Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Q: At the end of yesterday's presser, you talked about Daniel's (Jones) balance of being aggressive… what is the balance like? Obviously, it's practice, an interception doesn't really matter. For a young quarterback, how do you balance that?
A: There are certain things. You want the players to be aggressive in everything that they do, but they also need to be smart. That's a fine line sometimes for a quarterback. But this is where you see what you can get away with a little bit and how your receivers function down the field. It's practice. You try things and you do things. There are tight window throws. I've said it before. In fact, we were joking about it with the quarterbacks. Defenses push back in the NFL, and they do things to try to take things away. You've got to continually try to stay aggressive, but also be smart and take care of the ball.
Q: What did you think of the two-minute drive yesterday?
A: Which one?
A: Oh Daniel's. Yeah, I thought he did a good job. He got us into the end zone, and that's what you're looking for. Within the drive, he did some good things playing quarterback. He obviously made some good, strong throws, and Zo (Alonzo Russell) made a nice catch at the end there.
Q: You guys go good-on-good a lot more than maybe some other camps around the league. Is that philosophy for your defense pushing back and trying to get your ones ready for that type of challenge. Is that kind of reasoning behind that?
A: I couldn't tell you what other teams do. I've been other places where you went ones on twos, twos on ones. I just think the competition of ones on ones is important, as long as you're competing and you're being smart. There are other settings where we will do ones on twos. But I like going ones on ones.
* Q: With Daniel, he's had a bunch of passes batted down at the line.*
A: I wouldn't say a bunch. But anyway, go ahead.
Q: Is that something that takes a little bit of getting used to? It's a different level of competition, moving around in the pocket. What do you think when quarterbacks get passes batted down at the line?
A: It depends. Each pass that gets batted is for different reasons. There are times when you're throwing it through the interior of the defense where a guy that's being blocked will just reach up. There's nothing really you can do about that at times. Some defenders are instinctive at doing that. Then there are other times when you try to throw it in the flat, or you have an RPO (run-pass option) like he had where an (defensive) end will block the ball. It would depend. I don't see a trend there. Obviously, with quarterbacks, you need to be able to throw in lanes. Every once in a while, it happens.
Q: Obviously, you guys go over everything in meetings, offensive and defensive script. How much do you hold back and keep until practice, maybe surprise either side of the ball with a particular play call or something that you want to test out?
A: We try to make both sides know. We're out here walking through things we're going to do (this afternoon). But I would say Mike (Shula) and (James) Bettch(er) are competitive. Every once in a while, they stick it to each other.
Q: You guys threw the ball to Sterling (Shepard) yesterday. Was that miscommunication by Eli, or were you trying to catch the defense by surprise? Because he had the yellow jersey on.
A: No. Winning in practice and doing something stupid is not what we want to do. Eli just reacted and threw it to him, and Shep caught it.
Q: What's been your impression of DeAndre Baker since the pads were put on?
A: He's done a good job. I think he's like all of our rookies. I see steady improvement. Within a practice, you'll see a screw up or two. But you'll also see him make plays and be consistent with his play. We're pleased with the direction he's going in.
Q: When Sam Beal is out there, can you tell that he's a guy that's been around for a year, that he has that experience under his belt?
A: I don't know. He hasn't been out there a ton. He's wrestling with his hamstring and all. But his movement skills are good. He's able to move around. He hasn't really been able to get involved with the physical part of practice yet. But he does move around really well.
Q: When you look at Jon Halapio, is he working his way back to where he was last year? Or is he already there?
A: I think they're all working their way back. You know, I need to get a team of 53 guys ready to play against Dallas. That's where we're at. He's one of those guys.
Q: Do you have any injury update on B.J. Goodson?
A: Yeah. Early in practice, (he hurt his) hamstring a little bit. It's not terrible. We'll see. He'll be back soon.
Q: A lot has been written about Eli Manning seeing a strength coach in the offseason. Have you noticed his velocity has picked up a little bit so far?
A: I've noticed he's throwing the ball well, and he has been really through the spring and now through the first part of training camp. Again, you've watched Eli for many years. I only saw him for a year. I thought he threw the ball well a year ago. But I think he's throwing the ball well now.
Q: A lot is made about year two (in the offense) mentally. But do you think even physically, he knows the throws and what's asked of him in the offense? Does he seem more comfortable, that type of thing?
A: I think he's more comfortable with the progressions, more comfortable with the guys he's throwing to. When a quarterback has that type of comfort, the ball tends to come out just a little bit quicker. That's more of what I see. But I think he's throwing the ball sharp. To your point, I think with short, intermediate and long (passes), I think he's been throwing the ball pretty well. If I could finish up the answer from earlier, he probably is a little sharper than a year ago, I would say. Just in comparison.
