Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Q: Your excitement about Leonard Williams coming here, what you’ve seen from him in the past and how he can help this defense?
A: Yeah, I’m very excited. We’ve added an outstanding player to our defensive line. I’ve been very impressed by how hard he plays. I think he has an impact on the game in the run and the pass game. By all accounts, he’s a great guy and a great teammate. Everything I’ve seen to this point, we’re really thrilled that he’s with us.
Q: How quickly can he get (up to speed)?
A: Very quickly. Very quickly. A day like today is a good thing because we have an extra practice day, and so we can get him up and running and get him ready to go for Monday.
Q: Does the fact that he played in a 3-4 with Todd Bowles and the Jets, kind of similar concepts to what you guys do, does that kind of make it a little easier for him to move over?
A: I think so. He’s played on the center, he’s played on the guard, he’s played on the tackle, he’s played on the tight end. He’s multiple from that standpoint. He has great length, he plays extremely hard, he uses his hands well. Again, because he’s been in a kind of a five on the line system in the past, it’ll help him get up to speed quicker.
Q: How confident are you that he’ll be here beyond these next eight games?
A: I’m very confident. I don’t see why he wouldn’t be. We brought him in with the idea that he was going to get out there and play and be with us.
Q: I mean beyond these eight games.
A: Yeah, I can’t speak to that. I’m confident he will be because I really liked him as a player before we brought him in. I think we added an outstanding player to our group. As a coach, I look at these deals one at a time, and it’s a good deal for us, especially from my perspective.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to him, let him know what you’re expecting and just getting the chance to meet him?
A: Oh yeah, sure. Yesterday, he came in and we had a good, long talk. Obviously, we did our research on him, and then spent some time again with him today out here at practice. Like I said, we’re going to try to get him up to speed as quickly as possible, and we’re thrilled that he’s here.
Q: You mention his versatility. What are your early thoughts on how you guys might use him from a scheme standpoint?
A: We’re going to use him where we see fit. He’ll definitely be in that rotation immediately, playing, as I mentioned, either on the center, on the guard, the tackle or the tight end. I think that’s where his versatility will help us.
Q: As a coach, do you notice a couple of days before the trade deadline and a couple of days after, there’s a little bit of a difference? Maybe guys were on edge or not on edge? Just maybe there’s a relief today that there wasn’t last week?
A: No, I don’t. I think a lot of this whole trade deadline is talked about outside our building. We sort of live in the real world, and guys just go about their business and come to work. There are times when you just have to wait to hear what happens. Year after year after year, everyone is talking about Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins), and he’s still here. Again, we try to live in the real world when it comes to that kind of stuff. I think our players do a good job of that.
Q: When it comes to the Cowboys game, how different are you guys now than from the first time you played them?
A: I think we’re a better team than when we played them in the opener. We’ve made some improvements in a lot of areas. That first game, we gave up a lot of big plays. We can’t do that and expect to win any games. That’s where you start first and then take it from there.
Q: Back to Leonard Williams, do you see him as a true pass rusher? Because he’s one of those guys that has a lot of pressures but zero sacks. So how do you guys help him?
A: Getting pressure is a good thing. Shoot, he had a sack last week against Jacksonville. I guess it came off the books (because of a penalty), but when you watch the tape, it was a sack. He’s a guy that can get pressure, and I think that’s an important thing.
Q: It seemed like Sterling (Shepard) was making some progress last week. Is there any update on whether he’s still in the (concussion) protocol or how far away he is?
A: Yeah, he’s still in the protocol, but he’s making good progress. We’ll see what the week brings and see if he’s available for Monday.
Q: Same with Corey (Ballentine)?
A: Same with Corey, yeah.
Q: What does (Shepard) have to do to get cleared?
A: It’s just a matter of time. But he had a contact practice, so that’s a good thing.
Q: When was that? Was that today?
A: Yeah, in theory, he had a contact practice today.
Q: Does that perhaps boost your optimism that maybe this is the week (he returns)?
A: Yeah, it does. It does. I think he’s getting closer and closer. We have an extra day certainly because it’s Monday night, so again, we’ll just see what the week brings.
