Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: We’re back to work, which is good. A little bit typical longer weekend after the Thursday game, so it was nice for everybody to get away and reflect on things we need to get better on – coaches, players, everybody involved. We had a good day of practice. Tomorrow, they’ll be off and then back to work for our Monday night game on Thursday. I’ll take your questions.
Q: What did you find in your reflection?
A: Some of it is, I think we need to play better, I think we need to coach better, and we’re certainly not happy with the record. I feel like when you’re close in games, you look back on plays here and plays there, and close isn’t enough. We’ve got to try to find a way to get it over the top.
Q: Do you maybe change up some of the schemes, some of the things you’ve been doing?
A: You’re constantly looking at new things to do. That just happens. It’s like you’re constantly (going) through the game trying to find things that work within your scheme, then you’re always looking for the right combination of players.
Q: You said before the season that it may take four games to have a good handle on what you have, getting to learn the players. Do you feel after six weeks you know what you have and what you don’t have?
A: Yeah, I think we have a much better feeling for who the players are and how they respond to a win and how we’re responding to losses, how hard guys work and their competitive spirit and all that, and then what guys can and can’t do. As you know, we’re constantly changing up the roster, there’s been a lot of change from a year ago, and we just have to get everybody on the same page doing the things necessary to win games.
Q: Is it fair to say you’ve been disappointed by how some have responded?
A: No, I’m not disappointed. Again, I’m getting to know everybody. In this environment when you’re playing games, it’s real, and you go through a week process to prepare for a game, then play a game. You learn a lot about people and how people handle adversity, how they push through things, how they handle the good and the bad.
Q: Do you expect to be active before the trade deadline later this month?
A: I wouldn’t comment on that. I don’t even know what that means. Does it mean we’re going to make trades? We’re making changes to the roster all the time, and we did that today.
Q: Are you thinking about making any changes to the offensive line as you move forward?
A: We’re looking at really everything, trying to make sure we get the best combination of guys. We like the group we have. Again, we will always continue to improve each group that we have, but we will try to find the right combination.
Q: I’m sure you watched a couple NFL games over the weekend. Obviously a lot of points scored, the league is in record setting days.
A: Yeah, we haven’t scored enough points and I have acknowledged that we need to. We got the ball in the red zone a couple of times last week where we didn’t score points. We were stopped on fourth down once, we kicked a couple of field goals, that makes the game a lot different and I’ve acknowledged that. When you get down there, you’ve got to score points. We also spotted them seven points, too.
Q: John Mara was quoted saying that he was embarrassed at the 1-5 record.
A: I don’t like it either. I am disappointed that we’re 1-5 and we’re working to correct that. I’ve said this before, when we lose ball games, I’m disappointed for our players, our coaches, our fans, and also our administration and that includes John. I get it, I know the feeling, and those of us that have coached in this game long enough, we’ve won enough games to know how that feels, and we’ve lost games and gone through stretches where you’re trying to build something and you lose games and you know how that feels. I’ve mentioned it many times that there is an urgency in our gut to get it right and we are trying to do the things necessary to do that.
Q: John (Mara) also said that he hoped that (Odell Beckham Jr.) would play more and talk less.
A: I have addressed the Odell stuff. Odell is a member of the New York Giants football team and we’re going to work with every player to become the best they can be, not only on the field but off the field. So when things happen, we talk behind the scenes and we’re trying to make everybody as good as they can be in really all areas of their life. That’s the way it works.
Q: Do you expect to have (Evan Engram) and (Rhett Ellison) practicing this week?
A: Yeah, they actually practiced today, so we are hopeful they’ll be back and ready to roll on Monday.
Q: Perhaps for different reasons, (Eli Manning) and (Odell Beckham Jr.) are right now kind of in the crosshairs when assigning blame for the record. Is that deserved by the two of them in particular? How would you parse out blame?
A: That’s for people outside the building. None of us have played or coached well enough to be where we want to be, so we own that. Outside the building, it’s always giving praise and assigning blame. That’s the noise that happens outside the building. We correct each play specifically, each situation specifically, each event in a game specifically, with the idea that if a mistake is made, you correct it and move on. The goal is to not have it happen again. That’s where it is.
