WR GOLDEN TATE
Q: What went into your thinking when signing with the New York Giants? What was ultimately the big selling point of why you came here? What are some of your thoughts on playing with Eli Manning and your thoughts on him from afar?
A: "Well first off from afar, I've been a New York Football Giants fan growing up and I've always admired -- really this entire division. I remember just always seeing the Giants on TV growing up and always kind of picturing myself maybe playing there one of these days, and it's kind of truly awesome that that time has come and I'm excited about the opportunity to play for this team. As far as Eli, playing against Eli a handful of times, whether it be in Detroit, or Seattle, or obviously in Philly, I like his game a lot. He knows how to get the ball to his playmakers. He's done that at a high level for a long time. I'm just hoping I can come in and fit right in and help him be the best player he can be, and also do the same for me and the rest of the guys on the field."
Q: This organization just traded a big-time player and personality in Odell Beckham Jr. How do you feel about the pressure of filling that role that he once filled?
A: "Odell is a tremendous talent. He's a buddy of mine. I enjoy watching him. I love his game. He's just a complete receiver. He can run, he can run routes, he can catch, great personality, very likable guy. As far as me, I'm just coming in and doing my job. I'm just coming in and putting my head down and working and do the best I can. That's one thing that I try not to do is compare myself to really anyone. I'm kind of my own player, my own unique player. I'm just going to do my job and not put too much pressure on anyone around me, or myself. We wish Odell the best of luck over there in Cleveland. I'm sure he's going to do some great things, just like he did here in New York. I'm just extremely excited, and gracious, and feeling super blessed to be a part of such historic, strong, winning organization like the Giants. I can't wait to get to work and see how far we can take this.”
Q: There's a quote from January stating you didn't want to join a rebuilding organization. That you wanted to win now. Did something change? Or, do you not see the Giants as a rebuilding organization?
A: "I'm really excited. After speaking with (Pat) Coach Shurmur and my position coach (Tyke Tolbert), I'm really excited where we're headed. I really believe that you can win games while you build. We have a great division that's set up for us to do some great things in. Just really kind of excited to play. I see we have some very important, key, good pieces in this locker room that I'm anxious to learn more about. It starts off we have a really good quarterback I believe. We have a really good running back. We have a handful of really, really good players. I think the thing is we just need to build that comradery and play as a team day in and day out, week in and week out, play by play. I just believe that if we can get this team to just be on the same page all the times, that we're going to win games, and we're going to build as we go. I feel like every team in the NFL is building to an extent, but there's been no games played yet. We haven't even showed up for workouts yet. I think we're two or three days into free agency. I'm sure we're going to add some more pieces. We still have the draft coming up. We're going to bring some more pieces in that are going to help us win now and that's exciting.”
Q: How do you fit with Sterling Shepard? He obviously does most of the damage in the slot. The last couple of years, you've played mostly in the slot. Have you talked to Sterling since you've signed? What type of role do you envision you guys playing in?
A: "I haven't caught up to all my text messages and calls, just because things have kind of been chaotic since I've heard the news, and trying to scramble to try to figure out when I'm going to leave and get out of here, and how I'm going to get out here, then being on the red-eye and dealing with all of that -- talking with agencies and all the coaches. It's kind of been chaotic, so I'm not even sure. Maybe he's reached out. I just have to go through my messages and see. I really like Sterling's game. That guy, he's a baller. He's a playmaker, he makes plays, and I can do the same. I think what makes both of us unique is that we can both play anywhere around the field. My first two to three years in Detroit, and most of my career in Seattle, I was an outside guy. I feel like I can run the comebacks, the hooks and any route on the route tree just fine. I feel the same way about him and a couple of other guys in the room. I'm looking to find a way to complement him and I hope he finds a way to complement me in this offense. We just kind of come together and make plays all over the place. I'm expecting Eli to spread the ball around to a bunch of guys and a bunch of guys make plays. I'm just excited to hopefully come in. Starting with our group, help our group get better and be an asset to this team.”
Q: Is the fact the you come with Super Bowl pedigree and your track record in big games, was that an element that you bring that the organization felt as value that led to the Giants bringing you here?
A: "It's something I guess I hadn't talked about just because my time has been short. I literally got off the plane and went straight to the hospital to get all the tests and physicals -- came in, ate lunch. Haven't really spent too much time with anyone trying to figure out everything. My head is kind of spinning right now. I think that's one thing that can go without being said, is that if you look at my resume -- kind of like what you said. I have a Super Bowl under my belt. I've been to a Pro Bowl. I've stepped up in big-time games, and I strongly believe that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. I hope that’s one that someone assumes. If you watch football and just kind of know the type of player that I am. I'm excited to bring a veteran mindset that loves the game of football that cares about the game so much, and hopes the guys can see that hey, it doesn't matter what the stat line is. It matters how many wins you can get each season, and that's way more rewarding than the stats.”
Q: Do you think some of the winning ways of the Giants have worn off? Do you feel as if you can be a part of that solution to get this team back to that top status where it was five or 10 years ago?
