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Inside the Giants Locker Room


**Head Coach Tom Coughlin

Q: How did Osi look in practice today?**A: He did good. He did a little bit more, felt better, felt good, moved around well.

Q: Are you optimistic that he'll play on Sunday?A: We'll see.

Q: Did Hakeem do more?A: Hakeem didn't practice.

Q: At all?A: No.

Q: How about Mario?A: Yeah, he worked. He was limited, but he worked.

Q: How did he look?A: Fast.

Q: Ballard didn't run outside?A: No, they didn't think they could do it.

Re: ability to come back in the fourth quarterA: With the score of the game and whether it's our prepared two-minute approach, it depends on how far you're down and when you start it. It's all a prepared, thought out process which also has to take advantage of whatever adjustments they've made throughout the game. We go with that.

Q: Why have you been so successful in the fourth quarter?A: We've emphasized it since day one. We were doing it in training camp. We're doing it all through the year. The opportunities come. In most cases we've been pretty successful with it. It certainly has been a plus, but we're continuing to stress it because in the games that we haven't won, we either haven't gotten in that situation or haven't quite gotten it done.

Q: Do you think there are certain players that perform better under pressure?A: I don't know. I certainly think that we've all been led to believe that some guys, whether it is a focus or whether it's just an ability, when that situation arises they do well in it. Whether they're better at that time than any other time, I couldn't tell you that, but there are guys who over the years and the history of the league have certainly performed very well in those late stages of the games. I'm talking more about quarterbacks.

Q: With Eli, what changes in the fourth quarter?A: The execution. The consistency. His ability to make plays whether he's moving, whether he's had to do something to adjust, whether he's changed the protection, whether he's changed the pattern. Whatever he's done, he's done it having fully thought it out and reacted well to it and then just executed and made it happen.

Re: Tony Romo.A: He's dangerous because he extends the play. You can't allow him to do that. When he does extend it, as he did a couple of times on us in Dallas, he makes big plays. He's probably not running as much as he once did, but he is running enough to get the ball down the field. He sees things very well. You just have to do something about trying to force him to step up in there rather than get to the outside. He can get to the outside to his left as well as to his right.

Re: Osi Umenyiora.A: You have to understand that you have to see what happens daily in terms of how he feels and where he's at and that type of thing. If he continues to progress, we'll look forward to it. I'm saying that it will, but I'm not going to predict that.

Q: You said that there was a chance that Jake Ballard was going to run and then they decided…A: I said that [the trainers] initially thought about running him. He ran hard yesterday, did a lot yesterday. They didn't want to do that again today. He wasn't ready to do that today.

Q: Are you doing anything differently because a tie is good enough to win the division?A: No, not really. That's in the back of your mind, but you're playing to win.

Q: At this stage in the week what are you looking to see?A: The buildup that comes with moving from early week to the end of the week, having gone through the majority of situations. Seeing the energy level and the passion and the intensity rise up and in some ways, see them a little short with each other once in a while. So you know they're ready to go.

**Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride

Q: What is clutch? **A: I wish I had an answer for that. I would say the good thing is that when it gets down to those critical situations, certain groups and certain people manage to tighten in their focus even more. Some guys, some groups and some teams get overwhelmed by it. Fortunately for us, that hasn't been the case. I think the opposite has happened. We actually get more focused, more zoomed in and have responded more consistently with more big plays in those situations than we do throughout the course of the game.

Q: Have you noticed your players feeding off of Eli?A: I think having your quarterback that is obviously not a nerve bite is certainly beneficial. I don't think there is any question about that. He is the unspoken leader out there, you have 10 guys looking at one guy so that guy that they are looking at, it is imperative that he has poise and belief that we are going to get this thing done. I think the fact that we have experienced some success, everybody feeds into that. There is no sense of panic or that we can't get this thing done. The few times that we haven't, it has not been because we didn't move the ball, it has been a turnover here or a slip here or a tackle from behind there but in both those cases, we were moving down to score again.

Q: How concerned are you about the fact that Jake Ballard may not play?A: It is a big concern because obviously Jake had worked his way into being a very important part of the puzzle. In the game in Dallas he was huge and as the game went on at the end and that last drive, they started using a technique that I hadn't seen until I happened to be watching television and saw Romeo Crennel do it in Kansas City and all of a sudden they were doing it. They were punting two guys in like a punt coverage against Victor and we couldn't win with Victor so we had to win somewhere else. There were a couple things you could do but one of the things and easy solution was to see if Jake could win and he made a huge play for us and got it right down to the one-yard line. It is a concern obviously. You wish Jake was there and could play but we have been fortunate this year that when guys have been hurt, people stepped up and filled in and have done a good job for us. We are looking forward to seeing what Travis can do. When he has been healthy, he has made some plays and hopefully he or Bear will do it.

