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Quotes (5/21): Shurmur, Barkley Stewart, Omameh, Apple

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Opening Statement: All right, OTA No. 1 is in the books. It was a pretty good day. I thought they competed well. There were some good and bad plays on both sides of the ball and I think what’s important to see is that they competed, they challenged one another and I think we got one OTA better and now the challenge is anytime that you leave the practice field, their thoughts need to drift toward recovery, so certainly we can come out tomorrow, have OTA No. 2 and get one more OTA better. So, it’s a good day, a nice, sunny day – a good day for football and the guys competed well.

Q: You spent a lot of time in Philly. Do you know Sean Chandler’s story? What do you think about all that he has had to overcome?

A: Well, we are impressed by him already. Certainly his background is well known and you’re rooting and pulling for guys that have kind of become self-made in a lot of ways and he made a play out there today. He’s like everybody else, he’s trying to do everything right and do what he can to make our team better and he impressed us some today.

Q: How important is it for you to have Odell (Beckham, Jr.) here for this kind of setting?

A: Odell here No. 1 because he gets to – he can’t fully compete yet, but he gets a chance to see it and there is a lot to be learned by watching and it’s good to have him here.

Q: What have you learned so far about Nate Solder?

A: Yeah, Nate – well, he’s a true professional. We talk often about leadership and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be anything extraordinary and you certainly don’t have to be the loudest guy in the room. Sometimes the guy that doesn’t say as much leads better than the guy that talks a lot, and Nate is a very steady force. We all know what he’s done as a player. As you get to know him, you get to appreciate what a tremendous person he is and I think all that will help us as we move forward.

Q: Is there anything to (Damon) “Snacks” (Harrison) not being here?

A: He’s been here a little bit, but I know he’s not here and I know why he’s not here. I will just leave it at that.

Q: Can you talk about Davis Webb’s play today?

A: I thought he did a good job. Everyday he does something a little bit better. He’s becoming more and more comfortable with our scheme and I thought he did some good things.

Q: I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about Eli Apple and have gotten to know him. What has been your impression of him?

A: Well, I’m sure glad – yeah, you hear things, but I’m sure glad that I truly believe in a clean slate. He’s been nothing but professional, he’s been out here competing, he’s one of the guys that has been here almost every single day and I haven’t seen anything that somebody might have thought I heard. He’s been great.

Q: Do you let him know that? Did you let him know about the clean slate?

A: I did with all the players and I think that’s important. What you’re trying to do is inspire these guys to play at their best and I hear things, but I can’t truly say I know exactly what happened because I wasn’t here. But, I do know this, there are guys out here that are very prideful, they’re very professional and they want to do really good things and Eli is one of them.

Q: Just from a pure football standpoint, he is pretty much what you are looking for in a cornerback, right?

A: Yes, in terms of his stature, his skillset – yeah, he is what you’re looking for.

Q: How has Odell looked to you with his ankle?

A: He looks good. He’s out here moving around, he’s champing at the bit wanting to get out and do more than we’re allowing him to do at this point. But I think we’re just trying to make sure that everything is healed to the fullest before we put him out there. He looks good.

Q: How was your first look at (Ereck) Flowers out on the practice field?

A: Yeah, he did a nice job today. We’ve had him in for a week, as you all know, and he’s kind of just fit right in there with everybody and I wasn’t all that pressured up about it and I’m glad he’s here and I’m getting to know him. I said it with Eli (Apple), clean slate. He’s out here competing and I think that’s what’s most important.

Q: Have you gone through your film to look at your first pitch (at Citi Field)?

A: Yeah, well, I was wasting a pitch. That’s what I was doing (laughs). Like some good pitchers might. There are certain things that you try to not redo.

Q: Did any of your players say anything to you about it?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Are they still your players?

A: No, fortunately I have another job. No, what you gain is an appreciation. You warm up and I was warming up in the back and things seemed like they were all right and I remembered back to when I played, but it’s a different perspective when you’re standing on the mound. It gives you a great appreciation. I’ve always had a great appreciation for baseball and the ability to hit a ball and certainly pitch a ball. But it was a fun day.

Q: Was it jitters?

A: No, it wasn’t jitters. I have an appreciation for how tough it is for the guys that can do it extremely well and more than anything, it was a great day. The Mets won and I’m a huge baseball fan. I like baseball and it was just a fun day.

Q: You have a bunch of young guys at the cornerback position and you also have William Gay. What does he bring to the secondary?

