Coach Pat Shurmur
It's the day after the off day. We just had a good walkthrough. We'll get a good practice this afternoon. We've got a special group here. We've got a group of young writers that are here (through) a program with the New York Times. They'll get a chance to watch us do our thing. With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: Having looked at the film and spoken with the coaches, where do you think the team has made the most progress since the spring this first week, and where do they stand as far as what they still have to work on?
A: Where we've made the most progress, I think, is the familiarity with the schemes on really all three sides of the ball, so offense, defense and special teams. I think our younger players have come further this year than maybe they did last year. Those are probably the areas (we've made the most progress). This is a critical week, as you get into the second week of training camp, so to speak, because our next off day will be Sunday, then we start to get into training camp slash game prep stuff for the preseason game. We've got a long way to go, I think, to get where we need to be. But I think it's a good first week.
Q: When you say younger players are further this year, do you mean first to second year guys? Or are you comparing first year to first year players (from last year to this year)?
A: First year to first year, I think, because our systems are more in place. They were able to… Last spring, we were sort of sorting through it, so then the rookies were sorting through it with us. Now it's more defined what we choose to do, and so that allows the rookies to come just a little further quicker.
Q: Is Oshane (Ximines) in that group?
A: Oh, for sure. He's done a good job in the first week. Some of what he's shown is natural ability, which he came here with.
Q: Considering he came from a smaller program, does he have a little bit more of a polished toolbox than maybe you thought he would have?
A: We talked last year about (Kyle) Lauletta coming from a small school. He had a long way to go. (Oshane's) playing a little bit different of a position. I would say you'll be able to see more of what he can do quicker than maybe a quarterback position.
Q: Basically (you've had) two or three practices in full pads. How would you evaluate where the offensive line is right now, compared to where it was a year ago?
A: Well, I feel like we're more settled. I have a real good vision of probably the front six or seven guys, and where they'll play. With the addition of (Mike) Remmers, obviously, and (Kevin) Zeitler, that's pretty settled right there on the right side, where last year we were sort of unsettled there.
Q: What have you seen from Tae Davis?
A: He's one of the guys that is much more comfortable in year two. He's obviously got great skill and ability. He can run around, cover, make tackles and all those things. But you can just see there's more of a comfort level in the system, whereas to where he should be depending on what the call is.
Q: How much would you like to, or maybe need to, use some of the other quarterbacks with the first-team? Is that something you feel is necessary at any point over the summer or during training camp?
A: Well, Eli's in there. They're all in there at times with backup players. There are times where even Eli is throwing to backup receivers. There's a pretty good mix between the ones and the twos. I think we can see what we need to see from that standpoint.
Q: Does it help Daniel (Jones) that when he's out there, he's throwing to NFL receivers and not other rookies? Sometimes a rookie quarterback comes in and he's with other rookies who are kind of feeling their way along. He's got guys that have established themselves already.
A: I think it does help. Guys being where they're supposed to be more consistently helps the quarterback. Training camp is about training the quarterback. I think we all do that. Everybody does that, whatever camp you're in.
Q: Would you like to see (Daniel) behind the starting offensive line at some point? Is that something you feel is necessary?
A: At some point. At some point, it might happen. We have a plan for how that's all going to play out. We'll just let it unfold for you.
Q: You're not going to share (the plan)?
A: No. You'll see it. I'm not hiding it from you. We do have a plan for that.
Q: Is there anything that you pinpointed with Eli going into the offseason that you wanted him to improve on? I know he's been around for a long time, but there are always things. Is there anything that you targeted that he has worked on?
A: I think it started in the offseason. His training was just a little bit different than it's been (in the past), and I think he's really throwing the ball well. When he came back for OTAs, we saw it. Some of it was physical, some of it was how he trained. Going through this, especially with the quarterback, we're more at step two. We can come out and say, 'We're going to run this play,' and I can say, 'Hey listen Eli, if it's Cover Two, let's check it to this.' And we don't even have to have practiced it. We can just call it in the huddle and get it done. Those types of things… You ask the quarterbacks to get better every day and train and do all of the right things, and along the way, they sort of find their way. Eli's done that every year. Eli knows what he's looking at, he knows when he sees it. When you're in a system longer, then you'll pull the trigger quicker also. I think that's where maybe you'll see a little difference.
