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Quotes: Coach Joe Judge, DL Leonard Williams, G Will Hernandez, S Jabrill Peppers

Head Coach Joe Judge

Opening Statement: Look, we kind of kicked off everything yesterday in terms of training camp. Look, obviously today is the first day of practice, today is the first day of preparation for the season to get out here as a team and get going. It's good to be on the grass, it's good to see you guys in person again, it's nice to have a sense of normalcy. Obviously, everything is not 100 percent normal, there's still a lot of things we have to do protocol-wise and handle a lot of situations off the field, but in terms of the football itself, we're looking forward to going full speed as much as we can today in helmets and t-shirts. With that being said, we'll open up to questions.

Q: What is your plan with getting into pads and building guys up when you get there?

A: Yeah, so there's a ramp-up period, so we really won't be in pads until next Tuesday. So it'll be helmets and shorts for the next couple of days, we'll go into shells Friday and Saturday, shells the following Monday and then we'll be in pads. We'll be in pads as much as we can be, even when it's not a live contact day. Just get used to wearing the equipment, moving around, getting our players used to being out there.

Q: Coach, how much of the protocols alter what you do on a daily basis?

A: For the most part, it doesn't alter much, it really doesn't. Obviously if a guy triggers and he's in some kind of protocol, they can't be with us in meetings, they go in through Zoom. That's still a little bit funky. Look, [LB] Blake Martinez is outside the building right now. You sit in the linebacker meeting and [Linebackers Coach] Kevin Sherrer's talking and it's kind of like the voice of Oz coming back over the speaker when Blake is answering questions, so it's a little bit different in that regard. But I think our team is pretty good at changing and adjusting on the fly. It's something we dealt with last year to a degree. We've been in Zoom completely. Now, we're kind of almost integrating some in Zoom and some in person. Hopefully, we can get everyone in person full-time as much as we can, but in terms of on the field, look, there's protocols that players have to follow. If you're not vaccinated or fully through the process yet of being vaccinated, you've got to wear that Oakley mouth shield over your helmet. When they take their helmets off, they've got to put masks on. These are just part of the protocols. We've got a number of guys who are waiting to be fully cleared. I know it'll be easier for them when they get to that process completely, but for right now, we all understand that, look, it is what it is. We've got rules and we talk as a team, you have choices. The League and Union afford you the choice of being vaccinated or unvaccinated. Reality is, it's a lot easier to go ahead and live life as a professional player if you're vaccinated. If you're not vaccinated, you just have to follow all the protocols associated with it and it's our job as a team to enforce those and educate our players along the way.

Q: Do you expect to be 100 percent vaccinated at some point?

A: I can't answer that question. Look, we have a lot of guys on our team who will make individual choices. Our job is to educate them and, again, whatever choice they make we just make sure that they're doing what's right for the team by following the protocols.

Q: Joe, what's [Wide Receiver] Kadarius [Toney] going to do today?

A: You know what, actually he's going to ramp up with our trainers. We'll see where he is physically before we kind of bring him back completely. You know, we have a number of guys in that situation coming off that COVID list and that's something that we dealt with last year. Really, we learned a lot last year from the guys coming off. Even when a guy comes off and is asymptomatic and they feel like when they get back to the field they're ramped up, they're ready to go, there's a lot of energy and excitement. They get out there and the truth is when you've been in a position where you've basically isolated and you're not working out for a week, ten days, whatever it may be, that just goes ahead and sets you back in your training. We've got to make sure our players are healthy when we get there, that's why we do a conditioning test. It's not to see how far we can push our team, it's to see are these guys physically ready to go out there and perform in what we need them to do on the field.

Q: Where were they when you saw them do the conditioning test?

A: I'm pleased with the team's progress over the summer. Everyone passed it. We've got a lot of guys, you can tell, who have worked extremely hard over the summer. All that it just to show that they have the opportunity to get on the field and work. From this point forward, obviously we'll start playing football and we'll see today as we build in conditioning.

