Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Last week of OTA’s. We were a little disappointed we didn’t get to go to the Yankee game last night. Obviously weather kicks in and baseball games get moved around. At some point we will try and do something as a team. We were still able to get practice in yesterday. Got a good one today and we have a couple more, then we will send them on way for the summer.
Q: You are going to have full practices the rest of the week? Some teams have replaced an OTA with a team activity or cancelled some OTAs.
A: Yes. We planned the activity yesterday around just shortening the OTA, but yes, we have a week planned.
Q: How much have you held Evan Engram back because there is no sense in screwing around with him now?
A: He hurt his hamstring and he is coming back from that injury. We will be smart with him just like we would be during the season. Not holding him back, so to speak. If he was able to be out there, he would be. We all know he will be out there very soon. That may be just to start training camp. I think it is important that you get the players all the work they can get, but you need to be smart about what they are dealing with so that when training camp starts and the season starts, they are at their best.
Q: You had near-perfect attendance this offseason even though these are voluntary. Do you read into that?
A: Well, voluntary, necessary, mandatory. There are a lot of ‘ary’ words, I guess. I do think it means something when the players get something out of being here. I do believe that when you train together, you learn something from the people that you are training with. I also know that if you are going to build chemistry, we have a lot of new and a lot of young, so the more time they can spend together, the better. Every team is different. There are some teams that have older players that have played together for a very long time and that may not be quite as important. I am glad, it shows that they care and it shows that they think what we are doing is important. I think the time they spend together is going to help in the long run.
Q: Darius Slayton’s progress?
A: Darius has done a really good job. I think he is the most improved in my eyes. We expected a lot out of him when he got here. The rookie minicamp was unremarkable, but since that time… He is very fast. He is practicing punts and kicks. He has done a nice job playing receiver. I really think he has done a nice job during OTA’s and minicamp.
Q: Do you want the players to get away from football at the end of this week?
A: I think you get away. We are getting to the end of what would be considered the offseason. We have been doing it for multiple weeks. I think we have gotten a lot done and certainly doing it in the second year of a program is very important. I think it is good to get away and clear your mind. I think this is pretty typical of all teams. Really, the whole NFL will be off at the same time. You get away, enjoy your family, do a few things that are fun to do and then, pretty quickly your mind will be right back into it. I think the important thing for the players, the ones that have done a lot of work this offseason, is make sure they stay on top of it conditioning-wise. This way when they come back from training camp, they are ready to roll.
Q: What do you think about where Daniel Jones is?
A: I think he has had a really good offseason. Much like we were talking about Darius Slayton, I think he has had a really, really productive offseason. He is on track with the goal to be ready to play day one. That is really what all the players need to be thinking. The quarterback stuff will be on the front burner for everyone. I get that. He is on track.
Q: At what point do you start weighing who gives the team the best chance to win?
A: I think that is constantly what goes on in everyone’s mind. The other guy that we are talking about is Eli and he is getting himself ready to have an outstanding year. That is where we are at.
Q: As a coach, do you tend to lean to the guy that can manage the game better and prevent unnecessary mistakes?
A: That is part of it, being able to manage the game. Also, being able to make plays and move the team and get us in the end zone. There is a lot that goes into it. I think Daniel has done a good job getting up to speed with all the things you have to do at the line of scrimmage. There are some things that are very different than what he did in college.
Q: Is there a scenario where Daniel can win this starting job in training camp?
A: I think we are going to play the very best player and I know we are dancing around the words there. Right now, Eli is getting ready to have a great year and Daniel is getting ready to play. You see what happens with it. We feel good about where Eli is. He is our starting quarterback and we have a young player that we think is going to be an outstanding player, getting himself ready to play.
Q: How much do you view that as an open competition?
A: We are playing around the words again. I’m not trying to be cryptic about it. Eli is getting ready to have an outstanding year and Daniel is getting ready to play. That is really about it.
Q: Both can’t happen?
A: Again, we are playing around the words.
Q: How do you keep the other guys excited?
A: I think everyone that is on the team is getting themselves ready to play. If you were asking me about Tanney or any other receiver or position player, I would probably tell you the same thing. Everyone understands that there are some uncontrolled situations that happen. Injuries, someone starts playing better, we understand that.
Q: You said we are playing around the words. How would you describe the situation?
A: I just did. Right. I’ll say it, I guess, for the third time: Eli is getting ready to have an outstanding year and Daniel is getting ready to play. At least in my mind, that is very clear, but it doesn’t appear that it is because I am getting a lot of follow-ups to it.