Q: How much upside does Victor have?A: I have jokingly said that he giveth and taketh away on a play-to-play basis. In all honesty, he has grown over the last three or four weeks. There haven't been any mistakes and he has made some terrific reads. It is really impressive to me to see the growth that has taken place. What I think is that there will be fewer and fewer mistakes as the year goes on providing that he stays healthy and everything else becomes faster. I don't see any reason why he won't continue to get better and better.

Q: Did his journey cause him to take so long to come along?A: Where he was at, they threw the ball a lot and there is a lot of terrific coaches at the 1AA level. He at least had a background that he could reference and I think those things helped. When you are in that inside position and that is where we needed somebody to be, there is a lot going on. It is so much easier outside because you have a corner and if the corner goes deep or roles up and the safety is over the top, that is it, but inside you have somebody over your head, you have a linebacker, a safety and the other safety across, you have so many more variables in the equation of you making the final decision it is hard to make that position. He has struggled but I just have seen so many fewer mistakes. He has really reduced the number of errors he makes and he is making a lot of good decisions and you saw the great plays. Even on the ones where he reads it right and his decision was right. He is doing the right things and I am really proud of him and what has taken place because I don't know how fair it was to expect so much. We always knew we had a guy that we knew could do it but you never know if they are going to do it. He looked like he had the quickness and he had the ability to make some tough catches that he had shown in the preseason. He had the body type to withstand some of the hits that he was going to be taking inside but you never know. For example, the run after the catch, I was looking for a first down and we had a good call and made the first down but all of a sudden he goes for a touchdown so what was an 11 yard gain turned into a huge play.


RE: Sunday night's game? **A: Cowboys-Giants for it all, you couldn't ask for a better situation. They are a good football team and we played them already this year. It was one hell of a football game that went down to the wire. We had a blocked field goal that ended up winning the game for us. You know it is going to be a dog fight again.

Q: What are your emotions going to be like this Sunday?A: When I come into a game like this, I am thinking about what is at stake. I don't too much focus on the team that we are playing, I am thinking about what is at stake and we have to get it done. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it and they think the same. It is going to be a lot of people out there rooting us on and the stadium should be crazy. That is what we are hoping and that the fans are loud and on their feet and guys are out running around and hitting hard, playing football.

Q: What does Osi coming back add to this team?A: It is going to add a lot to our defense. Osi is a guy that we missed a lot this year, not taking away anything from the guys in there because, of course, the guys in there have done a great job. Jason has done an outstanding job all year long. He is a Pro Bowler and you can't ask for more of a hardworking, humble person that he has been to our team.

Q: How aware are you of what you bring to the team's emotion and energy?A: I am very aware and I know what it is. I talk to these guys in the locker room all the time and guys outside the locker room that have been in this locker room and that is what we talk about. I have to do something spectacular for the team to get them up on their feet and get guys with a spark in them and the fans up, we will be alright. That is my goal and I take care of business after that.

Q: Why was the running game able to pick up in the second half of the game last week?A: Nothing really changed. We ran the same way and guys were getting off and pushing some people back off the ball and we got a few good long runs.

Q: Does the talk from three weeks ago still linger?A: Yes, it does linger, no question about it. Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants does linger year in and year out. Three weeks don't matter. It goes for years so it is going to be like that. Those guys know what they are playing for and we know what we are playing for and we are going to come in here and give it the best shot that we can and leave it all on the field.

Q: Is it special that you are playing Dallas in this situation?A: No question about it. It could not be a better situation if you ask me. They are a good football team and their defense is good. Their offense scores a lot of points, they have some dangerous weapons on their team so you definitely have to watch for them. It is going to be a great game. This is what you live and die for if you are a football player, a situation like this and having everything on your back.

Q: Does it seem like it has been a very long time since this team has been in the playoffs?A: It does seem like a very long time. When I first came in, I was in the playoffs every year except for two years ago and then the year after that we didn't go so it has been a very long time for this organization that has not shown that New York logo in the playoffs. That is what we are striving for and what we need to get.

DE OSI UMENYIORAQ: How encouraged are you from what you have seen so far this week in practice?A: We will just wait and see and everything will be up to Coach Coughlin. It is going to be all his decision so if he needs me to play and wants me to play, I feel like I may be able to. We will wait and see.

Q: What is the medical staff saying?A: Nobody is really saying much of anything. We are just going to wait and see how everything is going and how it responds to the work that I got and go from there.

Q: If it was your decision, would you play?A: Of course, there is no question that I want to be out there but it is not my decision, it is going to be up to them.

Q: What would you say the likelihood is of you playing?A: I have to leave that up to the coaches and medical staff. I don't know but hopefully I will be able to go out there and play.

