Coach Tom Coughlin
Coughlin: Good morning. We're anxious to get back to work in our preparation for a very good Atlanta Falcon team, a team that's 2-2, the same record that we have. They're 2-0 in their division. They started the year off with an outstanding win over New Orleans in the division. They did a very good job in the offseason of acquiring veteran players. They drafted well, they all seem to be contributing very well. All three phases are very skilled, including special teams with Devin Hester. We have players who have been listed for a while as being either out or whatever, limited, we do have those people practicing today. Jon Beason will practice, Odell Beckham will practice, (Devon) Kennard will practice, so we're moving forward with regard to that as well. We're getting these people on the field and getting started integrating them back into the system.
Q: What kind of challenge is Atlanta's big play ability?
A: Very skilled, very, very skilled team. Obviously the No. 1 offense in the league. A lot of firepower. Hester now being the fourth receiver, sometimes the third, so you've got a lot to defend, no doubt.
Q: Now that Odell has gotten through four or five practices in a row… **
A: How many? Not that many now. Maybe two. Math is not exactly… I know, I'm not very good at it, either.
Q: Have you passed the, 'Let's try to get him ready,' to now, 'we can think about him as part of the game plan,' or are you still…?
A: We're in that phase. What we obviously need to do is to see some hard, back-to-back practices, one after the other, which I expect we'll accomplish this week.
Q: With a guy like him who plays receiver, he doesn't have to play 50 plays, right? It's not like an offensive lineman. You can limit him.
A: Possibly, yeah. But you'd like not to go in with that kind of thinking. Let's play.
Q: … also have a limited package so he doesn't do everything but he knows what he needs to do?
A: Yeah, but he's been in every meeting. I would expect him to know everything. I wouldn't shy away from that. He's demonstrated an ability to handle whatever's thrown at him. He's done that throughout, so I would expect that. Now, under fire with adjustments and signals and things of that nature, we've got to see where we are with regard to that, too.
Q: You guys were innovative in the way you were kind of stretching and allowing the players to rest during training camp. Did you continue that through the regular season because only having four guys on the injury report…?
A: That's basically where we are with the recovery stretch on Mondays. The day after a game, we do continue that.
Q: Do you think that's helped this year?
A: I'm sure it has. Other than rubbing a little dirt on it, that's helped.
Q: You have the short passing game, which seems to be the foundation of what you're doing. Do you envision more downfield developments as the season goes along?
A: Opportunity. When the opportunity presents itself, yes, but forcing it, no, not to force it. I'd like to keep the ball like we were able to do the other night, whether it's run or pass. The mix has got to be good and it's got to be there.
Q: If they're as banged up on the offensive line as they appear to be, do you go after them or do you just do what you would normally intend to do?
A: We're worried about our team. We've got to get our team ready to play as best as we possibly can. They do have some injuries. They're a veteran (coaching) staff, they're very good coaches; they'll take care of their team.
Q: The 2-2 mark felt good to even your record and come back… in terms of momentum, is that part of a message? Like, let's not let it slip? Because 3-2 is obviously a whole lot more attractive than 2-3.
A: Yes, it is. To just continue to play well and win, that's what we're here for. That's the message – to capture the very good preparation we've had for the last couple of weeks, the outstanding leadership on our team, the guys having been very, very focused, the young ones as well as the old ones. We need to continue all those things.
Q: When you look back, did you see anything flip or…?
A: Nothing major, nothing like that. Just played better, prepared and played better, built a little confidence and built a little more.
Q: Does that make you nervous, that you are getting a few pats on the back now after a win against Washington?
A: What pats? Hanlon just tells me that everybody's just got the sledgehammer out. That's a good thing.
Q: How does Osi look?
A: Like Osi. Very, very close on a lot of back door plays, which he's very, very good at. Quick, very fast.
Q: How much has it helped the confidence and the personality of your team that the offensive line, which faced so many doubts from the outside, seems to be a unit working so much better together?
A: They have worked well together. They are getting better together. That has meant a lot. Obviously you're not going to… we talk about how it all starts there, both defensively and offensively. That certainly sets the stage for others to play at a much higher level.
Q: Do you feel like the combination of the offensive line happened by accident or by some matter of design?
A: By design, by design. Shaking out, looking at various combinations, being able to piece people together who, throughout the preseason, played in different spots. Doesn't happen right away, but it's getting there.
Q: How do you assess Trumaine McBride's performance replacing Walter Thurmond?
A: He did well the other night – strip, fumble recovery, interception. Did very well the other night. He's a good player.
Q: You mentioned Devin Hester. Do you see the same player you saw three, four, five years ago when you look at him? That Tampa Bay game…
A: You look at the return, you see a very young guy. Fast.
Q: What are the keys for you guys to be able to stop a guy that has that kind of speed?
A: Obviously… I could make some smart remark but I'll… you do have to, you've got to be able to place the ball where you want it placed and cover as well. The same goes for kickoff coverage.