Q: Were any of those changes in training that you mentioned his decision, or your suggestion?
A: He always has a plan in the offseason. It was just a little bit different this year. Along the way, as we're developing what we want to do tactically, then we make the changes that kind of fit the quarterbacks that we have.
Q: What have you seen from both of those guys (Eli and Daniel) against the blitz? Because it seems like there have been several periods each day where maybe you've turned up the heat a little bit. How do you feel the quarterbacks are handling it?
A: I think they're doing well. I mean, we have a blitz period every day. It's a part of shaving. You've got to practice against the blitz every day. You've got to do it, and I think they've done a good job. There's a lot to learn. I think it's important for our defense, and important for our team, to be able to do it. I think our guys have handled it pretty well.
Q: Have you heard anything from the league about Golden Tate's appeal?
A: No. I'll let those details sort of unfold. It'll be soon, I'm sure. It's obviously before the start of the season. With that being said, he's out here training like he's going to be there Week One. Aside from that being on the horizon, the issues of the day don't change.
Q: Do you prepare for him to not be there (Week One)? Do you have to assume the worst and prepare without him (in the game plan)?
A: Well, I always assume the best. It's just like anything. If all of a sudden you don't have a player, then you make the adjustments. At that time, if they decide we don't have him, then we make adjustments.
Q: At backup running back, is there a quality that you are looking for most? Paul Perkins got some first team reps the other day. You've got a guy like Rod Smith, Wayne Gallman… What do you prioritize looking at a guy backing up Saquon?
A: Well, there's a handful of things they have to do, and do well. Certainly, they have to be able to run the football. They need to be good in pass protection. Then when we choose to throw it to them, they have to be able to catch it. So, those three things. Normally where young players, or players that haven't played much, are behind is in pass protection. That's why it's important that they get their reps. It's important that they're able to do all of those things. Quite frankly, all the running backs got high marks or medium marks in all of those three areas.
Q: With the weather being what it's supposed to be like today, very hot, what do you do to keep the players safe in terms of the heat?
A: We're always aware of the heat. Player safety is always on the front burner for us. But it is the second-to-last day of July. It's warm in most climates where we're playing NFL football. That's part of it, is dealing with the heat to some degree. But we'll give them breaks, let them drink water and then keep track of things. I think it's important to adjust as we see fit. This is a process as you go through training camp. Each guy at this point is at maybe a little different place than the next guy, in terms of being ready to play Week One. So, we just keep track of it. That's why sometimes you'll see guys in practice and out of practice. We're just trying to get them the work they need and get them trained up, but try to be smart as well.
QB Eli Manning
Q: Question on first week of camp?
A: I thought the first week went well. A few of those guys are so much more advanced than last year at this point in all areas and more settled on protections, routes and concepts. Everybody has a better idea of what's going on. There's been some days that are better than others, that happens with training camp. I think guys are competing hard and doing the right thing. We are on the right path to improving every day.
Q: Pat said earlier he think the biggest difference in the offensive line is how much more settled you are on the right side, do you see that as well, and what is your assessment of where the guys are now?
A: I think they are better off now just in a sense of a couple things. There is a year under everybody's belt, last year a lot of new guys. Nate's new, Will's new we have new guys on the right side, but also a new offense, new calls, new terminology. There's a lot going on, we had to figure out a lot things and work through and make the mistakes and try to fix them. This year, there's a combination of guys that have been in this offense and bringing in as guy like Zeitler and Remmers who has been in this style of offense before, the calls are very similar, so he picks up right on it (Remmers). I think all those things help them play that much faster, not having the mistakes, picking up things quicker like some of the twists that the defensive line does. I think its been its been a lot smoother in that sense.
Q: Any thoughts on the injuries to the receivers?
A: I think its unfortunate, I feel bad for Corey Coleman with the ACL. Hopefully we can get Slayton back, Shep will hopefully be back soon. He's at least able to run routes and be able throw some routes. We don't want him to get in bad habits, he has to catch everything with one hand. Not throwing him the ball but we can have him run the route full speed. I can look at him, I can see his body language and still kind of get some timing stuff. When he comes back from the thumb he won't be a step behind. I think it's a great opportunity to get Cody going and get some of these young receivers going. Getting Bennie Fowler and Evan Engram moving around. I think its an opportunity for other guys to step up and see what they do. It hasn't affected our offense in the sense that we are not able to go out there and execute the against the defense.