Q: Joe, for you personally, what's different about you this year starting your second training camp in your second year as a head coach? Did you make any changes in your preparation for this year's camp? Will we see different things? What's different about you?

A: I'd say the foundation of our team is always going to be the same, so there's going to be principles we look to operate within on a daily basis. In terms of me specifically, I'm not going to go through a list of things I've adjusted, but I'm always looking to go ahead and get better. I rely on my own self-critique, but I also have guys on this staff and guys externally I trust and rely on their input along the way. Look, I'm going to always be me, I'm going to do it with my personality, I think you have to do that otherwise you're just lying trying to be something else. In terms of adjustments, you know, practice is never going to be just one simple template where you go ahead and follow it on through. We don't just hit print and print out last year's practice schedules. We always do what's best for the team based on the players that we have available at each time. It'll change game plan-wise throughout the season, but if you're going through training camp you'll see a lot of the similar things. As we build through training camp, we get our players in better condition, we'll start doing a lot more two-spot drills to make sure everyone's getting reps. Nobody's standing around watching. We're going to work a lot of, obviously, fundamentals tackling, running in space, turnovers, ball security. We're going to always work special teams mixed in through practice. There's obviously going to be lot of transition and the design of practice and how we do it is football is a game of transition. We talk, if you're a running back and we don't convert on third down, guess what, you've got to get ready to play on the punt team, you've got to flip your thinking right there. But we've got to learn as a team to transition from offense or defense to the kicking game, and then drop the kicking game and go back to offense or defense and move it. So, there's a lot on our players each day in terms of knowing where to go, but that's part of the design. We don't try to make this an easy place. We want to make sure to put as much pressure on the players through practice as possible, so that when they get in the games they've dealt with a level of adversity and pressure that help them operate better.

Q: Does it feel any different representing the Giants out here in front of the cameras in person versus doing it over Zoom like your entire first season?

A: It's more natural. I mean, look, we've said all along whether it's the fans, whether it's dealing with the media, whatever it is. Look, I like personal relationships. I'd rather sit out here and look you guys in the eye and talk to you just directly one-on-one than sit there. Look, the reality is when we do those Zooms, there's sometimes someone's talking and there's so many screens on there, I can't even look at the face of whoever asked the question. I like to look back at who asked the question and just give them a direct answer.

Q: Joe, you were an assistant for many years, last year you kind of stressed you want your assistants to be hands on. Were you happy with the way that worked last year, and will we see anything different out here in training camp or do you want your guys to take another level, some of your assistant, and be even more hands on with some of these guys?

A: Look, I expect everyone on the staff to coach. Everyone has to be an expert in their field, and I look at everyone as the head coach of their position. We have a number of coaches out here. No one's out here to carry a clipboard and just record things. Everyone's out here to coach and help our players. The goal of what we're doing is teaching our team, so I expect everyone on our coaching staff to coach every player at all times. I want there to be crossover. To me, it's important that [Defensive Backs Coach] Jerome [Henderson] sees something in our receiver, he helps the receiver out to give him a tip. 'Hey, every time you do this pre-snap, we know you're doing this.' And that same thing vice versa, if [Wide Receivers Coach] Tyke [Tolbert] sees something a corner is doing in press man, he will let them know. 'Hey, when we see you do this, this is how we're looking to expose it.' We want to make sure we get stronger as a group and as a team by working together.

Q: With the offensive line, there's a lot of guys in that mix with the coaches, is there any concern somebody does something in the drill and three guys yell at him at the same time?

A: No. No, those guys work well together. It's important for me that the coaching staff, we spend a lot of time meeting and that we end up on the same page and when we walk out of the meetings, we understand what's going on.

Q: Along the lines of the offensive line, knowing that you're not even going to be in pads until next week and then you only see your traditional o-line guys – and it's talk to me in Week 3 to see where they're truly at, how do you assess and evaluate that group? Because I know with all the talk about every other position, I know how much emphasis you're putting on the development of those guys. How do you go about that?