Q: Is there concern for any of the guys who didn’t practice today – (Nate Solder), (Olivier Vernon), (Connor Barwin) – for when it comes to Monday?
A: There is just some game wear and tear from last week. No, I don’t have any concerns as of now.
WR Sterling Shepard
Q: What have you seen from the Falcons defense? Obviously they’ve dealt with some injuries.
A: Yeah, a couple of injuries, but the (defensive backs) are physical and they’re fast, so we’ve got to be able to run.
Q: You look around the league this weekend, I’m sure you saw a lot of points being scored by teams. Do you say, why aren’t we doing that, why can’t we score points?
A: Yeah, we’ve kind of faced that question a little bit through the last few weeks, but this is what the NFL is. You’ve got to figure out what it is to score, and figure out what the problem is and fix it fast. I think the coaches did a great job putting together a game plan for this week and we’ve just got to go out there and execute it.
Q: There were a couple reports over the weekend that said players have gotten frustrated with Eli Manning. You catch passes with him and are involved in the offense, what is your sense of faith in him and feeling about him?
A: I have total faith in Eli. I haven’t heard that once in this locker room, I haven’t heard that from any individual player, so that’s just outside noise and stuff trying to break us apart. We’re doing a good job of keeping everything together in here. As far as in the locker room, we have total faith in him, we picked him as our starting quarterback at the beginning of the season and we’re going to ride with that.
Q: Things like that are not surprising when a team is 1-5. How do you keep that from becoming the narrative and just people expressing their frustrations in some way?
A: Just having a close bond with everybody. I think we did a good job of building that over the offseason and I think we did so. Guys are still in it, we know we still have a chance and as long as we still have chance, guys are going to keep fighting. That’s the way this team is built, so we’ve got to turn things around quickly.
Q: The Falcons can put a lot of points on the board. Do you have any concerns about being in a track meet against that offense to try and keep up?
A: No, I know what this offense is capable of. It’s just us going out and executing the game plan. If we can do that, I have no doubt in my mind that we can put up 30 and keep up with the Falcons offense. They’re going to score points, and we have to go into the game with the mentality that we’re going to do the same.
Safety Landon Collins
Q: What can you do moving forward to help the team get out of this funk?
A: Try to make more plays, honestly. Being more affirmative with my play-calling, my actions, helping the defense as much as I can, making all the tackles I can, and being in the right position to make plays.
Q: Do you think it’s hard to put the past behind you and focus on the future?
A: You learn from the past. You learn your lessons from the past. Everybody says, ‘The past is the past.’ You can only learn lessons from it. We put it behind us, and we’re moving towards the future. We got Atlanta this week, so we’ve got to work on them. What happened in the past is just the past. You can’t really take but lessons from it.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge of facing this Falcons offense?
A: (Falcons QB) Matt Ryan is at the top of his game this year. He’s been doing a great job. They got (Falcons WR) Julio (Jones) – a big, tall receiver, big-time receiver. You got (Falcons WR Mohamed) Sanu, and you got (Falcons WR) Calvin Ridley that’s doing big-time things over there. It’s a good matchup. A lot of shifting motions that we have to be tuned into, and just making sure we use our eyes correctly and making sure we use those eyes to make sure we get to the right play.
Q: Despite his great play, Julio Jones hasn’t scored a receiving touchdown this season. Do you see what other teams are doing to keep him out of the end zone?
A: No, I haven’t seen anything to keep him out. Just haven’t found a way yet. That’s all. They’re trying to get him the ball in the end zone, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Q: They might not have (RB) Devonta Freeman this week. What do they lose with him out of the lineup?
A: Honestly, they have two good running backs that are back there. Freeman is their downhill back. He’s small, but he has that grit in him that nobody can stop him. I look up to him because of that. Little backs like that, you can hit them, you can knock them down, but not him. He’s like a bowling ball. If he hits you, he’s going to hit you hard.
Q: They’ve been particularly good in third-and-long conversions. How critical is that for you to be able to stop that, and why do you suppose they’ve been so good on third-and-long?
A: Their receivers are able to catch the ball down field, that’s why they’re so good. That’s the biggest thing we have to harp on, is getting off the field on third-down. That’s what we didn’t do last week, and that’s what we’ve got to work on.
