Quotes (12/12): Shurmur, Manning, Ogletree, Solder

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Opening Remarks: The injuries of note, I think you’ll get later that Odell (Beckham) will not be participating in practice. He was out there in the walk-thru moving around, he won’t be in practice, then Rhett Ellison as well. One with a quad, one with an ankle, but everybody participated in the walk-thru moving around. We’ll just see where that takes us. Wednesday, Tennessee Titans week. I’ll try to answer your questions.

*Q: Does that mean Curtis Riley is good to go?   *

A: Yeah, he’s full participation. Should be.  

*Q: Is Beckham still on the upward trend?  *

A: Yeah, I think he’s getting better each day. Again, we’ll know more as the week goes on. And I encourage our players not to talk about their injuries, so hopefully that’s about all you’ll get out of it.     

Q: Does it do something for the team when they don’t have top players available, that they’re still successful?

A:  Teams beat teams, and at this time of year, I’ll bet there’s no teams that are playing with their initial rosters. Team beat teams and that’s where guys step up and make an impact in the game in and around injuries. I think that’s safe to be said about any position group or any player.      

Q: What have you seen from Will Hernandez in the last couple of weeks? He struggled earlier in the year.

A: Yeah, I think it’s night and day, but again, young players that are in there for the first time have a chance to grow much more than the guys that have been in the business for a while. I think – I don’t think, I know his best game was last week, and he’s played well really since the bye, just like that whole group in general, so it’s good to see that. He has a lot of good plays in the game, I think as he goes along, what we’re seeing is less bad plays. When you’re out there 65-70 snaps against good players, every once in a while they’re going to get you, and he’s having less of those plays where they got him.

Q: We talk about the ‘rookie wall’. I’m guessing he’s played more snaps this year than probably any time in his life, but he seems to be accelerating rather than decelerating. What does that say?

A: Yeah, he’s getting better, that’s a good point. I don’t know about the ‘rookie wall’ anymore. We used to talk about it more, I think, when college seasons were shorter. College seasons now are so stinkin’ long, they go almost as long as pro seasons, and so I think there’s less conversation about that. Guys take care of their bodies, understand the importance of getting rest, and so I think you see a little bit less of that now. We talk about it less than we did maybe 10 years ago, but no, he’s pushing through it fine.  

*Q: You’re going against (Tennessee RB) Derrick Henry this week. You saw what he did against Jacksonville (99-yard touchdown run) last week. How do you stop a guy like that?  *

A:  You’ve got to stop him like you do Adrian Peterson or any marquee, downhill, hard running back. Good run defense, it takes the whole team to fit the runs properly and then when he’s in your area or in your gap, you’ve got to get him on the ground. We’ve got to do a really good job of fitting the runs, and we’ve got to do a good job of tackling, and I think it’s a team thing.

*Q: Is that a strange situation, he hadn’t gained more than 58 yards in any game and then all the sudden, 238?    *

A: Yeah, well, he had 99 on one carry which was – I think we’ve all seen it, I’ve seen it numerous times – a terrific run. It was really a game-changing run. Jacksonville was on the devil’s doorstop of taking the lead and then one play later, it ended up being a 13-point swing because they missed the extra point. That was a game-changing moment or couple of plays in that game.

Q: You’ve talked a lot about roster turnover this year, and you’ve also said that going forward, you would think the bulk of this team will be back. How much will that benefit everyone? You didn’t know much about a lot of these players and you have so much more knowledge now, they know more about you and the system.

A: Yeah, I think it benefits everyone. Experience – there’s no substitute for it. When you’re growing and getting experience, and you’re young and everybody’s new, there’s a lot of things that run parallel with learning, aside from the fact that right is right and you have to win. So yeah, I think that’s an important piece as we move forward.  

