Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: I guess Pat (Hanlon) released all of the injuries, so I don't have to go into that. I covered just about what I wanted to cover last night. We are getting ready for the Patriots, so I'll try to answer your questions.
Q: What happened yesterday between Sterling (Shepard) getting checked and going back into the game without a concussion, and then showing up this morning with the symptoms?
A: I couldn't tell you that. He went back in the game and then he came in this morning and had some symptoms— which is not atypical of some of these concussions.
Q: How troubling is it that that's two now in a short period?
A: Well we're just going to have to (see). He's in the protocol, we'll try to get him back. He'll be back on the field when they say it's time.
Q: Do you know of a history for him or anything where you would have to keep an extra close eye on him at this point?
A: Not really, aside from the fact that this is his second one in a short period of time.
Q: Why didn't he play that final drive?
A: We were just rotating guys in. It wasn't because of this.
Q: How much more of an emphasis will getting the ball to Golden Tate be with Sterling (Shepard) out?
A: We were trying at times to get him the ball the other night. Obviously, there will be more opportunities for Golden this week.
Q: What's going on with Evan Engram's knee?
A: Just a little game soreness. We'll just see how he does as the week progresses.
Q: Do you anticipate he'll be practicing tomorrow?
A: We'll see, we'll see. I don't know that.
Q: With a short week, how concerning is this fairly considerable list of injuries?
A: It's something that you have to deal with. Every team has to deal with one of those short weeks. We'll do the very best we can to get as many players back as quickly as possible so that they are able to play Thursday.
Q: How much does this short week hurt Saquon (Barkley)? It doesn't give him a lot of time to get ready.
A: I don't know if it hurts him or helps him.
Q: It can't help him, can it?
A: Obviously not. Time is your friend when you're coming back from an injury.
Q: How is he doing?
A: He's doing great.
Q: Will you have to add a (running) back if he's not available and with Gallman in the concussion protocol?
A: We might look at doing something like that, yeah.
Q: How close do you view him at this point?
A: Saquon? He's getting much closer. Closer than where he was last week.
Q: How close was he last week?
A: Well, you asked me that. He was closer than he was the week before, I guess. I don't know what to tell you.
Q: Will you have to add a wide receiver with Shep (Sterling Shepard) being out for a little bit?
A: We'll see. We'll see what happens. We are a little up against it here with the short week, so we'll just have to see how it works out.
Q: But you have, obviously, Bennie (Fowler) and TJ Jones, two guys who know your playbook.
A: Yeah, so we'll just have to see if that's a move we're going to make. If not, we've got four healthy receivers at this point.
Q: Could Saquon play Thursday?
A: There's a possibility.
Q: As far as your linebackers— Tree (Alec Ogletree) and then Tae Davis looked like he was back full today. Can we expect some of them back?
A: Yes, we are hopeful that they'll be back. They've made good progress coming back from their injuries, so we'll just have to see what the week brings.
Q: With such a short week, what's the most challenging part about fleshing out the Vikings and just focusing on the Patriots?
A: Well, we already fleshed out the Vikings. Today was like a Wednesday practice. The coaches had things prepared and ready to go. We were out here basically in teach tempo, and did what we would do on a Wednesday.
Q: The Patriots' defense almost looks like fantasy numbers, they don't give up anything— they lead the league in basically everything. What do you see when you look at them right now?
A: I see that. They are an outstanding defense just like the one we played this past week, and just like a few of the defenses we played prior to this past week. We've got to do what we can to move the ball and score points. It's always a challenge in this league, you're always playing against really good defenses. This is another top defense, so we have to be about our business. We have to make plays when they're presented, and we have to do a good job of staying on schedule.
Q: Would you consider giving Julian Love some reps at free safety if (Antoine) Bethea doesn't play better?
A: He's getting reps right now.
Q: I meant in a game.
A: We'll have to see.
Q: What do you need to see from Saquon in tomorrow's practice to not play him?
A: I don't know. I'll have to tell you that after tomorrow, we'll see.
Q: You were pretty transparent a couple weeks ago about Janoris Jenkins. You had a conversation with him after he said something about the defense. Did you address Golden Tate's comments from yesterday?
A: I think those were taken a little bit out of context. I don't think he was being critical. He was out there, he had a role, and of course when you ask a receiver what he thinks about getting the ball, they are going to want it. He's a very positive guy and a great influence on the team. I don't think there's anything to it, quite frankly.