A: Well look, it's our job as coaches to evaluate our players however we can. In the spring, you're obviously not in pads. Well, we got to evaluate where they're at in the spring as well. You have a ramp-up period through the NFL rules, so they're not going to be in full pads going right away. Obviously, as training camp goes on at all positions, the pads are on, the competition picks up, we get to have preseason games, practice against Cleveland and New England, that'll tell a lot about team as we go forward. The players have to demonstrate consistent improvement across the board. Dependability is a big thing we're looking for here and that's day-by-day how it goes on. I'd say in terms of the offensive line, look, we have to work with whatever we're afforded. So, it's not full pads today. It's not full pads for defensive line either. You have to understand that when we do team drills, they're cooperative drills. We're still working the elements and the fundamentals of what we're doing. We're still getting off. We're playing with a good tempo, good pad level, football position. We're still working on extension and lock out. We're still working all the calls and communication. All right, and then the movement of the offensive line. We're just not having a collision finish. Is there going to be some contact out there? There will be. But it's not collisions. That's what we're emphasizing.

Q: On the lines of the offensive line, someone like [Guard] Will Hernandez, what progress have you seen from the end of last year through this spring to this point?

A: Yeah, I'm pleased with how he's worked. I think obviously physically, the shape he's returned in to play. He showed a level of conditioning through spring we're very pleased with. One thing about Will is he's just worked very tirelessly on everything we've asked him to do. He's had great communication with [Director of Strength and Performance] Fitz [Craig Fitzgerald] and the strength staff, [Director of Sports and Performance Nutrition] Steve Smith our nutritionist, [Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie Barnes and his staff, all of our offensive line coaches. Will's just done a really good job of doing everything we ask him to do to the best of his abilities and that's all you can ask of a player.

Q: Joe, having those joint practices as well as preseason games now back, how much more helpful is that for you to evaluate talent and find the best 53?

A: Yeah, that's huge. That's huge and you kind of go back from our notes last year, kind of getting ready – or last year's training camp as opposed to this year's training camp – and we had to invent as many scenarios as possible to evaluate players in competition. I thought we did as good a job as we could've done last year with that. There's something obviously we look back and say, 'what could we do better going forward?' But in terms of having competitive practices, that's always great for the team. The first thought that's great, it breaks up the monotony of camp. Instead of bashing each other's heads in, you get to visit another team and work with them. You get to see different schemes, different players, evaluate your players against someone as a changeup. Maybe a different skillset, talent level then whoever they've been working against every day in practice. It gives you more of a team-unifying feel out there. It just ramps up more opportunities to go out there and see them compete and have a true evaluation of them. Obviously, the preseason games, there's nothing better for evaluation than a preseason game and seeing a guy actually in live action. That can be if they play 10 plays in the game or an entire half or an entire game. That's got to be something we've got to evaluate because you can't replicate the flow of the game and then also there's nothing better for players to get ready to play the season safely. They have to build in that in-game conditioning and stamina and that feel for the rest in between plays, the break in between series, little things like commercial breaks. There's things that add up throughout a game you just can't replicate in practice.

Q: Going back to Will, you had to make a choice between [Guard] Shane [Lemieux] and Will, one of those guys to move to the right side, was there a specific reason why we saw Will there in the spring?

A: No. We're going to play all of our players on both sides. You're going to see all the tackles play right and left. You're going to see the guards play right and left. You're going to see Nick Gates at times, we may flex him to guard or tackle. We're always building our flexibility offensively to make sure that if something happens, we can interchange parts and keep on moving. Who knows, we may pick up somebody in the season who can play only left guard, or the strength is only left guard, we would make sure that both Shane and Will can both play on the right or on the left as we need them to.

Q: What kind of spring do you think [Running Back] Devontae Booker had and how capable he is of carrying the load until [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley] comes back?

