Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Excited for Steelers week. Playing one of the premier offenses in the league. Ben looks like he's back to full strength. They have a wealth of play makers around them. Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, they're among the best in the league at their positions.
Defensively, they're young and have some experienced leaders in the group. They're confident and they're playing at a high level. Stephon Tuitt has done a nice job for them upfront. They're loaded at the linebacker spot, inside and outside, like they typically are with James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier and company.
They have an athletic secondary led by physical, hard-hitting safety, Mitchell. Special teams-wise, Tyler Matakevich and Shamarko Thomas are their top coverage specialists, and Brown is always dangerous with the ball in his hands. He has four career returns for touchdowns in the punt return game.
Q: Shane Vereen saw his first action today; how do you think he looked?
A: It was good to get him back out here in the mix with the team. He caught some balls.
Q: How close is he and what does he have to show to you in order to be ready to play?
A: That's more a question for the medical staff. When they deem him ready, we'll take a look at bringing him back.
Q: For a guy who's had an upper body injury as opposed to a lower, has he been able to stay in shape?
A: Yeah, he looks like he's in good condition and caught the ball well today.
Q: I guess ball security would be a big concern for him?
Q: Is that something he can show in practice?
A: That's something we weren't really going to do today, but we'll take a look at that moving forward.
Q: How do you think he can change or help the offense?
A: He's a good play maker; the more of those you have on the field at the same time, the better off you'll be.
Q: What do you see in Le'Veon Bell?
A: He's a very talented player. He's a big back with receiver-type skills. He has good vision and runs with patience. In two-minute, he's a magnet for the ball. He does a good job getting the chains moving there and keeps them in favorable down and distances. He's one of the best in the league at that position.
Q: How about with Antonio Brown, what makes him so dangerous?
A: He's a smart player. He has good natural hands, he's a hands catcher. Instincts are there and he's a very good route runner, whether it's short to intermediate with his patience or down the field. He does a good job of getting defenders off their grass.
Q: Do they give you a lot of different, complex looks on defense?
A: They always have. The system is in the bricks there. I think they've been in the same system since 1992 or around that time. Again, tremendous defense, a history there, it's in the bricks.
Q: When it comes to punt return, do you see Odell getting more returns?
A: We'll see. We'll take a look at that as the week goes on.
Q: You're one of the few teams in the league that hasn't scored 30 points in a game. Can you get to where you want to be without doing that?
A: We just talked this week about being more consistent with what we're doing in the details. We need to get in scoring range more often. We seem like we're one scoring attempt away each week, whether it's a touchdown or a field goal. If you get in scoring position five times, you get three touchdowns or four touchdowns out of it and some field goals, it gives you an opportunity to hit 30 points or at least 27, which is the bench mark.
Q: Is a part of that third down success?
A: Whether you move the chains on second down or third down, moving the chains is a good idea.
Q: Does it surprise you at this point in the season that you haven't scored 30 points?
A: Nothing surprises me, but we need to continue to put more points on the board.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Jason Pierre-Paul getting back to where he is after the accident?
A: I think it's very impressive the progress he's made since you saw him come back last year to where he is now and the production he's having, the success he's having getting after the quarterback, in the run game as well, and also being able to come up with the loose ball the other day.
Q: How would you describe how Janoris Jenkins is playing this year?
A: He's a competitor, we knew that when we got him. It seems like the secondary feeds off of him a little bit. Very opportunistic and he never shies away from competition.
Q: Do you think he and Antonio Brown will have an exciting matchup?
A: I think whoever ends up on Brown is going to be competing at a high level and they're going to have to bring their best game.
Q: How much does going against a guy like Odell in practice is help somebody like Janoris prepare to play an Antonio Brown? Are there similarities between those two?
A: (Janoris and Odell) don't see much of each other this time of year. Going back to training camp, I think Odell and Brown may have some similar type skill sets in some ways. They're both different players but they're both premier players at their position.
Q: Is there something specific you're seeing JPP do now that he couldn't do at the beginning of the season?
