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Quotes: Coach Joe Judge, OT Andrew Thomas, DL Leonard Williams

Head Coach Joe Judge

Opening Statement:We'll continue the progression today. A little bit more tempo down for us today being the fourth day. This is the same schedule we used throughout the week for the Kansas City week. Worked out well for us in terms of having the guys fresh and ready to go. We fly down, obviously, tomorrow, but today we'll kind of spit shot some things up and go through some adjustments and corrections as a team.

Q: (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan), where are we with him?

A: As of right now, we placed him on COVID/(Reserve). I'd say when you're on that, obviously you can't play. Is there a small chance that he could still test out and be available? There is. We're preparing for all the situations of him not being available, as well as if he turns around for the last minute and he is. We'll prepare for that, as well.

Q: Does that include a standby ticket to Tampa on Monday morning?

A: It would. It absolutely would. So, if he clears as late as Monday morning, we'll get him down there and have him ready to play.

Q: So, all he has to do is test twice negative in a 24-hour span?

A: He needs two negative tests, two consecutive negative tests, within a span of 24 apart. 

Q: So that would go through all of next week too, right? Talking about the Eagles game.

A: That would, yes. The testing would continue all the way through next week, as well.

Q: Is he asymptomatic?

A: I'm not going to go into specifics of any player's illness just so I don't have to sit here and break it down for each guy individually. Obviously, if there were symptoms for any player, I'd put him in a different category. 

Q: The impact if Logan can't play – I know next man up, but he does stuff that isn't just the way he plays between the snaps, but all the disguising on (Buccaneers Quarterback Tom) Brady. What's the impact? Can (Safety) Julian (Love) duplicate that?

A: Yeah, absolutely. That's what we work on between Jules and (Safety) Zay (Xavier McKinney) and those guys right now, (Defensive Back) J.R. (Reed) and different guys playing the safety position for us. They prepare every day for that. Again, we talk all the time about we don't want to lose any of our players, however, if we do, we have to prepare for the next man to step up and execute accordingly. These guys prepare hard. Jules, Zay, J.R., all the DBs have been getting together a little bit extra, working on communication and making sure we're on the same page. Had a good day of practice yesterday. We'll go out here today, have some teaching periods built in, as well as correction periods, making sure we iron out anything we had issues with.

Q: Is Logan still working virtually with the room?

A: He's been in virtual meetings and then, obviously, he can't be out here with us at the facility. 

Q: Are you planning to activate (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas)?

A: We're going to see how he comes through and see how it looks right here. I'd say yesterday was a good day for him. We're going to see how he comes out today and really how the next couple of days go. We do have more of a window here right now to see where he's at. I'd say the next 48 hours will be big not just in seeing how he came out of yesterday's practice, but also how his body is recovering and how we think he's going to be able to go out there and repeat and sustain for a duration of time on Monday night. Seeing how his body reacts from the last couple of days will be big for us the next couple of days. 

Q: What are your expectations for (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley)? Is there a possibility of him playing on Monday?

A: He's actually in the same boat as Andrew in terms of having a good week of practice, trending the right way and really progressing for us. The next 48 hours will be big in terms of seeing how his body responds and what we think it will look like for Monday night.

Q: If I'm not mistaken, (Linebacker) Trent Harris is out of elevations, so will you guys sign him to the roster? He's had a pretty big gameday role.

A: There's a possibility. We have a number of guys and we have some open roster spots right now. There are a number of guys who have made some contributions for us at different positions from the practice squad, so we're evaluating a lot of things based on different players' health at different positions and we'll make those final decisions. Being a Monday night game gives you some more flex time to go up to Monday to make those.

Q: You've carried fewer than 53 guys the last couple of weeks. Is that cap related, saving a few bucks there? What's the reason for not filling all 53?

A: A lot of times there's just the opportunity to flex guys back up, in terms of can we get them off a window. Other times, we've had more opportunity to flex guys up off the practice squad, so it's not a necessity necessarily to put somebody on the roster. There have been different reasons for all of them.

Q: Is (Linebacker) Lorenzo (Carter) back in the building yet?

A: He's not. He is not. We're checking on him in terms of how he's feeling today and see where that progresses to. 

Q: So, no Lorenzo, maybe no Trent Harris. Is (Linebacker) Elerson (Smith) ready? He played special teams. Is he ready to contribute at outside linebacker?