A: Well, I think Devontae has to worry about himself and not worry about where anybody else is. We're going to look to get contributions from all of our players no matter who is available on the roster. Again, whoever comes to a game for us is going to play, all right? We're not traveling guys to sit there and watch the game. I'm pleased with the progress he's made through spring. Obviously, for any new player – rookies, free agents, it doesn't matter – there's elements of the program they have to get used to. Whether it's a little bit of something different we do on operation, how we practice, the system of the scheme, communication, that all adds up right there. But I'm confident in all of our players. He's worked hard to this point and now we have to see him every day make progress in our training camp.

Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams

Q: What was it like being back on the first day?

A: It was awesome. Going into year seven, it's a big vet year for me now and just being back out here with the team and seeing everybody come back after a good offseason. Everybody looks to be in good shape right now and ready to compete. It's a good energy out there right now on day one.

Q: Looking at what you accomplished on the field last year, what are your personal goals this year?

A: I think that's the most important, is just build on what we did last year good and eliminate what we did last year not so good. That's the most important part of going into this year and it starts today. You know, we're doing a good job of watching film from last year and critiquing what we didn't do so well and continue to build and sharpen our toolbox on what we did do well. I think that's big.

Q: Is there a point of emphasis that you did do well or didn't do well that you can point out?

A: I think the biggest thing that I need to work on is that transition from run to pass, reading stuff a little bit quicker. I think that just comes with more recognition of the game, more film study and more experience in this game. Like I said, I'm going into year seven now, I think those things are starting to come to me faster now and just picking up on that recognition to make it that much faster.

Q: With the contract situation out of the way, do you feel freer now?

A: I don't know. I think last year I wasn't too focused on it. The coaches and myself did a good job of just focusing on each day, focusing on getting better, focusing on my personal game and not really focusing on the contract or the money or what you gain at the end of the season. I was just more focused on the process and same situation now that [Head] Coach [Joe] Judge is preaching to me and the rest of the team is we have to love the process, we have to love practice, we have to make practice easier than the game, and I think the coaches did a good job of that last year.

Q: Does the big-money contract put more pressure on you?

A: If I was looking at it in a pressure way, it would be the same way last year, like I said about the contract. You know, you try not to focus on money, you try not to focus on a contract or anything like that that you're involved in or what to expect. You just really want to focus on the grind, focus on your specific task, your specific ability and what you can bring to the team and how you can make the team better.

Q: So the answer is no?

A: No.

Q: How can you become a better leader for this defense this year?

A: I think just be more vocal. I think I've always been a good leader by example, which at this point I think is the easy thing to do. And I think just stepping out of my comfort zone and being more of a vocal type of leader. Leading by example, I always make sure I'm on time, I always make sure I'm running and conditioned well and doing everything right that way, but having some of those younger guys, speaking to some of those younger guys and speaking to the team is something to step out of my comfort zone and be a bit better of a leader.

Q: How much better can this defense be in a second year under [Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham?

A: Not trying to relate to last year, but we all love playing under Pat Graham and we love how smart he is and what he brings to the game. He doesn't put everybody in the same position, he knows what type of tools he has, what type of guys he has, and he puts his players in the best ability to play the best that they can. I think that makes players' confidence rise and the more confident you are, the better you play.

Q: Are the expectations to build on what you did last year sack-wise and continue to be a double-digit sacker?

A: I mean, I want to continue to improve my ability, I want to continue to put my best foot forward and bring the best I can to this team. I'm not focused on numbers. I'm focusing on just having another great season.

Q: Obviously, COVID-19 is still a big story in the NFL. Have you ever been vaccinated?

A: I got my first shot. I still have to wait to get my second shot and then going forward I think I have to wait another two weeks after that. But overall, I think the team is doing a good job of making sure that we follow all the right protocols and giving everybody their freedom to do what they want to do based on their principles and what they want to do best for their family, and stuff like that. 

Q: As a leader, would you encourage your teammates to do it?

