Quotes (4/15): Coach Pat Shurmur, QB Eli Manning, WR Sterling Shepard

The Giants are back at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center to begin offseason workouts

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Good afternoon. As you know, today started our offseason program. Guys were energetic and excited to get going. We had alternating running and lifting. We had good meetings so it was a good first day. I am looking forward to getting this thing going for the 2019 season. We have the draft here on the horizon but we like the group of guys that we have assembled to this point. Just put them through the paces and get them prepared so we can put them through the OTA’s and the mini camps to work our way toward training camp.

Q: Did everyone show up today and did anyone tell you they were not going to be a part of this?

A: We had one player that is showing up today and he let me know that. Other than that, we had everyone here.

Q: Can you share who that was?

A: No. As you know, this is a voluntary. This player had a prior arrangement and he let me know way ahead of time that he had something he had to take care of. He is arriving today so he will be here working tomorrow.

Q: How different is this from last year in regards to what you are trying to accomplish? What is the biggest difference?

A: Well, we certainly know the players much better. By playing a season, we know the areas we need to improve. I talked to the team about finishing. I felt that we did some things throughout the games that were good. We just have to do a better job of finishing. The schemes and the systems, things we like to do schematically, are more ready to go for the players. They can watch themselves on the cut-ups. Anything you do on the second time around, you will be smoother. The idea is that you get off to a better start starting next season.

Q: Is Sam Beal 100 percent and ready to go?

A: Yes, he is ready to go. He is bright-eyed and ready to go. He is coming back from a shoulder surgery and has rehabbed it well. He is 100 percent at this point so he will be able to take part in everything we are doing.

Q: How much easier is it at this point now knowing the strengths and weaknesses you have in your players?

A: It is a huge advantage. To be able to know what the players can do, we have a lot of really good players. A lot of players that were young last year had an opportunity to play more than they typically would. You get a chance to watch them and see their development, you can project and see the improvement they are going to make this year. It really helps, also, if you have not worked with a player, I think back to the offensive line and how we had it structured last year. We made changes to it. Having worked with players, seeing their strengths and their weaknesses, it helps you more even as we get ready for the draft.

Q: What are your thoughts on where your secondary is right now? What types of challenges does that present having some new guys in there and having a lot of changes?

A: We have made a lot of changes, especially bringing in Jabrill and Antoine Bethea, but we still have Michael Thomas, Kenny Ladler is still here, Kamrin Moore and so is Sean Chandler. There are some guys that were here a year ago. Michael Thomas is a special teams captain and he probably played more safety a year ago than we anticipated, so he has some experience. Kenny is an experienced player and then we have the young players Moore and Chandler, they have done some good things for us. At safety, we have brought in two guys that we anticipate being starters for us, Jabrill and Antoine. They are bright guys and they will get going here quickly. At corner, we have Jackrabbit, who looked good today, and I am anticipating he will have a great offseason. Sam Beal is here and we signed Michael Hunter. Then we got Antonio Hamilton, Tony Lippett and Henre’ Toliver, along with Grant Haley. It is a good group. A lot of young players that have a lot of experience. We just have to see how it comes together so we can determine who our three corners will be in the starting rotation and then really our two starting safeties and the primary backup.

Q: This is the first time you addressed the team since the season ended, did you talk or address the team on any players that left the team? Odell? Landon?

A: No, I think the important thing was bringing the group that we have here together. We talked about why our players left from a year ago and how we wish them well. While they were Giants, we were rooting for them and doing everything we could to get them better. We are rooting for them now that they are out of our building. We crossed that bridge then. As we move forward, I think it is important that we move forward with the group we have.

Q: Do you think you can come out of this draft with two or three defensive starters right away?

A: That is the idea. We have some high picks, so you look to get some guys that can help. A lot of times, guys that are significant role players function in roles as starters. We are looking at everyone we pick to be able to contribute. That is the exciting thing about the draft. There are plenty of really good players at all positions. We are going to pick guys that we feel can contribute.

Q: With Dwayne Haskins visiting and your players in the building, can you branch those two together and see how he fits in with other players in the building?

A: We try and keep that part separate. We have a couple more days of visits, as you know. It just so happens that Dwayne is in today. It will be somewhat separate. They really are not allowed to be involved too much with what we are doing. His visit will be similar to the ones we have had with the quarterbacks we have already brought in.

Q: Do you trust that Eli will handle this situation OK being in the last season of his contract and what might happen the next couple weeks? Do you feel the need to talk to him?

A: I don’t feel the need to talk to him about his contract. Eli does a great job of staying in the moment. He was here today and we got going. He is excited to get into this, the second year of our system and build on what we did the last half of the season. Eli is really terrific at staying in the moment. Right now, it is offseason training. Just trying to get comfortable with his receivers and try and master his decisions. I think that is where he is at. I don’t feel the need to talk about that with him.

Q: Just curious with the commitment to Sterling Shepard that you have made, do you see much more potential than what he has already shown?

