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Quotes 10/30: Coach Joe Judge, Coordinators Patrick Graham, Jason Garrett and Thomas McGaughey, DL Leonard Williams, C Nick Gates

Head Coach Joe Judge

Q: I was just wondering how much relief was there when you found out today that your guys all tested negative and are going to be able to come back into the building? Then what was yesterday like only having four offensive linemen out there and having to put Eric (Tomlinson) out there to kind of fill the gap?

A: I think it was a great opportunity for our team to see how everyone needs to step up and be ready at all times. I thought we had a really good practice yesterday as a team. There was a tremendous amount of energy. Guys got a chance to run around in the rain. There was a lot of energy. Guys were really enjoying being out there. Obviously, there were some adjustments to what we had to do a little bit schematically. Then also, practice organization. Having a limited menu for offensive linemen, that tied a little bit to our team prep periods for the defense as well. When we were working against each other, we had to adjust a few things. But it was productive in what we decided to work on going forward. Obviously, we were relieved that there were no more positive tests at this moment and that our guys are back in the building working. We just need to put the emphasis on we have to continue to be very cautious, and we have to be proactive in the steps we take, which tied into we did install meetings this morning virtually, we cleaned up our tape after practice yesterday virtually as well. Both of those have gone smoothly so far. We'll see how productive this morning's meetings are based on how practice goes today. We'll start out with a little bit of a walkthrough beforehand to go ahead and get some of the install stuff ironed out. Then we'll go out there and we'll run through it in the stadium today.

Q: How did Eric hold up as an offensive lineman?

A: I think he was born to block, so pretty good. He's probably happy he can get a few more cheeseburgers on the diet.

Q: Jason (Garrett) had mentioned that it was also a challenge you guys didn't have a scout team offensive line for the defense. How did you guys do that?

A: Well, it was a combination. We used both the guys that work on our regular offensive line as well as use some defensive linemen over there as well. That ties into everything we're preparing for. At some point in time, you may have to have a defensive lineman or a tight end playing on the offensive line, and we have to have a plan for it. We worked yesterday a combination of staying as close to our game plan as possible, as well as mixing in a couple curveballs in case we have to make some kind of adjustments.

Q: I have two questions. One is regarding Todd Bowles and the kind of job you think he's done with that Tampa Bay defense.

A: Yeah, phenomenal. This guy is a great coach. We've gone against him in different places a number of times. The one thing when you go against Todd, you have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I think his players play very hard. They're very talented. But they don't make a lot of impact just because of talent. It's about how they play schematically and fundamentally. I think this is a good tackling team. It's a very good pass rush team. The DBs on the backend, although you would say this is the younger group of their defense compared to their front, they're very productive, they cover very, very tightly, they're opportunistic and get their hands on a lot of balls, and they break extremely fast when they're in zone with good vision on the quarterback. They get a number of hats to the ball if there's any kind of deflection. To me, what stands out about this team though is their ability to make adjustments throughout the game. Todd's always done a great job of that. But if you go through the first half and think you're just going to see a carbon copy in the second half of the game plan, you have to think ahead because he's going to make adjustments.

Q: Another question is about another guy you've gone up against over the years, Jason Pierre-Paul. What are you seeing out of him down there?

A: I think JPP is playing at a high level right now, obviously. He has a lot of production and numbers that match up to that. But I see him playing with a high motor right now. They have a number of their front that are very disruptive. He's done a good job of getting to the passer, both through sacks and pressures. But this guy right now to me is doing a good job. He has good length and good speed to get off on the line of scrimmage, and obviously, he's a guy you have to deal with.

Q: The Markus Golden trade kind of got lost in the shuffle because of when it happened. Just curious what went into that and what that means maybe for a guy like Cam Brown?

A: We expect the guys on our roster to go ahead and step up and play any snap we ask them to. Cam has made a lot of progress for us. He's obviously developed a lot through the kicking game, and for a young player, exposure on the field in coverage units really builds in directly to your development as a defensive player. Seeing the ball, getting to the ball, playing with leverage, getting off blocks, learning the speed of the game. That's all been instrumental in Cam's development, and he's made a lot of progress in the package we've used him in. We'll see where that leads us this week based on who we're seeing up front. It's a different team than we've seen in the past few weeks, different type of offense overall, different type of quarterback. So, we'll see where that leads to Cam's involvement this week. But we expect everyone on the roster to play their role and be productive.