Q: What do you think about the overall challenge of facing the defending champions at their home, and kind of seeing what you have with your team?
A: Well, we are looking forward to the opportunity, certainly. I really feel like we can measure up against anybody we play if we coach and we play well. So, we are looking forward to going, I guess it's up, to Boston and playing the Patriots.
Q: You made a point last night about finding guys who may be discouraged and making sure that they are not on this team and they are not part of this. How do you prevent guys from hanging their heads?
A: I didn't see any guys that were discouraged. They had a really good day. That was just to make sure that, listen, it's one game that didn't go our way, we didn't coach it or play it the way that we needed to, to win it. You move on and you put all of your efforts into playing the Patriots.
Q: What about today and you get the news with Sterling (Shepard) that I don't think any of you guys thought was coming? He's a team leader and an emotional guy.
A: Well, we have to move on. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for other people to have more of an impact.
Q: On that safety, was that something Daniel (Jones) could have checked out of to have been able to run that play?
A: No, we need to block it better.
Q: Is Daniel supposed to change the protection?
A: No, we need to block it better. Then we would've had everybody but one guy blocked and we would've been able to run to the left and keep ourselves from being tackled for a safety.
Q: As a connoisseur of quarterbacks, is there one thing that at this age (Tom) Brady does that is still so incredibly remarkable, amongst all of his traits?
A: Yeah, he leads his team to victories. That's what's remarkable about what he does. He plays the quarterback position at a high level, and that's what you're looking for your quarterback to do.
Q: How impressive is it? He's been doing it since your starting quarterback was 4 years old.
A: Good point. Yeah, it's very impressive. He's been doing it for a very long time at a very high level. I mean, what more can you say about that? He's helped his team win multiple Super Bowls and has played extremely well for his team to help them do that. What more can you say?
Q: How did Alec (Ogletree) look today?
A: Yeah, he looked good. He looked good. We're hopeful he'll be ready to roll.
Q: How did Josiah (Tauaefa) look in the snaps that he played yesterday?
A: He did a good job for his first time out. I thought he ran around and made a couple plays. Yeah, it was a good first outing for him.
Q: Back to running backs, with Saquon (Barkley) kind of up in the air and (Wayne) Gallman in the protocol, in a short week how much does that truncate the process of figuring out whether you need to get a guy before Thursday? How much does that change the thought process or mentality?
A: Well, we are going to do what we can to be ready to play with the running backs we have. Maybe it's the guy that's on our practice squad, maybe it's a guy outside the building. We'll just keep going through that process.
Q: What's your comfort level with using Eli Penny in an extended role there? I know you keep saying he tells everybody he's a tailback. How much do you view it that way?
A: It's like when a receiver goes down, the guy behind him gets more opportunities. When a running back goes down, the guy that's slated behind him will get more opportunities.
Q: I'm guessing you view him as a tailback then, if you say that?
A: Well, I put him in there as one.
Q: Who has a say in the Saquon decision, how will that decision be ultimately made?
A: We'll just do what's best for the team, and we'll put him out there when he's able to play at a high level and protect himself. We'll decide that as we go here.
Q: Could he be a game time decision?
A: I don't know that. I wouldn't speculate on any of that right now. We're still hours away, I guess, from the game.
Q: What was the mood with the team today from what you could tell?
A: They were about their business. We are all disappointed that we lost, but nobody's discouraged and everybody came out here with a can-do attitude. I thought it was a really good practice, actually.
QB Daniel Jones
Q: How tough is it to prepare for a team on a short week?
A: It's different. It's obviously my first time doing it here, so the routine is a little bit different, but that's part of the challenge. They have the same challenge in a short week for them also, so I'm confident we'll be prepared. We're excited for the opportunity.
Q: Did you sneak some stuff in last week?
A: I didn't. I was focused on Minnesota last week.
Q: Rookie quarterbacks do not have a great track record going against Bill Belichick. Why do you think that is and what do you see from his defense that would make it so difficult?
A: I think they've been a good defense for a long time. I don't know—probably rookies and all other quarterbacks—they've been a good defense, they can play well against anyone. I think, like I said, we're excited for the opportunity, we're excited for the challenge, and I think we'll be prepared and confident going in.
Q: We've seen that famous picture of you in an Eli Manning jersey when you were a kid—did you have a Tom Brady jersey?
A: No, I didn't have a Brady jersey, but I always liked watching him, and yeah, he was one of those guys growing up.
Q: What are you expecting from that atmosphere?
