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Quotes (8/5): Coach Joe Judge on progress so far at training camp

Joe Judge spoke with reporters today in a video chat press conference. Here is what the Giants head coach had to say.

Q: You signed Nick Gates to some pretty big money over the weekend. Will Nick Gates be working at both tackle spots? What's the plan with him?

A: One of the strengths of Nick has been his flexibility. He's a guy that can factor into any of the five positions on the offensive line. The priority now is to give him a chance to compete for a starting position at any one of those five spots. As coaches, we have to do a good job of mapping out how we are going to allocate his snaps and his reps on the field between primarily center and tackle and give him a fair shot at both. We are going to work him day by day based on the priority for him. It will start shaking out once the pads come on.

Q: Nick has never played center, so what about his skillset lends itself to that position?

A: He's a guy that has good athletic ability, he's got length. He's definitely a smart player that we want to make sure we give him the opportunity to get inside and operate in that signal caller mode and play center. For him and Shane both, neither one of them has played center, so training is part of it right now. (Offensive line coach Marc) Colombo has to dedicate a little bit of extra time to those guys to make sure he is giving them some basics and building on what they know about the position.

Q: Speaking of basics, have you seen him snap the football yet?

A: We have. Between the walkthroughs we've had the last few nights, footballs are allowed to be on the field, obviously at a controlled tempo. Some basic drills we can operate and watch the QB-center exchanges. We've watched them all snap balls, and work with the quarterbacks. Of course, at this point, we are all sitting out there in our underwear, the real test comes when the pads come on.

Q: What does it mean to have Markus Golden back in the fold? You have a lot of young pass rushers, what does it mean to have him in the building to help those young guys?

A: I'm excited Markus is in the building with us. Obviously, this is the first time I have worked with him on a personal note. His reputation throughout the league is a very solid one. He was someone we wanted to have on the team, we are lucky it worked out the way it is. At this point right now, like all the other players, we are giving him a chance to acclimate and catch up with our systems and just get going and competing full speed.

Q: The last time we talked to you, you had a 90 man on the roster. It sounded like you were going to go that way. Is there a specific reason why you guys chose to go to 80?

A: Long story short, I think it was best for us to be able to evaluate everybody as a whole as they go through the progression. Ultimately, I wished we could have gone with 90 the entire way through like a traditional camp. That's not the rules that are in place right now. (The 90 man roster) presents some logistical issues for you both facilities wise, how you can map out coordinating different players working with each other. We wanted to make sure we gave everyone a chance to get out there on the field and really take a look at them at work. After a duration of time, we felt it was in the team's best interest to move to 80.

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

Q: When you do full walkthroughs, how much of it is the full team out there? Is it 22 guys, or do you supplement it by position? Give a sense of what those walkthroughs are looking like this early in camp?

A: They are really a slower version of practice. We start off in individual and we just group them with their position coaches. We want to work obviously at a much slower pace, a more controlled pace with the fundamentals that we're teaching to give them a chance to walkthrough at a slow pace. They get to go on the field the next day during our conditioning and agility periods and operate those drills at full speed. We get to teach them and they get to carry them out. We build some group time where we combine multiple position groups and get them work. Quarterbacks with receivers, maybe tight ends with tackles to talk about different block combinations. A great deal of this is being run on air (inaudible). They are lined up across from trash cans or maybe coaches posed as players to give a sense of a formation they can line up and make checks to. We do have a limited amount of team reps at the end just to get 22 on the field at the same time. Really the biggest emphasis on that is communication. We can't go at full tempo. We don't want to expose our players to injury or something they are not ready for. It's a teaching phase that we're in right now. Building the communication and the identification of being on the field and working with your teammates, we think it's valuable to put all 22 together. It doesn't look, tempo wise, like anything you would expect practice to look like. It really is a controlled walkthrough tempo to get guys moving and familiar with our schemes and systems and how practice will flow once we go full speed. 

Q: Given the roles some of these guys played last year, the addition of Kyler Fackrell, the addition of Carter Coughlin and some of the guys you drafted, do you anticipate expanding their roles? Do you anticipate focusing on one, two or three guys to build that core of the pass rush?

A: Even though we have a lot of guys in the same position group, they all have a different skill sets. So along with that, we have different packages we can build in based on who the opponent is that week. We talk a lot about doing more on the field. They have a skill set in rushing the passer, but they are not exclusively a pass rusher. These are guys that are going to play in the kicking game. These are guys that are going to factor into different run stopping units, different packages we put on to match the offense's personnel. Building depth at significant positions is something we have to do. There's going to be several of these guys that as we go we will see how it factors out at the outside backer position. Maybe some of those guys will get shifted to the inside and we'll see how they fare at the inside position as well to build our depth on the roster. At this point we are going to give them a chance to get their feet wet at the outside backer position. We are not limited to what we can do. We want to make sure we find out what every player can do well. Then we will put them on the field in a position to execute.  

Q: What are looking for Daniel Jones to improve upon this season? Where have you focused on him working both in the spring and the summer?