Q: With a guy like Wayne Gallman, it seems like the more he plays, the more effective he's been, not just more productive, obviously because of the number of touches, but just more effective. I'm just wondering how much you feel that's the case and if that's something that you have to take into account moving forward with the running back situation?

A: We expect all of our running backs at the game to play. Different game plans may have different roles for different guys, but Wayne's done a good job overall when he's gotten into the game. He's taken advantage of some of the situations he's been put into. We expect him to have a role in every game that we have, along with Devonta (Freeman), along with Dion (Lewis). We have other backs on our roster as well we work with on a daily basis, we work to develop within our system and have them ready as well when they're needed. But Wayne's done a good job when we've asked him to.

Q: Do you believe in running backs being able to get into a rhythm though?

A: Yeah, that can happen at some points. Based on different packages and what the defense is giving you, sometimes you have more of an opportunity to keep one running back in, then roll them all through. But to be honest with you, I'm a big believer in all positions of keeping your guys fresh, not just to rotate them but to make sure you mix it up a little bit and give the opponent a little bit of a different look throughout different times of the game, and keeping guys fresh to a degree to get on through late in that second half and have a push.

Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

Q: You're obviously familiar with the quarterback that you're going to face on Monday. Just some thoughts on Tom Brady and your experience with him and against him.

A: With him, nothing but fond memories. I still remember the first time I met him. He introduced himself to me, I was a young QC and I was in there early in the morning in the offseason. I was working on the exercise bike and I had my hoodie on and I had my head down and I was just on the bike. This told you a lot about Tom, there were not a lot of players in the building at the time. I felt someone tap on my shoulder, you could imagine my first year in the league, it's like maybe the first month I'm there. I look up and boom, it's Tom, he was glowing and stuff. He was like, 'hey, I'm Tom', and I'm like, 'yeah'. I didn't say my name and then eventually I said my name. I always thought that was cool. It talks a lot about him as a leader and I saw it for the seven years I was there. You continue to see it as you watch him now. He leads my example. I have a lot of respect for him as a football player, as a man. He was never too big to talk to, whether it was me as a defensive quality control or a rookie wide receiver. That's what makes him special. I haven't seen anybody work as hard as him, be as studious as him. In front of the meetings, when Bill used to have meetings, he was up there in front taking notes. It shows the hard work pays off from what you see on the field. What I'm seeing now with Tampa Bay, it's a continuation and obviously the combination of him, B.A. (Bruce Arians) and Leftwich working together and with the tools he has in Tampa Bay. Tom is getting rid of the ball pretty quickly, making the right decisions. I think I said it before, the veteran quarterbacks' ability to get them in the right run plays, I think that should be another stat that people should keep in mind. How they're able to run for 100 yards each week with Jones for three weeks in a row. That's pretty remarkable there. A lot of it goes to Tom getting them in the right play. A ton of respect, if you can't tell, for him as a football player and also as a man.

Q: I'm sure you have seen a lot of teams go up against Tom Brady and sort of tremble in their shoes a little bit at the idea. It sounds like you had a little bit of that moment too when you first arrived in the league. Do you think having a lot of players on this team and on this coaching staff that know him and played with him eliminates that a little bit?

A: I would say this, we always say we don't want to talk out of two sides of our mouth. It's a people league, so obviously if you know the person, it gives you some sort of, I don't know about advantage but at least you are familiar with him as a football player. I would say that's better than not knowing who you're dealing with. I would say that. In terms of how it plays out from week to week. Again, the league is so different from week to week, team to team. I don't know if anything I learned from going up against him in practice or when I was at Miami or when I was at Green Bay going against him, I don't know if that's going to help us for this week. I don't think it's a bad thing, if that answers (your question). It's not just Tom you're playing, though. That's the thing when you think about the quarterback. I think Tom does a great job of understanding that. It's a young people's game. He gets the ball out to those young guys. He gets the ball out to those guys. He knows how to distribute it and get it out there. Not taking anything away from him, he's a playmaker himself. He understands, get the ball to the skill players. You think about the positions, wide receiver, running back and the amount of talent they have over there. You get those guys the ball in space, it's a problem. We have to defend all that grass behind us, but they know where they're going. We don't know where they're going, we have to react. Tom is a master at getting them the ball in space and let them use their tools and their skills. They have a bunch of guys that have good skills. Whether it's the receivers, the backs, the tight ends. We have our work cut out for us this week. That's why I'm looking forward to practice today.

