EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants of the offseason/training camp convened for the final time today, just a few hours after the team concluded its preseason schedule with a 17-12 loss to the New England Patriots. When the team next gathers on Monday, the number of players on the roster will have been reduced from 89 to 53. That group will be joined by a 10-man practice squad that will be drawn primarily, if not exclusively, from the 36 players who will be removed from the roster by 4 p.m. tomorrow.
Coach Pat Shurmur gave the players the weekend off. He will conduct a short practice on Labor Day, when the Giants will begin preparing for their Sept. 9 regular-season opener at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Before everyone scattered, quarterback Eli Manning, linebacker Alec Ogletree and Shurmur spoke to the media on conference calls. Here's a sampling of what they said:
Coach Pat Shurmur:
*On his decision to start rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta and not play second-year pro Davis Webb vs. the Patriots:
"We felt like (Webb) had lots of reps this year whether it be practice, and really he had the most of anybody in the games as well," Shurmur said. "As I mentioned, it had less to do about Davis and more to do about Kyle. We wanted to see what we had in Kyle, and so that's why we started him behind the second line. And then because we were going to start Kyle, I just didn't want to put Davis back in there at the end. We also wanted to take a really good look at (Alex) Tanney. That was what went into it."
*On meeting individually with the players who are cut from the team:
"We have open and honest conversations with our players all the time," Shurmur said. "I think everybody understands the sheer math of things, 90 (actually 89, after the trade of Brett Jones to Minnesota) getting to 53, and I think that conversation is, at least for this phase of it, the last of a lot of conversations have been open and honest. We talk about what you did you well, we talk about areas you might need to improve in. The general message is to stay in shape. This 53-man roster is not forever and typically the guys that we've already trained that we feel strongly about, those are the guys that kind of become the first guys on our short list. That's typical of the way it goes, and I think it's just another opportunity to communicate."
*On his message to the players when they departed:
"I just had a meeting with the players and, again, it's just time away, and most of them don't go anywhere," he said. "They'll be here in town, and I told them the important thing about this weekend is they've got to work on their recovery, so get their rest, try to eat right. We had all the players lift and run this morning before the team meeting, so they did something physical, and plan to come back for Monday practice. That's where it's at. Obviously, everything Jacksonville is on their iPads and we have sort of leaned towards Jacksonville in some of our drill work, even though we didn't say, 'Hey, this is a Jacksonville play' or 'This is Jacksonville's defense.' It's out there, and I'm sure some of them will look at it, but we'll get them re-centered on Monday."
QB Eli Manning:
*On Saquon Barkley's ability to catch the ball:
"That's what makes him special, the fact that he can be a receiver out of the backfield," Manning said. "It just makes him that three-down back, finding ways to get him the ball in space. That's a matchup we like. If we get man-to-man, that's a matchup we like in the mix. Getting him the ball and letting him be an athlete, get the ball to him in space where he can make guys miss and get some big gains for us. I think it will be helpful, if teams want to play zone and drop back, having the ability to throw check downs and let him make some plays that way."
*His reaction to Odell Beckham, Jr.'s new contract being finalized before it became an in-season distraction:
"I was excited for Odell, because of that reason," Manning said. "I didn't want that to be a distraction going into Week 1. I think he has done a great job of not making it a distraction. Not talking about it, not making it an issue with the team, he has been at practice and done everything he is supposed to do. I know he is relieved it got worked out, we can put that behind us and worry about going out there and playing football. He's handled the whole situation well and I'm just excited for him."
*On how much he has studied the Jaguars:
"Started on Jacksonville the last couple of days. I started watching film of this season and last season, they are talented. Their front seven is talented, their back four is talented. They have a good scheme and they do it very well. They play fast and are in the right spots. It will be fun to pick coach Shurmur's brain and see what plays we will have installed and what's the best way to attack them. We'll have opportunities to make plays and we have to make them."
LB Alec Ogletree:
*On whether he has a handle on the identity of the Giants defense:
"I know the type of defense that we want to be," Ogletree said. "We want to be a tough defense that stops the run and plays well in pass and apply a lot of pressure on the quarterback. But you have to go out there each and every Sunday and put it on film. But that's definitely the type of defense we want to be, for sure."
*On how close they are to achieving that:
"We're close," Ogletree said. "It's a work in progress. (We have) a lot of new faces. We're coming together slowly but surely. We got a good group of guys that come to work every day and do the right things. This up and coming week will be a really big test of how close we are to be the defense that we want to be."
*On opening against Jacksonville, a team that emphasizes running the football:
"It doesn't really matter if it's them or if it's somebody else," Ogletree said. "We play the Jags with this first game. They're definitely a team that likes to run the ball. We're going to pride ourselves on stopping the run each and every week. What better than to start with them?"
*The Giants' leading rusher in the preseason was Jhurrel Pressley, who played only in the final two games after he was signed on Aug. 20. Pressley ran for 111 yards on 19 carries, a 5.8-yard average. Rookie free agent Robert Martin was second with 97 yards on 15 attempts, a 6.5-yard average.
Sterling Shepard, Jerell Adams and Wayne Gallman – a wide receiver, tight end and running back – tied for the team lead with 10 catches apiece. Shepard had a team-high 114 receiving yards.
Manning threw 30 passes (completing 21), the lowest total of the four quarterbacks on the roster – no surprise there considering he played in just two of the four games. Webb threw a team-high 53 passes, followed by Lauletta with 35 and Tanney with 33.
Safety Andrew Adams led the team with 14 tackles (12 solo). Linebacker Calvin Munson had 13 stops (nine solo).