Q: Would you like to see the ball out of bounds more? I know it's a hard thing to do.
A: It's not easy. In an ideal world, yeah, sure.
Q: Is Steve Weatherford capable of that?
A: He is.
Atlanta Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora
Q: How are things with you in Atlanta?
A: Well, you know, everything is okay. No problems at all, trying to get through this thing, win a couple of games, that's all.
Q: Do you miss being here with the Giants?
A: Well, I had a lot of good relationships over there. I miss those guys, no question about that, but I am here now. Forming good relationships here also, so same thing.
Q: What is happening with you guys? You had a real good win against Tampa Bay and then against Minnesota, you kind of slipped off a little bit.
A: Not a little bit, a lot. I think we are just very inconsistent. We play good one week and then the next week, we don't play quite as well. We have to find a way to be more consistent in our play.
Q: Is there any one thing you can point to?
A: No, not necessarily, I think it is pretty much everything. First and foremost, we have to stop the run, and I think if we are able to do that, then that will put us in a more (favorable) situation. Three out of the four weeks, we haven't done a really good job of that at all.
Q: Is it emotional for you coming back to the Meadowlands to play a game?
A: No, not really. Well, as of now, it isn't. I am looking forward to it. I think it is going to be a very good game, no questions, and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of my old teammates, the coaches, and the front office people. I am looking forward to all of that.
Q: Can you talk about Will Beatty? He was talking earlier this week about how he is looking forward to playing against you after you guys went against each other in practice all those years.
A: Will Beatty has always been a very good player. I think he was very competitive, very mature beyond his age, especially when he came in, and he is still that way now. I think they have him rated as the best left tackle in football. He is playing very well, I am very happy for him, and I am proud of him, proud to see the type of player he has become, because he was like that from the beginning. Last year, I left last year, so obviously he didn't have anybody pushing him. That is why his game kind of slipped a little bit, but now he looked on the schedule and he sees me on there and all of a sudden he is an All-Pro left tackle again, so I am going to take credit for that. Will Beatty is just a really good guy.
Q: Do you like your role there in Atlanta?
A: Do I like my role? I am just going to leave that one alone and move on to the next question. It's okay, everything is alright, everything is alright.
Q: How different is it playing in Atlanta versus New York?
A: Well, we have like two or three members of the media that come in every day as opposed to 106, so that is different. The market is different, but outside of that, it still football.
Q: You have had a couple years now since you left here and obviously there were a lot of highs while you were here, but a lot of turbulence and stuff. When you look back, how do you view your time here and the way it ended? Are there any regrets? Is it all good memories? What are your general thoughts on it?
A: My general thoughts are I disliked some of the things that I did, but I was young and as you get older, you see some of those things and say, "man, why did I do that, that makes absolutely no sense." I have absolutely zero regrets. I left New York in a great relationship with everybody, from the owners to the general manager to the coaches to the players. I still have a really great relationship with everybody there. It is no regrets. I am not looking to this game as, "oh, I am coming to get revenge on them" because it wasn't even like that when I left. I am happy to just be coming back and seeing some familiar faces.
Q: Is the best memory the Super Bowl rings?
A: No question, the rings and, honestly, the relationships that I formed that I will carry on forever. A lot of things that we were able to do there and accomplish there will be with me forever.
Q: Have you given any thought to how much longer you want to play?
A: As long as possible, but at the end of the day, it is not a situation where I want to be jumping from team to team. I definitely don't want to do that because, fortunately, I don't have to do that. You always want to go out playing well, and if it turns out that I am not playing well or I am not doing well, then obviously I am going to shut it down. If am still able to perform at a high level, the way I think I can, I am going to keep playing.
Q: Is there a part of you that might want to finish out your career here. Just based on how you talked about having good times and leaving on good terms. Would you like to finish your career in New York?
A: I can't even think that far ahead, man. All I can think about right now is this next game that we are playing on Sunday, and whatever happens after the season happens. Right now I just have to focus on this, what I am doing here.
Q: What do you see when you watch Eli Manning now?
A: He is throwing that ball really fast, I see that. He is getting it out of his hands in less than two seconds, it's really amazing. It seems like he has full command of that new offense they are running there. They look like a very good team. Eli Manning has always been a great quarterback; he has always kept his cool and been one of the better quarterbacks in the league, even though sometimes things didn't work out. He has always been that type of guy. I am happy for him, I am happy he is in a system that he likes, and he is playing very well.
Q: Besides the uniform number change, what is the biggest different as to how the Atlanta Falcons are using you as compared to how the New York Giants did, and what have you changed in your game?
A: Well, I think right now, I am really just in on third downs, I am a pass specialist. Where in New York I played all downs and we were part of a rotation over there. That is the main difference. I don't have any complaints. Whatever they tell me to do is what I am going to do. Do I feel like I can be helping more? Yes, but I don't have any control over that. So whatever they ask me to do, I am just going to go out there and do.
