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Players Quotes - September 1: Manning, Cruz


Coughlin:Good afternoon. We're exited about the start of the regular season, excited to begin our practice preparation for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas had a very good preseason; they were 3-1. They averaged 355 yards per game, their first defense gave up six points. They rushed the ball for 119 yards per game and passed for 233. They have outstanding special teams personnel, so we have a solid week of preparation here in front of us. We have been eagerly awaiting upstairs the word on putting our practice squad together. It just started coming in when I came downstairs, so I don't really have anything of that nature to share with you at this time. The whole emphasis, of course, for the last couple days has been with regard to our roster and our practice squad. We spent an awful lot of time on this subject and really, quite frankly, are ready to get to the practice field and move on. No one has any questions? I'll go to practice.

Q:  Thoughts on putting Terrell Thomas on the extended injured reserve list and not using the short-term exemption on him:
A: I'm just going to make a simple statement, which is not an answer to something as complex as this. Medically speaking, I don't feel like I'm qualified to give all the information that has been shared. We felt that in the best interest of the player and the team that this was the direction that we should go with both Shaun Rogers and Terrell Thomas. It certainly is a difficult thing. You're looking at a team that, again, started the season off looking pretty good in terms of the number of defensive wings that we had on the field, and then all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, we start having this type of circumstance confront us. Nevertheless, we have to think in the best long-term interest of not only the player but also the club and exactly where we're at.

Q:  Do you know who will be the short-term guy at this point?
A: No.

Q: How are the Cowboys different other than the personnel?
A: We'll have to see. Obviously, it's the first game of the season. You can obviously look at their preseason games, but they probably did not show all of their new tricks and blitzes and looks. Their front seven is very similar. Obviously, they've added some new guys in the secondary and two new starting cornerbacks and safeties, so they've got some new people in there playing. We'll have to see what their approach is and obviously we're going to have a plan. We have an idea of what we think they might do and as the game goes, we'll see what their plan is and adjust probably.

Q: Tom talked about the pride of being the defending champion. Obviously, you have a target on your chest now for everybody you'll play. How important is it to establish that immediately in Week 1 that we are going to be heard from again and we will defend this championship?
A: You always want to get off to a fast start and play well in the first week of the season, but all we can concentrate on is having a great plan, understanding what we need to do, what our rules are and go out there on Wednesday night. Execute it to the best of our ability, adjust as the game goes and when we see what their game plan is going to be defensively try to execute and make plays when you have opportunities.

Q: Doesn't it seem like yesterday it was like you were playing them for the division title?
A: It seems about 8 months ago. You look back, it was the last real game that they've played and we've got to see how much they'll change. What's going to be different? If they'll have more confidence in their corners and see what their plan will be, but they're always very good defensively. Good players… Can get a good pass rush and so we've got a game plan for that and make sure the receivers are getting open in a timely fashion.

Cruz: I'm excited to start the season off on the right foot against a division rival and it's going to be a really good test for our team.

Q: How much do you guys have to make a statement on opening night about being defending champs?
A: We definitely have to. We have to come out and be sharp and like coach said, build the bridge. Extend our play, the way we were playing at the end of the season last year, and continue that on through this season.

Q: The Cowboys pretty much re-designed their secondary. What are you seeing from them?
A: I just see a lot of different coverages. They're doing a lot of different things, taking a little bit more risks with the two new corners that they have now, so it will be an interesting test for us – for myself, Hakeem, all of the receivers just being able to decipher what coverages they're in and making our routes according to what they're in. We'll see how it goes. We know they like to play physical and they're jamming up a lot and we have to use our ability to get off the jam and stuff like that. It should be a good test for us.

Q: You felt good at practice? Did you do a lot at practice today?
A: So so. Took a few reps here and there.

Q: Do you need to be out there a little more?
A: You need it. Anytime that you miss significant time, you've got to get reps and try to build that chemistry with the guys you're going to be playing with.

Q: You had very significant wins against the Cowboys last year. Those were nice memories?
A: I mean it was a division win. Anytime we can get a win against a very good division opponent… You always look back, it's something to hang your hat on.

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