Q: I mean how did it break down was it just maybe some guys coming in late, not knowing the signals, or …?
A: I don’t know. For whatever reason. There’s a lot of things you could say that pinpoint throughout different games, but for the majority of the part, we didn’t play up to our standards. There isn’t a lot of who did what or why it happened, we just as a unit we weren’t where we wanted to be.
Q: It’s the first day with pads, what does that mean to you when you hear that?
A: It just means we can get a little bit more physical, we can assimilate plays a little bit more. I think we can be a little bit more punctual than we’re used to with the shells, or just with the … on or whatever. We still have to protect our players. We’re all teammates and we have to protect ourselves. Play a little bit faster, play with a little bit more intensity, but at the same time play smart.
Q: Is this a situation where maybe some guys or other guys, or rookies, may have shined without them, but now it’s like let’s see what you can do with the pads on? Or not so much?
A: Not so much. Not from a practice standpoint. Like I said, we’re not going full speed, as far as trying to make contact with our offensive opponents. Just put a little bit more padding on, get a little bit more physical with it. Just button up.
Q: I was looking at some stats from last year, some passing stats. Was it a thing where you guys maybe weren’t getting the pass rush and quarterbacks maybe had all day back there against you guys, or the reason that a lot of teams had success against you?
A: As a defensive back I would never ever put the blame towards our defensive line. As a defensive back, I take full responsibility of any passes that reaches a two yard mark and over. That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we get paid for, to defend the passes. Whether our defensive line gets pressure or not, we all understand that it ties in together. We work with them, they work with us. Same with the linebackers, but we have to take full responsibility of what happens in that back area. That’s our job, that’s our role, that’s our assignment, so we have to make sure we’re doing a better job of …
Q: Were you guys able to pinpoint anything during the offseason and how’s it going in terms of you guys so far, correcting some of those mistakes?
A: A lot of the corrections just have to do with seeing the ball, you make a play, you … you make a play. Taking full advantage of our opportunities when it presents itself. Just a self-challenge, just a self-challenge looking in the mirror and saying you are this kind of a player, but you know you have to go out there and put it on the field. There was some mishap at times. There was some busted assignments at times, but for the most part it’s all about going out there and competing and making that play.
Q: Antrel, there’s been a lot of talk about Riley Cooper’s comments yesterday, he held his press conference. How surprised were you that there is still that kind of bigotry. especially in the NFL?
A: I’m not too sure about what it was.
Q: You know, he had some words to say that were caught on camera at a concert. Kind of talking down about African-Americans.
A: So he used the ‘N’ word. I don’t know man, I really don’t care man. It is what it is. I’ll let the Eagles organization deal with that.
Q: I mean they fined him.
A: Who fined him?
Q: The Eagles themselves fined him and then he apologizes for it an hour later and that’s been that so far.
A: Like I said, I’ll let them take care of that.
Q: It doesn’t bother you?
A: Not at all, it doesn’t bother me at all.
Q: Antrel, it looks like … lot of plays this first week of camp. I know there’s not a lot you can tell, but does it at least some optimism, some signs that maybe things will be better?
A: I think it definitely does. These guys have been going out there and they’ve been attacking the ball. The ball’s in the air, they’ve been attacking it. They’ve been coming down with it and just the intensity alone in our defensive backs seems like night and day. Not saying that we weren’t on that page before last year, but you can only go off what we see right now at this point, and right now at this point, we’re moving fast. There are no ones, twos, or threes. We’re all ones out there and that’s where it shows at practice. There’s no layoff no matter how you look at it. That’s what you want because in this league, unfortunately there’s guys that are going to go down and there has to be other guys to step in. Right now, we have guys to step in each and every role.
Q: And at the same time they’ve re-tooled the defensive line to help the pass rush. I know as a secondary guy that’s got to make you real happy. You’re probably anxious to see some of those guys in action.
A: I’m extremely anxious to see those guys. Right now in practice they look like animals, so I can’t wait to see what it’s like when those guys really take the leash off them and really become loose and see how they turn up.
Q: What does
A: Honestly, I have to admit, I don’t single no guys out, but I think that he’s definitely one of the guys that standout in my eyes. Being that I’ve been with Ross for a number of years and just to see how he’s come back even in the OTAs and the minicamp, the way he works, his work ethic on and really off the field. I see how hard he works off the field and he just seems like he’s a different person. He’s more focused, he’s more in tune, and it’s definitely showing out there in his play. He’s making plays every day out there on the field. It’s an interception, it’s a pass break up. He’s jumping routes and just seemed like an Aaron Ross that definitely has something to prove, and he’s going to go out there and prove it.
