Coach Pat Shurmur
July 27, 2018
Opening Statement: Yesterday was a great day. Day two here, we’re looking forward to another really good day on the practice field. Driving in this morning, it’s a somber day up in Minneapolis. Tony Sparano’s funeral is today and he was all about family, all about football. [He] lived a really good life and made the world a better place, so I think they’re going to honor him today and they’ll move on, as well. I felt like I needed to say that, I didn’t say anything on Monday, although I did release something on Sunday. When you work with guys early in the morning until late at night, you go through adversity, you quickly become friends and that certainly was the case with Tony. That being said, I’ll try to answer your questions.
Q: Was Snacks [Damon Harrison] limited yesterday?
A: Yeah, we had a plan for him coming in, so we’re going to stick with that and I think you’ll see him out there this weekend.
Q: Why the plan?
A: I think this is typical of how he’s approached other training camps. We just have to be smart about the amount of work. Again, guys are all along that spectrum of experience and the key is to get them the work they need and get them to the first game, so that’s why.
Q: Is that something with him that you want to continue throughout the season and you’re going to kind of manage him or is that specifically for training camp?
A: Yeah, we’re just going to try to get every guy the right amount of work and that’s really what it is.
Q: Is that hard to do, though? You only have a limited number of practices and a limited amount of practices in pads, so I imagine you want to get guys as many reps as you can.
A: No, there’s no question. Again, younger guys can handle and need more reps. Older guys, more experienced guys, can get the right amount of work with the reps they get and we’re not quite in pads yet. We’re working with him behind the scenes and we’ll anticipate him out there this weekend.
Q: How’d Odell [Beckham Jr.] respond to his workload yesterday?
A: Good. I mean, he’s running around. You see he’s very energetic on the practice field. He had some production yesterday, caught a couple balls from Eli [Manning], in there blocking a little bit, and involved with the punt returns. He’s actually fun to be around on the practice field. Everybody locally knows him better than I do and it’s very obvious to me that the guy loves to play football. When you’re in a practice setting like that and you see that, it’s pretty obvious.
Q: Is that different than some stars of his magnitude? I mean, it’s kind of a cliché to say that everybody loves football, but is that a little different?
A: I think the true stars, and I don’t know who you’re referring to, the true stars I’ve been around embrace the work. I think that’s what you see from Odell [Beckham Jr.].
Q: John Mara said yesterday that Saquon [Barkley] is probably the most hyped rookie this franchise has ever had. You’ve talked a little bit about that, showing him where his locker was, where the field is. How cognizant are you of keeping his enthusiasm up?
A: Well, you answered part of my question. He needs to go through the process and he was the second pick in the draft. Certainly, we know what we expect from him. He’s also a rookie and there’s certain things that you have to do. The good news is he understands what he has to do and he’s doing it. That’s what we keep track of.
Q: You think he’ll embrace the fact that he’s a rookie? Some guys try to fast forward the whole process.
A: I don’t know that. He’s a New York Football Giant now and there’s certain things that we’re going to ask him to do and we’re going to train him to do it.
Q: Is he getting treated like a rookie?
A: He’s going to get treated like a Giant. And I’m not trying to be funny. I actually don’t think I’m ever funny [laughs].
Q: Can you talk about how he fit in with the offense with the whole team out on the field yesterday.
A: I thought he did very well. He took the reps, he shared them in there with Jonathan Stewart. I think the important thing, when you watch the way we like to train here, a lot of team plays, we like to get the first, second and third group work. He handled his workload very well.
Q: You don’t have a lot of guys splitting reps like that at their respective positions. What’s behind that approach for you guys with that position with him and [Jonathan] Stewart.
A: We’re trying to train the whole roster. The unfortunate thing about the NFL is injuries. You need new players and so the guys we train, if they don’t make our squad and if they’re trained up properly and they almost made it but didn’t, then those are guys we want to go back and get at some point. The work that they get helps them develop. As coaches, we game plan and develop players. The best way to develop a player is to give him a rep to do it.
Q: Did Landon [Collins] have any limitations yesterday?
A: No, he did pretty much everything. He had a good day. But again, we’re still managing him. Behind the scenes, we’ll go in now and talk about it as we move forward towards practice and after practice, Ronnie (Barnes) will come to me so we sort of tweak it as we go. We have this global plan of how much we want and how much we want guys to get, but then things happen and we need to adjust. That’s why sometimes you’ll see a guy do maybe a little bit more. I’m assuming somebody here is counting reps, who’s out there and who’s not. As you go through that process, it kind of goes like this a little bit.
