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Quotes 10/16: Coach Joe Judge, OT Andrew Thomas, CB Darnay Holmes

Head Coach Joe Judge

Q: What level of concern do you have for Darius Slayton? Not just his ability to dress but his ability to play for four quarters in this game? We see him on the injury report.

A: He was on the injury report. He was out there working with us yesterday. We pulled him back a little bit on some of his stuff, but we'll see how he is today. I'm expecting Darius to play. If the trainers tell me otherwise, they tell me otherwise.

Q: When you look at Washington, what do you see from Landon Collins on tape?

A: He's an aggressive player. I think he's probably his most productive when he's close to the line of scrimmage. He's a guy that triggers real fast, makes a lot of plays close to the line of scrimmage or even in the backfield. He's definitely an aggressive player in space. He's going for the big hit a lot of times. He's got good instincts in the back end of the field. He's shown a good awareness as far as really keying in on the quarterback's eyes and making good breaks and play that quarters coverage or that buzz safety when he comes on down in single-high looks. He does a good job of really playing with the quarterback. When he gets a shot, he's going to swing for the fences.

Q: There's been a lot of talk about hearing what the quarterbacks say this year on the TV broadcast. So, you actually watch the TV copy as well as the coaches film?

A: Yeah, I'd say probably every team in the league probably watches the TV copy. You're looking for anything you can to help prepare your team and find an advantage.

Q: So, you have to sit there and listen to storylines and all that stuff too while you're watching it?

A: Well, we have some different personnel in the office that kind of cuts on through and chops things up for you, and makes you aware of things you have to look at.

Q: I just want to go back to the receivers for a second. Obviously, (Golden) Tate was injured earlier, (Sterling) Shep's been injured a lot. I think going into the season, receiver was looked at as kind of a strength of this team, and you guys have had to use (Damion) Ratley before this, (C.J.) Board, now Austin Mack. Are you guys a little undermanned at receiver right now?

A: No. I think all of our guys that are here on our roster right now are preparing hard to play and they give their best every day. They've done a good job working through some scenarios. We're anxious to get them on the field this Sunday and play.

Q: Board and Mack, obviously, have a lack of experience. That's not something you worry about? I've heard you say before that everybody on the team, once they're on the team, you don't worry about rookies and whatnot.

A: No. Everyone has the same responsibility to show up every day, do their job, learn their assignments and execute. Your level of experience is irrelevant. It's what you do within each game plan and how you execute on the field.

Q: Should we read into the fact that Sterling Shepard wasn't activated yesterday that there's a good chance he's not playing Sunday?

A: I wouldn't read too much into anything until we see how it goes in practice today. I'm going to check with Ronnie (Barnes) when we leave here right now, see what the plan is for the day. He's been making progress every day with the trainers. Today is another opportunity to kind of see where he's at.

Q: Just to kind of round back to a previous question about watching the TV copy, is that something new this year because of the things you can pick up like quarterbacks calling out signals and stuff that maybe you did this year? Or have you guys, the way you've done things always, watch the TV copy?

A: I've always been involved with watching TV copies. I can't speak for anybody else around the league. I know it's not a new thing conceptually, just in big picture. I think this year is a little bit different in terms of the amount of things you can actually hear. In the past, it may have been certain select nationally televised games because of the amount of microphones and cameras. Sometimes it actually helped you based on the score and situation of the game. Was it a quieter crowd? Who were you watching? It's tougher sometimes to get signals from some teams that have louder crowds at home games, things like that. But you're always looking for any advantage you can. I'd say for us, it's nothing new. I can't speak for everybody, but I do know other teams have been doing it for some time.

Q: If you believe weather reports, I don't know if you do or not, there is a zero percent chance of rain on Sunday. Why is it important for you to have your team outside today on the grass in the pouring rain?

A: Today is a great opportunity for us to work on fundamentals. When you go on wet grass, you really emphasize your players playing with their feet under them, ball security as ball handlers, quarterbacks and receivers making sure we're sharp on that. Defensive players make sure we really get our cleats in the ground, we don't slip and slide all over the place. Just in general, any chance you get the opportunity to work in weather, you have to use it, use it to your advantage. Whether it's wind, snow, rain, hard sun, whatever it may be, you may not get this opportunity again. The next time we see rain may be in a game on Sunday. So, we always use every situation we have to prepare ourselves.

Q: I know you're not a guy that walks out there afraid all the time, but do you have to weigh that slippery field, grass, guys slipping, guys getting hurt, versus what you're trying to get accomplished?

A: No. It's our responsibility as coaches and players to go out there and prepare for practice. That includes warming up our bodies correctly. It means playing with our feet under us. It means having the right equipment on, so the right cleats to match the weather conditions and the grass and the surface that we're on right there. Look, it's football. We're going to go outside, whatever it is, and we're going to use all of the elements to our advantage every time we can.