Q: You guys have brought a lot of guys into this defense that you have familiarity with from various previous stops. What's your role in that and how much of a benefit is it to have guys that you have that background with?

A: I give all the credit to the personnel department. They do a great job of scouring, whether it's the waiver wire or just looking at guys who are free agents out there. They do a good job of that, starting with (Dave) Gettleman and working its way down. Whether it's T-Mac (Tim McDonnell), Chris Pettit, all those guys, Mark (Koncz), those guys do a good job of that. When they ask me a question about a guy I might have coached, I just give them an honest answer. I tell them what I think about the guy, what he did for us, what I think of him as a player. Try to steal some time to watch tape if there was some tape from earlier in the year. 'Okay, here he is, he is doing a good job, he looks the same as what I thought he was or he's declining', or 'hey, he looks better, let's go get him. He looks better than when I had him.' I just answer whatever questions they might ask me. The decision making, that's up to Joe and the personnel people. I just answer any questions they might ask.

Q: Obviously, you go back to Jason Pierre Paul from when you were a position coach here. I'm just curious, your impressions of him back four years ago. I know you're not preparing to stop him. In terms of what your impressions of him were back then and are you surprised four years later, he's still doing what he's doing for Tampa?

A: I'm not surprised by any stretch of the imagination, he's different. You talk about all those guys that are different, he's different. He's a different human being walking among us. Whether it's his movement skills, his skill level that's improved as he's gotten older. I see him contort his body into different positions and be able to come out of it. I definitely would've been hurt, but that's not really a gauge because I'm not an athlete. Some guys would've been hurt. This guy is a different human being walking among us. You can just see some of the players I've seen cross over on film of how his skill level is improving like you would assume as you get older. In terms of a person, I thought JPP always kept the room light. He was a guy who was funny, kept the room light. Different personality than me, so sometimes that bumps heads because I'm so serious all the time and he could joke around a little bit more. It was a pleasure to be around him. I'm really happy for him, happy for his family. I'm sure he's happy being closer to Florida. For him to go through what we went through and be able to come back out of it and having success. Whatever the numbers are with sacks. The fondest memory I have of him was it was my first game with the Giants. It was the national anthem down there in Dallas, it was a Sunday afternoon game. He could tell I was like, 'oh, this is Dallas-Giants, this is a little different.' He looked at me and said, 'It's a little different than them other games you've been in, huh?' I laughed and then that game, the first three quarters he was playing okay, he made a few plays. When that fourth quarter came on and he turned it on, I looked at him and I said, 'oh, you are different.' He said, 'I told you, coach.' JPP, fond memories working with him and wish him the best.

Q: What was yesterday like for you? You were down a couple coaches. How did that kind of work?

A: You know what's funny, and it probably goes back to when we were kids, Pop Warner and stuff. Football coaches, for whatever reason, we don't have a problem adjusting. You get weeded out if you have a problem adjusting. Whether a coach is down or dealing with zoom meetings or trying to figure that out how to get the film to these guys. Doing installs in the spring over zoom. I'm down in Florida installing with a guy who's in Washington. We figure it out somehow, some way. I think the thing that carries over, especially with our staff, we have a bunch of smart guys on the staff. Some guys were down, they figured out ways to get in contact with their players and get the information to them. We were shorthanded here in the building, but with the collection of all the smart guys we have on the staff, we figured out a way to get it so that the players weren't missing out. It's just the nature of our job. The game is about in-game adjusting, we'll have to do that this week. No matter what we practice and what we do for Tom, for Leftwich and for BA over there, they're going to have something to counter it and then we have to adjust again. They're going to counter it again and then we have to adjust again. I think it's just in our nature to be able to handle that. That's why I always wonder how we would do in some other settings, other professions. Obviously, we would have to dress up a little bit better than we do. I'll have to get a haircut. I don't know how I would fare in the business world. I always wondered how we would handle that.

Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett

Q: I just have two questions unrelated. The first is regarding Sterling (Shepard) and just how he seemed to kind of inject some energy to you guys last week in his return. Curious what you saw out of him in the game and where you thought he brought the offense.

