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Alec Ogletree ready to be Giants' "defensive quarterback"


New Giants LB Alec Ogletree spoke with the media on Thursday:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In his five seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, linebacker Alec Ogletree was a consistent contributor and team leader. He expected to be part of the promising future of the team, which made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years in 2017.

And then this week he was traded to the Giants.

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"I was definitely surprised," Ogletree said on a conference call today. "But it happened for a reason. You can't go back on it, it makes things different. I definitely enjoyed the ride that I had with the Rams, and I'm now looking forward to getting started with the Giants."

The Giants will make Ogletree one of their defensive centerpieces, figuratively and literally. General manager Dave Gettleman said Ogletree will be the Giants' "defensive quarterback."

"That is everything," Ogletree said. "You have to have trust in each other and they believe in me, and I believe in them and what they're preaching to us. It's going to be a good thing. I'm excited to get there and get to work, and get with those guys and be the quarterback of the defense. I've done it for two years now, and hopefully can continue to do it this year - just try and get guys going and ready to play."

Ogletree was a second-team All-Pro in 2016 and was again productive in the Rams' breakout season. For the fourth time in five years, he led the team in tackles, with 95, and had 2.0 sacks and an interception he returned 41 yards for a touchdown.

He joins a Giants defense that struggled for most of the 2017 season, finishing 27th in yards allowed (373.2 a game) and tied for 27th in points allowed (24.3 per game).

Ogletree, who had eight tackles and a forced fumble when the Rams defeated the Giants, 51-17 on Nov. 5, was generous in his assessment of his new team.

"I thought they did decent," Ogletree said. "Of course, they didn't do as well as they wanted to, and how everyone expected them to do. But they had a hell of a lot going on with them last year. They got a lot of talent there, I'd say, with me coming in and helping out as far as leadership goes and just being a good linebacker for those guys, and helping them out in that area. I definitely think the sky is the limit. It's going to be a fun, fun thing for sure. I'm definitely excited to get there and get to work with those guys."

How will Ogletree assume a leadership role with an unfamiliar group of a teammates?

"I'm more of a lead by example guy," he said. "Your actions speak louder than words do. But at the same time, if something needs to be said, I don't have a problem saying it and getting guys to do the right thing."

Ogletree said he is excited after his initial conversation about the Giants' system with the team's new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher.

"He basically told me it is a lot of what I kind of came from," Ogletree said. "He's the type of guy that knows how to use his players to get guys to play, and I'm just an extension of him. When we get on the same page and get to work together it's definitely going to be a good thing. I've seen some of his work, of course, he was in the same division as me, and those guys had a great defense and we're definitely looking to bring that to New York."

One curiosity that arose when Ogletree was acquired was his relationship with Odell Beckham, Jr. The two players were involved in an altercation during a 2014 game in St. Louis. Ogletree said that is old and irrelevant news.

"That happened three, four years ago and we've seen each other since then, and there's never been any bad blood," Ogletree said. "It's football and it happened. We were playing against each other and, we wish it didn't happen the way it did. Honestly, he was one of the first guys to call me to welcome me to the team. I didn't know who it was and I was like, 'Who is this?' He actually sent me a video of the fight (laughs) and he was like, 'We're going after it every day at practice,' And I was like, 'Oh, yeah.' So it was all good. Like I said, I'm excited to be here and it's going to be a good thing for sure."

*The Giants announced that defensive tackle Robert Thomas has re-signed with the team. He was an exclusive rights free agent.

Thomas played in 15 games in 2017, his second season with the team and third in the NFL. He had 16 tackles (five solo), including two for losses.

Photos of new Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree, who previously played for the Rams.

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