Head coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: Our guys are coming off of an off day, so I encouraged them to get back up to speed here and let’s have a good practice.
Q: It looked like Curtis Riley walked off with some ice on his leg on Monday, is he good to go today?
A: We will have to see, it’s a little hamstring thing. We will have to see how far he has come and if we can get him out here, so possibly.
Q: Same thing with Avery Moss?
A: No, different but I’ll let you guys see if he is out here or not. You know, we don’t have much time together and, I don’t mean to be, you’ll see if they’re out there or not but they’re kind of minor things.
Q: What’s the plan as far as coming back from a day off, are you going to put them back in pads or dial it back a little bit? Are you at the point now where you kind of have to take it day by day?
A: No, we are going to be in pads. The idea is we have four days now before our next off day so I would like to be in pads at least three of those days.
Q: What did you learn from that first day of increased physicality the other day?
A: Well, they were physical prior to that, so I didn’t actually ask them to be any more physical. I asked them to come out here with more energy, so that was what I asked them to do. In fact, I gave them four words – energy, expertise, enthusiasm and execution. So that’s what I asked of them and that’s what they did.
Q: You have two very young defensive linemen who are lining up with the ‘ones’ right now and you have Snacks in the middle of that, what do you need from him?
A: He needs to be a good football player, he has to be stout, he needs to be what Snacks is. He’s a force in the run game - he’s very good against the run. He needs to makes sure he does that, especially on first and second down.
Q: Do you view ‘Snacks’ as one of the leaders in the locker room?
A: I think we talk frequently about leadership, that’s where everybody goes. I also think we need to talk about followership. In other words, there are some guys that are outstanding players, and have been outstanding players their whole lives and they want to come to work and do their jobs. We need to embrace those guys, too. Now, I am not speaking in regards to Snacks, but the leadership piece, you play football and guys rise to the top and you try and inspire guys to lead the team, but sometimes we don’t talk enough about the other part of that.
Q: Is that hard, though? Especially with young guys, they are coming here and trying to find their way around and impress the coaches, so is it hard to kind of hone in on a leader?
A: Not really. I think when you watch them function, you see them work within a group, see their personalities. Sometimes your best leaders truly are your rookies because they come in with something to add and some of the older players that have supposedly been the leaders are smart enough to listen, “hey, I might learn something new from this new guy.” Leaders come in all shapes and sizes.
Q: Who have been your leaders so far?
A: I think the ones that we all think about, certainly the quarterback. We’ve had guys that have stepped up. Alec Ogletree has done a nice job, Nate Solder, Landon Collins, I can go through the list. There are a lot of guys who have displayed leadership, in my opinion. And I’ve said this before, it’s probably somewhere, you don’t have to be extraordinary to be a leader, you just have to do the right thing for the right reason at the right time all the time and then you can lead. I think sometimes we really get this thing distorted; you have to be loud and boisterous and call a team meeting. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about having the courage to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason and then you’ll lead. People will follow you if you do that on a consistent basis.
Q: How will you handle selecting captains?
A: We will worry about that later, but I have an idea of how I want to do it. Typically, at the places I have been, you vote and then decide who those guys are.
Q: How much of a challenge is it for Ogletree, new team, new defense, he kind of has to be one of the leaders of that defense as the middle linebacker. How much of a challenge is that to not only be with a new team but with a new scheme, too?
A: I think Alec has done a good job of learning our new system, it is very similar to what he did at the Rams. He just has to be the best Alec he can be everyday and then all those things we just discussed will rise to the top.
Q: It seems like Kenneth Durden has flashed a little bit. He is kind of in a weird situation. He was here, was cut and then brought back. What have you seen from him?
A: He did, to your point, he has flashed. He has gotten his hands on a couple of balls. He was out there competing, we like what we’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, sometimes when you are shaping up the roster, a guy may be let go and it’s less about him and more about what you are trying to do. So we have liked him all the way and now he is back with us.
Q: You guys have a couple of wide receivers that were Broncos wide receivers – Kalif Raymond, Hunter Sharp, Cody Latimer. Has it helped that they were coached by Tyke Tolbert in Denver and now here? Have you seen that manifest itself?
