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Quotes (7/26): John Mara, Pat Shurmur, Nate Solder, Connor Barwin, Sterling Shepard, Kareem Martin

President & CEO John Mara

Welcome. I think this is my 62nd training camp, so we’ll start with whomever.

Q: Can you talk about your first 61?

A: I don’t remember the first couple very much, but my parents took me to Salem, Oregon when I was a year old, so that was my first.

Thank you for not going back to Salem.

Q: Have there been negotiations with Odell yet, and what do you foresee happening there this summer?

A: I anticipate that we’ll be speaking with his agent sooner rather than later. I’m not going to give you an exact timetable on that, nor are we going to give daily or weekly updates on that, but I think those will start pretty soon and hopefully we will be able to come to an agreement. 

Q: But they haven’t started yet?

A: No. 

Q: Did anything change over the last couple of months that made you more inclined to start the negotiations?

A: Well, I think this was the timing that we always had in mind, but you know, I think Odell personally is moving in the right direction. I think he has come in here with a good attitude, showed up yesterday with a smile on his face and worked hard, and I think he’s ready to go. I think he’s ready to have a great season and we’re ready for him to have a great season.

Q: How much has all of that mattered to you that he did report on time yesterday and the spring attendance, especially when it was mandatory?

A: It certainly had an effect on our desire to start negotiating. So, he’s had the right attitude all along and we expect him to have a great season. 

Q: So this lawsuit that has been filed against him has nothing to do with anything, or what are your [thoughts]?

A: No, I mean we are certainly aware of it, but it’s not something that we’re focused on.

Q: How much did his injury factor into the timing of the negotiations? Did you want to see maybe what he could do on the field before you [moved forward]?

A: We certainly wanted to see what he could do on the field and wanted him to pass his physical. He obviously was here a little bit during the spring. We felt pretty good about where he is, and we feel very good about where he is physically right now.

Q: So, as of right now, you do feel comfortable committing long-term, large amount of guaranteed money to Odell Beckham?

A: You gonna negotiate for him? Let’s have that negotiation. [Laughter] We obviously want him to be a Giant for a long time and we hope to be able to come to some agreement with him.

Q: Are you prepared to make him the highest-paid receiver [in the league]?

A: I’m not going to negotiate that publicly, but obviously, you know, we know what it’s going to take – we think we know what it’s going to take to sign him, and we’ll see if they agree. 

Q: Do you think he’s the best receiver in football? 

A: I’m not going to insult other players by getting into that, but let’s just say that we are very happy he’s wearing blue.

Q: How excited are you for the upcoming season, especially given last season, the way [it played out]?

A: Yeah, I am excited to get started and to start playing games, because you know, last season was a nightmare for us and we feel good about where we are right now, but you know, everybody is undefeated right now. But I feel good about what we did in the offseason and I like the people that we have here, so it’s time to get going.

Q: Where do things stand with the NFL and NFLPA on the anthem policy? I know you were re-visiting it.

A: Yeah, we – there will be meetings fairly soon, and there have been discussions about the anthem policy, and hopefully we will be able to come to some sort of resolution that everyone can buy into.

Q: Can you talk about the addition of Saquon Barkley and what he brings to the organization?

A: Yeah, we’re excited about him. He obviously has unlimited physical skills, he’s a real fine young man, as well. I think he adds a completely different dimension that maybe we haven’t had in our offense in quite some time. I do get a little nervous about all the hype since he hasn’t played a down yet, but I think he’s capable of living up to it and just [is] very mature beyond his years, I think. So, we are obviously very excited about him. 

Q: Can you talk about Dave Gettleman and how he’s battling his cancer?

A: Dave is doing great. It was reported yesterday, I think, that he’s in remission, and he was in the office yesterday, actually. I think he will be in later this afternoon, but he’s doing well. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a more upbeat person in my life, particularly going through what he’s going through. But he’s very optimistic about his recovery and about his ability to work this year, and you know, we’re very excited about that. It’s the best news we’ve had in a long time.

Q: He spoke with the team (yesterday afternoon), were you around for that?

A: I did not hear that. I certainly know what he said and even heard about it, but you know, a lot of people were quite impressed with his appearance.

Q: Are you waiting for a team anthem policy until the NFL and PA come up with a new one to govern anything?

A: Yes. My intention all along has been to sit with our veteran players when they came back to training camp and just discuss the issue. Now that the policy has been put on hold, depending on these discussions with the NFLPA, I think we’re going to let those play out before I sit down and talk about that with our players. 

