Q: What were your expectations of how much you would have Victor and Odell on the field so far, and have they been exceeded?
A: Yeah, it was probably more of a question about Victor [Cruz] just coming off the injury and he didn't do anything in the spring, and didn't know how it would feel, how it looked, and his progress with that. I think he's looked great out there. He's been out there a bunch, and seems to be feeling good—running his routes the normal way, getting in and out of breaks. So, excited to see that. I was thinking Odell [Beckham Jr.] would be back and seems to look fresh and look good out there as well. So I think both guys, as far as I can tell, feel good and look good.
Q: Have you and Victor picked up that chemistry right away or does it take time?
A: Well, I think it still takes time. Obviously, it's not new for him but it's still a fairly new offense. Some new, different routes, different combinations. So I think he's still trying to get back in the flow of things. It's been a while since he's been running around out there on the field, seeing things. I think he's looked good. I missed him yesterday on a route, but we're getting very close.
Q: What are your impressions of having practices with Cincinnati, which doesn't happen very often anymore?
A: I'm excited for it. I think it will be good. It's always great for an offense to go against a different defense. All of a sudden, you're kind of going in not really knowing what they're doing, what they're going to be showing. It's different from a game when you go in and you game plan and you have looks. We might watch a little film on it just to get an idea, but for the most part, you're just kind of going to go off what we see and make adjustments. Guys are going to have to really understand and know the rules of their assignments and their fundamentals, and do everything perfectly. We may get fooled sometimes on protections or blitzes, we've got to make adjustments, and kind of play fast. So I think that will be good-- to see a different defense, a different challenge. They're a very good defense and have good players and are good against the pass. So I think it will be a good challenge for us.
Q: Aside from the X's and O's, is it also just fun to break up the monotony of camp with the guys?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think all of a sudden, you're on a bus, you're traveling around, you're practicing with a new team. You're changing things ups, you're getting a little travel day. So I think those things are good. You're out of your facility and you don't get into that "Hey, we got this again" or get into that same routine. I think it's good to mix it up a little bit.
Q: Some of your teammates said that they expect Cincinnati to be a little more physical, a little more lively, does that matter to you? Obviously, you're not going to get hit.
A: Well, I think that's the intention. I think when you go against another defense, the energy should get picked up a little bit or when you go against another team, energy should get picked up a little bit. I think maybe that's the reason the Giants, Coach Coughlin, Cincinnati want to do it. I think it's the responsibility of the coaches to set the tone, to say, "Hey, we can be physical, we can play fast, but we're going to keep it safe and we're not going to have the fights." I think between [Bengals] Coach [Marvin] Lewis and Coach Coughlin, they'll set the stage right and make sure we are respectful and don't want any injuries or anybody to do anything stupid in those practices.
Q: Is there anything for you to gain, timing-wise or anything?
A: Yeah, with that rush and stuff. Just getting guys playing tight coverage and blitzing a little faster and running backs have to step up on those blitzes. I think when you get in the blitz periods and you get into that live rush on some live passing stuff, it probably makes it a little more game realistic.
Q: You guys have done a lot of different combinations on your offensive line the first few days, do you have any concerns about what you're seeing with that?
A: No, I think they've adjusted well. They've all been well-coached and know their assignments. They've done a good job with the blitz pickups and changing plays and adjustments. I don't think we've had any miscues on that. So I think that's a good thing. Right now, my concern at practice is just making reads and making good decisions, trying to get the ball out on time and working my fundamentals as the offensive line is working their fundamentals.
Q: You haven't thrown an interception out here yet, what do you attribute that to? Knowing the offense better?
A: Just having a better plan, having a better understanding of where to go with the ball. Not getting stuck in some bad situations where free blitzers or pressures and indecisiveness. I think that's part of it is just a little better understanding and playing a little smarter. Understanding the importance of protecting the football. I think all those things play a factor in that.
Q: Is it something you're aware of, that you haven't thrown an interception here?
A: Yeah, you remember those from practice. They're never fun and never fun to watch on film. I made one that was close yesterday—a bad decision. So kind of take that in the same category. It got tipped up near the red zone.
Q: Mike Sullivan said he thinks your arm is stronger than the last time he was here. Do you agree with that?
A: It feels good, it feels live right now. I think that's the goal—keep it strong, keep it healthy. I think a lot of times training camp is the most difficult time where you are throwing the most consecutive practices in a row. Less off days, less rest days—it is a time when you have to be careful and make sure you're not overthrowing and keeping it strong and doing your maintenance. I think I've got a good program, a good system to keeping it healthy. Not overthrowing, so it will stay strong the whole season.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Mike Sullivan and what it's like to have him back here?