A: I just think all the hard work and him being able to play with the hand, the way it's been. I think he's just cashing in on his hard work and his preparation. I think confidence probably has a lot to do with it.
Q: What was it like to have Peyton Manning here yesterday?
A: It was great. Anytime you have a chance to have one of the best players to ever play the game in your building, you want to take advantage of it.
Q: How much were you able to pick his brain?
A: Spent some time with him.
Q: Talking about Steelers, stuff like that, or general?
A: Just talked about some general football things, philosophies, some scheme stuff. Kept it simple.
Q: Have you crossed paths with him much the past 6-7 years?
A: At the Pro Bowl a couple of times.
Q: Was yesterday the most extensive conversation you've had with him?
Q: Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both came in the draft class of 2004. What can you say about the impact that those two have left on the game?
A: Just two franchise quarterbacks at two tremendous organizations. Very steady players, very consistent players that have a history of production.
Q: The Steelers in some games make their default option going for two after a touchdown. As the weather gets colder, is that something you would consider as well.
A: Yeah, we game plan to have a handful of two-point plays if need be. But that's something we'll take week to week.
Q: Are you worried about Robbie Gould at this point?
A: No. I'm confident in Robbie.
Q: What makes you confident even though he's missed three extra points?
A: His track record, consistency.
Q: What is it about Pittsburgh's defense in the red zone. They are the best in the league.
A: They're one of the best red zone/green zone teams in the league with their offense and their defense combined. They're playing at a high level right there.
They're multiple and, again, their system is in the bricks. They have play makers at each level of the defense and they have good veteran leadership and they have young guys who play competitive and play hungry. But we're going tp spend a little bit more time on them in the green zone, red zone this afternoon.
Q: How much more careful do you have to be with Justin Pugh coming back here after last week and the setback that he had?
A: Again, I'll let the medical determine how fast he comes back. That's not something I'll determine. When they give us the green light to go full speed with him, we'll go full speed.
Q: Did he take any team reps today?
A: He mixed in there a little bit in the jog through.
Q: When you were with the San Francisco 49ers in '04, did you do any evaluating of the quarterbacks?
Q: I know going back to Green Bay was emotional, having a connection there. Is it going be special playing and coaching in Pittsburgh?
A: No. We're focused on the preparation for the ball game. That's what everything is about this week. It's about going to Pittsburgh and preparing to beat the Steelers.
Q: You were at Pitt that year and the Steelers basically were right in the same office?
A: Yeah, right across the hall.
Q: What was it like to see them operate?
A: Again, it's a class organization. I think the world of the organization and the Rooney family and look forward to Sunday.
Q: Who's Homer City rooting for?
A: That's a great question for Homer City.
Q: Are you curious to see how your team plays and the level that it gets to, knowing the next five games since you're going up in class? Are you curious to see and do you think your team can raise its...?
A: What do you mean 'going up in class'?
Q: You're playing five teams that are playoff contenders.
A: The only thing we can do this week is prepare to beat Pittsburgh and that's what we're focused on. We're not worried about anything else. There's a lot of energy in the building, a lot of energy on the field, but we have to channel that energy into our preparation. WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: You guys are close to a touchdown underdog. Why do you think that is going into Sunday?
A: I don't know. I don't mind being the underdog, I've been one all my life. We're going against a very good team, a playoff team pretty much each and every year. Talented across the board in every which way you can imagine. It's not like we're not playing a very good team. It's really just opinion. Predictions, scores, all of that is just opinion until you get out there and what happens actually happens.
Q: What does it do for you to see another elite wide receiver on the other side?
A: This is definitely a game where I'm going to be standing up watching this guy. I love him like a brother. We trained in the offseason together. He pretty much works for everything he has. He does that every single day. Work ethic is unreal. I just want to see him. This is the first time I actually get to watch him live. Not on tape or anything like that. Just to see him lined up, I'm excited about it. At the end of the day, you have another guy out there. My defense is going to sit here and want me to do whatever I can. It's the same way it is for him on the other end. I'm definitely looking forward to watching AB, for sure. Hopefully he doesn't have too many celebrations. It's going to be a tough matchup for him.