RB Saquon Barkley
Q: Having had an opportunity to get away from it a little bit, what kind of reflections did you come up with?
A: Yeah, definitely got time to get away for a little bit. Got to go back to school, see a lot of my teammates, a lot of friends and coaches and stuff, but you know just went back and reflected on myself and what I could do better to help the team and what I’ll continue to grow on and that’s kind of what I did.
Q: Can you name a couple things you could – as far as how you feel you can help them better?
A: No, I think all around. I think I could be more efficient in the run game, continue to grow as a leader, pass pro, everything. That’s just kind of how I am. I’m very critical of all the little things and I think I can grow in every part of my game.
Q: I’m sure you watched a few NFL games over the weekend? You were at least aware of them?
A: Yeah, I was aware of them.
Q: A lot of points scored. Do you look at those games and do you say why can’t we score these kind of points?
A: No, not really. I don’t look at those games or teams that are scoring a lot of points and say why can’t we score because I really don’t care how many points they score. One thing I can focus on is how many points we score on offense and how many wins we can get over to this side. I guess you can say I’m aware of what other teams are doing, but I really don’t care too much of what other teams are doing. Only thing that I can worry about and focus on is what am I doing for myself as a team and how I could help this team get better.
Q: Does it feel like the team has been away for a while? Did you guys come together? Is there any sense of being refreshed or rejuvenated or anything?
A: I think everyone either took time a little bit, went somewhere, went there, but it’s good to be back in the building. Good to be back out there, knock the rust off a little bit, but I think that was definitely needed, but like I said, it’s back to work, continue to grind and move on and see how we can continue to get better and get ready for the Falcons.
Q: How did you find the energy of the team today? I know it wasn’t full practice per say, but how did you think the energy was out there?
A: I think it was really well. I think it went really well, to be honest. Anytime you go away and come back, it’s good to just knock the rust off and I think the energy was pretty good as a team. I think we had a pretty overall decent practice and it was a good start to the week and now we start back in our regular schedule and prepare for the Falcons.
Q: I know coaches generally say forget about what happened in the past. How hard is that as you try to right the ship and be the team you know you can be?
A: I don’t think it’s hard to forget about the things in the past, especially with such a long season and it’s a new team every week. Obviously you’re well aware of what happened in the past, but you definitely have to put that in the past because you’re not going to grow if you reflect on the bad things that happened in the past, so we definitely got to continue to put that in the past, continue to grow as a team and focus on the future and focus on the rest of the season and go game by game and right now that focus is on the Falcons.
TE Evan Engram
Q: How do you feel?
A: I feel really good. Today was a really good day. Went out there and made sure I got warm and stuff and was running around and going as fast as I can go and making all the cuts and doing everything I can do to block, so it felt good. Still got a lot of time, good amount of days until game time, so very probable and I feel really good about going into and the rest of this week.
Q: Did you get an opportunity to get away and reflect on what’s happened so far?
A: Definitely. I got to sleep in, got a lot of nap time. I was up here doing some treatment too, so just got a good moment to sit back and relax and I’ve been out for a couple of weeks so I’ve had a good amount of time to reflect. Just attacking treatment and kind of getting ready and getting my mind back right in game mode going into this week.
Q: Anything in particular for you personally that you said I got to do differently or better or anything like that going forward?
A: Just keeping morale up around here and keeping our energy going. Just finding ways to do more and be more, work harder, especially starting in our tight end room, just pushing our guys and finding ways to get better each and every day and finding ways to fix little mistakes that happen here and there starting in practice and carrying those things over to the game. Just full circle, just pushing my teammates and providing a good energy and coming out here and working hard and find things to get better at and personally just providing a spark coming back and trying to do my best to help our offense and this team.
Q: How does the offense score more points? Everybody keeps saying we need to score more points –
A: How do we score more points? Score more touchdowns. Finish drives, not get behind the sticks, little mistakes, make a big play and then come back and have a stupid penalty. Just little things and just little things that will help us finish drives. We just got to score more points, that’ll help.
