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Quotes 9/17: Coach Joe Judge, Coordinators Patrick Graham, Jason Garrett, Thomas McGaughey, DL Dexter Lawrence, RB Saquon Barkley

Head Coach Joe Judge

Q: I know going back to really one of the foundation pieces of your philosophy with your staff is about players, don't tell me what they can't do, tell me what they can do. I'm just curious the evolution of that, how much of that is trial and error? How far do you go before you kind of pull the pin on a guy and say 'maybe he can't do what we're asking him to do'? I mean that across the board, I'm just curious from your philosophy, how do you balance that challenge?

A: I think there is a fine balance between developing somebody into a certain role and seeing how they fit within the scheme, and then determining where we put them in a position to play that doesn't fit them. I think we're still early right now with what we're doing. Obviously, the first game was the other day. We're not ready to pull anybody out of anything we're doing at this point. That being said, it's about favorable matchups for these guys, putting them in a position to be successful. We're always trying to do that to give ourselves any kind of advantage we can. There's always something you identify with a certain guy, 'let's not ask him to do this.' But I think we're early in the system right now still to turn around and just say about any one of our players, 'let's eliminate his opportunity to do x,y,z.'

Q: The Giants and the Bears played not too long ago. I'm curious, how much do you gain from that, did you look back at that matchup? I'm sure you did. How useful is that for this game?

A: I think the biggest thing that helps you from watching last year's matchup is some of the similar players we have on the roster, and some of the ways they really looked to isolate and attack guys who are still on the roster. Schematically, there are some differences, obviously. You try to look at a lot in terms of coordinators, in terms of the experience you've had against them. Whether that's going back to the Miami days with (Bill) Lazor, whether that's going back and watching some of Pat's (Graham) experience in Green Bay against the Bears, or maybe some of the old New England games, some of our defenses, how they attacked it, how they used it. Then offensively, how they attack both our personnel and then also maybe when Jason (Garrett) was at Dallas. You look at everything you can to gather as much knowledge and then try to form how you think they're going to attack you and have a plan that fits that.

Q: It's probably been a little overlooked on the outside just because it's usually a common occurrence, but you have to take the team on the road this week for the first time with the new protocols and the new systems. What are the challenges there?

A: I'm going to be honest with you, I don't have a lot of concerns about the actual logistics of our team traveling. It's a little bit more in terms of just fitting the schedule to make sure with the testing, the boarding the busses, getting on the plane, that's really kind of the small things that factor in. In terms of the actual schedule of getting into the hotel, meeting, waking up, playing the game, I love these early games. I like waking up on the road and just getting up and going to play, getting out there and going to see the opponent. I think we're going to be fine on that. Obviously, in preseason, you gain a little bit of experience for the players to go through. The one thing I think does play into what we're doing is last week, being a Monday night game and being a night game for us, we had to stay in a hotel due to protocols the entire day on Monday. That actually simulated a little bit of a road trip feel for us because once we came here for meetings, that kind of simulated the travel part of it. We're in the hotel all night together doing meetings and hanging out. Then the next day, we're there together doing walkthroughs. Really the home game last week kind of prepped us a little bit for the away week because of the new rules.

Q: I'm sure you're in touch with a lot of coaches throughout the league. What were some of their experiences on the road when you guys sort of compared notes? Is that what you found, that it was pretty much the same?

A: You know what, I didn't hear anything that was really too unusual for them. A lot of it came more into just the logistics on traveling, the busses to the airport, making sure the players are spaced out. Some of the airplane seating, some of the coaches mentioned how they're spacing their players out a little bit differently than in the past. We've discussed a lot of options. We're going to finalize that tonight as a staff in terms of things we think we may have to do. The actual trip with the football part of it isn't what you're kind of dealing with anything different. I think our guys are used to just traveling for football games, whether it be college or previous years in the NFL. Right now, it's really kind of the early part of the trip. Bussing, planes, how you get your food on the plane, little things like that that people don't always calculate. We feed these guys on the plane, we're always hydrating on the plane. One of the factors that I'm going to have to talk to the team about is, hey listen, we're obviously wearing masks on the plane. Anytime you have a mask on, it slows down your hydration. Also when you're on the plane, you naturally dehydrate from the air pressure and the way it affects the cells and the moisture in your cells. We need to make sure we do a really good job traveling with hydrating on the plane, even though we have masks on. We have to be conscious of that.