A: Sterling is just a good football player. I played against him for a number of years. Real fortunate to get an opportunity to work with him now. He's probably the most accomplished skill player that we've had. A veteran guy who's made a lot of plays in this league during his time with the Giants, and it's just good to get him back. He's a really smart football player, he has great quickness and change of direction, he has a good feel and instincts for playing, he has savvy, he's quarterback friendly, and he has playmaking ability. I think we saw all of that in the game the other night, so it's great to have him back on board. Certainly helped our offense.

Q: Just second question unrelated to that would be the close games you guys have been involved in, a number of them this year. You pulled out the Washington game, but some others you haven't. What is it going to take to kind of get over the top on those? What can that do for the team's confidence once you do kind of solve that riddle?

A: Well, I don't know if you ever solve it. Every week in the NFL, these games come down to one possession. It's really all across the league. If you look at the stats, the teams that make the playoffs, the teams that don't make the playoffs, the number of one-score games, they're pretty similar. Ultimately, the teams that get a chance to play in the postseason are the ones that win these games. Ultimately, it comes down to execution in all three phases. All the stuff that you emphasize from day one throughout your football team, that's the stuff that wins the game at the end of the game. At times this year, we've done a good job of that. Other times, we simply haven't. We have to do a better job. Us as coaches, we always look at ourselves first. Are we putting our players in a position to execute really throughout the game, and certainly at the end of the game? Then it's the execution by the players. It's never solved. It's never this mystery that somehow, someway we're over the hump. Every week in the NFL, you have to go out there and do it. You have to execute at nut-cutting time, and hopefully we'll continue to have some opportunities to do that and we'll come through.

Q: What was it like practicing with four offensive linemen yesterday? How did your fifth fill-in do?

A: It was a really interesting challenge, obviously. I don't know if we've ever been out on a practice field where you try to function with four offensive linemen, a couple young guys playing, guys playing out of position, and then Eric Tomlinson playing right tackle for you. But I thought those guys handled it really, really well. Coach Judge did a great job organizing the practice in such a way that it could be productive for everybody. I thought those young guys benefited from the reps and handled themselves well. Hats off to Eric for being able to jump in there. He's a good football player, he's a smart guy, he's a tough guy, handled the work well and allowed us to function. I thought we got something out of yesterday's work.

Q: One more if I may. I know you're focused on the Giants, but the Dallas Cowboys are reeling. Do you feel maybe you were underappreciated at the end there given how things have kind of gone off the rails there?

A: You said it right. Just really focused on what we're doing here and what we're trying to do to play our best football on Monday night against Tampa. That's really where my attention is.

Q: I just wanted to ask you, a guy that you've seen and played against and coached against for a long time that's a former Giant, Jason Pierre-Paul. What are you seeing when you watch Jason Pierre-Paul on film now, and are you at all surprised that this far into this career, he's as productive as he still is?

A: He's a hell of a player and has been for a long time. You said it, I had the opportunity to play against him a number of times when he was playing here and I was coaching in Dallas. Just the utmost respect for him as a player. He's always been someone that's been disruptive, both in the run game, affecting the quarterback in the passing game, always had playmaking ability, always one of those guys when you're breaking the huddle, you're saying, 'where's number 90?' It's great to see him continue to do so well in his career, and certainly he'll be a great challenge for us Monday night.

Q: Everyone that wants to talk about Tampa obviously says Brady. But if you look at their defense, I think they're third against the rush, second in the league in sacks. How much of a headache are they?

A: Oh, they're really good on defense. Obviously, Tom Brady makes a big difference to the football team. He's doing a great job with their offense and doing a great job leading their team. But this defense is really, really good. They're stout. You said it, great against the run, great affecting the quarterback, great taking the ball away. The way they play leaps off the tape. Todd Bowles does a heck of a job putting these guys in position to have success. It starts up front. They have really good down guys. Fast, aggressive, playmaking linebackers. They're good in the backend. It all works together. They pressure you a lot of different ways. They win one on one matchups, really across their defense. As rushers, defeating blocks in the run game, making plays in the pass game. There really are not many holes in this defense. If you look at it, they're, whatever, 28, 29, 30 stats that you look at with defenses each week. They're in the top 10 in probably two thirds of those. They're in the top 5 in probably a third of them. They're really good, there are not many holes, a lot of good players, an excellent scheme. It'll be a hell of a challenge for us.