Q: So as the coach, are you saying that when you watch the film and you watch the practices, you evaluate whoever gives your offense the best chance to win is going to play? Or are you saying Eli is going to play?
A: The players that give our team the best chance to win, play. Period. And you have seen Eli do that for a very long time, so we will see what happens as we go down the road.
Q: Pat, can you see any scenario in which Jones is your starter in Week 1?
A: Oh, you never know what is going to happen, but as I said, Eli is getting ready to play and so is Daniel.
Q: So, Eli is the starter?
A: Eli is the starter and this guy is getting ready to play.
Q: You have obviously invested a lot in Daniel as the sixth overall pick, and if you are excited how he looks, and not only does he look good, but he looks like he’s producing and moving the offense better than Eli consistently through August, when you say ‘Getting ready to play’, you mean?
A: In a game. In an NFL football game.
Q: But he can only play if Eli is not playing.
A: And we will figure that out as we go. Again, I don’t think that it is that unclear.
Q: What is going to be your message to the team as you wrap up the offseason? What are you going to send them off with?
A: A new question, good. The message is to just make sure that they take care of themselves. Be smart with their time off. Get away. Relax. I frequently say that it is really not time off, it is time away. I think as you get past the Fourth of July and into the summer, their mind will drift toward the season. Just be smart about the time that they have.
Q: What you have planned?
A: I’ll be around, relaxing.
Q: Do you still work or do you like to take time off?
A: We take time, but I probably won’t be too far away. I’ll be around.
Q: And the rookies are here all next week?
A: They will be here one more week, yeah.
Q: Do you have any plans of scrimmaging anyone in training camp?
A: No plans this year. The teams that I had originally planned to work with, we are playing them this year during the season. Like last year, we practiced with Detroit. This year, we play them during the season, so we won’t do that this year. We have a couple of teams that we are playing in the preseason that we are going to play in the season. Then we will be back to work, what is it the 24th? The rookies will come in the 22nd, some of the selected vets and then the other guys will be in the 24th.
Q: The selected vets don’t include the quarterbacks, right?
A: Maybe. Maybe. Fully haven’t decided that yet, but it is going to be one day shorter with the rookies than it was last year, but we’ll still bring them in early.
QB Daniel Jones
Q: How do you feel about where you are?
A: I think I am making progress. I certainly don’t think I am there at all. It has been a good OTA’s, offseason and minicamp so far. Certainly still a lot to learn and a lot to work on. I have progressed everyday. I have been learning every day and that has been good so far.
Q: Where do you feel you are since when you first got here?
A: I think I made a considerable amount of progress since I have gotten here. I should have. That is the way it is supposed to go. I still have a considerable amount to do but I am making progress every day and where I am is certainly better than where I started.
Q: What is your mindset going into training camp?
A: I think for everyone, training camp is the next opportunity to improve as a player. I am looking forward to that and to getting back and taking those steps. I think everything will be ramped up a little bit in training camp. I think that’ll be the next step in the process and the next step to improve.
Q: With what you have done so far, do you think you have put yourself in the conversation, if needed, to go out there and win football games?
A: I think all of our guys, when we go out to practice, we want to get ready to play. Everyone on the team’s goal is to be ready to play. If they are asked to play, to be ready to play. You know, I have a lot to learn. Coming in here, it has been a good offseason so far. I just have to keep taking the steps I am taking. The next step is training camp.
Q: When you leave here the end of next week, do you clear your mind for a few weeks or are you one of those guys that just never stops working?
A: I’ll go back to Duke and be working out and throwing there. I think it is a different kind of work, but it will be working towards getting right for training camp.
Q: Do you feel more comfortable now?
A: I think for me, a big thing is seeing defenses and seeing routes. Just how they open up and making those decisions. For a quarterback, you want to make the right decision as quick as you can. That has a lot to do with defense anticipating a coverage and being able to get the ball out on time. I think I have gotten better with that but still have a lot of room to improve. I think just seeing things and reacting have gotten better.
Q: Do you feel what you have done in college has translated over?
A: I think a lot of the concepts and the way to teach has been something that I have been able to build off of and something that I have had experience doing. I think there is so much more of it here. There are that many more concepts and that much more defensive looks. There is all so much more. The practice and the exposure to going through and reading a concept was something I was lucky enough to be taught in college.