A: "That sure is my goal. I don't have all the answers for what this organization needs, or what this organization is missing, but I do have trust in the coaching staff that I've had the chance to speak with, and their vision, and what they want to achieve. If I'm looking from afar, if you look at the last eight games of the season last year for the Giants, I think they might have lost a couple of games by a losing field goal or a last-minute drive. It's not like we were getting blown out last year, essentially. You win those last two or three games, you're right there in the mix of the playoffs last year. I don't think we're as far off as people may think or see us, but only time is going to tell. Once April 15 gets here, that's when it's time to work, and that's when it's time to start building something great. Like I said, I think we have a solid foundation, and we're going to keep adding those pieces, and we're going to work. I think that's what it's going to come down to -- a bunch of selfless guys that want to work and find a way to win. It's not going to be easy always, but I do believe, from the little that I know, that we can win. We're not starting from square one. We have some good players, and I'm just going to use my ability, my personality, my work ethic, to hopefully lead these guys and find a way to win games.”
Q: There was a lot of talk about you going to the Patriots. Can you describe what the whole process of free agency was like for you? Was there any turning point of something that swayed your decision in the end?
A: "A lot of praying went into it, and just being patient, and trusting in my agent to do what was best for me, my family, and put me in a good situation. I was drafted in the second-round and signed a big deal in Detroit. I guess this will technically be my third deal I'm signing. I was calm. I knew that I had done my job, and that was play ball, stay healthy, keep a clear head, a clean attitude in whatever locker room I was in. I kind of trusted in what I've already done. I knew it was going to work out, one way or another. I didn't know when it was going to happen, how soon or how late. I just kind of trusted the process, and kind of sat back. With it being my third contract, I wasn't being anxious as I was with my second contact. I'm very happy how free agency has ended, and my career starting in New York.”
Q: What was your experience with the Eagles like?
A: "It was a great experience. I really didn't have too much time to take it all in, because I had to hit the ground running, because it was mid-season -- trying to learn the city, how to get to work, where my position room was, the quarterback situation, obviously the offense, the coaches. All that I had to learn very, very quickly, but I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed. Philadelphia is a fantastic sports town and just a great city overall. I'll forever be grateful for my time there, and I'll never forget it, but excited to be here in the Big Apple.”
OLB MARKUS GOLDEN
Q: What is it about the 3-4 scheme that fits you so well and your skillset?
A: "I would say because you're doing a lot, you're playing linebacker, you're not just playing defensive end. You're doing a lot of different stuff, from shifting different gaps and hitting gaps on the run. Just the simple things like standing up instead of having your hand in the dirt every down. It's a lot with that. I just love the way we play the 3-4 defense in (Defensive Coordinator) James Bettcher's scheme. He calls a lot of blitzes, and guys just get after it, and I've just always loved playing in that defense.”
Q: How much of an influence was he (Bettcher) in you coming here, and how many conversations did you have with him leading up to your decision?
A: "Yes, of course, I didn't get to talk to him until I was allowed to talk to him when free agency actually started. Since then, of course, he was reaching out to me, just letting me know that he wanted me here with him and that he would love for me to get back and get reunited with him. That's what we did, and that's what I'm looking forward to, just coming out here and doing whatever I can do to just help the team win, and I'm excited about that.”
Q: You had the 12.5 sacks a couple of years ago, got derailed by the knee injury. How healthy do you feel at this point?
A: "Yes, that was exactly what happened. A couple of years ago, I tore my ACL, but since then I've been working hard and grinding it out and feeling way better. Each week I'm feeling better and better. Staying on top of working out and just taking care of my knee. I've really been feeling 100 percent and feel like I'm ready to get back to where I was.”
Q: You look at the defense and you see a lot of new pieces, and missing pieces. What do you think the Giants defense can be this year?
A: "I know the work JB (Bettcher) is going to put in. I met some of the coaches here, and I know the work that they're going to put in. So, I expect the defense to be really good. We're only in Week 1 of free agency, so of course we're going to grab some more guys to help out around here. I feel like no matter what group we got, the guys are going to work hard together, and I feel we can have some success.”
Q: In your mind, were the Giants the team at the top of your list? What has the free agency process been like for you?
A: "I really didn't go in with a process of having a team at the top of the list. I bet if I did, then they would've been, but I was kind of open. Just wanted to listen to everybody and kind of let my agent take care of doing his job. After that, I'm kind of just glad I was able to come out here and end up playing for the Giants and having an opportunity to come out here and play."
Q: Antoine (Bethea) said yesterday that he would give you a call and try to persuade you come to New York. Did he reach out to you? Or, was your decision already made by the time he did?
A:"He shot me a little text. Antoine, that's my big bro. I've known him for a while now. Yeah, he was trying to get me to come out here with him. He helped out a lot, but I had planned on coming out here with you guys anyway. I like the organization here. On top of that, I want to come out here and help the team win games.”
Q: It's a one-year deal here with the Giants. It's kind of a 'prove-it' deal for you. Do you like that situation for yourself?
A: "It's a blessing just to play football. Coming from where I come from, it's a blessing to be able to play in the NFL. On top of that, with my knee injury and situation. So, I'm just excited to be able to be on a one-year deal. Whether it's one year, or no matter what, I'm just happy to be able to be in the NFL playing and being able to get out there Sunday and prove myself.”