Q: When do you expect him to go see the doctors to see if he can get cleared?
A: It’ll be later in the week.
Q: Is that the weekend now since the week is a little altered?
A: I don’t know. Possibly.
Q: How about (Sam) Beal?
A: He’s making good progress. We have until next Wednesday to make a final decision on him, and so we’ll just see, again, what the next week brings.
Q: You don’t expect anything before?
A: Well, I don’t know that yet. We could be making some changes by the end of the week. We’ll just have to see.
Q: Do you have a roster exemption for him? Is that right?
A: No. If we brought him up, we’d have to release somebody. That’s what we’d have to do. But the 21-day period ends next Wednesday. Does that help you?
Q: Is it more difficult to bring a guy in at this time than it is say during the offseason, during preseason, training camp or whatever? Bringing a guy in and expecting him to make an impact right away eight games into the season?
A: Yeah. Obviously, you’d like a guy sooner than later. But with the defensive line positions, you can get him in there and get him going probably a little quicker than say a quarterback. I don’t want to minimize it, but there are certain positions where it’s easier to get a guy going. That’s a good thing in Leonard’s case.
Q: Do you see him helping Dexter (Lawrence)?
A: Yeah. Listen, I don’t know what the perception is, but when I watch tape, I see a guy that plays hard every day. From what we heard, he does that in practice. He’s a tough guy, a smart guy. He’s been very durable. I think a guy like that, he’s an outstanding person and a great teammate, and he has an impact in the run and in the pass, regardless of what the numbers are. So yeah, a guy like that will have an impact on the whole room.
Q: I know what you said before about the real world, but for the guys who… maybe you don’t say anything, but do you think it sends any kind of message to your guys that you added a player and didn’t send any players away, that this season is still what matters?
A: I don’t know. I mean, I assume so. But again, like I said, things get reported all the time, that so and so may be traded. Who knows where that information comes from. When I say we live in the real world, we don’t respond to all of that stuff because we don’t put that stuff out there. So, we go about our business and deal with the things that actually happen. We’re doing what we can to win this very next game and then every game beyond that. We added a good player on defense that will hopefully help us do that.
DL Leonard Williams
Q: What are your emotions like and what’s this opportunity like for you?
A: I’m just looking at it as an opportunity, like you said. It’s a fresh start, new locker room, new teammates, new coaches, everything like that. It’s a chance to show everybody over here what I’ve got and just prove to my new teammates what I have.
Q: What was day one like for you?
A: Day one was good. I feel like the d-line and the team brought me in with welcoming arms, everyone introduced themselves, I introduced myself as well. It’s a pretty open locker room, everybody is pretty nice and cool with each other. Practice was pretty good. We don’t play until Monday, so it was a little lighter tempo today.
Q: Could that get you on the field, the more time since Dallas since you have an extra practice?
A: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s going to give me a little bit more chance to look over my playbook, know my teammates a little better. It’s good to come into a new locker room with a little bit of extra days to prepare and get to know my new defense and my new teammates.
Q: How similar is this defense to what you’ve seen when you played with Todd Bowles and the Jets, and how much easier does that make this transition?
A: It’s actually pretty similar. Even some of the terminology and verbiage is pretty similar, so I think it should be a little bit easier to pick it up, a little bit easier of a transition since I’ve actually played in the defense for a little bit. I still have some of the younger guys on the d-line still helping me out with some of the calls when I don’t know them. Like I said, they’ve been doing a good job of inviting me in and showing me the way.
Q: What were your thoughts like with the Giants trading for you, knowing your situation at the end of the year and that they still wanted you in here?
A: It’s definitely something I’m going to have to think about near the end of the season, but I’m trying to take it day by day right now since I’m new, this is my first time in this color, it still feels a little weird (laughter). I’m trying to embrace it. It’s been an easy transition since I’m right down the street still. I’m definitely not trying to think about contract stuff yet. I’m more trying to focus on getting to know my teammates, getting to know the locker room, and showing who I am to this new team.
Q: Have they expressed to you though, during the trade, that they want you here beyond this year?