Q: With the velocity, do you think that's been a little better? He seems to have a little bit more zip. Have you noticed that at all, or does it look basically the same (as last year)?
A: I would say, yeah, I guess maybe a little bit. I've always thought he's thrown the ball pretty well. I was not surprised by what he did a year ago.
Q: What are some of the things you've seen from Will Hernandez? What he's gone through, his season and what he learned last year.
A: What we asked him to do last year for a rookie playing left guard, for him to get through the year and improve like he did, I think was a good thing. What I've seen this year, he came back the lightest he's been. He's trained really hard. I think he and Nate (Solder) are ahead of where they were a year ago working together. I just think for him, a guy second year in the system, I feel like he's made big improvements.
Q: With Tae Davis, how much can his athleticism help him?
A: Tae Davis also has done a good job. His athleticism is important. We'll ask him to cover running backs. We play a good bit of man coverage, so that's an important piece. But he can run, tackle and do all those things, too.
Q: Can you play him inside against the run?
A: We feel like he can. He's a good tackler. We feel like he can.
Q: What do you think of Evan Engram, and do you think he's going to step up this season?
A: We're pleased with where he's at. He's working himself, getting himself ready for Week One. I think he'll be able to build on what he did a year ago. Most of what held Evan back was those little injuries he dealt with last year. When he was in there, he actually was pretty productive. I think back to the Houston game, when he got hurt. He got kind of hit on the leg. He was catching the ball and running, doing good things. That sort of set him back. Then he had the hamstring thing. Had he stayed out there for all 16 games, I think he would have had big numbers.
Guard Kevin Zeitler
Q: (Coach) Hal (Hunter) was talking about your group, and he said there's this veteran attitude, and there's a maturity. Do you sense that? I think he used the word 'old-school.'
A: Oh absolutely. I think you look down the line of the main guys, the guys who have been here, and I think we have a lot of years in the room, which is great. We have a lot of football under our belts, and we all have the same focus. I think we all want to be good, I think we owe it, the oline, owes it to Eli (Manning) and to Saquon (Barkley). It's up to us to make them the best they can be, just like they're going to make us the best we can be. So we owe it to make sure we get everything down, learn everything we can, and help this team be the best it can (be).
Q; Obviously you're working with two guys. You have Mike (Remmers) on one side and on the inside you have Spencer (Pulley) and you have Pio (Jon Halapio). Have you picked up easily with them?
A: Absolutely, like I said, Pio has been in the league for a while, he can play. Spencer got to play last year, so it's working well. They are smart, they know how to start everything off as a center, and it just goes out from there.
Q: Coach was talking about the no-nonsense sort of serious approach that you bring. Do you see that rubbing off in the room, or was that already there?
A: I think it was already there. Nate (Solder) came in last year, he came from the Patriots, he knows how to focus in, how to work, and how to set the tone in the room, and then you've gotten that already from Pio and Spencer. It's just part of the room, we know how to have fun, but we really want to take advantage of the time we have on the field and in the meeting rooms and then we'll have our fun off of it.
Q: Eli has been kind of a quiet, practical joker over the years. Has he gotten you guys yet?
A: I don't believe he has, but thanks for the warning (laughter).
Q: There is always the blue ink in the socks that wouldn't wash off for a week, or don't leave your phone hanging around, because he'll change the language…
Q: When you have a (running) back like Saquon, are you sitting there going 'all we got to do is give him a crack?'
A: I think that's definitely part of it. He's that type of special back. There are so many great running backs throughout the league, but then there are those backs that it is kind of wild what they can do, so I think it gives us an extra "umph," to just finish. Even if it isn't perfect or pretty, just keep running because you just never know what could suddenly break. I think it just gives us a little extra energy every time you know you're going to run the ball.
Q: How would you describe how you and Remmers' personality mix? Hal said he's a little bit more lowkey out on the field.
A: I think we balance each other out nice. I'm very hyper-focused, a 'let's get this done' type, and he takes a little lighter focus. He likes to joke around and have a good time out there, so I think it's a nice balance and keeps us both kind of level.
Q: Is that easier to do when it's two veteran guys who have been through it?
A: Absolutely. Like I was saying earlier, there's a lot of football under our belts. We each know the game, and now we are learning how to work together.
Q: Both Mike Remmers and Nate Solder have played in the Super Bowl and some conference championship games. Having that kind of experience, how does that help the room to formulate your identity and grow the o-line?