Q: We saw Logan Ryan a decent amount on Monday night. Now that he has another week to sort of digest the playbook, how much more can we see him? Do you expect to sort of expand his role now moving forward?

A: We're not going to limit Logan on anything we're doing. As Pat puts the packages together and sees the matchups, whatever we can do to get all of our players involved, we're going to do. But I don't think there's anything that we would hold off on using Logan for. We just want to make sure that whatever package we're putting together, we space out to use all of our players and put ourselves in favorable matchups.

Q: You guys obviously had a tough group to block last week in terms of pass rushers. This week, you have Khalil Mack that you have to deal with him. How confident are you in your guys' ability to get after a guy like that? What kind of challenges in particular does he present?

A: I'll tell you what, I'm confident in every player we have on our roster, number one. Number two, every week we play, you look at our (schedule), we're going to have elite pass rushers and an elite front, defensive tackles on every team we play. That's just the nature of our schedule, the nature of the NFL. However, specific to Khalil Mack and (Robert) Quinn on the other edge as well, these are two of the top guys in the game. They're both explosive, they're dynamic, they play with high motors, they do a good job making hustle plays, they put pressure on the quarterbacks, whether that's through strip sacks, flushing out of the pocket, whatever it may be. They're guys you have to come in, you can't blink, you can't fall asleep. They have high motors. They're coming on every play. If you let down your guard for one second, that's going to be a bad play for your offense. Obviously, we have a tremendous challenge in front of us. We will every week, but this week specific to the Bears and their edge pressure, we really have to rise to the challenge.

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

Q: A lot of ex-NFL players have pointed out on video that you had a lot of trouble with pick plays over the middle. How do you guys go about addressing that?

A: We corrected the film when they came back in on Wednesday. I have to do a better job obviously. I didn't do a good enough job of preparing for that. We are going to get presented with the same problems and issues this week with Chicago. They have a bunch of good receivers. They do a great job down in the red area. They have so many targets down there. How they disguise their looks in terms of the proximity of receivers close to one another. We have to do a better job of coaching that. The best thing to do to address it is go through practice. You go off the tape and then you get to practice. I'm looking forward to today to get the opportunity.

Q: Sometimes those get flagged, sometimes they don't, rub routes or pick plays. Do you have to play it like you assume it's not going to be a penalty?

A: They're doing it within the rules. They have the rule book, too. I don't think anybody is purposely going out there trying to break rules on rub routes or they will get flagged. The officials do a great job, I think. Everything within the rules, we have ways to combat that. Every week you are going to have to deal with that. This week, we're dealing with Chicago. I'm sure they have some in their arsenal. Going back on the tape, whether it's the Detroit game or last season, we just have to prepare to handle those better. I have to do a better job of coaching it obviously.

Q: Curious what you saw out of that second cornerback spot? Obviously, Corey Ballentine played the majority of the game there. Also, what you saw from the snaps Ike (Isaac Yiadom) got?

A: I think leading into this week, because of what we're dealing with with Chicago, with the receivers and to include the tight end, we're going to still have guys competing at those spots. I thought everybody competed pretty hard on Monday night, Joe pointed that out. No offense, it's Thursday, my focus is now on third down, red area for Chicago. I know this, the guys are ready to go work today in practice and the competition is still there. I like this group. They were competing today in the meeting room just in terms of who's on top of what. It's a good situation for all those guys and the guys we have in the room.

Q: What makes Allen Robinson such a tough matchup? Do you have to give consideration to maybe giving extra help over the top because of his ability to make big plays down the field?

