Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Q: You brought guests to practice today?
A: The General (Raymond Odierno) was here, yes. We were excited about seeing him. I know he had some things that he was doing here in New York – did some shows and stuff. The Vice President was with him, as normally occurs. And it is good to see him home – four and one-half years. Four and one-half years in Iraq. Obviously mixed, mixed emotions about leaving and very devoted to his men. But it is great to see him.
Q: Did he speak to the team?
Q: What did he have to say?
A: Just team, about team. About mental, physical toughness, resiliency, about overcoming anything and everything and that if you believe in one another and have each other's back. He equated that to the group of soldiers that captured Saddam Hussein.
Q: What does that mean to you to have him here?
A: Very significant; very, very, very significant for me. When you stop and think about the devotion that people such as the General have, to our Country, and to the opportunity for the rest of us to sleep under the blanket of freedom, it is incredible what sacrifices are made by our brave and loyal soldiers.
Q: Did he order you to win on Sunday?
A: I think he will. I will see him in here in a minute. That would be a good thing.
Q: RE: Aaron Ross today.
A: He got a little better; moved a little better.
Q: What was he able to do?
A: He played some scrimmage, yeah, you saw him. He took some plays. I thought he warmed up well. I thought he moved around pretty well.
Q: Are you happy with where your football team is?
A: Well, we are excited about having the opportunity to play. I don't use that word ("happy") very often but I think the short week, we accomplished what we had to prior to the Patriot game. I thought we started the practice better. I still think we are practicing better. Some things, in the course of the 54-55 play practice that you would like to do better, obviously. But I think after we look at the tape we will feel better about that and we will have some answers for the things that we didn't do very well.
Q: Back to Aaron Ross – has he shown you enough?
A: I would wait on that one. I would wait on that. I'm not ready to say that.
Q: RE: Naming Chase Blackburn as a special team's captain.
A: Well it is an honor to be elected by your teammates to represent you as a captain. And I thought the players spoke on behalf of the kind of leader and player and example that Chase is – a smile on his face, willing to do anything that is asked in any capacity. It was nice to see him recognized. I also think that everyone ought to know that Lawrence Tynes was very well thought of by his teammates as well.
Q: Kenny Phillips said he was taking snaps with the one's yesterday. Is he the starter now?
A: We'll see. We'll see about that. But he is working. And both guys are getting plenty of work.
Q: The way the run game stalled last year, how much of a point of emphasis has that been for you, especially these last two weeks?
A: It has been a point of emphasis forever. And it certainly was in the offseason and it certainly was in training camp, too.
Q: Last season Darius Reynaud muffed some punts, too, against you guys. Is that something that you saw on tape – is it a point of emphasis here?
A: It is an emphasis any time. Ball security is the number one thing if you are going to be back there. But he has demonstrated very good hands out here.
Q: RE: Darius and the return game
A: He has done well with it, he really has. He has done well with that. He is learning an offensive position and he is running down as a gunner and he's doing all of those things, too. He has fit right in. He has done a nice job.
Q: RE: Injuries on the offensive line. How do you think things are jelling?
A: Well I think the more they work together, the better off they are.
Q: Where would you say you are at?
A: We'll see. We'll see. We are getting ready to play our first game and we have our starting group together. We will do some things with the personnel movement here and there but it is good to have them all working together. And Shaun has been out here for at least half of the snaps every day. So that helps.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride
Q: A lot was made last year of the question marks at wide receiver. A year later, the perception is that it's a strength on this team. How have things changed in a year?
A: I think it was justifiably a concern because you had two people who hadn't played a lot or hadn't played in that role. Steve Smith had been an integral part as the third receiver but not necessarily as the starting – when the two receivers were out there, that personnel grouping. It was understandable looking outside in and I couldn't honestly say, hey, they're going to perform like we had hoped they would, but we knew that we had some talent. There were some gifted young players that hopefully would go out and would show the poise necessary to take advantage of the physical skills that they had. The fact that they went out and played as well as they did is now all to the opinion the other way. Now, inside, our opinion is, we know they have the skill, but now they've got to go out and do it again and we'd like to see growth and development in terms of consistency and I think that if we can get that we still feel like we have some guys that can do some things, but now we're looking to see consistency in their performance.
