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Quotes (12/29): Manning, Amukamara, Thurmond


QB Eli Manning**

Q: How difficult is it knowing that the team will not be making the playoffs and you're saying goodbye to your teammates?
A: It's never a fun day to know the season is over and you're not in the playoffs and don't have a chance to win a championship. It's disappointing, but it's a part of football. You have your good years, your bad years and you've got to learn from them. I thought the team fought hard. We went through a tough stretch there, but we came out of it and won some games. We were playing better football at the end. It would have been nice to get a win last night, but we didn't quite pull it off.


Q: What makes you think this team is headed in the right direction? **
A: We won some games. Offensively, we made great strides from the beginning of the year where a lot of things were different. The timing from me and the receivers was off. We struggled and yesterday and the last few weeks we were doing some really good things – making big plays and moving the ball. Next year and being in the same offense… if we can come back and start where we are right now and continue to make progress, I think we're just kind of scratching the surface of where we can get to.

Q: How much more work do you think the offense needs?
A: I think there's always more work. There's always things you can improve on with just getting on the same page with the receivers and being perfect in our route running and our precision. I think there's still more to get better at and that just comes with more practice and more reps of doing the same things over and over again. I feel I had a good feel for the offense at the end of the year and had good ideas and adjustments and getting into good plays and getting out of bad plays. I felt confident, but I still think there is another level to get to more plays, more concepts and there's definitely room for improvement.

Q: How would you assess your season?
A: I played better than last year. I felt good in the offense. I felt we had opportunities to win a lot of games, but we've got to win those games. We've got to win some of those close games. There were some moments where I needed to play at a higher level that I didn't in those crucial moments. I've got to play better; the team and the offense has got to play better in those moments to win those games.

Q: Physically, what's the biggest room for improvement in the offense?
A: We've got to run the ball a little bit better as an offense. When we run the ball well, that's when our offense really starts to click in those games where we're getting over 100 yards, like the Rams game and Titans game. If we run the ball well, it makes everything click. The passing game… there are still a few concepts we've got to get better with, just a little bit more precise with the timing between myself and receivers. We've got to get better on a few things. You just need more time to practice those things. Some weeks, you had different routes and different depths. Sometimes we kind of combined the two. It's not quite the timing, I'm not throwing with quite the confidence that I know exactly what this guy is going to do, where he's going to be at the exact moment and so it's just those split second differences or an extra step, or an extra yard makes the difference between a completion… It's just having that knowledge going into the spring of what it's supposed to be and working on those things. Last year it was hard for me to work on it with the receivers because I wasn't quite sure, either. But this year, having that knowledge to be able to work on some things, will be beneficial.

Q: What will you work on in the offseason?
A: Some of those timing routes. I'll work on my footwork and doing it perfectly and we know the timing of it where you throw hundreds of them where you're not even thinking about it. It's coming out at the right time, the receiver is expecting it and they understand the timing of things, I understand the timing of it and so I think we'll work on those things because those are kind of your base routes that you're going to run the most and those have got to be automatic.

Q: How much of a need is there for Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. to work together?
A: Getting Victor back healthy… He got injured early in the year. Just to get him back and work on the timing, work on some of the routes to get him back familiar with everything, so we're on the same page. Having all the receivers back… it's not just two guys. It's Rueben, Preston and whoever is going to be here and having everybody back and working on our base stuff will be very important.

Q: Nothing is official but it seems like the front office wants Tom Coughlin back. How pleased are you to hear that?
A: I'm very pleased. He's been my only coach. We've had great success and we've had some tough years where we bounced back. I think we're on the right steps to making that progress, to making that leap from being an average team to being a playoff team.