A: It's big, they have been there. They have gone far in the playoffs, they have that experience, they know those slight characteristics of the o-line that help them get that far. They know the feeling, and how to manage going that long, and that's invaluable. When we get to that point, to have that information will be very good for us.
Q: Eli was put down 47 times last year. Is that something in the room where everybody is saying that can't happen again?
A: The way we look at it is last year is last year. As an o-line, we know the things we need to do, everything we can to protect, and we need to do everything to run block. We're going to have to take it this whole camp. We just got to keep getting better, keep running, keep learning our reaction times, levels, and all sorts of things. If we do our job, Eli will be able to do his job better, it's just a simple fact right there.
TE Evan Engram
On the offensive line and the run game:
A: Being next to the O-line, you've got to bring it as well because they've been working their butts off, they've been pushing each other to work on the small things, and to be in sync with them to get the run game going.
Q: Is it exciting? I know you do a lot of work on your blocking in the offseason and the spring, but now that you actually have pads on, you can do it. Are you seeing the results of what you've worked on in the spring now that you're able to do it against live contact?
A: Absolutely. LDub (TE Coach Lunda Wells) does a great job with us, working on our techniques throughout the spring and kind of getting our mind right on the good technique and things. When the pads come on, you get to really work it, and you get the film to break down and fix those mistakes. I was honestly thinking about this the other day, we've come so far just with the little things in the blocking game, and that's a credit to our coach. He's been really on us hard, and we take pride in blocking, and when the pads come on we're definitely taking care of each other, but we're definitely competing.
Q: Do you sense a difference on tape too, having two new veterans on the offensive line--(Mike) Remmers and (Kevin) Zeitler--and how will you guys kind of work together?
A: Yes, you can just see the chemistry they're building, and it's not even on the field. They're always together in the weight room, and the meeting rooms, and the facility, and when on the field comes on, it's all business. When you see them working, you see them getting better at things, and you see them competing, that definitely adds to our team when we're working.
Q: Evan, you've been around a little while now, do you notice a little more zip on Eli's passes this year?
A: Definitely. Eli looks really good. Like I said, it's the big picture—you've got guys up front competing their butts off, and protecting, and giving Eli time. He's able to sit back there and be comfortable and make those reads and make the proper throws. He's been slinging the ball around a lot, and there's a lot of velocity, and he still has his touch. He's Eli, he's been making great throws for years, but definitely you can see his confidence, and you can see his confidence really growing this camp.
Q: Evan, talk about Jabrill Peppers and going against him in practice. What kind of player is he, is he a tough matchup?
A: From day one since Peppers got here, I love competing with him. It's going to make me better, it's going to make our tight end room better, and the rest of the guys on offense. He just flies around, he plays aggressive, he's real patient when playing his man. You've got to be physical, he's a real strong, low to the ground player. Having him, competing against him each and every day, and having his aggressiveness. He likes to talk, and he gets the defense going, he plays with a chip on his shoulder. That's going to help the guys around him on that side of the ball, and it's obviously going to help us as well, competing against that.
Q: When you look at his coverage skills, how does it compare with some of the other cover safeties you've gone against in your first two years in the league?
A: He's real patient. You get pads on and you get in the speed of the game—as a receiver, you want to work releases, you want to give double moves to kind of create separation with him. You have to be really deliberate with those moves. He's real patient, he doesn't really bite. He's really aggressive and he plays as a strong player, but you've got to really work on your craft with him. That's definitely going to pay off when it comes to playing against other guys, and it's definitely going to help him, and it's going to help us with him playing on defense and going against that competition as well.
Q: Pat Shurmur talked about a couple injuries that you had suffered last year, and so what are you looking to expect on the field this season?
A: I want to play 16 games. That's kind of my mindset coming into this year. There's definitely a responsibility off the field I have to take to make that happen. Obviously, you have injuries that you can't control, and stuff happens on the football field, but there's also things you can control to keep your body in proper shape, and stay healthy and stuff like that. That's kind of my motto this year, 16 games, and I know what it takes to do that, and it's going to be up to me to get that done.
Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter
Q: (inaudible) first regular season game? Why?
A: Every minute is valuable, so I'm trying to use every minute they're asleep to get something done.
Q: When you look at your offensive line this year, is it deeper? What do you think of it?
