Coach Tom Coughlin
Good morning. Here we go. Excited. It all begins now, in the division, in Dallas, on Sunday night. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this. We’re excited to practice today to get started, to get going. Our meeting was spirited. The players are really obviously focused and excited. They understand the competition, the ability level of the Dallas team, an outstanding football team when we go there. We have had a long and distinguished rivalry with the Cowboys and it continues Sunday night. The answer to your first two questions is: yes and yes. Is Cruz going to practice? Is JPP going to practice? Yes.
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A: They’re out there.
Q: What’s the plan for them?
A: Call it what you like, but they’re out there and they’re going to practice. There will be some ability to withhold, perhaps, from the full practice but they are full speed ahead.
Q: Do you know what to expect from your team?
A: Trying to figure it out… We are a work in progress, as I said many times, and I think that continues to a certain extent, but we certainly do know what we have and we do know what our plan is, so let’s play.
Q: Do you have any sense of what you can reasonably expect from JPP after not playing in the preseason and coming off the back surgery?
A: I will at the end of the week.
Q: No expectations for what JPP can do right now?
A: Why should I say? He’s had a few practices and he’s done well with what we’ve asked him to do. He’d like more. We’re going to try to accommodate him.
Q: What do you expect from Justin Pugh this week? Matching up against DeMarcus Ware in your first NFL start is pretty tough.
A: DeMarcus is probably on the other side.
Q: You don’t think he’s going to switch?
A: I doubt it. He hasn’t switched in preseason, but we’ll see. Ware is an outstanding football player, a Pro Bowl player year in and year out. We have a young guy that’s going to get his first start in the National Football League and he’s more than willing and he’s talented. If it so happens that they do flip and do some things of that nature, then I think he’ll be ready to play.
Q: How has Will Beatty progressed from last year?
A: He’s our left tackle. We’ve made quite a statement to that effect. He’s had a good preseason. He’s fought through everything and not missed anything with regards to that. He’s going to be ready to go. It’s a great challenge, but he’ll be ready to go.
Q: With Andre Brown, do you increase the workload to David Wilson or do you bring someone else up to fill the role that Andre Brown had?
A: He’ll do it. You always have to have at least two and maybe three that participate and so we’ll continue that in some capacity.
Q: Who will be your number two running back?
A: We’ll see.
Q: Now that you only have three healthy safeties on the roster, do you put Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross back there?
A: There will be other people that will be able to play back there. We won’t do it with any amount of snaps. It will be more of a classroom knowledge type thing and you may get a couple, but that will be the extent of it.
Q: Do you think you envision going forward with just the three safeties and then those guys?
A: We’ll see. We have a young kid on our practice squad who’s a good looking player. It never stops in terms of the search, so we’ll see where we are.
Q: You look at this matchup and it looks like the offenses on both sides have had great games against each other. The team with the ball last usually wins. Why do you think that is?
A: Well, I don’t know if it reflects necessarily on the defense as it does on the talent level of the offenses. If you look at our one point win last year in our game down there, we’re up 23 to nothing. Look at how close that game caught up. Talented people and National Football League.
Q: Your teams have often had that road warrior mentality. Given their success at the new building in Dallas, do you think they go down there with a pretty good level of confidence, knowing they have won there three times in a row?
A: I would hope so, but we would have to earn that right here on the practice field first and I do believe we will.
Q: Do you think that’s a point of pride for your team, to have that record in that stadium? Do you use that in a week like this?
A: I haven’t mentioned it. I haven’t mentioned it this morning. It’s a new year, a new start, new teams. Hopefully it’s going to give us a little bit of a psychological advantage going down there, but it’s going to have to happen on the field.
Q: Do you have any thoughts you can share about the change over from the 3-4 to the 4-3 under Monte Kiffin?
A: Well you’ve got a guy in Monte Kiffin whose been coaching that defense for a long, long time. He’s an exceptional football coach. They have, as I look at preseason, it looks like that team has bought into the new scheme. They seemed to have adjusted and executed very well. We know that they play hard, they play fast, they play downhill, they’re disciplined.