Q: You come in with a team that has not been able to win playing outdoors on the road. You played here where you loved playing outside and used it to an advantage. What do you see with that dynamic going on, with the Atlanta Falcons on the road?
A: Yeah, we haven't played well on the road at all. To be honest with you, I am not quite sure exactly what it is. I can't put my finger on it because we have really good practices and we go out there and just, for some reason, don't play well. Honestly, I can't tell you what the solution is going to be for that, but hopefully we can get that fixed this week.
Q: You've got a lot of quarterbacks on your resume. How anxious are you to add Eli Manning to your list?
A: Eli Manning is my brother. I am not necessarily looking forward to it. I am really not, I've just got to approach it like every other game. I have a lot of love for pretty much everybody over there, so I am not looking forward to just going out there and destroying my former team the way most people would think. I have a job to and I have to go out there and execute, and that is pretty much it.
Q: So if you come around the edge and have that tomahawk chop for the ball, you'll just let him down easy? You won't even go for it?
A: Now, I didn't say all that. I'll never say that. If I see that, that's second-nature to me. I'm going to go for it no matter who the quarterback is, but I'm not looking forward to punishing him or anything like that. But if I have to, I will.
Q: What kind of reception are you expecting from the fans?
A: Well, you know, I haven't really thought about that. I think I left there on good terms ,so I don't see why it would be a bad or chilly reception or anything like that. However they feel, that's okay with me.
Q: I know you said, 'No regrets,' but just based on a couple of your answers, does any part of you wish you were still here?
A: That's a question I can't really answer. I think I did what was best for me and the Giants did what was best for them. That's pretty much the only way I can answer that. Do I wish I was still there? Who knows what would have happened if I was still there? Nobody knows, so I can't look back at that with regret and I'm sure they don't look back at it with regret either.
Q: I know you don't want to look too far in the future, but at some point when you're done playing. Do you think you'll be back here and the team will honor you in some capacity? They do that often with players and you've got two rings, you were here for a decade. Are you looking forward to that? Do you think it'll happen?
A: We'll see. I definitely accomplished a lot of things while I was there, there's no question about that. I'm quite sure they recognize that, but whether or not they want to bring me back when I retire and do something, that's going to be totally up to them.
Q: What strikes you about Rashad Jennings? You've obviously played with some tough backs in your time with the Giants. For obvious reasons, the Giants are pretty happy with the acquisition of him. What do you see with Jennings?
A: He's a very physical back. He's a downhill runner, people don't tackle him easily. It usually takes more than one person to bring him down. He plays hard and he runs hard and he runs with emotion. He kind of fits the mold of the backs that they've had there over the years. He's continuing that tradition.
Q: Just to make you feel at home, how come you guys don't have any sacks?
A: Well me, specifically, I don't have any, but when I watch things that I'm able to do, I'm moving pretty well, I'm still pretty quick. It's just a matter of time, that's all. We have to be able to stop this run first, and as soon as we do that, we'll have a chance to really pin our ears back and rush the passer. If we're not able to do that the way we haven't… if three of the four games, teams are rushing for 200 yards, you can't rush the passer that way. The one game that we did stop the run was Tampa, and I think everybody saw what happened in the game as far as our pass rush was concerned.
Q: You talk to Justin Tuck often?
A: Yeah, I talk to him. At least once every week or two weeks, I'll talk to him or send him a text and we'll text back and forth and wish each other luck.
Q: I guess you wouldn't wish what he's going through on too many of your enemies, huh?
A: No, not on anybody, man. Not on anybody. It's unfortunate that that has to happen. A player has to do what's best for his family, but sometimes that puts you in a bad situation. That's exactly what's happened to him. It's unfortunate, I wish he could have stayed in New York, but it didn't work out for him that way.
Q: What kind of advice do you give him in that regard? You guys didn't have a great year last year, he has to go through that now.
A: I just tell him to stay focused, stay focused on his job, try to be a leader out there, try to do the best that he can to keep everybody's spirits up because it can get rough. But at the end of the day, he had to do what was right for his family. You always have to focus on that and look back with no regrets.
Q: In the past you were a teacher for guys here. Jason Pierre-Paul has mentioned you many times. Are you curious to see what JPP looks like when you get up here, and have you been following where he's been?
A: I watch the game, so I've been watching him. I think he's doing well. He's playing the run very well; he's rushing the passer well. Overall, that defensive line looks really good. It's fun to look and see that and see how they're still able to maintain that, even though they've lost so many guys over the years. Coach Nunn has obviously done a fantastic job with those guys, and Jerry Reese, and they have brought in the right guys. They keep rolling. They look really good.
Q: When guys on this line are talking about JPP being the mentor, does that make you chuckle a little bit?
A: That is pretty funny because it's not something we would have envisioned when we were there because he was still young. He still is young. What is this, like his fifth year or something like that? So he's still young in the game. He's the guy now. There's no Tuck, there's no me, there's no Strahan, it's him. Kiwi is still there, and Kiwi is still playing really well, so I guess he has to be the mentor because Kiwi's quiet.