A: First off, I think it's got a different makeup, mentally. When you add two veteran players like Mike Remmers and Kevin Zeitler, who are two serious guys who've got a lot of NFL snaps, they are a pro's pro, they are tough, smart. All of a sudden you've added a lot to your group, so you've got some veteran players there, you get Jon Halapio back who brings a real toughness about him, you've got Spencer Pulley still in the mix, because I still consider him as starting caliber, and of course you've got Nate (Solder) on the left side who brings a lot to the group and Will (Hernandez) will be a second-year older, so you hope that sophomore year, you'd expect a lot of improvement. I just think there's a more serious focus, I would say more of an old-school approach, and that's what those players bring. We've got some good young players coming up, so there's a little bit of competition in there. There's a real focused, determined, work ethic going on right now.
Q: Where do you see the center position at right now?
A: I'd say right now it's fighting out. I'm trying to give Spencer (Pulley) at least two groups with the one. Pio (Jon Halapio) starts off with the first group, you guys have all seen, but I'm trying to get Spencer in there working with that first group. They are going to battle it out, and we won't make any decisions— practice is practice, so we'll do all of the evaluations in the preseason games and probably through those first three, and then we make our decision and let the best man go out there. They're both good players, they are both a little bit different type of a player. Spencer is a real mentally savvy player, he's a good technician, knows how to, since he's a little bit lighter, use his body technique to get things done. He was really productive for us in the last half of the season. Pio was just starting to hit his stride when he got hurt last year. He's tough, he's strong, he's got a lot of power in everything, he's got a little bit different type game, both within themselves, can fit within our scheme. Coach them both and let the best man win. Our goal is, and we tell them every day, 'we're going to coach every one of you guys to be the best player you can be, then you go on the field and you determine who the starter is going to be."' That makes it easy. My job is to make Pio the best player he can be, and my job is to get Spencer to beat him. That's kind of how I look at it.
Q: Is Jon (Halapio) back to where he was?
A: I don't know, we won't be able to tell that. He looks pretty good right now and he doesn't seem to have any issues, but we'll wait to see how he performs in preseason games, when it's real.
Q: Outside of the top seven including Spencer (Pulley) and Chad (Wheeler), have any of the other guys impressed you so far?
A: Yeah, there have been some other guys who have been playing pretty good. Nick Gates, he was actually playing really good last year, and he played at Nebraska then he got that foot injury. He was on IR, then he came back and was on practice squad, then he was on IR the whole year. He's come back, and he really stepped up once he put the pads on. He's big, strong, tough, smart, and I see why he played at Nebraska, he's a Nebraska-type player, so he's done a pretty good job. There are a lot of guys who have done some good things with that second group. Brain Mihalik, who was our third tackle last year, he's doing some good things, he's got good length to be playing left tackle. He's been playing some in the first group when we've been spelling Nate a little bit, he's done a good job. Everybody has provided something. Evan Brown is still fighting in there. He's been a little bit out of position because again, he's kind of the third center who we've been working some at second guard, so some of those guys have really come along. It will be a real battle for some of those last spots on the roster.
Q: Do you consider continuity to be the number one critical element for an offensive line to be successful?
A: It is most definitely, because you have to know who you are working with. You have to figure out who your starting five are going to be and you have to figure out right way, because it's not five guys playing, it's one group, one unit. The continuity is probably the most fundamental of any group on the entire line.
Q: What are your impressions of James O'Hagan so far?
A: He's strong, he's tough, he's smart. He reminds me a lot of Evan Brown, they are the same type of player. He's a little bit of a smaller player, but it helps him with leverage. He's tough, I really like him, I think he is a quality player who is going to be really fighting for a roster spot.
Q: Remmers and Solder have played in big games, what does that bring when you are forming the face or the character of your O-line?
A: It brings a professionalism, some confidence, guys that have been there before that you know the game is not too big for them. They bring along other guys that haven't been there. If you haven't been in playoff games, you don't understand playoff football. It's a different game. Guys that have been in that type of situation have a confidence, a savvy, they bring a wealth of knowledge , they just bring a lot to the room. It's really important.
Q: For a guy like Will, is that valuable?
A: Exactly, all of the sudden you have some guys who have hundreds of NFL snaps under their belts, thousands of NFL snaps under their belts. It makes a huge difference.
Q: You talk about the attitude, the seriousness of the line, how much of that is attributed to Zeitler?
A: A lot. This is year number 38 for me and he is the most serious, focused, all-about-football guy I have ever been around. I thought it was Kris Dielman before, but he takes it up a notch. You love being around a guy like that. I worry about him wearing himself out mentally because he is so focused and so in tune. I think it starts to get contagious with the other guys. He's a no-nonsense guy, every day he is a man on a mission, his performance is really important to him. You can see it's kind of working through the room a little bit. He brings something really different, I'm excited to have him.
