Good morning. As you know, we allowed the players to come in late this morning. They are just now returning. We will have a normal Wednesday as far as introducing our new opponent – the Carolina Panthers. What we will do is, we will have meetings, we will work later in the day, but a jog thru is all we will do today. And that will be basically our first and second down work. Thursday will be like a Friday for us. In other words we will be on the field late morning and players will be done with practice about 1 or 1:15. We will look at the tape and then the players, on Christmas Eve, will be on their way. And the coaches will go about our business finishing up our work. The players will be off on Christmas morning until about noon. And then we will have a normal Friday routine, except it will be Friday afternoon – Christmas afternoon – rather than Christmas morning. So we are adjusting our week from a Monday night game to preparation for a very good Carolina team, a team that had an outstanding win over Minnesota the other night. This is what we have done in the past following a Monday night game at this point in the season. And hopefully it will give us an opportunity to present all of the material that we need to present in terms of our preparation but also allow the players and the coaches and their families' time to spend Christmas together, or part of Christmas together.
Q: Any update on Aaron Ross or anybody?
A: No, there is nothing that I can report to you. We will have some kind of declaration of status because of the nature of our day. However we are not going to, obviously, be able to tell in a jog through.
Q: Did he get another MRI?
A: I think he was going to but I haven't heard anything.
Q: Are you hopeful regarding Kareem McKenzie and Corey Webster?
A: It's time to get them all back. Let's get them all. 'Hopeful' is not the word. We need everybody. We need them fast.
Q: Does last year's overtime victory inspire you?
A: Well last year's victory, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with this year's (game), but it was a very significant game as you know because it secured home-field advantage for us. It was an overtime win. The two point play at the end of the game with three minutes and something to go, which allowed us to go to overtime. And then, of course, the long run by Derrick Ward put us in position at the end of the game. Insipired is a very good word. We are all inspired. We are all excited. We are excited about coming off of a win this particular time of the year. This Carolina team just played an outstanding game, as I said. A very physical game. A team that runs the ball very well, has the big play threat with Steve Smith. A very good defensive team, very physical, doesn't give up many points.
Q. They lost both of their starting offensive tackles...how has the line played since?
A. They continue to rush the ball for lots of yards so they have done a nice job of adjusting their front. They are a very patient run the ball team. They will run the ball and throw the ball out of run sets even in situations when you think pass. You might project them into another personnel set.
Q. They have some difficult guys to handle on defense, especially up front. Do you feel that the offensive line is playing much better?
A. I think they are. Of course, you have to enter into the multiplicity of something like that. In other words I am talking about utilizing the tight ends and utilizing the backs and everyone that has to be involved in making sure that you can protect a rush such as the one that Carolina's rush presents.
Q. This should be the last game at Giants Stadium. Does that give you a sense of extra motivation?
A. It always does. It always means extra motivation. It means the opportunity to play in front of our fans one more time in a very significant game. The opportunity for us to utilize the 12th man, if you will. I thought our fans have done a really good job, especially on third down situations, as we have come down here through the stretch with divisional opponents. We will need everyone to be involved in the game this weekend as well. If it is the final home game at Giants Stadium, there is a lot of historical significance to that game. We can go down memory lane as much as you like. I remember many, many years ago before I ever got involved in professional football. Giants Stadium, I always thought, was the greatest football stadium in the world. It was always an honor, a privilege and an eye-opener to bring a college team, or whatever I was coaching, into that stadium. Then of course when I had the opportunity to come here as an assistant coach it was extremely meaningful to me and my family, being from New York state and having always been a fan of and been aware of and watched since the time I was a little guy, black and white t.v. Always the Giants and the Browns in those days, that's what it was.
Q. Can this last game be somewhat inspiring?
We need everything. Everything that we can possibly use, we will use.
Q. What was your first memory of coming to Giants Stadium?
A. First time I ever stepped in? I can remember a couple disappointing ones. I was at Syracuse and we played Penn State here one time and got our butts kicked. I remember lots of things. I remember when I was at B.C. and coming here with the leadership for the Big East community and sitting there in the stadium and doing interviews with people and having some of the Giants players walk by and that was pretty cool. That was kind of neat.
Q. Three years ago Steve Smith came to you from a sophisticated college program. How much of a finished project was he then? How much has he learned?