Q: In regards to Odell – you said you’re going to start negotiations with him soon and obviously he’d be putting a lot at risk and you’d be putting a lot at risk if he’s on the field in sort of difficult situations, contact. He got injured last preseason and regular season. Are you OK with him and you guys sort of taking it lightly or slowly as you go along here in training camp, and how do you sort of approach that with contract negotiations?

A: I’m going to leave that to Coach Shurmur and our medical staff and Odell to work that out. I just want him to be ready for Jacksonville.

Q: When you mentioned the anthem meetings, would Oliver Vernon be one of those players considering his stance last season?

A: I’m not sure, but I believe it will be players that are on the executive council of the union. I think we have three of them here – Zak DeOssie, Mark Herzlich, and Michael Thomas. I’m not sure who else. 

Q: How long did it take you to get over last season?

A: I haven’t gotten over last season quite yet. I still, you know, I have to be honest about it -- I did not see it coming. I felt very good this time last year, I think most of you predicted that we were going to have a great season, some of you even predicted we’d go to the Super Bowl. I wasn’t quite buying into that but I certainly did not see 3-13 coming. I don’t know that you ever fully get over that, but I think getting back into camp and seeing the players that we have on that field and getting ready to play games this year, you know, I feel good about where are, but I’m not going to forget about last season any time soon. 

Q: You and Dave certainly, and Pat Shurmur, more so the guys that are here, really gave Eli Manning empowerment that he’s the starting quarterback. You guys could have taken a quarterback in the draft. What is your sense of what he is moving forward, and have we seen the best of him, or is there more to come with him?

A: I think he’s still got a lot of really good football left in him. I know as you mentioned, both Dave and Pat Shurmur feel that way, too. That was something they emphasized to me when we interviewed them, and I think we have a little better supporting cast around him this year. If we could just stay healthy, I think you’ll see some very good football from Number 10.

Q: If they had come in and said, we looked at him and we think it’s time to move on, you would have moved on?

A: I think we’d certainly have to take that into consideration and maybe we’d be standing here having a different conversation right now.

Q: You talked about Saquon, there is a bit of nervousness about it and how he hasn’t played a game yet. Can you remember a rookie that has had this much hype during training camp – a Giant rookie?

A: Possibly 1981, Lawrence Taylor when he came to camp, but maybe not quite this much. I mean, his jersey is already the number-one selling jersey, he’s gotten a lot of attention, but again I think in speaking to him and watching how he conducts himself, I think he is able to handle that, so I feel good about that. But still, you know I’ve used this line a million times before – let’s not get him ready for Canton just yet, let’s let him play some games first. 

Q: Did you sit down with Janoris Jenkins yourself just to gauge where he is?

A: I have not. I’ve said hello to him, talked to him briefly, but I have not had an in-depth conversation with him personally.

Q: This spring, Eli mentioned how – my word, “refreshing – it is to have a coach and GM who believe in him, and other players and people have mentioned how just the feeling in the building has been different this spring, now into summer. Do you notice that?

A: Yeah, I think there is a different feeling this year. I think with the changes that we’ve made, I think we feel better about the personnel group that we have. Obviously picking as high as we did in the draft, picking at the top of all those rounds, we feel really good about those players and what they are going to add to us. I think our offensive line will be better. I just, there is a different feeling going into this season. I mean, last year we felt good, but you know there were still some question marks about certain areas of the team. I mean, you’re always going to have some of those question marks, but I just feel like there’s a different spirit this year and I think we have the right people in place.

Q: In Will Hernandez, you guys seemed to have picked a rookie who might’ve fit in in some of your Rich Seubert-sy offensive lines. Do you have an impression of him yet?  

A: I think you said it very well. I think that’s kind of what we were looking for, and I think that’s really something that we have missed for a long time. When we had that success in ’07 and ’11, it was a tough, prideful group of offensive linemen that hung out together, that really cared about whether we won or lost and really set the tone for the rest of the team, and they were the toughest guys that we had on the team. I think we kind of got away from that, to be honest with you, and I think in Will Hernandez we see that type of personality. Now, again, he hasn’t played a down, but certainly we like what we’ve seen so far.

Q: The emphasis on offensive line and running back this offseason – Is this you guys going back to a little of where you guys have had your success after trying the ‘new age’ offensive stuff?

A: I think, I’m not sure it’s a case of that. I do think this though – I think the issues that we’ve had in the offensive line over the last few years have been pretty obvious and one of the first things that Dave Gettleman said to me in his interview, and also Pat Shurmur, was they emphasized the importance of having a strong offensive line and making that a priority, and that is sort of what I needed to hear because it’s something that I believed in as well. I think it had to be a point of emphasis this past offseason. 