Q: How long do you wait on making judgments on players? Day one happens, and do you have in your mind this guy is impressing me and this guy isn’t or do you give it some time before?
A: I think we tend to judge as coaches and we fight that being instant evaluators. We need to see guys playing football and the true game of football which happens after the pads. There’s some guys that are timed really fast and they’re fast in shorts and then when the pads go on they look very different. We will constantly evaluate the players, but really the final evaluation on all the players doesn’t come until we hit the 53 [man roster].
Q: All head coaches want an experienced, proven kicker they don’t have to worry about. What’s your sense with [Aldrick] Rosas? You didn’t have him last year, he’s a young guy.
A: Well, I saw a lot of good things in the spring. Based on what I’ve seen, [he’s] got a very strong leg. He improved, in my opinion, his field goal and extra point mechanics through the spring. Hopefully we’ll see that continued improvement.
Q: Sterling Shepard was saying yesterday that this offense won’t be predictable which does represent a change here. When the play caller in you, when you look, you have Evan [Engram] right, Odell [Beckham Jr.] in the slot, Sterling on the other side, Saquon [Barkley] in the backfield, how limitless, if they are, are those opportunities in terms of a play caller?
A: You’re right, you mentioned a lot of really, really good players. It starts by getting them blocked and protecting the quarterback and being able to run the ball when you want to run it and really when they know you’re going to run it and then all that other stuff will take shape. We’re looking forward to putting it all together and everything looks good on paper and now we just have to get trained up and ready to go.
Q: It seemed like Odell [Beckham Jr.] was in the slot quite a bit and playing inside. Is that just where you want to start him out?
A: No, I think we train our receivers to play receiver so they could be detached by themselves, detached with somebody inside them, or in the slot. At this point, it’s conceptual learning. That way there’s flexibility, so that when it’s time to play the game and we actually specifically game plan, they’ve got experience in all areas.
Q: His workload yesterday, was that something you intend to maintain or you’re in a build up process with him?
A: Same thing, we’ll just kind of mark it as we go. It’s important to get out there and practice and embrace the heat, make it our friend, and continue to improve as a team. I think that’s the same thing with each player.
Q: Is this position-less football mindset of having every receiver learn every spot so that way, like you said, when you start to gameplan, you can really target a certain matchup and everyone could do the same thing?
A: I’ve never said position-less, but that’s a good word. I might start using that. Being able to put a player, a specific player in different spots, I think it’s important and I do feel like that puts a little pressure on the defense. They at least have got to have a meeting and decide how to cover a certain player. But you can’t just do that game week, you have to train that throughout and it really has got to be part of your DNA. Then when we decide what we want to do against Jacksonville and Houston and Dallas, as we move through the season, then you’re just kind of fine tuning it instead of revamping it, and so that’s the idea.
Safety Landon Collins
Q: How’s the arm?
A: The arm is 100 percent. I would to say 110 percent but the reality is its 100 percent.
Q: You weren’t limited at all yesterday?
A: No, I’m not limited at all. I’m going full go 100 percent and we are going from there.
Q: When the pads come on and people start making contact with you do you think they will go easy with you.
A: I’m pretty sure no. They are going to let me go full go. I guess it’s to my discretion and if I feel anything I can pull myself out but most likely like in the offseason I have been putting a lot of pressure on it. I have been pushing things so I can see where I’m at.
Q: During the season, are you going to wear something protective?
Q: What do you think this defense has to prove?
A: This defense has to prove it’s capable of being one of those top 10 defenses. We are going to play hard, we are going to play fast and we are going to have a lot of aggression. That’s how I see this defense playing and that’s how we all see it as a group.
Q: Does this defense set up well to unleash what you can do?
A: I don’t know yet, this is my first time playing around in the defense and we are still fishing around with it to see what the outcome is. I’m just ready to play honestly, just be on the field with my guys and play football honestly.
Q: Do you know guys on the Cardinals that played for Bettcher?
A: Yea, I know Tony [Jefferson], I know Tyrann [Mathieu] and I know Reshad Jones.
Q: Did you pick their brain at all?
A: I picked Tony’s and I picked Reshad’s because here is now. Just seeing what they like to do. They told me guys of my caliber tend to move around so we will see how it goes.
Q: What do you want to do this year, this is a big year for you, a contract year.