Q: Are there similarities between your game and his?
A: Yes. I think we both like to score and we like to have fun. We like to enjoy it out there. You work really hard. I don't think people really take in what you sacrifice each and every day to go out there and play for just 60 minutes. That's really all you get and you don't even get that. Like to enjoy it and have fun. I definitely think there are similarities in our game though. I watch a lot of film on him and probably stole a lot of stuff from him to make it my own.
Q: How have you guys gotten to know each other so well?
A: Just working out in the offseason. LA, Miami, he was doing Dancing with the Stars and stuff. It was just not hard to link up with someone else who aspires to be beyond great. We got with him. He kind of just showed me the ropes. He was showing me pretty much everything of what he does. You take that and you put it into your own agenda and schedule. You kind of just go with it from there. There's definitely some type of competition but it's all love and friendly competition. Obviously, I'm not going against him. The New York Giants defense is going against him. Like I said, it'll be a tough matchup.
Q: Do you want to have better numbers than him at the end of the day?
A: Do you want to have a better story than anyone else at the end of the day? You know what I mean? You want to go out and be the best every single time. That's what you want to do. That's what you work for. Yes, ultimately I would like to do better than him, but if he does better and we win, that's a battle that I may have lost one but I won the other. Either way it goes.
Q: Whether it's him, Lebron or Von Miller, you have a lot of friends that are guys chasing greatness. Is that just something you were drawn to?
A: Yes. I feel like you are who you hang around with, in a sense. If you hang around people who have the same mindset, goals and focus as you, it makes it a lot easier for you to stay on track in what you want to do and what you want to accomplish.
The guys like Von. I'd put Von and AB, we're all in the same group. We love to kill it when we get on the field but most importantly we like to enjoy life, have fun, dance and do all of that. It's cool to be around those guys. Me being the young guy, to be able to learn something from them. The trials and tribulations they've been through. Just their ups and downs and knowing their whole story.
Q: Did you pick Peyton's brain a little bit yesterday?
A: I tried to. He's got a lot of knowledge so you can only have a little bit of conversation with him. He'll just drop too much on you at one time. I don't know if I could really handle that. Just seeing him walk through here, it's really funny to me. I went to the same high school as them and kind of their mannerisms, I've been around them a long time.
To see Peyton around here, Eli acts just like him because he's a younger brother. They're all very similar in their own way. We were just talking. Good to see him. Not too many times you see him, especially walking through this building.
Q: On Sunday we saw a nice punt return out of you. Is that a sign of things to come minus the flags?
A: Hopefully we get another chance to run some back. It's something I've been doing pretty much all my life. I've done punt return and kick return. It's just what it is. It's just another opportunity. They punt it and that ball is going straight to you. Your teammates are out there making the blocks. You just have to make cuts off of them.
I think it gets you going on offense. You get an opportunity to catch a ball and put one in your hands. Run, hopefully you don't get hit but you get an opportunity to get tackled. It's a lot of fun. It's something that I do enjoy. Hopefully I can help this team out in that way or whatever way I can.
Q: What do you see from this Pittsburgh defense on film?
A: Not just the defense but this whole team is a very, very talented team across the board. Their defense plays very physical. They're a very physical team. I think it's just the way that their division is set up. I don't know if it's the coach. Everything about them is physical and fast. They all play hard. It's going to be one of those games. Tighten your chinstrap, go out there and get the job done.
Q: How's your thumb?
A: It's good.
Q: Anything you have to maintain though?
A: Not really much you could do at this point in time. You have to just play with it. It happened to me in college and high school. I think in a sense it doesn't really hurt me because now I have to focus more on catching the ball. I have to really lock in and focus on where I'm placing my hands. I've kind of noticed it. Actually, almost may be able to catch it better than what it is. It allows me to lock into another focus.
Q: Hurts every time you catch the ball?
