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Quotes (12/7): Shurmur, Tolbert, Johnson, Engram

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Opening Remarks: Odell (Beckham Jr.) has got a bruised quad, so we just gave him a little time. He’s going to be fine. That’s the issue in terms of the injuries. Tae Davis and (B.J.) Goodson both practiced today, so we’re very hopeful they’ll be available to us (Sunday).  

Q: No designation of questionable?  

A: Davis and Goodson as questionable, and they both practiced today.  

Q: So Odell did not practice but he’s playing Sunday?

A: He’s playing. He’s got a quad bruise. It’s been lingering. Remember the last play of the game against Philly, where he got leg whipped?    

Q: How does Evan Engram fit back into the mix?

A:  He practiced throughout the week.   

Q: In regards to the rotation?

A: Same. We’ll try to use the tight ends like we always do, use all three of them, try to maximize the use of their strengths.  

Q: Could you see putting all three of them on the field together, like Evan as more of a receiver?   

A: We’ve done that numerous times this year, so yeah, that’s a possibility. 13 personnel – one back, three tight ends.   

Q: You don’t see that very often.    

A: You see it more than you think. Everybody has it in their package, a lot of times you use it in four-minute. Again, it depends on the skill and ability of your tight ends, depending on who they are.

Q: You don’t have to use Evan judiciously coming back from the injury?   

A: No, he’s going to play at this point.  

Q: Can you talk about the maturation between Nate Solder and Will Hernandez and their relationship?   

A: As you see the way this has played out since the bye, four of our starting linemen didn’t have a Giants helmet last year, so there’s been a lot of changeover. I think that’s important to remember. There’s a lot of new moving forward, running parallel with trying to block a lot of really good fronts. With regard to the left side, that’s been constant, and certainly Nate’s an outstanding player. They work together, so then Nate’s been bringing along a true rookie in Will, who has improved each week. The combination of those two guys, they’re getting better and better and better, and I think Nate behind the scenes has sort of mentored that whole group because there’s a lot of new and a lot that goes into it.    

Q: Hernandez said he felt their relationship changed, it was a teacher-student kind of thing but he felt like he finally got up to speed, they’re now a tandem rather than Solder bringing him along. Have you seen that on the field in the second half especially?  

A: I think so. Then when they’re working together, whether they’re double-teaming or they’re scooping, or they’re passing off twists, they’re doing a better job of making that all happen when they’re working together. Again, it’s just experience. I said this I think earlier in the week but what’s going to happen and it happens with most rookies that are thrust into a starting role like Will has been. Somewhere in the offseason, he’s going to have an “ah-ha” moment that says, ‘Wow, when this thing started I didn’t know much about what was going on, but now the next time through I’ll have so much more of an idea.’ And that’s sort of what you get. I think Nate’s been able to help guide him through that.   

Q: This used to be one of the best rivalries in football (Redskins-Giants) a few years ago maybe. Is it still there?

A: NFC East game, I think so. They all count one, the next game is most important, they’re all big games. There’s a lot of ways to look at it. I don’t ever want to minimize the importance of an NFC East matchup, and I think the rivalries are huge. You play each other twice. Every team, now with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, every team in our division has Super Bowl trophies. There’s great tradition in the NFC East, they beat us the last time through, we didn’t make enough plays to win so there’s a lot there.   

Q: How do you go about preparing for (QB) Mark Sanchez? How much do you go back and look at old stuff, or where do you look because he’s been in a bunch of different spots?

A: I have a memory bank of what he’s good at and that’s what I told the defense -- these are the things he’s really good at, so we’ve got to be sharp. So that helps me, because I worked with him intimately, I’ve seen the way he works, I know he’s won a lot of games, and so I have that memory of Mark. Then what you do is watch, each system’s different, so you watch how they’re using him in their system and what they’re asking him to do. We have to defend the Redskins, but you’re always aware of the people that are involved.

Q: So as players, they don’t go back to tape of him with another team?  You don’t think that’s useful in this instance?

A: Not in this instance, I don’t think. Mark didn’t play much last year, I saw him twice, he was at the Bears. I think the most important thing is to watch their scheme, know what Mark’s good at and then try to defeat their scheme.  

Q: Eli Penny seems to be getting more snaps since the bye week. Is that one of the things you changed up, something you looked at over the bye week?

