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Quotes (8/2): Shurmur, Shepard, Ogletree

Head coach Pat Shurmur

Opening statement

You probably notice the schedule changed. We practiced in the late morning. We basically did it for the fans. As you know, there’s a big concert tonight in the stadium. It would’ve been parking issues for the fans. We wanted to make sure that they had a Giants experience today. We practiced in the morning. About half the teams in the league practice in the morning. I’ve been other places where we did that. I like, especially early in camp, to practice in the afternoon because you have your meetings, you have your walk-thrus, you have another meeting, then you have practice. So, it’s kind of the full process of learning. This part of training camp, I kind of like changing the schedule because now most of the installations are in. We can practice in the morning and change the schedule. I encourage the players to remember it’s not sudden change, but it’s change – and they got to deal with it. We’ve got to perform at a high level, whether we’re playing at one, four, seven, we’re playing in the parking lot, on a rooftop, on turf, grass, it doesn’t matter. So, changing the schedule and making them adjust, I think it’s a good thing. But initially, the reason we did it was so that the fans can watch practice.

Q: After monitoring Odell’s workload, has he been able to do even more than what you had expected so far in camp?

A: He’s doing what we expected him to do. Again, most of the scripted periods, we give him the plays that are necessary for him to learn. He’s right on track.

Q: How would you describe him on the practice field?

A: I think he’s very engaged. He’s very energetic, and he practices very hard.

Q: Did (RB) Saquon (Barkley) end his practice a little early today?

A: No, we’re just managing him like everybody. He’s had a really, really big workload. This was the day, for no reason other than just a little bit less.

Q: How carefully are you keeping tabs on Saquon’s workload?

A: We watch every player’s workload, and we talk constantly about not only how much we expect him to do, but after practice we’ll talk about how they did, and just keep managing it. We’re very aware of that. It’s important this time of year that guys practice, because this is when you get the heat, the humidity, the mental component of pushing through. But, we still have to be smart.

Q: We know you get all that performance data now on players. Is there anything specific that made you think that would be the way to go with him right now?

A: There’s a lot of data, somebody reads it for me. You’d be surprised, there’s many sheets and numbers and we have some very smart people that read it.

Q: Do they tell you when you should sort of take the gas pedal off certain guys?

A: No, we see it as coaches and then we just gauge how guys are doing physically and just give them what they need.

Q: Are you happy with the concentration and intensity level with every practice?

A: I am happy with how hard our guys try to do the right thing. There are some practices that are not as efficient as others and there is something to be learned from that.

Q: When you have a schedule change like this, do you look to make the practices a little longer or do you try to keep them consistent time-wise?

A: It depends, we’re in the early part of August and there is a certain amount of work we need to get done and we’ve got 90 players, or 80-plus players, at every practice and so there’s a lot of guys that are getting reps. I’ve said it before, those two and three reps are very important because the initial 53 roster changes weekly, so guys that we’ve trained that are available have this memory bank of reps of our stuff so that maybe they can come in and contribute quicker.

Q: What does Sterling Shepard bring to the offense?

A: Sterling is a good football player and he’s a gritty guy and is as equally engaged as Odell. I really appreciate what he brings to the table, he’s a football player. You have much more history as reporters than I do with him but I am gaining a real appreciation for him.

Q: The officials are at practice today to talk about the helmet rule, have they talked to you guys about it yet?

A: No, they were on the field today and so they’re getting up to speed. This is training camp for them as well. They’re out there looking at formations and alignments and the play, they’re going to visit with our players today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Q: So they’ll talk to you guys about it?

A: There’s a lot of education behind the scenes. There will be meetings set up where they’ll have league videos that they’ll show the players with suggestions on how to teach and coach and then we also have videos prepared that we want to show them of questions that we have with regard to things that we have seen in practice

Q: What kind of questions do you have?

A: A wide range, but we’re going to address some of the new helmet stuff, some of the new changes in the kickoff and how that will be approached and officiated and just really the new rules. It’s a chance to give us a crash course on what they’re looking for and how we need to coach things.

Q: Is it hard getting this information after a full week of camp? Do you feel like you will have to make adjustments or things like that?

A: No, we had the videos and we had the information in the spring and so we’ve been working on it, but as you know, as time elapses, there is more conversation about things and they may have some new information or a new way to say or coach something that may be clearer.

Q: What do you think of the new helmet rule?