Q: Do you think you can get back to where you were a couple of years ago when you were third in the league in sacks? Is that what the Giants are getting? Or, are you not quite there yet?
A: "Of course I'm believing in myself. I've been working hard this offseason and just grinding it out. Just been working hard. So, I believe that I'm going to be able to bounce back and be able to come out and help the team no matter what. That's my focus, to keep working hard, keep grinding this offseason and come back and be able to bounce back and the team big."
Q: Your numbers last year were not as high as what your potential slates out to be. What do you attribute that to? How do you look back on last season?
A:"I'm not a guy to make excuses at all, but I got injured. Last year I was kind of playing and trying to get back caught up and getting my legs under me. That's what happened, but at the end of the day, I'm still believing in myself. I know the work that I put in and I know that I'm not going to stop working hard. That's all I'm going to do -- keep grinding, keep working hard, and I feel like God is going to bless me and good things are going to happen."
S ANTOINE BETHEA
Q: Tell us about why you picked the Giants: A: "I think it was a fresh start for me; some familiar faces. Obviously, (Defensive Coordinator) James Bettcher being the 'DC', and me playing in that system, and having some success in the system. So, those are some of the things that kind of peaked my interest of being able to come out here and play for the Giants."
Q: What do you know about (S) Jabrill Peppers? A: "Good young safety! Being a fan of the game and playing the safety position, you look across the league and see what other guys are doing, looking at his play the first two years, he's been doing some great things. Even looking at him when he was at Michigan, very versatile, can do a lot of things -- play in the box, play back in the post. I'm excited to play alongside with him."
Q: How do you think you guys will complement each other? A: "The first thing that I think of -- both of us being able to play both (safety) positions. The offense can't dictate who's going to be the down safety, who's going to be back. I think that'll play in our hand where we can disguise the defense, disguise the coverage and make a quarterback think post-snap rather than pre-snap.”
Q: Did any of the recent transactions by the Giants concern you when you saw them walking out of the door? A: "I've been in this league a long time, and I've seen things go on. It's just a part of the business. I know some Giants fans might not like it, but it's just a part of the business, and we have to keep going.
Q: This is going to be your 14th season. Do you view this Giants' team as a rebuilding team? Or, do you think this team can win in 2019? A: "No, it's not a rebuilding team. At the end of the day, we have to go out and play on Sundays. Regardless of the names you have on paper, you still have to go out there and perform. You get a good nucleus, some good guys that can work together. Obviously, the league year just started. I know upstairs, they're doing what they need to do to build a great team. As players, our job is to come out there and put our best performance, our best foot forward and put the best product we can put on the field."
Q: Can you explain why you wanted to come here, and how it all got put together? A: "Again, obviously with Bettcher being familiar with me playing in his system, just what they were looking for. I just think it was a mutual partnership where they wanted me to come in, and I wanted to come in.”
Q: How close are you to (DE) Markus Golden? Did you make any calls to him to try to get him to come here? A: 'MG' that's my guy, that's my guy! Maybe I can do a little recruiting. I would love to have 'MG' here. He's a hardworking guy. A good guy. Most importantly, a good family guy. Maybe I can make a few calls and get him out here."
Q: What has been the key to your longevity and your durability? Is there anything physical that you can't do now, that you could do years ago? Any limitations? A: "It's all about being consistent, taking care of your body as far as that longevity. Coming into the league, I was fortunate to walk in the locker room and be around some greats. (Pro Football Hall of Famer WR) Marvin Harrison, (Former Colts/Broncos QB) Peyton Manning, (Former Colts TE) Dallas Clark, (Former Colts WR) Reggie Wayne. Those guys taught me how to be a pro. I think that's one of the things I hang my hat on, of being a pro's pro -- coming to work, and being where my feet are. Obviously, having some longevity in this league is something a lot of people can't say, and I hold that close to my heart, but as far as myself, I still feel good. If I didn't feel good, I wouldn't put myself in a situation to go out there and put bad film out there. I still believe in my play, I still believe in myself, I still believe I can go out there and play at a high level. So, that's what I expect to do, that's what I expect out of myself.
Q: A lot of Giants fans are grieving over having a three-time Pro Bowler in (S) Landon Collins walk out the door. What can you tell the about how this secondary is coming together, and going to be able to overcome the loss of such a good player? A: "They should be upset. Like you said, Landon is one of the best safeties in the league. He's a three-time Pro Bowler and played well for the Giants. Myself, I know Jabrill would say the same thing -- he's very confident in his play. I'm very confident in my play as well. So, we're going to come in here, we're just going to do what we need to do, what know what we need to do, and just come out there and play at a high level."
Q: You mentioned Peyton Manning, you're going to be teammates with Eli Manning. Having gone against him the last couple of years, where do you see him as a quarterback looking from an opponents' eyes since you have for 13 years? A: "A champion, being the leader of this organization for a long time and can still make all the throws. Having Saquon (Barkley) back there running the rock, obviously that's going to help him out a lot. Happy to be a part of this organization, happy to be one of his teammates. I'm excited to see where he can lead us."