Q: What kind of progress has Cody made specifically?
A: I thought Cody had a great offseason last year. Coming into the season he was going to play well. Unfortunately, he had the injury and missed a lot of time, but came back that last game and played really well versus Dallas. I think he's come up strong, he can really run, he knows all of his assignments, he's dialed into what we are doing and he's made some nice plays for us. He's a big target who can also stretch the field and he's having a great camp so far.
Q: Coach Shurmur said you were doing a couple different things in off-season, was that your decision or his suggestion, how do you guys talk about your off-season workouts?
A: I just mixed up where I was working out and what I was doing. The year before I was here a bunch, I got my own trainer this year. I went to the baseball world, I've done that in the past. We've gone into that field a little bit more, relative to throwers and quarterbacks. Just working hard on the weight training parts of it and keeping my legs strong and feeling healthy and making sure things are working properly. A lot of arm care, just keeping my arm strong or improve my arm strength at this level. I feel like it has paid off, I'm throwing the ball well. The arm is staying strong, (Staying after practice) three or four days after practice to not lose it which is what happens in training camp sometimes. You have four practices in a row, if you are not used to it you can see your arm getting tired and it still feeling strong and coming out good.
Q: Is that Tom house or someone else?
A: No, a local guy here in New Jersey.
Q: What's his name?
A: Mickey Brueckner is his name.
Q: What do you do to prepare for the heat during training camp?
A: Hydration is huge. Just make sure you are mentally prepared for it and not cramping up. Its good, its good to get hot and have these practices to test guys mentally. When it gets hot and you are changing plays, cadences and receivers they have to be dialed in. It always becomes a wet ball drill with these snaps on a hot day and the centers and what's going on with them. Its good, you aren't always going to get a dry ball, conditions aren't going to be perfect. It tests everybody's mentality, you want to make it hard on them and test them mentally because that will prepare us for that game. We only get 25 plays with the ones in a practice, in a game you are going to have 60 plays, we have to get ready for that.
Q: What about Golden Tate you won't have him for the first four games, but you have to create chemistry is there a balance there?
A: Right now, you go as planned. He's working different spots, a lot in the slot. Just getting on the same page with concepts and routes and getting a feel for his body language coming out of breaks. I think he has done a good job, he's a professional, he has been at this a long time. He's done a good job just learning the offense, knowing the concepts and having a good feel for things. I think we keep going as everything is normal for him.
Q: How much have the injuries and other things impacted the healthy receivers?
A: I think like you said you get a lot of reps with other guys that are going to play for us. Over the course of the season guys are going to get banged up, we are going to have guys missing games. Guys are going to be moving around in different spot, I think the more live reps you get with a number a guys (the better), obviously now we've had some injuries so Cody is going to have a bigger role. Getting on the same page with him is going to help us out.
Q: Everyone has a different motivation, and some guys' motivations changes up year to year. How much do you use your current situation, in the last year of you contract, for yourself and your motivation?
A: I think my motivation is more a desire to win, it's the desire to chase that feeling of winning games. What that feels like in the locker room, what it feels like to get on a hot streak and win four or five in a row. The excitement, the attitude, winning a playoff game, and getting that feeling of winning a championship, and the feelings you get to experience when you go through those scenarios so I think that's kind of more of the motivation than trying to prove someone else wrong, that's more of the personal motivation.
Q: Are there exercises that you perhaps learned in baseball, that can help strengthen your arm?
A: In football training not everybody is doing as much shoulder rotator cuff or core as a quarterback needs. In the offseason, some of those lower body lifts are similar or the same, but I think just taking the time, you have to start early, get your movements right, get your functionality right, and get stronger in your legs, because that helps your arm strength. It all generates from your lower half, your core, and your agility. I think that's good, and obviously there is a whole other element to the arm, and how much requires to stay on top of it. You kind of get a plan that takes you into the offseason and into the season, so stay on that and get a plan off how much to keep doing that because as a quarterback you are throwing a lot more. You probably have break down some of the arm care but still do enough where you're staying strong.
