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Players Quotes - July 29: Nicks, Herzlich

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TOM COUGHLIN

Opening: Good afternoon. That's grass. It's real grass. It smells like grass. You see something that looks like blue, which is
nice. It's nice to be outside. Otherwise, it was a day in which… It was the first time that we got some people moving
and forgetting about the elements and that type of thing, and just practicing. We got a little something done.

Q: Tom, how's Boley?A: He's got a little hamstring. I don't know how long he'll be. Couple days, I'm sure.

Q: Rivers?A: Same thing. It's just a little hamstring.

Q: Any MRI results for Trattou?A: Sounds like they were doing it tonight. So, I don't know any more than they do.

Q: Tom, Terrell was icing his knee at the end of practice. That's standard operating procedure?A: Probably going to be. I'm sure he's going through making sure that he feels confident in himself. He does pretty much everything, but I'm sure he's going to have some doubts when he wants to make sure that he's strong and confident.

Q: What kinds of things are you looking for out of your cluster of receivers?A: Who are the best? Who can do the most things? Who will be the best compliment to what we do have? Who can we count on to be physical as a blocker in the run game? Right now, I think the one thing we're struggling against the press, which is not unusual. We haven't had much of it. We can't do it in the spring, because it's against the rules. So, the first time you get these young guys in there, in press situations, is in training camp. They need the work, though.

Q: The early return on Greg Jones moving to the outside, looked pretty good to me.A: He's practiced well. He's practiced well for a couple of days. Ever since camp opened, he's practiced well, he's run well. He appears to be around the ball.

Q: What was the thought behind moving him from inside to outside?A: He can play inside. He can play outside.

Q: Tom, Prince had said, I know it's different you, but he said this was a big day for him because he didn't make it ….. training camp. How good is it to see him out there, it's early, but to see him out there?A: Well, it looks like he got through it. That's a good thing.

Q: Tom, does Herzlich look a lot more like a guy ready for the NFL than he was last year when he was an undrafted guy?A: He moves, he's moving well, he's focused and physical. He was that last year. You could never get him off the field, practice or anything else. He doesn't appear to have any issue other than wanting to have more time on the field.

Q: He said he's leaner. He's the same weight but leaner, more quick, he feels. Do you see anything out there that makes you think he is?A: We'll see, we'll see.

Q: He talked about his pass coverage too, that he's a lot more comfortable in that department. Does that look evident to you too?A: He is seeing more. He's just seen more. He's got a little bit of feeling where to go, how to react, and what he's supposed to be doing and when you make adjustments he can pick it up. He can relate to it.

RE: Victor Cruz practicing hard…
A: It's the only way he knows. It's the only thing he knows. He's got a lot of pride and he's willing to practice. Practice hard and try to make himself better and he is certainly going to build the confidence of his quarterback, that's for sure.

Q: Tom, overall are you happy with the effort? It sounded like guys needed to be told to wake up a little earlier.A: I thought the effort was good. I thought the morning, the start of practice was a little quiet, but then I thought it really picked up, so it's not the effort. I thought effort was good it definitely got better as the day went on.

Q: When are you going to increase the contact?A: Tomorrow

Q: Tom, seems to be a lot of personality, an outgoing group in the secondary…. Is that a good thing?A: How do they play? Are they playing O.K? That will be the way we judge that. Gregarious guys that play well is a good thing. Gregarious guys that don't play so well, that will not be a good thing.

Q: Do you like what you see in Martellus Bennett?A: He made a couple of plays today. Just to see him out there healthy and running.

Q: Can you really judge him with a blocker before the (contact)A: Not yet. Not yet. He's a big strong kid though. He's got long arms. He can get in position. He's shown me nothing to make me think otherwise. Let's just say we got a ways to go.