*Q: Do you have your antenna up about the possible fool’s gold of playing in the back end of the season? Sometimes overvaluing what happens later in the season as opposed to what happens in the bulk of the season.   *

A: You can’t fake football. There’s no ‘fool’s gold’ in my mind. You put a ball down in front of all those people and you’re on the field with 10 other guys, and you’ve got a job to do – you can’t fake that. There’s no fooling, there’s no golding, there’s nothing. You cannot fake football. I don’t care when you’re playing it, whether it’s the first game of the year, the middle of the year, the end of the year, I think we all want to go out and perform well. Coaches want to perform well, we want to put our guys in the best position they can be in to win games. I think that’s the nature of competition.

Q: On having the majority of these guys back next year – Do you think it’s important for them to hear that?

A: I do. Again, I’m just doing the math, but it’s a unique situation when you’re here in the first part of December and only 13 guys are on the roster that had a Giants helmet on last year. That’s unique. I think that’s the lowest number in the league right now by a few, and we like our team and we like what our team is doing, so yes, the bulk of the guys will be here. I can say that with some certainty. We all know this, though, no team is ever exactly the same. Guys leave in free agency, you get free agents, you draft, we’re going to have a draft and get some new players. I think the important thing is we focus on the excitement of playing these games, and worry about that stuff later.

Q: You have an opportunity to talk to Landon (Collins)? How’s he doing?

A: I have not, but I got feedback. He had his surgery yesterday, but aside from that, I haven’t spoken to him.

Q: Want to share that feedback? Did it go well at least?

A: I haven’t talked to him. Yeah, the surgery went well.  

*Q: Does last week’s situation with Kyle (Lauletta) change anything this week? Does he remain the backup?  *

A: Yeah, Kyle went in and certainly there’s plays he’d like to have back. There’s a lot of guys that go in, especially at the quarterback position, and don’t do well in their first outing, so we’re just going to keep working with him and keep him going. As I’ve mentioned all along, I do feel confident in both guys that could potentially back up.

Q: Kyle will be backup this week?

A: At this point, but we could always change our mind.

Q: On that long run (Saquon Barkley) had, he was switching the ball from one arm to another to keep it away from the defender. Has he continued to amaze you that he pays so much attention to those little details?

A: Yeah, it does amaze me because he’s a terrific player, but he knows that he needs to get better at all the little things and certainly protecting the football is very important. We certainly don’t want him switching the ball around, but in the open field like that to protect it from the defender, I think, is the right thing. Yeah, that’s just one example of a guy that’s trying to do the right thing all the time.

Q: What did you think of Corey Coleman and his increased workload?

A: I thought he did a good job. He was involved in two explosive gains, had another catch, did a good job blocking. Because his role increased, he had a chance to get some production. We hit him on two nine-balls, one was the (pass interference) as you know that he did have an opportunity to catch, and then he caught a nine-ball later that he did a good job on.

Q: You held Michael Thomas back a little bit on special teams because of his increased role on defense. Is that hard, especially given that special teams is hitting its stride, to have to mix up the personnel and reduce guys’ roles?

A: He’s one example of a guy that you have to do that with constantly. With Landon out, there was more stress on the safeties on first, second and third down, so then you plug other guys in and give other guys opportunities that are worthy and have been practicing it. It’s just the stuff that we deal with, those are issues of the day as we get ready for the next opponent.   

Q: What did you think of Thomas as a full-time safety?

A: I thought he did a good job. I thought he communicated well, he was in the right spot, and made some plays.

Q: You talked about how much fun you noticed going on the sidelines on Sunday. How does that translate now to this week in practice? Are you more aware of wanting to see how guys react, do you have their attention more after such a big win? Or less attention?