A: Hopefully it will be energetic and loud, and I look forward to playing a Thursday night game. It's a big deal, it's exciting. Looking forward to it.
Q: Today on a conference call, Belichick mentioned that you were in their building before the draft and had a good visit—what do you remember about that day?
A: Yeah, just meeting their coaches and visiting with them, kind of like all the pre-draft visits, just trying to make a good impression, trying to learn from those coaches. I enjoyed the conversations that I had with all of them, and obviously a whole lot of respect for their coaches and how good they've been for a long time.
Q: What's it like now to know that in a couple days you'll be facing off with Tom Brady?
A: I'm excited, I think we all are, but it's about what we can do as a team to score points, to move the ball. I think as a team we're confident we'll be able to do that, so that's the challenge, to be prepared for what they do.
Q: What can you learn from watching that film yesterday?
A: I think a number of things. I think, like we talked about yesterday, there were some plays we left out there, some plays that I left out there on the field that I'd like to have back that we need to make, and several other things. I think there are times I can be better in the pocket, more efficient in how I move and create space. There's a number of things, but like each of these weeks, it's an opportunity to learn.
Q: How big of a hit is it for this offense to lose Sterling Shepard?
A: He's obviously a key piece of what we do. He's been a big-time playmaker for us until this point, but like we said, we're confident in the guys we've got. I think when you look at how some of those guys have played and stepped up, I think we've got guys who are ready to go and ready to make plays. So, we're confident and I know those guys will be ready.
Q: It was your first time throwing to (Golden) Tate since the preseason—did you feel like the chemistry was there?
A: I thought it was. We had throughout training camp and the preseason—I think I'm certainly comfortable with him, I think he's comfortable with me, so I think the chemistry is definitely there.
Q: Did you lose some of the RPO stuff from the playbook when Wayne (Gallman Jr. ) went out of the game?
A: Not really, our plan didn't change a whole lot. Losing Wayne, obviously you hate to lose him, he's a great player for us, but I don't think the plan necessarily changed.
Q: It could be feast or famine at the running back spot—Coach Shurmur said there's a possibility you could have Saquon (Barkley), but there's also a possibility you might only have two healthy running backs going into the game. How much does that wear on your mind at all?
A: Like the other positions, I think we have guys who have stepped up so far, who have played well when they've had opportunities, so I think we're confident in them. I think losing Saquon, losing Wayne, those are two really good players and two guys who have made a lot of plays, but like I said, we're confident in those guys—(Eli) Penny and Jon (Hilliman) have played really well, so we'll be good to go.
Q: Everyone knows Eli Manning's history against the Patriots--particularly in a short week against that team, can he be helpful?
A: Absolutely, I think he's been extremely helpful to me in each of these games, and in a short week like this, he'll be helpful, also. He obviously knows how to prepare, he's done this short week a number of times, so he'll be extremely helpful.
Q: Belichick also said on that call that when you were visiting with him, something happened and you changed your plans and you went to the Giants next—do you remember that?
A: I don't remember exactly how that happened. I had a number of visits before the draft and to be honest, I'm not sure what exactly the order of them was, but like I said, I enjoyed the visit with those guys, and just to sit and talk with Coach Belichick was cool and I learned a lot.
Q: Maybe the greatest coach of all time has expressed interest in you, to the point where he has you in for a visit—is there something at least just on its face that that impresses you?
A: Yeah, I certainly appreciate the interest and appreciated it during the draft. Just the opportunity to visit up there, talk to those coaches, and obviously Coach Belichick, was really cool.
Q: In such a short week, how easy is it, or hard is it, to move on from such a disappointing loss to the Vikings?
A: I don't think that's—obviously we are disappointed, we expected to win, like we always do, so we're disappointed, but I don't think you can afford to focus on that really past last night. That's not our focus. Our focus now is on the Patriots, and I think we're all excited for this opportunity and we've all been able to kind of shift our focus and start to get ready for the Patriots.
Q: Off such a tough loss yesterday, a tough week, do you kind of get into guys a little bit—you know, "Let's go, let's pick it up, let's make sure we're ready for Thursday?"
A: I think the urgency is there from the team. I think you could feel it out at practice today and just kind of throughout the day today, people are ready to move on and people are ready to attack this challenge in a short week against the Patriots. So, I think if that's necessary, I'd be willing to do that, but I think we're motivated and I think I feel the energy and the urgency from the team, and I've certainly got to make sure that I do my part.