A: I think the biggest thing he can work on right now is just being out there with the team. Calling a play in the huddle, breaking the huddle, getting to the line, identifying the defensive front, making any checks at the line of scrimmage and then executing a cadence that everyone can work off of. Things that may seem so small are the fundamentals he has to start every successful play with. The biggest thing he can do is just to be in a groove with the team and hear his voice. Along Colt, Cooper and Alex, it's very important for everyone to hear our quarterbacks' cadences. They are all unique in their own way. We have to make sure they get used to hearing the play called in the huddle and get used to hearing the cadence at the line of scrimmage. This time right here, the most exposure our players are getting as far as working at a whole tempo with each other is in our on-field conditioning periods. We are allowed to use footballs in some of those periods, as far as agilities it allows you to run some routes on air. Building in the timing with his teammates is good. Remember, it's a new year for everybody. It's a new year for Daniel and the receivers. The have to get some chemistry established and built whether they were together last year or a new guy on the roster, that's important for everyone to understand. We are starting completely over right now, and we have to start from ground zero. I'd say with the quarterback, there is never just one thing. All of our players are looking for total improvement as a player. With a quarterback, it's all a mental game. It's really the grasping and the understanding. If it was somebody's second year in the offense, you would want to see their command of the offense on the field. For Daniel, we have to be fair. It's a new offense, a new system we have schemed for him. He's had a limited amount of walkthroughs of actually being on the field to do this. At this point, I am just looking to see his progress day by day and not looking to compare him to where he was last year. 

Q: Is the process of him calling plays different than last year?

A: I don't think it's terribly different. Obviously, there's a unique communication set. He has Jason (Garrett) calling plays in his ear now, then he has to call a huddle, he has 10 guys looking at him and they have to hear it a different way. The difference in the language always ties into how you can say it and present it to the team. You want to say it in certain rhythm so they get used to hearing everything from the personnel, to the formation, to the protection, the play call and then what the cadence is going to be before they break the huddle. While that sounds very simple, this year will be a little different but imagine doing it in front of 85,000 people screaming in your ear as you're doing it. It's important for the other 10 guys in the huddle to understand how he presents the play and how he breaks up the phrases so it all works and runs together. It's important in a huddle that everyone understands not every word speaks to me. You have to decipher and pick which direct words speak to you on each play and tells you what your assignment is. It's important that he develops that cadence in the huddle of how he presents those plays. In terms of how he did it last year, I wasn't here. I would say the generalities of receiving a play and giving a play, that's obviously right there something he has experience with. 

Q: Now that you have had some time to look at your defensive line and edge rushers. How do you feel about this group's ability to get home with four pass rushers? Is this a situation where you might have to get creative with blitzes? How big of an emphasis do you put on sacks versus getting pressure and flushing the quarterback out of the pocket?

A: I think I am going to work backwards on an answer in terms of sacks versus pressure on quarterbacks. I think pressure is the number one thing you have to think about in terms of applying pressure on your opponent, forcing the quarterback into a bad situation. Would you love to get a sack every time? Absolutely. There's a reason in the National Football League the all-time record isn't 50 per year, they are tough to come by. The ultimate thing is making the quarterback operate faster than they want to and making decisions quicker than they absolutely want to. In terms of are we going to have four rushers, are we going to have multiple rushers. We are never going to cap ourselves with creativity. That's something that Pat (Graham) and his staff are looking at. Every opponent is unique and different. To a man every one of our defensive linemen have come in here physically at a position to train. There's a difference between being in shape and training. Being in shape, all of us can go to a 24-hour Fitness and get on a treadmill and think we're all in shape. To train your body to go out on a field for 60 minutes and play that high volume and high intensity, you have to start out your body in a certain amount of shape. As I saw the defensive linemen walking in, even though it was the first time meeting them in person, you see tape on these guys, you have seen a number of pictures, you know what their body used to look like. When they walked in, it was evident all of them had worked to put themselves into the shape where they can start training for football. I'm very pleased with the urgency and I am very pleased with how they are working together right now. How they are working together game by game will decide whether it's four or multiple guys. That will change by situation as well.

Q: What made Chandler Catanzaro the right kicker out of retirement. I'm sure you saw there was some speculation you would go with someone you know like Gostkowski or Nick Folk. When the ramp up period is over and practices start, do you expect Leonard Williams to be out there?

A: I am going to give him the opportunity day by day. He's working with our trainers, he is doing everything he possibly can to get on the field as fast as possible. We know he is doing all the right things. I'm not a doctor, when they tell me he is cleared to go, we'll go ahead and activate him. In terms of Chandler, he is in here to compete for a job like everybody else. I have some experience in the league with Chandler, I have gone against him. It's a small league, there are 32 kickers per week on rosters, you know who is out there. He has had some very good seasons, he's had some very good seasons in this stadium. Chandler is someone who I have known about for a long time going back to when he came out of Clemson. We're excited to have him here. He has an opportunity to go on the field and demonstrate what he his capable of doing. In terms of retirement, that was something that once he decided he wanted to make a comeback, we were notified he was off the retirement list. He was somebody we had talked about and we thought he was a good fit to get going. 