Q: In a situation where Devonta Freeman isn't able to play, how much do you feel like you can lean on Wayne Gallman to handle a heavy load? Or would you rather spread it around?

A: Wayne did a really nice job in the game, got some extended work against Philadelphia and really responded well. Wayne is still a young player. We're trying to help him grow and develop as a player and be a complete back for us. I think there's been evidence over the first part of the season where he has demonstrated that. Inside runner, outside runner, pass receiver, pass protector, I think we saw all that. Again, we're trying to help him continue to grow as a player. Burton Burns and Stephen Brown do a great job with him. I think Wayne is embracing the opportunity. Hopefully, Devonta is ready to go, Dion has been a real asset for us, and we have Alfred Morris as well working on our practice squad. We have a lot of confidence in each of those guys. Again, trying to help them grow and develop as players and help us.

Q: Back to what happened yesterday, everyone always seemed pretty sure that you were going to get most of your offensive line back by today. But I'm curious, when that happens, are you just sort of trying to get through the day of practice? Or do you have to actually take time out of your preparation to figure out emergency scenarios? What happens if you only get three guys back or two guys back or something like that?

A: I think anytime as a football coach, you're always thinking about contingency plans for any situation. I think all of us, in football and out of football, in 2020 are having to think about contingency situations. Yesterday was an up-close look at it for us as a coaching staff. Again, I thought our players responded well to it. But you're always going through those 'what if' situations and you're probably doing it more so now, just because of the situation that everybody is in around the world with COVID. You try to make sure you dot all the I's and cross all the T's, and more so now. We've talked about different situations. You throw out different hypotheticals and you say 'how would we respond to this?' The thing you don't want to do is chase ghosts all over the place and spend all of your time on stuff that the likelihood of it happening isn't very high. But having said that, yesterday we had a number of offensive linemen who weren't in our building. That's a real-life situation that we have to contend with and have to be ready for.

Q: Just to kind of follow up on that, how much of a relief was it that you're going to have those guys back today? How much does losing yesterday impact you guys at all, if anything?

A: Again, I thought our guys embraced the heck out of yesterday and really handled it well. It was a productive day for us. Really excited to get the rest of the group back, though. It helps the flow of practice more than anything else. This is a Thursday practice for us, so it's a critical day, the third down day. This defense is really good on third down. They're really good on all downs and all situations. Getting these guys back, putting their pads on, getting a chance to go through a typical Thursday practice will certainly help us for Monday night.

Q: To follow up on that, how much was yesterday's practice different than it would have been if you guys didn't not have all those guys?

A: Probably a little bit more of an emphasis on some of the early down passing game, some seven on seven-type stuff. But again, we did team stuff with that group. The guys handled it well, it was good reps for them. A little bit of a challenge for the guys on defense because typically you have a scout team offensive line going against your first defense. We didn't have enough guys for that, so we had to manage that situation. I thought Coach Judge and Patrick (Graham) did a great job getting the looks our defense needed as well. A challenging day, but our guys embraced it. We've been talking about being mentally tough enough to be your best regardless of circumstance and thriving under adversity from day one in the offseason. A good example yesterday of our guys stepping up and getting that done. But again, certainly excited to have our guys back today and have a more normal practice.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: Bringing Corey Coleman back, I know he's on the practice squad right now. What can he add as a returner?

A: Corey has great speed. He's had game experience. He's coming back trying to get his feet wet and happy to have him back in the building. 

Q: That play against Philly where you ran the punt team on and obviously Corey Ballentine didn't recognize there was nobody across from him. What happened on that play? Is that what you were expecting to happen, hoping to happen? What kind of went wrong?

A: A bunch of things went wrong. It's a learning experience for everybody around. Obviously, when we do things like that, you just never know how the teams will react. I have to do a better job of getting everybody prepared and understand the potential of the situation. It is what it is, a good learning experience. We'll be ready next time.

Q: On the subject of returner, just wondering how you think Corey Ballentine is doing as the kick returner and if you're getting enough out of that position? That's a position in recent years here you guys have gotten some jump out of. It hasn't happened yet this year.