Q: A lot has changed for you in a year.
A: I mean last year in camp I got injured, so it was like I wasn't really at camp. I missed all the preseason games. So there was a lot that was up in the air and ‘how is he doing?’ But this entire off-season I’ve been good, coming into camp this year I’ve still been good, so were working on that, staying good, climbing… no setbacks, no injuries. Anything that I can do to prevent it I’m doing. So we’re still watching it and making sure that I’m not just ‘Oh, everything’s good let’s relax here’ it’s ‘let’s keep everything on the up and going.’
Q: I mean there is no question about the commitment that they have to you, obviously in the off-season with the contract, I mean you’re here now.
A: Yes it’s good to come back for a fifth season. I’m glad I’m here, this is the team I know. Having Eli and working with the O-Line, working with the running backs… it’s that fit, you’re home. You don't have to worry about going some place else and doing something else so having all that out of the way, it’s ‘let’s keep moving forward.’
Q: You’ve had a whole off-season to look at it, how can you personally get better as a player and how can this offensive line get better than it was last year?
A: Me, as myself, I still have to get rid of the penalties. That was a negative highlight of last season. Some close games, some of my penalties could have helped out, may have turned the tides. So it’s still getting better on footwork, still getting better on pressure, making sure that you clean it up more.
Q: How about the line as a whole?
A: As an offensive line, we just have to stay tight as a unit. I mean protecting Eli is our first and foremost goal. TC wants a running game, so we have to step that up and get our running backs out there and keep them going up and (…) trying to make the running game a go-to instead of using Cruz and Nicks. I mean we’ve got that, too, so it’s going to be ‘who are we going to use, receivers or running backs?’ But as the O-Line we want to make that an easy decision at whatever they choose… we’re going to be good at it.
Q: How much do you look forward to the first day in full pads, because Coach Flaherty made a point in the spring that ‘we can’t start really evaluating these guys until they get the pads on.’
A: I mean we have so many rookies coming in and changes in some positions, changes in some players, but you’re in shells, you're in helmets, you’re going through the motions. First day of full pads, you still want to protect your players, you still want to stay up, there’s still a lot that’s going on for safety, but you really get to let it loose a little bit, drop your shoulder like ‘okay, we’re coming through,’ especially in the run game. In the pass game you’re still hand-blocking and making sure they stay off you but in the running game you really get to dig the defense out of the hole, so it’s going to be that O-Line/D-Line you’re going to see a lot more of us getting at it when you go full pads.
RE: defense traditionally being ahead of the offense at the start of camp.
A: I mean it’s like, you see it because of the hand placement and all that, you don’t really have that much that you can do. Once you get on full pads, there’s no excuses as if you were going in a game, you have to stop them no matter what stunts they do, no matter how they line up, it’s full pads so… it’s game situation but making sure you’re staying safe and it’s not people just losing their head and going crazy out here just hitting each other, you’re still protecting each other and getting ready for the preseason game.
Q: You think this is go-time today for the offensive line?
A: I mean up until now we haven’t put on pads since the last game. And it’s now you get to dress up in full uniform again and you get to feel it and you get to work out all the kinks now. So now when we watch film, your footwork, your hand placement, your shoulder placement is exactly how it should be in a game, and you can really evaluate that with the coaches. When you don’t have full pads on you’re like, ‘okay I know you would have’ but you’re keeping them up so it’s that no excuse day, everything is truly on film.
Q: Are you interested in seeing how the running game goes this year without Ahmad Bradshaw?
A: I’m interested to see how they use our running game with our passing game… because we are getting a lot of yards passing down the field, and Ahmad still gave us a thousand-yard rusher. I mean that was great. We want a thousand-yard rusher each year. So we have Wilson, who is athletic and elusive in the backfield. We have
Q: And we are talking about the Giants instead of Connecticut, right?
A: Yeah (laughs)
Q: With the penalties, was there one kind of penalty in particular that you were sort of committing, that you are trying to get rid of… false starts, holding…?
A: I mean, you look back only to help you move forward. So, I mean, any one of those penalties taken away would have been better for me because we would have been farther up the field, so I can’t say that there’s one in particular…I’m trying to eliminate the penalties. I’m trying to make sure that the holding calls, the false starts, all that is eliminated from my game, and just doing that one part itself will better your game. So you start with that, and you build on making sure you have your footwork and your hand placement and you’re athletic. What they wanted me for, make sure that it’s still there. I’m not just saying, ‘I’m not going to get any penalties,’ there’s still a lot more that has to be worked on but, that’s one thing that has to be cleaned up.
Q: First day with pads, how eager are you to get out there and bang a little bit?