Q: Do you feel better or are you trying to maintain?
A: I feel better, I feel stronger, I feel a bit stronger in a lot of the lifts that we're doing. I had a good offseason, and right now, once you get to the season, you're not trying to get stronger at this point, you're just trying to keep your strength.
DL Dexter Lawrence
Q: How are things going so far?
A: I've been enjoying myself. I tell myself every day that I would hate it if I wasn't doing it, so I'm just happy to be out here helping the team get better each and every day.
Q: How big a job is it?
A: My thing is—I say this kind of every day—everybody on defense, do your one eleven. Everybody do their job, and it'll all come together at the end in making a great play.
Q: How is playing on the end in a 3-4 different from (inaudible)? What do you like about it?
A: Just a little bit more space you can work with out there. At Clemson, I was stuck inside a little bit, and now I get to play on the edge. I'm enjoying it a lot, all the different opportunities at the position.
Q: What's it been like going against (Kevin) Zeitler, (Will) Hernandez with pads on, both of you guys can use your full strength and mass against each other?
A: It's been good. It's just kind of what you expect. Every day you come in, you're in the elite level now. Everybody is big, and strong, and smart, so it's kind of what my mindset has been. Just to use my strength to help them get better, and then you help me get better, so it's kind of like a collective effort.
Q: Anything you started to figure out, going against these guys every day?
A: Yes, they switch up their pass protections, so they just help me learn how to defeat different ones.
Q: What is your expectation in terms of how you will be used? Do you think you'll be used on all three downs?
A: Yes, that's kind of what my expectation is. They're working me in in some base, and some dime and nickel, so that's where I expect to be used in all three downs.
Q: Is that different from your role at Clemson? Were you a three-down player?
A: No, I was pretty much a three-down player there, too. It's nothing new, just a new scheme that I have to learn. It's just all about regrouping, and just try and see where you can learn the defense a lot better to see where you can just play with the offensive line a little bit more.
Q: You hear about a lot of front seven players talking about stopping the run on the way to the quarterback. Is there anything similar maybe you've adopted in your career, or how much do you think you can give a pass rush (inaudible)?
A: Yes, at Clemson it was kind of like doing a lot of read stuff, and now it's like vertical steps every time. So, my first thought is getting vertical, and then react to the offensive line.
Q: Is it a whole new learning situation when you're on the outside--you have more space, your arms are out more?
A: I can't say—I don't feel the difference. Like you said, just more space. It's kind of just a comfortability. I feel comfortable all through the line, I feel natural at every position.
Q: Dex, are you rooming with Daniel (Jones)?
A: Yeah, that's my guy.
Q: So what's that like, because you're not comparing notes on what you're supposed to be doing with him, are you?
A: No, we're not doing that. I just ask him how his day went, what things he feels like—just normal roommate stuff, like how he did, what he could have done better. We kind of just talk about that, not about what's the script the next day.
Q: How's he like?
A: Probably how he is with you all, a little quiet, but I got him to open up more. He's accepting that I'm his roommate, and I talk a little trash. I asked him, "Do you see us in your face all the time?" He said, "No, because you all can't touch me," or something like that. Just a little trash talk.
Q: Does he talk trash back yet?
A: On the field?
A: In the house he does.
Q: Seems out of character for him.
A: No, I'm getting him to open up a little more.
Q: I think Dave Gettleman said, "You're entering a violent world." Is that a world that you're welcoming?
A: I mean, yes, that's my position. It's been like that in college as well. I can't say that—the difference is that everybody is just smarter. I feel like I can hang with anybody in physicality, that's not really a downfall in my game, it's more just these guys here are a little veteran, a little smarter, so I'm just taking practice reps against some of those vets and just talking to them, listening to them, seeing the different things they do to defeat blocks and stuff.
Q: One thing this team lacked big time last year was pressure on the quarterback. Can you guys generate that with a pretty new group?
A: Yes, that's the emphasis for the whole D-line. We're pushing each other every day in drill works, in individuals, to get up field, create pressure. When we go good on good--team reps--get in the backfield, create pressure, because if we're flushing them out, the ends got them. If the ends are flushing them in, we got them. So, it's just us working together.
Q: Dexter, traditionally in this league, men your size though don't have great success rushing the passer, they're much more of run-stoppers. What makes you think that you can have success rushing the passer at this level?