A: I think what makes him special is his catch radius. That's one of those, I remember when I first heard that, I was like, 'what in the world does that mean?' His catch radius is pretty good. I think he's competitive, he's really really competitive. Whether it's at the line of scrimmage or further down the field, getting open and away from defenders. The finish on the ball, he does a great job of tracking the ball and bringing it away from defenders' hands and always ending up with the ball. Of course, when you have go-to guy like that, and obviously he's a heavy target for the quarterback in terms of going to him. We have to adjust, whether it's a matchup thing or just an awareness in coverage. You always have to adjust for those great players. Any time it's a great player, I don't know when you wouldn't adjust or have some awareness of those guys. Sometimes the plan works out, sometimes it doesn't. Any time you have a good player, one of those great players, you have to do something to adjust to it. Hopefully the plan works out.

Q: What goes into the decision to have somebody travel or not against a receiver like him? Down the line, somebody like Chris Godwin or Mike Evans or one of these big receivers. What goes into the decision to stick to what you're doing or you say, 'okay, this is a guy that I need to isolate my best cornerback against'?

A: It's based on the matchup really. This league is so people driven, it's all about the matchup. Your best cover guy, is he best suited to cover their best player? Say you have a perimeter corner who is your best player, but their best player is a slot, shifty guy. Is that what you want to do? I don't know. You have to think through that. We're always trying to put our guys in the best spots. You have to think about how it matches up with their skill set. That's what I take into consideration. Also, you have to think about the other members of the secondary. Is there a ripple effect throughout the secondary? What do you have on the other side, too?

Q: Is Blake Martinez everything you wanted him to be at the middle of your defense? James Bradberry strips the ball, would you like to see your guys come up with that with so many bodies there? Is that just a good play by JuJu?

A: I thought James did a great job getting the ball. That's something we practice every day. We are going to continue practicing it throughout the year. Whether it's about ball disruption periods, just trying to get the ball off guys. I was happy about that. Pittsburgh did a good job of protecting the ball. Chicago does, as well. We have to earn those opportunities to get the ball so when it's out on the ground, we would love to get it. As for Blake, Blake's been doing everything we have asked him to do so far. Except for I asked him for ten dollars, but he didn't want to do that. He was being a little cheap there, I guess. Blake knows he has stuff to work on. The beauty about Blake and having known him for a while, he wants to be the best he can be. He knows that we are going to push him to do that. And he appreciates that. He loves to be coached. That's the one thing I know about that man. He loves to be coached. Is it everything we want right now? Absolutely not. He wouldn't say that either. He knows we have a ways to go and the beauty about it is he wants to improve. That's the good thing.

Q: You talked about perimeter corners and whether or not you want to move them inside. The Steelers like to move Juju inside. If you watch the Bears last year, I'm sure they did it plenty when they played the Giants. Is Bradberry, do you consider him a perimeter corner? Would you like him to go inside? How do you view that?

A: The label, I think James is just a very good defensive back. James has been able to play inside, outside, He's been able to do anything we've asked him to do. I was really just putting that out there in terms of the generic labels. To me, a corner is a corner. I'm looking for guys hopefully that are tough, that can tackle and that can get their hands on people and can run. Do we label the positions perimeters, inside corner? Yeah. It's about the matchup, who do you want to put this guy on or near. Then, what's the ripple effect throughout the secondary. It's not always based on the one person. It can be a domino effect or a ripple effect, whichever one is right, in terms of how the secondary would have to adjust if we put somebody on a certain guy. Early in the season, who knows? Where we're at now, hopefully that's not where we are going to be at. Where we were at last week, hopefully, like Joe talked about, we'll be improved Sunday. Three weeks from now, hopefully we're way more improved than that.

Q: What did you think of the overall defense? What do you want to see this week get better?

