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Quotes (7/28): Shurmur, Stewart, Apple

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

So I guess you go through these little stages in camp, so today's the first day in pads so the guys are looking forward to it. I think the important thing is to continue to practice the way we've practiced. Certainly with the shoulder pads and the pants on, we can start to get some of the final pieces of our evaluation – especially for the guys up front – so we're going to try to find the guys that can play football and this is where it's going to start to look the most like what we do on Sundays aside from tackling and taking guys to the ground. Our guys are excited about it, they're ready to go, and I look forward to a good afternoon.

Q: So no full live periods?

A: No, we're not going to tackle to the ground today. So as the runner goes through, they're going to thud and simulate a tackle and then continue to let the runner run and strip the ball out and all the things you continue to do, but we're just not going to tackle to the ground.

Q: I was just curious if you do tackle to the ground at some point?

A: In a former life. In Philly we would have certain periods where we would tackle to the ground. We'll just have to see as we go if we intend to do that. Typically, if you play enough of the players in the preseason, that's sort of where it happens, in those games. 

Q: How often would you like to bring out full pads this year? Do you have sort of an idea in mind about that?

A: Yeah, we'll see. I have a plan for how often we're going to be in pads, but initially here it'll be today, tomorrow and Monday.

Q: Pat, do you adjust if in a preseason game you don't like something you see, do you maybe say "we've got to ramp it up a little bit after that?"

A: Possibly, I don't remember a time where that was the case. I think the important thing is training the players, giving them everything they need – and sometimes too much is just as bad as not enough. So we just want to be smart with them. Unfortunately, there are collisions sometimes in ways you don't like, but that's part of football.

Q: It seems inevitable that when the pads get on they get a little temperamental. What's your general view on fights in camp?

A: Yeah, boys will be boys and it's competitive, and part of what makes our players special is they embrace the contact, they look for it, and they're super competitive, and they never want to lose. So I sort of look at fighting as you're sort of emotionally injured for a little bit, but we try to separate the guys, cool them down – sort of like walking off an ankle injury – and then when we're sure they're okay, we put them back in and get to work.

Q: Two guys that have seemed to have flashed these first couple of days, one on each side of the ball, Amba Etta-Tawo and Curtis Riley.

A: Yeah, both guys. Amba's had a good offseason and the first part of camp he's done a nice job and then Riley's done a really nice job. He's back there, he's moving around, he understands the calls he has to make, and yeah, he's done a nice job.

Q: At free safety, in that battle there, what do you want the guy that wins that battle to excel most at?

A: I think it's important that safeties, number one, have to be able to communicate. They direct the back end, so you're looking for a guy that has those skills and does it well within our scheme. Obviously, you have to be able to then play what a safety plays. You've got to be able to play half the field, you've got to be able to play quarters, and then you've got to be able to play the middle of the field. And then lastly, you've got to be able to play low, in the box, so you don't always just have a strong or a free. So those are all the things you're looking for.

Q: Does that change a little bit because Landon is a piece here? Obviously,

Bettcher has talked about moving him around a little bit. Does that change what you're looking for with that guy to compliment him a little bit?

A: In some cases. If you have one safety that is really, really good at doing one thing, then you compensate with the other safety, kind of overplay him. The reality of pro football is if you are going to play shell coverage, which is some form of two-deep whether it's quarters or two, those guys need to both be able to equally play the back half of the field. That's sort of where it starts. From there, one of them screws down into the front and then we'll try to utilize the best assets of the players we have.

Q: Do you yet have a sense of the on-field personality of your offensive line?

A: I've just watched them work - I think as we go along here, you will see that kind of emerge through camp. I've got a good feeling of the personalities of the guys that you're talking about. It's equally important to be able to work well with the guys in the unit. As we get in pads and we start to go through this process, that's where we'll start to see all that gel.

Q: You told us in the spring not to read so much into the center snaps, but we are still seeing Jon Halapio get all the first string work. What is it that you really like about Jon at this point?

A: The closer you are to the ball, the more you need to communicate. I think he's done a good job communicating, getting us going in the right direction. We are fortunate enough in practice to see a lot of looks, which will help us and serve us well as we move forward and he has done a good job with that. He also has to do what every lineman does – block his guy and then work in conjunction with the guys next to him and he has done a good job with that as well.

Q: How do you see your quarterbacks behind Eli Manning? Is it clear Davis Webb has had a year over Kyle Lauletta? Is he definitely the number two quarterback?