A: Well, he’s a veteran presence, certainly. He’s brought that style of play to our team. You can see him kind of coaching guys on the side. We have outstanding coaches on defense, but when you add a veteran presence to a group of young players, we’re hopeful that it will rub off some.

Q: Some young guys are immediately thrown in with the first team and some guys are eased in. How do you determine that?

A: We want to put them in there and get them going. At this point, there is no depth chart. We’re out there playing and we’re trying to get a look at guys doing what they can do and then try to test them in other areas to see if they can do more. That’s where that is at.

Running Back Saquon Barkley

Q: How did it go out there with the veterans today?

A: It went really well. It was finally cool to be out there. Obviously we had like walk through stuff before, but we actually got to practice against the defense today and I felt that I did really well, I feel like the offense is coming to me a lot quicker. But yeah, at the end of the day, it’s football and I had a lot of fun.

Q: You obviously got to meet Jonathan Stewart. What was that meeting like and what has he shared with you so far?

A: Oh, yeah. Stewart is an awesome dude. Obviously he is a great vet. I’m just over here trying to watch him, trying to learn from him every single day and all the vets and all the running backs let me come in with open arms and it’s been great. They are great leaders and I look forward to continuing learning from them throughout my career.

Q: He also mentioned that he can also learn from you guys. What do you think you can teach him?

A: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I would say the best thing for me personally is to continue coming in here and working every single day. Obviously he is a great vet and a great leader and a great worker, but if I continue to work and push myself every day, then it’s going to push him every single day and it’s going to push the running back room and make the running back room as whole better.

Q: In the Combine training, did you peak speed training wise in order to prepare for the 40-yard dash? If that is the case, how do you maintain that top-level speed?

A: Yeah. So I mean, when you train for the Combine it is different training for on the football field. The Combine is so technical and so specific down to the little things. You’ve got guys that realistically on a football field who are way faster than what they run at the Combine because of the techniques – the start and the strides and all of that. Obviously you train and the reason why I was training for the Combine was obviously for the Combine, but the way I view the speed is to work on the speed, but that doesn’t really necessarily translate to the football field because obviously you have a ball in your hand, you have pads on your shoulders and stuff like that. So just continuing to work on your form and the little things – opening up your stride length does kind of translate to the football field, but the way you get fast on the football field is by the stuff you do in the weight room. Obviously you have to work on your running form, but you have to continue to get your legs stronger and work on your explosiveness.

Q: It didn’t take you long to find the end zone in the team portion. I know it’s just practice, but did that mean something to you?

A: Not really. I didn’t even realize that I scored. I guess that’s kind of cool now that I think about it, but it was a play, I ran a play and got open, Eli found me and we were able to score and get practice started off really early and just got to continue to learn some things. In that situation, obviously it was a good play, but go back and look at how it could have been better and improve every single day.

Q: What is the process of developing chemistry with Eli (Manning) so far?

A: It has been amazing. Obviously he is a great guy; he’s a great quarterback. But he’s so knowledgeable about the game – he knows every single play where you’re supposed to be, where everybody is supposed to be and literally he can look this way and this guy ran a wrong route and he knows that guy already ran a wrong route, so I just continue to learn from him every single day and ask a lot of questions. I think I’m probably annoying to him a little bit, but I continue to ask him a lot of questions and I just want to expand on my knowledge of the game because that’s going to make me a better player and if I can continue to grow as a better player, then I can continue to help the team.

Q: How are you balancing your family life so far?

A: It actually kind of sucks a little bit – well that came off wrong at first. It kind of sucks because I’m not with my daughter as much as I would love to be because obviously training camp, rookie mini camp, OTAs and then I had to go to L.A. for the Rookie Premiere, but I get to see her this weekend, so that is going to be great to be able to hold her again.

Q: Excellent comeback.

A: (Laughs). Yeah that came off wrong in the beginning.

Q: Is route running the No. 1 thing that you’re working on?

A: Yeah. I mean I’m working on a lot of things, but right now route running. When you look at the great backs in the NFL right now and you look at the (Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott) Zekes and the (Steelers RB) Le’Veons (Bell) and the (Saints RB) Alvin Kamaras and all of those guys – one thing that stands out to you is they all can run the ball, but the reason why they separate themselves from the rest of the pack is because they can catch the ball out of the backfield and they can do it on every single down. I want to try to get myself on that level first. Obviously I have to handle what I have to handle here and focus on the playbook and getting better every single day, but as that continues to come, I have to continue to work on my route running because if you have a running back that is able to run routes and is a threat out of the backfield, that is just another thing you have to cover. So right now definitely when I’m doing one-on-ones, the ones I win, the one’s I lose, or even if it’s seven-on-seven, you work on the little things – if it’s zone, know where you have to sit; if it’s man, coming back to the ball, just to be another resource for Eli to throw the ball down there. Then as a running back, we’re well known for running the ball and if you can catch the ball out of the backfield, maybe you take it from a 25-yard to a 60-yard touchdown.