Q: Do you think you are competing for playing time? Is there anything you can do to convince the coaches you should be playing earlier than the plan?
A: I don’t think that is my focus right now. I think in this offseason, all of our focus is on just improving and being better than the day before. That is certainly my mindset. We are all trying to put ourselves in a position to succeed. My focus right now is to be better than the day I was before.
Q: Is it difficult to prepare the same way? You could fare very well but not be the starter?
A: I don’t think it would be a different mindset. As a rookie, a young guy coming in, I have so much to learn and plenty to focus on. Just kind of here in this moment in today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice. I definitely keep focused on that. Just improving day to day is my more immediate focus.
Q: Is the bottom line for you just being able to be ready to play when called upon?
A: I think so. I think I certainly trust the plan and want to be ready.
Q: Are you close to that do you feel?
A: I don’t know. I think I have certainly made progress and am a lot closer than I was the first week of OTA’s. I think that is positive. As far as am I ready, ready, I am not sure, I have never played. I am improving and making progress. That is positive.
Q: Do you bounce stuff off of Eli?
A: I think it is a collection of people as well, as Alex and Kyle. They are dynamic in the quarterback room where we are always bouncing ideas off of each other and hearing everyone. Everyone has a thought and I think we work well figuring those things out. Something we certainly do.
Q: Has anything surprised you so far?
A: Not really. I think it is just a daily process and learning as much as you can. I am not really surprised.
Tight End Evan Engram
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I feel good. Definitely just out there running, definitely out there watching the guys compete. I feel good. Working with the trainers, just taking it easy.
Q: Is this a situation where if it was July, August, September, and not June, you’d be out there?
A: I mean, that’s all on the trainers and coaches. I feel good. I feel good with where I am at. That’s a decision for the coaches and trainers.
Q: Compared to where he was when you first met him, how much progress has Daniel Jones made?
A: I think he has made a lot of progress. You can kind of see him getting more comfortable. You can see him responding to some of the mistakes that he may have made. Maybe have a bad throw and then come out and answer it with five good ones. You can definitely see that confidence starting to build and his decision making is becoming more accurate.
Q: What has impressed you most about him?
A: Whenever he makes an evident mistake, obviously, you can see the frustration, but he answers and he responds quickly with two great plays or three great plays after that. I like seeing that from him and it has definitely been really good to see.
Q: We saw you do some different things at the end of last year: handoffs, taking carries, coming in motion. Is that something you feel like could be a big part of your game this year?
A: Yeah. I mean I just try to be as versatile as I can be. I like making plays when the ball is in my hands. The coaches did a really good job last year of working around not having ‘O’ (Odell Beckham Jr.) and definitely trying to get guys in different positons. Definitely going to look forward to doing more of that this year, and like I always say, just doing whatever I am asked to do to the best of my ability.
Q: Odell was obviously the main deep threat on this team. With Sterling and Tate going underneath, do you think that you could be the guy who stretches the field?
A: We got a couple rooms filled with guys that can do that. I definitely feel that I am one of them, but we have a lot of guys who can do that for this team. Definitely trying to make as many plays as possible underneath, over top, in the middle. I think we have a lot of guys that can do the same, too. We got options, pretty much and definitely look forward to one of those guys making plays.
Q: Understanding that you are just being cautious a little bit right now. Is there any part of you that after last season with a concussion, a hamstring, a knee, that is like, “Oh God, here we go again?”
A: No. I mean obviously, it is kind of hard not being out there with the guys, especially since we’ve been competing so much. Get the blood juicing. But not worried about it. It’s still early. We still got a lot to play for, so there is no need to rush or press anything.
Q: Do you have to continue your rehab or training after this week ends? Like will you stay here? Go home?
A: I mean I am going to leave town for a little bit, spend some time with family, but I was training up here anyways. I wasn’t going to leave. I was going to come right back up here and hang out with the (strength) coaches up here, and the training staff, too. Definitely just going to be up here and getting ready for camp.
Q: Nothing from what you are dealing with now with the hamstring is going to prevent you from moving as planned?
A: No. It is just offseason training. I am going to be around here.
Q: Are you interested in seeing how this offense does with Odell?
A: I am interested in our offense being successful. We are kind of past all of that. We have a job to do and when these Sundays get here, let’s go out and perform. I am eager to get out there and compete with the guys that we have. I know we are going to be successful. I know guys are working. We are going to put the right guys in the right spots to make the thing work.