A: Well, winning is fun. And when you go on the field and you’re having success, that’s fun. I’ve noticed that same as we prepare. It’s somewhat of a grind as you go through the week, but our guys enjoy practicing and getting better. Unfortunately, the world can’t see all that. I’ve seen it, but when you have a game play out the way it did last week, it brings out the joy in a more obvious way for the people watching the game. That’s the thing that we crave. The important thing is that was the result of good preparation and then performing well. The message to the team is, we want that again. It’s like that thing you want over and over and over, we want that again. In order to get that again, we’ve got to make today the best day possible, tomorrow and so on, and then on Sunday, that doesn’t guarantee it’s going to happen again. We’ve got to go out and play well again. That’s where the learning comes in.

Q: What do you make of OV (Olivier Vernon) last two games, putting aside the fact that he missed six due to injury? He only had one sack in his first five weeks he actually played, and then it seems like he’s showing up every play, three and a half sacks and a lot more pressures in the last few weeks. Is it as simple as flipping a switch?

A: This is my first year with OV, but that’s more the disruption that we’re expecting from him. He can be a very difficult guy to block in the run and the pass game, and you can see the effect that has on a game when he makes plays like that. Again, we talked about it a few weeks ago, but different guys come back, he had an injury that set him back because he missed time, and then it takes a while to get going again for some guys. He’s really made an impact on these last few weeks by the way he’s played. It’s good for him, good for us.

Q: Did you coach against (Titans HC) Mike Vrabel when he was a player?

A: Yeah, he was an outstanding player.

Q: Do those personality traits as a player transfer over? You have two former players in the league coming up now.

A: Yeah, I think guys that have played the game walk into their meeting rooms with players with instant credibility. That kind of gets the ball rolling. Beyond that, I know he’s an outstanding coach, and so I think that’s why he’s had a good impact on this team.

QB Eli Manning

Q: After the game, you talked about the offense figuring out its path. What did you mean by that?

A: Just our identity and being able to run the ball. I think that’s been the biggest difference since the bye. Just an emphasis on running the ball, the play-action. A lot more under center. Not as much shotgun. Not as much seven-step drop. Just having everything build off the run game.

Q: You guys are still alive for a Wild Card opportunity. How does that change the energy and atmosphere around the building?

A: I think it helps. I think it helps knowing you still have a chance. It’s the mindset that we just have to keep. We have to keep doing our part, and that’s winning football games, and just knowing that there’s still hope if we do our part and get a little help. It keeps everything lively in the locker room. Everyone wants to go out there and keep winning football games, and keep feeling good in the locker room after games.

Q: Do you like having that identity as a quarterback? Everything built around the run game?

A: I think that works when you run the ball, and play-action, and kind of have everything look like that. It’s all about scoring points, and getting touchdowns, and moving the ball. That’s a defense that’s been playing great. They’ve been getting turnovers, and we’ve been in games and avoiding some of the negative plays. Just giving us a shot on third downs. We’re still throwing the ball and taking our shots. You can kind of beat play-actions, a chance to be aggressive and get the ball down the field.

Q: What has (WR) Russell Shepard brought to you guys this year?

A: Russell, he brings a lot of leadership to our room. He’s the veteran of the group, if you will. He’s a jack of all trades. He plays all the positions. He’s my fill-in guy. Russ does a really good job with us. He does a really good job on special teams. He keeps the room light, if you will. He loves to have a good time, but when it’s time to be serious, Russ gets serious, and does what he has to do to make the plays.

Q: The Titans defense does a lot of pre-snap motion and different looks. Is there a danger in putting too much emphasis on that as you come to the line of scrimmage?

A: I think we just got to get up there, make our calls, and stick with your rules, and everybody will be fine. I think we’ll do a good job of handling that. Sometimes, they’ll do some good disguising and try to get you into a certain call. So, I think we’ll have a good plan for it, but we should have an answer for whatever they want to bring.

Q: With all the turnover this year, has that been a factor in some of the struggles early on this season?