A: I’m pretty excited. But today’s not going to be the first day of pads. We’re using them tomorrow, because it’s raining. We won’t be outside on the field.
Q: How are you feeling about the defensive line this year?
A: So far, so good. Everybody’s playing together and we’re very confident in what’s going on.
Q: And about your personal preparation? You’re going to be a big part of this defensive line this year. How do you feel about that?
A: I’m ready for the opportunity. I’m just ready to step up. I’m going to be the anchor of this team and I’m ready to go.
Q: Run defense has obviously been talked about a lot. How do you guys improve on that?
A: We’ve changed a few things around and we’re waiting on the opportunity for our first game to see how everything’s going. So far, so good. We had a couple mistakes last year and they showed up pretty bad, but this is a new year and we’re ready to see what’s going to happen.
Q: How has it been playing next to
A: Cullen’s been playing for about ten years now, so he has a lot of experience. Just having him on the team and to learn from him is good. I’m glad he’s a part of this team. He’s brought some leadership and some good energy.
Q: What has he brought as far as teaching you guys from his experience?
A: Run reads and different run blocks. They’re things that I know, but I can know a little better because he’s been through it for a while.
Q: Do you feel comfortable, based on what you see, that this team is going to be better against the run this year?
A: I’m comfortable. I feel pretty good about it. So far, so good. Every day we try to get better.
Q: Did you play last year with an injury that slowed you down a little bit?
A: Everybody plays with a little bruise here and there.
Q: How did that affect your game and the way you perform? Are you past that now?
A: I’m past that. I feel 110% and I’m ready to go.
Q: Has Cullen taken on a mentor-like relationship with you guys? Do you seek him out and ask him questions, or does he offer that right away.
A: He’s offered it right away. If he sees something, he talks about it and we go out there and work on it.
CB Aaron Ross
Q: Can you describe what it was like playing in Jacksonville for a year?
A: It’s still football at the end of the day. It’s two different organizations. Of course, being here for five years; it felt like home. I got two Super Bowl rings here, a great brotherhood formed and when I went to Jacksonville it was like starting all over. So as far as their comparison, that was the biggest thing. I felt like this was home.
Q: Do you see yourself competing for a starting role or strictly nickel?
A: Everything is up for grabs. Whatever the coach decides, that’s what I’m with. I’m going to compete and when my number is called I want to be prepared to go out there and go out there and execute however; if I’m the starter or I’m the nickel. So I just want to be ready for when that #31 is called.
Q: Can you describe the difference in defense in Jacksonville and here?
A: Honestly, Jacksonville is behind me now. I’m kind of ready to get on back with the Giants and I’m loving the defense. Like I said yesterday, it seems like I never left. The defense is the same. Coach is breaking it down very well this year and the guys are picking it up and it seems like we’re on the same page. Guys are doing extra film study, extra work in the weight room and the classroom it just seems like everybody just wants it.
Q: Antrel Rolle said you seem like a different player and you seem very excited about being here. What do you attribute that to?
A: I really don’t know. I guess it’s just the years and the maturity. I think that’s the main thing and knowing that it can be over at any time; getting released from Jacksonville, knowing that you might not have a job. It kind of breaks everything down and brings everything in perspective for you. So to have an opportunity to come back to where everything started and to come back home and see how much the coaches love you and how much the players missed you, it just brings a smile to your face and makes you want to fight even harder.
Q: Have you heard about Riley Cooper and the use of his racial slur?
A: I just heard about it when I was eating. It’s really an unfortunate situation. I think that word is kind of taken out of society these days, so it’s one of those words that you don’t want to use. That’s pretty much the Eagles’ problem that they have to deal with, but it’s really unfortunate that it came out.
Q: If you heard a teammate do something like that, could you look him in the eye and forgive him?
A: Of course. Everyone makes mistakes, but that’s the Eagles’ problem and we don’t have that problem over here and hopefully we’ll never have that problem.
Q: Do you think there are players in the league who will remember that when they take the field against him this year?
A: I’m not sure about on this team. We kind of look at every receiver as the same, so if Riley is out there or Desean is out there; they’re the same person to us. We want to stop them from catching the ball and of course win for our defense. If he said it or if he didn’t say it, I’ll go up to his face the same way.
Q: What did you think of your wife’s reality show?
A: That’s the first question I got about the show. It was great. I’m very excited for it. It’s a dream she’s been having for like three years now and it finally came to light. The first episode we got some great reviews on the show and I’m just really excited for her.
Q: Were the Giants fine with you doing the reality show?