Q: Is it harder when you're trying to meet the standard rather than set the standard?
A: It's certainly easier when less is expected of you - there's no question about that – but you would hope that if they're the right makeup, which I believe they are, that the expectations have grown and their sense of pride will elevate their game and that's what I expect to happen.
Q: You didn't have all five offensive linemen together during the preseason. How much of a concern is that for you now?
A: It's big. The one compensatory advantage we have is that they've played together for so long that maybe the fact that they weren't together throughout the preseason and camp will make it less of a problem than it might have been, but is it a concern? Yeah, no question. You're never quite as sharp and your cohesion is not quite as tight as it should be, so yeah, if we had our druthers we wouldn't have drawn it up that way, but, again, it's a group that has been together, they've played a lot of football and you would hope that that reality will offset the fact that they haven't been together in a game situation yet this year.
Q: Victor Cruz. How do you see him being used given that he's not done much on special teams?
A: First of all, the hard part is to get him on the field. The way it's structured here is that if you're not one of the starting two receivers, then you've got to contribute in the other areas, so that's where he's got to earn his spurs and hopefully he'll show enough someday that he'll get that chance, but when he gets on the field he's easy. It's easy to use him. I think he's proven that he is able to compete against bump and run press coverage and have a lot of success. There's no question in my mind that he's a good run after the catch guy, just like I said last year, but when no one believed me that Hakeem Nicks would be a good run after the catch, Mario Manningham would be a good run after the catch. He'll be that same kind of guy, but again, the bottom line is that he's a young guy, he's got to prove himself as a receiver enough to become one of the starting two. That hasn't happened yet. Or he's got to get himself onto the active roster on game day by doing enough on special teams.
Q: You kept two tight ends and Travis Beckum isn't really a traditional tight end. What does he need to do in order to solidify that position?
A: Stay healthy. That's all. It's not hard. He's got to stay healthy. He's another guy – he never practiced, so that would be more of a concern than the offensive line. As much as it has affected the offensive line, here's a guy that hasn't played a lot and then didn't play hardly at all in practice. Does he have skills? No question. He's a good athlete and he's not your prototypical point of attack guy, but you put him out in the space and he's a tough matchup. He's a bigger, stronger guy than most secondary players and he's faster, more agile, more athletic type of guy than most linebackers so he gives us some things, but the problem is, where is he? Health wise. Where is he mentally? Can you count on him to do all the things and that's what we're trying to sort through. Exactly how much can we ask of him to do but I think if he is playing at a point where he knows what he's doing and he's confident, he gives us a weapon.
Q: Could Shawn Andrews or Will Beatty possibly play themselves into a position on the field?
A: They can. Again, one of the big concerns that we have is that we haven't gone through many years over the last couple that we haven't gotten a lineman hurt. For a while there we had a great stretch running but that hasn't been that way last year, so I would say that in a perfect world, they don't get hurt and we keep playing, we play well, then those guys don't get on the field. The reality of it is probably something, one game – a nagging, hopefully nothing serious – you get a chance to play and when they get the chance, if they show that they earned, then they'll get themselves more playing time.
Q: How do you see your backfield rotation breaking down?
A: We haven't really solidified it. It's much more of a concern with all of you than us because there is another spot. We haven't had to worry about one guy playing all year since Tiki Barber left so they've all been taking their turns – in and out for whatever the reasons so we'll just play it as it goes, who's playing, who's got the hot hand, who's playing well, based on what we're doing, based on what the defenses are doing. We'll try to capitalize on our guys' strengths, hope and keep our fingers crossed that they stay healthy so that we can utilize them all.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
Q: So are you ready?
A: Sunday we'll be ready. We are preparing to be ready though. I like the guys' attitude. I like the way they're going about our business, and I think this defense will be ready.
Q: Obviously you look at Carolina last year, and they gassed you pretty good as far the run. What do you see this year that makes you feel that won't happen?
A: Obviously they're a talented offensive running football team, and that's what our focus is. The two backs (Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams) can make you miss. They can run through tackles. So what I see from our guys right now is just their focus, their attention to detail, how they're going about the practice and the meetings, the questions that they're asking. It's been some detailed information so it gives me belief that they're getting their mind right.
