Quotes (8/11): Coach Shurmur, Peppers, Ballentine, Carlock

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Q: What do you think about the Mets?

A: The Mets? It’s awesome. 14 out of 15, right? Heck of a run. I’m happy for Mickey (Callaway) and the team. I like to see all of the New York teams playing well. Anyways, I’ll try to answer your questions.

Q: Do you have a relationship with any of the other New York coaches?

A: A little bit, on the phone. With some of them.

Q: Do you know what happened to (DeAndre) Baker?

A: Yeah, just in his individual warmup type stuff, something with his knee. We’re just checking it out (with) an MRI. I have no information on that right now. (It happened) just kind of in the warmup drills. He just felt something so he’s getting that checked out.

Q: Corey Ballentine is getting some run with the first team defense on the outside. He had the pick the other night. What have you seen from him so far?

A: I’ve said it all along he’s a very competitive, tough guy, and because that’s his nature, when we’re playing the uncontrolled game of football, he shows up. That’s why he’s out there. He’s done a good job to this point. We’re hopeful that he’ll stay on the same track and keep getting better.

Q: What did you think of what TJ Jones did on Thursday?

A: He did a very nice job. He’s a young player but experienced. When he was out there playing, it was obvious that he knew what to do. He obviously has the ability to make plays.

Q: Before you signed him, what stood out about him when he was here?

A: We worked him out, and we certainly had a good grade on him in our pro system. So, when we worked him out, and at that point we were needy at wideout because we had some injuries, we brought him in.

Q: What did you think about how Eli (Manning) played today?

A: I thought he did a great job. I think he’s practiced well throughout (training camp). Now, after I’ve watched him (during) this three-week stretch, I think he’s throwing the ball better than he did last summer. He’s got a real good grasp of what we want to do offensively. He had another good day out there.

Q: Is it a change for you guys not having joint practices? Do you lose anything without having that competitive environment?

A: I don’t know. I think we’re pretty competitive out here. It just didn’t work out that way this year. It just so happens that we had three teams in the preseason that we’re going to play during the regular season. We’re a young enough team. I just felt like us being able to practice against each other, that outweighed (the advantages of) working with another team.

Q: Why just two quarterbacks today in the team drills?

A: I just didn’t work the third group. We were short some numbers, so I just didn’t work the threes. That’s less about the quarterbacks and more about the guys that weren’t practicing in the other positions. Very observant.

Q: Because you’re playing on Friday this week, do you view it as a game week? Is it an extra day to play, or is it still training camp?

A: I sort of feel like this is still training camp. We started to do carded periods last week, which you saw, which feels more like a game week, but it’s sort of a quasi-game week because we still are in training camp.

Q: It seems like throughout camp, Eli and Cody Latimer have been on the same page and seem to be developing some chemistry. What have you seen from them, and what have you seen from Cody so far?

A: Cody is probably one of our most veteran receivers. I think he shows that out there. He knows how to practice. He knows how to compete. He has a unique ability to make a play down the field. I think he does a good job… there are times when he can get behind the (corner) and he’s open. But then there are other times when he’s in a contested situation where he can make a play on the ball. That’s hugely valuable when you’re a wideout.

Q: How tough is it for (Nick) Gates, to bump out to tackle after so much work at guard, and how much can that help him if he shows you something there?

A: Obviously, he had the two holding calls. Those of us that watched, there were a lot of holds called all weekend. I don’t know if it was obvious, so maybe that was a theme. And he had the false start. But I think for the most part, he did a really nice job out there. Yeah, him being able to do that certainly creates more value for him.

Q: How close is Ryan (Connelly) to stepping in for Alec (Ogletree) in situations where Alec is on the sidelines?

A: He played well the other night. If you have a starter that’s going to not be in there for a couple of days, then he’ll just step right in. I think he’s ready to do it.

S Jabrill Peppers

Q: How are you feeling? Did you bang your wrist up or something?

A: I’m good, just fell on it weird.