A: I think anytime you have a lot of new guys, new coaches, new schemes, it takes a little bit for everybody to get comfortable. Just for the coaches to kind of figure out what’s our best personnel, what are our best plays, what routes do we run the best, what run plays are the best. So, I think it just takes a little while for everybody to get a feel, for me to get a feel for how the coaches are going to call certain things. There’s a lot of just getting comfortable and figuring things out. You kind of hope you’ll be able to win a few close ones as you’re figuring those out. We weren’t able to win some of those tight ones early on, but now it seems to kind of be clicking and having a great understanding of what we’re looking for, and making adjustments. Coach can call things that maybe you haven’t worked on in a few weeks. Just now, we have a better understanding of the whole offense.

Q: What’s it like for you to be standing on the sideline at the start of the fourth quarter and looking out there going, “This is interesting?”

A: I guess you’re happy to be out there when you’re winning and you got a lead, and let the rookie get in there and play some. Rooting for him to do well – offense keep doing. It’s fun to cheer on your guys, and when you have a big lead, it’s a good feeling.

Q: In the first half of the season, you were throwing the ball a lot. Your pass attempts have dropped because of the run game getting started. Has that been more beneficial to you in terms of you feeling fresher at this point of the year than maybe you have in the past?

A: I don’t think it’s fresher. I think that’s just the way the offense is going. When we can run the ball a little bit more, get the play-action. Usually, you run it more when you’re running it well. It just puts us in a better position to control the clock a little bit, control the game, and just put us in better third down circumstances. If that’s what’s working to move the ball, have a few more leads now going into the second half. So, probably not throwing it as much.

Q: Is it easier for you to play quarterback in this situation when you’re not throwing or getting hit as much?

A: I guess it’s easier when I think the offensive line is kind of controlling the front. Whatever we got to do. Every game is going to be different. You can have the game plan. The defense is playing great. We got some leads. We’re building leads so we can continue to run the ball in the second half.

Q: How big of a safety net is it if (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) is not out there, that you have guys that can step in that have played in this league?

A: Last year, we lost a bunch of guys. It’s a little bit different. We have guys who’ve been here, and guys that know what they’re doing and you trust, and you have reps with them. I feel comfortable with all the guys out there, and do a good job of rotating some guys in, and make sure they’re doing the things they do well.

Q: What do you think has been the biggest difference on the offensive line since the bye week than maybe the first half of the season?

A: I think always with offensive lines, the more reps those guys get together. Just having kind of that nucleus of guys for a number of games, being able to just make calls, and pass things off. Just being able to fire off and get that run game going. It can help all the play-actions. We’re not in as many third downs for any obvious passing downs as we were early on where the defense kind of can have a little bit of an advantage.

Q: It seems like the new players have learned how to win after a win. How much have you been part of that learning process to kind of carry them along to build off a win and take it to the next week?

A: I think what’s important is to, what we talk about, keep the blinders on. Whether you’re doing well or doing bad, just keep the focus on our preparation, on playing for each other. Just focusing on the next game, and make sure we have a great week throughout the week in practice, and knowing your opponent so we can go out there and play well, and make the plays to win.

Q: With the way the offense has been playing since the bye, do you feel as if there’s less pressure on you to make every play?

A: You don’t think in those terms. You just want to go out there and do your job. We got to throw the ball, we got to throw it well. We got to run the ball. When you can do both, and depending on what the defense is doing, we can just adjust a little bit easier, depending on how the defense is going to play us. Whether they want to stop the run or stop the pass, and what plays we can get to. You still got to do your job, and convert on third downs, and get completions, and set everything up.

LB Alec Ogletree

Q: Talk a little bit about the momentum. Are you guys feeling it? Do you feel the momentum coming into the next game?

A: We feel confident about our ability to go out there and play well and every week since the bye week, we just got a little bit better than we did the week before and we were able to string a couple wins here, but we just got to continue to keep working and hopefully this weekend will be the same result.

Q: We’ve been seeing it on Sunday, but how does that translate when you’re out there practicing?

A: You just bring energy and you create turnovers and score points and it just makes the team feel that much closer together. Makes all the hard work that you’ve done all year long worth it, so we just got to continue to do that and we got a good opponent this week to go against. We just got to work hard this week and get a good game plan in and go out there and execute.