A: I think with the offseason and the way everything is set up, the limited amount of returns that you're getting in a game, the game speed. Having a brand new group, guys that haven't played together, just understanding how to use their leverage. All the blocking that's involved. When Corey was back there returning kicks, he was returning them, he wasn't doing all the blocking. We had a pretty good group that was in front of him that was blocking the last couple of years. Just some timing, I think it's more the timing, the spacing, and just getting used to the whole aspect of a play. There's a lot moving parts in kickoff return. We're just trying to make sure we get it coached up better. Execute the techniques better up front. I think the back end, that stuff will come. With Corey and whoever is back there returning kicks, I think once we clean up all the stuff in front of him, that we'll have better results.

Q: The illegal targeting penalty on Corey Ballentine late in Philly. I know he's moving quickly, the guy is ducking. Is it just simply, he's not coached to tackle that way, he has to be better? Is that a fast play that's hard to avoid.

A: It's a bang-bang play, he's got to keep his head up. Anytime now, it's all about optics. If it looks bad, then they are going to call it. You can throw out all of the technical terms. Well, he launched or he did that, that's all BS. If it looks bad, they're going to throw the flag. He just has to understand when he enters into the contact area, that his eyes have to be up. To me, that's just the bottom line.

Q: I know he's not on the injury report this week, but it looked like last week Graham Gano tweaked something in his leg. I'm just wondering, did you see him maybe change up his kicking motion a little bi?. It looked like on his kickoffs in particular, he might've been off a little bit.

A: Graham was doing exactly what we wanted him to do. Graham is fine. He's a veteran guy, he knows how to take care of his body. He'll be out there rolling just like he normally does.

Q: With all the injuries at linebacker, how much is that causing you to juggle on specials? Are you just throwing out the same guys?

A: It's always a juggling fest with the job. Like I told you guys before, we're the cookers of the gumbo. Each week it's a little bit different. We just make those midstream adjustments. As the season goes on, you're going to have injuries. You just have to make sure you're preparing guys daily and weekly for those opportunities. In my meeting room, we have basically this slide, it starts the meeting off and it just says, 'Stay Ready'. That's just the reality of it. That's our business, everybody has to stay ready, from the coaches to the players. They have to be prepared once your name is called.

Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams

Q: Just talk about the challenge that you guys face on Monday night from this team, from Tom Brady and all of the weapons that Tampa Bay has.

A: That's exactly what I was about to say, their weapons. On offense, they have a lot of great skilled players on that side of the ball and a lot of weapons for Tom Brady to go to. Their running backs are really good as well. I think that's our main emphasis, is stopping the run first. Then the leader of the offense is Tom Brady clearly, so we need to also be able to stop him once we stop the run, or affect him as much as possible.

Q: What was practice like yesterday when you're lining up and you've got [TE] Eric Tomlinson and a bunch of guys who are not typical linemen or who don't get a lot of time? And was it good to see the guys back today?

A: Yeah, it was good to see the guys back today. Yesterday was a little bit strange. But at the same time, I think the team and the coaches did a good job of making it work with the guys we did have. I think Eric did a great job of coming in when he was called on. I think he's a great blocking tight end, so he actually filled the role pretty good. He was out there doing one on ones with us and everything. It was pretty funny to see him do all that.

Q: What's the approach from you guys as a defensive line when you face a quarterback like Tom Brady?

A: Every time I've played against Tom Brady, even back in my early career against him, he's known for getting the ball out really quickly. He's also not a scrambling type of quarterback, he doesn't want to roll out of the pocket and stuff like that. He can if you allow him, but he doesn't want to run the ball. He wants to step up in the pocket, he wants a clear step up lane and he wants to get the ball out quickly. For a d-line, we want to get that middle presence, that middle push, and not allow him to step into his throws. Get him throwing off of his back foot and stuff like that. Just getting pressure in his face.

Q: Have you ever seen him rattled or seen the pressure get the best of him? Obviously, what you just said is the key to what the Giants did when they played him in the Super Bowl.

A: Yeah, I think anybody can get rattled. Any quarterback can get rattled if you're affecting him enough. But he's obviously been in this game long enough where he can get hit, he can get back up and keep playing. He's obviously been doing it for a long time. But for our defense to be effective, that's what we're going to have to come in handy, is not allowing him to step up and hitting him as much as possible.

Q: I'm curious what you've seen from Tristan Wirfs, their right tackle. Does he look like a rookie when you watch the tape?

A: He looks like a really good lineman. Obviously, he's really big and he's strong but there are moments where he's still a rookie. There's a weakness in everybody's game that you can find. We're going to try to attack that as much as possible. But he's definitely playing really well from what we've seen on film. He looks like he's going to be a good player in this league for a long time.