Q: What's your earliest memory of JPP that would kind of illustrate how far he's come?
A: He was always a hard worker, even though people don't give him credit for that. He would get out there on the practice field and he would do his thing out there. He was just such an athletic freak, but his technique wasn't… he wasn't very technique-sound. But now when you see him playing, you actually see him playing with technique, not just out there just being athletic. He plays really well now and he's sound in his fundamentals.
Q: Are you still maintaining off-the-field business interests in New York and New Jersey?
A: No, no. I'm not much of a businessman at all, man.
Q: The pregame hugs on the field, we've seen other players come back to either the Jets or Giants and in pre-game, it's hugs all around. Do you look forward to seeing a bunch of former coaches, players, Giants personnel before that game?
A: Absolutely, absolutely. I do. I haven't seen them since I left, really, so I think it's Jose the janitor, Skiba the equipment guy, everybody's there. The trainers, Ronnie Barnes, Leigh Weiss, all of those guys I'm looking forward to seeing. Obviously the coaches, coach Robert Nunn and Perry Fewell and Coach Coughlin and Jerry Palmieri, Jerry Reese, the Owners.
Q: Don't forget the media, Osi. You love us, too.
A: I don't see you guys before. I usually don't see you guys before, it's usually after so I'm not sure. Are you guys going to be on the field? I always see Paul and Patti Trainer and everybody there, all those guys. You guys know who you are.
QB Eli Manning
Q: The other day we got a chance to talk to you about facing Osi. He was talking today about how, 'Look, I love the guy like a brother, but if I've got to sack him, I've got to sack him.'
A: He'll be fired up. Osi and I had a great relationship when he was here, but I know, as a defensive end, they always want sacks. In practice he was in the backfield quite a bit, could have hit me a number of times but you can't hit the quarterbacks. Hopefully our guys will do a good job and keep him away. He's a tremendous player and can still get to the quarterback.
Q: I know you never look ahead, but with Dallas and the Eagles coming up on the road, how important does that make this game for you? **
A: They're all important. This is obviously a big one. At 2-2 you want to keep things going, hopefully get into the winning record territory and keep on pace and try to catch up with Dallas and Philly, they're both 3-1. It's a huge game, their offense has been scoring a lot of points. They're lost some close ones and been in there at the end in all the games. They're a talented team so we have to make sure we're handling our business. I thought we had a good day of practice today, good energy and we've got to keep it going.
Q: What's the key for your team to win?
A: We've just got to keep playing smart football. Can't turn the ball over, we've got to run the ball, we've got to get the ball out quickly, find completions, get it to our playmakers and just have a great plan and go out there and execute.
Q: When you're going against a sack specialist like Osi, he was so good at the strip sack, is holding on to the ball even more of a concentrated effort?
A: Yeah, you've got to be aware. That's something that I've seen a number of times, coming around the end, a lot of speed. It's one of those deals where maybe he would have not gotten a sack, but if you get that ball out or have it away from your body, he's going to have that hand swiping in there to cause a fumble. He's really good at that, know it first-hand, have seen it first-hand, so I've got to do a good job securing the ball and having it close to the body.
Q: How much more important is first than second down, taking care of business, making sure he doesn't really get on the field on third down?
A: That can be important for us also. He's kind of the third down specialist, they'll bring him in some other times, but yeah, if you can be effective on first and second down, not have a whole lot of third and long situations, not have it where you've got to hold the ball for long periods of time, that's always going to help out the offense.
Q: You have a back like Rashad Jennings now. How much does that change what you can do, give you confidence in what you can do? How much does it affect almost the personality of the offense?
A: Well, since he's sitting right by me, I'm not going to say anything nice about him. No, it helps. He's done a great job obviously running the football and getting us great production in the run game but also catching the football, his pass protection, you can have him in there in all situations and do a lot of different things with him. That's going to be helpful, continue to grow in some different packages to move him around and to find ways to get him the ball in open space.
Q: You have this longer break. Without using the word momentum, you kind of referred to that. Do you feel as if that feeling is still in the room? Did you have to re-capture it a bit?
A: I think we've got to get back into it. We had a little practice Monday, it probably wasn't as sharp as we wanted it to be, which can be normal after a long weekend, we weren't really game planning, but I thought today was a lot better, picking up the tempo, the offensive line was asking for it. I was kind of asking them in a period whether we wanted to go no-huddle or we wanted to huddle up and the offensive line said, 'Hey, let's go no-huddle. Let's get the tempo going.' I think maybe they just want to get practice done earlier but they were calling for going up-tempo so we were doing that. I thought we had good energy, enthusiasm and good pace today and that's what you like to see from practice. Guys were out there moving fast, hitting and doing well.
Q: It's not often that you can look around and see no one on the bikes, no one with the trainers. Is it just good for the feel and morale of the team?