Q: Going back to what you were saying to keeping morale up, I know you don’t want to dwell too much on the past, so is that a hard balance because the record is what it is and it’s not going away, but –
A: It’s not going away. It is what it is. The only thing that’s for sure is the next opportunity. We could lose a game, but we have a whole other week, whole other opportunity next week, so just keeping pride in the hard work, keeping pride and coming up here and attacking each and every day no matter what the circumstance is, so that’s not hard to do, that’s something that’s in your attitude and that’s something how you – your perspective on each and every day with the privilege we have playing football here.
Q: When you see the scores from this weekend and really throughout the season, you see the scoring up and the high scores and stuff. Do you kind of say, why aren’t we in that group?
A: I watch football and definitely looks kind of easy out there for some teams, but they’re executing. They’re doing their job, they’re limiting mistakes, they’re doing things that we got to attack and we got to get better at, so it’s not a jealousy thing or why is it not us. They’re just doing things that we aren’t doing so that’s something that we got to look in the mirror at at ourselves and attack each and every day and have it translate to when we’re in a game.
Q: Why weren’t you able to play? You were optimistic last time we spoke to you before the Thursday game.
A: Just wasn’t ready, just wasn’t ready. That practice, just wasn’t able to be myself and it was just a quick turnaround, kind of hurt not having a full week of practice to kind of fight through the soreness and recover and have another practice, but that quick week was kind of tough on us, so it just wasn’t ready and I thought that game and having a nice break and a lot of days going into this Monday night will be more ideal.
Q: Did it feel significantly different today?
A: Yeah, felt really good. Felt a lot more confident on it and was able to kind of push through and not try to nurse it as much and try to just gain more confidence and I was able to do that today and excited about the rest of the week.
Q: You go from a short week to a long week so that’s –
A: Yeah, that’s more on my side, that’s more benefit to me definitely.
DL RJ McIntosh
Q: How did it feel being out there practicing?
A: It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that – since last year, I think. It felt great to be around the guys, and doing D-line drills with them. Finally feeling like I’m a part of the team.
Q: How has it been since the draft? Do you feel like you weren’t a part of the team?
A: I know I’m a part of the team. It’s just I wasn’t able to do anything besides working out and meetings. Physical work, I wasn’t able to do any football work. I’m excited, I feel blessed to finally have this opportunity.
Q: How would you describe what you were going through physically? Is it something you worry about moving forward?
A: No, I overcame the situation. I’m just praying that it never comes back, just praying for that. It shouldn’t come back.
Q: Did they say why? Was this a random thing?
A: Yeah, it’s something that just popped up. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it. Something that popped up and it shouldn’t come back up.
Q: Are you optimistic you’ll play in a game this season?
A: I’m praying for it. I want to be able to get out there. I made it this far, I want to be able to participate.
Q: Have they spelled out a plan for you in terms of getting you on the field?
A: No, not yet.
Q: This is basically training camp for you, right?
A: Yeah, I guess. Hopefully I adjust real quickly.
Q: Did you lose weight? Did you have to get your body back in shape?
A: I lost a little weight, but not much. I’m almost at my playing weight from last year, but I’m getting there.
Q: What can you do in these next three week to prove to them that they should activate you?
A: Just stay in my playbook, know everything that they’re talking about. Even though I’m on the side, I can still get mental reps. Focus in meetings, so when I do get the opportunity, I can show up and show out.
Q: When you’re out there, do you feel like you’re behind physically?
A: I just hope and pray I can help the team out when my opportunity comes. I plan on showing out when that does come up.
Q: Were you out longer than you expected when you first went out in April?
A: Yeah, definitely. I didn’t think it would take this long. I understand it’s a process, and we’re at the end of that process.
Q: Did you have any fun out there today? Were the guys joking around with you and busting your chops about being back on the field?
A: I know everybody already (laughter). It was the first time I put my helmet on. It was a big difference, but it’s cool.
Q: Was it hard to stay patient throughout these past few weeks?
A: Yeah, I would say it was difficult. I’m a football player, I want to play football. I always dreamed of being up here at this level. So, I had to be patient. My family, it was a big deal with them. Explaining to them that it’s a process, and these guys were also telling me not to walk around here sad and stuff. Just get better. It’s out of my control.