Q: How does Saquon like to be blocked up and how does that affect the personnel you bring?
A: A lot of the stuff we do fits what he does and also what the defense does. You have to adjust because every defense is different. The number one element in the running game is the runner, so you have to fit what you do to his skillset. He can do a lot of things, he can run inside, outside, strong. There's certain things he does best. We have to make sure we can feature him to fit the scheme to fit what he does best. That's more important than anything.
Q: A guy like Remmers, what has he brought to the room?
A: I think what he brings to the room is also what he brings to the field. In the room he is a low key guy. He's on point, he's smart. You talk about a guy who turns a switch on. When he's on the field, he's a tough, aggressive, nasty guy on the field, he's a different type guy. I think he brings a cerebral player to the room and a tough, aggressive guy on the field.
Q: Does he look healthy to you?
A: He looks pretty healthy. A couple guys did a couple of bull rushes on him the other day and he anchored down on them. He looks good to me, he's been tested more than once and he looks good.
Q: How do he and Zeitler's personalities mix?
A: They're good, they're both quiet and get it done, but they're different off the field. Remmers is little bit more laid back, like me.
OLB Oshane Ximines
Q: You've been knocking down some passes lately in the last few days in camp, that was an ability that you had in college. Knocking down passes and forcing fumbles, to what can you attribute that ability to or is it just instinct?
A: I mean it's just a force of habit, like a lot of the times I always think get my hands up if I can get all the way to the quarterback. So you know I've been doing this since college, even through walk-throughs when the quarterback isn't actually throwing the ball. I try to get my hands up just to assimilate a habit and after a while of sticking your hands up there you're going to get one of them after a while.
Q: In the little of that you've seen in the NFL so far are you convinced that you can make an impact on a pass rush?
A: Yeah, definitely you know I've been practicing for a while. I'm pretty sure the game is a lot faster and I'm pretty sure there's a another step I have to take. For me when I'm going through practice I definitely feel like I compete not only as a pass rusher, but anywhere the team needs me, whether it's special teams, I feel like I could do it and do it at a high level.
Q: The biggest question that obviously everyone had for you is coming from a smaller school and a smaller program, has it felt like a pretty big jump for you so far?
A: I mean, I feel like the biggest jump was like the playbook and the complexity of it. I feel like we weren't really that complex at ODU (Old Dominion), so I felt like that was the biggest jump. Once you get out there on the field its' just football man, no matter who you're playing against. Do you know what I'm saying? It's the same thing you've been doing your whole life.
Q: You know obviously people have a lot of questions about this defense, what it can do, what kind of pass rush you can generate, but what you've seen regarding the talent around you how good do you think this defense can be?
A: Oh, I think we have the opportunity to be very good. Coach Betch (Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher) like I said man, he's a genius. He knows every little part of the defense like inside and out so he's doing a great job every day at coming in and having something that we need to get better in practice. Then we come out here and try to execute what he's doing, and if we keep doing that I feel like we're going to be really good.
Q: Is it a complicated playbook or like just a lot to learn your first year?
A: It's probably not complicated for the guys who have been out here doing it for a long time, but for me I'd probably say it's complicated just because it's my first time and I'm playing a new position.
Q: Whose been giving you the best advice, mentoring you the best so far in the locker room?
A: All the older guys have been helping me out, you know Lorenzo (Carter), Marcus Golden he told me about how it was in Arizona and I always ask him about his 12 sack season he had. Kareem Martin, he knows the playbook inside and out, so when I have a question about the playbook I ask him and he will have the answer for me right off the bat, and like I said Zo (Lorenzo Carter). He was just in my shoes last year so when I'm feeling down mentally I feel like he's more the mental guy to help bring me back up.
Q: Best advice you've received so far?
A: The first thing that comes to my head is a quote that Coach Betch actually said and its "What got you here won't keep you here" so that's something that really stuck out to me and, you know it's true. Going through college, it was pretty easy but now I have to take another step to stay here and I want to contribute to this defense.
Q: Speaking about that next step Dave Gettleman said that the other day a lot of the young guys, with yourself included need to kind of make a play to build your confidence. Have you sort of had a play or a moment yet where you said (Hey I can actually do this)?
A: Honestly I feel like it was after my first play but I feel like practice doesn't really count so when I get into preseason number one I will feel like that's when I'm really going to have that feeling. But the first play I had in practice I went out there and you know I was okay after the play so that's when I feel like when I really decided I can play, I can do it out here.
Q: How is the regrowth of the beard going?
A: Oh its coming man, I say by preseason 3 it'll be back (laughs).