Q: What have you seen from the Giants defense on film the last few weeks that might be different than what they were doing the first four or five games? They have obviously struggled a whole lot the last couple of weeks.
A: I think they had some injuries and battled through that. And I think probably the biggest thing is they are giving up some big plays. Other than that -- it is not like – yeah, things are just going up and down the field. They have given up some big plays that teams have been able to put some points on the board, which has been uncharacteristic of that defense. But you go throughout, really, the whole course of the season. Obviously we understand what this defense is about. You still look at them and where they stand throughout the league in defense – both run and pass. And we are going to have our work cut out for us. I think each week is a new week. I have been asked multiple times about 'do you catch them at a good time or a bad time' because they have lost three in a row. And I think each week is a new week. Obviously any time you have to come to New York to their place to play in a big game for both teams – both teams are going to strive to be at their best.
Q: Donovan McNabb said that he studied their safeties on film and saw things that he could exploit. What do you think he saw?
A: Well, again, they have given up some big plays. I'm not sure exactly what he saw as far as enough to detail it – what he saw. I think they have given up some big plays. There have been some holes in some zones that he was able to take advantage of and that teams have. But at the same time it is a sound defense that gives you multiple looks. I think anytime you play as many different looks and do as many different things as they do, that can work two different ways. Obviously they can give an offense a lot of trouble and create a lot of pressure and really cause offenses to struggle at the same time. It can leave yourself vulnerable for some big plays. But I don't think – I can't image there was anything in particular Donovan necessarily saw other than, again, some teams have been able to get some big plays. But it is a sound defense, obviously with a tremendous pass rush. And, again, we are going to be up for the challenge, but we know what this team is and is capable of.
Q: Today Eli said that he first met you at the Manning Quarterback Camp. I was wondering what you recall from that and what you learned from which Manning?
* *A: Yeah, well, that is the first time down there at that camp – I believe it was for my senior year in college – or our senior year. It was really a treat to go down there and work around a bunch of pro quarterbacks and college quarterbacks and players. And it is really a first class camp they run down there. Being around Peyton and Eli – those guys – it was fun. Being a college senior and it was fun just up close seeing those guys throw and work and just getting to know them a little bit. It was a good. The first thing that stood out for me - Eli – the first thing I remember him telling was, 'Man, could he really throw it.' Obviously that is a broad statement, but it just flies out of his hand. He can really throw it and it was, again, a treat to just to work with a handful of those guys.
Q: He said that you guys texted each other once in a while. Do you consider yourself close to him? And do you feel your careers are intertwined because of the draft day trade?
A: Yeah, well, I wouldn't say we are close. But, yeah, we have exchanged a few texts. I wanted to tell him congratulations on the win – the Super Bowl. And there have been a few other texts here back and forth more or less wishing good luck or congratulations on a win or something of that nature. But certainly we are intertwined somewhat based on that draft day trade and how that all unfolded. Yeah, I would like to think it has worked out for both of us. You are always going to be linked in some ways to guys in your draft class, maybe even moreso because of how that went down. But certainly a heck of a quarterback and a player. And obviously he is still an ascending player. He has obviously accomplished a lot already but seems to still improve year to year.
Q: What do you remember about that day? It seemed like for five minutes there you were kind of confused as to what was going on because the Giants had picked you but hadn't talked to you. What was going on there in your mind?
A: I was right there at my mom and dad's house in Raleigh. I had felt all along it was going to be the Chargers or the Steelers. I can't say I felt it but that was kind of – as you kind of lay out what the day is – how it is going to unfold you felt like – or at least you hoped – it was going to be one of those two teams. I had had a workout with New York. They came to Raleigh – Coach Coughlin and we had a work out. But you know when you feel a team's interest and really it was the other two teams – both San Diego and Pittsburgh – I felt the strongest interest from. So I think - when the Chargers took Eli first and then I was waiting – you are wondering what is going to happen – if they are going to make a move. And when the Giants took me I kind of had a feeling both just from what had gone on in the past few months and what agent Jimmy Sexton had said about hey, "You may not be a Giant very long, but if it doesn't work out I think they obviously will be content if they end up having to keep you." But I had never spoken from one person from the Giants front office – still to this day on that draft day and so on. So I knew something was up. Usually you at least talk to somebody. So as the next half-hour, hour, took its course – obviously we know what happened after that.