Q: You had a strong conviction about who you were getting in Pat Shurmur, the head coach. Going into training camp, watching him closely, has what have you seen matched up with what you expected?

A: So far, so good. I mean, again, it’s the first full day of training camp, but I like his command on the field. I like his demeanor. He was great to work with throughout the draft, throughout free agency, fits in very well. He’s mature, you know. He’s done it before. I think he realizes the issues that he had in Cleveland and the mistakes he made, what he would’ve done differently. I think he’s ready to become a very successful head coach.

Q: It’s been awhile since you’ve had a defending Super Bowl champion other than yourselves in the division. Does that change anything? Does that change the approach at all, or just the anticipation of this season?

A: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. You know, we’re coming off a 3-13 season, we can’t be concerned about that. We’ve got to build our own team, get back to the playoffs and see what happens.

Q: You made some other changes to the front office. Kevin Abrams got a new title – Where does he stand in your front office? He seems like a guy you must think highly of. 

A: Yeah, I mean he’s always been an invaluable part of this organization. He handles all our contract negotiations, does some scouting for us, is just a very stable voice to have back there. Stepped in very ably last year at the end of the season and, you know, he’s very important to us.

Q: In an interview with the Post, Ben McAdoo said he thinks Nate Solder will help, but isn’t sure he’s a very good player. Do you have a reaction to that?

A: No, I mean I agree with the first part of that statement. I certainly think he’s going to help, and obviously given the contract we gave him, we do think he’s a very good player.

Q: Did you notice those remarks?

A: I did notice them. I actually spoke to Ben myself probably three or four weeks ago, he called me just to talk about what he needs to improve on going forward. It was a very good conversation. Happened to mention that he liked very much what we did in the offseason and what not, but I didn’t think too much of that. Obviously we feel pretty strongly about Nate.

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

We covered a lot of ground yesterday, so nothing really new other than we’ll get a chance to practice today. So, we had our first walk-thru. We’ll go back in and have lunch – another little meeting, and then we’ll come out this afternoon and get after it.

Q: What’s the latest status on the physical condition of (DB) Sam Beal?

A: We’re evaluating what’s happening with him. He was out here – and you saw him the last day of the rookie camp. He’s got a little thing going on with his shoulder that might need to get fixed.

Q: Prior to drafting Beal in the supplemental draft, were you all aware of the condition of his shoulder?

A: We knew there were some issues with his shoulder when we drafted him.

Q: You said that his shoulder might need to be fixed. Will he be out the duration of the season?

A: Possibly – we’ll see.

Q: Did everyone report yesterday and pass the conditioning test?

A: Everybody was here. It was a good day.

Q: How would you access the shape of the players after yesterday’s conditioning test?

A: I think everybody is ready to go.

Q: Does that mean everyone passed their conditioning test?

A: Everybody is ready to go.

Q: Will (WR) Odell Beckham be out there practicing today?

A: Odell will be out there working today. And again, like I mentioned yesterday, he’s coming back from injury. So, we’re going to be smart with how much we give him.

Q: Do you expect Odell to participate in the team drills?

A: I expect to see him out there getting ready to play against Jacksonville.

Q: What’s your schedule as far as progressively putting the pads on in practice?

A: We’re going to go a couple of days here, and then the pads will go on this weekend.

Q: How excited are you to get everyone back together and back in the swing of things?

A: This is terrific. I really enjoyed working with our team in the spring. They came back in good shape – refreshed. As players and coaches, this is what we do. This is our livelihood, this is our passion, and it’s our hobby. Playing football is what we do, and training camp is a part of getting ready for the upcoming season. There’s a lot of excitement in the building; very competitive guys that understand it’s very important to train as a team and get ready to play. I’m looking forward to a very competitive practice this afternoon.

Q: Is there any difference for you in terms of today’s practice, in comparison to those held in the spring?

A: Not really – until we put the pads on. Really, all NFL practices look primarily the same whether you have pads on or not. I think it’s very rare when you see a training session where everybody is tackling to the ground or low blocking, and doing some of the things that you have to get in the preseason games. Again, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s the first time we’re doing it. So, you have all of that enthusiasm that goes with it. I’m much like the players, I’m looking forward to having it.

Q: Elaborate on what exactly your plan is to work Odell back into rotation coming off of injury.

A: We have a plan going out there of what we want to get done. Every player – you have rookies, you have veterans, in-between you have guys coming back from injury. Every player has a certain amount of work they need to get done before they play. So, that’s where we’re at with him as well.