Q: The last time you played them, Witten had something like 18 catches. Did that have to do with them being behind 23-0? Or is he just that good?
A: He had an exceptional year all the way around. He did have a huge night against us and caught 110 balls for the season, which set the all-time record for tight ends. I think you have got a pretty good player.
Q: From the preseason it looks as if Dallas is trying to run the ball more…
A: Well, they’ve used the word ‘balance.’ They’ve tried to do that and they certainly have done that in preseason.
Q: How close is David Baas?
A: He’s a little bit better every day. We’ll see.
Q: Do you know what offensive line configuration you’re going to go with?
A: We have a couple of combinations we can use.
Q: There’s pressure opening any season and the Giants generally have opened with a notable opponent. Does that make starting the season that much more difficult?
A: It’s a tremendous challenge, but it’s an exciting challenge and we look forward to it. I just think the start of the new season is such an exciting time anyways. You’re right. We do play an exceptional opponent and many times it is a divisional foe.
Q: How has Damontre Moore been about keeping up with everything while being sidelined?
A: Well, it’s not easy. He’s been in every meeting, every jog-through, done all of these types of things, but there isn’t any question he’s missed a lot of time.
Q: The team’s development of tight ends has been pretty consistent over the last few years. What do you credit that to?
A: If you look at it, we’ve had to. That’s a pretty good start, and they’re well coached. You see the eventual development of that athletic ability as you move along during the course of the season. We have that same challenge this year.
QB Eli Manning
Q: After all those weeks of training camp and practices, how nice is it to finally prepare for a specific game?
A: It’s good. We’ve gotten some good work done and improved on some things. We have to keep doing that this week. We’ve had a great week of preparation versus a good defense, a talented defense and go out there and play smart football and make some plays.
Q: What is it about facing the Cowboys that everybody loves?
A: Great rival over many years. Two great franchises and so it should be a good game. We’ve played in some big games over the years, so it should be an exciting game and hopefully we can go out there and play well.
Q: Does the change in their defensive scheme affect the way you’re going to approach them offensively?
A: I don’t think it affects the way you approach it. There’s still a lot of studying and preparation and watching a lot of film. Hopefully go out there and it’s still a matter of execution and blocking up DeMarcus Ware and running good routes off of their cornerbacks. Throwing the ball accurately, running the ball, being physical, so it’s the same preparation. They might be lined up in a little different spots. DeMarcus Ware might be called a D-end now, instead of an outside linebacker, but it doesn’t change up a whole lot.
Q: As preparations began, how was it to see both Cruz and JPP out there today?
A: It’s good to have all of your weapons, offensively and defensively. To have guys who have played in big games for you and have played at a high level, so it’s good to have all your guys who know exactly what they’re doing and go out there and hopefully make some plays for us.
Q: With Cruz and Nicks, how are you feeling? Confident? Work in progress still? How are things coming along?
A: Feeling good and obviously these guys made a lot of plays for us over the years and practice hard and do a lot of good things. Every day at practice we’re working to get better. We’re trying to improve and make sure we’re putting in new plays and new schemes, getting a lot of good reps and quality reps. We’re always trying to improve and get better.
Q: You’ve been a constant in the Dallas-Giants rivalry for the past few years. DeMarcus Ware has as well. Does it feel like you’ve been battling him for a long time?
A: Yeah. He’s a guy you have to know where he is. He does a good job getting to the quarterback and causing problems. He’s a tremendous player and I’m sure I’ve been sacked by him more than any other player, just because we’ve played a lot of games versus them over the years. He’s been around a number of years and he’s a good player. Hopefully we can control him enough where he’s not making tons of plays and creating turnovers and we’ll have enough plays where we do block him so we can get the ball down the field and hit some big plays of our own.