A: Every time it hits there. In the game, I was going down to the ground and I had my hand over the ball. They tried to rip the ball and just ripped straight thumb. It doesn't feel good. I don't think you really notice how much your thumb bumps into stuff or gives out of its movement until you have one that's hurt and you bump it into a table. It'll be alright. Hopefully it doesn't affect me too much.
Q: Do you worry about getting hurt as a punt returner?
A: You could do that playing football or crossing the street. It's part of life. I don't really worry about being hurt at all. It's in God's hands. I put the best preparation in my body that I can and take care of it the best that I can in order to go out there and not get hurt. Me being back there on punt return, getting hurt or anything like that is not really something I'm worried about. It can happen any play. WR Victor Cruz
Q: How much are you looking forward to this game?
A: We are excited about it. Obviously it is our next contest, so we know we need to put our best foot forward, but we are excited about this challenge. It is going to be a playoff-like atmosphere there, so we want to put our best abilities and best game to date, each and every Sunday that we step out on that field and this Sunday is just another opportunity to do so.
Q: Do you feel like the best is yet to come for this offense?
A: I believe so. I think that we can definitely put some things together this week to create that high-powered offense. We have got a good game plan in so far to kind of spread the rock around and get everyone involved and we will see what happens. But obviously our goal is to score as many points as possible and we will take it from there.
Q: You guys have won six in a row, have a better record than them, but you are close to a touchdown underdog. Do you pay attention to that at all?
A: Not at all. I just go out there on Sunday and play the game. That is all we can control and hopefully we come out victorious.
Q: What do you see on film when you watch them?
A: Just an aggressive bunch. They are coached well under Mike Tomlin, obviously, and every time you see them, you know they are going to bring that aggression and they are going to bring that hardnosed style of football and we just have to be ready to combat that and put our best foot forward.
Q: Do you feel confident that the level of play can and will go up and do you think it needs to?
A: I definitely feel confident. As long as we win games, I don't care about anything else. As long as we finish the game with more points than the other team, that is the only thing that matters. So obviously do we want to score more points and be that balanced offense like we know we can be? Absolutely. But as long as we have more points than the other team when that clock hits zero, we will take it.
Q: What is the biggest thing a team gains from having those last-second victories?
A: Just confidence. Confidence in our ability to close these games out. Understanding that we have been in these games before and have lost them or haven't won them. Winning those close, tight games gives us confidence that we can be in those games and obviously down the stretch here and God willing into the playoffs, we are going to be in these types of games, so we need to understand how to train our minds throughout that process and it is good practice for us going into the end of the season.
Q: When you are on the sideline and the defense has to get a stop to win the game, what is that feeling like, knowing how your defense has played so far this season?
A: It feels good. Obviously we have a ton of confidence in our defense and they have played great thus far and they really come together in the way they have performed and the way that they have closed some of these games out.
Obviously as an offense, we want to close those games out and leave our defense on the sideline, but they have done a good job of closing these games out and we just want them to continue that trend.
Q: What would getting Shane Vereen back mean for this offense?
A: Just another weapon. Just another extremely talented individual that when the ball is in his hands he can create and make things happen and as you know, in this offense we need as much of that as possible, so we will see how it goes, see how it turns out, but I am happy to at least have him back out at practice and we will see how it goes.
Q: What do you see from the Steelers on tape?
A: Just kind of hardnosed football. They really come after you. They are not pulling any punches or anything like that. They are coming after that quarterback and they are an 'In your face' style defense, so we have to be ready for that. We have to know that going into the game and be ready to go.
Q: Do you need to be mindful of not taking all the compliments too seriously that come your way when you win six in a row in New York?
A: Yeah, we understand that. We understand that you guys love us when we are up and when we are down, you love to put us down, so we understand that and we can't get too big-headed about it. We just have to be 1-0 every week and take it how it comes and be humble in victory and take each week as it comes because each week is different, it is a different game, but we understand that.
Q: It has been a while since you guys have been in this type of position. What has this been like for you?
A: It is great. It is fantastic. I don't think that in my tenure here we have ever had a six-game winning streak, so it feels good. We definitely want to bask in it a little bit and understand that this doesn't happen all the time, so we want to enjoy the moment, but understand that there is a lot more work to be done and there is a lot more that we want to accomplish and we just want to take it one week at a time.