A: I just want to play ball, I’m not too stuck on the contract. At the end of the day what got me here is not worrying about a contract. What got me here is playing ball, playing fast, playing aggressive and trying to be the greatest each and every time I touch the field on Sunday.
Q: Do you think anything will be done or any kind of talks contract wise, this summer or into the season?
A: I have to ask my agent, I don’t know. We probably had a discussion earlier, but not toward the fact that we are going to discuss during training camp and during the season.
Q: A lot of players going into their last year they are thinking about it, are you?
A: No, because if I weigh on it will cause me to push for plays and plays will go over my head. Bad stuff will happen, so I just go out there and play ball and that’s what I have been doing. It’s gotten me this far and I’m not going to change it.
Q: You want to spend your whole career here?
A: I would like to, I definitely would like to. My biggest thing was when I came into the league and whatever school I went to coming from high school is where I wanted to finish, that’s my kind of my motto.
Q: Just to clarify now that the season has started you don’t want those things (contract talks) to take place?
A: No, to me I just want to worry about football. My mindset is to play football and be one of the best safeties out there and that’s my motto. If they talk contract just leave that because I don’t even want to worry about it. I don’t want to worry about money or what goes into the paper work. It will just take my focus away from the field, its going to take my focus away from studying and the plays I need to make.
Q: You are open to your agent talking with them right?
A: Yeah, I’m open to my agent talking.
Q: Is it hard to divorce yourself from those conversations?
A: No, its not hard to do at all.
Q: While the front has changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4 does the job in the back change at all?
A: No, I wouldn’t say that necessarily, just reading is a little different. Knowing where your shade is, knowing where your nose guards and defensive ends are at. From that point on no, not really.
Q: Landon, who is the best safety in the NFL?
A: Who is the best safety? Sean Taylor. I’m just messing with you, there are a lot of great safeties out there, I look up to them all and it’s vice versa, we all play great ball. At the end of the day I’m going to always say I’m the best because I feel that way. I feel like I can be one of the best or I am the best.
Q: Did you feel that way last year, when you look back at how the season went?
A: I was hurt most of last year so I didn’t make the plays I know I can make. At the end of the day I was looking at it as I was five plays behind the top 3 safeties. I look at it as if I was still up there and giving competition to those guys.
Q: You do anything different training wise this summer?
A: Nothing different, I just stayed to my normal routine with Ryan Clark. He has been pushing me and from that point on I am back in shape and ready for action.
Q: What did you go into the off-season trying to improve?
A: I think I always work on my man-to-man coverage and most of the time I am sticking to the best tight ends on the other teams so my concept is always to work on man-to-man technique stuff. I want to be one of those dominant safeties all around.
Q: Does it help going against Evan [Engram] every day?
A: It helps me a lot. That’s one of the tight ends that’s going to be phenomenal. He is faster than most guys I have faced, knows how to run routes and can get separation. I make that a big part of my training going against him every day to really step my game up, so when I do play those top tight ends we will face this year I make sure they get no catches.
Q: What is your sense of what this offense can be?
A: The sky is the limit honestly. We have all the guys, all the attributes we need for offense and now we just have to put it together. They are doing great right now, as we saw after the first day. They are catching everything and turning short gains into long gains, it’s going good.
Q: What was it like seeing Odell [Beckham] out with his teammates?
A: It was exciting, just knowing that he loves the game and he shows that. He is not saying I’m going to sit out and not play football because I want a new contract. He’s out here with his guys and he loves what he does.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
July 27, 2018
Q: Do you feel like a veteran yet?
A: No – far from a veteran. Just excited, living the dream. I’m a New York Giant, playing football. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a little kid, to play in the NFL. Just attacking every single day, trying to get better.
Q: What was yesterday like for you? I’m sure you’ve never practiced in front of a crowd like that before. Just to see all those 26 jerseys out there, what’s that like for you?
A: Oh yeah, definitely never practiced in front of a crowd like that. It was awesome. Like you said, saw a lot of 26 jerseys in the stands, saw my family. I got to see my family after, I was able to sign for kids after also, and that becomes part of the game. You don’t do it for the fans, but you play for the fans also, too, and you want to come out there and practice your heart out, and just for them being out there showing love and support, it means a lot to me.
Q: It looked like at one point they were maybe cheering your name during drills and you weren’t quite sure if you were supposed to wave or to not pay attention to them at all. Did anybody tell you what to do?