A: I am all for player safety and I’m all for us playing and coaching a game that is still very fun for the fans to watch but safe for the players.

Q: Have you made adjustments teaching-wise as a result of the rule? Are you doing anything different at practice?

A: We have talked about how the use of the head, how we don’t want it, and how it can’t be a part of our game. So, yeah, we have talked about it.

Q: Do you shift your attention at any point toward the first game or is that something that is ongoing?

A: Right now, it’s Giants versus Giants. We’re working on fundamentals, we’re working on schemes and then we are certainly working on things we’re going to see throughout. We’re in the second week of training camp, so we’ll go through Saturday, then they’re off Sunday, then we’re going to come back and we have Cleveland on the horizon, so we’ll still be working Giants versus Giants but will tweak it as we get closer to the game.

Q: Pat, what do you think of your corner depth? Do you think you have the corners here who can fill out that secondary behind the starters?

A: I will say this – we like our corners and we like that group but with any group on our team, we’re always looking to improve in any way. You can just fill in the blanks at any position and I will give you that very same answer.

Q: Is it encouraging to see the progress being made in terms of an extension with Odell?

A: I certainly appreciate the question, but anything with regard to contracts I’m not going to comment on.

Q: I know the receiver room is pretty crowded but has Kalif Raymond opened your eyes?

A: He did in the spring, he’s made plays. He’s got a good knack for playing in the slot and he made a couple big plays today so, yes, he has done a very nice job.

Q: I’m sure you’re like most coaches, you want to get your guys to catch the ball with two hands, but there is one drill you do in individuals where they work on one handed catches. Can you just talk about how the game has evolved a bit, how that has become part of the wide receiver repertoire?

A: I think it is important that we catch the football and just like any drill, it simulates or helps simulate what might happen at some point. The reason they work that drill is there will be times when they’re running down the field, and I know that corners don’t hold, but there are times when their one arm is obstructed and so they have to make an effort to catch it with one hand. So that’s really the nature of that drill. To your point, catching the football, dropping balls, we can’t do it. Whether it’s an interception that can change the game or the obvious, receivers catching it from quarterbacks, we have to be a team that catches the ball well and then that will really, really help affect the outcome of games.

Q: With that in mind, having a back like Saquon adds so much to the passing game. Can you elaborate on what you’ve noticed from him, does he remind you of anyone catching out of the backfield?

A: He’s got excellent ball skills. In terms of reminding me of backs, we all remember Brian Westbrook and guys like that. They are big time threats when you throw it to them. If you noticed today, we had that ‘move the ball’ period that was unscripted and on the first play, we were trying to throw the ball to either Odell or Sterling down the field but if they vacated the flat, just pop it to the back, catch the ball and run for a bunch of yards. We had another one later where we were trying to throw the ball inside to Evan and things got jumbled up. They lost the back, and we threw it out to our right side for a big gain So, running backs need to catch the ball in today’s offense and I think we’ve got guys in our running back group who can do it.

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

Q: It was really humid out there. Were your legs feeling it a little bit?

A: Yeah, but I mean that’s no excuse. We gotta kind of adjust to that. There’s going to be hot games out here on game day so it shouldn’t matter. We got to push through, it was kind of sloppy today.

Q: What about the change in the practice schedule?

A: Yeah I think it’s good to have a change up. You kind of get used to the same routine and it kind of gets to you as a player, so switching things up was good for us. We just got to bring the energy we brought for the afternoon practices for the morning as well.

Q: You always said don’t consider me just a slot receiver but it seems in this offense, it seems like nobody could be considered anything because you’re all lining up everywhere.

A: Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying every time I got up here. You kind of got to know where every position is going to be and know what to do at every position so. Not just a slot receiver, you’re going to be outside sometimes so you have to know everywhere.

Q: Does that make it harder for you to learn and adjust to as a receiver?

A: No.

Q: What did you think was sloppy?

A: I just think we had too many balls on the ground. Could’ve cleaned up the – just from the huddle, everything. Some of the little things. I mean doesn’t always have to be big things. Just as simple as breaking the huddle with a clap. Guys are tired, tend to forget to do that type of thing, but I think it’s a big deal. It’s going to be a big deal later on down the road.

Q: What do you think of Cody Latimer so far?

A: Yeah, I love Cody. I think he’s battling something right now, but when he’s out there he’s definitely going to give it all he’s got. Great route runner to be that big, snatches the ball out the air, so I think he’s going to be great for us.