A: Yeah, it's big. It's big when you can keep guys healthy. Now we're getting some guys back, getting Odell back. You have your guys out there and the guys that are practicing are playing. It does make a big difference. I think you get better practice reps, that helps with the mentality, the confidence of guys, of the coaches, the players of what we're going to do, how it's going to look on game day. Hopefully we can continue to stay healthy for the most part.
Q: Did it feel different with Odell out there, that he's practicing now to play in a game as opposed to just trying to see if he's healthy?
A: Yeah, you're still kind of hoping every time you throw it to him a go route or something and he has to stretch out for it that he doesn't over-stretch it, so we're still sensitive a little bit to that. He made some plays today. I think it's good, just get him in the mix, keep stressing different signals to him and different plays where he's comfortable and he's out there just playing fast. That's what you want. It's kind of his first playing experience and practicing experience that he's had. I don't think we can keep just a small package for him because if we're in there and going no-huddle or hurry-up, he's got to know everything so just make sure that he knows it all and we go over it a bunch so when he's in there, he's going to play fast and make plays for us.
Q: What kind of weapon do you think he can be?
A: I hope that he can be a big weapon for us. He definitely has a little burst of energy, a burst of speed. He can be a deep threat, can win on some underneath stuff. Can get him hopefully throwing some short passes and he can break it for some big plays. We've got to just keeping working. He's still young, we've got to get on the same page and we've got to go through this a little bit. It's not that it's going to be perfect right off the bat, we have not had a whole lot of reps together on every single route that may come up. As a rookie, you're always going to go through some growing pains and some different things. Hopefully those things we learned are not going to be mistakes or big mistakes but just little tweaks that can improve on.
Q: You don't have to study the other side of the ball, but you know that the Falcons score a lot of points, gain a lot of yards. Is this offense now to the point where you're confident if you have to get in a shootout?
A: I think you're always prepared for a shootout. You're always hoping that you can go out there and score points and do our job. We're trying to score points and build a lead and put pressure on the opposing offense and that usually can lead to turnovers and helping us out. We've got to do our part and keep the ball. Their offense is high-powered, they can score. They're moving the ball tons of yards, tons of points and so we've got to do our job and keep the ball and help out our defense.
Q: Do you think you're on a roll? Do you think you're building confidence? Do you think you're building momentum here?
A: We've had two good wins. That's what we needed. We needed to get back to playing better football and I think we have improved every week and that's good, but we've got to keep improving. We've got to keep growing within the offense. Not every game's going to be the same, not every game… last week was great and fun and the defense is getting interceptions, turnovers and we're moving the ball and scoring. Not every game is going to be like that, but it can still be effective, you can still… we've got to find ways just to play smart, protect the football and score touchdowns when we get opportunities.
**DE Mathias Kiwanuka
**RE: Osi Umenyiora
A: He is a good friend, tremendous player. I am excited for him; it will be fun just to see him out here on the field again.
Re: the fact that everybody practiced today
A: That is one of the most important things in football. You never want to make excuses, but staying healthy is huge, and if we are healthy, I feel like we are a championship caliber team.
Q: It helps with the attitude right?
A: It helps with play distribution. Everybody is working, everybody is out there, there is not an overload on certain players…guys you might not even notice. So everybody stays fresh and that's huge. Re: Atlanta's injuries and the impact on Giants' approach
A: Not around here because we understand very recently how hard wins are to come by. We don't take anybody lightly. Everybody that we are playing against, they are all professionals and we understand that. Yeah, there might be some match up things we want to take advantage of, but we will never take anyone lightly.
Q: How good is that offense that you are facing? They are number one in the league or tied for number one in the league.
A: They are legit.
Q: What is it about them that kind of sticks out to you?
A: They start out with, they have great leader. Everyone knows what Matt Ryan is all about. Played with him at Boston College, he's got a masterful control of the huddle and he understands how to check protections and all that kind of stuff. They have a number of backs who all run hard, have different styles and make you adjust to it. Matt Ryan can throw the ball down the field and they've got a number of receivers who can stretch the field and catch it. Our work is cut out for us, but it starts up front. We do a good job upfront, we will be fine.
Q: Can you talk a little more about the running backs and what you guys have to do to slow that group down as a whole?
A: Number one, this is about understanding your assignment, it starts with us. We understand our assignment, then we are good. Once you get there, you have to be able to stop the different looks they have. Some guys are power guys, some guys are speed guys, some guys are shifty, and it is a matter of being there, squaring your stance, and making the hit, catching the guy and making the tackle. No matter who they throw out, we have the personnel to get it done.
Q: How many years did you play together with Matt Ryan?
A: With Matt? I guess two years.
Q: Were you friendly with him?