Q: How do you feel so far in practice?A: I feel alright. It was a high ankle sprain and those are really hard to recover from. I feel like I have had enough time to let it heal and hopefully I will be able to play.

Q: What are you looking to see from yourself?A: It is always explosiveness because my whole thing is my first step and my explosiveness. I have to have that and the past couple weeks I didn't have it. It is coming around now.

Q: Do you think they could limit you to one side or can you play both?A:  I haven't played the left side since 2004 so if they need me to play the left side, that is exactly what I will do.

Q: How is your speed?A: That is what I hang my hat on and I constantly work on that and I think that I still have it.

Q: How much are you just looking forward to getting back out there?A: I am anxious. I miss my teammates. I miss being out there on the football field. Every time I am out there I enjoy myself and I love playing. I have missed it and I am anxious to get back out there whenever it is time.

Q: How does it feel to know it could possibly happen this week?A: It is exciting and I am just happy and anxious to get out there. I have watched my guys go out there and play outstanding football and hopefully, I can come and add to that.

Q: What are you going to do the next few days to get better?A: Just keep practicing. We have another day of practice tomorrow and another day after that. I am just going to keep on working and working on my agility and see how it goes on Sunday.


Q: What have you seen from Osi so far this week?A: I think he needs another week?

Q: Are you kidding?A: Only Osi knows his body, but I don't think he's 'Old Osi' yet. But he wants to play.

Q: Are you guys ready to go?A: No, but we don't have to be ready to go yet. We don't play until Sunday night.

Q: Are you being serious that Osi shouldn't…A: I just wanted to give you all something to talk about. That's all.

Q: What can he do?A: You'd have to ask Osi what he can do.

Q: What do you think he can do?A: I don't know. I guess we'll find out in the game.

Q: Do you think what you did last week in overcoming injuries inspired Osi to play?A: No, I don't. I just feel as though a high ankle sprain is something you don't really want to play with until it's ready. I think it's feeling a little better and he wanted to give it a go.

Q: How long does it seem to you since you've been in the playoffs?A: It seems like years, which it is years, but it seems like a lot longer than it actually has been.

Q: Is that a driving force to win this game?A: I would hope so. Obviously that's why we play, to get an opportunity to play for the Super Bowl. To have that opportunity, you have to make the playoffs.

Q: With Osi back, is there an added fire that we'll see?A: I hope so. I keep telling y'all I can't tell the future. We'll see what happens on Sunday. It is encouraging to have all of us playing or appear to be playing.

Q: What did Romo do the last time you faced him? What stands out?A: He had a big game. It stands out that he was a good quarterback before we played him and he was a good quarterback when we played him. I don't think he did anything different from what he's been known to do. He made the throws that were there and in some cases he created when they weren't. That's what we expect from him and that's one of the reasons why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Q: How can you contain him?A: By containing him. That's the best way to contain him. He has a knack of knowing where the holes are. You send guys to the left and try to bait him to the right, he steps up to the middle. You just can't get caught up in thinking about containing him. You just have to rush like you normally rush and let our instincts take over. When you start thinking too much you get rocked.

Q: These last weeks, can they turn a bad season into a good one for you?A: Sure they can. Obviously most of the time in this league it's all about what have you done for me lately. Hopefully I can have a good end to the year.

Q: It looked like your energy and efforts were a spark for the team.A: A lot of people told me that, but you just try your best to be humble about it and the gifts God has given to you to play this game. That's all I try to go out there and be. I don't get caught up in putting my foot in things. Whether it's true or not, just go out there and try to give your all and lay it on the line and be all in. Somehow or another it seems like things work out for the best when you do that.

Q: How frustrating is it to not be able to play the way you were playing?A: It's frustrating. I think I let the frustration get to me earlier in the year, but at this point it is what it is. Like I said, just go out there and give what you have. If you are 100 per cent, give 100 per cent. If you're 70, give 70. Nobody is making any excuses for us. At this time of the year everybody is kind of banged up.

Q: Do you feel fortunate that you got mentally right at this time of the year?A: Definitely. We lost four in a row and still owned our own destiny. In this league, that's fortunate. We know we are fortunate to have the opportunity we have and we're just trying to take advantage of it.

Q: Is 80 snaps too much?A: No. Not at this time of year. At this time of the year what are you saving for? You don't have too much to save it for. You can save it and go home.

Q: But Osi's presence could take that number down?A: That's the ideal, but again, if we have 90/100 snaps this week then we have to do it.

Q: What do you think when people react the way they do when you say you hate the cowboys?A: I'm very amused by it. What am I supposed to say? I love the Cowboys? According to D Ware I wish I played for them. C'mon man. You all ask questions that have obvious answers to them and when I give the obvious answers people look at you like you're crazy. That reminds me of the Eli 'elite' question. What is he supposed to say? I suck or I'm not in the category of the best quarterbacks in the league?

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