Q: What are your impressions of (Safety) Andrew Adams?

A: Andrew is one of those selected vets we brought back early because he didn’t get a chance to do much in the spring – and he actually looked really good. He looked fast, he looked quick, and I can see there’s an excitement in him to get out there and get going. I’m looking forward to seeing him at full speed.

Q: Where do things stand with (DT) RJ McIntosh?

A: He was going through a medical issue coming out. We’re trying to get that rectified. We’ll just try to get him out there as quickly as possible.

Re: approach to practice

A: We talked about all of that in the meeting last night. We constantly talk about making sure this game is about the ball, this game is about negotiating the ground, this game is about defeating your matchup. Those are the things that keep coming back to the forefront. This game is about competing and finishing. That really never changes. When I said globally yesterday, we’re going to keep the focus on playing football, those are the things we constantly look back on.

Q: Did anyone besides you address the team yesterday?

A: We had the meeting. Obviously, I had many things to say. I had (General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) speak to the players. The players sort of left knowing that Dave was going through treatment. Dave’s treatment is going terrific – how he’s coming back. I thought it was important that he had a chance to visit with the team. There’s other things that we needed to go through in terms of league issues from player safety, etc.

Q: Did (Gettleman) discuss topics beyond football? Did he discuss his situation?

A: That was really between Dave and the team.

Q: What was the team’s reaction to seeing him (Gettleman)?

A: I think they were glad to see him – excited to see that he’s working through the treatment. Things look good.

Q: Did you get an opportunity to talk in depth to (CB) Janoris Jenkins in regards to this offseason and how he is doing?

A: I talked to Janoris, and he’s doing great.

Q: Do you think (LB) Lorenzo Carter is someone who can help you right away? Are there snaps for him on the field?

A: We’re hopeful. He needs to develop, like all rookies. He’s an edge player. He played in a base when we’re in five on the line. We’ll also play him as a pass rusher in a four-man front. We’ll see how far he can come. Very talented young man. Like all rookies, he’s got to get in there, battle around, go through training camp. We’re hopeful he’s going to have a great career.

Q: Now that you’ve been with him in the spring, have your thoughts changed on (T) Nate Solder or the role you have set for him?

A: Not at all. I think quickly when you get to know Nate, he’s all about business. He’s very thoughtful, he’s very competitive. He’s really interested the full process of football – from training, to playing, to recovery, everything involved with the game. That’s why he’s a true pro. Having been around him, he felt like we knew that about him. But having been around him now, it’s been confirmed for us.

Q: Is (RB) Saquon Barkley any different now that he’s gotten around the rest of the team? And what kind of things do you want to see him do heading into the first week of the season?

A: I think he needs to, number one, the last rookie that I was around was (RB) Dalvin Cook. They’re obviously different styles of runners. Dalvin was a guy that displayed a lot of the things that Saquon has showed us. He just needs to go through training camp, and work through the good days and the bad, and clear up the mistakes as they show up, and just keep competing. That’s really what we want to see from him.

Q: Do you view rookie (G) Will Hernandez in that same mold as (Vikings G Pat) Elflein for you last season? During the spring, did he earn some respect from the players on the defensive side of the ball?

A: I think the Pat Elflein comparison was very astute. Pat came in, and he and Will were very similar in the way they approach the game. Very similar in the amount of reps they got, and very similar how quickly they rose into the starting unit. So hopefully, Will can have that same path, because Pat had a great year last year.

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

Q:  Sterling you and Evan were sort of the last skill position guys last year in terms of so many guys that went down with injury, how does it feel having Odell [Beckham Jr.] back and Saquon [Barkley], and some other guys that can produce?

A:  I think it’ll help us a lot. You saw how when those guys went down how it affected the team and we’re just happy to have them back. They’re out there running around and having a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing those guys make big plays.

Q:  What did you get out of the workouts with all the guys out in California?

A:  It’s just trying to build the team camaraderie a little bit, I mean, we were all offensive guys pretty much. We had like two DBs out there, DD [Donte Deayon] and Eli [Apple], but other than that it was all offensive guys so we were just in the playbook constantly and just trying to build that connection.

Q:  Eli Manning said he was concerned about the guys in California acclimating to having to practice with shirts on.

A: I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, Eli was blowing that up a bit [joking].

Q:  Eli [Manning] said yesterday that he thought it was valuable with Odell [Beckham Jr.] being out that guys like you could get some run on the outside during the spring. For a guy that’s primarily a slot guy, how helpful was it to get some, you know, some outside reps?

