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Giants return from bye with renewed focus and goals


*The Giants returned from the bye week with renewed focus on turning around the 2017 season: *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today returned to work after their four-day bye week break determined to focus on the season's final nine games and not their disappointing 1-6 start.

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"We need to flush the first half," coach Ben McAdoo said after a fast-paced one-hour practice. "We need to move onto the second half. It's important for us to get better as a football team, and the thing I asked of these guys is just take it one game at a time and one play at a time. Don't hold onto what we did the first half, but let's go out here and be the best team we can be in the second half of the season."

The Giants will return to action on Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Rams, who are 5-2 after winning four of their final five games prior to their bye. The second half will also feature home games against AFC West-leading Kansas City and all three NFC East opponents, a Thanksgiving night game in Washington, and three long road trips (San Francisco, Oakland and Arizona).

"One at a time," linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. "We got one and that was hard to get. It took us (six) weeks to do it. But wins are hard to come by. I heard that my rookie year (2009 in New Orleans) and we were 13-0 before we lost our first game. And then I've been a part of an 0-8 team (2013 in Tampa Bay). I understood the exact meaning of that term, wins are hard to come by in the league. It's just this year and we've been in there a couple times, and we're going to be in games. There's nine games left. Percentages are all nine of them are going to be close. If not, eight of them are. We have to figure out a way to win more of those than we lose. Hopefully, we can win most of them."

"We got a chip on our shoulder right now," safety Landon Collins said. "We're looking forward to it, we're looking forward to make a different comeback from this situation that we're in. A lot of guys came back from injuries and stuff like that, so that's a plus. Now we can see what we can do."

When the season began, the Giants were highly-touted, largely because they were an 11-5 playoff team in 2016. But they lost their first five games, including three in a row in which they held fourth-quarter leads. Last week at his annual bye week news conference, general manager Jerry Reese said, "You have to earn wins in this league and I think we bought into some of the hype of this is a good looking football team."

Today, McAdoo and several players were asked to comment publicly about those comments for the first time.

"We talked to the players about the first half before we left, and we were obviously humbled," McAdoo said. "One thing I wanted them to keep in mind is don't forget how badly you once wanted what you now have. It's a blessing to be here and to work with these guys each and every day. They had an opportunity to get away from it for a little bit and reflect on the first half of the season."

The players admitted the reflection was not pretty, but expressed determination to make it a lot better in the next two months.

"In the NFL the hungriest team is going to win," offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. "…Games come down to inches, games come down to one play, so whoever wants it more, those are the teams that come out and get those wins. Those are the teams that come out and win those close games. If hungry is the adjective that we want to use, for how we lost all of those close games this year and we won those same games last year, I can see where he (Reese) is coming from.

"It's still a sample size, we got to have the whole season to look back and see and I want to go out there and change that. Let's hope we go out there and have that passion that we need to win those close ones these next nine games. Who's the best team in the NFL right now? Philadelphia? 7-1? And we had them at their place. That's how close the NFL is. A 1-6 team, fourth quarter with two minutes to go – we're up seven points and then three points on who everyone wants to consider one of the best teams. So that's the disparity in the NFL. It's just one play. A 61-yard field goal and we're talking about a different story."

"Those good teams find a way to win those close games," Casillas said. "I feel like two years ago, 2015, I don't think we were a good team and I say that because we didn't make the playoffs. We went 6-10. We ended up losing some of those games. Last year, we were a good team. We got the turnover when we had to, the ball bounced our way a couple of times. We got those wins in the two-minute drill. The ball got completed later in the game. That's what good teams do. They find a way to win games. Bad teams find a way to lose games. I'm not calling us a bad team now, because it's still halfway through the season. But we have to be able to get away from where we're at right now. We're not in a good spot right now. I think our bye came at a great time, and I'm talking personally. Especially for my health. I'm trying to hit the ground running, and hopefully we get some more wins in that win column."

The Giants have given themselves a crystal clear objective for the final nine weeks. Now it's up to them to make it happen.

*McAdoo was asked how he and the assistant coaches spent the bye week.

"We wanted to take a look at different things," McAdoo said. "First thing was personnel. Wanted to make sure we were using our players the right way. Is there an opportunity moving forward for us to interject maybe some younger players or even some veteran players into different roles that we haven't been using them. But, personnel usage. Wanted to take a look at things schematically. The schemes that have been working, the things that haven't been working, and emphasizing what's been working for us and the things that haven't been working, either throw them out or is it a quick fix. Is it something we can fix over the second half of the year being smart with our time? Those are some of the things that we took a look at."

*Casillas missed the final two games prior to the bye with a neck injury, and is hopeful he will play against the Rams.

"It was something I had to be really cautious about and this week, I'm still going to be cautious about it," Casillas said. "Later in the week, if it doesn't feel great, I think we have a communication (understanding) here, me and (senior vice president of medical services) Ronnie Barnes, that's it's okay if I sit down for a while. Because it's not like it's a wrist or an ankle. It's a neck and it's not a first-time deal, either."

*Defensive end Olivier Vernon missed the last three games with an ankle injury, the first games he sat out in his six-year career.

"I felt good today, we'll see how I feel tomorrow," Vernon said.

*Pugh left the Giants' most recent game, Oct. 22 vs. Seattle, with a sore back.

"I feel better," Pugh said. "We're going to see how it goes this week. Just do whatever I can to get out there on Sunday."

*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who missed two games with an ankle injury, said of his playing against Los Angeles, "that's what I'm hoping. It felt pretty good. I got out there and did some individual routes, and I felt pretty good."

*Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple and running back Paul Perkins were excused from practice for personal reasons.

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