A: Well, certainly there is familiarity, I think that helps initially. Some of what we do is some of what they did, there is some of that initial familiarity, which is good, and then beyond that they just have to grow and have to do it the Giants way.
Q: You have signed several players who played for your coaches elsewhere. Do you consult with your coaches on the players as part of the process?
A: When a player is available, the typical process is Dave (Gettleman) and his staff will say, ‘Hey, listen, this guy is available, we feel like it’s an upgrade.’ Then we put our heads together, ‘What do we know about this player?’ Everyone is running around with a grade on it and then we just try to put together all the information we have on the player to make and educated decision.
Q: During the draft process, before you guys picked Saquon, he said whatever team he went to, he wanted to lead as a rookie. How, if at all, have you seen that?
A: Because he is doing those things that we have talked about. Since he has been here, he has done the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. Everybody says he’s a star, but he’s been out here working everyday to get better and so to me, that shows me that he understands what he was talking about more than, ‘Let’s have a players only meeting.’
Q: One of the things you didn’t do last week was have 11 on 11 field goals, is that coming this week?
A: We actually did, early in practice, on the line. At the very beginning of practice, if you leak out just a little bit earlier, you’ll see it. We actually try to do that most days, so yes we did it. I’m sorry you missed it.
Q: One of the old guys, Zak DeOssie, what is he bringing to the table?
A: He’s got a lot of experience. He is very, very, very accomplished as a long snapper, he’s got a great way about him and has a great feel for things, he’s seen a lot and so he’s doing a lot of the things that we were just discussing in terms of leadership.
DT Damon Harrison Sr.
Q: How’s it been getting along with the young guys [Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill]?
A: Me and Dalvin developed a great relationship last year, so it was kind of a carry over. We spoke a lot during the offseason, and B.J., he’s an interesting character, man. I don’t know if you guys have been watching, but he’s probably the most athletic defensive lineman that we have, and that says a lot. He can do a little bit of everything, which is encouraging to see, so I’m excited to get a chance to go out there preseason game one and beyond it and actually see what he can do during game day.
Q: Did you know that [B.J. Hill] was going to bring that to this team?
A: No, I just knew about the other two guys that they had on the defensive line in college. Obviously, what’s his name, [Bradley] Chubb, and the guy who got hurt here, right? I knew about those two, so I was expecting more of a bigger type of guy, but he was total opposite of a big guy who can move. Kid can run. I know you all have seen it, you’re all watching it.
Q: Does it change for you at all when you have such young guys – one’s a rookie, one’s a second-year guy, that maybe you’re bringing them up a little more?
A: Kind of. It depends on the things we’re going be running that week and the game plan, because Dalvin will tell you, I ask Dalvin a lot of questions out there and he’s able to help me for the most part, and it’s just funny being in this new system that we’re still both trying to learn what each other can do in the system and just to look at each other, ask the question and neither one of us knows the answer, which is another encouraging thing to see, believe it or not, because that means we just got a long way to go in the classroom. We gotta push each other. So yeah, it changes depending on the game plan.
Q: What about the aggressiveness of the defense overall? Do you find it to be exciting and interesting the way that you’re going to attack this year?
A: Yeah, it just takes me back to my first years in the league. It’s kind of like a Rex Ryan type defense. It’s a lot of attacking, it’s not sitting around waiting, trying to read and see the other guys on the offense are doing – it’s playing defense with an offensive mentality, so for the guys like myself and OV and Dalvin and Robert [Thomas], these are the types of systems that we love to play in.
Q: The NFL sent out a fact sheet about the new helmet rule. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I try not to get my head involved at all, so I really don’t have an opinion either way on it. I think it’s great for the game for concussions and everything.
Q: Do you think it might lead to more penalties?
A: I think it’ll lead to more lower-body injuries because guys [will be] afraid to hit up high now. I think they’ll have to lower the target, which will cause more injuries.
Q: Is [the new rule] something the players have talked about? Have you heard guys talk about it and how they’re going to approach it?