A: In my mind, we have Eli, and we haven't really structured the depth chart beyond that. I think it's important that the guys come out here and use the reps that they get to get better. That's probably a question that's better for later in camp. We want to fight as coaches to be instant evaluators. I mentioned it yesterday, we game plan and then we develop players. So, we're in the phase right now where we are trying to develop players.

Q: Back to Halapio, he was basically a guard for the most of his career. When did you realize center was his spot and what stood out to make you feel that way?

A: When you look at a guy, you can tell if he is able to play center or not. Certainly, he's able to snap the ball and communicate. As I mentioned earlier, the closer you are to the ball, the more communication takes place and the more critical that communication is. As you work away from the ball, there are fewer things to communicate about and you're sort of told what to do. So that's really the first piece, and then his natural ability just to snap. Most often, until you become a starting center, you have to be somewhat of a swing guy and play guard and he's gone through that process. We were fortunate to win 14 games in Minnesota last year, we used three centers, that's not always obvious. It's important to develop the centers. Jonesy (Brett Jones) is doing a really good job. I have to make sure we get him in there with the one's too because he's progressing in a way that we like.

Q: Talk about the running back room and how those guys have fed off each other?

A: I think they work well together. I think Craig (Johnson) is an excellent teacher. Its not like in the meeting rooms the coaches are just telling players what to do, there is constant communication and constant feedback. I see because of the veteran presence of Jonathan Stewart, then you have younger players like Wayne Gallman and then even Rob Martin has done a nice job, and obviously Saquon. We have a good group in there, a group of guys that are pretty smart about what they want to do and they communicate well. I think that makes for a good group.

Q: One of the things this team didn't do well last year is return kicks, how do fix that in the sense that you can't really do that in camp?

A: I think the important thing is it's like any offensive play. You have to block it properly and whoever has the ball has to be smart with it. We are working on those phases and you will see it in the preseason games live.

Q: What does Andrew Adams have to do to stick here?

A: He has to do all the things we talked about when we were talking about free safeties. He just has to continue to improve, he's flashed in ways. It's been a big emphasis for us to catch the football. That's just not wide outs or guys on offense. The same can be said about defense. Yesterday, there were some interceptions where we finished the play with the ball and if you look at it, catching the football -- we all talk about it from an offensive standpoint -- but it's important that those safeties in the back end can finish with the ball in their hands. That's one of the other things that they need to do. Typically for safeties, it's tipped balls and overthrows. It might be an easy one and you have to catch and he's done a good job of that, along with the other things we talked about. He's shown flashes.

Q: You spoke about the battery of your football team; center and free safety being able to communicate, what are you looking for in your nose and your inside backers?

A: Same thing, there's different levels to the defense like there is different levels to the offense. Upfront, getting everything set from the center on out is very important. The Mike linebacker has to communicate how we're lined up, the safeties have to communicate what the configuration of the back end looks like. A lot of times when a coach says we need a lot of reps, what a defensive coach is saying is I want to see as many looks as I can possibly see so that these guys can train themselves for what they are going to see in the game. A lot of times, it doesn't have to end with a tackle to the ground. All that stuff is happening whether it's in a walk through, half speed setting or a drill where there is not a lot of contact.

Q: With the clean slate you talked about, what is Eli Apple doing to add to that slate under your guidance?

A: With my eyes, just a few months into this, I'm seeing a guy that's all about his business. He is very business-like and he is covering really well, which is a good attribute for a corner. I like the way he is working. He's out there challenging but he is also being smart. Based on what I have seen, there are very few mistakes that he is making when we move the coverage around and I like the way he is functioning in the building. He's very attentive in meetings. In my mind, based on what I've seen, he's acting like a pro.

Running Back Jonathan Stewart

July 28, 2018

Q: How has the running back room been so far and how have you guys fed off each other early on in camp?

A: The running back room has been really cool. The running back coach is smart, has a lot of wisdom, a lot of knowledge. Everybody there can play and not only can they play, but they're very smart so it makes everything easy.

Q: How much have those other guys been picking your brain everyday to see kind of what you've done over your career?

A: Everyday I get a couple of questions here and there. You can definitely tell that they're eager to learn and just work on their craft and just be better teammates and football players.

Q: How much do you have to learn because it is a new system?

A: If you're not learning everyday then you're getting dumber, so you got to figure something to get better at everyday. I'm always picking the other guys' brains. I'm always trying to pick Eli's [Manning] brain, some of the receivers' brains. Even from like my running back peers. Just because I'm older and a vet doesn't make it that I know everything.

Q: You called them peers. All of those guys are saying how much you helped them when they watched you. Is that important for you to think of them as peers and not that your are the mentor to this group?