Q: Is tomorrow a big day for the running game with the pads?A: Everyday is a big day. It's not a question of what you're wearing or… You got a total full take on installation.Brand new stuff every day. There's only fifteen days. So every day is a big day. Everyday. There won't be any… Some days we'll see with pads or we'll get some more physical work, but it's been pretty physical. These drills out here have been… Today was a day in which I said, I think they got on in the grass…. They saw the grass is good. We don't have any of that worry about the field that we're on or what have you. It's football now let's go and get
ourselves advanced a little bit as a team. I think they did advance a little bit today.

Q: Is Randle O.K?A: He's tired. He just ran out of gas I think.


ELI MANNING*
*Q:  What are your impressions so far of Jernigan in practice?
A:  I think JJ's done well.  Yesterday he had a couple deep balls.  Showed some good speed, some good quickness we knew he had.  Obviously we've seen some flashes of brilliance and really good things.  Now it's just continuing to learn.  Getting very familiar with the offense, consistency, and understanding all the ins and outs of it.  That just comes with more repetition, more practice; these preseason games, all those things will be very helpful.

Q:  Last year in his second year with you guys, Cruz worked a lot with you and you could see improvement and progression.  Can you see that with Jerrel, in his second year of camp, maybe with some familiarity that's breeding some good things?A:  Yeah I think so.  I think just coming in having a feel for the offense, understanding some of the ins and outs, not having to relearn everything.  Playing at a faster speed because he has an understanding of what's going on and what all the options are, and the things he can do.  Again, he's gotten off to a good start, some good things, hopefully he can continue to do that. 

Q:  Eli, speaking of Victor, he's made a couple of plays in the first couple days of practice that have been pretty good.  Are you surprised he's diving for balls and things like that?A:  No, that's the way Victor practices, everything is full speed.  Everything is full go.  That's why he's had great success.  He's trying to get open.  He's competitive everyday at practice just trying to continue to learn and understand the in's and out's of getting open.  Working on the outside receiver as well as the slot.  I think those are the guys that have success; they treat practice like a game, so when you get into that game, with game experience, you're prepared for it. 

Q:  Do you at all say "Wow" at the times, with the first pass you threw to him at camp, when his feet when out from under him, gets up, reaches back.  Do you sit there and go "that's pretty amazing."A:  I mean yeah, he makes some good plays.  You look at the good part, which is the catch, and why did he slip also?  There's two different aspects of the play.  Looking at his body lean, and all of those things.  You try to correct that, and then congratulate him as well. 

Q:  Has the new offensive line configuration felt different at all, or are you just not cognizant of it while you're back there?A:  I think those guys, rotating different guys out, and having the mindset that I don't know who's playing, who's at guard, who's at tackle, where guys are lined up.  I'm just worrying about the defense and our plays, and having faith that they'll do their job, who ever is in there.

Q:  Jerry Reese was saying yesterday that he still thinks you're an ascending player, that there's more that you can do even better.  Do you believe that?A:  Yeah.  Each year you try to improve and get better.  There's definitely room for improvement.  There's no question about it.  Most of the things I'm working on are: decision making, eliminating turnovers, and being more accurate.  Just continuing to try and work on my skills.  Making sure you don't have any missed opportunities.  That when guys are open, I'm hitting them.     

Q: Eli, having gone through a title defense before, is there anything you can teach some of the other guys going through it for the first time? Or, anything you might have done different this time around?A: No, I think every training camp you treat the same.  It doesn't matter what kind of success or troubles you had the year for.  It's about getting better and improving on the previous year.  Obviously for the rookies, they're just trying to learn the offense.  They're trying to learn the plays, learn the system, learn what their roles are going to be, so you just want to get those guys caught up to speed on everything and making sure they know as much as possible.  You don't know who is going to have to step up and get reps forth and make plays in a game.

Q: About how many quarterbacks, especially the better ones, when they look back on their careers, they say that when they turn 30, that's when it was easier because you have been through the apprenticeship of it and now you know the mental part better.  Do you feel that?A: Yeah, it is just reps.  How many games have you played, how many times have you run the same play over and over again, versus different defenses, different looks, and having a great confidence of where you're going to go with the ball.  As the ball is being snapped, as you're getting back and you're dropping, just seeing what's my progression?  Your feet move faster, your eyes are looking different places.  You have a better understanding of what's going on, so you can hopefully be more successful.