A: I'm not everybody else in the league, I'm Dexter Lawrence II. I'm different, I bring a different attitude to the game. That's kind of what this summer, well, this spring—that's what they called it, a summer event for me--just working on my pass rush, trying to be a three-down guy for the team, just to help win games.
Q: Is there a guy in the league you look at and say, "That's who I want to be."
A: I used to, not anymore. Now I'm just picking up little things from my teammates because they've been playing for some years, some of the edge guys, the interior guys, just seeing what helped make them successful.
Q: Who was the guy you wanted to be?
A: I don't know.
Q: Do you like how much pressure and high expectations (James) Bettcher and the Giants are putting on not just you, but a lot of young players to make this great?
A: Yes, I kind of got it a lot when I was in college, and I like the pressure simply because I feel like everything starts up front on the D-line. That's the attitude that we all bring into practice every day. It starts with us, we have to bring the energy and the back seven is going to bring their energy. So, we're just putting the pressure on ourselves before anyone else puts it on us.
Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern
Q: How has Tae Davis matured from where he was last year as an undrafted rookie?
A: Like you would expect. He has learned a great deal through the first year, and he's taken it upon himself to, well he has matured naturally, but he has matured physically, and as a professional he understands what's asked of him when we're on or off the field. He's building more confidence and I'm looking forward to seeing him out on the field more.
Q: He was a college safety if I'm not mistaken. What kind of transition does a college safety have coming in and switching to linebacker like Tae has had to have?
A: There's always a transition as you go from that position, to playing two different positions. Nowadays the game is being played in space a great deal, so it kind of fit to his athletic ability where he can play in space, he can move around, but he also has developed his body a little bit to help us with the physical aspect of the game.
Q: I don't know if there's a position on the field that is any different down-to-down than the inside linebackers in this league nowadays. It's almost like you can play with a completely different prototype player on one down, and the next down you can bring in what looks like a line in hockey—it's completely different. Do you feel that over the years, and how do you adjust to that while trying to figure out which players fit your system the best?
A: I agree with you on that. To find a three-down linebacker is a hard thing now. You're trying to get the guys who can do it all, who can be physical versus the run, can make all of the checks, can handle everything, can play in space, can cover a man, can blitz, and obviously, is a good tackler. Those things all in one package are harder to find nowadays. But as we go forward with it, we are trying to use everybody's skills on the entire team. So if somebody is better in coverage, if somebody's better versus the run, we are trying to mix and match. You're not going to be perfect with it all, but you're trying to get the guys to execute the best they can.
Q: Not only do you have Tae and (Lorenzo) Carter, but you have a lot of young kids – you have X (Oshane Ximines) and (Ryan) Connelly. How are they picking up compared the other young players?
A: All of those guys have done a nice job. All the young guys have come in and done a nice job. Mentally, they are handling the workload, the capacity, and volume of our playbook and everything as we are putting it in. It's been a real pleasure to have these guys respond to that.
Q: How much mentally can you give Connelly in that spot if he's not out there with one of the veterans? Is he one of those guys who can handle the load?
A: That's what it's all about right now, finding out how much all of these guys can handle. Not just Ryan, but all of the guys. Everybody out there, we have to find out what they can handle, how much they can handle, and what they can execute. It's important to keep giving them more and more. Again, as you guys know, we all went through the first week, so it's been four days and everything, but we are excited as coaches getting to the second week because now (we get) to see these guys handle more and more of the workload or playbook, and then see them get out there on the field and continue to execute it. That will be a good test.
Q: You have some veterans here who will run your huddle. B.J. (Goodson) has done it before and obviously Alec (Ogletree), but there are some younger guys here who are paired with those veterans at times. Is a guy like Connelly, specifically, ready to be the guy who can run the huddle if he needs to?
A: Well, we are going to find that out. We are going to find that out if we continue on. It's the same thing with Tae. When Tae came in, you didn't want to try to overload him with too much stuff. Having Tree (Alec Ogletree) out there obviously is a benefit, but then now, as these guys come along we are just trying to find out which guys can handle more and more and just try to keep feeding them.
Q: So there will be periods where you're going to throw them out there and see if they can run the huddle?
