want to continue to play in this league, you have to play well. It’s a high performance business. So those guys on the one-year deals, I think it’s a sense of urgency for them for sure.
Q: Does that (one-year deals) add motivation to this season?
A: We’re always motivated. I don’t think we have to throw somebody’s contract up against them to be motivated. We have competitive guys on this football team and we expect guys to be motivated when they come out here and give us their all.
Q: Do you keep track of the number of days until the Super Bowl every year?
A: No, I don’t think I keep track of it, but when you look at it, you see that number jump out at you. 190 days, that’s really not that far away. So, the sense of urgency really jumps out at me. Our team, we’re going to put up in the locker room our countdown, so our guys can see how urgent it is to be ready to go every week. You can’t let games get away from you and expect to make the playoffs. So we’ve got to have a sense of urgency going into this season.
Q: For this team to be great, how much do you need JPP to be the player he was two years ago?
A: Well, obviously he is a tremendous football player. We want him to be great. Obviously, he’s coming off a back injury but we think he can be a terrific player like he’s been in the past so we expect that from him but it’s not only a one-man team. We expect all of our defensive players to step up. Our defense has to get off the field. We didn’t have a lot of three-and-outs last year, we need to get on the field and get off the field and our offense needs to score points, score touchdowns.
Q: Do you think this offense can be explosive?
A: I hope so. When you don’t score points in this league its’ hard to win. You can’t score 17 points and expect to win and get into the playoffs. It seems like most of the rules benefit the offense so it’s a little tougher for the defensive players. It seems like the fans want scoring, the National Football League wants a lot of scoring and doesn’t want boring football games to look like a slow soccer game, you want a lot of scoring so a lot of the rules seem to benefit the offense. The number one thing the rules do is for safety, but the safety rules kind of benefit the offense almost if you look at it from my perspective.
Q: How confident are you that you will eventually be able to keep Hakeem long-term?
A: It’s inappropriate to talk about contracts or anything like that, but to answer your question, obviously, we want him to be a Giant for a long time.
Q: For him (Nicks) to tell Eli, apparently, that he’s 100 percent, is that among the better news you could get heading into a camp like this?
A: You don’t expect anything else from
Q: How connected, would you say, Nicks’ health is to the success of this offense?
A: It’s not only Nicks. Obviously our offense suffered last year when he was banged up some. But it’s everybody, everybody’s got to play a role in our offense. It’s not a one-man team, it’s not Nicks’ team, it’s not Eli’s team, we do everything as a team, as units. Our offensive unit, our defensive unit, our special teams unit, we all have to be more consistent and do the things it takes for us to advance in the playoffs.
Q: You haven’t had, in the last four years, a disaster year. Looking back at how good those last four teams were, are you surprised that there was only one playoff berth? Do you think there were missed opportunities?
A: The (10-6) team, you usually get in the playoffs when you’re (10-6). We’ve had different things that have happened to us that have knocked us off-kilter a little, but all I know is we’ve been in the playoffs one time in the last four years and that’s really not acceptable for us. That’s not our standard, that’s not what we shoot for and we want to put everyone on notice, myself included. Everybody’s on notice. That’s not our standards.
Beautiful day. The grass is great. We got the first one in, which is good. It’s the typical opening day. There’s some good, some bad. But we threw a lot at them. The reactions were probably better on defense than they were on offense to start with, but that’s nothing unusual. We’re glad to be out here, glad to be working. We could see some plays made by different people today, which is good. Nicks made a couple of plays. Cruz made a couple of plays. Defensively, they covered the deep ball well. I thought the throws were pretty darn good, but I like the way we were in position from the corner spot on the deep ball today and that was a good thing.
Q: How close to 100 percent did Nicks look today?
A: He’s out there working. He feels good.
Q: Who has improved the most as far as blocking at running back?
A: After this morning, after this one practice? You better ask me that maybe in another week.
Q: Do you know what happened to
A: I think he had a cramp.
Q: JPP said he feels at about 75 percent and he doesn’t feel pain anymore? Are you encouraged by what you’ve seen from him?
A: Yeah. He’s done very well and he’s worked hard at it. I’d say he’s probably within a couple of pounds of his playing weight. I’d say that with what he’s allowed to do, he does well. He has a specific routine that he does in the training room and he’s been able to do that well. So I am encouraged.