A: He's been working hard and making progress. We're pleased with the way he's working and getting out there. Obviously, there's some guys that are a little bit older and more experienced, but we do like the way he's progressing now. It's unfortunate this guy missed a significant amount of time and didn't go through training camp. He missed the first part of the season being with the team, but in the last few weeks being out there – I think last week was really big for him in those couple of practices we had with the younger guys getting some extra coaching, extra technique and some extra competitive situations. We've seen him grow in just that short period of time. We'll see how it progresses going into Monday night.

Q: Do you have any stories of what it was like being behind the scenes with (Buccaneers Tight End) Rob Gronkowski for such a long time? He has such a unique personality and I'm sure you interacted with him quite a bit.

A: Yeah, actually, I've got a lot of stories. I'm not going to share a lot of them. I think the thing about Rob that kind of goes unnoticed is this guy is really an extremely hard worker and he really does prepare the right way. The way that this guy takes care of his body, the way he prepares on the field. I know there was a lot made earlier this year, someone commented about watching tape. I know Rob is prepared for games, I've been in there with him. This guy does study, this guy does prepare, he does work. He's a great teammate, he's a great teammate. Everyone's got their side that they can let their hair down a little bit. I think the thing that people miss on Rob is when he walks in the door how much business it really is. He really comes to work every day. A lot of fun with Rob, a lot of great memories with him. I wish him the best of luck, but we've got to compete against him this week.

Q: You're obviously expecting him to play and if he does, how much does he change the look of their offense?

A: I think we have to anticipate the possibility based on him practicing this week with the team and being a full participant the last couple of days. That's something we have to look at as coaches and say, 'Okay, what's it going to do? How is it going to alter?' Then, the first thing you start with with a guy like Rob is situationally, where is it going to impact the offense? How are they going to use him in the red area? How are they going to use him on the third down? How is he going to be a factor in two-minute? What do we think they're going to do with this guy maybe coming off injury different than earlier in the season when he was healthy. We have to factor in all those things right there, but I'd say this in terms of his relationship with the quarterback down there, it's obviously very unique. There's a lot of experience between those two. They've made a lot of big plays throughout the years. It's obviously when you've got that kind of relationship with a receiver, you can expect in critical moments to see those guys be targets.

Q: We've seen (Center) Nick Gates in the building a little bit. He's been out of sight, out of mind for a little. How is he doing? You had a pretty dire forecast for him last time we spoke to you about him. Have you seen any improvement or is it too soon to know what his future holds?

A: I know he's working hard to do everything the doctors and medical staff ask of him. He's really started getting back into the meetings with us and for a while, he was really limited in how much he could be around in the building, around other players, things of that nature while he was healing up. He's at a point now where he comes in, he's got his rehab schedule obviously with the trainers, but then also throughout the day he's in our squad meetings, he's in the offensive install meetings, he's active with the offensive line and going through the mental and the communication. I'd say whether it's Nick, (Safety Jabrill Peppers) Pep – Pep just had his surgery – (Linebacker) Blake Martinez. These guys who are critical parts for us – (Guard) Shane Lemieux, he's another guy that's in that mix, too – these are really big-time leaders for us. These are guys that are foundational pieces for us in this program and these are guys that have done a good job on the field for us, but the thing that you don't always see is how involved and connected they stay off the field. We had a captains' meeting this morning. I actually brought in a bigger group today of different guys from different leadership aspects of the team and talked to them, and there were (Defensive Back) Nate Ebner and Blake sitting right there in the first two seats. You see those two guys right there and when they're full go, there is obviously on and off the field impact. When they're not full go, then these are guys that still have an impact throughout the locker room in terms of staying engaged and keeping guys moving mentally, and also keeping guys on the right track in terms of how we're thinking as a team. These guys have done a great job for us. Having Nick in the meeting rooms, you always notice the eyes looking back at you. Nick's got a very distinct look on his face when you're talking. He's a guy that wears his emotions on his sleeves, so you can see as you're talking, you can tell right away how receptive he is, how in tune he is with different things. It's always positive having Nick in the meeting room. 

Q: When (Wide Receiver) Dante Pettis went to get surgery in the bye week, what exactly did he have and is there a chance he comes back this year?