Q: How does a defender tackle and bring down Derrick Henry?

A: You got to have the whole army with you and it just takes everybody, all 11 of us rallying to the ball like we’ve been doing and making sure we try not to have any one-on-one tackles with him. Like you said, he’s a big back and hard to bring down. For us, it’s just about flying around and making sure everybody’s at the ball.

Q: How much did you learn about that looking at the video from Tennessee’s game last week?

A: You can’t try to arm tackle him because like I said, he’s a big back and he can break tackles and obviously you can see he has speed with it, so he can hit the homerun ball, but for us it’s just going to be go out, doing what we’ve been doing and keep executing.

Q: How dangerous is (Marcus) Mariotta on third down? The stats indicate that he’s run for a bunch of first downs this year and kept drives alive.

A: He’s very dangerous. Like you said, he can run the ball and throw it, he’s a threat on all downs. With a guy like that, you got to make sure everybody’s in their rush lanes, maintaining rush lanes, and make sure you match up on the guys that are in coverage.

Q: With a guy like Henry, do you not have to overreact because in the first bunch of games the most he ever gained was like 60 yards and the last one, he goes 238 or something like that. So you’re not going to give him the same kind of attention you would give like Saquon (Barkley) or somebody like that?

A: You might not. I don’t know, that’s up to you what you do, but for us, like I said, he’s a back that’s been playing well and he’s scored on those long drives and put up numbers, so we have to give him respect as any other running back and we’re going to do that.

LT Nate Solder

Q: You surprised how mature (Will) Hernandez is beyond his years for a rookie?

A: I’ve been impressed with all the rookies here. I think that they’ve all done an excellent job. Sometimes it’s us vets that get in the way, not always the rookies.

Q: It seemed a couple of weeks ago all the talk was can Eli (Manning) be the quarterback of this team, but it seems like the way he’s playing now, I mean, he can be a quarterback for a while.

A: Who knows with all that stuff. It’s a tough league. You go one game at a time, focus on what you can control, that’s my job and that’s working with the guys next to me and I think everyone’s doing the best that they can at whatever they’re doing.

Q: I have to ask – what did you think about that Miami play?

A: That was crazy, wasn’t it? I couldn’t believe it. They’ll talk about that for the next 10 years probably.

Q: I mean, that’s (Bill) Belichick’s, that’s his baby special teams. How shocked were you to see that?

A: I was shocked.

Q: What makes the Titans front tough to deal with?

A: Well, Dean Pees and (Mike) Vrabel, they got a lot of experience, lot of time under their belt. They understand how to win games, so they put up multiple fronts, they put up multiple blitz schemes, lot of stunts and blitzes and games and things up front. Then they got really good players, so you mix that combination of guys, it becomes a pretty salty defense.

Q: Feel like you guys are settling in a little bit. Everybody’s kind of knowing their roles, feeling comfortable, and coach is talking about how preparation carried over into the game.

A: I think there’s been some of that. We kind of know what to expect from each other. We believe in each other. I guess that’s settling in as much as you can, knowing what the coaches are asking of us, being able to do it multiple times consecutively, successfully, in a row. I think all those kind of contribute to that settling in.

Q: Is it fair to say since the bye week coach (Pat) Shurmur has gone to a lot of 12 personnel, having a little bit more run philosophy?

A: I don’t know about that. I think the situations of the games are dictated that we scored early. Our defense is scoring points, we’re getting turnovers, that kind of dictates it a little bit differently.

Q: What went into that offensive celebration photo?

A: What went into it? ‘Everyone get over here, we’re going to take a picture,’ and I was like, oh, okay. I didn’t know what to do.

Q: There was no pre-planning to it?

A: No, no.

Q: Were you shocked that Eli jumped into it?

A: Yeah, that was great, I loved it.