Q: What is it going to be like seeing another elite wide receiver on the other side (Antonio Brown)?
A: It is fantastic, man. Obviously I am a huge fan of his and the things he does on the field and he is just an extreme talent and when you see him play, being on the sideline you hope that he doesn't do too much against us, but you are obviously a fan of his ability and you know that he can break a game open with one route, one catch or one punt return, for that matter. It will be an honor to see him play, but hopefully his team has one less point than us.
Q: Does it get you a little jacked up?
A: Absolutely. It is all competition. We want to be the last team standing and as a receiver, do more than they do and they have a good corps as well and so do we, so we want to prove who is the best corps out there and as receivers, that is what we want to do, compete at a high level.
RB Shane Vereen
Q: How does it feel to get back out there?
A: It feels great. It has been a long time coming. I am just happy that I was able to get back out there a little bit.
Q: What have you been hearing as far as a time table?
A: Man, I wish I knew, honestly. It is up to the doctors. I am progressing, doing everything that they have me do each and every day, just trying to take baby steps and hope enough of the baby steps will be to getting back on the field.
Q: Seeing a six-game winning streak definitely makes you want to get back out there even more?
A: Absolutely. I just want to come back and be a part of this team. Missing the last few games, you start to lose the comradery, you start to feel like you aren't so much a part of the team right now, so I can't wait to just feel like I am back.
Q: How close do you feel physically?
A: Physically, I feel good. If it was just up to how I felt like, then I would have been back, but there is a lot that goes into it and we have to be smart.
Q: What do you have to prove to them?
A: You have to prove that you have enough strength to play. There is a lot. There is a laundry list of things and I am trying to do my best to listen to them and take their advice.
Q: Because it was an upper body injury, were you able to stay in shape and run?
A: Yeah, for the most part that was a lot easier. Once I was cleared to run, I was able to kind of get myself back into shape and I would say I was fortunate from that aspect.
Q: When you got this injury, did you think you would be able to come back or was that a surprise?
A: The injury was a surprise because I knew I had hurt my arm, but I didn't think it was that bad. So just trying to cope with the injury, I never really put a time table on it because I didn't know how bad it was. I didn't know what the surgery was going to be. I had never gone through something like that before and it is kind of a rare injury, so I wasn't too sure. I was just hoping for the best and we didn't know for sure if there was even going to be a chance until after surgery, so luckily we had some good news.
Q: What do you think you can add to the team?
A: Hopefully points. I think that is going to help us down the line, consistency and points and being able to keep this thing going. I know offensively, being in all the meetings, we are definitely not where we want to be, but December is the most important time of the year, most important time of the season and hopefully I can contribute.
Q: How much are you eyeing next week as the week to come back?
A: That would be great. Division opponent, playing against Dallas no less, that would be awesome. Like I said, it is kind of out of my hands. It is up to the progression and it is up to the doctors.
Q: Has this week been ruled out?
A: I wish it wasn't. I am not sure, honestly. I am the wrong person to ask.
Q: You mentioned missing out on the comradery. You have been on a couple road trips. Did that help you to get some of that comradery back?
A: Absolutely. It is from a different standpoint and I have been able to watch the games and stuff from a different standpoint and a different aspect and it has been good. It has been a learning experience for me from that aspect and, shoot, when I am there on Sundays it is cool, but it hurts at the same time.
Q: Is that perspective something that you think can help your game coming back?
A: Absolutely. Yeah, just seeing the game from an outside perspective, almost from a coach's perspective, you kind of understand why the rules that they are giving you or the assignments and why they are telling you to do this, that or the other and you see how little things can screw up a whole play or a whole drive.
Q: What kind of year did you think you were having before you went down?
A: I thought it was a good start. Definitely a good start. Unfortunately, things happen and it is the game of football and I am hoping to come back and continue.
Q: It must be a great relief to you that you might be able to come back and the team hasn't lost.