A: I'm not living in the past, but it wasn't good enough. Guys played hard but we know we have a ways to go. Week one, and we didn't do enough to get the win. That's on me, I have to do a better job, it starts with me. This week, I know this, we had some good film sessions, we had good walk throughs. Getting to practice today, the thing we have to get better at is the stuff we talk about all the time. We have to improve our football position in terms of our eyes, hands and our feet. We have to improve our tackling, we have to work on that today, in terms of our entry and be ready to handle these space players. When it gets down to the run game, playing with good pad level, playing with our hands, getting extension, getting off blocks. Passing game, affecting the quarterback, playing our leverage, defending the deep part of the field. It seems like a lot, but that's our daily checklist in terms of what we want to do to be a good defense. Then just improving upon the situations. That's on me to get that better and do a better job coaching it. That's what we're going to work on today.

Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett

Q: With some of Evan's (Engram) struggles in blocking the other night, how much of that is on you guys to put him in a better position, and how much of that is on him to just execute better?

A: We believe Evan can be a complete tight end. He's demonstrated that at different times throughout his career, and certainly during our time together in training camp up to this point We don't see him as a one-dimensional player who's only a receiver. Obviously, he has very good receiving skills, he has great speed to get vertically down the field and can be a very good route-runner. But we also see him as someone who's willing to do the stuff that tight ends do. Play on the ball with his hand on the ground, block the different ways that we'll ask him to block. Obviously, a big challenge in the game the other night was blocking their edge guys, 90 (T.J. Watt) and 48 (Bud Dupree), for our tight ends and for our tackles. I thought there was good evidence of us being able to do that at different times collectively as a group, and other times it wasn't good enough. We don't see Evan as a one-dimensional player. We see him as a guy who can do all the things necessary to play tight end in this league, and his willingness to do that is something I think is really positive for our team.

Q: I'm sure you weren't really happy with the rushing production the other night. I'm curious when you went back and watched the film, what were some things that stuck out that you guys need to improve on going into the next game?

A: Well, obviously, they're a very challenging defense. A great defensive front and they've been a very good run defense for a long, long time. They came into the game with the idea of not letting us run the football based on what they played and how they played it. Having said that, we didn't run the ball the way we needed to run it. Even when you're playing against teams that are really concerned and focused on taking the run away, you have to find ways to do it. I think if you look at the different runs that we had, there were examples of situations where we got beat. Their guy simply beat our guy. There were examples where we didn't communicate well together and we weren't on the same page. Those are things we simply have to clean up going forward. We strive to be a balanced team, to attack different ways. It starts with run and pass, and we have to do a better job running the football.

Q: Tiki Barber made some comments about Saquon Barkley and his pass protection and that if he continues not to pass block, he shouldn't be on the field on third downs. I'm curious about your feelings on that? What do you think of Barkley and his pass protection?

A: Great respect for Tiki, first of all. He was a teammate of mine. I've known him for a long time and I really respect him as a person and as a player in this league. Having said that, we really try to focus on what we need to do with our guys and do internal evaluations of how they play. One of the things we love about Saquon is his desire to be a complete back. That's running the football, both inside and outside, as a pass receiver and also as a pass protector. Having said that, he can improve in all areas. That's something that we like so much about him, is his desire to come in and get better and strive to be a complete back. There were some examples of him blocking well in the passing game the other night. There were some examples of him not blocking as well as he needs to. He knows that. We're working on that, we're trying to get him better in that area. But we love his approach, we love his desire to be a complete back, and that's going to help him and our team going forward.

Q: I assume that you're not worried about Saquon Barkley. Obviously, you know there's a lot of talent there. But can you say the same about your offensive line? Are you concerned about what you saw, and what did you think you saw out of them in the opener?