A: A little bit. Roster permitting, I’m fond of having a fullback. I think they’re very valuable guys, and from the second half of the year here, we’ve utilized 21 personnel more. He’s got a good skillset, he’s a converted halfback so he can run the ball, he can catch the ball, and he’s swelled up since his halfback days, so he’s a better blocker now. Again, he was new, he didn’t start, so he had a long way to go to catch up and know what we were doing and he’s done a good job doing that.   

Q: Kyle (Lauletta) and Alex (Tanney) staying in the same order this week?

A: Yeah, they’ll be the same.

TE Evan Engram

Q: Given the obstacles you’ve had to fight through this year with the injuries, how much do you want to finish strong and really kind of end the season on a good note?

A: That’s really important to me. Not even just for myself, but for the team. We have a couple more opportunities left, couple more division games, big games, and it’s a couple of opportunities to go out and keep doing what we’ve been doing and that’s been working hard, that’s been playing good football. Just starting fast, accomplishing the things we want to accomplish and so it’s definitely important to me that I do my job and I have a helping hand in doing all that.

Q: What are you expecting here, your role to be upon your return?

A: Whatever I’m asked. I had a good week of practice, have a great game plan in and there’s going to be opportunities to make plays throughout the game so I’m just going to be there when my number’s called.

Q: Working the slot versus on the line, what does that allow you to do with your skillset?

A: I like both honestly, but in the slot I’m able to have more freedom like different types of releases and the DB is kind of more on an island, especially in man coverage, and in zone, it’s kind of easier to be able to read where the guys are dropping and stuff. When you get in line and you’re at the line of scrimmage, it’s a really good mismatch out there and it’s definitely easier for a defender to kind of play man if he wants to choke you or press you up there, you got D-Linemen in the way and stuff, so it’s a lot kind of harder, but if you win that matchup in the in-line position, then it’ll be good for you as well.

Q: What matchup do you like better, the linebacker or the defensive back? That’s your thing, right, you can create mismatches –

A: I like seeing linebackers out there, but it’s rare. They usually have some DB’s out there, but I definitely would prefer a linebacker. A little bit more athletic and I can kind of use my speed and still be physical to win.

Q: Are these division games you played where you have carry over so much that you guys play each other so much this year and next year –

A: Yeah, the division games mean a lot. No matter what the circumstance you’re in in the season, a division game on the road is a big game, so definitely a lot of history in this division, a lot of kind of big rivalries across the whole division. Any division game is big, the whole week is big from the preparation and it’s important to do our job and come out with a win against a division opponent.

Q: Do you feel the history? I mean you’re a young player and a lot of the history dates back probably before you were born.

A: I think the fans kind of help me feel that. These division games mean a lot to them. You see it all on social media and you see it on TV and you see it kind of out there, just the importance and the history, all the classic moments that these games have had in this division and all the great teams that have been in this division. It’s kind of easy to get reminded of that.

RB Coach Craig Johnson

Q: Did you teach (Saquon) Barkley the high-jump move?  

A: I did. Something like that. He’s got a lot of help with that. He’s a very good player.   

Q: Do you cringe when he does that? I know he’s got the ability and talent to do it, but does that kind of make you nervous?  

A: It always makes coaches (nervous), I think most of the running back coaches in general will say try to keep your feet more on the ground, but you’re not going to take away his ability. That’s something he saw, he went for it, and you always worry is he going to land properly, but that’s just part of his game.

Q: Saquon has the chance for 2,000 combined yards if he finishes the season strong. Could you have envisioned that coming in at that level and what would that number mean to you?

A:  I don’t know if I ever paint a number, but he had highly productive tape in college, so overall, not a surprise. Obviously he’s been fortunate that he’s been able to stay away from the injury bug. I don’t worry about jinxes, he’s been able to be on the field a lot and that’s helped him. Again, a lot of his college tape showed that this is not surprising.    

Q: Pat (Shurmur) said a few weeks ago he’d like to see him do more of the north-south, five-yard runs and stop looking for homeruns. In the last month or so, has he seemed to get that down?

A: I don’t think there’s any doubt that he has improved that aspect of his game. He was making a lot of explosives, he’s done that continually all year, but some of the tougher yardage gains, some of the gains he needed to make, that’s just part of the process that he had to go through. I think he’s really stepped up in that area.   

Q: Any disappointment that Jonathan Stewart was not able to make it back?