A: Certainly. He still is a young player. I saw some things from him last year that were improvements. He is very durable, very sturdy. He is good in all phases of the game. He blocks well, catches the ball well and is very competitive. In all aspects of playing receiver, you have to continue to improve and ascend. We really like the football player in him, too. The competitive nature and the durability. All the things that he brings to a receiving corps. I am not saying that in comparison to anyone, that is just what we have appreciated about him.

Q: This team has a much different look this year as it did a year ago. How would you compare this team right now to the one you had a year ago?

A: It is hard to say right now. We liked the moves we made. With regard to our trades, we felt that both teams got value. We were able to add safeties to fill in for Landon leaving. We added an offensive lineman up front with Zeitler. We added pieces. That is probably a better question to answer later in the offseason, but we like the players we are working with. We look forward to adding a few players from this year’s draft.

Q: Where is Jon Halapio in his return from surgery?

A: Pio is back. He is working and getting ready to go.

The Giants report back to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center

QB Eli Manning

Q: Are you approaching this offseason any different than any other?

A: No, I think you treat it the same as any year you come in. Had a good offseason, worked hard and I am excited about getting back with the team and the coaches. Going into that second year, you have an advantage because you know what the offense is a little bit and what the coaches like. Things you want to improve on, certain plays and concepts in the offense that you have some time to work on. I think it is just a mindset to work on the things that you need to improve on to help the team. Keep doing the things that you were successful with.

Q: When we talked to John Mara and Steve Tisch at the league meeting, they said at your age you have to go year-to-year. Are you ok with that?

A: I never concerned myself with that. I think every year I am just worried about that next year. That is what I am thinking about. I am thinking about right now with this team. Getting rolling, getting wins and doing whatever it takes to be a good teammate to get this team winning football games.

Q: With you guys picking six and 17, there is a chance to pick a QB. What would it be like to be a mentor to a guy if that were to happen?

A: I have always felt that in the quarterback room I have always had a great relationship with everyone. All the QBs, we have drafted quarterbacks and have had young quarterbacks in there. I enjoy talking football and enjoy talking ball. Giving tips on coverages, protections, concepts, everyone is trying to help each other. It is an open conversation for everyone to get ideas and everyone just sticks around after to get on the same page. That is just part of being a quarterback. I have enjoyed putting in the extra effort and the work. Getting everyone comfortable and up to speed. Help young guys trying to learn a new offense.

Q: Is there a different vibe this year being that you have been through a year with this offense already?

A: It is definitely better going into that second year. Not just for me but to have an offensive line, receivers where you have an idea of what you are supposed to be doing. Now, you can work on just fine tuning a lot of those things and improving the schemes that you are running. The situation last year, guys were trying to figure out what the cadence was or where to line up in the huddle. How you call certain formations. There is so much that has to be learned by everyone. Now, a majority of us know what we are doing and can line up. Bring the young guys along. Everyone can play that much faster because they know what they are doing and they are sure of it.

Q: How did you find out about the Odell trade? What has your reaction been?

A: I found out just watching TV one night. I just came across the (tracker) at the bottom of the screen. Started to get a few texts. That is how I found out. The reaction, I wanted to reach out to him. Odell has been a teammate for five years and has been a friend. These circumstances, you think about the player involved. It is more than just a player; it is someone you have a relationship with. You think more about that person, how they are handling it and that they are OK and doing well with it.

Q: Did you get in touch with Odell right away? Have you been in touch?

A: I’ve been in touch with him, yes.

Q: Do you ever see yourself announcing your final season like some Yankees greats (Jeter, CC, Mariano Rivera) or going more of the traditional route and announcing after the season?

A: I think I will go the traditional route. I thought that was a baseball thing. I know some basketball players have done it, but I don’t see going out that way.

Q: How do you replace such an explosive player as Odell?

A: Guys have to step up. We have good players on this team. Talented receivers and running backs. We played the last four, five games of the season without him. We were able to score points and move the ball. He is a tremendous player and was a tremendous player for us. There are certain things that he can do that not everyone can do, but we still have guys that can play and help us be a tremendous offense and score a lot of points.

Q: How surprised were you by the Odell move?

A: I think after being in the NFL for 16 years, I don’t think there are a whole lot of surprises anymore. You learn to deal with everything. You learn to adjust, you move on and do my job. Do it to the best of my ability and get the players that are here up to speed. That is the great thing about football. I am excited about the players that we have and the additions that we have made. Get everyone up to speed and on the same page. Keep moving forward.

Q: Are you anticipating the Giants drafting a QB this year?

A: Yes, I can see the Giants getting a young quarterback. I understand that. I still have to do my job. I will do my part. Same as last year. Go out there, play quarterback, win football games. That is what I am trying to do.

Q: You talked earlier about the Giants having to make a decision at quarterback? What was the decision like for you? Coming back and wanting to play again.

A: I made that decision pretty quickly. I still wanted to play. I told the Giants that very quickly. I didn’t have to think about it long. This is what I do and what I like to do and I have worked extremely hard the last few months to get ready. I liked how the team rallied toward the end of the year with the coaches. Everyone got on a better page together. Could have won a few more games but had great opportunities to win. We are headed in the right direction.