Q: Do you think about catching the ball or is it so natural that you don’t even have to think about it?

A: You really don’t think about it. I think actually when you start to think about it is when you actually drop the ball. It’s with repetition and catching the ball every single day and using your eyes just comes naturally, but sometimes when you actually think about the ball – I think about in college there was one play against Michigan and I ran a wheel and I actually was thinking about it, I was overthinking because I saw the safety coming and I was thinking about trying to beat him and what I was going to try to do before and I took my eyes off of it and I dropped it. Obviously you have to continue to work on that and it’s a repetition thing. It’s kind of not only with catching the ball, but running the ball – when you overthink sometimes, bad things happen.

Q: Is that something that has always come naturally to you?

A: It kind of always came natural to me. Actually in high school I didn’t catch the ball that much, but in my earlier part of high school, my freshman and sophomore year. Then when I got to my junior year, my high school coach kind of challenged me to evolve my game and I started doing seven-on-seven’s and if you’re a running back on seven-on-seven in the high school level, you don’t really do much, so I kind of hated that and I wanted to be a part of it, so they started doing things for me in the slot and lining me up wide and all of that kind of came together.

Q: When you work on route running, do you talk to the receivers like Odell (Beckham, Jr.)?

A: Definitely Odell. I used to talk to him when I used to train with him actually and like, ‘How do you do this? How do you set that up?’ He used to just tell me, obviously it’s different routes from him being out wide and me being in the backfield and maybe hopefully sometimes lining up in the slot. It’s different, but you can apply that to your route running, you can apply it to how you set it up, how you bring it down, how you use your eyes, how you catch the ball. So I definitely talk to Odell and I talk to vets in the running back room – the Wayne Gallmans of the world and the Jonathan Stewarts of the world because they’ve been running routes for a long time in the NFL, well more Stewart than Wayne, but just continue to watch them and how they set it up.

Q: You had talked about how they used to move you around in the slot and outside at Penn State. Is that something that you feel comfortable with at this level and is that something that you want to try doing here?

A: Yeah definitely. I definitely feel comfortable with catching the ball out of the backfield and lining up in the slot. Obviously it is very early in the offense and I’m just continuing to learn it, but for me to line up in the slot, I have to show the coaches that I can catch the ball out of the backfield first. I do feel comfortable doing that, but I have to make sure the coaches feel comfortable with me, so that’s every single day coming out here and every single rep and work on my route running, whether it’s in the slot or whether it’s in the backfield and if it’s in the backfield, working on the little things.

Running Back Jonathan Stewart

Q: So far, how are the Giants different than your time in Carolina?

A: It’s not too much different. The scheme is relatively the same, with [Offensive Coordinator Mike] Shula being here and Coach Shurm [Head Coach Pat Shurmur]. Everything’s been relatively the same. I’m going into my 11th year, I’m feeling good and [Running Backs] Coach Craig [Johnson] has been doing well with the snap counts for everybody and getting a lot of good work in. So, it’s been a good offseason so far.

Q: Will you talk to running back Saquon Barkley about your longevity in this league?

A: I’ll share a little bit of my wisdom with all of the guys that have questions. The main thing is just take care of your body. I can’t say it enough.

Q: Are you comfortable in the role of giving advice, as opposed to being on the receiving end of it?

A: Yeah, I think at some point, whether you’re a rookie, whether you’re an 11-year guy, there’s always time to learn, there’s always time to share advice and wisdom that’s gained through experience. There’s younger guys that might experience things different than I have, so there’s always room for me to learn, too.

Q: Can you see what the Giants saw in Barkley when they drafted him?

A: Yeah, definitely. He’s a smart football player, he picks things up very fast. He’s explosive and he’s really good in his route running. Actually, we talked about it today, that’s one of the things that he’s really focused on, is his ability to run routes. And you can see that today, for sure.

Q: When you signed with the Giants, did you realize that they could pick a running back in the first round of the NFL Draft?

A: Yeah, absolutely.

Q: What was your reaction when the Giants did draft a running back?

A: It’s a good pick [laughs].

Q: What is your outlook for yourself for this season?