Q: Do the two of you have any kind of relationship from playing against each other or being on the Pro Bowl team together? Or anything like that?
A: Yeah. I’ve been around him a few times. DeMarcus is a heck of a competitor and a great guy. Just a good person outside of football, so I have great respect for him, the way he plays the game on the field and lives his life off the field.
WR Hakeem Nicks
Q: Do you feel that you’re as good as you can be at this point to start the season?
A: I definitely feel like I’m as good as I can be at this point. It’s game time now. We’re opening the season up now. Everything counts. Every play counts. It’s time to get it.
Q: Did the plan work in your mind?
A: It definitely did. I definitely benefited from it. At the same time, it helped me get to this point as well. My body feels extremely good. It’s the best it’s felt in a long time. I just have to make sure I keep going uphill.
Q: What are you guys facing in a revamped Cowboys defense?
A: You have to assume that they’re going to try to throw something at us that they think we won’t be able to handle, but what we’re watching, what we’re seeing on film, we’re just going to go out there and play our game and make sure we play each play to the max and go out there and take care of business.
Q: How much does the emotion pick up as you get closer to Sunday?
A: It’s just anticipation. We’re all just anticipating this game, but we’ve got to get better this week in practice. Go out there and practice hard, practice how you’re going to play in the game, and let it translate to the field Sunday night.
Q: How much does it set a tone for the season opening up against a division rival?
A: It’s definitely going to set the tone, especially in our division, let alone just for what we want to be this season, what we want to be known as. So we’ve got to come out there and play hard. Everybody has got to be focused and we’ve got to be locked in.
Q: Do you think about winning the division and the playoffs this early in the season knowing that you’re starting against a division opponent?
A: This is game one. We’re going to go out there and play it. I’m sure everybody is going to be fired up about it. We’re going to go out there and play it and go hard.
Q: How good does it feel to have all of the wide receivers full strength at practice?
A: It feels good. It lets us know we’re going in the right direction. This week is a big week. It’s an opening week. Sunday Night Football. Everybody is going to be watching it. We’ve got to go out there and make sure we’re on top of our game, prepared well and go out there and let it translate to the field Sunday night.
Q: Do you feel that you’ll hit the ground running right from the start of the season?
A: I definitely feel like I’m going to hit it running.
Q: You weren’t in this kind of shape last year.
A: Last year was (up and down). I was getting whatever I could get and trying to be the best player I could be dealing with those injuries, but that’s in the past now. It’s a new year. I’m not even going to dwell on that anymore and it’s time to go. The season starts now.
Q: What does “hit the ground running” mean?
A: Full speed. Everything full speed. Week 1. It’s time to go.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: Any trash talk yet from them?
A: No. Every year is a different team over there and different guys. I’m not surprised at all. It is what it is.
Q: For everything that you’ve gone through; contract, injury, how much are you looking forward to this opening game in Dallas to get it going?
A: I’m excited. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game, so I’m excited to go out there and suit up again and line up with my guys. It’s been a while since I’ve lined up with Hakeem, both of us out there healthy. It’s going to be a good feeling.
Q: Are you anxious to see what this offense can do?
A: I’m excited. Especially with Eli, I feel like he’s on top of his game as usual. We’re all on the same accord. Everybody is understanding their roles early on, so it’s going to be a good feeling and I’m excited for it.
Q: You knocked off that rust from the offseason and then all of a sudden you went out again with the heel. Where are you right now as far as your readiness for this game?
A: I feel good. Obviously taking it day by day, just gauging how I feel and getting the routes back under me, getting my legs back after missing a couple days, almost two weeks of work. We’re working back in there, but we’re taking it one day at a time too.
Q: Coach Coughlin said full speed ahead for you this morning. Do you feel that way?
A: Absolutely. It felt good. I was out there just running. I can’t think about it when I’m out there playing. I just have to go because that’s the way I play and that’s the way I approach it every day. It’s been feeling good. My heel has been feeling right and now I’m just worried about getting the timing down with Eli, getting my tempo back. We’ll see how it goes from there.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: How much better do you feel?