A: There's no question there's a challenge for our whole football team to get our team to the next level. That applies to every aspect of it, every unit on our team and all the position groups within that, and really all aspects of our offense. We want to run the ball better than we did. Everyone has a piece of that, from the coaching staff to each individual player to the different position groups, we're all a part of that thing. What you do is you go back and you look at when it was good. There were a couple, three snaps where we did run the ball well in the game. There were many more where we didn't run the ball well enough. You look for reasons as to why that's the case. Obviously, it's a new mix of players up front. We have to do a better job communicating. There are some young players who haven't played very much before. They have to learn and grow from their experiences. What we love about those guys is their approach is outstanding. They've been very coachable right from the start. There's no better coaching and learning opportunity than a game. You come out of that game and you say, 'ok, what was positive? What can we build on? What were some of the areas where we have to improve?' Again, their approach is outstanding. We started that process yesterday on the practice field, and it'll continue today.

Q: I'm wondering about Daniel (Jones). Obviously, a lot has been made about the interception in the end zone. How does he correct that? Let's take that pass away. The other 20 decisions that he made in the passing game, what did you think of those?

A: I thought, in a lot of ways, Daniel played a very good game the other night. I think if you look at his overall decision-making, I thought it was really pretty good. I thought he made a lot of really good plays and sometimes in an environment that was challenging. Whether it's down and distance, people around him, I thought he stood in there and made some really good throws throughout the game. Obviously, you want to take that decision he made down at the goal line, you want that one back. He'd be the first to tell you that. Again, he's a young player and he's going to learn from these experiences. But he did a lot of good things that we can build on, and there are certainly plenty of areas to correct. But I say this again, his approach is outstanding. He's a very coachable guy, and we'll learn from the experience.

Q: You did a lot of unique things with three tight end sets, one receiver, a lot of interesting formations. Is that something you feel like maybe you've grown the way the NFL has changed since the last time you were calling plays, or was that always a big part of your playbook?

A: Yeah, we've always used the three tight end sets. That's something that's been a big part of it. Sometimes, based on the personnel that you have available to you or the scheme the defense might be playing, you might use more of those things one week and less of them the next week. We try to be a multiple offense. That starts with run and pass, it goes to personnel groupings and how you use formations and motions and tempo and all of those kinds of things. You try to do what's best for your team playing to the strengths of your team, maybe trying to neutralize some of the weaknesses you might have, and certainly, trying to attack the weaknesses of the opponent and neutralize their strengths. That's something we'll do every week. We'll have different game plans for the opponent that we play to try to accomplish those things.

Q: You guys didn't seem to do a lot of pre-snap motion on Monday night. I'm just curious what went into that decision? Is that something when the offensive line is struggling, maybe you would consider doing it a little bit more, because it seems like quarterbacks around the league tend to benefit from that?

A: Certainly, that's always been a big part of what we've done, use of formation shifts and motions. We also use tempo. We used a lot of tempo in the game. There was a lot of no-huddle. I don't know if you could figure that out watching on TV, but that was a big part of it. When you're doing that, you might be in the shifts and motions world a little bit less than you typically would be if you were coming out of the huddle.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: Your two gunners are both guys who got here recently. How do you think they did on punt coverage? Do you give Adrian Colbert credit on that muffed punt for getting down there and making Johnson feel him before he drops the ball there?

A: I give Riley (Dixon) credit and I give AC (Colbert) credit. He got down there and did his job obviously. They made a mistake and we capitalized on it. That's what that part of the game is about. We knew we had the ability to hit the ball kind of funky down there in that plus area. It worked out for us.

Q: There aren't a lot of chances to bring back kickoffs. It seemed like the few that there were, Dion Lewis really wasn't interested. Was that just something he was seeing or was it you guys have a rule if you can't get it out to the 25, don't bother?

A: It was just more of a feeling thing. One of those we probably should have returned, definitely. The one right before the half. We talked about that. The flow of the game, you just want to make sure everything gets off and running and it's just the game management part of it. Being smart in how we're handling it and just getting a few more reps underneath us before we start breaking out exactly what we're going to do.

Q: Tell me about that Jabrill Peppers punt return, I think it's the one that Joe broke down on his film review for the public. How close was Jabrill to breaking that for a touchdown? Were there others that he was close to breaking, too?