A: Yeah, I think I would encourage most people to do it. At the same time, though, everyone has their freedom to do what they want to do. The only reason why I encourage them to do it is because certain protocols hinder us from being together in certain ways. I think it would be better going forward health-wise and not preventing any loss of games, cancellations or anything like that and just making sure everyone is on the same page.

Q: What made you decide to get vaccinated and why did you wait?

A: I'm not sure. I just had a busy offseason training and as soon as I got back, I got it. That's pretty much it.

Q: Why did you decide to get it?

A: Just because of the protocols, like I said. I think it'll be just a little bit smoother and just because of the health reasons, as well. It's easier going forward with the team, making sure we're all on the same page and making sure everyone is safe.

Q: Does this feel different sitting here looking at us?

A: Compared to Zoom? Yeah. I mean, I think it's a little bit better in person. I'm glad that things are starting to come back like that, and I'm excited to see fans back in the stadium and all that type of good stuff. It was always weird doing stuff over a Zoom call, even learning the playbook and stuff like that over Zoom. I'm not that type of guy that can learn through a screen, I'm an in-person type of person, so just seeing everyone back feels good.

Q: Was it strange being out there without [Vikings Defensive Lineman] Dalvin [Tomlinson] next to you?

A: Yeah, I mean I played with him the last two years now. He's a great player and a great leader. I'm obviously happy for his new contract and where he's at now. He just got engaged to his girl and I keep up with him. We keep up with each other and we'll always be friends.

Q: You were a first round pick, so this wasn't your first big contract, but did this change anything for you outside of football? Did you sense any difference in your life after signing the contract?

A: Not really, honestly, besides people talking about it. That's the only thing that's changed. Nobody's coming up to me anymore asking me about contract stuff anymore. I think nothing in my personal life has changed, it's just the way people approach me has changed.

Q: Some guys have a big purchase that they make or something. Is there a purchase that you're going to make?

A: I haven't yet. You know, I bought my mom a house when I was a rookie. I'm still looking to buy myself a house. I mean, I'm not really a big spender like that, I'm a big outdoors person. I like to be in the water, I like to go hiking and camping. I buy tents and stuff like that more than I buy nice, expensive things.

Q: I saw you take a bite out of a fish's heart that you posted. What does that taste like?

A: It didn't taste that bad. It was a little salty, but I go spear fishing a lot during my free time and it was my first time catching a blue fin tuna, so it was part of the tradition.

Q: How frustrating has it been for you never having made the playoffs?

A: Obviously it's been frustrating. I'm going into my seventh year. Being a competitor and being in the NFL for that long, it's obviously a goal of mine and I'm looking forward to working towards that.

Q: Is this a playoff team now?

A: I think we have a very high-talented team. I don't want to make predictions, like I said. It just starts today. We have to come out here and compete. I think we did a good job of that today and we have to just build on that tomorrow. Hopefully we'll see where we end up.

Q: Sorry if this was asked before, but now that you're in the second year of this defense, what do you personally think you can do better from last year?

A: I think just being more of a leader and just adapting. I think that's something that Pat Graham talks about a lot is adapt or die, and it just goes to show the way he coaches and the way he plays his defense. We change our defense mid-game sometimes, we change our defense every week, week in and week out, depending on who we're playing. We have to learn how to adapt and quickly, and that's how this league is. I think that's just what I have to learn, how to adapt faster and elevate my game more.

Q: Do you mean to situations on the field or situations off the field, or everything in general?

A: Just everything in general. I was just talking about picking up on teams' schemes, watching film a little bit more, being able to learn what my opponent is going to give me before the snap. Just picking up on small little reads and stuff like that.

Q: What is different or defining about how Coach Judge runs training camp compared to other coaches?

A: He doesn't really care if you're a star player or anyone else, he treats everyone the same. I think that's what makes this team grow, I think it keeps everyone on an equal playing field. He's not going to let one player get away with something that he might not let the next person get away with. It creates a good competition. I love the way Coach Judge coaches us and how hard he is on everyone to get better.

Q: What have you learned about the Giants tradition on defense over the years?