Q: What stands out to you about Coach Coughlin
A: He loves what he's doing. He loves the preparation part of it. He gets us prepared to play each game and there's no doubt about it. We are very well prepared for what to expect and what's coming. We have great opportunities to make the plays and to execute and we've just got to do it. We've got to execute better. When you have mistakes or you have holding or blocked punts – those types of mistakes are on the players. That's the players' fault. The execution is there … those touchdowns and big plays either happening against us or to have it taken away from us because we didn't mentally or physically do our job. That means the preparation is there. The plays are there. The opportunities are there and we've got to do our job better.


CB Prince Amukamara**

Q: When you look at what this team did accomplish, are you excited for what the future holds?
A: Of course, especially on the offensive side. I know everyone is licking their chops to see [Victor] Cruz, [Rueben] Randle and Odell [Beckham Jr.] out there together. On the defensive side, I think it is going to be great to hopefully have another year with DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and the same defensive backfield.


Q: You guys finished 29th in yardage allowed this year… What has to change on the defense? **
A: A lot of things come to my head, but I think big plays were still something we were still very susceptible to this year. A lot of things. The one thing that I am comfortable saying right now is the big plays.

Q: Do you anticipate a lot of change on defense in terms of personnel and coaching?
A: From what I am hearing, I could see that happening. On the other side, I could see some of the coaches staying.

Q: What kind of schedule are you on? Do you think you will be ready for OTAs?
A: I think I will be ready starting at OTAs. By March, should be the time I can start curling. Right now my arm feels well and as soon as I start doing push-ups and curls, it will build back some strength into it.

Q: Are you doing push-ups and light curls now?
A: I haven't yet. I know I am able to, but I can't do it without the trainers' command.

Q: Did you see enough from yourself this year in terms of further advancement and development before the injury to know what kind of player you are going to be in 2015?
A: Of course. I definitely saw a lot of potential. I felt like I was ascending pretty well. It was just a bummer. One of my personal goals was to play in the Pro Bowl, especially with it being in my backyard in Arizona, but that didn't happen this year. I wouldn't say I surprised myself because I knew by the type of camp I was having that I set myself up to have a pretty great year. I got to be the number one cornerback for a couple of weeks, whether it was due to DRC's injuries or due to my play, but I felt like that was one of my goals that I wanted to accomplish.

Q: Did you have a feeling of where this team is? Are you worse than last year or do you sense something else?
A: It is tough because in this league you are only graded by wins and losses, but if you go and look at those wins and losses, we lost it by this play. You can go look at the Jacksonville game, the 49ers game, the second Cowboys game, and it is just like we were a play way from being in the 'W' column. Those are the plays we have to make to win games in this league.

CB Walter Thurmond**

Q: In some ways, is it a blur that you played at all this year?
A: I played a game and a half, really, during the regular season. That was pretty weak, to say the least. I really want to be out there…it's tough watching from the sideline and having them go through the different things that they went through, other guys getting injured in the line of duty and everything. It is always tough. You never want to see anyone go down, including myself, but all I can do is rehab and get back stronger and get faster, and get ready for the season.


Q: You will be fine? **
A: Yeah, I will be fine. I have gone through a lot worse injuries. This is a cake walk compared to others.

Q: Are you able to do full things? Lifting and training and stuff?
A: Yeah, I got my full range of motion back, able to start bench pressing and things like that. Now it is gradually getting strength back with that situation and just taking off.

Q: Do you have a sense of what they are thinking about you? They like you enough to sign for a year? Do you think they would like to have you back?
A: I think so. You can never have too many corners. You see that this year, we went through four corners. That shows how much depth we had before everyone started getting injured here. Everyone is a great, quality player and like I said, hopefully we can work something out.

Q: It seems when people talk about the offense, there is so much excitement with Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning having a big year? The defense struggled and injuries were a big part. What is the sense you guys have about this defense?
A: We just need to have that time just to gel. There are so many guys who are vital parts that end up getting injured. So we never really got out there full-strength. We always knew the potential that we had on the defense, and unfortunately, we never had a chance to show that. Hopefully this is a situation where guys who got injured come back, and we can come back and pick up where we left off this past season, and get after it in OTA's and everything.

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