Q: According to the tape, what did you think about how the defense played in the first preseason game?

A: I think we played well. Some communication issues where we gave up big plays, but other than that, I think we did a pretty good job.

Q: What’s different for you? What are they asking differently from you than maybe you were asked to do in the first two years?

A: Different coverages. I’m moving around a lot more. Other than that, it’s pretty much all the same. I’m in my same position, just playing a different coverage, so I’m doing a different job than I’m normally used to.

Q: Do you like that? It seems like they also bring you up to the line of scrimmage against the run.

A: I love it. It keeps them guessing, keeps you in position to make plays to have an impact on the game.

Q: What does that say about how they feel about you, that they trust you in all those different areas?

A: They threw a lot at me when I first got here, I guess they wanted to see how I could handle it. I think I handled it pretty well, so I’m gracious because they see that I can receive and put forth information that I’m receiving. So, it definitely means that they definitely have a lot of trust in me. I’ve just got to make them right and go out there and play good, and make the plays I’m supposed to make.

Q: How much is it more new, the line of scrimmage, than maybe it was in previous years?

A: Well, my second year I was around the line of scrimmage a great deal, but definitely more this year still than I was last year, and definitely way more than my rookie year.

Q: You were probably deep, right?

A: Yes.

Q: Does that benefit you at all, because obviously that’s probably not what you’re--

A: It definitely benefitted me being back there because I’m still going to be back there sometimes. But, just working on my angles, seeing the game from that angle back there, seeing how the routes develop, reading quarterbacks’ front hip, things like that that you need in-game reps to be good in the game at.

Q: On the first pass play of the game vs. the Jets.

A: Yeah, I actually didn’t think he was going to throw that, but you’ve got to stay ready. But, plays like that, definitely, even though that’s more underneath coverage, but the angle that I’m exiting out of, definitely.

Q: Was that a zone that you were playing that you dropped into, or did you just kind of see him do that and just sprinted upfield?

A: It was a little bit of both, it was probably the scheme, and I kind of saw his shoulders open up like as a three-step, so I tried to get out there real fast thinking he’s not going to throw it, but he still threw it, so I’ve definitely got to make that play.

Q: How tough is it when you have guys going down in the secondary with injuries?

A: That’s how this league is, next man up. Whether it’s preseason or the regular season. I think it’s good now that our young guys are getting a lot of reps, in the unfortunate event where somebody does go down there won’t be any drop off.

Q: How has Ryan Connelly been, he got some first team reps today?

A: Ryan’s been having a great camp, he competes, practices hard, he’s working on his route running. He catches the ball at a high level, it’s definitely good to see him in there.

Q: What do you see in the secondary when you look around and see the pieces that are there?

A: I think we can be good. I think once we put it all together and everybody plays on one accord and we really get a feel for the next man on how he plays, how he sees one route versus how another guy sees it and the better we can play off of each other, the sky is the limit for us, we definitely have potential.

Q: How are things going with you and (Antoine) Bethea?

A: That’s a great dynamic. We kind of hit it off from the jump, I bounce stuff off of him all the time. He has played in this system before but now things are really starting to slow down for me so I’m not asking him as many questions as I was. It’s definitely good having a veteran guy back there to tell you watch this and that before the play so you keep it in the back of your mind, and it gives you a chance to make some big time plays.

Q: Is it better to have communication issues as opposed to physical ones?

A: Absolutely. You can coach the ‘I thought you were cutting that guy instead of that guy’. But the other stuff you can’t coach and then you have problems. Right now, I’m not really worried about it.

Q: What have you seen from TJ Jones?

A: Ever since he has got to practice we like to call him “fresh legs.” He’s out there running past everybody. He catches the ball well, he’s a great route runner, fast, quick and he can help in the return game as well. He made a big time play in the game so you know he’s doing really well for himself.

Q: How impressed are you with how far Corey Ballentine has come?