A: I mean, obviously, they've had great defensive linemen come through here for years now. Hopefully, I'm going to be a part of that tradition for a longer time now. I've been able to talk with Justin Tuck and guys like Michael Strahan and those guys. We've obviously had a great defense with the Giants for a long time now, so we'll continue to build on that.

Guard Will Hernandez

Q: How does it feel being out there again?

A: I love it. You know, I missed it and I felt great. Had a lot of fun with the guys. Went out there, worked on a lot of things I've been wanting to work on, and it was overall great to be back out there and getting back to work.

Q: Talk about the transition to the right side.

A: Yeah, I mean it's basically just a flip flop thing. You do everything that you do on the left side, do it on the right. Everything's universal, it's not as hard as people sometimes make it seem. Transition's a transition, it's different, but for me I feel it smoothly and I'm going to give it my all.

Q: Did you do anything special? You look trimmer and like you added some bulk. Did you do anything to prep for the transition to be more versatile?

A: Appreciate that, you're the first one that noticed. But yeah, I did up my training, a lot more intensity, a lot more conditioning. Just did different things than I did in the past. There was a famous saying from my strength coach that stuck with me all offseason, 'You always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.' So, I did a lot of things differently, ate different, I worked out different. At the end of the day, I still trained for football, still going out there and practicing the craft, just starting on the other side and that's about it.

Q: Did you want to do that or did somebody tell you to do that or did you just look at the film and say "Okay, I've got to do something different."

A: I guess you could say it's both. Me, the coaches, other players, my teammates, we all talked a little bit. I hear everybody out, but at the end of the day, this is what I want to do and that's where I want to be.

Q: When is the last time you played on the right side?

A: I guess you could say high school. I played right guard all throughout high school and I did get switched out a little bit in college as well. [Former UTEP Head Coach Sean] Kugler had me playing both sides just in case. I guess you could say I played right guard all my life, just not as much in my recent years.

Q: At any point in the spring did you run out there onto the left side from muscle memory. If you were supposed to go to the right but went to the left by mistake.

A: Oh, no, that didn't happen. Once I get locked in on right, I'm right. But yeah, I am ready just in case I ever get called back to the left, back to the right. That's the cool thing about playing both sides now, I can kind of transition a little bit easier.

Q: Can you talk about the benefit that you got from working with the Duke Manyweather group you worked with this offseason

A: Yeah, I think one of the best things about working out there is that you're with a bunch of guys around the league. So, you can learn a lot, you can also compete a lot. You've got guys that are there with the same goals, with the same intentions, working hard. So, it kind of pushes you naturally instead of just working out by yourself which I did in my previous years. The best part about it is the comradery and the competition that it builds because all the guys are there doing the same thing.

Q: Can you tell us how much weight you lost?

A: I think around like 20 pounds, something like that.

Q: So, what are you now?

A: I mean it's not focused too much on the weight because I did lose body fat and gain muscle. All of that comes into play, it's not just a straight weight thing, but around there, 20 pounds.

Q: You went through a rough year last year between COVID and I think I heard you had an injury that you were dealing, so you had a lot of things going against you. What has that taught you about yourself? How are you applying those lessons this year and showing everybody that you are worthy to be out here?

A: Sometimes there are things that happen to you that you just can't control and that was one of them for me. I didn't like it at all, but I had to deal with it and all that time that I missed because of it has just taught me how much more important the time that I have now is. So now I try not to waste any reps, waste any time. I try to do everything even better than I did before because I value that time a lot more because I had to sit out.

Q: Do you feel 100 percent coming back even after being on the COVID list?

A: At all times, I was ready to play. There's just some things that you just can't tell whether you're good or bad until after the fact or until time passes. I couldn't really give you an answer on that, but I was always ready to go in and play if I need to.

Q: What makes [Defensive Line] Leonard Williams so difficult to block?

A: Leonard Williams, I would say he has everything. He has speed, he has the agility, he has the strength, he has the size and for a guy his size, he moves very well. So, I mean when you put all those together, that makes him very dangerous.

