Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: We had some special guests at practice today, the Army football team was here on their day off. Coach (Jeff) Monken brought his whole team and his staff, and so you saw at the end of practice there the players went over to acknowledge them. NCAA rules say they couldn't be on the field because we couldn't give them special treatment, but it was nice for our players to acknowledge those young men. I have a fondness in my heart for the academies. I had my appointment to the Naval Academy, I wanted to captain a battleship and shoot the guns and do all that stuff, but I didn't want to be an engineer, so I turned it down. That was a little detail they left out when I was going through it. But, no, these guys are terrific young men and at some point they may be defending our freedom, so our guys, I thought it was great they went over there and acknowledged them. So, that being said, I'll take your questions.
Q: Plans for Thursday? Have you figured out when the starters are going to play, how much they're going to play?
A: We haven't discussed it with the players in detail yet, and that'll be happening here in the next 48 hours.
Q: How do you balance a player like Odell who's coming off of serious injury. Obviously he got hurt last year in the preseason?
A: Every player will receive the consideration necessary with regard to the play time.
Q: How have you handled preseason playing time in the past?
A: Well, I think we've got to give them what they need and, again, they're all at different stages of being ready to play in Week 1, so we just try to balance it and make good decisions based on whether we think it's right from the [beginning?].
Q: There's obviously a lot of individual evaluation that goes on in this game, but can you find out something about this team in general and are you curious to see anything?
A: Yeah. I think it's important that we operate as a staff and getting in and out of the huddle, making sure we've got the right people on the field, and there's a lot to be learned especially between the first and the second preseason game when you're a new staff working together. We have a blueprint for how we want to do it, and games are uncontrolled settings, and there's things that happen. So, the more uncontrolled things that happen in the game, the more opportunity you have to learn, and I think that's what we're looking for. So, we're trying to balance getting our team ready to play Jacksonville with doing the final evaluations on the guys that'll be on our initial 53.
*Q: One of the things you had to deal with when you got here was there was no game film on Davis Webb. Are you eager to see what he does on Thursday night? *A: I am. I think along the way I've gained an appreciation for Davis and his skillset and what he's able to do, and so I'm looking forward to seeing it in the game.
Q: How much does that factor into his playing time, the fact that you didn't get to see a lot of him last year? Do you want to see more of him this preseason maybe?
A: He'll play throughout the preseason like the other quarterbacks.
Q: Do you have a preference regarding where the coordinators are during the game, if they're on the field or if they're upstairs, or do you leave that up to them to decide?
A: I have a preference, and dependent on how your staff is structured, like Mike [Shula] is going to be on the field because Mike also talks to the quarterbacks and he's used to being on the field and being able to advise. I'm going to have plenty of experienced guys in the press box to see what we need to see up there.
Q: Are you going to be the voice in their ear then, the quarterbacks? Are you the primary voice in their ear?
A: I'm going to call in the plays, but as you know, we're all connected.
Q: Speaking of Coach Shula, you didn't have a coordinator your first go around as a head coach in Cleveland. Can you talk about how hiring him alleviates some of the responsibilities that you had in Cleveland where basically you had to stay with the offense the whole time?
A: Yeah, that was one of the things that I did that I would do differently the second time around, is make sure I had the full structure of my staff in place. Mike is an outstanding coordinator, called plays in a Super Bowl, [and] we're very fortunate that he was available. There's a lot of things similar about the way we ran our system that made it a good mix for us, and I think the Giants should be happy that he's here. But, yes, I didn't have one in Cleveland, and so that's not the right way to go. You need a coordinator.
Q: I realize it's not a regular season game but you are playing a team that you had been with. When you see that uniform and that helmet, is there going to be any extra emotion from you?
A: No. It's a preseason game against a worthy opponent and we're just going to go out and try to get better.
Q: Would you be more willing to do things in a situation where you wouldn't do them in a normal game, like if you're at the 50, the offense is moving, fourth-and-one, go for it, and things like that?
A: Depends on the situation, but I think all things are up in a preseason game – certainly to go for it on fourth down makes sense in that situation.
Q: When you see guys like [Olivier Vernon], Kareem Martin, Connor Barwin, Lorenzo Carter, probably others – how has your thinking about the pass rush changed during this camp in terms of the confidence level you might now have in it?
A: I'm very confident that we can create pressure on the edge. The four guys you mentioned, plus we have other guys behind them that are doing a good job, so yeah I think as I'm around these guys more and more, you see that they can generate some pass rush and that'll be good for us.
Q: Olivier Vernon just told me he's looking to solidify his spot in this defense. You look at it and his spot seems pretty solid, but do you like that attitude from a veteran?