A: Yeah, he had a couple in there. Like I told you guys before, y'all have seen him. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands. If we could have been a little cleaner with our blocking on the front end of it, we probably would have been a little bit better in the back end of it. Again, this process has been different. We have to get better at the fundamentals and the techniques. We have a long way to go. We have a solid group. Jabrill did an excellent job. Guys are just playing hard. It's just a lot of things we have to get cleaned up. Moving forward, we'll make sure we get those things done. I look forward to being able to help the team in any way we can with our punt return game.

Q: Joe's a guy with an extensive special teams background. I'm curious how much do your philosophies align? How much have you had to change with some of his influence, just putting that all together?

A: We haven't had to change a whole lot. I've added a lot of stuff from what Joe's done in the past. As far as changing anything, we just married our two systems together. The things that work, we keep. The things that are a little bit different, we kind of put to the side. It's been great. Just trying to get that chemistry as you move forward from game to game and how we mange games. How we want to attack people and having those conversations, it has been really good.

Q: I know you have to be flexible personnel wise. Now with this practice squad elevation, did you know last week you would have Sean (Chandler)? Were you planning to have him? Do you have to wait?

A: Like I told you guys before, we're juggling balls. It depends on what happens during practice. We might have a plan all week and then Friday or Saturday, something happens and we have to change the plan. It's just being able to make those midstream adjustments and, again, that's the job.

Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence

Q: Were you pleased with the defense's energy, effort and stamina? It did seem like towards the end of the game, maybe you guys weren't as effective up front as you had been at the beginning? But it did seem like you created a lot of pressure early and gave Ben (Roethlisberger) some problems?

A: Obviously, we didn't win the game. We all feel like we could have done more, but it was promising to see that we didn't quit, we didn't give up or anything like that. It obviously was tough, but the morale is still here. It's one game. We just have to move on from there and get better from there.

Q: Long practice today? You looked gassed.

A: No, I just finished with a little lift.

Q: What's more satisfying for you, to get a sack or to make a play on a screen pass like you did the other night?

A: They're all big plays. I like making big plays. Honestly, probably the screen because I looked a little more athletic right there. But in the long run, I just try to do things to help the team win.

Q: Take me through what happened on the screen there in your head. Obivously, I think Leonard (Williams) was talking about this, there was probably a split second where you realized, 'I got in, this is great, but it was too easy.' What was going through your mind?

A: With screens, you're rushing and no one's touching you. I said 'that's not right,' and I saw the running back trying to slip by my face, so I just redirected. I was trying to make a play on the ball, but I ended up grabbing his jersey.

Q: We were talking to Leonard yesterday. He said you're like his fifth or sixth best friend on the team.

A: That far back?

Q: No, he said you were his best friend, I'm teasing. That's nice, but does that translate to anything on the field when you guys are out there together?

A: It definitely does. Just the silent communication we can have, don't give the offensive line any tips, little things like that. Just eye contact or just the feeling that if I overcommit to a move, he can make up for it or something like that. That's kind of with everybody on the D-line, honestly. We're all filling that gap. If somebody messes up, the next person is there to kind of make the play or help out in a sense.

Q: How did you and Leonard hit it off right away?

A: Funny story. I used to watch him when I was in high school and he was in college. I tell him that all the time. He doesn't like when I say that. I kind of joke about that a little bit. But honestly, I respect him as a person, who he is, and the kind of energy he brings to the D-line room.

Q: You played like a little under 50 percent, maybe it was 46 or 48 percent of the snaps. How much more do you think you can handle? What did you feel like after the game? Do you think that's going to go up as the season goes along and that's because it was Week 1, or do you think that's kind of going to be your role?

A: Honestly, the rotation, the coaches did a good job of keeping us fresh, moving us in and out. We were still able to get a feel for the game, make plays and be fresh at the same time. This week, I'm feeling good for Week 2. Everybody didn't get as many reps as we did before, but we're all fresh and feel ready to go and energized. Honestly, it was a good rotation.