Q: You were in New England and that is a place known for being one step ahead. How important is it for you and the team to be one step ahead?

A: Obviously we all have a past place, every coach, every player. It's important that we learn from other places in anything we have done. (Inaudible). It's only about the New York Giants right now. In terms of being one step ahead, I think everyone in this league is looking for that competitive advantage of being one step ahead. We are always trying to make moves for our team to try to look ahead in terms of situations and scenarios that may arise. We are always thinking about our total team depth. We are thinking about our 53, our practice squad and beyond that. This year has more flexibility than in the past, so it really almost expands your roster right there. It's important for us to evaluate our players correctly and then know who is on the street or on other rosters and evaluate them correctly. If they become available in some way, shape or form, we can make the right decisions. In terms of how we use players, to be honest with you, I think the whole thing with being a step ahead is just from the beginning identifying what they do well and giving them an opportunity to play in multiple spots. When the time comes and they have to use different skill sets, they are ready to go. That's how we want to train our players in the beginning, make sure they have exposure to all our different positions that they fit into. Scheme the calls so they can operate faster when the time arises. 

Q: Do you try to parlay that into the front office? That they need to be really sharp?

A: Since I have been here, we have great synergy in the building. We have a very good working relationship across all aspects. Personnel, coaching, support staff, we are making sure we are all on the same message going forward. We talk on a daily basis about personnel. We talk on a daily basis about what's going on in the rest of the league, whether it's the waiver wire or maybe different calls that have come our way. It's a natural part of the NFL. There's a lot of talk of personnel, especially this time of the year. We have a great working relationship. I'm very pleased with how it's going. We have the same vision for how we want to take this team and how we want to make it up, how we want to build it. We are at a point right now where we want to focus on training the guys we have on the roster. What that includes in being a part of the National Football League is we have to be aware of what's going on outside your roster at all times. 

Q: Peter King wrote the other day that the Saints are sequestering their full staff and players. It's not mandatory for the staff but they are encouraging it. Did you guys talk about that idea? Having people not go home to their families for camp or are you prepared to pivot to that if that's what the league goes to?

A: I read the same articles about the pseudo bubbles some teams are trying to create. To be honest with you, if it's not completely isolated like the NBA and NHL, then it's not a bubble. It's really just a way of having training camp and trying to stay isolated. If it was a non-covid year, we would be trying to keep the team as isolated as best we can just to keep the focus on what we are doing and build that training camp atmosphere that we haven't had. I'm not mandating any coaches stay in the team hotel. Obviously by the league rules, no player is mandated to stay in the team hotel. Our players either opted in or opted out of the hotel stay. The ones that are in the hotel have a curfew. We have expressed to the ones on the outside that they have to make the right decisions when they are on the outside in terms of how they structure their nights. I'd say the biggest message I have for everybody, whether it's the coaches, the support staff, the players, it's not about being in a bubble. It's about making the right decisions when you are away from the building to make sure we don't bring something into the building. Again, I said this last time, it's not my right to go out and get something to eat and I might put myself in an  atmosphere where I might bring something back to the team and it costs them an opportunity. That's not my right, I'm not entitled to do that. We have to all understand that our decisions impact each other. We are all in training camp, there's 32 teams right now, everyone is working to the same goal. No one within this building is entitled to cut short our team's pursuit of that goal by making a selfish decision away from this building. The NFL has released some guidelines for players in terms of where they can go. As coaches, we have to be smart about that. There are other teams out there that have hotels. We have a hotel, too, we have multiple floors on the hotel rented out for our players and coaches should they choose to stay there. We have people on this team, players and coaches that have wives and children. Everyone is going home to see their wives and children. I want to see mine as much as I can. The reality is, there are sacrifices we are going to have to make this year. We have to be determined individually. If that means I have to spend less time or make sure I don't surround myself with other loved ones who aren't going by the same guidelines that I am operating on a daily basis, then that's a sacrifice we have to make. That's not easy. Let's be realistic, you have guys on oil tankers, you have soldiers overseas making a lot less money who don't see their families either at times. I'm not suggesting people don't see their families, I am suggesting that everybody on a team and away from the team has to make decisions responsibly to account for the sacrifice of being a part of the National Football League this year. That's just the reality and we have to all understand that. The challenge is going to be real. 

Q: What are you seeing from your team as far as morale, as far as energy, in terms of attitude at this point?

A: I see a lot of energy in coming in and improving on a daily basis and that's increased from Day 1. It's day by day. We've got to stack them together, I say that every day. I see that with our guys every meeting, every walkthrough, every session. That's all I can ask for from them right now. There's an urgency to improve, there's an urgency to learn. We have a lot of guys reaching out to coaches on their own for help. We have players in meeting rooms doing extra. You can see the things you want to go ahead and breathe into your culture coming together already. That's important and that has to sustain over the test of time. A few days together doesn't solve all our problems. As far as a starting point, I am very pleased with where we are going. We just have to be diligent with the day by day process of coming in with good energy, being attentive, and making sure we learn and then can execute at an improving level on a daily basis.

View photos of the Giants on the practice fields at training camp.

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