Q: Eli, what are your initial impressions of Rueben Randle?A: I think Rueben has done a good job.  I think he has a pretty good understanding of what is going on with the offense, after such a short time of being here.  You see some skill set in his route running, some speed, a toughness also, being physical in his routes, getting open.  You see the potential now just getting a great understanding of what we're trying to do.  What his responsibilities are going to be and continue to grow within the offense.

Q: Eli, looking at the secondary and the guys you have coming back from injury; Thomas, Prince, how exciting could that group of guys be?A: I think it is great for us. For our receivers, for everybody, get to go against a talented defensive group and guys who are physical, who have a great understanding of what they're doing on the defensive side, they're going to challenge us every day to get better.  I'm looking forward to these practices; I'm looking forward to playing at a high level and for us getting a lot of great work.Because of the rain we haven't got a lot of one-on-one action, but hopefully we can get some one-on-one and get the guys to really work their technique.  If you can get open versus these guys, you should be able to get open versus a lot of guys in the NFL.

HAKEEM NICKSRE: Being on the sideline due to injury and not being able to practice…**
A: I'm just trying to see what I can do to help the other guys get the job done out there, until I'm ready to get back out there.

Q: Is frustrated maybe a better word? Or antsy?A: You could say antsy. I'm ready to get back at it, and I feel like I need to be out there with the guys. I'm just following the instructions of the team doctors and the team trainers.

Q: Is everything going the way you hoped it would so far?A: Yeah, definitely. There are definitely no setbacks. Everything is going the way we planned, so we're just sticking to the things that the doctors and trainers told us.

Q: Have you started running, or anything?A: Yes. I started running already.

Q: On grass? Or on the field?A: On the field.

Q: How did it feel?A: It felt pretty good. There weren't any setbacks. I did more gradually as the weeks go on, days go on. So, I just want to keep doing what I'm doing.

Q: You haven't started cutting or anything, have you?A: I haven't started cutting yet. In the next couple of days, we'll see what the trainers decide.

Q: But they have a pretty good grasp on if you're doing too much? I mean, you see these guys out there, and it gets a little tempting.A: Yeah, it definitely gets tempting. There's no question about it. But, I'm just sticking to the script like they said. I definitely want to be out there, but we gotta do the right thing and be smart about it.

Q: Their timetable said you could be back about mid-August. When you look at the date, does that sound about right to you?A: Yeah. That sounds about right. That's what they're saying. I'm seeing a doctor today about it. Everything looks good, so we're just going to keep taking it day-to-day and hope for the best. 

Q: Are there any concerns about when you come back, that you'll have to miss some pre-season games and getting your timing right with Eli?A: I don't think that there will be any concerns. I know Eli and he knows me. It's just a matter of making sure that I'm in game shape, so I don't come back and have any other little nagging injuries.

Q: You haven't been able to run as much as you normally would. Is off-season conditioning something that you're worried about?A: I don't think that it's anything to worry about. But to get back in football shape, you gotta be playing football and getting all of these reps. So when I get back out there, the first week back, I might be a little breath taken. It's nothing I can't handle.

Q: Hakeem, how does the foot feel? Is there any pain, or anything?A: There's no pain right now. I ran on it before. It's responded very well. There's no pain, it's just a matter about being smart about it.

Q: Hakeem, you mentioned helping out the younger guys. What do you think of this wide receiving group as a whole?A: I think we're a very talented group. We can go out there, and do the same things, if not better than last season. Guys are focused, guys are determined. The guys are ready to take on a new role this year. Whether it be a leader, or coming in to make big time catches in clutch situations. Guys are looking forward to making a step.