A: I was with Jacksonville when the first season was shot. Coach Coughlin joked a couple of times. The coaches joked around a little bit, but they know me. I’m pretty laid back. The show is really not about me. It’s my wife’s show. I’m just the husband on the side.
Q: Are they fine with you being in it?
A: I’m in it already. It’s finished shooting. The first season is done.
Q: Have you worn full pads earlier in your career like you have to now with the thigh pads and stuff?
A: Yeah. I actually started wearing them when I started doing punt return. I got a thigh contusion, so I started wearing knee pads and thigh pads. I loved it in college, so it’s not going to be a big deal for me.
Q: When was the contusion?
A: Fourth year.
Q: Do you think it’s going to make a difference?
A: No. I don’t think so at all. You’re talking about the safety or just the difference in how DBs feel with it on?
Q: Do you think it’s going to achieve what the league wants?
A: Of course. Like I said, as far as DBs and skill positions, we don’t like to wear pads. So to have pads on, it will take away the thigh and knee contusions. So I’m sure it will help out.
Q: You don’t think it will affect productivity?
A: No. It’s two ounces added on to it. The only thing it will affect is your look.
Q: When you checked into camp, were you where you wanted to be physically as far as weight goes and endurance?
A: I’m right there. I can probably lose three or two more pounds, but right now I’m feeling good and healthy. It’s going good for me.
Q: Have the first couple days out of pads kind of given you an idea of what is to come or is today that day where you’re finally going to see?
A: I felt like yesterday… Not yesterday, but the day before that was probably one of the big days with shoulder pads on. Basically, you’re going full go, but you’re not tackling. That was one that I got to feel the tempo and I feel like I’m going to pick it up really well and continue that.
Q: At the beginning of the rookie camp, you said the game was a little fast for you. Has it started to slow down at all?
A: It’s starting to slow down again. If you’re going against the veterans and seeing the offensive line, coming from college is definitely different. It’s getting comfortable… That’s all I feel like is the biggest thing for me is getting comfortable and just going out there and playing.
Q: It looked like you and
A: It’s been a good thing. I actually just noticed that last practice. I’m like we’ve been on the same side almost every play. Just the way the defense, me and him are always together, so whenever he doesn’t know something and I don’t know something, we can work hand to hand. So it’s pretty good having somebody you know that came in with you and is playing with you.
Q: You guys were getting pretty tight in the spring and your lockers were right around the corner from each other.
A: That’s just football. That’s how things work. You get comfortable with your guys on the D-Line and you try to work with them.
Q: Can two rookies come into this defensive line room and have an impact?
A: I’m sure. The way we’re doing it now, I feel like we both are doing tremendously well and just continue to stay in that playbook and work hard and not really worry about everything else and just play the game of football.
Q: In the defensive room, just talk about the determination to tighten up this run defense.
A: I can see that just talking to Coach Nunn and Head Coordinator Perry Fewell, they’re really serious about stopping the run and with the defense we have and the packages we have, I feel like it’s perfect for me and them and we’re definitely going to stop the run this year.
Q: There was a determination for the Giants to get a lot bigger inside. Have you noticed that?
A: With me, Linval, Rogers,
Q: Have you had to pick up the check at a buffet because that might hurt your rookie salary.
A: Not yet. I’m trying to stay away from that and stay in the playbook.
Q: With that crew, if you have to start picking up tabs…
A: I don’t even want to know. We have like six guys that are over 300 pounds. I could get some coupons.
Q: What’s your relationship with the new kicker,
A: Lucky for me, I’ve trained with Josh Brown for four years now; in the offseason he comes out to San Diego to lift, run and kick with me so I have a preexisting relationship with him as far as how he wants the ball held, his training routine, knowing his personality, so it’s really easy for me because I’ve known him for years now. I knew before he got here that he was a hardworking guy that would fit in well with Zak and as far as his willingness to prepare and how he’s going to fit in with this team, you know he’s a high-character guy, a come early, stay late type of guy so it’s been a joy having him.
Q: I’m sure you know about Riley Cooper’s racial slur that came out yesterday, what are your thoughts on that?
A: It’s disappointing. I mean any time anything like that happens, it’s obviously a black eye for him, a black eye for that franchise, and disappointing because we’re role models at this point in our career and we have a pedestal to inspire, motivate… and it was unfortunate.
Q: Steve how does the new rule about everybody wearing full pads affect you?
A: Actually for the kickers and punters we don’t have to wear thigh or knee pads.
Q: I’m going to retract that question.
A: Way to do your research! (laughs) But I thought we were going to have to, too, and then they actually mandated that everybody wear it and then they kind of retracted it for us because we’re wimps, we’re very special.