A: It looks like he won't be returning this year. It was his shoulder. I'm not going to go into all the specifics of that stuff in terms of what it was. I'd say Dante is a guy that worked extremely hard for us, made some impact for us. It was a shame to lose him. He's in there rehabbing right now and getting healthy. I think the biggest thing for him and in the future is get healthy and be ready to contribute and compete for us, as well.

Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas

Q: We were only out there for the start, what offensive lineman's got the best hands?

A: I'd say it's up for debate, but today (Offensive Lineman) Wes (Martin) had the best catch. He had a one-handed catch on a pat and go that was pretty cool.

Q: (Offensive Lineman) Isaiah (Wilson) had a one-handed one, too.

A: He did too, yeah.

Q: You're probably the only one who's got a catch in the game though, so you've got over them?

A: Exactly. I hold that over their heads a little bit (laughs) 

Q: How are you feeling?

A: Pretty good. I had a longer week. We play on Monday night, so coming off the bye I got some time to get some reps in and I'm feeling pretty good. 

Q: Anything that in your mind would keep you from playing at this point?

A: Nothing right now in my mind. Just taking it one day at a time, doing what the trainers tell me to and just trusting myself.

Q: How frustrating is it to get hurt? I mean, anytime it's frustrating, but when you're playing at a level that felt like a breakthrough?

A: Obviously, when you're building, you don't want to be off the field. We work a lot in the offseason to be on the field, to play with our teammates, so it's never a fun time to be off the field. But I'm just doing everything I can to get back out there.

Q: How confident are you that when you get back out there, you'll be the – I'll say it – dominant guy that you were the first five weeks?

A: That's the focus that any time I'm on the field, I'm dominating, I'm doing everything I can. That just comes with watching film, understanding my technique, and making sure I don't lose anything on the field with the reps I've gotten this week. Just making sure I get my technique back. 

Q: Have you spoken to anybody who's had experience with this in terms of keys to sort of picking up where you left off?

A: Not necessarily, but they've kept me very involved in the process as far as meetings and stuff like that, so I'm always in tune to what's going on. Any calls, any checks, I know what's going on.

Q: What's been the focus for you? Has it been the foot? Has it been the ankle? I know there's each one, right? Have you been working on one more than the other? How's that kind of been?

A: Not really, it's a little bit of both. Just managing both, trying to do what I can. It depends on the day and how they feel, so just doing what I can to make sure I'm ready to play.

Q: How much tougher is that? If you just have one side you can kind of focus on it, but you have both.

A: Yeah, it's not easy, but it puts a lot of emphasis on my technique. Plays that I might not be able to make athletically, if I have the right technique, I'll be in the right position, so that's what I'm trying to do.

Q: That play you got hurt against the Rams, it was just kind of a freak thing, right? You got rolled up on from behind.

A: Yeah, I just got rolled up. It was an inside zone play. It was just football. That's how it works sometimes, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Q: Did you know that it was like probably going to be a multi-week thing when it happened? Did it feel pretty bad?

A: I've gotten rolled up a few times in my career. It's always a scary thing. But once I walked off, I knew I would be okay. 

Q: What did you think of the job (Tackle) Matt (Peart) did?

A: Matt did a great job. I commend him and (Tackle) Nate (Solder) being able to switch from left and right like that is not an easy thing to do. So, I commend him definitely for doing that.

Q: Even when you were playing, before you got rolled up on, you were really playing through something. You could tell that even when you walked, you could see it a little bit. How much better are you feeling now than you were at that point when you were just dealing with the one? I guess it was a foot bruise, right?

A: I'm feeling good. Obviously, I got some time off with the bye week and everything being on IR. Just working every day to get back to 100 percent.

Q: When you find yourself with as much time as you had away from the field, I know you got a lot of treatment, but you've always been a guy who's broken down yourself and looked at your technique. Did you get a chance to look at some of the things that had gotten you to that point?

A: Yeah, we did some self-scout. The biggest thing for me just this season in the run game was working on my double teams, getting a better fit, more movement in the run game. In the pass game, just being consistent when using independent hands. Sometimes I've used two hands to just working independent hands first. It stops some of the rushes from some of the guys.

Q: Do you ever play the game of looking back at what you were last year compared to what you put on film the first half of this year?

A: Yeah, before the season started obviously, I went back and watched the film – things that I did well, things that I need to improve on. Obviously, the goal is always to get better, so I think I've been doing that. 