Q: He wouldn’t put a timetable on it. Are you?
A: I wouldn’t either. No. You just see. He’s made good progress and he’s made it relatively fast.
Q: How many of these types of practices will it take you to get a feel for your team?
A: It will take progress through the preseason. It comes really fast for us and then we have some time in between the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis games to practice and then things happen again relatively quick because of the way we finish the preseason. So I’m hoping we see it soon. I have in my own my mind a date that I won’t share that I think the concepts have got to be pretty well understood, but you’re going to have to get the pads on. You’re going to have to go through the heat and the hard days and the offensive line is going to have to come around under those circumstances, the defensive line… You’re going to have those kinds of practices before you can really make the progress you’re looking for. You’ll see spot plays here and there from both sides of the ball, but before the continuity comes in, I think that the offensive line and defensive line have just got to be able to work well together.
Q: Are the starting linebacker jobs as open as you can remember in a long time, maybe six guys for three spots?
A: Probably, I would say.
Q: Are you looking for guys who just jump out and catch your eye? What are you looking for?
A: Well, steady, consistent. No mental errors. Tackle opportunities, do that successfully. Being in the right position against the pass. You know, we’ve always felt that we could do better, if you will, versus some forms of the zone. Underneath coverage and that will help us a lot. There are some young guys who have not had a lot of time with regard to playing the position in a game. They’ve been more special teamers. They can run and do those kinds of things. I’m anxious to see that.
Q: Jerry Reese told us this morning that one of the things you guys were going to do was you were going to put a countdown to the Super Bowl in the locker room to speak to the urgency of the moment for the team. What was your reaction to that?
A: When Jerry came in and showed it to me, his point was that it is not very far away, and if that’s the case, then there would be a sense of urgency about just reminding people what that is. I’m fine with that.
Q: How many days is it?
A: I don’t know. What day is today? I have no idea. It’s training camp.
Q: Next weekend Bill Parcells is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Your time with him and your memories of being around him, is there a moment, a hall of fame quality, or something like that, something that stands out to you?
A: There’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of moments and big games and exceptional players making great plays and the great enjoyment of being a part of it. There were many of those examples.
Q: Do you know that back in ‘83, his first season here, he was almost fired. That was going to be his only season. Have you ever reflected on that at all?
A: It’s a good thing he stayed. It’s a good thing they kept him. That’s what I say. He’s a great coach.
Q: Did you reach out to him at all?
A: Yeah, I’ve talked to him, sure. Congratulated him. You bet.
Q: How does Terrell Thomsa look?
A: I don’t know. He’s restricted in what he can do. We’re all frustrated about it. He is himself, number one. The sooner he can get out there, the better off we’ll all be. And he came in fully feeling like he could start right out in practice and just wasn’t able to do that right away. We’ll be patient, but know full well that we’re all excited the moment he gets a chance to come out and practice and we get a sense of where he is, how he’s going to be and that type of thing.
Q: So what’s the outlook, in your mind, for this football team?
A: The outlook is to win. That’s what all our focus is on and obviously we’ve got a lot of work to get to where we want to go. That starts today.
Q: How much did last year, particularly for the defense, weigh on your mind this offseason?
A: A lot. I think it’s weighed on my mind enough where I can say “okay, let’s move forward.” I’m not really thinking about last year, I’m thinking about what this team can do this year to make this year what we want it to be. We’re not really thinking about last year anymore. We did our learning from the past, now let’s put that behind us and move forward.
Q: What stuck out when you look at last year that you can take this year so you don’t have a repeat of last year’s performance?
A: Honestly, what stuck out is that we didn’t play consistent. There were some games we played great and we played the type of football we’re accustomed to playing around here, and some weeks where you scratch your head and say, “yea, that wasn’t the team we wanted to be that week.” I think it comes down to being consistent, trying to be the same team every week. That goes to the preparation during the week and making sure that we’re in the right mindset every week, whether we’re coming from a great win or a bad loss. Just being…and understanding that it’s a long season and we can’t allow ourselves to be on those rollercoasters like we have been.
Q: There are a lot of questions about this defense. Do you have a lot of questions about this defense?