A: Yes, because I think Jonathan Stewart is a great role model. He’s been kind of where Saquon’s attempting to go, and anytime you have a guy like that, you’d like to be able to see him show what he can do. It’s just a matter of early in the year, he’s nicked up a little bit, and then late in the year, because of our roster we’ve got a lot of injuries and I don’t deal with it that much but yes, he’s been great. I can’t tell you how much he has helped our room and it’s always nice for a younger player to have a veteran guy who’s been through it in the room. It’s always good to hear from that guy. That is really I think an important thing.

Q: Have you seen Saquon trying to tap into that knowledge and experience from him?    

A: If you were in my meeting room yesterday, you would have seen an unbelievable amount of that. They were dissecting a run as I walked into the meeting. They were in there about three or four minutes early and they were both dissecting the run from practice the other day and Saquon said, ‘I saw this’ and Stew told him, ‘Yes, but you need to think about this’. It just touched my heart, it was really a great moment, which is the way I believe it should be if you can have a veteran who’s been there talking to a younger player who’s willing to listen and ask a lot of questions as he does of Stew, and he also asks of me because he’s always looking to try to get better.

WR Coach Tyke Tolbert

Q: Do you feel as if you guys got something going here in these past few games?

A: Yeah, I like the direction we’re going offensively. I think more times we have a new staff and a new system and everything, it takes more time for an offense to get acclimated than the defense, but I think our guys are finally having the confidence to go out there and make plays – be it in the run game, be it the passing game. Our guys just feel more confident. I do sense that, yes.

Q: Do you like what you’ve seen from your younger guys?

A: I like what I’m seeing from all of our guys. They’re doing all the right things, and making plays in the passing game. They’re making plays in the run game, which I really encourage guys to do, because a lot of times, with especially the back that we have back there, he’s a special running back – we have to be able to make plays in the run game as well. Blocking downfield, and the five or six-yard runs come from offensive linemen, but the 20-yarders come from the wide receivers. I like how they’re all playing right now, in the run game and in the pass game.

Q: How good is (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) at blocking?

A: Odell is an effort guy, he’s an effort guy. So, he’s always down the field blocking. One of the things I’ve always done is I’ve always stressed blocking, first of all. You have 65 plays in the game. You have five catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Ok, that’s great. What are you doing the other 60 plays? I always emphasized blocking and being a team player in that respect. If they have a good block in the run game, in the film room, we’ll run the tape about three or four times to emphasize that. If he catches a touchdown, I may roll the film twice, but a good run block, I may run it three or four times to put emphasis on it. Everybody likes to feel good about being complimented. They figured out that there will be more compliments out of me if they have a real good block and a touchdown. So, they take pride in that.

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: What does (WR) Corey Coleman have to do to earn more reps at wide receiver?

A: Corey, he has to keep plugging along. Corey, with him, he’s probably been in three or four offenses this year alone – from Cleveland, to Buffalo, to New England, to here. Some of the plays that we have, there’s some crossover and it’s the same concept, but it’s called totally different things, and some things they’re called totally the same, but they’re different concepts. So, sometimes he confuses those, but Corey is doing well. We’re going to have to put more into the offense, and I think we’re going to see that going forward. Corey is going to play more, and more, and more, because he does have a lot of ability that you want to see on the field. He has really good hands. He has really good speed. He’s good with the ball in his hands, he’s tough. This offense requires you to play different positions all the time. When you move him around as much as we move him around, and those concepts like I mentioned with him and other places, it gets intertwined sometimes and can be confusing a little bit. As far as the other guys, they’ve been here the whole time, so they kind of know what to do in all those instances. He’s continued to get better in that regard, and the more he gets better with that and the more comfortable he is with that, the more we’ll play him.

Q: Do you sense that this late in the year Odell is still fresh? Has he shown any signs of wear and tear?

A: When it’s game time, he’s as fresh as he’s ever been. Even in practice, you’ll see he has a lot of energy. He runs around. Let’s not overlook the fact that he’s coming off a major, major surgery he had last year. He’s had maybe a Comeback Player of the Year type of comeback, because that’s a major surgery he had. For him to be playing at the level he’s playing at this time of the year coming off an ankle injury, that’s all credit to him, and the rehab that he’s done, and the work he puts in. He still looks fresh to me. As time goes on, it’s a long season. Sometimes, people have some wear and tear. He’s still out there. He’s practicing hard, doing all the right things, having a lot of energy every day. So, I’m very proud of him for that.

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