A: No different than any other season. I know they drafted Saquon in the first round, so you know he’s got a lot of expectations and stuff like that. But as far as my preparation for this game, it’s never going to change. It’s always prepare to be the starter because you never know when your name’s going to get called. It’s a team game. It’s a longer season and this team has a lot of talent, a lot of young guys that have a chance to be great, and that’s one of the things that I saw on this roster before signing here. I haven’t won a Super Bowl yet, and that’s what I want to do.

Q: What is the one thing you would tell Barkley and the other young players, as far as being patient and letting it come to them?

A: Respect the process. When it comes to learning the offense, just give yourself some time and be dedicated to it. You only get what you put in. But the main thing is, respect the process and control what you can control.

Q: Do you feel like you can win a Super Bowl here?

A: Absolutely. They’ve got Super Bowls already under this organization and the culture of winning, the expectation of winning, you can sense it in here and it’s a good feeling. I think [General Manager Dave] Gettleman has been doing a good job this offseason to get guys in certain places and areas to make this locker room where it needs to be.  

Q: Is splitting carries something where you say, ‘that’s where my role is’?

A: Oh, for sure. Split time, whatever the game plan is for a week going into a game, you’ve got to be prepared for it.

Q: Where would you say you are relative to your actual age and your actual wear and tear?

A: I mean, my age says I’m 31,but really, I feel I’m as productive as if I’m 26, 25. And that’s just as realistic as it gets.

Guard Patrick Omameh

Q: What is the transition like playing from the left side to the right and is playing on the right side something you expect to stick to going forward?

A: You know, the transition is honestly (easy) because I have some background playing on the right side. It’s not completely starting from scratch. A few things that you need to get back that just comes with repetitions, but yeah, it’s just a situation where the more you can do for the team, whatever I’m able to do, I’ll jump out there and do it.

Q: How is the communication and chemistry developing on the offensive line?

A: I think it’s coming along great. We’ve got as group of guys who are eager to learn, eager to win, most importantly. Putting in the work that’s necessary to learn everything that we need to do to learn the communication and develop that chemistry so when we go on the field, everything is crisp.

Q: How important is it to have tackle Ereck Flowers here?

A: I mean, it’s huge. Like I said, the development of that chemistry is something that comes with familiarity, it comes with repetition. And being able to have the opportunity to work on that physically together in the same place, there’s no better way to do it. So, it’s huge being able to do that.

Q: The offensive line may consist of two guys on the right side that have spent the majority of their career on the left side. Have you not thought of that yet?

A: No, I mean, luckily we’re starting in May. So, get the repetitions in that we need and I don’t foresee it being any type of issue moving forward.

Q: What kind of relationship do you have with Flowers? Do you feel comfortable helping him, or are you just trying to get comfortable yourself first?

A: I do feel comfortable helping him. I do have a few weeks under my belt. I gained some familiarity with this system and terminology, what to expect. Able to give him a couple pointers here and there and keep things running smooth when we get on the field.

Q: Do you feel as though there is a lot of pressure on the offensive line to make immediate improvements?

A: Yeah, I mean, I feel like the expectations have been clear and they’ve been set. And to a man, everybody who is in that O-line room and everybody that’s going to be on that field playing offensive line, we understand what the job is and we feel that we’ll be fully capable of getting that job done.

Q: Does it feel like a new start for you, not being the only newcomer on this offensive line?

A: Yeah, there’s a few guys who are experiencing things for the first time, the same way I am and if anything, it’s just made it easier for guys to assimilate. Everybody’s on even footing and everybody’s helping everybody else out. So, I guess all the guys really feel like we’re all in this together. There’s nobody who’s like an outsider trying to phase in. Everybody’s jumping in this head-first together and trying to put the work in to get the product that we want on the field.

Q: When you come into a situation where there are so many new pieces, do you say to yourselves that there is an identity that you want to have, or do you let that develop organically?

A: I think it’s a combination of both. We understand what the expectation is, we understand what we want to get done, we understand what we want it to look like. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily something that you can force. It has to develop organically and that comes with time and familiarity and repetitions consistently. Just naturally, something that tends to build up amongst the group.

Q: What do you see in running back Saquon Barkley?

A: I mean, we picked Saquon where we picked him for a reason. He’s a guy that can play ball. He’s shown that at that college level and now he’s going to get a chance to prove it at the pro level. We’ve got all the faith in the world in him. Very confident that he can get the job done and our team is going to be better for it.

Q: Do you expect Barkley to have a similar impact that Leonard Fournette had for Jacksonville as a rookie?