A: I mean, yeah. At the end of the day we're a team and there's no hierarchy. Yeah, you have to do your job and you have to help the team win, but the moment you start thinking of yourself as something bigger than the team, that's when things can go downhill.

Q: We know the linemen have been talking about how they can't wait for the pads to go on. As a running back, does it change a little bit today?

A: Oh yeah, it'll definitely change, you'll definitely have to embrace the thud and stuff like that. Just practice like a professional, we're out here trying to get better and get through this preseason and show what we've got and get ready for the first game of the season.

Q: Do you remember going back when you were a rookie, that first time, that first hit you took?

A: Yeah, it was Thomas Davis, linebacker for Carolina [Panthers]. During practice, up the A-gap, it was a power play and no one blocked him. But after that though, I let him know that I wasn't just going to back down. I think the very next play I came right back at him and stiff armed him or something like that. I mean, that's football, right?

Q: As someone who has watched Saquon [Barkley] to this point, is part of you kind of eager to see…?

A: Oh yeah, I'm definitely eager to see him and put the pads on. I mean he's excited to be out here with the pads today so. As a running back, as a football player, there's nothing like when you put the pads on for the first time. He's going to experience that today at this level and it's a big step.

Q: Nobody blocked Thomas [Davis] on purpose or was it a rookie hazing?

A: I don't know what that was back then. It might have been a little bit of everything. All jokes aside, me and Thomas are very close and we always talk about that play every year.

Q: What year was he, then? He didn't come in the same year as you?

A: No, no, no, no. Yeah, two or three years ahead of me.

Q: So you expect [Alec] Ogletree to run free on the first play?

A: No, respect your teammates [Laughter].

Q: What have you been able to figure out about the personality of this offensive line's on field personality.

A: Relentless. Those guys are really starting to come together and work as a unit. That's the biggest thing is chemistry with that group. With depth and to be able to continue that chemistry on the field, no matter who's in there, is very important and they seem like they're a very close knit group which is important.

Q: You ever seen somebody ask so many questions as Saquon [Barkley]? You were kind of talking about how he was picking your brain everyday.

A: He's a student of the game and if you're not asking questions, then you don't really care. All credit to him because his preparation, just coming in here and just the mindset to be ready to pretty much soak up any and everything about this offense and about the professional level, that's that guy.

Q: Does it kind of make you up your game because everyone is asking these questions and you feel like you've got to have some answers.

A: Absolutely, you've got to stay in your books, you got to know what's going on. Study to assure you improve, right? Me being an older guy too and being a room full of young guys has definitely made me more youthful.

Q: Any athlete would always say – how much would you want to play and they would say I want to start. How do you approach this? Do you just say I take what I get or…?

A: I approach it like I do every year. I play this game to win football games and at the end of the day you practice like you're the starter because you never know when your number is going to be called. That's how I've ever done it since I was in high school.

Q: You've had a lot of up and down seasons through you career. What's the key to do a quick turnaround like the Giants are trying to do?

A: I'd say just consistency. Just be who you are and be ready to feed off. If you're at home with your family, you're a father and a husband. If you're at the facility, you're the best teammate that you could be.

Q: Was it good to see Dave Gettleman the other day?

A: Oh absolutely. His attitude about everything right now that he's going through is very inspirational. I'm just glad to see him up and walking and smiling, so it's good.

Q: Something the team could kind of rally around, right?

A: Oh yeah, absolutely. Cancer is as terrible as it is. It's definitely uplifting for those who get the opportunity to watch someone like Gettleman just battle. It's really cool.

Cornerback Eli Apple

July 28, 2018

Q: How are things going?

A: Good. All is well.

Q: Coach Shurmur could not say enough good things about you, your performance on the field, your conduct in the film room, study habits, all those things, gave you a big thumbs up. How important is that to you that you've made that impression on a guy who's coming in to be a first-year coach with you guys?

A: It's definitely important for me. That was a first impression type of thing, I just wanted to show that I'm a hard worker and just continue to show that even now, because as we continue to go on with these practices, it's about just staying on top of that and trying to get better every day. 

Q: What, if anything, feels different for you?

A: I wouldn't say anything necessarily feels completely different. I mean, it's a lot of new faces, especially with the coaches, of course, that's obvious. But, I feel like the energy is a little bit different, everybody's just anxious and ready to go out there and just get better every day on the field.

Q: What do you think you accomplished this offseason?

A: I think just fine tuning some things and just working on my craft, and just staying on top of my footwork and just eating right, trying to just be the best athlete I can be. 