Q: When you have all those things going, the negativity and all the stuff that was going on, did you ever say, "Why me?" Or did you have somebody kind of keeping you from hitting the emotional rock bottom, so to speak.

A: No, no, never that 'why me' mentality or that victim mentality. I wasn't raised that way at all. You deal with what's happening, you can't control it, you can't control it. Did I like it? No. It was never 'poor me.' I always just said, 'whenever my time comes, I'm going to make sure I take advantage of it,' and that's what I'm doing now.

Q: How beneficial will it be to have joint practices and preseason games as you transition into a new position?

A: I think it's going to be great competition. Like I kind of said with the Duke Manyweather training, it kind of brings out a little bit more out of everybody and it gives you that competition and it actually makes you step up your game. It's the same concept, we're going to step up our game, we're going to want to have good practices against them, we're going to want to win every day against every team. So naturally it's just going to make us better.

Q: With this being day one and a fresh start, as the Offensive Line unit, what's the mindset on [Quarterback] Daniel Jones taking his next step and weapons like [Wide Receiver Kenny] Golladay. What the focus you are wanting to start off with this season?

A: Our focus right now is just to get better overall as a team. I'm going to let those guys take care of their own position and their own jobs. Starting with the offensive line, all we've got to do is just need to block better and give those guys a chance and get those guys some points.

Q; With the restrictions against those that are not vaccinated, is there more incentive this year than ever before to get vaccinated?

A: I'm the last person that gets to talk about vaccination. I decided to get mine, I respect the decision of any of my teammates and any of my coaches that they decided to get theirs or not. I'm nobody to judge and we're just going to leave it at that.

Q; Was your head spinning a little bit after last year? You got the virus, you came back, you lost your job. Were you sitting there asking "What happened to me?"

A: No, that's one thing about me. I always had confidence in myself and I know what I've always been able to do and what I can do. I have the same mentality now. Now I just get the chance to actually show it.

Safety Jabrill Peppers

Q: Going into your second season in [Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham's defense, do you feel more comfortable?

A: Absolutely. Within the second year of any scheme, you definitely get more familiarized with it and you can play that much faster. You understand the guys next to you jobs that much more to play to your leverage and know when you can take chances and when you can't.

Q: For you personally, you're on the last year of your deal. How do you approach that coming into this year?

A: I'm not even thinking about that. I've got another opportunity to be out here with my guys and get better. Man, it's the first day of training camp other than conditioning and that's where my focus is.

Q: Jabrill, how are you guys – you have some new faces in the defensive secondary with [Cornerback] Adoree' [Jackson] and [Cornerback] Aaron [Robinson] and all those guys, how's that chemistry coming together with everybody and the communication and all that?

A: Well obviously, we have to keep building, but you know we're all football guys. Just the verbiage is different, so you know it hasn't been that hard, but we know we still have a long way to go.

Q: When you come here and it's your second time in training camp, are you faster? Do things just happen faster? Do you feel like you're faster because you know what's going on?

A: When you have a great understanding of what it is they're asking me to do, you play faster, you know what I mean?

Q: Do you feel like on day one you kind of feel that? Can you think back to last year day one and how you feel compared to that?

A: Absolutely, last year was a lot more thinking for me trying to understand where he wants me to be, the spots. This year, same scheme. I'm more familiarized with it. We had a great install, great teachers, so you just go out there and play.

Q: When you look around, you know everything, but Adoree's new?

A: Me and Adoree' go back since high school, so.

Q: So, when you look at that, do you think, 'we can do so much more?' Because you know him, you know what they can do.

A: I mean, you know, it's only the first day. You know we still have a long way to go. Great start, but we still have a long way to go. 

Q: When you talk about your career, is this the first time that you came back from a season where things seemed to be in place around you defensively? Like you didn't have a change in coordinator, and you didn't have a change in position coach and that type of thing?