A: No, not really. It hasn’t been any serious conversations, you hear guys just saying somehow they don’t like it, somehow they could appreciate it, but I want to watch myself and see how guys adapt to it, those guys in the secondary that are affected way more than we are, and I hope they get on these offensive linemen for leading with their helmets, too, but that’s another thing. I think it’ll be good if it’ll help limit head injuries.
Q: Does all this seem very new and fresh to you after last year – new coach, new players? Last year was such a tough year. Does it feel like a refreshed feeling?
A: Yeah, obviously, because it’s turnover in the building. It’s a few holdovers, but other than that, it’s new faces. Everybody’s trying to learn everybody to figure out what makes that person tick, what makes them go. It’s kind of refreshing. I told you in the past, I’m not a guy who likes change, so it’s a real difficult time for me.
Q: Is the biggest difference for you this year that you’re not responsible for two gaps, but you attack one?
A: You just gotta be careful when you’re saying that, because it’s not necessarily a two-gapper system, and neither was last year, but I think it’s just more of an emphasis on attacking one gap and just trying not to two gap, which will be tough for me because I’m a two gapper by nature. Just to get out of that and be able just to run up the field like some of these other guys, that’ll be cool.
Q: You said in the spring some stuff about you and Saquon meeting on the field. What’s your sense of how that’s going so far?
A: I haven’t had my opportunity. The kid can run, man. I know you see him out there catching passes out of the back field, and I don’t want to put expectations on the kid yet without having him play a few games, but I think if he continues to prepare and approach the game as he has been, I think he’ll be fine.
Q: What have you thought about him just in terms of his attitude coming here? He’s a big name, big star, but he hasn’t done anything yet. How does he fit in with the rest of the team?
A: Great. Great. He’s in the locker room, he’s talking with everybody, which is a good thing to see as well. For somebody like him, it [would] be easier for him to stick with Stewart or Gallman, or even the receivers, but he’s over by the defensive linemen a lot as well as the secondary and the linebackers, so I think he’s a perfect fit for the locker room.
Q: We’ve talked to you in the past about being a leader – the label, are you a leader or are you not a leader. You’ve had various things to say about that. With a new defense, a lot of young players, you’ve got three new young players up front, do you feel that is in your nature that you need to be [that leader]?
A: I think in certain situations. If the situation calls for it, then I’m willing to step up to the plate and be that, but I think as an overall leader, we have some guys who would be perfect in that role. Landon [Collins] is a natural-born leader, whether it be on the field or off the field. Obviously, you all know about Eli [Manning] and Zak DeOssie, but Ogletree as well, B.J. Goodson, Janoris Jenkins. These are all guys who show some really good leadership qualities and I think that they’re not getting their due justice on that front because you don’t get a chance to see what they do a lot, and I think they do a lot of things to help the guys behind the scenes more so than the guys who do it in front of the cameras or however you call it.
Q: Did you ask to be gradually worked into training camp, or did they just say we’re going to work you in slowly?
A: I do what the training staff tells me. I don’t have a preference either way. I don’t know how that conversation goes.
Q: How do you feel physically right now?
A: Old. I’m about to be 30, but we got a bunch of young guys in the room so I can’t allow myself to slow up mentally, being old. Physically, you can’t hide behind that, but I feel great. I feel great.
Q: What do you think of Will Hernandez? You two have gotten into scuffles.
A: You just couldn’t wait to ask that question. You should’ve just asked in the beginning! Why’d you even wait? Look, I don’t have anything against the guy. The guy will be one hell of a player in this league. You can see him working out there, and I’m sure you guys have seen it. It’s one thing to do it in college, but to do it at the NFL level is a totally different thing, and I’ve had an opportunity to watch him firsthand, and I think he’ll be a really good player in this league. That wasn’t anything but football and if you don’t believe that, then obviously you don’t know the game.
Q: You find change difficult. Is that because of having to learn a whole new system and people, or is it just sort of a comfort level for you?