A:  Yeah, I mean like I’ve said before this offense you’re going to move around a lot, it’s a lot of moving pieces so you have to know how to play the outside and the inside. So yeah, it was good for me and that was kind of my main focus going into the offseason, while I was training was getting some of the outside done so it was good having some guys like Odell with me and we had a couple other outside receivers out there too.

Q:  Sterling, what is the biggest difference in this offense compared to what you’ve been used to here?

A:  I’d say the moving parts. You know in the other offense you’re kind of stuck in one spot if you’re not the F, but in this offense you can be outside, inside, you really don’t know and then we have a lot of personnel changes as well.

Q:  So what was that experience for you when you were the one healthy receiver last year? You know, you were seeing a lot of double teams so how do you think that experience helps you?

A:  It was tough on me, but I think it helped me grow as a leader. You kind of are thrown into that spotlight of being a leader and the guy with the most experience and I feel like it’s helped me in that way, just growing as a leader and hopefully progress from there.

Q:  How will it be to have Odell out there and other guys? How much easier do you think it’ll make life for you?

A:  I’d say it’ll make it a lot easier. You’ve got a guy like Odell [Beckham Jr.] who’s so explosive and can make a play at any moment and you’ve got to keep your eyes on him, so the defense is going to be focused in on him and that leaves me one on one a lot of times. That’s something you like as a receiver.

Q:  There’s a stat out there that you were one of the best receivers in the NFL last year with catches in traffic, is there a key to that versus, you know, some other kind of catch?

A:  I think that just comes down to having heart and wanting every ball. That’s something you have to want to do. Not many guys like catching in traffic, and I guess I don’t mind it.

Q:  Sterling, I don’t know if it sounds silly, but do you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder? I mean you’ve kind of heard that the last couple of years “he’s a slot guy, he’s a slot guy” I mean coming into this year, what does Sterling Shepard want to prove about your game?

A:  I mean I’ve carried that chip for a long time now. In college they said I was just a slot receiver and I proved I could play outside. I feel like I can do the same thing this year, I mean, people are looking at me as mostly a slot guy – which I am – but its “receiver” at the end of the day. You have to know how to get open, no matter where you are on the field, so I’m looking forward to the challenge and we’ll see how it goes.

Q:  Have they talked to you a lot, the team, you know, the coaches, about playing outside compared to playing the slot or…

A:  No, I mean it’s just something you have to know. With this offense, you have to know how to do that and I got that real quick. I’m going have to be able to play outside, I’m going have to be able to play inside, you never know.

Q:  That forces players to be more versatile, you think it also helps the offense become less predictable?

A:  Of course, I mean if you stay in the same personnel, every time then the defense only has to prepare for that one personnel. If you’ve got guys moving around it definitely is a challenge for the defense and that’s what you see in this offense a lot of moving parts, like I’ve said, and a lot of different personnel.

Q:  You got an opportunity to spend some time with Odell in California, how would you – in your own words – describe what you feel like his approach and mindset will be, or is, coming into today and after the trip that he took? How you think he’ll handle his enthusiasm for being on the field and trying to balance that as well?

A:  I think he’s just really excited to be back on the field, I think his focus is just getting the plays down so he’s able to play fast. I mean, honestly, when I was watching him he’s just so much more explosive to me and that’s me watching him before he got hurt and after. So much more explosive, and he’s just hungry and you can just see that in his game and the way that he trains. He’s always trained super hard, but training with him this last time was a different animal out there.

Q: Why is that? Why do you feel like he’s a different animal?

A: I don’t know, there’s just something in him, he’s just hungry. He’s ready to get out there and prove to everybody that he still has it and you guys see the Instagram videos, it’s crazy and to see it firsthand, wow.

Q: Is there anything that you’ve seen that you feel like is different, or in your mind he’s still working on? Because he still hasn’t done certain things.

A: I feel like it’s all mental now, the physical part is there, it’s just mental for him, getting the plays down so he’s able to play fast. 

Q: How excited are you to start this training camp? We’ve heard about all the weapons that are here now, now you guys get to work, officially.

A: Yeah, I mean we have a lot of great names out there on the field, but ultimately it comes down to putting in the work and coming out every day and grinding, so that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to put our head down and get to work.

Linebacker Connor Barwin

Q: How does it feel to be on the other side of this rivalry?

A: It feels good. I am very excited. I happy to be a Giant, happy to be back in the best division in football.

Q: Why the Giants at this point?

A: I thought it was the right fit for me and it’s a good opportunity. I’m close to my family back east, it’s a good defense for me, I know Shurm [Head Coach Pat Shumur] and I know [Linebackers Coach] Bill McGovern. I had I think 25.0 sacks with McGovern in Philly [Philadelphia] so I’m happy to be back with him and be back with this group of guys.