A: Sure, I do. But one thing I understand is this: there’s a reason why I do have those questions. We haven’t practiced yet. It’s a process, and we’ve got to go through that process. There’s a process to building a winning team, and a process to building a losing team. Unfortunately, I know both processes. We’re just trying to do it the right way and do the right things and come out here and work our butts off. These practices are set up to make sure we have the optimum amount of work. And that’s my job as a captain, to make sure we come out of here and that once we hit the field, we hit it running.
Q: When you guys were really good as a defense, the constant seemed to be that if you didn’t have a lot of sacks, you had big pressure on the QB. Do you feel that was missing last year?
A: Look at the stats. Absolutely, it was missing. I’d be kind of blind to say it wasn’t. I think we’ve gotten too wrapped up in sacks. I think where we’ve kind of made our mark is the times when we don’t get sacks and the QB is throwing the ball fast, or they are max protected and we’re still after the QB. We kind of got away from that and got so caught up in “my sack numbers aren’t up.” It’s a process to that too. I think QBs feel that pressure throughout the game and that’s when you start seeing them get rattled in the pocket. It’s not necessarily about the sack numbers. It’s about the pressure, the hits, and things of that nature. So we’ve got to get back to doing that.
Q: What has it been like integrating so many new faces in the defensive line?
A: Yea, there are some new faces. There are old faces I’m very accustomed to playing with that are no longer here, but it’s exciting because it kind of revives you and tells you you’ve got to get to know these guys. You’ve got to get to know how they play and what they’re good at, and in certain situations, understanding what they want to do. For me, it kind of puts me back in the classroom a little bit and that’s good.
Q: How healthy are you, Justin, and how important is it to your overall productivity?
A: I’m ready to go. And I think that’s the big thing for me, just staying healthy. Right now I feel great.
Q: What are you going to be looking for when you guys start taking the field in practice, and what are you going to be looking for from your defensive teammates?
A: I think the first couple days is just attitude. There’s not a lot of…in here right now, so we should be able to play fast and play energized. I think that’s what all of us are looking forward to. Just getting out on the field, running, making sure we sprint to the ball, and having these go crisp. I think that’s what we’re looking for these first couple practices.
Q: In the offseason, some guys are here and some guys aren’t. When you hit the field for the first practice, do you keep an eye on certain guys?
A: Sure you do. I think at this stage in my career, you understand what guys you’re going to have a huge role out of. You want those guys to kind of be in the forefront. Like you said, Hakeem, Cruz, they’ve got to lead the wide receiver crew. Myself, obviously JPP is not out with us right now, but Kiwi. Veteran guys on our defensive line have got to be the guys out front and leading the defense. Our young linebackers. Who’s going to step up and be the rock in our linebacker crew? You’re always looking for that because you kind of feed off of those guys. I know the wide receiver guys are looking at Cruz and...They kind of feed off of those guys. I know …are looking to see, “okay how does Justin move?” and what pace I’m going in practice. I think that’s very important for our leadership and guys we’re expecting big years out of to come out today and set the tone for what practice is going to be like.
Q: When you were out there yesterday did you kind of glance over and see how JPP was moving?
A: I’ve worked out with JPP a lot this off-season. I know where he is and he keeps me posted on where he is, but I was focused on making sure I did the right thing.
Q: You think he’ll be ready?
A: If anybody can be, it would be him. I think he’s made great progress and he seems to be in great spirits, so we’ll see. Time will tell.
Q: Paul asked you if you had questions about the defense. Do you have questions about your own?
A: Mine personally? No, I don’t. I’m my biggest critic. There’s nothing you guys can write or say that I probably haven’t thought or found ways to already try and correct. I know where I am personally and I know what I’m still capable of doing. The process is to come out here and work and make sure that come Sunday I can go out there and do that.
Q: I’m sure you’ve heard people say that you’re done. That’s entered…?
A: Well honestly, the one thing I don’t need is motivation but I’ve found a lot of it this off-season. So for all of you ignorant writers out there, thank you.
Q: You’re a big fan of other teams and things like that. When a player is coming off of two years, like you are, those are natural questions.