Q: Do you feel like you could handle more if they ask you to?

A: Of course. Of course, I'm going to say I can handle more. That's who I am. I'm a competitor and I like to compete.

Q: The defensive line has a lot of high draft picks, has a lot of high-paid guys, a lot of resources. Your secondary has had a lot of moving pieces, a lot of different guys, Logan (Ryan) is new, Ike Yiadom is new. Do you guys upfront feel a little like you have to carry the load here early in this season for those guys?

A: Our mindset since the end of the season is we were going to dictate the speed of the game, we were going to dictate… we were going to take charge of everything. We can't make too many sacks or anything if they're not covering. They can't cover if we're not getting pressure pretty much. It all coincides with each other. They obviously are coming to work every day, working hard, trying to get better, and we're doing the same. But honestly, the D-line, we take on that responsibility to be those guys, to be the people to go get it. That's just our role and our leadership.

Q: You mentioned you watched Leonard when you were in high school. I'm curious the other night when you guys reviewed the film, did he look like the guy that you remembered?

A: Oh Leonard? Yeah, his celebration was a little nice, but mine was a little better. No, but honestly, he was out there doing his thing, making plays. This year, I feel like he has a lot more confidence and he's just taking on that role. He came back looking better and feeling better, so it's all positive.

Q: So, your sack dance is much better than his?

A: Most definitely.

Running Back Saquon Barkley

Q: I don't know if you heard it or not, but Tiki Barber said he's not sure if you can be an every down back because you can't pass protect. He called you a big back who wants to play small. I want to know what your response is to all that.

A: Obviously, Tiki is a legend. He has done a lot of great things for this franchise. I'm not going to look at it as disrespect, I'm going to look at it as a challenge. Same thing with him, like everyone else, I really don't care about outside opinions. I'm really focused about the opinions in this building. Try to come to work every single day and get better.

Q: Are there areas of your game in pass protection and those sort of things that maybe have become points of emphasis in anything you are doing in practice to get better in that area?

A: No, I come to work every single day with the mindset, try to improve in everything. Focus on the little things. Whatever the drill is, focus on that. If it's the pass game, focus on catching the ball. If it's pass pro, if it's run game, focus on making the run cuts and the right reads. When I'm in the open field, work on my moves and work on finishing scoring touchdowns. I know this is going to be the question or the kind of the theme of this media session about my pass pro. I understand that I probably made some mistakes in pass pro and I put it on film. I know it's going to keep coming, people are going to keep challenging me. It's a good way to keep me in and stop me from getting to open space and making plays there, too, also. I just have to keep working at it, keep getting better and that's going to be my same answer for the rest of the pass pro questions. Thank you, guys.

Q: Have Jason or Joe brought any concerns to you like Tiki voiced or not really?

A: No. The only concern was that we lost as a team. In the running back room and my running back coach, we watched film, we see what we all can improve on and those are things that we watch. We try to learn from it and get better and come into practice this week and prepare for Chicago.

Q: We know you study other backs, we know you are a student of the game. Wondering if there is somebody you have gone to in the past like in the off-season about pass pro? Is there somebody who you have seen struggle with it early and become great at it? We know you are a connoisseur of backs. Who does that remind you of what you have to do?

A: There's a lot of great backs and there's a lot of great backs that do a great job in pass pro. There's a lot of backs that get beat in pass pro. It's not an easy thing to do in this league. I kind of watch the good and learn from the bad and try not to make those mistakes. Watch myself also and see what I can improve better and just kind of focus on the details and the techniques of it. I'm not going to point out any backs who's great at it or who's bad at it. There's multiple backs that do a really good job and made mistakes and you can learn from both ways there. I just try to take it and add to my game.

Q: I think you tried two hurdles in the game. When you hurdle somebody, do you think about ball security while you're doing it? Do you bring it in tighter while you're doing that? Or is it an instinctual thing when you hurdle somebody?