Q: How much more is on your plate? How much more studying do you have to do? It's not a normal week.
A: I'll try to do everything I do in a normal week in a little bit shorter time period. So, it'll be a little bit longer, but I think I'm not timing my film watching, I'm just trying to make sure that I know I'm ready and do everything that I need to do.
Q: Eli is linked to the Patriots with his history—is there anything specific about this team that he's been able to tell you?
A: Yeah, I think just some of their tendencies and how they've evolved over the years. I think they've changed a little bit from the times—but he has the experience from seeing that change. But yeah, I think just kind of the tendencies, who they are, the foundation of their defense, is helpful in preparing.
Q: Did he tell you at any point if you get in trouble to just kind of run around and throw it as far as you can and try to put it on someone's helmet 40 yards down the field?
A: (Laughter) No, he didn't say that one. But yeah, he has a whole lot of experience and a whole lot of success, so a lot to learn.
Q: When you were growing up playing football, did you ever imagine that you'd be starting against Tom Brady, based on his age?
A: I guess a few years ago it didn't really seem like he was slowing down, so maybe, but I don't know. I'm not sure I dreamed that specifically, but yeah, he's been good for a long time.
Q: So, are you going to play until you're 42?
A: I'd certainly like to, yeah.
Q: You think there's some 5-year-old running around right now saying that he might have to play against you in 20 years?
A: Yeah, we'll see. Sounds good to me.
Q: You don't see it often in the NFL, but the awe-factor, the idea that this is a rare experience to go play Brady and Belichick up in Foxborough, you've watched them in Super Bowls—as young players, do you kind of have to guard against that and make sure you get that out of the way immediately?
A: Yeah, I think you certainly respect what they've done and you acknowledge the fact that they're a good team, but I don't think we can let that affect our confidence or the way we kind of attack the preparation, or when we get there, the play of the game, and I don't think it will. So, I think they're a good team, we know that, but we're confident in what we do.
WR Golden Tate
Q: How tough is it to see Sterling go out with a concussion?
A: Yeah, it's tough but you know how important this game is to him and how much he wants to be out there. I don't completely know the situation with him other than he went into protocol today. I just hope he is back soon. Obviously over the last five weeks, he has been a huge part of our offense and a big reason why we have won these games. We want him back as healthy as soon as possible.
Q: Is it frustrating that you get back, Saquon is hurt and now Sterling is in the protocol, who knows about Engram. You guys haven't had your full compliment of an offense out there yet?
A: It's tough because it's hard to reach your potential when you don't have everybody out there. It's unfortunate, but then again it's also football. That's what we sign up for and you never know when injuries are going to happen.
Q: Without Sterling, your role is going to be a little different, are you ready for that next step?
A: Honestly, whatever it takes to win, that's the goal here for everybody in this locker room. That's what I want my part to be, just help us win, so if that means I run more plays, so be it. Less plays, whatever, just win. Coming into this locker room after last week's win was fun and today wasn't as fun, we want to get back to winning.
Q: I assume you will be in the slot more if Sterling is not in?
A: I'm not sure, we'll see. We kind of flushed last night's game today and started early on these guys. We'll see as the game plan develops, we'll see.
Q: A lot of these young guys have not played against the Patriots. Do you have to warn these guys that it's Brady, Belichick, you have seen them on TV, but now you have to play against them?
A: I haven't even thought about it that way, it's just another opportunity. I think we have to play good football against teams like them. You know they are going to come well prepared. Obviously, their defense is ranked number one in the National Football League. That means we are going to have to play good, solid, fundamental football. What I mean by that is hold on to the ball. Be efficient on third down. When we get to the red zone, we have to get seven points. We have to try our best to control the clock the best we possibly can to keep Brady and company off the field. It's always going to be about us. If we do our jobs the best we can and we execute the best we can and take these next few days to really study up on who the New England Patriots are, I think we'll go out there and we will give ourselves a chance to do something special.
Q: How hard is to study for the Patriots, they have always been known as a chameleon kind of team. The can play any which way they want to on a given Sunday and throw all kinds of different looks at you. Is it really easy to say we just prepare and study for them when they can look so different every single week?
A: I think you have to find any tendencies you can, and you have to watch film a little bit closer. Like you said, they do a lot and they do a lot well. They are going to be well balanced, they're not going to major in one coverage over the next. Playing for (Matt) Patricia last year, I kind of can understand how they do things at times. We have a lot of faith in the people upstairs, our coaches and the players in here. We just have to do our jobs. You look back at some of the losses we have taken and the games we've won, if we just do our jobs a little bit better individually, some of these games might crack open a little bit sooner.