A: There hasn’t been any talk yet, but I’m assuming something is going to be talked about soon, or near the end of the season. They knew that this was my contract year, everyone pretty much knows it. But at the same time, I still have stuff to prove to this team as well.
Q: I know it’s a week away, but it’s pretty ironic that you’re going to be facing the Jets in two weeks.
A: Yeah, I know. Especially since the Jets and Giants don’t play each other, usually. It’s pretty funny that we’re playing them next week after the Cowboys. I’m definitely not going to take anything personal or anything like that. I’m going to play how I would play a normal game.
Q: What were your emotions with the trade deadline and the way it went down, leaving the Jets and coming here?
A: Yeah, it was still an emotional day. It was a long day, a lot going on through my mind. But at the same time, I’m privileged and grateful for the Giants for giving me the chance to come play here. It’s been an easier transition since I’m close by, like I said. It’s not like I had to pack a bag and get on a flight and go somewhere and have to worry about who’s going to watch my dogs, who’s going to do this and who’s going to do that. I basically just came right down the street to my neighbors. I still have a lot to prove, like I said, to this team and to my new teammates.
Q: What do you want to prove to your new teammates and to the new fan base?
A: Just that I’m a good team player. I’m a good player on the field, I’m a good guy off the field. I’m just someone who is going to give it my all in the classroom, on the field, as a leader, as a teammate and everything like that.
Q: Can you talk about your versatility bringing a pass rush to this team?
A: My versatility, that’s actually something the coaches talked about that they were excited about having me here. They’ve seen me play nose, they’ve seen me play 3 technique, they’ve seen me play defensive end, stand-up, all around the d-line. They seemed pretty excited about that. Like I said, I’m still going to have to get comfortable with this new defense, even though it’s similar to what I’ve played in before. As soon as that starts to happen, I’ll get in my groove and get going.
Q: Did you know that a trade was going to take place, or did it totally catch you off guard yesterday?
A: It wasn’t totally off guard, everyone’s heard the rumors and talks about trading and the deadline coming up and stuff like that, so it definitely prepared myself mentally for it. I tried to take the emotions completely out of the situation, whether it was staying or going, and understand that it is a business and just be prepared for whatever the case may be.
Q: But there’s no way in the world that you could have predicted that it was going to be here, considering the fact that you are the first trade ever between these two teams.
A: Right, I definitely didn’t think it would be to the Giants. My agent actually called me like the day before it happened and told me that the Giants were expressing interest and that was my first time hearing about it before coming over here. Like I said, if I had to get traded, this has been one of the easiest transitions, because like I said, I don’t have to move, I don’t have to hire movers to move out my whole house and hire dog sitters and all that extra stuff.
Q: What are your thoughts on maybe facing fewer double teams here with having guys that can pull those away from you, and maybe your hopes if that might be the case?
A: Not even just double teams, but just the excitement of being with all these young, talented D-linemen is pretty exciting. I’ve watched them on film and I’ve gone over some of the defense with the D-line coach and got to watch some of these guys, and they bring a lot to the table. They’re big and strong in the run game, and they also can get after it in the pass rushing game. And then they’re a young, talented group, so this is my first time being one of the older guys in the group, and it’s pretty exciting.
Q: When we look at your stats, for maybe the Giants fans that aren’t as familiar, you have a lot of pressures and didn’t get sacks. So, how do you explain that and how do you get home so that you finish off the pressures?
A: Sometimes it’s just little things that people don’t see. Like when we played Tom Brady and them, he gets the ball out really fast, as everyone knows, and then there was one time I got to him and he got rid of the ball and it was intentional grounding, so that could’ve been a sack. Then, the same thing with the Jaguars last week, I had a sack and it got taken away because of defensive holding. So, it’s just like, I don’t want to make excuses or call out penalties or anything like that, but I am getting the pressure, I am getting there, it’s just a matter of when it clicks, it’s going to click.
Q: What do you want to show here the rest of this year and the rest of your career because, let’s be real, the team that drafted you decided that they didn’t want to pay you and keep you long-term, so what do you want to show them and the rest of the league about what type of player you are?