Q: Does it feel weird wearing Giants blue?

A: I think it’s already over. It was a little weird yesterday, but that’s already over. We had a walk through today, we’re practicing, we’re focused on football so it’s all about football. That stuff you forget about right away.

Q: What do you see your role being?

A: It’s to rush the passer, be a veteran presence, be a leader, be available to play Sam or Will and definitely mentor the younger [guys]. I haven’t played in [Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher] Bettch’s defense but it’s a 3-4 and I’ve played in a number of different 3-4’s. They are all similar so that kind of covers my role.

Q: What’s it like to have the defending Super Bowl champs in your division, does that increase everyone’s attention?

A: I don’t know. I think every year we are focused on us and that’s what you should be focused on. Eagles won the Super Bowl, which was last year and I’m sure they are focused on this year too.

Q: From the players you have been around do you sense they are ready to rebound from a 3-win season last year?

A: Yeah. It’s the first day of training camp everybody is excited, you better be excited. We are all lucky and privileged to be here playing football, to be in another camp. It’s my 10th camp, I feel blessed and lucky to be doing it again and I get that feeling from everyone in the locker room right now.

Q: What is the key to being a pass rusher, everyone wants to be one, what’s the key to surviving 10 years?

A: You have to be productive and you have to be disruptive. It’s not always sacks but you want to get the sacks, but you have to be disruptive. People have to know where you are at all times. You have to pressure the quarterback and be disruptive as much as you can.

Q: How much do you feel you have left? 

A: I feel like I got a lot left. I thought last year went well for me in L.A. and I’m excited to be back here.

Q: With both you and Alec Ogletree coming from L.A. does that help with your leadership role, where you have another guy who you are familiar with that can help show the way to the younger guys?

A: Yeah, I loved playing with Tree last year. He was as captain; I was a captain last year. It’s easier for me to be here, I don’t know many guys on the Giants personally. I obviously played against them for 4 years so I recognize a lot of the guys but Tree is the only guy I really know personally so it’s nice to have a guy here that you know.

Q: You guys were both on a team with a quick turnaround last year what was the key to that, and what is the key to doing that here?

A: The key last year was accountability, playing together and discipline. I wasn’t there (L.A.) two years ago but Tree was and he said that was the big difference and that’s what we have to do here. Guys have to come together, guys have to play as a team and you have to be accountable for your actions.

Q: He [Ogletree] said you are one of the best teammates he has ever had, what is the key to be a good teammate as far as you coming here to a new team? How quickly can you acclimate?

A: Tree is one of the best I have ever had too. People ask what makes a great player, I think what makes a great player is being a good teammate. It’s something I pride myself on and the more guys on your team that try to be a good teammate you are going to have a better team.

Q: How do you define being a good teammate?

A: You try do whatever you can to help a guy do better. Whether its rushing the passer, I’m trying to help the guy next to me get to the quarterback really what you’re doing is you are going to help yourself but you are going to help him, you are going to help everybody get there.

Q: Do you feel like you can compete for a starting role?

A: Yeah.

Q: You felt like this was the best fit, was part of that because they needed a pass rusher with JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] leaving? They were obviously looking for guys.

A: Yeah, with any 3-4 you want three guys. Not every team has it but every team wants three pass rushers. For me I thought there was an opportunity to come here and be one of those three guys.

Q: Watching the Eagles make that run, you were a big part of the Eagles, was it bittersweet?

A: Yeah man I talked about it but I was happy for those guys. It’s over now, I am focused on the Giants, I’m focused on our practice this afternoon and that’s all I’m thinking about.

Q: Did you play against the Eagles last year?

A: No, I played 112 straight games and then I broke my forearm so I missed the Eagles game. I am very happy I get to see them twice.

Q: Are there any guys on the Giants that you butted heads with while you were on the Eagles still here?

A: A lot of those guys are gone form the O-line which might be a good thing.

Q: Is there any extra motivation going against your former team, hopefully get a ring yourself?

A: What you said at the end you know. You are going for a Super Bowl ring. I like to think I was going for it as hard as I am now, but now I’m in my tenth year so that’s all I’m thinking about. I want to be a good team player and I want to contribute to this organization but ultimately you want to win a championship.

Q: Why did you wait until now to land with a team, was that your choice?

A: It was really a blessing. My wife had a baby two months ago so I got to stay home for the entire off-season, it was incredible. I got lucky I had the entire off-season to myself. I take care of my body so I was fine, I’m rusty but I have four weeks to catch up and learn the playbook and all that stuff.