Q: So far do you feel as though you have a little bit more calm in your game when you're out there practicing?

A: A little bit, a little bit, but I'm still trying to get the plays down and talk to the vets and the guys that have played in this defense, like Kareem Martin and even some of the guys that we have helping us, consultants like Rashad Johnson and Deshea [Townsend] as well. They've definitely been helping me a lot.  

Q: Coach Shurmur said you've been a pro, you look like a pro. What does that mean to you?

A: Just going about your business every day and just keeping everything all business, and asking a lot of questions, and trying to learn.

Q: You're a young player, you haven't been in the league a long time – but is that something that maybe you've had to learn, too? What does that mean to be a pro?

A: It's definitely a process. I think it's just, every day is a new day and you try to learn as much as you can, try to pick the brains of the older guys, and try to give the best effort and be the best player you can be.

Q: When Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur came in, the big thing they said was that all players have a clean slate. Players hear that a bunch of times. Were you wondering, is this a legit clean slate? There's a clean slate, and then there's kind of, well, there's a clean slate but we're still worried about some things.

A: I'm not worried about that. I'm just trying to go out there and be the best person I can be, be the best teammate, and just go as hard as I can.

Q: Does this feel very new to you? You've been in the building, but new coaches, new staff, new lots of things?

A: It feels good to me. I think everything's good right now, we just have to continue to strive and get better every day. 

Q: It seems like you've grown up, you've matured. Do you feel that way?

A: I think every day I'm kind of getting older, growing up a little bit, and my birthday is actually August 9. I turn 23, so naturally I think I'm getting older, getting a little bit more mature. Just trying to continue to just learn – that's the main thing, learning and getting better.

Q: Do you think your career was somewhat at a crossroads last year because of all the stuff that was written about you?

A: I mean, it was a lot, but I think just growing now and continuing to get better every day. I think I can only get better from here.

Q: When you look back at last year, your summer last time, what do you think of your camp last year?

A: I was solid. I think I did pretty well, but it's always building on top of stuff and I want to get better, I want to be more physical, I want to be a better player out there, just running around, making more plays.

Q: Do you have a sense of how important you are to this team? What is your sense of where your place is on this team?

A: Just out there on the corner, just manning my island, taking away the receivers, just locking up. That's all.

Q: From what we've seen, you played almost exclusively with the first team defense. Does that mean anything to you that they sort of just put you right back in there and you stayed there to this point?

A: I think it's just, they have a lot of confidence in me and they told me that they feel like I'm a really good player and as long as I listen to them, I can get better and become a Pro Bowl player. I think I see that as well, so with my athleticism, especially in this defense, I can see myself just excelling in it and I'm looking forward to this season. 

Q: What about this defense? What makes you think you can excel, and maybe it fits you?

A: It's an aggressive defense, a lot of man, but we also change things up so we can keep the offense on their toes a little bit. It's going to be great. You guys are gonna have to sit back and watch and see, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Q: It seemed like there was a lot of fun on the field from the secondary yesterday in practice, especially once you guys went outside – some interceptions, some breakups – what was that like being out there?

A: It was great. It's always great to see guys make plays and getting picks, especially as a secondary, that's what we want to see on the field. But we've just got to keep it going every day. That was yesterday, now we just gotta keep going today.

Q: Obviously you compete against the wide receivers, but do you compete against Jackrabbit in practice?

A: Yeah, a little bit. Like when I see Jackrabbit make a play on the other side, I think to myself, 'OK, it's time for me to make a play if the quarterback comes my way,' but it's always fitting that I'm trying to pick his brain because he was All-Pro, Pro Bowl corner, so he's definitely one of the best in the game. So, if I can learn as much as I can from him, that'll make me a better player. 

*Q: He seems to be making a lot of plays in camp. You feel like you need to keep up? *

A: They've been going his way a lot, so hopefully they come my way so that I can make some plays.

Q: Already in summer, they're not throwing at you – is that what you're saying?

A: I'm not saying that at all. He has more opportunities, that's all.

Q: Often, the linemen and the running backs will salivate when they hear there are going to be three days of padded practices in a row. As a defensive back, what goes through your mind when you know you've got three days of padded practices coming up?

A: It's real football. It's real football, and now it's going to be a lot more thumping, a lot more talking, it's going to be a lot more energy.

*Q: Three years with him – how would you describe Andrew Adams as a teammate, as a player? *

A: Great teammate, great pro, comes about his business and he's always asking questions trying to learn. He's very smart on the field, too, always knows the right spots. Somebody you can rely on.