A: Absolutely. I mean, when it comes to offenses, football is a lot of parts that have to work together to have the success that you want, but Saquon is everything that you want in a back. It comes down to execution across the board and we feel we can get the results that we’re looking for.

Q: How much do you anticipate opposing defenses stacking the box because of Barkley?

A: I guess that really depends on what our threats really are as an offense. Defenses are going to do what they can to try to take away what we do best. And if that’s something that we are really hitting home with, is the running game, then we probably are going to have to anticipate a lot of stacked boxes, but I guess time will tell with that. We’re going to see what we’ve got moving forward.

Cornerback Eli Apple

Q: What does ‘clean slate’ mean to you?

A: Just putting things behind me and just trying to continue to move forward and going out here and just have great energy on the field.

Q: A lot of people can say that, but do you feel it?

A: Definitely, I feel it. I’m just trying to be a better player, a better person, and a better teammate this year.

Q: How did your first conversation with General Manager Dave Gettleman go?

A: I think it went well. He was just telling me that he wants to put everything behind me. Just talked about a clean slate and he said he was excited, and I’m excited as well.

Q: Why did you say that you need to be a better player, better person and better teammate?

A: Because obviously with the stuff that happened, I just want to continue to work on myself and just communicate better and just not let certain stuff get to me. Continue to strive and get better every day.

Q: What needs to be different?

A: Just everything. My habits, everything that I’ve done. Just to touch up on them.

Q: What specifically?

A: I’m just going to fine tune everything, come in with a different attitude and just be positive out there on the field and just do everything that I can to make myself better as a player, and everybody else better as a team.

Q: What do you mean by a different attitude?

A: Just a positive mindset and just continue to work.

Q: How do you assess your season on the field last season?

A: It was a little up and down. Now it’s just about being even-keel and moving forward.

Q: What did you do this offseason to make those changes that you’re looking for?

A: Just cleared my head and talked to the guys I needed to talk to, the veterans, speaking to the coaches and spending some good quality time with good people.

Q: How is your relationship with safety Landon Collins?

A: It’s great.

Q: Is there a point where you wondered if you were still going to be on the team next year?

A: Not really, I was just continuing to just take it day by day and I’m so appreciative just to be here now. So, it’s a great feeling that they told me (I have a) clean slate and now I can put stuff behind me and just get better.

Q: Do you remember when exactly you decided to take advantage of the clean slate?

A: Right when they told me. I was just like, you know what, just the way stuff ended, I didn’t want it to ever get to that. So, every day I’ve just been thinking about just being better, being more positive.

Q: Were you embarrassed?

A: Was I embarrassed? Of course. Nobody wants to go out the way I went out. I mean, it was all over the place, so of course.

Q: Do you feel that the communication between you and the coaches is better now?

A: You know what, I think these coaches definitely have been reaching out and it’s great to have that. So, I don’t want to say anything’s better, it’s just about getting an understanding with your coaches and trying to be the best player you can be.

Q: Is it important to you that the coaches are trying to build a two-way trusting relationship with the players?

A: Definitely, definitely. It’s all about the relationships and communication and both sides having an understanding.

Q: What stood out to you the most about what Gettleman and Head Coach Pat Shurmur said to you?

A: Just their excitement. Just saying that they know I’m a great player and they just want to get the best out of me. That’s something I definitely appreciate.

Q: Are you a different person than when who last spoke to the media last season?

A: I mean, I think I’m growing every day as a person. I’m still young, so I just want to continue to grow and try to learn as much as possible.

Q: Were you blindsided by some of the things that happened last year?

A: Yeah, maybe I got a little too confident a little bit in thinking I was going to make a big step. It’s about just taking it day by day and continue to be patient and just know my time’s going to come. Just don’t force anything, just go out there and just flow with everything.

Q: Was your confidence shaken at all last year?

A: I don’t think so, no.

Q: Who is Eli Apple right now?

A: I think I’m a 22 year-old guy, just ready to get to work and continue to work hard and just build on that.

Q: Is there someone you leaned on to get through last year?

A: Yeah, just some of the guys, my friends, close teammates, the guys in the DB room who are still here. And the coaches, too. You’ve got to lean on those guys because once you get that trust and that understanding, it’s definitely going to do wonders.

Q: Where would you describe your off the field distractions are right now?

A: Yeah, it’s all about football right now. It’s just about being a better teammate and being the best football player I can be.

Q: What do you think your potential is?

A: I think I can be a great Pro Bowl player, it’s just about every day going about my business and being a great player every day and being consistent.

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