Q: The opportunities you had now, were they there a couple months ago for you and was it the best thing to wait?

A: There was a dialogue with the Giants and other teams we were talking to and it just worked out this way.

Q: Will training camp be a time when you can catch up on your sleep?

A: My son has been pretty good, knock on wood. I slept great last night.

LB Kareem Martin

Q: What’s it like to be here and get the whole team going?

A: It’s good, we felt like we had a good spring and now we’re all back together. We have one common goal. In training camp, we’re going to work every day and grind this thing out.

Q: What sticks out most about this team?

A: Just the energy of these guys. I know after last year guys don’t want that bad taste in their mouth. Just seeing guys ready to work, paying attention, buying into the new defense and the new offense and everything that comes with it.

Q: You just added Connor [Barwin], you have you and Alec [Ogletree], and a couple carry overs from last year. How do you fit everyone into the system?

A: That’s Coach [Defensive Coordinator James] Bettcher’s job. He’ll find a way because he’s a smart guy and he looks at everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and he’ll put us in the best positions as linebackers to be successful.

Q: You’ve played against Connor [Barwin], what do you see out of him?

A: He’s a great guy. He was in LA last year so I watched a lot of him. He’s a great rusher so he’ll definitely be a great edition to this team. I’m looking forward to learning from him.

Q: How tough to cover for a linebacker is Saquon Barkley?

A: Oh he’s tough. I mean he could do everything – really fast. The biggest thing with him is you just have to trust your technique and just stay true and don’t bend.

Q: What kind of first impression did Saquon [Barkley] make on the defense?

A: With a rookie, he came in with his head down and ready to work. Drafted number two, he could’ve came in cocky, but he came in humble and worked. I think that gained him the respect from all the players in the locker room – veterans. Just with him, the way he came in and the way he carries himself, he made a great impression.

Q: What did you see from Lorenzo [Carter] from the first couple of spring practices?

A: Growth, that was probably the biggest thing. He got better everyday. By the end of it, I think he was at his best. He took the criticism and everyday he tried to work on something and not make the same mistake twice.

Q: What do you think the biggest difference for you last year after mostly playing special teams? Was it just opportunity or did you have some sort of fourth year breakthrough?

A: More so opportunity. We had a lot of great guys. In the NFL, you just have to wait for your opportunity and your number to be called. My number was called last year and unfortunately what happened with Mark, he’s still one of my friends, but I take advantage of every opportunity I’m given.

Q: One of the things of modern training camps is the lack of hitting. When you’re learning a new defense, how easy or hard is it to learn without hitting?

A: Hitting is one of those things that you know how to do or don’t. I think as long as you can get the full-speed movement when we’re on defense, that’s all that really matters. Hitting has been something you’ve been doing since you were eight, ten years old. When you make it yourself and you know how to hit, that’s something you can save for the end.

Q: What does it mean to play for this organization that has such a rich tradition, especially on defense?

A: Oh it’s amazing, to have a great linebacker tradition here. You walk in the building and you see the championship trophies. Just hoping I can come in here and build off of their legacy of this organization and get it back to where to promise.

Q: How important is it to have a good first day even though you wont be playing in pads?

A: Oh it’s big, you have to take this thing one day at a time. The first day is the most important day and then the next day will be the most important day. That’s the biggest thing. This first day will set the tone for how we’re going to go into the season. I’m really excited for the season.

Q: How do you interpret this new rule with the crown of the helmet?

A: It’s one of those things where we talked about it, but until we play games it’s hard to speak on it. Until we see how strict or how lenient the refs are, it’s hard to see it in practice so I guess we’ll see.

Q: Do you think they’re (refs) going to start cracking down from the get-go?

A: Everything is about player safety so I can definitely see it being important. Whichever way they try to go, whether it’s strict or lenient, we have to adjust to it.

Q: Why do players like playing for Bettcher? It can’t just be that he’s aggressive, what is it?

A: I think that’s what it is, it’s a fun defense. There’s a lot of moving parts and guys and you kind of get to let go, show personality and with guys doing other things. Some defenses you don’t have that leniency; he gives that to the players. It helps on film with the team watching; he’s over here, but he’s covering another guy.

Q: You made that transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. Are there similarities? Do you see Olivier Vernon make that transition?

A: Oh yeah, Olivier, he’s an athlete. He can do whatever he needs when it comes to football plays; rushing, setting the edge, he’s been doing that his whole career. The transition for him, I don’t see it being a big deal. I think he’ll get the reps here in camp and he’ll get in the game he’ll be great… Not that he already isn’t.