A: One of the very few seasons that we've kept the same system, same coaches. We had the addition of [Senior Defensive Assistant] Jeremy Pruitt, but that was a great addition. Great football guy, great teacher. He definitely helps me have things slow down out there.

Q: What does that do for your game instead of constantly learning new things and trying to figure out where you fit?

A: Obviously, you can build on that. You can play that much faster. Not too much thinking out there. It's just spots now. I'm definitely familiarized with the defense to where I know what each guy out there is doing and I can use that to my advantage.

Q: Jabrill, I know you said it's only day one, but what do you sense about just the improvement with the defense? Like you said the consistency, can you sense it when you guys are out there together already?

A: Obviously, you know we're a competitive bunch. It's the first day, it felt good to get out there, run around, compete with the offense a little bit, but you know we still have a long way to go. This was definitely a great start.

Q: Is it too early for the defense to have an identity?

A: That's what training camp is for is find yourself, find your identity and build off that and turn it up into the season.

Q: What can Adoree' do for this team in your mind?

A: He's an athletic guy. He has great technique. As long as he keeps improving like we all need to during into training camp, good things can happen.

Q: Jabrill, what are the defining traits of Joe Judge and his training camp?

A: It's just challenging. It's training camp, you know, we're training for the season. We're not just out there going through the motions. You're going to run. We're going to compete and we're going to condition after practice no matter how you feel. Building that mental toughness, so that it gives you that confidence during the season to go out there and play fast, hard-nosed football.

Q: Do you see the tone in the meetings, like that first meeting, when everyone comes in and I know you can't divulge exactly what was said, but what kind of tone does he set?

A: I mean, he sets the tone through minicamp, OTAs. You already know how you got to come in here, the standard has been set. You know what's expected of you and you're expected to do it at a high level. 

Q: Jabrill, at training camp as usual, how much will special teams be a priority for you?

A: Obviously, we love special teams. I love special teams. It's one of the three phases. Games are won and lost on special teams, so we have to treat it as such. It's a big emphasis here. The best guys are going to play special teams. We know that, the teams that we're going to play know that. Just got to keep building off of it.

Q: As the guy who has to line up against receivers like Kadarius [Toney], Kenny [Golladay], John Ross [III], do you kind of get a sense what these guys can bring to the offense?

A: All athletic guys, run fast and catch the ball.  

Q: Did you see Ross on kickoffs?

A: I did. I was back there with him. He was there and then he wasn't.

Q: Jabrill, do you guys as a defense set a goal for yourself, like you want to be a top-10, a top-five, the number one defense? Do you set any kind of goal and what do you consider to be realistic?

A: Our goal is to come out here and get better each and every day. You can't look too far ahead, you can't look in the past. We're out here getting better, getting in condition, going through our football motions and training so we can be at our top level when the season comes.

Q: You mentioned the conditioning and that's obviously something Joe is admittedly big on, do you see other veterans come in here that are like 'aw man, what is this?' Do you get that at all? Do guys complain at all?

A: Not really. I think they know when they come here, you're going to run. I think that anyone that stems from that tree knows you're going to run, be in condition. I think the guys want that. When you're in condition, you play that much faster, it's injury-proof. For me personally, it gives me a mental edge. When it comes to the third, fourth quarters, I'm not tired and you see the other guys bending over and you know the first thing that goes when you're tired is your mind, so building that mental so you can stay in the game and play that full 60 minutes.

Q: Is it a lot more than you did in Cleveland, the conditioning part?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Was it a shock to you when you first came here or you kind of expected it?

A: It wasn't a shock because he explained to us and let us know what the standard is and how we go about business and what's expected of us and as professionals we got to move how professionals move. 

Q: Did you actually feel more fresh late in the games last year compared to your first two years?

A: Absolutely. Absolutely. 100 percent.

Q: And you attribute that to the offseason workouts?

A: Conditioning. Absolutely. 100 percent.

Q: Did you miss in-person interviews with us?

A: Yeah, I missed you guys.

View photos from the first practice of Giants training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

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