A: Ever since he has gotten here he has made plays. He’s been the leader in production, he has five turnover trophies. That stuff you guys saw in the game, he’s been doing that all camp. I’m just happy that guys can finally buy into how you practice is how you are going to play. If you practice at a high level, you are going to play at a high level. He played at a high level, minus the little rinky-dink pass interference call. Other than that, he did a real good job.

Q: What’s the turnover trophy?

A: You get a little trophy when you get a turnover in practice, he’s leading, he has five of them.

Q: Who came up with that?

A: It was kind of a room thing.

Q: A new one every day or the same one gets passed around?

A: A new one every day.

Q: So, you go to a trophy shop for little leaguers?

A: Yes, it makes you compete and want to go out there and cause turnovers. It’s just a good little thing.

Q: Is that a coaches thing, or you guys come up with it?

A: A little bit of both.

CB Corey Ballentine

Q: How did it feel to get that pick the other night?

A: It felt good. It felt good to know my hard work is paying off and to translate it from practice to a game, that felt good as well. I’m always looking for a way to help the team win, and I’m just glad I was able to do it with my teammates out there.

Q: You had some runs with the first-team defense, especially today. Looking back to how this all started for you, did you think this would happen? Did you think you would get to this point so quickly?

A: I didn’t really look at it like that, I was just trying to improve. I got here a little late and I was trying to learn the playbook, get to know my teammates, and get out there and do the best I could. I wasn’t really looking to be in any specific spot, but just to do my best and help wherever the coaches need me.

Q: Did you see what happened to DeAndre (Baker)?

A: No, I didn’t see what happened. They just told me to step up, so I was ready whenever they called me.

Q: How did that make you feel that you were able to get that call when your fellow teammates had to sit out for a bit?

A: Obviously I wish him the best. I don’t know what happened to him, but I’m always ready to step up whenever I’m called on. It felt good to go out there with the ones and get some reps and some practice running with a faster paced offense. I’m just taking it day by day trying to improve and not take it for granted.

Q: The aftermath of Thursday night, when you leave the stadium – what was that feeling like, what were the emotions?

A: It felt really good. I called my mom and we were on the phone for an hour and a half. It was crazy because we were just talking about how far I have come. Coming from Jamaica and all of the adversity I have been through, and now being here doing my dream. It’s just crazy being out there on the field. I had never been to an NFL game before and (now) here I am, on the field. There were a lot of emotions going through my head, but I was glad to be out there with my team and I was happy with the way I played. My team is what’s important to me, so it was definitely a good feeling.

Q: Were you able to get some sleep after the game?

A: Not really. I was up thinking about it all night. It’s just such a crazy feeling. Not everybody can say they are in the NFL, or even playing. For me to even get out there on the field, it was just crazy—and to make a play on the ball. There were a lot of emotions going through my head, so I was really excited.

Q: How do you come back down from that high getting ready to step out on the practice field today? Then obviously you get thrown out there with the ones. Did you take some time to make sure you put it behind you and move forward?

A: There are always areas of improvement for myself. I went out there and I made a play, but I’m not perfect. I still messed up a little bit. I’m always looking to clean up the little mistakes I made and go out there and communicate and play the best I can. I can only control what I can control. I just go out there and not look at it as, ‘Oh he made a play so he’s here now.’ I look at it as I can always get better and continue to improve, and hopefully there is more.

Q: What happened on the replay— does it make you realize that it is possible, and you have to watch what you’re doing with your hands as you’re running down the field? Because that flag comes out and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Wait a minute what did I do?’ You don’t get away with things like you’d normally would.

A: Exactly. I think that’s a little thing that I can clean up, just talking with my coach. Maybe just close my hand instead so it doesn’t look like I’m holding on. I don’t know really why they called it still, but I can clean it up. That’s on me to be more professional. It’s hard to translate that from college to the NFL. That’s my personal challenge that I need to fix.

Q: What impressions have you had about  TJ Jones from when he started in camp to Thursday night?

A: He’s been pretty good. He’s been getting a lot of reps on special teams and also offense. I think he’s shifty, he’s out there catching punts and making plays on offense as well. I wish him the best and hopefully he keeps making plays and is on the team for a while.