Q: What would a win mean for this team right now?

A: I think it would mean the same thing it means to us every week. We prepare hard. We want to see results. We want to get this for the fans. Look, it's the NFL. Every week, everyone is training and playing hard to get the win. For this team, it's no different. We go out there every week, we give it our all. We want to make sure we don't make mistakes to set ourselves behind. But for us, it's just about one game at a time. What we're trying to do right now is go 1-0 this week.

Q: Chances David Mayo makes it back this week as well?

A: He's been practicing the last couple of days. He's making a lot of progress. Obviously, we'll talk about the actives and inactives. He'll be in that conversation for us. We'll see where he's at after today.

Q: What have you seen from Sterling Shepard so far?

A: I've just seen he's been working tirelessly. He's made a lot of progress in terms of from where he was when he got hurt in Chicago to physically where he is now right there. I just saw him in the weight room two seconds ago. He's in good spirits. He's obviously anxious to get back out on the grass. We want to see him back out there as soon as possible. But we just need to make sure we make the right decisions for him long-term medically.

Q: I don't think we asked you about Austin Mack the other day when you guys brought him up to the active roster. I'm just curious what has he done to separate himself from the rest of the receivers that you guys have carried from the summer on your practice squad? What do you expect from him if you put him out there on Sunday?

A: I would say this. Independent of anybody else who's been on our roster, just reporting on Mack, he's definitely a guy that's been consistent for us from day one. This is a guy that prepares very well, he plays with a high motor, he plays very hard. He's a young guy, but he does a lot of things in terms of instincts that helps him make the right decisions on the grass at full speed. This guy plays full tilt all the time. I'm very pleased with his work ethic. He's a guy that when he was working on some of our look teams, really gave our guys fits in different scenarios. We rep all of our guys with our units at all times. He's been working with our game day active roster since day one in terms of getting ready for Sunday games. We always prepare them. He's traveled with us to multiple games now in terms of being ready in case something were to happen with COVID. We just thought at the time that he's done a good enough job and he's earned the opportunity to get on the grass and play for us. We'll see where that goes active wise this Sunday. But he's earned the right to be on the 53.

Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas

Q: Two things. First of all, any truth to the rumor that you're moving to receiver or tight end after that two-point conversion last week?

A: No, there's no truth to that. I wish, but no, that's not happening.

Q: How did that play come about? What were you thinking on it?

A: Coach (Burton) Burns actually brought it up to the offensive staff. He kept telling me that he was going to give me a play. Then we ran it in practice and it looked pretty good, so we decided to go with it.

Q: You're comfortable catching the ball? It looked like you bobbled it a little.

A: You should have seen practice, it was a lot better. It looked way better.

Q: What do you think of your matchup with Chase Young this week? Obviously, two guys who were drafted really high. I think you guys kind of go way back to the top high school recruits.

A: Obviously, very talented guy, but not just him. Their whole front, I think, is like five first round draft picks. It's going to be a good matchup for our tackles and our inside guys. It's going to be a good game.

Q: I'm just curious when you look at how these first five weeks have gone, how do you evaluate how you have played?

A: I think I see progression, but there are definitely things that I definitely need to get better at. Things that I've been working on, just focusing on, because it's every week in the NFL. There are no days off, there are no plays off. I'm just trying to cut down my negative plays as much as possible.

Q: Obviously, you're going to face talented pass rushers every week. But you've faced some particularly talented ones over the course of this season. What's that challenge been like for you?

A: I think it's actually been good for me, to see it so early so I can understand how it goes and how it is week in and week out. I think that will make me better in the long run.

Q: It's kind of been murderer's row, right? You're getting Chase Young this week, you had DeMarcus Lawrence last week, (T.J.) Watt in Week 1. How do you balance learning from these matchups and guarding against maybe it impacting your confidence going up against some of these elite rushers right out of the shoot?

A: I think the biggest thing is focusing on myself. Obviously, you have to understand the pass rushers, what their moves are, their counters and things like that. But I think the biggest thing for me is just focusing on myself, making sure that my technique is correct because regardless of what they do, if I'm not doing my technique right, then they're going to be successful. That's been the biggest focus for me.

Q: What's been your biggest takeaway so far? What is the one area coming from Georgia through the first five games where you say 'ok, this is something that I've learned from going up against these top guys'?

A: One is the hand usage. They're very key on using their hands and their secondary rushes. The biggest thing for me personally is just consistency in my set. At Georgia, if you don't take a good set, sometimes you can get away with it with athleticism and strength. But at this level, if you don't take a great set, then they're going to take advantage of it.

Q: One thing you didn't do a lot at Georgia is lose games. Has that been an adjustment learning to not enjoy the end of a game and the difference?