A: Sure, they are. That’s why you don’t see me upset about them. Listen, you guys have a job to do and you do it very well. I understand that. Like I told you, I’m my first critic. I understand where I am in my career and what I’ve done and the things I still want to do. But again, me looking back at the past is not going to help me move forward. That’s what I’m trying to do, move forward. Just trying to keep the distractions down and focus on football.
Q: When you look forward, what do you think the defense is capable of this year?
A: I don’t know. Doesn’t matter what I think. Coach Coughlin has a saying: “Well done is better than well said.” For me to sit up here and talk about what we can do is just words. It really doesn’t matter. For us, we’ve really got to get in the mindset of going out there and doing it. Like I said, it starts out there today on that football field. Creating an identity for this defense and creating an identity for this team. That’s the only thing I’m focused on. I’m not worried about what other people think we can do. For that matter, it doesn’t really matter what I think we can do. It doesn’t really matter what I think, it’s all about what we’re going to go out there and do. And that’s what it starts with, going out there and doing it.
Q: You guys want to be intimidating this year?
A: Intimidating? Honestly, you want to be intimidating, but that’s not the end goal. We want to win football games. I don’t care if a team isn’t intimidated by us, as long as we come out with the win. That’s what matters. But as a defense, you do want to have that persona of being a defense that’s going to get at the offense, that is going to hit the QB and be a physical defense. You absolutely want to be known as that around the league.
Q: Will it be long before you can get back on the field?
A: No, I wouldn’t think it would be too long but I don’t know. I feel pretty good, I’ll really just take this week and just condition hard and see how it feels after that.
Q: Does it feel strange not being a part of it?
A: Yeah, a little bit. This is the first time in my career that I’ve been on this so it’s different and I’m just going to roll with it and help out in other ways, help out in the class room, talk to the young guys. I’ll be on the field every day.
Q: It’s not just an old man’s way of getting out of practice?
A: No. Despite what some people say, I’m catching a lot of heat there, I’m just following the doctor’s orders.
Q: There was no setback, was there? Because I know you were hoping to be ready.
A: That’s the goal, but we thought it was in the best interest to take a little time.
Q: Was that decision made before you guys got here yesterday or was it one of those things…?
A: Yeah, but I’m close.
Q: Did you know it was coming?
A: Yeah, I had a feeling. Like I said, there are still some things that I need to work out and, like I said, there’s no reason to rush things now. But I’m doing everything I need to do to get in shape and I ran harder than those guys did yesterday.
Q: Do you figure this will be a fairly short stay on PUP?
A: I hope so. If I keep progressing the way that I do, I would think so.
Q: Did you foresee this after the surgery?
A: Yeah, I knew the timeline would be close and that’s why you always set your goal tentatively for the start of camp but I’m not 100 percent, so why rush back?
Q: How much time do you think you need?
A: I still need to get in the preseason games and get those reps. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into a regular season opener without having played some preseason games. Now, do I want to take 40 snaps a game? No. But I need to get some practice reps and some game reps. I’ll get those in.
Q: Are you confident you will be active some point in training camp?
Q: Were you surprised that you were on PUP? You were able to do some things in the spring, it looked like you were making progress?
A: Like I said, I knew the timeline after the surgery. I knew that it would be close to the start of camp and that was always my goal. I want to be out there with everyone. I think the trainers and staff all know that. Sometimes they have to hold me back a little bit. They just said to take a little more time. So this week I’ll run hard, I’ll be in shape.
Q: How do you look at this opportunity now that’s presented in front of you?
A: It’s a great opportunity and I’m stepping in, trying to do all of the right things that I need to do to help this team to win. Whatever that may be, wherever I may be on the field, and how much I want to be on the field. I know what I have to do this training camp in order to get the maximum playing time. Me and Dre (
Q: Do you look at this as a competition between you and him or do you see this as maybe a tandem back situation?
A: We definitely will compete. That’s just natural and that will make both of us better. Like I said, when we go out there on game day, no matter who is out there in the backfield, we know we have playmakers on the field.
Q: How do you approach this camp then? Is it about pacing yourself to get ready for the season? Or are you going all out?
A: I think each day you go out on the field, you should get better, at least in one thing. If you’re not doing that, then you’re not really working. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. When we go out on the field every day, we’re just trying to get better. I hope that’s everybody’s mindset on the team.