A: No, no one told me how you are supposed to respond to that. If you aren’t busy and you have a chance to acknowledge them, I think you should, but when you’re in a drill and focused, you should be focused on football.
Q: How do you feel like the football part went? How do you feel like you fit in, and taking all the reps yesterday?
A: I felt great. I’ve been watching a lot of film, obviously I got to get installed with the playbook in rookie minicamp and minicamp before, so definitely got a step ahead than what I was when I first came here. I understand the playbook, and now it’s just trying to put it all together. All the hard work I’ve put in the offseason, all the studying I’ve done, all the [running] backs I’ve watched, I try to take it to my own game and continue to get better every single day.
Q: What was it like yesterday, the first time 11 on 11, you have Odell out there and just getting a chance to practice with the full team around you – what was that like?
A: Yeah, it’s great. Definitely, you got to see the potential that we have on our offense. When you look to your left and your right, you’ve got Odell, you got Cody, you got Shepard, you’ve got Evan Engram catching one-handed passes. That guy is someone who, obviously everyone is impressive, but that’s somebody who has stood out to me and caught my attention. He’s like a wide receiver out there. Yeah, you definitely see the potential, and you’ve got Eli dropping dimes, our offensive line playing great, Stewart being a great leader to me, also. I learn from all the other backs, also, so when you get to go out there, and just repetition and continue to get better every single day and continue to learn from each other.
Q: How unique is it for you to split the first team reps there at camp? Is it any different than something you’ve maybe done in the past, or similar?
A: Definitely different. In college, I was always going every three, then I would switch with Miles [Sanders] or Mark [Allen], or Andre [Robinson], but I love it actually. I haven’t done anything in this league yet, I’ve got to continue to prove myself, and it’s also a chance for me to learn. Jonathan Stewart is a great running back and been doing it for a long time, and I ask him a lot of questions and get to see what he’s seeing, and come in and try the next play.
Q: What’s your approach when he’s up on the field getting a rep? Do you sit there, do you try and watch certain things from him while he’s actually doing it, or do you look at it on the field afterwards? How do you sort of approach that?
A: A little bit of both actually. You watch it after, definitely, but on the field, you watch how he sets up his block. Something that I’ve learned now from him, a lot of things I’ve done in college was just off of instincts, just making natural cuts – now you can foresee that, seeing defensive fronts, seeing him flow to linebackers, he watches all of that. That’s what’s made him so great, and why he’s been in the league so long, so when he makes a certain type of cut, when I get a chance, I’ll ask him why he made his cut or after I watch film if I didn’t catch it on the field, I’ll talk to him in the film room also.
Q: What’s your relationship with Eli been like as you do ask him a lot of questions, and he has such a body of work and knowledge to draw on to give you those answers?
A: Yeah, Eli is awesome. Eli is an amazing teammate. I know I’m probably a little annoying to him, I do ask him a lot of questions, but he also has been challenging me and asking me questions. If we’re not on the field, he will just call me aside and be like, what do you do in this scenario? And I’ve got to answer the question. Hopefully most of the time I’m right, but if I’m wrong, he will let me know why I’m wrong and what we’re doing in this scenario, so he’s been a great teammate. Eli is actually hilarious. He’s actually funny. That’s something that I didn’t really [think] he would be coming into this team, but being able to spend some time around him, he definitely is a character.
Q: Have you heard don’t leave your cell phone open around him?
A: No, I have not heard that.
He’ll change the language, he has fun with teammates.
A: Thank you, I’ll definitely keep my phone on lock now.
Q: Have your teammates treated you like a rookie?
Q: In what way?
A: I feel like being treated like a rookie is being treated like a teammate here, everyone gets treated the same. Obviously, the rookies have to prove themselves, but just expect the same from me. Even though I’m a rookie, I’ve got to know what I’m doing , where I’ve got to be, and get better every single day.
Q: Do you have to take anyone’s pads in or anything like that?
A: Not yet. Hopefully no one hears that and starts making me do that stuff, but not yet. I haven’t had to do anything like grab people’s pads, but hey, it comes with being a rookie. If I’ve got to do this or they tell me to do that, take it on the chin and do it.
Q: What was actually signing the contract the other day – what was that like? Was it a sigh of relief that it was done, was it overwhelming considering the numbers?