Q: Do you recognize the player you were last year versus what you've put on film this year?

A: I do recognize. At the end of the season, I think I started to turn on a little bit better and things started to slow down a little bit, but still a long way to go.

Q: How much are you itching to get out there? They have some talented pass rushers with (Buccaneers Outside Linebacker Shaquil) Barrett and (Buccaneers Outside Linebacker Jason) Pierre-Paul?

A: I'm very excited to get back out there with my teammates. Obviously, it's a great defensive line. A lot of veteran guys, so it's going to be fun.

Q: You played against those guys probably about a year ago. Do you feel like you're a different player now to handle them than you were then?

A: I wouldn't say a different player, but I would say definitely more experienced. I understand the game a lot better with the scheme, my offensive line technique, and things like that, so I'm excited to get back out there. 

Q: Do you pay attention to the other first round picks, the tackles from your draft? You're not going up against them, but you're playing one of them this week. Do you pay attention to that at all?

A: Not really. I want all of them to succeed. It's definitely a talented offensive line class, but I try to focus on me to make sure I'm on the field playing. 

Q: It doesn't mean anything extra for you when you play against them?

A: Not necessarily, no. I'm just trying to win.

Q: In the Saints game, you had, not everybody, but most of your offense and you had a huge game. You especially were one of the reasons the team was able to throw the ball down the field. Now, (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) could be back. (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and KT (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney) are not on the injury report. Do you feel like this could pick up where the Saints game was and have another explosive game?

A: Not just off the Saints game, I think, even with all those guys out, the offense has been building the last couple weeks. We've definitely been running the ball a lot better, so I'm excited to get us all back out there and see what we can do.

Q: You obviously play division opponents more than once, but this is a team that you faced last year. Do you have to do things differently because those guys, like Barrett and JPP are going to kind of know you and you know them?

A: With their defensive scheme, they do a lot of things that changes each game, so we have to be prepared for things that we've seen this year and obviously when we played them last year. We're just trying to be prepared all the way around. 

Q: Can you feel the responsibility of like when you seal off (Quarterback) Daniel's (Jones) backside, and again, it's just the one game, but the Saints game that comes to mind. But when you do a good job at Daniel's backside like the possibilities are almost endless? Can you feel that responsibility?

A: It's not just me, the offensive line as a group, we know that if we protect DJ, he's going to make plays. We have talented receivers, good backs. If we give him time, he's going to make special things happen, so that's the goal. 

Q: There's a movie called 'The Blindside' though, there's not a movie called 'Left Guard' (laughs).

A: I agree (laughs), but when you play people like (Rams Defensive Lineman) Aaron Donald, then it doesn't matter.

Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams

Q: How was your getaway for the bye week?

A: It was awesome. Me, (Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence II) Dex and (Defensive Lineman Austin Johnson) AJ went to Turks for a little bit. We just relaxed, got massages. I usually never do anything during the bye week, I try not to get out of football mode. That's what I thought. But having that time off actually was really helpful. When I got back, I was really excited to be back, and I felt refreshed and ready to finish this season strong.

Q: Did you catch any fish with your bare hands or anything?

A: No. We did go snorkeling a little bit, but I wasn't trying to go spearfishing because I was trying to take it easy on the body (laughs).

Q: You probably more than anybody else on this team has experience with the (Buccaneers Quarterback) Tom Brady challenge. What's that like trying to get to him as a defensive lineman? I imagine he can get the ball out pretty quickly.

A: Exactly like you said, he gets the ball out really fast. I've had a lot of frustration going against him most of my career. Even since I've been here, I've been playing him. Obviously, he's a great quarterback, a Hall of Famer guy. He gets the ball out so fast that as a D-lineman you get frustrated, but you've got to just stay mentally locked in it, just keep rushing, don't let it frustrate you. Then when you're not getting home just get your hands up. Also, if you're not getting sacks and stuff like that, getting pressure on him in the middle affects him as well, so even if he feels bodies in front of him and if he has to move his feet at all it kind of affects him at times. That's what we're working on. 

Q: You must have thought you were getting away from him, no?

A: Yeah.

Q: You come here thinking you're getting away from Tom Brady, but three or two years in a row – were you here for that other one?

