Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: A couple things. I was wondering first if you could shed some light since we haven't talked to you on the decision to let go of (Inside Linebacker) Blake Martinez. Is it that he hasn't looked the same since injury? It doesn't look like it was salary related. So, why let go of Blake? Because it seems like obviously his resume would suggest he's one of your better inside linebackers.
A: I appreciate the question. All I'll say is every decision that we make regarding releasing a player is always a difficult decision. Just like all our guys, I'd say good luck to Blake and the rest of the guys that we released; and we're looking forward to getting ready on our preparations for Tennessee.
Q: And then two injury things. How confident are you that (Quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) will be available to you on Sunday if needed, and where do you stand at left guard?
A: We have a week here to move guys in and out and let those guys compete; and as far as Tyrod, he's good to go.
Q: (General Manager) Joe Schoen mentioned this the other day about the overemphasis on the first week as far as 0 and 1, you're the worst team ever; 1 and 0, you're going to the Super Bowl. As a head coach for the first time, how do you – obviously going in to be 1 and 0, no question about it. All your sights are set on this game. But how do you kind of take an immediate picture 'We need to win this game' versus 'This is not going to define us'?
A: I really go back to how we do things during the week more than the final outcome: our process, our preparation, the guys staying after to throw and to catch, the meetings that the secondary has or the defensive line has to study their opponents. Those are the things that we can control, and going out there each day at practice and trying to execute the plays that we put in and improve them on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Do you find in your history being a coordinator and assistant for all these years that after the first week, you get a sense a team is riding high or riding low depending on that outcome?
A: No. You just try to stay consistent. I remember last year when I was at Buffalo, we had a rough first game. And there are seasons where we won the first game and seasons where we lost the first game. Every game is important. Everybody is excited about opening day. It's a cool game. There's a lot of unknowns. And you're figuring out what your team is. You're trying to figure out what the team that you're playing is. Because again, you can do all the offseason studies that you want to until you're playing in a game and figuring it out on a fly. I think that the most important thing for us.
Q: Two quick ones on Blake Martinez. One, do you think that releasing him makes your team better?
A: Again, I'll just say the same thing that I said before. I'm not going to get into why release, why we didn't release, where he's at. That's how we're going to handle our stuff here in terms of our releases. Wish Blake the best and looking forward to moving on to this week.
Q: Just quick follow (up) on him, too, and you might have the same answer. But what changed between Tuesday, cut down day when he stayed on the team, and Thursday when you released him?
A: I'd say the same answer I gave you.
Q: When you talked before about offseason studies and things like that, coaches have injuries all the time. How much does it throw you out of whack when a guy like (Titans Outside Linebacker Harold) Landry in practice blows out his ACL? And I assume you prepared for him all offseason. How much does that change your plan?
A: Well, first of all, my condolences to him. He's a fantastic player, and you never want to see any player get injured. He brought a lot to their defense and really was a dynamic player. And again, every team has backups. And those backups are fully capable. We respect every player we have to play against. We'll take a look at the other players that are behind him. And again, we don't exactly know what's going to happen – whether (Defensive Lineman Denico Autry) Autry's going to move over there. Whatever it may be, the first game you have to rely on your rules and the things that you did through training camp. And that's where our focus will be.
Q: I'll give a crack to this Blake Martinez question thing. What did you like, and what do you see from the young guys that are still there at that position? And how much did their development and what they gave you this summer – did that weigh into what you did with Blake?
A: Well, I'll just speak on the guys that are here. I think those guys made strides each and every day. They've made plays throughout the preseason, and we have a lot of confidence in those players.
Q: Second question I have is you brought in a couple of guys, veterans, on the practice squad – (Safety) Tony (Jefferson) and (Defensive Back Fabian) Moreau, who have some starting experience, a lot of experience. Tony does, with this defense. How quickly do you expect them to be able to contribute on Sundays and maybe even this coming Sunday?
A: We'll give them as much as they can handle. I know the coaches will be meeting with those guys extra. And we'll make decisions with players that are on the practice squad toward the end of the week here. But again, some of them have experience in the system and some haven't. But they've played a lot of football, so we're excited to have both those guys.
Q: I have two quick ones for you, if I may. Have you decided if (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Kafka) is going to be the play caller moving forward, or is that still up for debate?
A: I talked to Mike over the weekend. We were working yesterday; talked to him today. I have a lot of confidence in Mike. We'll stay with how we did things in the preseason.
Q: And the second question I'm kind of curious about: The schedule this week is a little unusual. Usually, it's Monday then off Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I'm just wondering what went into the change up for this particular week.
A: I've been part of a team that has done it this way the last few years. So, it wasn't unusual for me. I think today you get a good introduction. You go hard these next couple days. You get time to regroup and reevaluate where you're at on Thursday and have a normal Friday.
Q: Two things. One, I know we'll get a better sense when we're out there tomorrow, but do you have any update on where (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) are? And do you think there's a chance that they'll be on the practice field tomorrow?
A: I'll say they're day-to-day just like last week. They're getting better, and we'll reevaluate it tonight.