A: Yeah, absolutely. Hats off to this team. They have done tremendous from the start. S Landon Collins
Q: What are your thoughts when you hear something like that? Roethlisberger saying you could possibly be the Defensive Player of the Year.
A: That's an honor. To hear that from a two-time Super Bowl champion is an honor. This is my second year and I'm making a good amount of plays. You definitely recognize that but I'm just taking it week-by-week and game-by-game. Just keep working hard to become the player that I am.
Q: What type of problems does Roethlisberger present?
A: He has the experience, the talent level, the offense. Him knowing his offense and the disguise. He does a good job getting his guys the ball. His arm strength. He's phenomenal with that and just knows how to put the ball in the right place.
Q: How does Antonio Brown present a challenge for this defense as well?
A: He's a great athlete. He's going to do his thing. You can stop him or try to stop him but there are some guys you just can't stop. You try and contain him and do the best at that.
Q: What about Ben's ability to keep plays alive? That has to be in your head?
A: I've been watching that since I was a kid. I was always saying how do you miss a sack on him? Well, he's really strong and big. He's tough. If he keeps that arm loose like he always does, he always hits his guys no matter what. You could be on his ankle and he could still make a throw out of the pocket down field. Just his arm strength and ability to keep his eyes downfield even though he's under attack.
Q: He's not going to go down the way Drew Brees did?
A: No. I have to bring all of this. You have to bring all the weight to take him down.
Q: You feel like this defense is getting better and better every week?
A: Definitely. It's becoming sound as a unit and becoming as one. Just knowing everyone's position and knowing where everyone is going to help at. Also, where we can work at. We're getting better as a defense, we definitely are.
Q: You guys have put yourself in position to play December football. Is this where you start really counting or is it just another game?
A: Some people take it as being just another game and some people take it as a playoff game. For me, I just look at it as a game. It's a game with another team that's in our way. You have to fight to the end. Just continue pushing to where you want to go.
Q: Do you feel your defense is good enough to get to where you need to be without the offense getting 30 points?
A: We expect a lot from our offense. Whatever they put on the scoreboard, we have to make do with. That's what a defense does. I've had a template and always lived by it since I was a kid. Defense wins championships, offense wins games. If they put up 10 points and we have to hold the other team to seven, that's what we need to do.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Q: Any special significance of not only playing the Giants, but also going up against Eli Manning?
A: I think that anytime you have a chance to play against one of the best, which I think he is, and then also a draft peer, it is always fun. I don't know if there is any extra motivation because just trying to win a football game against one of the best teams in football should be motivation enough.
Q: What have you seen from the Giants defensive line this year and are there any echoes back to the lines you have faced in the past?
A: Yeah, that is where it starts, in my opinion, with them – the way they get after the passer. Whether it is Vernon or JPP getting that edge rush, that speed rush, power rush and then you have Johnathan (Hankins) and (Damon) Harrison in the middle, creating just all kinds of havoc, so to me, you have to block those guys first. Once you block them, then you have all kinds of other issues to worry about in the secondary, but protection of those guys and opening up holes in the run game are key.
Q: Are there any similarities to the lines you saw back when the Giants were a Super Bowl team?
A: Yeah, like I said, that is what they had, in my opinion, back in '10 and the other years. They got the edge rush, they got Strahan and those guys coming off the edge, creating havoc in the pass game, but then stout enough up the middle in the run game or pushing the pocket because that is where it has to start with a defense. You always start with the rush and if you can get to the quarterback or stop the run game, then that is beneficial to them.
Q: You have only been able to follow Eli from afar, but what has impressed you most about his career?
A: Well, I would be lying if I didn't say his durability. He has one of the most awesome iron man streaks going in never missing a game and that is just so impressive to play this position for as long as he has, never missing a game. That is so awesome and a compliment to his work ethic and I think he is one of the best in business. I have a lot of respect for him and what he has done in his career.
Q: Is the draft class thing a competition for you as well? Do you want to be remembered as the best guy in that class?