Q: Hakeem, what kind of receiver do you think Randle is going to be?A: I think he's going to be a playmaker. I see flashes of great things. He has strong hands, he runs good routes, and he's ready to go out there and play. You can see it in his eyes.

Q: You got a lot of national attention last year, especially in the playoffs, Hakeem. What do you expect out of yourself for this season?A: Nothing less. I want to pick up where I left off. Contribute to the team in the best way possible. Just do the best that I can do.

Q: How about the start of the camp for Jernigan? It seems like he's kind of showing, maybe what some people thought he would show last year?A: Yeah, definitely. He's definitely showing flashes, doing what he needs to do. Being open on routes, and getting timing down with Eli. He's definitely showing some good flashes.

Q: Since you're on the sidelines watching, do you join in the Cruz chants when he makes that catch?A:  Cruz definitely is doing his job. There's great confidence in our offense, as a pair of wide receivers who go out there and make plays. We just have to keep on doing that, and keep focus.

Q: How does he look to you so far this training camp, compared to last year? Do you think he's made even more strides in his game?A: Definitely. He works hard. He makes sure his time is down with Eli. He likes to be out there on the practice field every day. He's determined to get better.

Q: Were you surprised with what you've seen from him?A: I wouldn't say surprised, because I've been in touch with him throughout the break. I came back a little earlier, and started running with him. So I had an idea. I just wanted to take it a little slower. So I wasn't surprised.  It's just what I had to do, and it's pretty much day-to-day.

Q: Does the (Muhammed) Ali hat have any special significance?A: It's one of my favorite hats. He's the champ. We're the champs.

*MARK HERZLICH

Q: Can you talk about the play you made yesterday?*A: Yes, I matched the tight end to the corner. It was kind of my man, so I went out there and Justin Tryon was with me. We made a play on the ball and then the ball kind of bounced around a little bit and I was able to pull it in and get my feet in bounds, so it was a good play. It was kind of one of those things when the ball has to bounce the right way and you have to make a play at the time.

Q: If that was Victor Cruz the crowd would've gone crazy and started chanting his name, but no chants for you?A: You know what, that's all right. I chant for Cruz too when he makes good plays.

Q: But does his chant for you when you make good plays?A: Yes, we're all a big team, a big family. I don't think there's a lot of Herz chants going on but he'll give me a high five or something when I get off the field.
Q: You've got to get that BC crowd down here?A: Yes I know. We've got to get those guys. They know how to chant my name.
Q: What did those two games that you started last year do for you? What did that do for your confidence and knowing what you could do while you were out there?A: It definitely let me know that I'm able to play at this level, and that I'm able to succeed and play well at this level. I think that playing in those two games was a great experience and confidence builder for me because everybody tells you that game speed is a lot faster than practice speed. Just going out there and knowing what it was like to play in a big game and on a big stage, you get confidence that builds up for the next year.

Q: The competition at linebacker is intense. There's so many of you guys out there, do you guys talk about that? Do you guys feel like there's a chance that one of us may not be here at the end of camp?A: Again it's a numbers game and we have ten linebackers right now, and not too many teams take ten linebackers; so it's really about doing everything we can on the field to get better and then doing the best we can in the preseason games to get good film out there. That way if someone does leave the team then hopefully they will get picked up by someone else.

Q: How closely do you monitor the competition for the linebacker job? You've got Chase, it seems like that's a pretty tight group, and you were both starters at one point?A: It's something that just kind of falls into place. We try to do the best we can, we encourage each other and learn from each other, I think that's how the whole linebacker room works really. Chips will fall where they may and we root for the best for each other.

Q: There's a possibility that if you didn't get hurt than Chase would've never come back and you would be slated in as the starting linebacker for this camp, right?A: It's all hypothetical, but yes that could be possible.