A: I think it’s more so people, because honestly, I’m not a people person, which is weird. Just not only learning a new defense, but just to get to know people – new faces, new coaches, new players – I just find that difficult because I’m a very personal guy that I don’t like to. I’m not good at talking, I’m just not, and that’s something that I have to break out of, but with this new staff forcing me to do so with them – they’re not forcing me, I have to force myself through it to see how I fit in the new locker room. That’s the difficult part.
Q: Do you have to change your game as you approach 30? Sometimes a baseball pitcher’s 100 mph fastball isn’t there anymore, you have to learn how to be a little bit more of an artist. Are you at that point yet?
A: Yeah, I am. I am. You gotta change the body type to be able to do Coach Bettcher is asking of the defensive line, which is to get up the field and attack, and anybody who knows me and likes me, that’s not something that’s been a strong point in my game. I can do it, I like to kind of use it as a change up every now and then, so yeah. I do have to adjust, not only for the system but also for me getting up there each whistle.
Q: On Alec Ogletree – What specifically stands out so far just about what he brings to the table?
A: Well, number one, he came from a successful program so he’s seen what it takes to get to a certain level of success and he’s able to tell B.J. and guys like myself exactly what that takes. Being a middle linebacker, he’s naturally vocal. He has to be, and your personality shows – every middle linebacker’s personality shows, and Tree is a good guy on and off the field, and I really think that you guys would be surprised about what he brings to the table on the field as well as off it.
Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel
Q: What is the dynamic like having Snacks [Damon Harrison] and two young guys paired next to him?
A: It’s been great. We got a great group of guys. Not only those three guys you’re talking about, but the whole group. They’re all working extremely hard. They’re helping each other get better. They’re competing, they’re good students of the game. They’re great friends on and off the field. We’re looking forward to watching them play.
Q: How was B.J. Hill able to climb up the depth chart so fast?
A: B.J. came from a great program. He’s done a great job in college. They had four guys get drafted in the NFL – in the first four rounds, I believe. He was prepared when he came in. So, he just continued to grow when he got here.
Q: What does B.J. Hill do well?
A: He’s a good football player, number one. He can hold the point, he can strike, he can separate. He can get off blocks, he can rush the passer. He does everything that you’re looking for in a defensive lineman.
Q: Is it an adjustment for Snacks and Dalvin [Tomlinson] to play in a 3-4 defense, as opposed to a 4-3?
A: I don’t believe so. I think the adjustment is they’re really going to have a lot of fun – because, it’s a really aggressive, attacking defense where they’re not riding blocks. You’re having to keep linebackers clean as much as you would in some other defensive schemes. It’s a single-gap defense, so it’s the same thing they were doing before. It’s just called a 3-4 as opposed to 4-3. Playing the shade on a center is playing the shade on a center, whether it’s a 3-4 or 4-3.
Q: Snacks and Dalvin were lined up next to each other last year. Do you see any carryover into this season in terms of chemistry?
A: Quite a bit of carryover. Somebody will be on the center. Somebody will be on the guards. So, that’s the same as they were in the past.
Q: How much time do you spend with linebackers since some of them will be lined up as defensive ends in this new system?
A: Quite a bit. We all work together as a staff. We decide on what we’re going to do out there in practice. When it comes to the passing situations, they’ll usually come down and work some technique with the defensive linemen. Especially the four guys that will be on the field – outside linebackers, defensive line comes to rush the quarterback.
Q: What has been your evaluation of A.J. Francis so far? Is he a versatile player that can play in various spots across line?
A: A.J. has been doing a great job, along with the rest of the guys. They’ve all been working hard. They’re all improving every day. They’re all improving their technique, their hands, their eyes, their feet, their footwork. But, A.J. is a guy – like the rest of the guys in the group – that can play multiple positions. So, we’re very happy with what he’s doing, as well as the rest of the guys.
Q: What do you like with Kerry [Wynn] in the first team defense within the nickel?
A: Kerry has done a great job with just improving and getting better each day, each week. He gives us a bigger body out there on the defensive end spot – playing over a tight end as opposed to outside linebacker. He’s a defensive lineman, so it’s very similar to what he has done. But, I like what Kerry is doing. Kerry is a good, hard worker. He gives effort, he knows what he’s doing.