A: Like you said, I got drafted there and they didn’t keep me, they didn’t want to keep me, but this team definitely showed interest and wanted to go out of their way to get me over here, so I think it speaks volumes on this team wanting me here, and I have to prove to them why they should want me here. I think I’m just going to keep my head in the playbook, we’ve got a long week ahead of us since we don’t play until Monday, and just lock in and hone in on my new teammates, my new playbook and everything like that, and prove to these guys that they made the right choice.
Q: Do you feel like this is an eight-game audition for you, for this team to extend your contract?
A: Yeah, definitely. I think this whole year has been an audition. It’s my contract year and now I’m going through a transition in the middle of that contract year, but I’m going to try to lock in and do whatever I can to be the best I can on the field.
Q: The fact that you’ve faced the Cowboys already this year not too long ago, could that help that part of the transition of getting ready for Monday, that you’re familiar with the guys that you’re breaking down on film?
A: Yeah, exactly. Because I’ve already studied them long enough and played them before, it gives me a little bit of chance to more focus in on the Giants and what we have and what I have to learn with this new defense, opposed to since I have to balance out studying a new team and a new playbook and all that stuff, it helps that I’ve been able to play them already.
Q: Are you open to signing a deal before the end of the season if that was something that came up, or are you intent on actually getting to free agency?
A: I definitely would be open to it if it comes up, whether it’s with the Giants or whoever. I definitely just have to keep playing though. Like he said, it’s an audition still and I have to go out there and prove it on the field.
LB Alec Ogletree
Q: How will Leonard Williams fit in with this defense?
A: I think he will fit in nicely with us. Obviously, he is a talented player and we just hope he comes in and helps us win games. Obviously, you can see he is a big guy and he has production in the league, and that’s what you want.
Q: When a team is struggling as you guys have been, and you are at the deadline, it could go one of two ways. We saw guys last year get traded. Does it send a message that whatever names were floated out there are still here and they brought in another piece?
A: That’s one of the things that’s part of business, part of the NFL. No team is the same from year to year, they trade guys and let guys go, it all depends on what end of the stick you are on. For me, obviously being in the league a while, I have seen it go all kinds of ways. I personally have been part of a trade, so you never know. While you are with that team, you have to give your all to that team and do what’s right.
Q: What does it do for you guys adding players at the deadline instead of subtracting?
A: It adds more talent to our group and hopefully it adds more production to us winning games. The main reason people make moves is to win games and we want to win games. They obviously felt he was a much-needed piece to help us win games.
Q: When a guy comes in midstream like Leonard has, how much of an uphill swim does he have picking up the language, picking up different concepts that he hasn’t done before? How do you guys help him with all that?
A: That just takes a little bit of studying on his part and also guys communicating with him, just helping him along and speed up the process. For him, it’s get after the passer. There are only so many ways you can tell a guy to rush the passer. Some of the language stuff he has to catch up with, but for the most part he’ll be doing the same thing he’s been doing, trying to get after the passer.
Q: What about the concepts and stuff, I don’t know if this is true or not but I have been told when you are here in the beginning you are taught the “whys” behind different concepts, but if you come in later you hit the ground running and worry about the “whys” later? Does that make a difference in a guy’s play?
A: I think it somewhat does, understanding why you need to be over here or why you need to be over there because we run this defense to get the ball to come here or we want to force them to do this. Understanding that reason why, but you have to be a football player, you have to go out there and make plays. Coming in the middle of the season, you don’t understand terminology as you would if you were here all year but at the same time I think it varies from position to position. For him, most of the stuff is go get after the passer.
Q: Do you think some of the criticism he has gotten is unfair? In the sense he was a top pick, good player, but the fans wanted more sacks. How do you feel about that?
A: I don’t have anything to do with that. It’s one of those things, people are going to say what they want to say, good, bad or indifferent. We have him here now and I’m looking forward to playing with him and seeing him get after the passer.
Q: Is that where the instincts can come in, picking up the why of something, if you are an instinctive player you can pick it up a little bit quicker?
A: It’s not like he is a rookie, he’s been in the league. He’s been in a couple different defenses, he understands what it takes to learn the defense and be ready to play and I think he will do a good job of that.
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