Q: If there’s one thing you think you need to prove to the coaches that will give you the maximum amount of playing time that you would like to get, what do you think that is?
A: I know they definitely want to see me pass protect. That’s something that I haven’t been able to display because of limited time last year and practice is not a lot of contact. Ball security is very important. They questioned me a little bit in that area due to my first fumble in the NFL. Just doing those things, pass protection, knowing my plays, knowing my assignments, and limiting all of my mistakes overall would definitely give me more playing time.
Q: How much different does this feel for you being here compared to a year ago at this time?
A: A lot different. I look at
Q: How would you sum up your rookie year?
A: I think I had a pretty good rookie year. Probably not what I expected due to me being a running back and not being able to play running back as much as I would have liked to. When I was on the field, I think I definitely showed my capabilities and how I can contribute to the offense and on special teams I became all pro on kick returns and helped the team a lot. That way we were number one in kickoff returns on the starting drive last year. I know the special teams coach really liked that and I hope everybody on the team enjoyed it. That’s something I would really like to do again this year.
Q: You would like to do kick return again?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Have you been told or anything whether you will?
A: No, like I said I just want to contribute and have the coaches think … to help us win more.
Q: What would be a realistic goal for you as a running back this year?
A: I really haven’t set my goals as far as specifics. I know I definitely want to be on the field at the running back position a lot and definitely contribute, and make this running game work so the passing game can work, so we can win more games.
Q: With you getting more snaps and with Hakeem Nicks saying he’s a hundred percent healthy now, are you interested to see how explosive, or how explosive do you think this offense can be?
A: I think we can be really explosive, especially if everybody stays healthy. That’s the main thing. Injuries, then the next guy has to step in and you limit bodies and you limit capabilities of what people can do, due to injuries. The main thing is to stay healthy.
Q: A thousand yards?
A: We’ll see, I mean we’ve got sixteen games. I think a thousand yards is definitely the mark for every running back in the league. They definitely want to do that. I set high goals for myself, not something that is easy to reach. I’ll think about it and see what I come up with.
Q: So do you think you’re confident or cocky? Or would you put it somewhere in between?
A: I’m a Christian, so I wouldn’t be cocky, I wouldn’t boast on myself because I’m a Christian, I know where my capabilities come from. I know that I work hard to do what I do and I know it’s a team sport, so without my teammates, you don’t have nothing.
Q: How do you feel?
A: I feel great. I’ve been rehabbing, doing my rehab core work, and everything’s good.
Q: Where do you feel you are in terms of maybe being ready for the season?
A: I feel like I’m at, I’d say, 75%. I’ve been doing everything they ask me to, working with the trainers. Ronnie Barnes is working with me pretty good.
Q: Compared to last year, can you talk about the discomfort you were in then compared to now?
A: The whole discomfort is gone. When I sit down now I don’t have that pain anymore, stand up I don’t have that pain, I can stand up straight, basically everything is gone. The surgery went well. Doing pretty good.
Q: How long have you had that pain?
A: For quite a bit, quite a bit. At first I thought it was my core and then I strengthened up my core but that wasn’t it. So I did the surgery and basically it went pretty good. I’m happy I did the surgery because now there’s nothing holding me back when I do get back.
Q: How much do you feel like it held you back on the field?
A: A lot, it did. I can’t really give a percentage though, I don’t know, it would take awhile to figure it out, but at the end of the day, it was a pain. When you get in your stance, like, that hurts, for the pain I had that hurts, but I didn’t complain about that. I just dealt with it and played through it.
Q: Was there any a concern about the timing of the surgery-
A: Not at all. You know, it was something that during the season that I’m thinking if I strengthen up my core, I’ll be fine but come the season, though, we were ready to play out for whatever and it wasn’t hurting me so I continued doing my core work and it just went away but I came out here in mini-camp and it started back again.
Q: Do you feel confident you can get to the level you were two years ago?
A: Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But I’m striving for that, but I’m feeling great right now, I have no pain bothering me, I’m constantly rehabbing with Ronnie Barnes and them, and they take care of me very good, and we’ll see from there.
Q: Did it bother you in your regular life?