A: Oh yeah, I want to see what those guys can do. Absolutely. I want to see what they can do, and how they stand on their own two feet.
Q: The knock on Alec Ogletree was that he wasn't very good in coverage, but he had a very productive year last year. Was it just something not tapped in him, or what do you attribute that to and what can he build on as a coverage linebacker?
A: I think everybody tries to improve on everything they did last year. Tree had five interceptions last year, and that's in coverage. He came back in better shape, he worked on things where he felt like he struggled at last year. He took it personally and he's worked on all those things. All of these guys are trying to get better at every phase of the game because they need to be good at all of them.
Q: Where do you view B.J. (Goodson) fitting in? We see him, and he starts with the ones, but then you're in nickel so much. How does he fit in?
A: He understands the nickel game, (and) he can play the nickel game. He's strong, he's physical against the run, he's gotten better against the pass receiver and moves better, even in this preseason camp. We're excited just to see everything that he's doing as it continues on, and kind of plays itself out as we get into the games.
Q: Going back to the conversion questions from safety to linebacker. Is it easier to convert from safety to linebacker because you're maybe going forward a little bit more than you are at safety?
A: Obviously going forward, you're moving from a person who should have, technically, some more speed in that sense, and you're moving forward. It's harder for guys who may be playing linebacker to go back to another position, that would be harder. It's fair, (and) it's mental—what can they handle mentally, how can they adjust to it, and can they handle all the rigors of that position?
RB Coach Craig Johnson
Q: In this era of what people call a "passing league," how important is the running game, and how critical is that still in today's game?
A: I still think it's critical, because you like to have balance. You want to be a balanced offense, so the defense can't attack just your pass or your run game. Most of the teams that have been successful and have had a chance to win it all, have had a good balance between the run and the pass. I don't think football will ever go away from the run, even though the emphasis is on the pass.
Q: When you have a special back like Saquon (Barkley), how difficult is that for a defense? How important is that to an overall offense?
A: I think one thing that helps with the passing game is if a lot of eyes are on the back, because they're concerned about what he's going to do in the run game. It allows the tight ends and receivers to maybe get better releases in their routes, a little bit more space to work. That's how the game kind of has become.
Q: Do you want to go into the season with a number two running back? A guy that whenever Saquon needs a blow, it's going to be the same guy?
A: I can't make a determination yet. I actually think that's why you have preseason practices. You want to find out… I like to think that Saquon is going to start, but you want to find out the best guy, or maybe guys, that are going to be able to make that happen. That's kind of what we're seeing in the preseason. We'll determine how much, who, strategy and all that, and carries and all that when we get closer to the season. But right now, we've got to try to find the best 53 (players) to give us a chance to win.
Q: How is he different this year, Saquon, from a year ago at this time?
A: I think the single, biggest difference is that he now has been through the year. He understands the grind, what's going to happen in the preseason. He understands more how defenses are going to attack him. One of the big things he wanted to do is continue to improve his knowledge of defense. So, 'If a team is playing me this, this is going to probably be our answer, and this is what I have to practice that week.' Little details like that for a guy that's going into his second year. Most second-year players go through that. First, they kind of understand the playbook in the first year. In the second year, they go beyond the playbook a little bit and start trying to figure out how to attack defensive personnel.
Q: Do you think he has an understanding that he's going to be the player defenses try to stop now?
A: I don't think there's any doubt in my mind because of all the success he had from a year ago. That's just part of the game. You deal with that. Being the target of a defense, if you have a really good season the year prior, the defenses are geared, and they're tremendous in the NFL, and they're going to try to take away what you do best. So, that's what we're going to try to work on to keep expanding him, as with all of the backs, to try to be better in all three phases.
Q: Jon Hillman has explosiveness. What is it about his game makes you happy to have him on this roster? What did you see from him in college?
A: I saw a guy that runs very hard, runs behind his pads, and was a good pass-blocker. He could catch the ball. He has shown the same attributes when he's been here, so that's been good to see. I'm excited about him. But he's got to understand that as a young player in college, you're the focal guy. In the pros, you get limited reps and you really have to shine through. That's typical of all young players. What I need to continue to see from him is that when he jumps in here, he knows what to do, and he can play fast to catch our attention to see if he can find a way to get on this roster.