A: Of course, he is a good guy. He was young when I was there, but we saw as soon as he came in that he had not just the arm. The arm is there, that is something you notice, but he had the confidence and the self-assurance and preparation of somebody who had been there a long time. We said, "He doesn't care, he is going to let it fly." He made a bad throw and turned around and came back to the huddle as if it didn't happen, and go out there and try to do it again. That is something you don't see all the time. Especially on the college level at quarterback when you're just getting your first taste of playing. When a guy comes in like that, as long as he stayed healthy, you knew he was going to be a great quarterback.
Q: You knew he would make it in the next level?
A: I didn't know how good he was going to be, but I knew he was going to make it.
Q: Last couple of years you guys have taken some hits on the defensive line, losing Osi Umenyiora two years ago and Justin Tuck this year. You haven't really missed a beat.
A: That is what it is all about, it's the NFL. Somebody goes down every week and we have to make adjustments, it is not the big name players that you guys realize, but they can have a bigger impact on the team than other people do. We are always adjusting; we are always picking up the slack for somebody, so when you get your opportunity, you've got to go out there and play it full go. Everybody on the roster has the ability to go out there and play. Not everybody can play to that same level, but as a group, we can all get it done.
Q: Has it been fun for you to kind of step into that leadership role?
A: It is fun until the third time for the day, somebody ask you how old you are. It is always fun to be out there. To be a part of that first group and to be playing well and getting wins, that is what it is mostly about.
Q: How much have you gone against Will Beatty this year and what have you seen?
A: Our Will? I would say, number one, he rehabbed his butt off, he did a tremendous job. Most people wouldn't be as far along when camp started as he was, so you have to tip your hat to him. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In terms of his agility, his athletic ability, it doesn't look to me as if he has lost a step. His fire, his passion, is still there, and he has always been a kind of guy who is calm and whatever. When you get him out there on the field, he goes hard and that is what you still see. I am proud and happy for him to be back.
OT Will Beatty
Q: On going against former teammate Osi Umenyiora?
A: I was on his scout side trying to make him better. Now I get to go against him and that feeling that this is what you look for. You look forward to the big games and the good match-ups. This is almost a division game for me going against him because of how well I know him. Let's see how much he changed. I get to show him how much I changed and how much I grew.
Q: You can almost keep Osi off the field by just running the ball because he is only playing third downs?
A: Third down is a pass and you know his strengths. You want to keep it third and short. We are not changing our game plan by any means. Sunday it is a game. We are going out there. We are not doing anything different. We are still trying to improve as a unit, making sure the offense, defense and special teams work together. We know it is going to be a good game and a good turnout.
Q: What has been the biggest difference on the offensive line since the first game? **
A: Since the first game? We have improved.
Q: How did you improve?
A: It was just us coming together, knowing the playbook, owning up to it, making it your own and going out there and performing as one rather than 11 guys as individuals. It was just that mode and process that we try to work through the five preseason games and still building on it. First game wasn't the way we worked. Second game, we improved. Third game, we improved. Fourth game, we improved. Now we have to keep up that trend.
Q: Do you feel that chemistry along the offensive line?
A: Yeah, I feel the chemistry there. The chemistry has been there. We just had to put it together, bake it and come out right.
Q: Are you playing at your best right now?
A: I am playing real good. I don't feel like I am playing at my best. I am still out there looking at things. There are still things I can improve. There are still running blocks and downfield hitting and things like that [I can improve on]. There is still a lot of improvement, but I do feel good. I feel like going out there and just being with my teammates is my focus. Just going out there each and every play, one at a time, handle that play. Next play will take care of itself.
Q: Osi spoke about you today during a call… He sounded very proud… He quipped that [you] are playing [your] best football because [you] know he is on the schedule?
A: He knows I am going to bring it. It is going to be out there. When we used to practice together we went all at it. It was our practice that I took from him when JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] came in here and [said], 'This is how you and I are going to practice.' I was a guy that said you have to beat me. Knowing what Osi did and knowing what JPP did, I am ready for him and now I get to show Osi now I am no longer the student. It is going to be just that. That chemistry that I know I have with him going out there and he is going to give his all and I am going to give my all. It is going to be a fun game, not knowing how many plays I am going to see him. When I do see him it will be like, 'Oh yeah, it is me and you.'
Q: This is going to be the first time you can actually put each other on the ground… When you went against each other, could you really go really full speed?
A: It is still a game. You are trying to study the entire defense. It's not like my only focus is on him. There is still a lot more to the game. Going up against somebody you know is almost that now it is no longer practice, now you get to go live and those bragging rights that you didn't have before because it was only practice, now you get to have them.
Q: With Kroy Biermann on the other side… Does he look like the same player he was prior to his Achilles injury?
A: He is still a great player. The first two to three steps are still powerful right there at the line of scrimmage. You still have to take account for him. You can't say he had an Achilles injury so now you don't have to worry about him because he is going to be sluggish. You know they are coming out there full speed. You know how well their defense moves and the blitzes and the pressures, that it is not going to be a straight up, just line up and try to hit you. They are going to try to get you off your balance and win that way.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How much have you been itching when you see some of your fellow wide receivers making plays and you know you could be out there doing the same thing?