A: Yeah, it did. It was a constant pain like sitting down driving, sitting in the car driving for a long period of time, probably 30 minutes. Moving around, standing up for a long period of time. It was constantly bothering me but at the end of the day I didn't complain. I thought it was something like, if I just strengthened up my core I'd be fine but they told me something the opposite so… like I said, the pain is gone now and I’m just trying to hurry up and get back on the field to help my team and be a part of the team.
Q: Do you think you’ll be ready for the regular season opener?
A: I don’t know. Only time can tell. It’s all on me, how I recover.
Q: Is that your goal?
A: No. That’s everybody’s goal that’s hurt. But I don’t know. Like I said, I can’t promise anything for the season opener.
Q: What's your weight?
A: I’m 280 right now. During the season, I’ll probably be like 273.
Q: What were you last year?
A: About 275. Before I had the surgery I was 273.
Q: When you say you didn’t complain about the pain, did you tell the trainers-
A: I told the trainers but like I said I wanted to see the doctor, they told me maybe it’s my core, that I’ve got to strengthen up my core, drop a few pounds.
Q: You had to take some shots-
A: Yeah, I probably took three shots last year. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter about the shots, it just matters about me getting back.
Q: So then to be clear, surgery wasn't mentioned until the core strengthening didn't work and the pain kept coming back, right?
A: Yeah, and then after the season. Well not after the season but, when I came back.
Q: When did the pain start?
A: I’d say about two years ago.
Q: So you played all season with it last year?
A: Yeah. But the pain when it started just got worse and worse.
Q: How realistic is it that you can play week one against the Cowboys?
A: I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. We’ll just see, right?
Q: Back surgery can be tricky. Did they tell you that you can come back as explosive as you were or-
A: It’s all on me, how I rehab. I’m basically getting my core right, stronger, my back stronger, it’s all on me. You know, you don’t want to go out there too early and you don’t want to go out there too late. You want to be just enough so that you can play the game of football.
Q: What do you think about this defense? What do you think it can do this year?
A: I think our defense can step up big time. Today is the first day of practice. I think the guys know that even though I’m not going to be out there, I’ll be watching them. I think they can go out there and start fast. Don’t start out slow (…)… I’ll be watching them. All I can do is watch them right now, and give guys information or whatever. But obviously I think we should start out fast (…) and I think sky’s the limit for the defense.
Q: When you look at this team and the Super Bowl wins, the defensive line led this team those years, and you lead the defensive line now. How important do you think your presence is for this team and this defensive line?
A: I think it’s very important. Honestly, I don’t feel part of the team not being out there and doing the workouts they're doing and practicing with them. I’m doing the sideline like I said, but, through it all, I’m trying to get myself better and get healthy that way I can be part of the team and help my team out.
Q: The dip in sacks for you last year, how much can you say now that your back had to do with that?
A: Like I said, I don't know how much my back had to do with it, it just was a cause of pain when I’d get back in the stance and we played a 4-3, I’ve always got to be down and the push off that was there, you know that pain takes a big part of that.
Q: We saw you running out there and doing some drills… what do you have to be able to do to be able to get back on the field?
A: I can do rehab and I can do all the things they tell me but I still have to get a feeling in my gut in practice to see what I can do because going against two guys, three guys in double team is totally different than working by yourself. That’s why I have to be ready for it.
Q: Lots of times you have back pain you’ll have spasms, you’ll have weakness in your legs, your arms, did you have any of that?
A: Honestly when I would go see a doctor he told me I had weakness in my right leg, which I never noticed, I just felt the pain but when he ran a couple tests that's when I really noticed that I had a weakness in my legs.
Q: You’re focused on your own return but how much are you paying attention to Justin and what he’s doing? He seems to have a sense of determination-
A: At this point, I’m not on the field, I contribute a lot to the team or whatever but… Justin has to be that guy right now. So does Kiwi. You have to hold everybody on the D-Line accountable for what they have to do on the field there. Like I said, it's going to be hard or whatever, but Justin’s got to be a leader, he has to. He always did it, he’s a captain, so he’s got to step up big time. This is a big year for Justin though, and he has to have a great season.
Q: Justin has talked about how important this year is for him, how important is it for you? Do you have any concerns that you won’t be the old JPP?