*Q: Does Wayne Gallman catch the ball well enough? Obviously, it's a big part of your offense is throwing to the running backs. We know Rod Smith can, Paul Perkins… Does Wayne Gallman do that well enough, or is that an area he needs to improve in? *A: I think that all of the backs, including our starting back, can continue to work on catching the ball. As they know, at the end of the day when it gets right down to the time to try to find the best 53 (players) for your roster… Any back, Wayne included, Eli (Penny), all of our guys have to make sure to continue to work on all phases. We work on those drills, if you watch our drills, all of the time. I would say yes, Wayne needs to get better. Yes, Saquon needs to get better. All of them need to continue to work on that thing, so you can be a back that can stay on the field a little bit longer.
Q: Paul (Perkins) spent last year on injured reserve. What are your impressions of him coming back?
A: I thought in the spring that Paul had a little bit of rust to him, because he's been away from the game for a little bit. The Perkins I see right now is the Paul Perkins I know. He's playing well.
Q: Do you have a percentage of time last season that you saw eight men in the box?
A: No. I know our Mr. Stat Man would be able to give you that information. I don't know that. I do know that because we had a lot of injuries, they played us a little bit different in the second half of the year than they played us in the first half. I'm expecting that (defenses) will be similar to that. But again, the greatest thing that players learn, what Saquon's thing is, 'they attacked you this way last year, and now they're going to attack you this way. How am I going to react to it?' That's why he is a relentless film-studier. So, I think that will help him as he prepares for this season.
Q: What was the biggest difference in the second half (of the season) and how they attacked you? Was it eight man boxes?
A: I think they played a little bit more of that because of injuries, and they were going to see if they could stop the run. Obviously, we had some success by running and being able to use play-action pass to kind of slow them down and spread the ball out. That was good, and our offense obviously improved more. So, we're going to see if we can take from that level and continue to improve.
Q: It's pretty rare in the league for a running back to have back-to-back 2,000-yards from scrimmage years in this league. It's hard to do once, let alone back-to-back. What would Saquon have to do to maximize the chances of doing that?
A: It's going to obviously come down to how many chances he gets to see the ball. But that's strategy. What we're going to try to do, I think, for the most part, and I think Saquon has said this, it's nice to have the stats but he wants the wins. Obviously, we're going to try to give him the ball, but the biggest thing we're going to try to do is make sure we win the game. He understands that. He's all for that. I feel confident when he gets his opportunities, he will play well, because I have a lot of confidence in our players. Then we'll just see how it rolls. If they want to take him away and we win the game, I think everybody is happy, and that's the key. If they're playing it 50-50, I hope he'll get the chance to show what he can do.
Q: Historically, teams that have a back like that make the playoffs, something like 70% of the time. Generally, it's a recipe for some success.
A: That's right. Most of the time, if you have a guy that can hurt the defense and allow you for explosion plays, obviously, you want to see him get his touches. But again, and Saquon's with this, he's said it numerous times, 'Let's find a way to win the game, Coach. I want to do my part, yes. I like the ball. Who wouldn't like the ball? But, let's win the game and then I'll do what I need to do as my part to help contribute to that.' Again, for him and the backs, make sure, 'When I do touch it, am I good with my routes, and am I good at protecting the quarterback?'
Q: Can (Saquon) do it again (gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage)?
A: I have high expectations. I tell the players, 'Go for the mountains. Go for it. Show that you can do it.' I want the players to reach up as high as they can.
Q: What is Paul Perkins doing to earn reps in camp, and what can he do to make this team? He's kind of competing with Rod Smith, Wayne Gallman…
A: I think that Paul Perkins, again, he's got his legs, sea legs for lack of a better term, back up underneath him, because he was out for the last year. How you get a lot of reps is you get a chance to get in, you make sure you know what you're doing when you get in, which has been a good thing. He's been very good at that, and he's got a chance to make some plays. As I've watched him, not just on running, I've watched him in pass protection. Is he in the right fits? I've watched him in his pass rush. Is he able to catch the ball, then make something happen? Any back that's doing that is going to get their chance, but all of the guys are going to be rolling through in the preseason, because again, we are trying to find the best 53 (players) that will help us win. As long as they continue to perform, they'll get a chance.