Tackle Nate Solder

Q: Have you had time to adjust in New York? Is it still a little different for you starting in training camp with a different organization?

A: Of course it’s been different. It was nice to have some time in the offseason, beginning the adjustment process. I’ll continue that and everything else is behind me and looking forward to what’s ahead of us, it’s exciting.

Q: Are you excited to get pads on for the first time as a Giant over the weekend?

A: Yeah absolutely. Once you get the pads on, that’s when a lineman becomes a lineman, we could do what we do best.

Q: This first time we’ve seen you since that last day of minicamp, is your knee okay?

A: Yeah, doing great. Doing everything they ask me to do.

Q: No lingering things from that one day?

A: Everything they ask me to do I’m ready to go full speed.

Q: If you’re a lineman, does it make a difference if it’s Tom Brady or Eli Manning back there or is it your concentration of just what’s in front of you?

A: I have to focus on my job and my job is to block the defensive end or whoever’s coming in front of me. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into whoever’s behind me.

Q: Can you talk about Saquon [Barkley] and the element he could add to an offense and being able to work upfront.

A: We have a lot of talented guys on this team, but that’s not what’s going to matter. What’s going to matter is how we work together. Its going to matter how we execute and perform when it really counts on game day.

Q: A lot of people are talking about your presence is being treated as fixing this offensive line, which has been the team’s weakness in recent years. How do you approach that kind of stuff? Seems like a lot of pressure.

A: I don’t think there’s any one player that makes that much of an impact. It’s all about the team so whatever’s best for the team we all work together. It’s all about locking arms and fighting for each other, caring for each other, and working the best you can together.

Q: Every time we talk to an offensive lineman, he talks about chemistry and building it together and the unit come together. Three guys are new to the team; Ereck Flowers is in a different position. Can you guys do that right away? Is a quick chemistry even possible or does it take half a season?

A: I don’t know the answer to that. I know that is a goal of ours and we’re going to work at that every single day and see the game through the same set of eyes.

Q: Have you lined up much of your career against Connor Barwin?

A: Yeah I have.

Q: Now that you’re lined up against him everyday, what’s your sense of him as a player?

A: Every time I’ve lined up against him I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, he’s a good player. The more good players you could have on a team, good people like that, the better off you are I think.

Q: Is he a tough pass-rusher?

A: Yes.

Q: What made him tough? What was his strength?

A: I don’t want to get into specifics on that. I don’t know exactly all the details.

Q: With your experience being in a winning culture, what do you think with your experience there, what can you do to help this offensive line come together?

A: I think my role here is to listen to the coaches, do the best I can with the work they’ve given me and work together with my teammates. You see a lot of big games where experience doesn’t matter at all and it’s how you execute and how you play together. I’m not going to put too much weight on that, I’m just going to work with these guys, try to improve my game the best that I can, and then worry about that.

Q: Let’s talk about Saquon [Barkley]. What has impressed you about him so far?

A: We haven’t gone through one practice yet so I can’t speak exactly what impresses me about him. 

Q: Were you at OTAs?

A: Yes.

Q: A lot of people have been talking about his preparedness, his want to be great, his desire. What have you seen?

A: I’m really glad to have him on our team. I don’t really know him well enough to make any statements like that. Like I said, he’s been a really friendly guy to me.

Q: What was it like to have Dave [Gettleman] address the team yesterday and somebody’s whose life has been touched by cancer, what did that mean to see Dave Gettleman?

A: It certainly puts everything into perspective and how fortunate we all are to get up and breathe everyday. It’s a very special thing we get the opportunity to play football. We get to cherish our loved ones and get to hug them every single day. I couldn’t be more thankful and more blessed for everything I’ve been doing.

Q: How’s your son doing?

A: Excellent, thank you.

Q: Were you surprised to see Dave [Gettleman] get up and address the team like that?

A: It was awesome to see him.

Q: How’s the atmosphere in the building compared to New England?

A: I don’t know. I think the emphasis is football, getting better at playing football. I think, no matter where you are, that’s the goal. You have to play good ball and that’s why we’re all here.

Q: So you’re more relaxed here opposed to New England?

A: I wouldn’t use that word, no.

Q: Compare Head Coach [Pat] Shurmur and [Patriots Head Coach Bill] Belichick; are they similar the way they run things?

A: I don’t know, that’s behind me. I’m glad to be here, the guys I’m with. This is an excellent opportunity and I’m so excited about it. Everything else is just water under the bridge.

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