Q: Is it a little strange for you to think about this team, which was 7-7 and then had this great run while you weren't playing. It must have been frustrating. You see this team going this way and you're watching?A: Yes, well you never want to watch a Super Bowl and be on the sideline, so that definitely motivated me to come back and be stronger and faster than I was the previous year. Watching the Super Bowl was an amazing feeling; I think watching the rest of the playoff games were tough for me because you want to be out there, you want to be playing in those big games. The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl, so you're there and you're loving it no matter what. Still, being on that field is a goal for me, and I think it's a goal for the team to get there again.

Q: Do you let yourself play in your head, situations like if I didn't get hurt then I would've been in the middle of this whole great run –?A: No, I don't do what ifs. There are too many instances in my life when I could go back and say what if, what if. What if I didn't get sick? What if I didn't get hurt? That's not how you move forward, so I don't do that at all.

Q: You talked about getting quicker, did you slim down a little bit?A: I'm about the same weight but I think I've lost some body fat, so I'm feeling a lot faster and quicker out there.

Q: Did you do anything special in the offseason?A: I changed my diet. I started doing a modified paleo diet, which is kind of just a caveman diet; so I started eating a lot of nuts and berries and cut a lot of dairy out of my diet. I incorporated some crossfit workouts with my powerlifting, so it builds your endurance and builds your explosion a little bit.

JERREL JERNIGANQ: Eli was just saying that you're playing faster this year because you have a better understanding of the offense. Do you feel that way as well?**A: Yeah. Exactly. Last year we didn't have OTA's or rookie minicamp. Last year, when I came in, they kind of just threw us out there. This year, I understand the playbook more and I'm not thinking as much when I go out there. I'm just going out there and reacting to what I see in the defense. I can say I'm playing faster.

Q: When you're trying to make a team or make a role for yourself on the team, does it help that you're catching passes from Eli Manning? Does he make receivers better too?A: Oh without a doubt. He's a great quarterback and he's just throwing the ball well. You can get it anywhere….

Q: They talk about your quickness when you're coming back for the ball. Is that an element that you think you can improve also? Is the raw speed getting down the field?A: Without a doubt. I know I got speed. I know the coaches already know I got speed. It's just something I have to showcase to them.

Q: You also made a slipup play before that right?A: Yeah, I got kind of tangled on the end.

Q: Nothing personal against them right?A: Nothing personal.

Q: Is that part of this for you to kind of prove you can basically run any route that's out there? It seemed like last year you were pegged as a slot guy—he can play inside because of his size. Is there part of you that wants to showcase on the outside as well?A: Yeah, without a doubt. Because always at Troy, I played the majority in the slot, so pretty much, people didn't get to see me outside a lot. I think I can go outside and I can showcase the stretch down the field. Not only just in the slot, but vertical end routes and curl routes and everything.

Q: Does it present a different kind of challenge when you got a guy here who just basically set the franchise record for receiving by playing in the slot last year, knowing that it's not a hole right there they aren't looking to fill?A: No. If anything I can just learn from him – try and get in his ear and learn something that he learned last year. Just try to get him to coach me up.

Q: Do you feel like, so far in the first few practices, you're taking steps in the right direction?A: I had two good practices so far. I just got to continue what I'm doing and just keep going out there and catching passes and learning the offense.

Q: Did you feel you had a come in early and make an impression right away?A: Without a doubt. Coming in, everybody knew this is going to be a competition for this third wideout spot. So I had to come in and make a big splash. So that's what I'm looking forward to.

Q: Was there any part of you that felt like the forgotten guy when everyone was talking and other players were getting more attention?A: No. Whatever is going to be said is going to be said. I just continue to work hard. I know what I can do, so I just go out there and continue to work.

Q: You feel like you made that big splash?A: Yeah, I mean it's only been two days… So we got a whole 'nother couple of weeks to go. So I just got to continue to work.

Q: Are you also going to do special teams stuff too?A: That's the plan. I'm still back there punt returning, kick returning. I like doing those things. They're still evaluating back there, so we just got to see who coach likes.

Q: Did you do a lot of kickoffs back in college?A: I did. My last year, I did the whole season.

Q: You had that 100-yard return?A: Yeah, I did.

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