A. Everyone has to learn a lot about the pro game, about the sophistication. He certainly came from an outstanding program and did a great job as a college player. That is why Steve is here. But Steve has learned and he has refined. He has really worked hard on his game. It is always gratifying to have somebody bust their butt and have the kind of year he is having. We can utilize that as an example for others. No matter what position you are in, it is an eye-opener to come into the professional game.
Q. When you see the way your team played the other night do you wonder where this team has been for the last two months?
A. No. It's a build up. You talk about all the different things we had to do in order to win. We did the majority of those things the other night. We prefer to say, hey fellas, we are talking about a consistency issue here. We've got to have this kind of performance for the next two weeks. Improvement in areas that weren't as good as they should be. But also recognize a lot of the things that we did do.
Q. Julius Peppers seems to be a one-man wreckinga one man wrecking crew...do they move him around?
A. Sure they move him around. They play him on the right, they play him on the left. They can play him anywhere they want. He showed the other night. He came off of the edge. (Bryant) McKinnie is a darn good football player and he had a power move that kind of put McKinnie in the lap of the quarterback a couple of times. Even when Minnesota went to the chip game and got themselves in position to help, he was still a force. He played very well. He is a guy that you have to spend extra time with. When you do that they have a lot of other good football players that all of a sudden end up one-on-one and can be a problem in terms of pressure. To answer your question specifically, he is having quite a year and they are going to put him anywhere they need him.
Q. It has been a couple weeks since Jonathan Goff moved into the starting role. How has he progressed?
A. He is learning and growing and getting better. He is a physical player. The interception a couple of weeks ago. He continues with his special teams role and development as a Mike backer. He is a very conscientious young man; very, very conscientious. He is making strides and learning his spot and doing well at it.
Q. It seems like the run defense has improved greatly since you made those lineup changes three weeks ago. How much is due to that?
A. Well it has helped, there is no doubt about it. But I think our players are very aware of the fact that this is how we play; you've got to stop the run. Even the other night, 36 yards were the quarterback's yards and you look at it, a 5.6 yard average, that is not that good. But it was under 100 yards and some of the runs were quarterback orientated. Naturally when you are chasing the quarterback when he comes out and he comes free. But it has improved and we feel better about it.
Q. Now that you have seen Chris Canty in extended action, how has he done?
A. He's done well. There are still some new positions, new alignment things, that he is going through. Fundamentally he's done a good job. He has done a real good job when he's been double- teamed, holds the point well.
Q. He is playing a lot over the nose. Did you expect that?
A. Well, that is what happens when you are sliding the front around. That is kind of a different spot for him.
Q. Usually you got the big plugger, not the tall lean guy?
A. Depends on how you play it. Sometimes you play a nose and a three technique. Sometimes you play guys sliding and play both ways.
Q. Is keeping his pad level down more important to him because of his height?
A. That is, it always is, and I think it always has been.
Q. How has Eli done without a running game?
A. What do you mean without a running game? I love that. What are you guys talking about? What do you watch? Two weeks ago it was 133 yards. The other night it was what, 113. How can you say there is no running game?
Q. Without a power running game?
A. Eli has done a great job and he is continuing to do an excellent job. He has asserted himself as a leader. Obviously the quality of his play has raised the quality of those around him. He has to continue to do that. There were 30 rushes the other night so I am not going to stand here and tell you there is no running game. Balance the other night. Anybody who is really studying, the balance was outstanding the other night. 30 and 30.
Q. Did you make a roster move?
A. We are in the process, but I am not ready to say just yet.
Q. Darcy Johnson was inactive the other night for the first time since he has been on the roster.
A. The decision was made that we thought it was time we had another player at the tight end that we were going to use in that position as a blocker, etc. So we thought we could use Bear (Pascoe) the other night.
Q. How did he (Bear Pascoe) do?
A. He did okay, he did alright. Got his feet, got in there, mixed it up, which he will do. The blocking part of it is the area that I hope he does best.
Q. You also had Gartrell Johnson over DJ Ware?
A. Another 'let's get going' kind of move.
Q. Is it frustrating that you could win both of your final games and still not make the playoffs?
A. I don't even think about that. What I think about is winning one game at a time. We will do the very best we can and hopefully that is enough. But I am not spending any time thinking about the other circumstances.