A: Well, yeah, I would assume that all three of us would say that. If we didn't, then we wouldn't be playing this game for as long as we have had. I think that each one of us wants to, when it is all over, have an argument and want people to argue about who was the best in our class and that is an awesome competition to have because all three of us have played this game for a long time and have been able to do some awesome things in a sport that is not easy and a position that is not easy to play.
Q: Are you close with Eli? How would you describe your relationship with him off the field?
A: I would say that it is cordial. I don't have his number, we don't text or call, but I have the utmost respect for him and if I saw him on a golf course or on the street, we obviously would talk and I would have no problem having dinner with him.
Q: Your willingness to get rid of the ball on time this year and last year to some degree, is that a function of Todd Haley's offense and you buying into that? Is it a conscious decision on your part to avoid those scrambles where you get mashed at times?
A: No, it is just playing the game. I haven't tried to change my style at all. Obviously, as you grow, you understand offenses, understand defenses. I honestly think it is just the play of the offensive line. They have been playing so well that it makes my job a lot easier.
Q: I am sure that through the years we will go back to that draft and talk about how things played out, but was there any thought in your mind that the Giants might take you at number four?
A: It was definitely one of the big options. I think that even nowadays and back then, there are so many speculations and draft boards and people guessing where you are going to go and agents telling you all these things. But there were only probably three realistic options that we thought and we really thought the Giants were one of the big ones.
Q: Ernie Accorsi told us a story that up until seven minutes to go in that pick, he was thinking that it was going to be Roethlisberger. Was that going through your mind when the Giants were on the clock?
A: Well, my college coach who has since passed, Coach Terry Hoeppner, was with me and I think he was having talks with Mr. Accorsi or whoever and he had kind of had the same feelings and thoughts and it is still a famous – I laugh when I see the footage of when the Giants took their pick and he throws a water bottle across the table because he was upset because he thought he had some inside information. But yeah, we really thought that it was a possibility, but everything works out for a reason.
Q: What have you seen out of this Giants secondary, particularly Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins?
A: Yeah, I think that Landon is maybe the defensive player of the year. The way that he is playing football right now is awesome – interceptions, sacks, tackles, PBUs, all of those things. He is a guy that is a force to be reckoned with, especially as a second-year guy. That is awesome and a compliment to him and his work and the way that he makes things happen in that secondary. Obviously Jenkins is a guy that they brought over from St. Louis and expected big things and he is doing things. We anticipate him to travel with AB (Antonio Brown), he is locking guys down and even Eli (Apple), as a rookie, is playing really well also and then I am not really sure what is going on with 29 (Nat Berhe), if he is going to play or not with the injuries, but as a secondary, as a whole, they are playing really well.
Q: Do you remember that first matchup you had with Eli back in '04?
A: Not very well.
Q: Do you consider how much longer you want to play?
A: I don't. I have often joked that I will play until the good Lord or Mr. Rooney says I can't. But I hate to look to the end because then I feel like I am cheating the here and now and I think that we as people and as football player should take every day one at a time and appreciate what we have. So I am just appreciating this day, this practice we are going to have today, and this game, so I don't want to look forward to the end, I want to enjoy now.
Q: Do you guys kind of look at this stretch of games as a playoff run right now?
A: Well, yeah, it has to be. Anytime you get to November, December, January football, you have to be at your best, you have to be hot and we are playing one of the best football teams in the NFL. They are coming to our place, it has a playoff feel and atmosphere and it has to. I am sure that they feel the same way. You have to have that mentality at this time of the year because you really can't afford to lose any more games.
Q: You talked about having the argument with Eli and Philip about who is the best. Do you ever think about the argument that 2004 might end up being the best draft class ever for quarterbacks, say even over 1983?
A: Well, that would be, in my opinion, an awesome compliment and honor. Obviously everyone knows about that class and the Hall of Famers that they have. Hopefully one day the three of us can be in the Hall of Fame and we can talk about that. I know that our Super Bowl rings can rival theirs, obviously, but they have the gold jackets and they have the time put in. So that is an argument that would be humbling, but I think is still too far down the road for us to have.