A: Obviously, I have a great relationship with Coach [Mike] Sullivan. He's been around here a long time. A receivers coach and I think the quarterback-receiver coach is somebody you're communicating with a lot. You're always kind of popping your head in the receiver room, talking about something—a check, or a signal, or how you want something run. Talking to him to communicate something to the receivers. Then obviously, in the quarterback room for two years as a quarterbacks coach. I have a lot of great communication, great respect for him. It's a little different now, he kind of came in the spring where I maybe knew a little bit more than he did at the time with the new offense. But now he's caught up. I'm asking him questions and he's asking us questions, we're getting on the same page. We're still kind of referring to Coach [Ben] McAdoo on some things. But he's great in the film room, getting us to think, getting us to answer questions, think on our toes, go through reads, verbally communicate what we're trying to do, and getting us on the same page.
Q: With all the receivers and Shane Vereen coming out of the backfield, is there still a big role for the tight end?
A: No doubt, no doubt. I think we do a good job with our tight ends. We move them around, we ask them to do a lot and know a lot. Put them in the backfield, we split them out wide, we get them in the slot. We try to create matchups and we like our tight ends. There are some staples when they're our first reads on a lot of plays. But we're always looking for our matchups. Tight ends can play a big part in the open field and also the red zone and make a lot of plays for us. The tight ends did a good job last year—scoring a lot of touchdowns. They'll hopefully do the same.
Q: You've always been a believer in keeping a routine your whole career. In the past year you've tweaked things along the way and looked for different angles. What's the objective behind that?
A: I think just always looking for a way to get better. That's the goal. You can't get stuck in your ways, I think that's everybody--Coach Coughlin and for me. Just looking for an opportunity to learn more about how to stay stronger, how to get an arm stronger, how to maintain your body, how to eat better. I think everything, especially as you get older, you start listening to your body a little bit more. Understanding what works. Trying to eliminate the soreness and feeling tired or getting worn down, and taking care of your body a little bit more—so it's that whole process.
Q: Does that translate into performance? Have you been able to see results?
A: Yeah, I think so. Just on how you feel at practices. Going out there on the field and on game days. I think last year I felt good. I think I feel better right now than I did at this time last year. So I'm excited about the way my body feels, my health, and the way everything is kind of set up. I feel good about it. Hopefully I can keep it that way.
DT Cullen Jenkins**
Q: Can you talk about the development of Hank [Johnathan Hankins] and what you saw in him last year and how he's looked so far in camp?
A: The jump he made from his rookie year to last year was pretty impressive. The strides he made— I felt like he could've been a Pro Bowler last year. He definitely played well enough. He's just continued to improve, and I think that now he's more comfortable out there. Going into last year, he was still trying to feel his way at first and work on stuff, but I feel like now he knows how to play and knows how to play well at a high level. He expects it from himself and I think that he'll have another great year this year.
Q: What's this first week been like without having JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] there and maybe figuring out how to replace him? How much of a void does he leave?
A: Well, JPP is a very explosive player, and he's the type of player that— especially when you get to pass-rush situations— he can make stuff happen at the snap of a finger. It has to be a group adjustment. Everybody has to improve, everybody has to do their best to hold it down until he gets back.
Q: You have a lot of young defensive tackles. What have you seen from some of those guys so far, and what do you try to stress to them as a veteran?
A: Just continue to improve. You have to continue to improve, stay hungry, and want to improve. And the group has done that so far— everybody. Kuhn [Markus Kuhn] has made huge strides, and he's gotten a heck of a lot better. He's playing really stout inside— he's strong to begin with, and he's been playing really well. His movement has been a lot better. Jay [Bromley] has been working hard to improve and get better inside, and that's something that we have to keep doing. We can't get satisfied. We can't feel like we've gotten better or we're doing better— we have to keep improving, no matter what.
Q: One of the big factors coming into this year was that you guys wanted to improve your rush defense. In a training camp that is so light on hitting— I mean you had a couple of padded practices and you'll have Cincinnati— but how hard is it to do that as a defense?
A: It's tougher, but you have to focus more on technique than anything. That has to be the foundation of it. You can't get relaxed because you don't have many opportunities anymore. I think going to Cincinnati is going to be huge for us because not only is it going to give us more opportunities, but it's going to give us opportunities against another team— another look. They're going to want to prove themselves against us, and at the same time, we're going to want to prove ourselves and get better against them. So I think the intensity level will be a lot higher and imitate more of a game-like atmosphere.
Q: Jon Beason was saying yesterday that he almost misses the old days where there was more hitting, the way training camp used to be. You were in those training camps— do you miss it?
A: A little bit. You come out now and you know that your opportunities are very limited. Especially if you have a bad play or a bad rep— you really don't get too many chances to repeat that or to do it again or go over it. You really have to be on yourself to perfect everything the first time you do it, and there's not much room for mistakes.
Q: Is it somewhat of a tradeoff though that it's easier on your body now? Overall with the new CBA [collective bargaining agreement], do you like it better now or do you like it the way it was?
A: It's hard to say. It would be nice to have a little mix in-between it, but you definitely take care of your body more now. Back in the day, it used to get pretty brutal, so you're not complaining about what it is but at the same time you just want to make sure that you're ready going into the season.