Q: And the second one is – you mentioned earlier there are so many unknowns going into Week 1. But at least your opponent is an established opponent, whereas I'm sure they're going to be digging into a lot of Buffalo (Bills) tape and Kansas City (Chiefs) tape and maybe what (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) did in Baltimore (with the Ravens). How aware are you guys of that fact? Do you try to take advantage a little bit of the unknown, of they don't know what you're going to actually look like when you get out there on the field? Can that help in Week 1 for a new staff and a new team?
A: Obviously they're established. (Titans Head) Coach (Mike Vrabel) Vrabel's had a winning program since he's been there – been to the playoffs the last three years, won the AFC last year. Again, every year is such a new year really regardless of a new staff or not a new staff. That's why your fundamentals and your rules – those have to be, you have to be really good with those things early on in the year, not just Week 1, but Week 2, Week 3. Because each team evolves every year based on their personnel. They have new personal. We have new personnel. So, I'd say it's a normal get ready for Week 1 even though we're a new staff. I don't want to speak on how they're doing it. They've been real successful with how they've done things.
Q: With Blake, he was going to be your starting middle linebacker. I'm curious: How big a challenge does that become to have to fill that 10 days before the season and make that change? And who are your options? Like, who do you look at as your top options to sort of fill that void?
A: The guys we have on the roster, we have confidence in. Those spots are interchangeable, the inside linebacker spots. Again, whether it be (Inside Linebacker) Tae (Crowder), (Inside Linebacker Micah) McFadden, (Inside Linebacker Austin) Calitro, we have confidence in the guys that are on our roster.
Q: And I know (a previous question) kind of touched on it there, but are Thibodeaux and/or Azeez out on the field at all? What have they been doing?
A: Yeah, they're rehabbing. They're day-to-day, and we'll just take it that way. We'll talk to our training staff tonight and see where they're at for tomorrow.
Q: Do you think they have a shot for Week 1?
Offensive Tackle Evan Neal
Q: You never lost an opener at Alabama, really didn't come close. Did you ever lose an opener in any season of your life? In high school or earlier than that?
A: I don't believe I have.
Q: You would probably know, right? So, you haven't I guess.
A: Yeah, you could say that.
Q: You know what 1-0 feels like, but not 0-1. Does that help springboard the team when you're 1-0 and when you in that first one?
A: I mean the first game is the first game. It's a long season. Win lose or draw, I just want to go out there, compete, fight hard and use that as an opportunity to get better as well. 0-1, 1-0 – there's going to be a week 2.
Q: Have you found in all these years that when you were 1-0 that a lot of people said how good the team was? Sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not, but there's a lot of overreaction to the first game, isn't there?
A: Yeah, but that's expected. It's the first game, the first time people have got the opportunity to see the team in live action, so everybody is going to have their own takes. I'm just focused on going out there and competing the best way that I can to help my team succeed.
Q: I assume during the offseason you did a lot of prep work; how much does it throw you off when a guy like (Tennessee Outside Linebacker) Harold Landry, who would have been lined up on your side, gets hurt? Do you have to go to plan b now?
A: No, that doesn't change anything. They are going to have a guy that's in his place that I am going to have to block. That doesn't really change anything for me at all.
Q: Would you look at (Tennessee Defensive Lineman Denico) Autry or would you look at everybody?
A: Yeah, I watch film on everybody. I'm studying all those guys.
Q: I'm just curious, it's here – your NFL debut, your first real game is here. What emotions do you feel? Do you have any family coming to it? How are you feeling six days out about the opener?
A: I feel amazing. I feel awesome, man. My mom and my dad are going to be at the game to support me. It's just a blessing, man, just a testament to the hard work that it took to get here. I'm just excited. I'm excited to go out there and play ball.
Q: What do you think for you the biggest difference will be from the three preseason games? Do you expect much more exotic looks? We know skill guys and quarterbacks keep things kind of simple. In the trenches, will there be a big difference between real games and the games you've already played?
A: That's what I'm waiting to see. I haven't played a regular season game yet, so I'm excited to see what that shows. In the preseason, I feel like I got some good looks in preseason, good competition and a lot of good experiences to learn from, so I feel like it'll be the same week 1. Regardless, football is football. The field is 100 yards long and 50 yards wide and that's never going to change.
Q: What has (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas) told you about the start of his rookie year? He played pretty well Week 1, he hit some rough patches, he obviously had a great second year. What has Andrew told you about his rookie year that might relate to you guys? Obviously, you're different people but both came from comparable programs, both high draft picks, both tackles. What has he told you about riding the rollercoaster as a rookie?
A: I love Andrew. Andrew is a great guy, a great mentor for sure. He just told me to focus on what's inside, what's going on inside. Don't really dwell or focus on what's going on outside. Just focus on getting better. Regardless of what type of product is put out there on Sunday, the goal is to get better the next week – just flip the page and then focus on getting better the next week, and just continue to make positive growth as a player. That's pretty much what he's been telling me.
Q: The Giants talked a lot about process on offense all summer. Not necessarily production, but process. It was kind of a process for you too. Can you talk about what you have learned about the NFL and maybe where you think you got better throughout the summer?