Q: Is your defensive line versatile enough to play in multiple spots on the line to throw off opposing offensive linemen?
A: That’s the way our defense is built. Our defense is designed to do that. It’s more of a defense that’s going to be all over the place as far as where their linemen are.
Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert
Q: What do you like about the group you have right now?
A: I like the versatility. When we first got here and started putting the offense in during the off-season, I purposely did not let anyone know what position they would be playing. I wanted to install the offense as a whole and have them concentrate on the concept of the play and not worry about, ‘I’m X, I’m Z, I’m F’, and once they learned the concept, they didn’t know what position they were playing until the first day of OTA practice because I was playing them everywhere. Once we had to go out and practice, I said, ‘You’re the Z, you’re the X, you’re the F’, but by then they had already comprehended the concepts. Now when we start game planning, we can move guys anywhere because they know the concept and we go no-huddle and they can lineup anywhere, they can go out and play it because they know the concept.
Q: How much of an advantage does that give you as a position coach, and also as an offense if you’re moving personnel around against a defense that only has so much time to prepare for you?
A: It’s an awesome advantage to have, only because of the fact that you have certain guys on your team and they are keying on certain guys, before you can break a huddle and line a guy up and know where is going to be. Now when you break the huddle, you don’t know if the guy is going to be outside, inside, or the right side. It gives you an advantage. We can game plan it and they have to do more game planning to try and figure out if he’s here, let’s do this; if he’s here, let’s do that. When you line up in one spot all the time, it makes it easier. We are going to try and make it as difficult as possible.
Q: When you look at specifically Sterling and Odell, are they going to be interchangeable?
A: Probably using all of our receivers all over the field. Like I mentioned earlier, the versatility of the group we have, we can play them all over. You will see guys all over, you’ll see all of them line up outside, you’ll see all of them line up inside, they know the concepts so they can go out and execute.
Q: How many young guys have flashed for you? It seems like Amba Etta-Tawo and a whole bunch of them have made plays?
A: I like the group as a whole. Amba has flashed along with some other guys. Some guys are flashing even without the ball. People have a tendency to focus on guys with the ball, but what you don’t see is guys flashing running routes, beating the corners one way or another and they don’t get the ball thrown to them. I am more impressed with that because guys are really working. Sometimes guys, they kind of know based on the defense they aren’t getting the ball, but they are still running hard and getting open, so a lot of guys have flashed with the ball like Amba and some other guys, but a lot of guys have been flashing without the ball, too, and they are still getting open, snagging opportunities right now.
Q: You have known Odell since he was a baby. How has your long-standing relationship with him and his family helped you coach him and establish a relationship with him?
A: It has helped, obviously. I played with his dad at LSU 100 years ago and his mom Heather was a multiple All-American when she was there, and I’ve known her the whole time. Odell was actually born when we were in college, so it helped me have an immediate connection with him. I have known him before here because I follow LSU and I met him a couple times. When you get here you have an immediate connection, I played with his dad, went to school with his mom, so that made the transition for me to come here and for him to come with me a little bit easier because I have that immediate connection.
Q: What have you learned from him seeing him up close and personal in practice every day?
A: The fact that he is talking ball a lot. Sometimes you think guys don’t like to talk ball when they are in there, but you see him going over stuff and talking ball with other guys. Talking about different plays, talking about different techniques. ‘How can you do this better, how can you do that better?’ That’s what the great ones do. They sit back and not only do it on the field, but when they are off the field they are looking at somebody else and seeing how they can do this better or that better. He talks ball a lot when he is not in there.
Q: Anything specific that he talks about?
A: Just everything, nothing specific. Whether it’s releases or routes, whether it’s blocking, just everything.
Q: Can you see how motivated he is? He has the contract thing and only playing 4 games last year?
A: I see all guys are motivated. We are a new staff, guys want to come in and impress the new coach or the new teacher, you know, so I think they are all motivated, him included.
Q: So it’s not like you’re trying to match their skillsets, because maybe his skillset is a little different than the other two? You’re just looking for the best guy, no matter what?