A: I love that attitude. I think guys that have a veteran presence about them but come in with a rookie 'I want to try to make this team' mentality, I think that's what you're looking for. So, I'm glad to hear he said that.
Q: Is special teams important to you, especially in competitive situations and especially with some of these young guys as you get to these preseason games when you're evaluating?
A: Absolutely. I think the special teams' contribution that a guy can make can help him make this team. You've heard us say it before, but fourth down players – and there are some guys that are going to make this team because of their value on fourth down, and then they'll be role players on first, second and third down. So, certainly, what they do on teams matters.
Q: Do you have any idea in your head as far as a guy like Saquon or a lot of players, that you say this is what I want to see in the whole preseason, do you have a number that you want to see, situations, then you back game by game?
A: Yeah, I think so. I have a general blueprint in my brain as to how much I want guys to play, and it changes as we go through the preseason, depending on where they're at. But you like to see them do something, and we'll just see how it plays out.
Q: You talked when you got the job about things you had learned in Cleveland and how you apply it to now, thinking differently – you mentioned the coordinator as one – are there things that you have taken that you can tell now that you've done differently that feel right for you now?
A: Well, we haven't played any games yet, so we'll see, but I think in terms of day to day business, issues of the day, everything from our visits here daily to how I function behind the scenes, there was a certain list of things that I wanted to get done in the first six weeks and that kind of sets the rest of it in motion, and I think I don't necessarily want to share what those were, but some of that has helped as we've moved forward now to training camp.
Q: Just out of curiosity, do you ever keep in touch with Mike Holmgren?
A: I do.
Q: How has that been?
A: Good. It's been good. We have a good relationship.
Quarterback Davis Webb
Q: What are you hoping to show on Thursday night?
A: I think the biggest thing is just translating what I'm doing on the practice field to the games. Take what the defense gives me, not try to do too much. I have a habit of doing that sometimes. When I'm really feeling good and there is a tight window, I feel like I can make most of them. Sometimes it gets us in trouble. I just have to play smart and play the best I can. I think that will be plenty good enough.
Q: Do you have to alter your mindset, because of your arm strength?
A: I think just having the mindset of don't chase and be aggressively patient. Understand down and distance, the situation of the game. In practice, it's four reps or three reps and you're trying to do the best you can for that play and it's on to the next one. You kind of just have to understand the flow of the game and the situation and again don't chase and take what the defense gives you.
Q: What is it like to finally get a pretty good chunk of playing time after a lot of practice?
A: I think all the quarterbacks are going to get playing time, I'm just excited to be one of them. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can and translate what I've been doing on the practice field to the game. I feel like I'm doing a lot of good things on the practice field, I feel like I've gotten better every day. I think it's easy to see from a year ago how much better I am, and how much better I'm going to get. Just take it day by day and continue to get better. It's one preseason game, so just treat it as that and play the best I can. They are really good over there, they have a lot of guys drafted number one overall in Baker and Myles and the guys on defense. Greg Williams is one of the best in the business at what he does, there's a lot of respect over there.
Q: Is this the longest you have ever gone without playing in a game?
A: Yeah, I guess, but it happens to a lot of people. If you are a second or third string quarterback in the NFL, you have to wait a little bit. The starter is playing good or hasn't gotten hurt, stuff like that. Hopefully Eli won't get hurt and keeps playing well. Yeah, this is the longest I have gone without playing.
Q: Do you think there will be some game rust?
A: I don't think so. I think we are all excited to go against someone else other than ourselves. I'm excited to see Cleveland and see what they do defensively, pick up blitzes, communication with the center, breaking the huddle, getting to the line and playing football.
Q: Are you going to watch Hard Knocks tonight and get a scouting report?
A: I don't think so. I think I'm getting out of here a little late. We don't get Tivo at the hotel.
Q: How do you like the atmosphere of camp under Coach Shurmur compared to Coach McAdoo?
A: There is no real positive or negative, camp is camp. The weather is going to be hot and humid in East Rutherford and you're going to get a lot of wind. The biggest thing - Coach Shurmur has done a great job of asking our opinions, if we like morning or afternoon practices better, really giving us time to get home at night so we're able to get eight-plus hours of sleep so that we can recover to come back with 100 percent the next day and give it our best. Meetings have been great, every single position group has been learning a ton and you can see at practice – the linebacker group is getting better each day, the DBs are (too), the O-line has done a great job communicating and coming together as a unit. It's a credit to Coach Shurmur and the coaching staff for bringing us all together.
Q: Do you like morning or afternoon practice better?
A: Whatever Coach Shurmur says.
Q: (Shurmur) talked about not trying to do too much, you don't want to use your arm too much to make a play that is not there, how do you balance that with wanting to make plays?