Q: Did he do that on his own or did somebody say get over here?

A: Eli does anything he wants on his own. I don’t think anyone’s pushing him to do anything.

Q: The defense puts a lot of thought into those. You guys might need to put some thought into it.

A: Does the defense put a lot of thought into it?

Q: Oh yeah, it’s all planned out.

A: Oh, I didn’t realize that. Maybe we’ll have some time after practice today to work it out.

Q: When you guys are blowing somebody out, the quarterback gets a break, the running back gets a break, the five offensive linemen play all 65 snaps.

A: Well, think about when you get whatever, a 75-yard run or whatever, how much pressure that takes off you to have to put eight consecutive plays together. Those are big plays and that makes a big difference in the outcome of a game, the way a game looks and appears and everyone says, ‘wow, they did great,’ but we only blocked one play perfect and everything else we really didn’t have to block the other ones. That’s what you want and we don’t always get that opportunity.

Q: But you guys don’t ever need in a blowout like that, you guys aren’t ever like we’ll let the second-string guys go in? Like (Kyle) Lauletta went in for (Manning), (Wayne) Gallman went in for Saquon –

A: This league is so competitive that everything is strategic. It’s never like, oh, we’re the University of Alabama, we’re playing this team or whatever it is like, let the backups play. It’s all strategic. There’s reasons for them doing everything. Very thought out.

Q: So you guys are okay with playing every snap in a blowout like that?

A: Oh, it’s a blast, of course –

Q: You never want to put your feet up?

A: The games I want to be taken out of is when we’re getting blown out.

Q: How much do you guys and the tight ends take pride in Saquon’s two long runs? He didn’t get touched – well, one he didn’t get touched at all, the other one I think he was about 30 yards down field when he got touched.

A: Yeah, that was awesome.

RB Saquon Barkley

Q: There’s a video of you talking to the offensive line just before you broke that long run about blocking it more, and then all of a sudden you broke through. Can you elaborate on that dialogue? How much of that is trust in each other?

A: The point of about the running game and how efficient we’ve been in the running game, the confidence is really high. Just playing the position of running back in the run game, a lot of it is feel. Feel for your offensive line. We were talking about what I feel could’ve happened on this play, because we were this close from popping one earlier. The Redskins guy made a good play, but I said if we can do this, I probably can get through and get a seam and score. The way that we schemed it up, our coaches called it perfect, and we blocked it up perfect, and I was able to score.

Q: How long does it take to develop that communication with your offensive line?

A: It doesn’t take long, but with up front, injuries and people in and out, finally getting us solidified five, and building that confidence, and getting more comfortable with each other. It really didn’t take long, in my opinion, but it’s just all confidence. When you’re playing at a high level like the way that we’ve been doing, as a running back corps and the O-line in the run game, and tight ends and wide receivers including that also, you just get a good feel for each other. You just have faith in each other that any play can pop at any given moment in time.

Q: What have you seen in (LG) Will Hernandez’s development?

A: Will has been great. You got to give a lot of credit to all those guys up front, especially (LT) Nate (Solder) being a leader there. Will is Will. He’s going to come out there, no matter what, every single play and grind it out. Any chance he can get, any chance he has, he’s going to try to put his guy on his back. He’s been doing that all year. Obviously, you’ve been seeing him doing a lot more recently. So, he’s definitely been a great help to the offensive line, and to not only my success, but all the running backs’ success.

Q: Do you see a big change from him from earlier in the year in terms of his play and level of production?

A: Yeah, I would say just confidence, his confidence – and that just comes with repetition and understanding the playbook. I feel like that for all the rookies that have been playing this year. From myself, to (DL) B.J. (Hill), to (LB Lorenzo Carter) Zo, to (CB) Grant (Haley), to all of us. That’s kind of just the nature of the game. We all want to come out and play at a high level and excellent from the jump, but it’s going to take time. It’s going to take making some mistakes and having some troubles to get to the point where we want to get to.

