Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: OTA 4, you got to watch it, it was a good day for us. Coming off a four-day weekend, we had little bit of heat to it. We promised OV [defensive end Olivier Vernon] this was going to feel like Miami, and it did, finally. It’s always good when you add the elements to it. I told the players that we want to build a gritty team that can overcome the environment, and this is the first they had a little bit of heat and I think it was good, they pushed through it. So, again, just one more step closer to being a good football team. The guys competed well and we’ll get a chance to have two more of these this week. So, with that being said, I’ll take your questions.
Q: Is safety Landon Collins ahead of schedule?
A: I don’t know what his schedule was, but yeah, he was out there competing in a limited basis and he’s trying to do everything he can as he finishes up his rehab.
Q: Do you expect Collins to be cleared in time for training camp?
A: I’m hopeful. There’s a break, right? So, as it heals up and he gets back to where he’s 100 percent, then we’ll get him out there.
Q: Is wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. healthy?
A: Yeah, he’s healthy. And he wasn’t out there.
Q: Do you know where Beckham is?
A: I do.
Q: You knew that Beckham and cornerback Janoris Jenkins weren’t going to be here today?
A: Yes. I talked to them.
Q: Is this defensive tackle Damon Harrison’s first OTA?
A: Yeah, Damon was here today and he did a good job.
Q: Have you discussed as a team yet the league’s new national anthem policy and how to handle it?
A: We have not discussed it as a team. We’re going to sort of let it settle for a little bit here. It’s like any new rule, this is a new policy and I certainly trust that our players are going to do the right thing. I think that we just let it settle for a minute. At some point, we’ll discuss it, but we just haven’t done it yet. I know certainly for me, it’s very easy. I’m going to face the flag and take my cap off and listen to the Anthem and be thankful that my family and I live in the greatest country in the world and be able to kind of reflect on and be thankful for all the sacrifice that a lot of people have gone to, to help protect and secure our freedom. So, that’s what it means to me. And again, I think at some point, we’ll talk about it as a team and I trust that our team will do the right thing.
Q: How much have you been involved in the personnel side of things, and what is your role involving extending player contracts?
A: Well, I’m involved, really, in any facet of what’s going on with our team. Certainly when we go through the draft process, [General Manager] Dave [Gettleman] runs all that, and we talk about free agents and changing the roster. Obviously, Dave’s the point man on that, but we have discussions. We talk about what adding a player means to our roster and how we would use him. Talk about evaluations of players. So, I am involved.
Q: Is your involvement any different than places you previously coached?
A: Very similar. Very similar to the other places I’ve been.
Q: How is tackle Ereck Flowers doing with his move to the right side of the line?
A: He’s actually done a really good job. He’s an excellent athlete and he’s handling the move pretty seamlessly.
Q: Can you see improvements to Flowers’ game already?
A: Yes, I can. Through the first two weeks of his training, I think he’s made improvements.
Q: What have you noticed about Flowers’ attitude and approach since he came back to the team?
A: He’s been great. He’s been communicating well, he looks like he’s having fun playing out there, he’s worked in with the offensive line and he’s done everything we’ve asked and I anticipate that will continue.
Q: Did Flowers ever convey to you that he was unhappy?
A: I don’t worry about it because it wasn’t – this is a voluntary setup. So, he’s here, we’re glad he’s here and he’s making improvements each day.
Q: You said you spoke to him? Was there anything from his end that said he was unhappy?
A: That’s all water under the bridge and it really doesn’t matter.
Q: Does a ‘clean slate’ also translate over to players with a history of injuries?
A: To answer your question, yes. It’s a clean slate all the way around, so the guys that were injured a year ago are fighting their way back to get healthy again and some of those injuries are not things they’re going to repeat. And it’s usually on a case-to-case basis.
Q: Do you sense anything with B.J. Goodson?
A: I think he has been doing really well out here.
Q: What are your thoughts about the way Eli Apple was able to own what he did last year and move forward?
A: I think that it speaks to maturity and it speaks to owning successes and failures. We have to be willing to, okay, if a mistake happened, in order to move forward from a mistake or something that went wrong, we have to admit that it happened and that we were involved in it. What you do is you find a solution, you make the correction and you move on past. That is really what we do play to play. As professionals in this business, we do this probably game to game and season to season. I think whatever happened a year ago and whatever he is talking about, I am sure that is just a mature guy that is reflecting.
Q: Has what you’ve seen backed that up?
A: Again, what I have seen on the field has been terrific.
Q: When you signed Michael Thomas, was there a conversation with him about his decision to kneel during the national anthem last season?
A: Not with me.
Q: Regarding Odell, is there an expectation that he may play or you guys want him to play on this fifth-year option and do you worry that taking longer to negotiate with him will create an issue?