A: I don't think about ball security when I'm running. If you think about it, you're going to overthink it and you're going to lose the ball. Whether any move that I make, I really don't think, to be honest. I try not to over think, I try to put myself in position in practice and have those practice reps and those mental reps and have it come to play in the games.

Q: When you played Pittsburgh on Monday, that was the first time you have ever seen them. You get Chicago this week who you saw last year. Is that somewhat of an advantage for you, having knowledge of the group you are going against? Where you didn't the first time.

A: I'm not going to make excuses. The reason why the Steelers were able to win the game and did a really good job in the run game wasn't because we didn't see them before. I guess you could say there is an advantage because we played them the year before and the year before that. This will be the third year for me playing them in a row. You kind of understand those guys. It's the same thing, you have to watch film. Every year is a different year. Obviously, it's the same players but it's the start of a new unique season. We'll continue to try to watch film to get a better understanding of them so we can come out this weekend and try our best to come out with a W.

Q: I know you have a previous relationship with Tiki. Have you spoken to him at all or talked to him about this? Did it kind of get sprung on you?

A: No, I didn't. I guess he addressed something on his show, which is his God-given right. He has an opinion, he voiced his opinion. Like I said, it's his opinion to have. I'm going to take it more as a challenge than disrespect and just focus on myself and focus on everyone here in this building.

Q: When you went back and looked at the runs, there obviously wasn't much there. Was there anything when you looked back and said you could've done differently in that game. Is it just the circumstance?

A: I'll always go back, even if I score an 80-yard touchdown. I'm going to see why I scored an 80-yard touchdown. How I could have done a better job scoring that 80-yard touchdown. It doesn't matter if it was an 80-yard touchdown or if it's a negative-three loss. I'm always going to be my biggest self-critic and see what I could have could have done and improve on.

Q: Did you come away with anything though? Like you say, 'this one thing I need to do?' I'm asking you if you basically said, 'ok, I need to hit the hole harder maybe on certain runs.' Is that what you saw? Because you've said that in the past, I know.

A: Like I said, I'm a big self-critic of myself. I'm just focusing on the little things I can do in every single game. If it's an 80-yarder or a negative three–yard run, just go back and see what I can do differently. Every play is different within itself.

Q: As a brief aside, if I may, Penn State doesn't beat Iowa if you don't stone Josey Jewell, the blitzing linebacker in the hole, in that game in Iowa. I remember it very well. If I were you, it would bother me a great deal if people questioned my toughness or my willingness to dole out a hit. Does that part of it bother you, not only as a football player, but as someone trying to do the best job he can in your line of work, which requires physicality?

A: No, it does not. To be completely honest, the reason it doesn't bother me is no disrespect to anyone on this call or anyone outside this, but when I say I don't care, I truly don't care about other people's opinions. I know, you can ask my teammates, you can ask anyone in this building, they won't question my toughness. Everyone wants to go oh it's easy to be an All-Pro clicker and to be able to watch stuff on film and say 'oh, he should have done this, he should have done that,' or 'he can improve on that.' That's the easy way. But in my position, I know how I come to work every single day and I know the belief that my teammates have in me. That's why every single week, I'm going to come out and just try to improve and get better, not for you guys and not for anyone outside of here, but for the guys in this building.

Q: You've obviously had a lot of success, a lot of praise in your career. This is a bit of an unusual week where you've got critics piling on, it wasn't a good game for you. How motivating is that for you heading into the next game, to shut everyone up and put that game in your rearview mirror?

A: It happened. The game happened. I had 15 carries for six yards. I think I tied for the second-lowest of all time with 15 carries or more. Guess what? I came to work this week with a smile on my face, ready to work and ready to get better. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you praise me or you say negative things about me. I'm not going to use that motivation because my motivation is to be great myself. I don't need you guys to push me that way. I need to focus on myself and try building up myself. This week, there's no extra motivation. There's no this or that or the third. It's just try to come in and get the W for the Giants.

View photos of Thursday's practice as the Giants gear up for their first road game of the season in Chicago.


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