Q: What did you think of (Titans RB Derrick) Henry’s run last week?

A: The 99-yarder, yeah, that was impressive. That’s like the vintage Derrick Henry from college at Alabama. I think he was doing that every single week at Alabama. He’s a big back, but a lot of people, I guess you can say, don’t realize how fast he is. When you get a guy that big rolling at that speed, he was just throwing guys off of him like it was high school. That was definitely a real impressive run. Might be one of the best runs in NFL history. My personal opinion, I like (RB Marshawn Lynch) Beast Mode’s run still, but it’s up there (laughter).

Q: It won’t be any longer, right?

A: Definitely won’t – I think it’s him and (RB) Tony Dorsett the only two to do that. Congratulations to him, but hopefully he can save that for this week and don’t bust out any 99-yard runs against us.

Q: I don’t think he reached 21 mph on that one.

A: He did, 21.74 (laughter).

Q: Did you have a stopwatch on you clocking him or something? (laughter)

A: No, I saw it on Instagram (laughter).

Q: Was he faster than you? (Henry)

A: No, not that week, not that week. I got up to 21.91 (mph).

Q: You had less impediment than he did.

A: The fastest, he didn’t get on that run. He got it on, it was like a 50-yard run, and he kind of bounced it outside and just kind of used his speed.

Q: Is it easier playing offense when you have so many options?

A: Yeah, it’s definitely easier when you have so many options. I’ve been saying that from the point I got drafted, that we’re a versatile team. We have so many weapons on this team, and we’re still figuring it out. Right now, when you got (QB) Eli (Manning) throwing for three touchdowns and we’re rushing for over 200 yards as a team, special teams is playing great, defense is giving us great field position with the help of special teams, our defense is making plays. That’s what coach has been saying, teams beat teams. Players don’t beat teams. We’ve been playing at a high level as a team. We got to keep it up down the stretch, and it starts with the Titans.

Q: You’re third in the league in rushing. Would it mean something to you to win the rushing title in your first year?

A: It wouldn’t mean something to me to win the rushing title just in my first year. Any time that, hopefully before I’m done playing this sport, that I would love to get one of those, because that’s just a team effort there, especially with the O-line. Even though statistically, your name will be the leading rusher, you’ll be up on the top, but that’s just with the help of your offensive line. When you get that, same like when you get 1,000 rushing yards in the NFL, but when you get the rushing title, that’s just a credit to your offensive line. I would love to win one of those titles one day in my career for those guys.

Q: With that being said, knowing where you are in your first year and what you’ve been able to accomplish, what can you say about your potential going forward?

A: I feel like the sky is the limit, not only for myself, but for this team. I felt that way once I got here, and I’m going to continue to feel that way and believe in that. As a rookie, hopefully I can continue to get better by understanding the game more, and being more efficient, and all around with work ethic, with my routine, with being a leader. Hopefully, I can continue to grow.

Q: When you talk about the distance and speed, does it motivate you? Does it challenge you? Do you keep those numbers in your head? Does it push you?

A: No, it doesn’t push me. If a guy runs 22 mph, at the end of the day, he just wants to get a touchdown. It kind of just puts everything in perspective, and you got to give credit to the people in the building, the strength staff, the trainers, and the people I work with outside of this building to be able to hit almost 22 mph in Week 14, and everyone talking about hitting the rookie wall – your body is going to feel this way, your body going to feel that way. You’re happy, not only for yourself, but because of the people that you’ve been working with. Like I said, with the strength staff and with the trainers in this room, and the people I work with outside to help me continue to get better every week, and come into Sundays as best as I can.

Q: Are you competitive with yourself?

A: Yes, I’m very competitive. That’s just how I’ve been my whole life. I believe that was one of our core values at Penn State. I live by it, and I think not only just in the sport of football, but just in life in general. If you’re a competitive person and you compete in everything you do, you’ll get far in life.

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