A: No. Dave said it already. Contracts will get done when they get done. We are not worried about that. My experience with Odell has been that he wants to play football and he has been looking forward to getting out here. He isn’t quite finished with his rehab yet, so he can’t do everything totally. With regard to the rest of your question, we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Q: How close is he?
A: Pretty close.
Q: How is Eli Manning doing?
A: He looks great. He’s doing great. I mentioned already, he is a joy to coach. A quarterback that is engaged at the level that he is is a lot of fun. Things are constantly changing. Plays change on the move, adjustments are being made. Within a practice, you might see something that you didn’t think you would see. He is able to make an adjustment. He has been a lot of fun.
Q: In regards to Saquon Barkley, what has he been able to achieve so far in just a small amount of time?
A: He hasn’t disappointed us one bit. We have high expectations for all of our rookies, especially Saquon. He has been out there running the ball well and is catching it well. He did a nice job today in pass protection. He is doing all the things now that we need to see him do to trust him out on the field next fall. He has done a good job.
Q: Is the new kickoff rule going to change the way you formulate things in terms of your players?
A: I don’t know that yet. We have to think about that a little more. The new kickoff rule is designed to make our game safer and to keep that play in the game and keep it exciting. We are going to need big, athletic guys that can cover, regardless if they are kicks or punts. Probably not.
Q: When does the foundation of running the ball start?
A: You need to run the football for your offense, obviously, but also for your team. We practice runs as much as we practice passing the ball. You just can’t do it in the physical setting that you do when you have pads on. You practice it because it is part of your DNA. Whatever you plan to do on Sundays in the fall, you have to practice. We practice running the football and how we are going to run the ball. We practice it all the time.
LB B.J. Goodson
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I’m feeling great. I’m feeling great. I’m blessed.
Q: How much of this is an adjustment for you now with two inside linebackers?
A: It’s nice. I enjoy it, I’m enjoying it, embracing it and it’s fun. I like it.
Q: What is different about it?
A: It’s like having another MIKE in the game. It’s a difference and it makes it take a little bit of pressure off.
Q: Is that hard for you? You are not in control as much. Is that and adjustment for you?
A: It is. But like I said, I’m embracing it and I’m enjoying it.
Q: When you’re playing two inside linebackers, do you divide it left and right or do you flow a certain kind of way depending on the kind of play?
A: I don’t want to get too far into that, but it will be interesting and I enjoy it.
Q: Are you watching anybody or checking out film of 3-4 guys?
A: I’ve been watching the guys that he’s worked with in Arizona and prior.
Q: What is your relationship with Alec (Ogletree) so far?
A: It’s great. I’ve enjoyed it. I’m from South Carolina, so we share a lot in common. I’m in Georgia a lot.
Q: Do you know much about him as a player?
A: I watched a lot of film on him as far as game prep from last year. I didn’t know much about him, but once he got here and once we met, the relationship has been going great.
Q: How important is it for you two guys to think like one and be a force inside?
A: It’s great. Also when one is a little off, it’s great that we have the other one there to have ones back. It’s great.
Q: Are there times where you see things different?
A: Yes and we just communicate it out. As long as we communicate it out and we are all on the same page, there is no wrong.
Q: Do you have time to do that pre-snap?
Q: A lot of the talk here is about clean slates. You had a rough year last year with your injuries. Do you kind of look at last year and want a clean slate yourself?
A: Today is my birthday – a clean slate, but just pressing forward, day-after-day and obviously today is a great day. So like I said, I’m feeling great and that’s all that matters – pressing forward day-by-day and getting better.
Q: It was rough for you last year. You had such a good start and just couldn’t sustain it.
A: Yeah, it’s a part of the game.
Q: Have you ever played anything like this before?
A: Sort of in high school, but football is football. You line up, there is only so many formations that they can run on their side, so concepts and schemes, there is only so much you can do. Once the ball is snapped, see ball, get ball.
Q: It seems with a 4-3 though that your linemen are keeping the bigger guys off of you more. Do you face more linemen in this defense?
A: I enjoy that, so whether it is facing more linemen or not, I embrace it. It’s part of the linebacker tradition. That’s what we do, we’re in the trenches, so I embrace it, I love it.
Q: Have you changed anything that you have done in the offseason in terms of training and trying to stay healthy?
A: Getting back 100 percent and once I got 100 percent, just pressing forward because I knew I was kind of behind as far as the training goes. Just getting back on my feet and like I said, I’m feeling great.
Q: We’re always trying to compare and learn the differences between coaching staffs. What stands out about your head coach?
A: As far as comparisons, I honestly speaking don’t really compare or do any comparisons. I kind of deal the hand that is dealt. We have a great coaching staff in here and working with those guys, they are doing a great job of preparing us. It has been great.
Q: What is your birthday candle wish?
A: I’m just blessed to see 25. I have a lot of friends that are not here, a lot of relatives that are not here any longer. I’m just blessed.