Q: Now that the preseason is over, roughly what percentage of your defensive playbook do you think we've seen and given that it's probably a small number, how confident will you be that the guys will have it down against Carolina?
A: You probably saw 10 percent, maybe 20 percent in the preseason, maybe, if that. How confident am I that our guys will have our package down? I'm very confident. They had good retention. They had good questions when we went in and presented on Monday as well as Wednesday. So I feel very confident they will have the information down that we need.
Q: Carolina is going to probably have their first plays scripted. How do you defend against that, and do you script your plays defensively? Or do you have to wait and see what they're bringing out on the field?
A: I have a plan of attack that I want to try and dictate what they will see. So I'm not going to be defensive. I'm going to be offensive, and I'm going to try and dictate what they will see.
Q: Have you seen enough of your team turnover-wise that you're comfortable they're going to fulfill your expectations as far as that area goes?
A: I think that can always be better. The goal is one per half, two or more per game. So I think that always can be better, and we're striving to get better in that realm. No doubt.
Q: How much are you expecting from Kenny Phillips the first week or the first couple weeks?
A: Kenny's been practicing so as Kenny goes, we'll go. It's really up to Kenny. Kenny is a good football player. I like the way he's prepared. He's had his hands on some balls in practice this week. He's had to be coached this week because he's been gone a long time, and so he's trying to knock the rust off, too. I think as coaches we have to be cognizant of that and make sure that we do right by Kenny so that he can play the game the way Kenny can play the game and not play it fatigued.
Q: Are you expecting him to play a significant amount this week?
A: Again, that's up to Kenny. That's on Kenny. That's why I'm saying as far as coaches, if we see him fatigued and what have you, it's up to us to (say), 'Yeah we're going to need to get another guy so that he can catch his breath.' He only played 21 plays, I think it was in the last ball game. He played about 12-to-15 in the game before that so when you have to play a 40, 50, 60 or 70-play ballgame, that's a significant amount of reps.
Q: Aaron Ross' injury. How does that affect what you do at the cornerback?
A: It won't.
Q: Because he's a guy who can play inside. Do you move Terrell (Thomas) inside?
A: Yeah. We'll move Terrell inside. Ross has been playing for us inside in the preseason, but it won't affect what we do with the corners.
Q: Keith Bulluck gets the helmet with the speaker in it?
Q: Who gets it?
A: (Jonathan) Goff. Goff will be the man.
DE Justin Tuck
Q: What does it mean to you to be elected captain?
A: It means a lot. Obviously getting elected captain by your peers, it means they have a respect for you. I don't think it's going to change much. You've just got a 'C' on your chest now, but I'm still going to be the same old Justin. I'm just trying my best to get everybody to understand what we need to do to win this football game.
Q: What kind of responsibility comes with that?
A: A lot. Everybody is looking up to you when things are good or when they are bad. When they're bad they're looking at how you're going to respond, and you've got to be a leader-unfortunately with your mouth, but definitely also with your actions, more with your actions. So I think the team takes the pulse from you. Sometimes there are a lot of things that coaches can't see that maybe your teammate or somebody will rely on you. It's a lot of things that me, Eli (Manning) and Chase (Blackburn) will have to kind of relate back to the coaches and let them know, 'This is what we see.' So it's a lot of responsibility, but I think we've got three good ones and we're going to do a good job as far as just delegating things for each other. It's not just one guy who has the load, to carry that load.
Q: How important is it to get off on the right foot in the new stadium?
A: Not more important than it would have been if we were in the old stadium. It's the first game and regardless of if we're in a new stadium or not, we want to win. We want to get off to the right start, and we have a great opportunity. We've got a lot of things to play for on Sunday. Obviously it's the first game, it's Carolina and they did a lot of things good last year. There are a lot of good things we can come out here and redeem, but more than that, it's the first game. It's a game that we need to win, and that's the bottom line when it comes to that.
Q: One of the things they did well was run the ball obviously. Now how do you stop them from doing that?
A: I don't know. We'll figure it out on Sunday hopefully.
Q: Is it hard not to have any type of revenge on your mind? It was last season, but it was the last regular season you guys played here.