A: The best two guys, the best three guys, best four – however many are on the field, we want those best guys out there making plays, regardless of where they line up. That’s why we, again, taught the concept when we first got here because you line up anywhere, and wherever you are, you’re gonna make those plays. Now, some guys are better in the slot than other guys, and when we get to game planning, we’ll get to game planning and those types of situations, but for the most part, I want guys knowing what to do and then go fast, because when you’re playing fast, you’re not thinking.
Q: What do you like about Odell in the slot? He’s been there quite a bit this last week.
A: I like his playmaking ability, and not only him, but anybody. You caught on the tail end of it, but all those guys, they play all over the place – outside, inside, whatever, so Odell in the slot instead of lining up in one position all the time being outside or whatever, it makes it harder to game plan for different guys and for him to be able to read defenses and be able to, whether it’s run option routes or going deep in the slot or run crossing routes, it’s just whatever the situation dictates. I like to be able to have the versatility like we do of having guys all over the place and line up, and you can’t just game plan one spot or the other.
Q: When you look back at last year’s Giants tape, was it alarming how much they were in the same place?
A: No, some people are like that. A lot of times when Denver with Peyton and when he was there, we had guys right and left and had guys in the slot, so it depends on what the philosophy is. I like the philosophy here better where you can just move guys around and not have them dictate what they do, but you can be the offensive aggressive and dictate what they do, so I like this system better, but it didn’t surprise me because I’ve seen a lot of different systems, a lot of different things work and they were successful in years before doing it. It just didn’t work out this past year.
Q: What’s it like for you – you played with his father, he was born when you guys were in college, and now here you are coaching him and he’s become a megastar. What’s it like for you to come full circle?
A: It makes me feel old. That’s what it makes me feel. I mean, I held him as a baby, I sat at the form, and now here he is, I’m coaching him and I’m like, wow. It makes you feel old, but I’m glad to see where he’s come from. I know his parents really well like I told you, and for him to be able to have this success he’s had up to this point, and hopefully continue, I’m happy for him and his family.
Q: When he was growing up did you ever see him play in high school or younger? Did you stay in touch with thee family?
A: I didn’t see him play in high school. I obviously watched him in college every week because the alma mater, LSU – Go Tigers. I watched him every week in college and obviously I’m a fan of anyone who plays at LSU, and then to be able to see him perform in college and wore his dad’s number back then – he was better than his dad, by the way.
Q: Do you work with guys who aren’t receivers? Can you line up Saquon [Barkley} on the outside or Evan Engram?
A: Yeah, well, when we have formations, we have that. They have come to me at certain points in time asking me questions about this route or that route, and I share it with them what I share with my receivers, but we have coaches who coach those guys so they do their job, and my room is full, my plate is full with the guys I have. I’ve got 12 guys and I hope all 12 guys make the team, but obviously they can’t, but I’m coaching them, all my guys and I think other coaches are doing a really good job coaching their guys.
Q: Given that you held Odell as a baby, is it hard to yell at him now?
A: No, it’s not. It makes it easier, actually.
Q: How would you describe the relationship you guys have?
A: Just coach-player.
Q: Have you heard from [his] dad or mom?
A: They were here during training camp, I talked to them.
Q: What was their reaction to you coaching him?
A: Just a hug and, ‘glad to have you here coaching our son’, that kind of thing, but that’s about it. I’ve known him forever, so it’s been a long time.
Q: Do you get enough running in?
A: I do.
Q: Every rep, right? Or every end of every series?
A: Yeah. Well, at the end of every unit, if a receiver catches the ball, I have them score, and anybody on the field, they’ll score with him and I score with him as well. I started that back when I was in Denver and guys after about training camp day 3 or 4, they started to complain like ‘oh we run too much’, so what I said was, well, if I run with you, you have to run. So I started running with them, and the thing that happens, you guys don’t see, sometimes we’re backed up on the 10 or 15 yard line and they score, I’m like oh man I have to go 90 yards and then come back and go again. But I hold myself to it. It’s a training camp thing to make them score, for one, and then it’s a sneaky way to get conditioning in for them, and I do it so they can’t complain. I know if a guy whose 50 years old can do it, they can do it.