Q: How do you like playing in (James) Bettcher’s system? It seems like there are a lot of A gap blitzes in practice.
A: I don’t want to give away too much. But, it’s fun. I’m looking forward to us as a unit playing fast, playing hard, just being hard-nosed and being about that Giant culture.
S Michael Thomas
Q: What is your reaction to the new NFL anthem policy?
A: No reaction. Haven’t had a chance to sit down with my brothers on the team or have a conversation about it, so no reaction.
Q: Is that something you guys plan on deciding what to do as a team? Is that how you have done it in the past?
A: This is my first year here. I am sure every organization is different. I have not had a chance to have a conversation with Mr. Mara and my brothers, so right now I am just focusing on trying to get better, that is it.
Q: Last season, this became even more of an issue when the president made comments about it. He did so again this year. Do you anticipate when those conversations occur, will the response be different? Stronger? There were reports that players will boycott.
A: Yeah, right. I haven’t had a chance to talk with my brothers. It is clear where everyone stands on this. I don’t know how many of you know me or did any research on me, but you all know who I am and where I stand. I am not sure.
Q: Why did you feel so strongly about this last year?
A: I touched on it. Everyone knows what this is about. If you don’t, then I suggest paying attention to what most people say. For me, it is just about taking the time and actually talking about it. We have not decided what is going to happen. I am not committing to anything right now. Just talking with my brothers and continuing to fight for our communities. Right now, we are not trying to jump the gun and step into anything.
Q: Were those protests brought up when you took your visit here?
A: Everything that was talked about was between me and the Mara family, the Giants organization, we are going to keep that between us. These are situations that we have going on right now. I know with the union, I look into all of that stuff because it was brought up during free agency. That is going to be addressed, but any conversation that I had with someone is going to be kept between us right now.
Q: The players have been very clear about what this is really about. Does this get conflicted with something else?
A: That is a good question. No. For me, it has already been stated what this is already about. It is bigger than us. A lot of people try and make this about something else than what it is. For me and my brothers, we know in our hearts why we are doing it and why we are taking this stance. We are not going to let it get distorted even if we have to find different methods and different ways to find a way to get our message across, then we are going to do that. I am not going to get emotionally high-jacked about it right now, not going to make comments. Just keep doing what we have to do.
Q: You had done some other stuff in the community. Do you still plan on doing that?
A: Yes, definitely. I can talk about that. I do scholarships. This organization is trying to work with me and do personal scholarships in our community. I am trying to do one in my home town. I believe Miami is going to give their first one out this offseason. It was a big part of establishing that there. The work in the community, me and my brothers are going to continue to do that.
Q: This is a big platform you have here?
A: I love it. One of the videos we watched was that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Obviously, it starts on the field, but I definitely plan on learning as much as I can. Making a huge impact on the field to help this team win but also using this New York platform to help this team win.
Q: How has it been on the field? Is it a new system for you?
A: Definitely. Having coach Lou (Anarumo) out here is great. It is a familiar face. Getting to learn how my brothers, between Landon and all the DBs and being able to compete with them and on special teams, all those guys are working hard. We are going to try and work hard and set a new standard out here. You know what has been done in the past. We are all working out here. We are all learning.
Q: This is a secondary that has a lot of strife last year. How are you helping piece that together?
A: A lot of people are bringing that up. Since I have been here, I haven’t seen any of that. It is just a lot of young guys. It is crazy that I am 28 and I am looked at like a vet. A lot of the guys in the room call me out. I am just trying to bring some leadership and be a good teammate. If they have questions, being able to answer them for them. Things that I have explained and I have experienced. Coach is saying it this way, you should probably look at it this way because coach is saying it this way. Anything that I can learn from my experience and my wisdom, just try and give it to them, that is it.
Q: Do you fit in at safety? Corner?
A: I love this defense. It has a lot of moving parts. A lot of the DBs love this defense. I am excited to move around and show them whatever they need. Safety, nickel, slot. It doesn’t matter. I am ready to play, contribute and help this team win.
Q: What is your impression on Eli Apple?
A: That is what I am saying, I have heard things about it. but I see a talented, young kid. Personable. One of the dudes I have connected with. I haven’t seen what I heard about last year. When you are losing, I don’t care what team you are on, it is tough. It is tough. True colors come out and some things get blown out of proportion. He is a dude that is going out there competing and making plays. He is willing to get better. I have heard from a bunch of teammates that he is willing to get better. Last year, he would not have done that. He is really getting better. That is what I have seen so far.
Q: Seems like you guys have added a lot of Special Teams guys?
A: It is very clear what they are thinking on special teams. I am excited to be a part of that. I don’t think having that low standard on special teams is going to be acceptable here. That is how we want to be a team that goes out there, puts in the work. Learn together and grow together. We are going to set the tempo. I love that.