A: Yeah, it's definitely different, especially with as hard as we work here. With the Giants, we work really hard and when you come up short, it definitely hurts. But I think just understanding that we're close, we're on the brink of breaking the threshold, that continues to motivate us.

Q: Just going back to Chase Young, you guys are in similar stages of your development and you're at opposing positions. For you, is there any benefit or value of looking at him and kind of seeing where he is and using that as a gauge to measure your own progress?

A: Not necessarily. I don't really pay attention to other guys trying to measure for myself. Like I said, I'm focusing on myself, understanding my technique and the things that I need to get better at.

Q: We've kind of danced around it a little bit. People have kind of asked about your confidence level. What is your confidence level at this point? Has anything that's happened so far shaken your belief in your ability to play left tackle in this league?

A: No, I wouldn't say that my confidence is shaken. I think, like I said, there are things that I definitely need to work on. That comes from practice and repetition, and like we talked about earlier, going up against these very talented pass rushers early I think will actually help build my confidence because I've seen the best. I've seen what the greatest in the NFL look like, so I can continue to get better each and every week.

Q: If you can, just take me through that DeMarcus Lawrence sack last week. When you look at it, what do you look at and what can you fix?

A: On that particularly play, I didn't hit my landmark. I undershot my set, so he got the edge. Then the second thing was my punch. I know with guys like him, you have to be loose with that outside hand, Coach (Marc) Colombo calls it, because he's trying to knock that outside hand down. Once he gets it, he can turn the edge. Just being more firm in my set, make sure I get to my landmark and having a better punch.

Cornerback Darnay Holmes

Q: I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of practicing in the rain at UCLA. What was it like out there?'

A: We had a few days where we practiced in the rain. The main thing our coach always told us was if you don't mind, it don't matter. My main thing going out there today is not really taking note of it and keeping my focus and approach dialed into the day and the calls ahead.

Q: Were you surprised when that decision was made that you guys were going to be outside?'

A: Definitely wasn't surprised. We know what we have going on here with Coach Judge. Coach Judge is going to make sure that we're a blue-collar team. He is going to do everything he can to implement that style of play. 

Q: As a rookie corner, you are going to have quarterbacks that are going to go after you to see if you can handle that kind of thing. What has it been like having to prove yourself all over again in a way and show these quarterbacks that you can handle that kind of thing?

A: It's actually fine. At the end of the day, it's me versus my man and just go out there and compete to the fullest. I always go out there with the mindset of I'm going to allow God to allow the situation to flow the way that it's supposed to flow. I'm not going to try to dictate things or try to really give the experience I want to give. I'm going to go let things go the way it's going to go. I know I am going to be at peace because I put my best foot forward that play and that rep.

Q: What have you learned from playing with a guy like James Bradberry, who's obviously having a great year. Everybody talks about how he's kind of just quiet and goes about his business. What's it been like learning from him and playing next to him?

A: I can ask him anything. Day in and day out, I'm his right-hand man. We talk to each other. We pretty much talk about personal things and he pretty much helps me navigate through life. As a rookie, you need someone right there in your corner. I have JB, Jabrill, Logan, Nate, there are so many guys who are willing to give a helping hand. It's just a blessing to have them.

Q: In five weeks, what is the biggest thing you've learned?

A: I would say recognizing things. Not being so in tune with what my job is but be being able to diagnose what the offense is trying to do.

Q: One of the things that Coach Graham was talking to us about was he said, "I try to teach my guys just do what I say." Almost don't use your own instincts, just do what I say. Is that hard?

A: I think you probably interpreted the answer wrong. He definitely allows us to go out there and play freely. He always makes sure we're not robots. He definitely gives us that coaching and those tips to make sure we play faster so our instincts do flow and are shown. Coach Graham is a guy who is going to make sure he coaches you hard. He'll make sure that you understand what he wants done and pretty much break down the things, so we're detail orientated.

Q: This is the first time most of us have talked to you since that 49ers game. How quickly were you able to put that penalty you had in that game behind you? That was kind of a turning point, how quickly were you able to put that behind you and get back to playing well these last two games?

A: Right when he picked the flag up, it was over with. It really wasn't something that I allowed to linger in my mind. I learned from that experience. It was a blessing I learned from that experience early on.

Q: As far as where you're at technically when you see yourself on film every Monday. Do you see a different player than the one that started in Week 1? How satisfying is it to see the gains, whether they are incremental or big leaps that you've made in your game within this defense?

A: It's been a blessing to see the progression I'm making. I'm never at the point I want to be at. I feel like I will never be there, that's just the person I am. I will never be satisfied. It's just me being able to take on the coaching points, being able to diagnose things, being able to communicate more. I'm actually seeing that, it's actually running off in my play. I'm playing more confidently because I know what I'm doing. I know what I can anticipate. Pretty much just watching film, I feel like I'm more free flowing.

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