Q: With you and Odell [Beckham Jr.], I know you guys are close, but on the field you’re always talking to each other in between plays. What’s he like on the field and what do you guys generally talk about?

A: I think it’s all about technique most of the time [laughs]. Yeah, most of the time it’s about technique or what I was thinking on some route or what he was thinking or whatever is coming up in the script and what we’re excited for. We’re always just picking each other’s brain. I’m always picking his brain, for sure. Trying to see what he’s thinking or what he thought about whatever just happened or whatever I just did.

Q: Are you starting to get to that point where you’re sick of practicing against each other and you want to see another jersey now?

A: Yeah, I mean, you start getting to that point pretty early. Everybody’s looking forward to the season, preseason. Guys want to earn that position and you can’t do too much against your teammates so you want to let loose and get somebody else. I know guys are pretty amped up and excited about the game coming up next week.

Q: Towards the end when you and Odell were in the end zone, Pat Shurmur came over and just a couple of words exchanged. What would you say the way he’s seemingly tried to connect with you guys?

A: Yeah, it’s great. To have a head coach that’s gonna meet up with the players and is real in-touch with the players, it’s good to have. Coach has been great so far. Just trying to pick everything up right now and figure out what this team has. I think that was the big thing. He’s talked about coming out in the first half and things don’t go your way, that’s kind of what practice was for us today, weren’t really going our way and trying to test this team and see what we have to come back out in the second half and get things done.

Q: Landon [Collins] said when Shurmur talked to you guys early on, you guys had to realize A, he was telling a joke, and B, you were allowed to laugh at it.

A: Yeah, I’d agree with that I guess.

Q: He’s got that dry sense of humor…

A: Yeah, he does, but he’s a pretty funny guy when you get the jokes.

Q: You’re catching a lot of balls in camp. Are you sitting there and going 80, 90 [catches] this year or something like that? Are you setting any goals?

A: Not for myself. I just want to get this team back on the right track. The history of the Giants is great and we didn’t do that last year, so I want to get us back on the right track. That’s the main focus.

Linebacker Alec Ogletree

Q: Did you get an explanation about the new helmet rule today?

A: It will be interesting to see defensively. It’s kind of tough for us to take our heads out of it as much as possible. I understand why they are trying to do it, but at the same time it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impact it has.

Q: Are you concerned you might not be able to take the instinct part of your game out, to comply with the rules?

A: You have to adjust as much as you can. You won’t be perfect but you have to try to adjust your game to fit the rules. I think we will do that once the time comes.

Q: Have you heard from other teams who have had meetings with officials about what’s been talked about?

A: I haven’t really heard from other teams. I know we talked about it a little bit in the linebacker room. Just how to set it up for as far as a linebacker taking on a guard, tackle or something like that, that kind of helmet to helmet contact is illegal. It’s going to be tough for us for sure.

Q: Is there a specific type of play that you are worried about?

A: I honestly don’t know, things just happen on the field and you try to do your job as well as you can and limit the mistakes. We are going to try our best to adjust our games to fit the situation.

Q: Have you been coached to change the way you tackle over the course of your career?

A: Pretty much throughout the league everybody is trying to adjust the way guys tackle, keeping your head out of it. Like I said, it’s a physical game, and you are definitely going to have some type of head contact, I don’t care how much you try to change it.

Q: Was there a time when a coach said, “this is our new tackling technique” over the course of your career?

A: I’ve played with three or four different coaches and everyone has their own technique. For the most part, it’s pretty much the same, they try to teach you to keep your head out of it as much as possible.

Q: During a particular play in practice, have you actually thought about the head aspect of making a tackle?

A: Yea somewhat, it’s kind of hard when you’re not actually tackling somebody to really say I need to hit him like this. You definitely try to take the right approach to a tackle and work on your steps when you’re about to finish. Its definitely kind of difficult to actually practice not putting your head into something.

Q: Has there been more emphasis on coaching technique with the new rules this year?

A: I don’t think so. For the most part, in the last few years since I have been doing drills, coaches teach you to try to take your head out of it and lower your target.

Q: Do you concern yourself with what your life will be like once your playing career is over?

A: I try to just focus on right now as much as I can. At the same time, you definitely have health reasons as to why certain stuff has to happen so you can function later on in life. You aren’t going to play football forever, so there is definitely a thought there, but at the same time I try to focus on what my job is right now and do the best I can to stay as healthy as possible.

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