A: I mean, I kind of like playing against him though. I like playing against him. He's a great quarterback. I don't shy away from competition. I love playing against great teams. We've played against great offenses so far this year and it's another big offensive challenge for our defense this week. We're ready to step up to it.

Q: You mentioned getting pressure in his face up the middle. I know you weren't a huge football fan when you were younger, but you know that that's the Giants blueprint, right? You know that that originates with Justin Tuck and those guys, right?

A: Yeah, that was a big reason why I was so excited to come here and continue to stay here was the legacy of the D-linemen here. I'm proud to be a part of it, I'm proud to keep showing those guys, hoping those guys are proud of us. Like I said, getting pressure up the middle on this guy, even though he gets the ball out fast, he's one of those types of quarterbacks that wants to stand in the pocket, make sure he has his feet correct. He's one of those quarterbacks that really wants to be set on his feet when he's throwing the ball and if he feels bodies around his feet or any type of pressure it affects him.

Q: Speaking of legendary guys for a second, next week they're going to retire Michael Strahan's number. How much have you gotten to know him? What do you know about him? What do you remember if anything about him?

A: I know he had a 22.0 sack year, which is a record. I know he had number 92, because when I first got here, I wanted to get 92 and I couldn't get it (laughs) – I'm proud of 99 though. He's obviously a legend on and off the field, and I think that's what makes him such a guy is what he's done off the field, as well. This past offseason I was in Denver actually for a financial seminar thing where I'm trying to figure out what to do outside of football, what to do with your money and he was one of the speakers that was there – on his private jet FaceTiming us. It was a little bit of motivation for everybody, you know? Like, we want to be on a private jet FaceTiming one day (laughs), so what can we do after football? I think that's what people love about Michael Strahan, he's such a good people person. One of his biggest messages to us was just be yourself. Don't fake it. People are going to know if you're faking and just be yourself. 

Q: Is he why you wore 92?

A: No, I got 92 when I got to the Jets because (Former NFL Defensive Tackle Damon Harrison) Snacks, Big Snacks, had 94 and he wanted me to pay a crazy amount for it and I didn't want to do that, so I took 92 (laughs).

Q: What would making the Pro Bowl mean to you? I know winning is the primary team objective, but personally what would it mean to you, because it seemed like you kind of got chopped out of it last year?

A: Obviously, winning like you said is our priority, but people still care about personal stats, personal achievements, and stuff like that. I was obviously upset that I didn't go last year, I hope it happens this year, but it's not going to hold me back from studying this week or anything I have to do to prepare to win. 

Q: Do you sense teams playing you different this year? They saw what you did last year and you're playing a role here where the pass rush is almost built around you. Do you sense that when you play certain teams that they're putting more than one guy or shifting your way?

A: I mean, definitely at times. But I think we do a good job of moving us around, changing up the rush. I'm playing five technique, six technique, three technique, shade. I think we do a good enough job of switching it up and disguising stuff that it's hard for them to scheme against me all the time. Also, we have a lot of other guys that have been stepping up this year, as well. They can't fully focus on me when other guys are making plays, as well. 

Q: You've played a lot of snaps for a defensive lineman. I think it's something like the third most or something like that.

A: Third most out of all D-linemen? 

Q: I believe it's something like that.

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Do you like being the guy that's out there as often as you are? Is that hard?

A: Yeah, I like it. Sometimes I like to be in a rhythm. Even if I'm tired, I feel like I want to keep going because it's like I'm getting a feel of the game. Sometimes when I'm getting out of the – if I'm on the sideline for too long I'm getting out of a rhythm a little bit. Some of the guys joke around about it because even in practice I'm like taking all the reps and Coach always calls me an amphibian – I don't know what that means (laughs). But I like being out there.  

Q: You've had opportunities these last couple weeks where (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (Linebacker) Quincy (Roche) have kind of gotten involved up front. I know you have your relationship with the D-line group, but what have you admired about the way that those two guys have come on lately?

A: I appreciate those guys a lot. They're young and they're hard workers and they're willing to learn. They're really easy to communicate with. Sometimes when I want to talk about a certain game, game plan rush or something like that, they're all ears and big eyes ready to listen. I appreciate that type of energy and mentality from young guys like that. They both have been really stepping up big time in the run and pass game.

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Tickets for Michael Strahan Ceremony

Limited tickets are available for Michael Strahan's jersey retirement game on November 28th

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