A: I don’t have any concerns. Honestly, my plan is to get better, come out here and be a big part of the team and try to get to the playoffs because that’s where it starts, to make a Super Bowl run. Trying to get back to the playoffs and be a better player than I was last year.
Q: Are you going to be a little cautious realizing you want to be there for the team for the long haul and not rush back?
A: Yeah, like I said, the back is a really, really horrible pain to have, and back surgery period. And you don’t want to rush back. I’m not concentrated on the first game, second game, third game, fourth game, fifth game, sixth game, I’m just trying to come back when I feel like I’m ready to come back.
Q: With the linebacker position pretty open, what kind of feelings are going through your mind right now?
A: I’m relaxed. I’m just going to go out there and have fun. My only concern is just to have fun and do all of the right things and do what they ask me to do. But if I’m not having fun, I’m kind of wasting time.
Q: What’s the difference in your physical prowess since you first arrived here with the Giants?
A: Right now I’m 15 pounds down and I’m going to find out today what the true difference is. You really don’t know until you start moving around. I’m just looking forward to this opportunity to be a New York Giant, to practice by their standard, to play by their standard and just have fun.
Q: Coach Coughlin seemed to be excited and impressed with the fact that you did come in so much lighter. How important was it to you to leave that kind of impression on him as you came in here?
A: I think it was really important so that he would know that I’m committed to the program. I’m committed to what they’re telling me to do, whether it’s on the field or off the field or with my weight or with my play. Anything they coach me up on, I’m going to at least attempt it. And so through all of my training, I did all of the right things necessary for my nutrition. I trained like normal, but I just made sure I was making all of the right decisions based on knowing I had to come in and weigh in.
Q: What did you weigh in at?
Q: What have you played at recently?
A: I’ve been all over the place with my weight. When I was playing in a certain front on the west coast, I was heavier than I was playing in a certain front. Down in California I was lighter. I kind of just adjust to whatever they tell me to do.
Q: What’s your comfort level with defense now compared to minicamp?
A: It was good to have a refresher today in meetings. I’m pretty comfortable, but I know for sure I don’t know it all. The one thing that I do every snap is I trust whatever decision I make and I trust that if it’s the wrong decision, that Coach Hermann is going to fix it.
Q: Where will you be lining up?
A: Sam linebacker.
Q: Have you always had a fun attitude on the field?
A: When I’m having fun and enjoying the NFL life, that’s just who I am. I don’t like when everybody is all tense and stressed out. I like to try to get guys out of that. So I yell some nonsense, scream some nonsense and just try to get guys to understand that we’re out here doing this for fun and to never forget that, never let go of that. Yes, you take your opponents and your preparation serious, but when you’re actually playing the game and if you’re not having fun, you’re kind of just wasting time and so I always just try to encourage anybody that’s close to me just to have some fun.
Q: You have some experience about that.
A: I do. I’ve had some ups and I’ve had some downs, but when I’m having fun, to me, nothing matters. It’s just about enjoying what I’m doing. If you’re not enjoying, I don’t see how you can still do it. So for me, it’s all about enjoying it.
Q: Are you going to solely concentrate on the Sam position?
A: I’m going to show up every day and whatever Coach Perry (Fewell) tells me to line up and wherever Coach Hermann tells me to lineup at, that’s what I’m going to do. I really don’t know what the plan is. I just know that I’m being asked to do whatever is coached to me.
Q: Your comfort level is the same. Is that position what you played in college?
A: Sort of. Defense is defense. It’s not ever going to change. It’s kind of what I played in college, but then it’s kind of not what I played in college. I played it in Seattle some. I played it in Oakland some. Coach Perry has made the New York Giants defense, so that’s what it is and I’m just trying to get to the point where they can trust me with the responsibilities.
Q: Is there any doubt in your mind you can still be a playmaker?
A: No doubt in my mind. That’s what we’re out here for; to run around, hit the ballcarrier, get the ball out, celebrate, have fun…. Sometimes I think we always think that the playmaker is a guy that has 30 sacks or 15 sacks, but sometimes you have a nose tackle and he’s an extreme playmaker because he demands a double-team and he doesn’t get any glory or you have a Mike linebacker that fullbacks fear. To me, they’re considered playmakers because without them the next guy can’t make that spectacular play.