A: I think a lot of times you kind of get carried away when you talk about that and you don't really prepare as much. For us, it's just business as usual. We can't have revenge on our mind because a lot of times thinking that and you're so uptight that you don't really play your type of game. So just relax and go play football.
Q: Do you feel this team has the components to be a Super Bowl contender?
A: We'll find out. If you would have asked me that question when we won the Super Bowl at this time, I would have told you probably 'no' because you never know. Obviously Super Bowl, there's a lot of luck involved in it. You've got to stay healthy. You've got to get hot at the right time. So we'll see. Ask me that question in week 13 or 14.
Q: Have you worked on heads and tails?
A: I'm going to leave all that up to Eli.
Q: What was it like having the general out here today?
A: It's always good to see him. He's a very important guy, and for him to take time out to come out and check the pulse of our football team, that says a lot. So it was definitely good to see him and good to hear from him. When he comes, guys pick it up a little bit. We try to kind of put on a show for him and play a little harder in practice. So it was fun to be out there today and it was good to see him.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Q: You've seen limited action from the ones during the preseason. How ready are you to get in sync for Carolina?
A: Preseason is to see exactly where we're at. I think everybody is just trying to get healthy and I think everybody is at this point to go into this first game and be ready to rock.
Q: How much of a problem were the injuries to the offensive linemen?
A: Not having them is a problem just with the unity between them. Having them together for this first game will be tremendous for all of us. They work so well together, and it will be good for our running game and pass protection.
Q: How much of a difference does it make to you that you'll be taking the first snap?
A: No problem, man. This is what I play this game for. I just want to take pride in being the starter and doing my job. Whatever I can do for this team.
Q: When you look back at how you ran over the preseason, were you happy with your performance?
A: I felt good, I felt really good with what I did. I did what I had to do. Explosive-wise, I felt really good. I satisfied myself.
Q: Regardless of who's taking the first snap, has your role in the offense changed or has it been expanded?
A: I think I might get more touches just being the starter. Other than that, it's going to be me and Brandon getting the ball most of the time. Regardless of it's me in there, and they're handing off to me, or if Brandon is in there, we still have the same responsibilities.
Q: Is it important for you to be the starter?
A: That's what I play this game for. I've worked hard these first three years, going into my fourth year. I feel like I deserve it. Like I said, I take pride in it, and want to take advantage of it.
Q: What's your biggest concern with the Panthers?
A: Pass protection for running backs is a big thing with the Panthers. They like to show a blitz one way, and then come the other. You have to be on your p's with them.
Q: What will it be like in the new stadium?
A: I can't wait to see it, man.
Q: Has your relationship with Brandon been affected by this whole starting situation at all?
A: Not at all. We're still brothers, man. If he has a problem with the front office, it has nothing to do with me, which he has told me. Like I said, we're still brothers. We still have the same relationship.
Q: Do you understand why he's upset?
A: It's a business. Different people have different (perspectives) on it. Obviously, he has a different (perspective).
Q: Do you see yourself out there on third down?
A: Yes. It's something we're putting in. I've had that role for a while so I think that will be.
Q: Talk about facing two 1,000 yard rushers and what that does to motivate you?
A: It makes us as running backs work harder. We always want to be the best backfield on the field, on our side of the ball, every game. I think we'll work hard to be the best backfield on the field this week.
DE Osi Umenyiora
Q: Ready for the new season?
A: Yes, I think it's going to be an exciting season.
Q: Have your feelings changed at all from the beginning of the offseason? You put that behind you a while ago and you're ready?
A: I did that a while ago. It's just about football right now and I'm ready to beat Carolina.
Q: Does this feel like a grudge game for you at all?
A: Well, not really. The way we're looking at it is that it's the first game of the season. It's important to get off to a good start so hopefully we will go out there and play how we're willing to play.
Q: We know the General was out there, what did he say to the team and what did that mean to you guys?
A: He just talked about his experiences over in Iraq, and a lot of people try to compare a little bit the military and football, and the way it's run. Obviously, it's nowhere close to being the same thing, and we talked about that. He's a guy we have great respect and admiration for, and we're happy to see him out there.
Q: How many of Perry Fewell's schemes do you think we've seen so far?
A: That's something you're going to have to ask him. Whatever he calls, we're just going to have to go out there and run. He has a good plan and a good scheme, and we're happy about it.