A: It wasn’t a sigh of relief that it was done, I kind of knew what was happening. I knew the day I got here that it was going to be done. My agent, Kim [Miale], did an amazing job with that also, but when I signed it, I was just like, alright let’s get to work – the same mindset I had coming in before I signed the contract. Like I said, it’s football to me. It’s about playing the game of football and enjoying it, and trying to get better every single day. I do have to give credit to my agent Kim, she did an amazing job, but not really too big on the numbers or whatever. That’s part of football.
Q: Anybody who talks to you or talks about you, even going back to your high school days – teachers and everyone else – always talks about that asking questions. When did that start for you? Have you always been a curious kid, and was there ever a question you were afraid to ask and kind of got over that hurdle?
A: Never really been afraid to ask questions. I’ve been like that since I was a little kid. My mom and dad used to say I used to ask them questions like, why this, why that, why this, why that? That’s just the approach that I take, and I’m always going to have, even when – God willing – I play ten years in this league, asking questions is how you figure it out. If I don’t know, I’m going to ask so I can prepare myself and be as ready as I can for whatever, if it’s a play, picking up a blitz, if it’s asking Jonathan Stewart why he made that cut, even if it’s asking a wide receiver how do I set up a hitch, how am I not going to give it off, how do I run a slant? I want to try to be the best player I can be to help this team and try to be an all-around player, so that’s going to have to continue me asking questions, and trying to get as much information I can take.
Q: Four years ago you were getting ready for high school camp about 90 minutes from here. Have you had a chance at all to kind of reflect on the craziness that has brought you to this point in your career?
A: No, you really don’t have much time to reflect because you’re not looking too far into the future, you’re looking at the day ahead of you or the next day after that, trying to be the best pro you can be. I really haven’t. I went to dinner – not dinner, one of my coaches had a barbeque and invited a couple of us, my high school coach, and we went back and my old high school quarterback [Nick] Shafnisky, we actually got into a whole argument about which senior class would’ve beaten each other. So, I guess I did have time to reflect on that. But, you really don’t have that much time because you’re just focusing on the moment. I’m big on living in the moment and not reflecting too much on the future or reflecting too much on the past. Obviously you want to learn from the past to prepare yourself for the future, but want to stay in the present and get as better as I can get, try to become as better as I can be every second.
Q: As a running back, how much are you dependent on the offensive line in the sense of, is there an adjustment period? When you get a ball, are you just looking for a hole, or what?
A: Yeah, you depend on your offensive line 100%. If you ask any of the great running backs through history or the great running backs right now, they’ve got to give credit to their offensive line. Obviously, as a running back, it’s your job to set up the blocks, it’s your job to hit the whole square, put your head down and make that guy miss. You definitely want to watch film, but when you watch film on running backs, you’re also watching film on the offensive line, so when I watch Zeke [Elliott], I would watch how he’s set up his offensive line, how he would lean outside to the right and cut back in same thing with LeVeon [Bell], Todd [Gurley], David Johnson, and all those guys. Definitely as a running back, that’s why any award I have ever won before in college or been nominated for, I have to give credit to my offensive linemen because without them, every running back, you’re kind of nothing.
Q: Somewhere around the draft you said Odell was really welcoming to you, and you spent a lot of time this summer with him. How much did that mean to you, that he had open arms?
A: Yeah, it definitely meant a lot. Not only him, also Sterling Shepard. I think team bonding, having chemistry and getting to know each other, getting to know each other off the field obviously helps. We trained together, we were able to work out, you get to compete, push each other. I think that definitely will help us on the field with our chemistry.
Q: Speaking of on the field, everybody talks about the speed difference from college to the NFL, and obviously you haven’t played in a game yet, but just the practice speed between maybe some of the practices back at Penn State, the first practice in training camp yesterday. How big of a difference was that?
A: Speed difference to me is not really the problem or what’s the big difference. I think a lot of people mistake that with just the information the defense takes in, just how smart defensive players are in the NFL. If you’re a 4.3 guy, you’re a 4.3 guy. If you’re a 4.4 guy, you’re a 4.4 guy, no matter if you’re in college or the NFL, but the difference is, you got guys like B.J. [Goodson] and Alec Ogletree, those guys know where they’ve got to be and when they got to be there. For example, in college, some guys would be hesitant or they’re not quite sure. They know what the job is and what they have to do, what they have to accomplish, and they get there a step quicker. That’s the difference in the speed, so I have to elevate my game and my mental part of going back to understanding the reads, understanding the safety rotations or the fronts, and continue to learn from Jonathan Stewart. So, even though I run a 4.3, if I’m not up there with those guys who run a 4.6 mentally, I’ll be just the same.