Q: I know you were asked about Eric Tomlinson. I heard some of the defensive linemen had to go over there on scout team o-line. Who was that?

A: Yeah, it was a strange practice yesterday, for sure. But I think everybody stepped into the role and did their part in doing what they can to get the practice going and giving good looks and stuff like that to prepare for Monday. Everybody bought in and was willing to do whatever it took to get it going.

Center Nick Gates

Q: Just curious what yesterday was like for you. Kind of walk us through when you found out you had to stay home and what the day was like.

A: They called me at 6:15 and told me what was going on and asked me a couple questions about when do you think you could have been in contact with Will [Hernandez] and things like that. They have those contact tracers that we wear, they can see who's by [near] who. They don't know what we were doing but they can tell who's by who. Trying to see what everybody was doing around each other. 

Q: Were you guys in the facility together on Wednesday I take it?

A: No, It was Tuesday. Tuesday was the day. We came in Monday and watched film, Tuesday we had practice and think we were eating lunch or something I can't remember, it was a couple days ago.

Q: Have you been in touch with Will? How's he doing from what you understand?

A: He's doing good. He's bummed he can't play, and it sucks. I'm not going to speak for him or anything, but I think he is doing good.

Q: If you end up playing alongside a guy like Shane Lemieux, a rookie, how do you feel like he has progressed and how much confidence you have in him next to you?

A: I have all the confidence in the world in Shane. He's a smart player, he's a tough player. He's proven to me and the whole o-line and coach Colombo he can play football. He's going to be a good player. I'm excited to see what he can do when he gets in there. I'm excited to play next to him. 

Q: Back to what you were previously talking about. What was the uncertainty like last night kind of waiting for your results to come back, not sure if you would be able to practice today or not? Wondering whether you would be able to play in the game? What was your mind like through that time?

A: Just trying to stay positive and keep being optimistic about it. Try to stay positive and control what I can control. Try to get ready for the game and do the best I can to make myself ready if I was able to go. It looks like I'm going to be able to so just stay on track.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about that defensive front of the Bucs. It looks like they do a lot of tricky things and their really tough up front. What do you see in them and where is the biggest challenge for you coming from that group?

A: They're a really good group, their front seven is really good. They have good linebackers with [Devin] White and [Lavonte] David, they fly around and the make tackles. The down guys, they try to take two and let their linebackers make the plays. They're just a tough defense.

Q: Do they do a lot disguising of their defense?

A: I wouldn't say they disguise a lot. When they are going to bring what they're going to bring, they bring it. You know what they're going to bring, and they want you to beat them. That's what I noticed with film. When the safety rolls down, a lot of times he's coming.

Q: When they call you at 6:15 on Thursday, did they say stay home? Take a test and then go home?

A: We had meetings over zoom, they zoomed us into meetings. We were online with zoom on the computer. I think it was around 9:30-10, I drove up and they walked out. I couldn't go in the facility or go into the testing center. I drove up and they came out and swabbed my nose and I drove home. 

Q: Did you have to take another test today?

A: This morning I came back, and I had to take two tests. I took the normal test and I took the rapid test. I think the rapid test takes 16 minutes to come back. I was on my way back home to do more zoom meetings this morning and they told me I was negative so I could come in.

Q: Were you sitting there thinking we have to get healthy because it's going to be tough if Daniel [Jones] is playing behind a group that really doesn't have a lot of experience.

A: I can't control if I was sick or not. If I was sick, I was sick, if I'm not then I can come back and play. I was trying to be positive and I was like I hope I'm not sick, I hope I'm not positive and things like that so I can help the team.

Q: When you're in situation like that, when you hear the news today, okay you tested negative. Do you have any reservations about coming back and practicing? You saw the Tennessee Titans do it earlier this year where they were kind of some positive test, they worked remotely that entire week. I'm wondering as a team and players, how much you guys thought okay maybe this is a little dangerous or maybe we shouldn't do this or should do this. How do you weigh those things?

A: I just trust the trainers and the experts and what they say. They said you had passed two tests or one the one day and two the next day. They said I was good. If they think I'm good and the experts say I'm alright to go, then I trust them.

The Giants hold a Friday practice at MetLife Stadium, with the Buccaneers up next on Monday Night Football


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