A: Ever since I first got hurt I have been itching to get back out there. It is part of the reason why I maybe came back too fast and hurt it again. Honestly I have been watching the games at home and I couldn't have been more excited for my teammates. Watching Eli [Manning] run in for a touchdown, I remember jumping up and down. Just seeing them making plays and knowing you are a part of that and you want to be out there, it's the hardest thing to sit back and watch.
Q: How much do you embrace the opportunity here to show your teammates, fans and coaching staff what you are all about?
A: I just thank God every day for the opportunity I get. If I get the chance to play Sunday, I am going to go out and do the best that I can.
Q: What was the route at practice today that you ran that made you smile, that made you say I have it back again?
A: It was a deep post and I caught it in the end zone and just that feeling of being back. You could put this behind you and move forward. It's so satisfying.
Q: Eli said from he hears if all goes well, you will play…Do you feel the same way, that you are getting ready to play a game here? **
A: Definitely. That is the mindset going into this week to play Atlanta. Whatever the case may be on Sunday, it is what it is. I am looking forward to that opportunity and getting the chance to finally run out on the field.
Q: Did it feel different today to practice because you were not practicing just to see if you were okay… You are actually practicing to get ready for a game?
A: It definitely felt different from when you are on the side and you are trying to make sure you are getting right. Then you are coming out here [and practicing] taking plays from the offense and you are running routes and you are in a scheme. It is a little different.
Q: In a good way?
A: Yeah, in a good way
Q: Would it matter to you if you got in the game for 5 plays, 10 plays, 40 plays… Does any of that matter?
A: Being a competitor, you want to be out there the entire time, but honestly, like I said, I thank God every day for getting me healthy and having the opportunity and the ability to run out on the field. Whether it is five plays or one play, I am going to give it 100 percent each and every play. I am just looking forward to that opportunity to play.
Q: How do you feel that your NFL dream is about to come true?
A: It is crazy to think about. I have been out for an extended period of time, which has been way too long. Not for everybody else, but for me, it has been sickening. Like I said, I am just looking forward to the opportunity.
Q: Are you trying to low key this a little bit this week just because you don't want to jinx anything?
A: That could be part of it. Superstition or whatever people may call it. For me, I just try to focus on the playbook and whatever the team is going to need me to do. I try not to focus too much on whether I am going to play or not.
Q: Who were you running against on the deep post you mentioned earlier?
A: I don't remember
Q: Did you let it go… Run your fastest?
A: Yeah, I ran.
Q: Do you feel limited?
A: I feel good.
A: Yes, rested.
Q: You practiced full?
Q: One thing Coach Coughlin wants to know is seeing back to back hard practices two days in a row…Do you feel like you will be fine for tomorrow?
A: Yeah, I feel good. I will be ready. I feel better than I have been feeling. Just keep pushing it and keep going forward.
Q: When was the first time you let it loose?
A: Maybe sometime last week I tried to open up while I was on the side training. I just tried my best. You have to let [the injury] get behind you and not let it mess with your head, but that is something that is hard when it reoccurred the way it did. Then you hear this, that and the other. It is just something that is always in your ears. For me, the biggest thing was blocking it out
WR Victor Cruz
RE: Odell Beckham Jr.
A: He has a ton of upside to him, and he definitely can make plays. It is a matter of getting him healthy and getting him ready to go. It is good to see him on the field today. He made a couple of plays, had some catches, so it is a matter of him continuing to do that and staying healthy.
Q: He hasn't played a game, though. Do we have to temper our excitement or expectations for him?
A: I guess so. Mainly because you just haven't seen him, but I think he is a good player and I think once he gets fully ready and ready to go on game day, I think you guys will be surprised and pleasantly surprised.
Q: Could a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. make you even better because they will have to worry about other people with speed?
A: Absolutely, the more guys we have out there making plays, the better. Larry Donnell coming out making some plays, myself, Rueben Randle, obviously. The more guys we have out there making big plays, the better. That is what you want as an offense, that is what you want as a team to get yourself going in the right direction.
Q: What does it do to a team when you look on the side and there is nobody hurt, everyone is practicing? Does it help a mindset of a team? **
A: Absolutely, to have everyone out there all the time, ready to go playing. The energy level that we had at practice today was amazing. Guys are just ready to go, ready to compete, and it is good to see. It gets me motivated, it gets me pumped up, and I am excited to finish out this season on a good note.
Q: Is it almost like you have to take advantage of the times when the team is healthy? This is not always the case.
A: You have to take advantage of every moment. Every moment you have out here, every moment you have to practice with your team and get better. You have to take advantage of that, and I think our team is doing so.
Q: As a veteran, and you look at back to back wins, do you have to tell some of the young guys not to read your press clippings?
A: A little bit, but they get it. They understand what type of team this is, they understand what type of organization this is. We have to keep going forward, keep our foot on the gas and keep doing things the right way because now we know what it feels like to win and we want to continue that feeling. We love coming in on Monday, everybody is upbeat, ready to watch the film because it is nothing but positive things out there. We just have to continue that. We have a good group of guys here that understand that.