Q: Will there be any added emotion because of that? It just seems a little bit different.
A: There really won't be. Again, I never felt a tie or a bond with the Giants in any way or that, "I thought you wanted me and now you are trading me away." There was never anything like that. Again, I know it wasn't just a straight trade – me for Eli or vice versa. There were some very key picks and players involved in what the Chargers were able to acquire and, honestly, players that have had a huge impact over this past six years and continue to have. So I'm sure both teams are happy the way it worked out. But, no, there will be nothing – there is no hard feeling or anything from that manner. I think it is fun, however, anytime you compete against – obviously I have to worry about that Giant defense and playing and managing the football game. But certainly any time you are going against a team led by a quarterback regardless of whether you are linked or not – but a guy the caliber of Eli, it is always fun. And then I think throw in the fact, as we have been discussing – you are linked in that way. It does make for some nice – any additional sidebar things that you enjoy about a game – just being part of it – it definitely adds to it.
Q. How do you feel you made out of the deal at least climate wise?
A. Very well, very well. That is one thing, for sure, from a weather a standpoint, it seems to be a little more laid back out here on the west coast, which fits me. I am kind of a low key, family man who kind of likes to lay low. You throw in the 75 and sunny mostly everyday and it is not a bad place to be.
Q. Did you play in the '05 game or will this be your first game against the Giants?
A. This will be my first one. That was my second year and Drew (Brees) was still the quarterback when we played the Giants at home.
Q. Were you the third quarterback or the backup?
A. I was the backup.
Q. When you were a college senior did you play in the Gator Bowl against Notre Dame?
A. Yeah, college junior. My junior year we played Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl.
Q. Do you think that elevated your status in the eyes of scouts and pro personnel people?
A. That was the tail-end of my junior year when we won 11 football games. I think it was a solid year at N.C. State, we got more national attention than we had ever gotten in the past. I think my senior year was really what helped me most. Ultimately, I think the Senior Bowl that the Chargers coached our Senior Bowl team, the south that year. That is really when I got a week to spend with those coaches. I think for me, the combines, the interviews, I felt like I had shown on tape enough to be worthy of playing in this league and playing at a high level, but I think the combine, the meetings, the Senior Bowl, getting to see all the things you can't see on the tape, just how to lead, and be around the guys, in the huddle and managing all those things, all the intangibles. I was able to help myself throughout those months leading up to the draft.
Q. Vincent Jackson?
A. Vincent, over the last 25-30 games, each and every week he has made tremendous strides. The big plays he is making show it and he is a 6'5, 240 lb. guy that can run. He has always had the ability. I think the place where he has made the most improvement is just understanding our system and understanding the whole passing game and coverages. He has really turned himself into a really good player.
Q. You talk about being linked to Eli and you are also linked to Roethlisberger because of the draft. Does the fact that they each have a Super Bowl ring make it imperative that you get one or how do you feel about that?
A. Quarterbacks and head coaches have a record tied to their name, but all of us in the league, as competitors, that is the common goal we all have: we want to win a championship. That is why you play the game. Those two guys certainly, three between them, have gotten off to a great start. There is nothing that could give me any more drive or could motivate me any harder to want to win a championship. So, what those guys did it doesn't make me say 'oh man, I really want to try hard to win one now.' Certainly, at least through six years, when talked about among those three, the one that hasn't gotten there. It is a long career and one that you play for a bunch of years. You want to win it every year, but certainly, it doesn't give any added drive, but certainly, certainly, you know that that is the case, you have been the odd man out at least this far.