A: The NFL is definitely a more technical. I had to become more of a technician. I couldn't just rely so much on just my raw athleticism or talent. I had to become more of a technician as well, working on my pass sets, my set angles. I feel like I'm more comfortable in my sets. I'm using my hands more, and I feel like I'm more balanced as well, but obviously I have a lot of work that still needs to be done. I feel like my game is trending in the right direction.
Q: We started asking you about being 1-0 can do for a team, do you have to change your mindset in terms of what losses mean? When you're in college, one loss puts you on the precipice, two losses basically end your season. I don't think this team is going to go 17-0 but do you have to prepare for losses differently?
A: I've never really had to prepare for losing because I've never really lost too much in the past. I hate losing, I always had. Losing here is not something I'm going to focus on. The goal is to win. Regardless, you're going to win, you're going to lose, but I'm not going to focus on losing – I'm going to do everything in my power to help this team win. If we come up short, we're going to learn from it and move on to the next one.
Q: Do you think you'll have to learn how to do that? You've never really had to come back from losses?
A: Yeah, I'm sure that's going to be an adjustment. Nobody likes to lose. I hope no one likes to lose. I'm sure that's going to be an adjustment for me but it's one that I feel like I'll be able to get past.
Wide Receiver Wan'Dale Robinson
Q: What's your comfort level coming out of the preseason now that the real games are here? How did you think you did in the preseason?
A: I felt like I did alright. It's a little bit harder to get in a groove without being in the full game and all that. Just going over everything with the coaches after the games and feeling like I'm in a good spot right now. I've just got to keep moving forward.
Q: How comfortable are you with your role? How comfortable are you that you can make a big impact on the Giants six days from now?
A: I'm comfortable with whatever they ask me to do. Really trying to do whatever I can to help our team win. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm going to do so many things and what not. Everything I can to do to help us win is all I'm going to do.
Q: Did you set goals? Did you set any individual goals for targets, catches, or touchdowns? Did you make a list somewhere?
A: No, I didn't. I've never been a goal person. Just always going out there, trying to do my job and whatever comes, comes.
Q: Can you tell me what your expectations are for the first game? In your history how have you done in first games, high school, college? Are you usually pretty good at winning those games?
A: For the most part, yeah. I remember about every one in high school we won. In college, my second year at Nebraska we didn't win the first game but after that we won all the first games, so it's been pretty good to me. Hopefully we keep that tradition going of winning.
Q: What is the feeling in the building about that first game? There hasn't been a lot of first game success there. What is the sense of importance and expectation for game one?
A: We're all just excited to get going. It's the real thing now, obviously, we all believe that we can win and we're going to do everything that we can to come out with a win.
Q: Do you feel that being '1-0' can help springboard any team?
A: Yeah, definitely. Anytime you win a football game it's a good thing. We're just trying to go '1-0' every week.
Q: What are your emotions heading into Sunday? So many people have doubted you along the way and this is sort of the culmination of a dream for you.
A: It'll be a lot of emotions. I'll be excited, I'll be a little bit nervous, I'm sure. But at the end of the day, it's just playing football and I can't worry too much about that. (I've) got a job to do.
Q: What's the biggest thing you've learned about the NFL throughout the preseason?
A: You really see it's a business, this is really a job and each and every day you really have to come out and earn it. Do what you're supposed to do each and every day.
Q: Do you have any friends, family, anybody coming to watch your first game?
A: Yeah, this will probably be the biggest one for me. This is the closest one I have home to Kentucky. From my hometown it's really about like three and a half hours. This will be the biggest one that I have with the support system around.
Q: How many are you thinking?
A: I've heard from a lot of people, more than I can count on both hands. It'll be quite a bit.
Q: (Head) Coach (Brian) Daboll told us that (Offensive Coordinator) Mike Kafka's going to keep calling the plays here in the regular season? What do you like about him as a play caller and the way he gets guys involved in a rhythm?
A: He knows how to get the guys matched up. He's going to get us in a groove and get us going. Knows when to take the shots and things like that and get us in the best plays each and every play.
Q: What kind of a resource is (Wide Receiver) Sterling (Shepard)? If I look at you, Sterling and (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney), I think you guys are all best in the slot. How effective can you guys be playing together?
A: I think it can be really effective. At the end of the day, you want guys that can separate and go out there and make plays. I feel like we all do a really good job of that. I think our coaches are going to do a really good job of mixing us in and doing what they have to do to get us all the ball, whenever they need to.
Q: A lot of us are wondering what's going to happen out on the field Sunday. Do you guys think you might have an advantage when you play a team that doesn't know what you're going to throw out there?
A: For us, we're going to go with our gameplan and do what we have to do. For them, I don't know exactly how their gameplan is or anything like that, so I can't really say if it's an advantage for us or them. At the end of the day, we've got to go out and do what we're supposed to do and do our jobs.
Q: Do you have any idea what the gameplan is?
A: Yeah, we've got that, but that's really more in-house. I guess you'll see more so what the gameplan is on Sunday.
Q: Can you give us copies?
A: (Laughs) No, none of that.