A: I’ve been getting better and better every day. I have to get my conditioning up. That’s the main part on my end and my stance is back, but most of all I’ve been getting better every day.
Q: Are you still on track?
A: Yeah. I’m still on track. By Friday, I should know if I’m playing or not.
Q: You’ve had some pretty big plays against the Cowboys. Is there something about the Cowboys that makes you play differently?
A: It’s a division game. You never know if that’s the game you lost that’s going to be the game that could have got you into the playoffs. So when it comes to division games, we just battle all out and leave it all on the field. We try to win those games. Those are games that count. Every game really counts, but those are the games that mostly count.
Q: When Romo is at his best, how difficult is he to play?
A: When he’s at his best, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league. He makes you miss. He extends the play with his legs. He’s a good quarterback all-around, so you’ve got to respect him.
Q: How anxious are you to get back on the field?
A: I’m very anxious. Who won’t be anxious? I’m just coming off back surgery and I just want to be out there. I haven’t played a preseason game, so if I do play this Sunday night, this will be my first time actually getting out there and showing everybody what I got off the back surgery. So I’m very excited to see if I’m going to make it there Sunday night.
Q: Do you think you would play a full snap load?
A: I don’t know. It all depends. On this team, I feel like it’s a big thing for me to take most of the snaps. But if I come back… I don’t know. It’s all on the coaches. If they want to see me out there and take more snaps… I normally take more snaps anyways, but it’s a day-to-day process and I’m going out there just to see what I can do.
Q: Do you think they’ll ask you on Friday if you’ll be ready to play?
A: It’ll be on me, definitely if I could play or not. It’s all on Friday. Two days from now, you’ll know my answer if I’m playing or not in the game.
Q: If you feel in your head that you can’t go 65 plays, but you can play 20…
A: That’s not enough. When it comes to games like this, I like to be a big factor in the game and I don’t want to put myself out there and only do 20 snaps and those 20 snaps are not really what counts to win the game. I’m not a third-down guy. I like to go out there and take all the snaps if I can, but come Friday you’ll know my decision if I’m playing or not in this game.
Safety Antrel Rolle
Q: The talk all offseason was about being more consistent. How important is it to get off on the right foot?
A: That’s extremely important. I think it sets the tempo for the season. Overall, I think it’s a true testament of all the work that we’ve done throughout the offseason, in the mini-camp and training camp. I think so far, we’ve done a great job of being consistent. We just have to go out there and display it come Sunday.
RE: Winning high scoring games against Dallas
A: A win is a win in this league. No matter how you get it. As far as points we’ve allowed, that’s something we come in and we fix and we correct. We give all of our … alike come Monday. As far as in this league, you just need to be satisfied how you get a win in this league. It’s not always going to be pretty. It’s not always going to be the way you expected it to be, but as long as you get a win, you know you live to fight another day, you fix the corrections by next week.
Q: What do you remember about the Dez Bryant play last year? This difference between a win or a loss was an inch.
A: I was actually watching that from the training room and I was a little shocked because he was only a couple of inches away from making that catch. We should have never even allowed him to get in that situation, where it had to be an official call. We definitely learned from it, get better from it, and make sure we take the game out of the hands of the refs.
Q: There are reports that Romo may have changed his release a little bit, or his delivery a little bit. Have you seen any of that from the preseason films and what’s changed?
A: As far as release, I thought he always had an awesome release. I think he released the ball extremely tight to his body. He’s always an over-the-shoulder thrower and he has a quick release. He’s very accurate in his release, so I didn’t see anything wrong with his release, but if he did, that’s something we’ll see come Sunday.
Q: What do you expect from this defense? Is this defense a much better defense this year?
A: We won’t know until Sunday. We have to go out there and keep competing in practice. Keep getting better, keep communicating, keep getting on the same page. Things are going to be pretty much determined come Sunday.