LB Jake Carlock

Q: Has your life changed in the last 50 hours, or whatever it has been?

A: I mean besides some Instagram and Twitter followers, nothing has really changed.

Q: Who did you hear from that you were like, ‘Wow I didn’t think I’d hear from them’?

A: Honestly, I feel like every person I’ve ever met in my life reached out to me and it was pretty cool and I tried my best to get back to everyone because I’m just enjoying the moment right now. But I knew that coming back today I just had to get back to work.

Q: What was that moment like when Coach Shurmur called you up in the locker room after that game?

A: It was cool, it’s nice to see guys genuinely happy for you, I mean these guys are awesome and something like that, is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life for sure.

Q: I would imagine that everything you hear about you is accurate in that you’re not necessarily focused on the play you made. You’re focused trying to find plays that you didn’t make Thursday. What are some of the things you saw when you broke down the film the following day?

A: Yeah for sure, I mean even on the play with the pick, I couldn’t really get around the tackle and it’s not a good job by me. I need to get around him to make the sack but thankfully I made that play. Then there were other plays where I didn’t get off the ball quick enough and I could’ve hustled on that other play earlier in the game. So I had a good play but there were many things I could correct and I’m going to.

Q: How realistic were you with yourself when camp began? The goal is to make the team, does your mindset change as you go practice to practice, week to week?

A: Honestly no, coming in I knew it was going to be a challenge for sure. I knew it was going to be tough coming from D2 (division two), coming from a small school but they gave me a shot and them giving me a shot I’m so thankful for and I knew I was going to give 100% every single day. Just to prove to them and give them a reason for me being here, so every day I think the same and I got a great group of guys and coaches around me and they help me so much. It’s easy coming out and working for them.

Q: Because you’re making the jump from Division 2, do you feel like you have to make spectacular plays to get noticed or can you just get noticed by your work ethic and your dedication to the game?

A: I think it’s both, I think the plays definitely help for sure, but at the same time some of the coaches were coming up to me and telling me how they’ve seen me in film running around and hustling other guys and I think that’s where it really comes into play. You just got to run around and you’ll get noticed if you’re going all out, so thankfully I’m starting to get some notice but I’m nowhere near where I want to be and I’m not going to settle now.

Q: What did that play do for your confidence?

A: It helps, I mean it’s cool to look back and think, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get into the game and I think a play like that it’s pretty cool and it definitely makes me feel more comfortable and then coming out I was just excited to get to work honestly. It was a cool two days off but I was ready to get back to it.

Q: Were you surprised with the reaction on the sideline? Especially for some of the older guys it kind of seemed that they made a gauntlet for you.

A: I wasn’t too surprised, like I said there are some really good dudes around here, the team is really tight, and I mean it was really just a great time. Whenever someone makes a play, everyone is rallying and what not so to see guys acting like that was really cool.

Q: Did it feel like the end zone was never going to come near you? Did it feel like you were just getting further away?

A: Yeah, I could’ve sworn someone was right behind me so I was sprinting as fast as I could. I don’t even care if someone was there they could have jumped on my back - I was going to score either way. So yeah, it was cool.

Q: When we talked to you the other night, you said you didn’t know where the football was, did you track it down?

A: Yeah, someone found it and put it in my locker yesterday morning, so I actually went home and gave it to my Pops.

Q: How cool of a feeling was that?

A: Real cool my family was pretty excited. I’m one of 8 so there’s a bunch of us and I got a bunch of messages from them. So I actually went home yesterday just to see them and everyone’s pretty happy.

Q: Which number are you of the eight?

A: I’m the second youngest so I got my baby bro, who’s going up to Cortland this week, he plays up there and everyone else is just older so got a bunch of nieces and nephews and everyone’s enjoying it right now.

Q: You went home to Babylon?

A: Yes.

Q: You happy with Newsday’s coverage?

A: Yes (laughter).

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