Q: What is the overall mood of this team?
A: I don't think we are discouraged and, honestly, if I came in here and the whole locker room was having a party, I would be pretty pissed off. I don't think anyone in this locker room likes to lose. The good thing about the situation is that in a few days we get to try to get that taste out of our mouth. The mood isn't super giddy, I think it's more serious this week, we understand the task that is coming up in a few days and how serious this is and the opportunity we have to do our jobs on Thursday Night Football. Not discouraged, a little bummed about yesterday but ready to move on.
Q: When you play a team that is the defending champion, do you almost feel like if you can get the win you can jumpstart the season?
A: My mentality is I come into each game expecting to win, no matter who it is. If it's the '85 Bears, I expect to win and that's just how I've grown up in this league and where I've played so far. I don't see it as ifs, just go out there and get it done.
Q: As a veteran in this locker room, with all the young players that you have, not just at your position, do you feel any urgency to go around to make sure guys see this Thursday night game the way you do?
A: I guess after playing with Patricia, who was there for a long time, Detroit and New England are pretty similar because you have some (of the same) personnel and a few things. I will definitely, specifically in my position group, I'll share any intel that I have, or anything I view that is going to help us win. As far as the defense, I don't know how I can really help those guys.
Q: Let me re-phrase the question—just the idea that you've got a lot of young guys in here who for years have watched Super Bowls and for years have watched these teams and these players—there might be a little bit of an "awe" factor walking in there Thursday night. You say you don't have that awe factor, so do you have to talk to the younger players to kind of get them to realize you're not going up there for a show, you're going up there to win a football game?
A: I don't think so. I don't think we have a locker room full of fanboys. I think we understand we're all in the NFL, we're going out there to do a job. We've all played in big games, I think, at some point, and it's a big one because it's the next one on our schedule, but I don't think we need to put too much pressure on ourselves. I think we need to keep our emotions in check—I don't think we want to get too high, we don't want to get too low—just live in the moment, enjoy having the opportunity to go play in a very hostile environment against a great team, and go out there and shock the world. It's as simple as that. We've just got to start by the focus that we pay attention to detail this week, the film stud. Obviously it's not going to be a very physical week on us because it's a quick turnover, but mentally just prepare ourselves the best we possibly can.
Q: Pat Shurmur said he didn't take your comments yesterday as any sign of dissatisfaction or anger wanting to get more balls. He said you could ask any receiver and they'd say they want to be more involved.
A: Were (my comments) taken, at any point, that I was unhappy?
Q: I think there was some debate about what you were trying to say—like, was he unhappy that he didn't get more in his first game back?
A: First things first, if anyone ever needs clarification, just ask me. Don't assume my words. I try to say things and be intentional with them. The only thing that I was saying is that I hope I'm more involved at some point. But I do understand that this is my first week back, there is a process to this. You don't just throw someone right in the fire when things can happen in another way. I am very happy to be a New York Giant, I am very happy to be back in this locker room and playing football. I think it would be more alarming if I said, 'No, I don't want to play more, I don't want more passes.' I would look at that guy a little funny. As a player who sees himself as a playmaker, I don't think there's ever going to be too many opportunities. Anytime that I have a chance to be on the field, get the ball in my hands, I feel like that's an opportunity to make a special play or do something great to help our offense or bring a spark. Of course, I'm always going to want more opportunities. If we play 70 plays and I play 61 of them, the way I'm built, I want to play all 70. That's more opportunity for me. That's the only thing I was trying to say. I am far from being unhappy.
Q: You've said several times that you want to do what you can to help Daniel (Jones) in the process. Is there anything beyond just being a receiver and catching balls that you can help him with after playing with him for a week?
A: Yeah, one thing that I'm doing right now is trying to understand how he sees things. On the field and off the field, I think we are both learning about each other. He's learning what type of receiver I am, I'm learning what type of quarterback he is. I think, eventually, we are going to do some great things together. I think we are going to make a great combination of plays together, and that's exciting. We've watched film together. I think just picking each other's brain. For instance, yesterday there was a time during the game where he said, 'hey, what do you see?' I told him what I saw. I asked him, on a pass that we didn't connect on, 'hey, what did you think there?' Just trying to understand that is important and is going to help us in the long run.
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