Q: Are you building momentum in your mind?
A: Absolutely, I think we are going in the right direction. I think our team's mindset is in the right direction. We just have to continue forward, continue to put the big plays out there on the field.
Q: What do you know about the Atlanta Falcons defense? Maybe an area you guys can exploit.
A: I know they lost one safety, unfortunately, but I know their next guy up…they have good players all around. The Atlanta Falcons is a good organization, they have good players, but we definitely see all areas, all areas that we see that we can attack. We know that our running game is definitely something that is going to have to set the tone for us. In the pass game we just want to go out there and catch the ball well, run great routes against these corners because these corners are very good, in my opinion. We just have to be sound in our technique, and we will be good to go.
Q: Now that you guys have had a taste of victory, you've got the two-game winning streak, how do you keep it going?
A: Just more of the same. More of the same confidence, more of the same ability to make plays, more of the same preparation. I think our preparation has been great, and I think we just have to continue that in order to be successful.
Q: Talking to Odell Beckham Jr., you kind of get the sense that he is over answering the questions about how he feeling, when he is going to get on field. Now that he is practicing and out there with you guys, do you get a little sense that he is a little relieved, he is a little himself.
A: Absolutely, he is definitely excited to be out there with us. He is excited to be out there running some routes, being in the huddle, as you can see. He is excited and it good for him, it is good for a young player like that to get his confidence a little bit to be out there and to be one step closer to playing, which is what we all want any way.
Q: He caught a deep ball today right?
Q: He's happy with that, I guess?
A: He was extremely ecstatic with that. You could see it when he came back, he was happy, and we just need more of that.
LB Jameel McClain
Q: When you go out and look out at practice today and everyone is practicing. Nobody is hurt, nobody is riding bikes, nobody is with the trainers. Does that help the team's mental outlook when you see that?
A: I don't know so much about mental outlook. It is great to have everybody out there, it is great to have players out there, everybody that we need out there making plays, and doing what is necessary. I don't know so much about the mental outlook, but you get fresher bodies out there when everybody is healthy.
Q: It helps the physical outlook?
A: It helps the physical, yeah. Not mental.
Q: When you see the top-rated offense, most of the time that usually strikes fear in a defense. What is your approach looking at this offense? **
A: That is what you think? I think we all play this game to compete against the best. I think we all play this game to see how we stack up. I don't know any defensive player, or any defensive coach that regardless of who the top is, whether it was last year's top, this year's or ten years from now in the top, anybody that is really intimidated by that, we are in the NFL because we are here, we are competitive people, and we accept the challenge daily, regardless of who the offense is. The top or the worst or how other people want to consider it.
Q: What do you see in their offense?
A: I see talent, I see speed, I see they have a variety of running backs who all have completely different styles, and they really can get after it. All of them have experience and their receivers, we all know what their receivers are capable of. A quarterback that is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, so I see a talented team all together, and I'm sure that is what you guys see, too.
Q: Do you know where you will be lining up this week?
A: I don't know. You know me, I am like a nomad, man, I just find a home wherever I can.
Q: A few feet from the other side or?
A: Hopefully, I will be on the field, that is the best part.
Q: Do you think Jon Beason is going to make it back? What will he do?
A: I don't know. My goal is to just be ready to play defense, or play all of the positions. I can't really speak on Jon Beason, you have to ask Jon, Jon will tell you. It is not my place to speak on what he is doing or how he is feeling.
Q: When do you think you will know? Is it important for you to know?
A: They can tell me one second before the game, I will be ready. That is how much I prepare; I am dedicated to this game on and off the field. It is really no surprises that can come to me.
Q: Do you feel like this defense is getting better and better every week?
A: Absolutely, that is the goal. You take your lumps early and you just keep improving, and consistently improving. In the practice that we had today, showed that guys were focused, locked in, energetic. Those are all of the things that you expect from a good defense. If we can keep building off of that, we will keep getting dangerous.
Q: That is what everybody was talking about, they said, "energy," and the way you guys practiced getting back to it and getting focused on Atlanta.
A: Having fun, man. This is a game. At the end of the daym it's a game, don't take it so serious. Let's have fun with it, run around, hit people, and do what we do. We've got the easy job, the offensive players have got to do the thinking.
Q: Your wins came against a team that didn't have a starting running back and didn't have a starting quarterback. Do you feel like if you guys perform against this top-ranked offense that it will open up some more eyes?
A: We are not worried about opening people's eyes. They can doubt us as much as they want. Doubt us all the way to the end. If we keep prevailing and keep showing who we are, whether it is a starter in people's eyes, or not a starter in people's eyes, this is the NFL. Everybody can play on any team, and it is a talented league, and we go out there and perform, and put on our hat, one pant leg at a time just like everybody else. Whoever you strap up, we are going to go after them.