Q: When did you receive clarity that they wanted you to come back?

A: I had some talks with Mr. Gettleman and coach Shurmur within the last month or so. They told me that I would come back and be on the team this year. I got word within the last month.

Q: What was that conversation like right after the season with Gettleman?

A: Just telling them that I still want to play and feel like I can still play. Just want to be a part of this moving forward. Just told them that, where I was and how I was thinking.

Q: Did you walk out of that conversation unsure about?

A: It was right after the season, so they had a lot to look at and a lot to go over. I just wanted to let them know how I was feeling before they made their decision.

WR Sterling Shepard

Tell us about your timeline with getting this deal done. Was it something in the works since the end of last season? Or did it come up pretty quickly?

“It came up kind of quickly. We got it done fairly fast. I think we went back and forth maybe three or four times, but it was all worth it -- about a month and a half, two months. It was done fairly quickly.”

Did you expect that to be a possibility this offseason? Were you expecting that?

“I knew it was a possibility. I didn’t know how quickly it was going to go, or what the starting point was going to be, but I knew it was a possibility after the season. My agent contacted me. I had spoken with him, and they were pretty sure that it would get done before camp started. It was an exciting moment.”

What’s your reaction to the (Browns WR) Odell Beckham Jr. trade?

“I was a little shocked at first, like everyone was I think, but you sit back and you look at it, it’s kind of the nature of the business. That was a point for me to really sit back and realize that this is a business, and that’s just how things go sometimes.”

How will you miss him?

“I will miss him in a lot of ways. I learned a lot from him on the field. That’s like a brother to me. That’ll never be lost, but just being able to talk to him on game days on what we see. That’s something that we did all the time. Just different things that we saw on the field, and how to go about handling them. He’s one of the best receivers in the game, in my opinion. It’s great to have that type of guy on your team that you could bounce ideas off of and share what’s going on through their eyes.”

There’s not many guys left from the (former Giants GM) Jerry Reese era. Did that ever enter your mind at all, the fact that you might not be here?

“No, that never entered my mind. I love being where I’m at. I work hard. I do everything the right way. It never really entered my mind. I didn’t think that played a factor. Different things happen with different guys. I didn’t think that was a reason.”

What are your thoughts on the signing of (WR) Golden Tate, and do you think you guys are similar players?

“Yeah, we definitely are similar when it comes to our game. I was pretty excited, to be honest. To have a veteran like that to be able to -- Odell is gone and that was the guy that I bounced ideas off of. To have a guy that’s been in the league that long, and to have been around, it’s great to have people like that that you can talk to about the game. I was pretty excited, and I have no doubt in my mind that we will be successful. We’re both the type of guys that can play inside and outside, and I think coach will use us in a similar way that he used (Vikings WR Adam) Thielen and (Vikings WR Stefon) Diggs, and them. So, I don’t see that being an issue at all.”

Today was the first time the team came together since the roster moves and the trades. How was the energy around the building?

“You got new faces, but you get new faces every year, and around this time, it’s a little different. Some guys you don’t see, but I think everybody realizes that’s just the way this goes. We sit down at the end of the year, we look around, you’re not going to see these faces. This is the team that we have for this year, and make it the best. Guys are just trying to get familiar with each other. Yeah, it is a little different not having Odell sitting next to me and having different guys in the meeting room, but we all know that’s just the way this goes.”

Have you given much thought that now with Odell being gone, your other teammates and receiver group will look to you as a leader and helping guide them in learning the offense?

“Yeah, it hit me, but like I said a few days ago, I think Odell going down kind of helped me with the leadership part of that. Being able to handle guys coming to me for some help on the playbook, or whatever it may be. I think that kind of helped me out the past 10 games with that aspect. It’s kind of different. You go from having a guy like Odell and having a guy like (former Giants WR) Brandon Marshall and those types of guys in the room, and now you’re the only one that’s kind of looked at for advice. Like I said, I feel like I have been prepped for that, and I’m ready for that.”

The fact that Odell signed a long-term deal and soon got traded afterwards, is it unsettling to know that long-term contract might not guarantee you here long-term? How do you view that as a teammate and as a player?

“To be honest, I don’t really try to think too far ahead. I just try to stay in the moment, and just handle things the way that they come. If I handle my business, and do what I have to do, and do things the right way, I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll be here. I think them giving me this contract is them just putting that trust in me that I’m going to do things the right way, and I’m going to perform the way I’m supposed to. Like I said, I’m not looking too far down the road. I’m definitely not going to worry about anything. I’m not one of those guys that’s going to be worried about what may happen. Just going to take one day at a time.”

What’s your relationship with (former Oklahoma QB) Kyler Murray, and how you think he will succeed in the NFL?

“I left right when Kyler Murray was coming in, but he’s a great guy from every time that I’ve met him. He’s been successful at every single level, and I don’t see anything holding him back at this level. I think he’ll do a great job.”

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