A: I think I do an okay job of it right now. It's just at the same time, understanding the situation. If it's third and long, there's nothing wrong with taking a check down and flipping the field position. You don't have to force anything downfield, just have to know the situation and be patient, don't chase – don't try and chase something that you want to be there but it's not there.
Q: How do you approach your job? Do you come in here saying, "I'm the backup", or do you come in and say, "I'm just here and I have to be the best I can", or what?
A: My job description, in my opinion, is to be the hardest working player on the team, be the best teammate on the team and to try to be the best I possibly can at quarterback. If that's the backup, third string or maybe even the first guy, just do the best you can, be the best teammate you can and be the hardest worker. I don't make decisions like that, I just try to do those same three things each and every day.
Q: You're playing in your third offensive scheme in the last three years. Can that actually help you with getting prepared, since you have seen so much more?
A: Yeah, I think just the way Coach Shurmur and Coach Shula have taught the offense through OTAs and now training camp. This is now our second, third, fourth time through it. Our receivers, especially, are playing so much faster. You can kind of tell, Sterling Shepard, Hunter Sharp, Cody (Latimer) have really picked up their speed. They look like really dependable targets and Odell (Beckham Jr.) is Odell, I don't even know if he got hurt last year the way he works.
Q: Where did you learn the phrase "aggressively patient"?
A: That's a Coach Shula phrase. I'm not going to take credit for that, I steal it from him. I've kind of elaborated on it a little bit, just kind of taking what the defense gives you and if there's a chance to take a shot, you take a shot. If not, you go through your progressions and we are all coached great by two great quarterback minds and our job is just to be coachable and complete the ball to the open guy on time and accurately.
Defensive Tackle B.J. Hill
Q: How's your first NFL camp coming along?
A: It's going well. Out here just competing and trying to get better each and everyday.
Q: Are you ready to hit somebody?
A: I am. I mean, we've been hitting people in camp, but I'm ready for the first game on Thursday against the team we're going up against.
Q: Do you look at it as your NFL debut?
A: Oh yeah. It's going to be my first game in the NFL and I'm just excited to get out there and compete with the best.
Q: When the Giants drafted you they said a lot of times at N.C. State you were coming out in a frogger stance, you weren't asked to rush the passer as much. This defense, that's going to change. What do you think so far a few practices in?
A: I love our defense. I love the way we play. I love our style. I love just the balance of the way we're going to play this year. I'm going to bring whatever I've got to the table, to each game. Pass rush, stopping the run, all of it.
Q: What have you learned here from minicamp to the first couple of weeks of training camp that you're anxious to unveil in the Browns game that you want people to see?
A: Everything from stopping the run, being physical, playing angry to rushing the passer, too, as well. People say I can't rush, but I can. I want to show people that I can do it all on first down, second and third down.
Q: Biggest difference between college and the NFL so far?
A: The biggest difference I would say is the speed of the game so far, and learning. It's a lot to learn and it's a little different. But I'm picking it up so quick and so far it's because of the older guys like OV, Snacks, all these other guys that's helping me out, help me learn the playbook, help me find little tips on offensive linemen and stuff like that.
Q: The other day Damon Harrison said you were the most athletic defensive lineman on the team. What does that mean coming from him?
A: Don't let his size fool you, he's pretty athletic as well. It feels good, I know he got my back. I got his back as well and I'm ready to play beside him.
Q: Snacks was aware of two guys at NC State last year on the defensive line, but didn't quite have you on his radar.
A: We had a great D-Line at State. We all got drafted, so it is what it is.
Q: What's been more difficult: the physical or mental side of the NFL?
A: Both of them bring a challenge. You just got to get time and preparation – and practice is going to help you get over it.
Q: What's the best piece of advice the veterans have given you so far?
A: Just come out and be me. Don't switch up, just always be me. Come out and work hard and give it all you got.
Q: Going back to what I asked you about last year's defensive line at N.C. State, how has that helped you to have multiple pieces there?
A: Yeah, we all worked together last year as a D-Line. Now I'm in a great situation where I got great people beside me. I'm excited to play beside OV, Snacks, [Dalvin] Tomlinson, like everybody, so I'm excited.
Q: There's a familiarity being with that front…
A: For sure. I feel like we got a great group – a great defense and I feel like we got a lot to prove this year. I'm excited for it.
Q: Yesterday [James] Bettcher said he sees you playing all three spots on the defensive line. Do you feel comfortable in those spots or do you need more reps there?
A: Wherever he needs me to play, I'll play. If he wants to me play linebacker, I'll play linebacker, but I doubt that'll happen. Yeah, I can play the one, the three and the five. In college I played mostly the one and the three, so I'm used to playing it all.