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Quotes (9/13): Coordinators talk Cowboys prep

Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher

Opening Remarks: Dallas Cowboys – obviously a division team, on the road. As we know, there is a very storied history between the Cowboys and Giants. When you’re a kid sitting watching the games on TV, you remember watching the Cowboys play the Giants, but most importantly, it’s a division game and probably even more importantly than that, it’s the next game. A run offense that runs the ball really well. They’re going to give 21 (running back Ezekiel Elliott) a bunch of touches, they’re going to find some really creative ways to get him going. They’re going to stretch it hard and cut the ball back, they’re going to give you some gap scheme with some pullers, they’re going to get big personnel on the field, they’re going to run the ball down the field at you. You’re going to get a little bit of everything. They do a nice job with that. Then after that, the boots, the play passes, the taking a shot down the field, some movement stuff to get completions, and try to get you in some one-on-ones on the perimeter and throw the ball down the field. It’s going to be a great challenge and I think our guys had really good prep yesterday. It was a better Wednesday than last week, I will say that. More importantly, we just came from a good walk-thru. That was the next thing. That’s all we’re going to do this whole season, win/lose doesn’t matter – that’s not going to change our preparation. It’s process, process, process. That’s what we talked about defensively when we came into the meeting room and watched tape on Monday. That being said, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Why was it a better Wednesday than last week? What did you see from them?

A: I felt great energy on the field, I really did. I think our guys are building confidence every day. At the end of the day, the years of experience of the players on the field doesn’t matter as much as their experience of snaps playing together. The more these guys play together, the better they’re going to be able to play off of each other and with each other. Defensively, I can see that confidence growing day-by -day, both in the communication part of it which is going to be vital, and then the execution of the jobs they need to do.  

Q: I know it’s a little different at this stage of the season when it comes to practice, you can’t tackle to the ground or anything like that, but how helpful is it having a (running back) like (Saquon Barkley) go against your defense every day, going into a matchup with a very similar running back?

A: We have one of the premier backs in the league, there’s no question. He showed that on Sunday, he gave us a bunch of excitement, he got guys going on the sideline with that special run he had. Seeing him play in practice and defending a guy that can split out and catch the ball, and put him in the backfield to run the ball downhill at you makes great one-cut moves and will, at the same time, lower his pad and power you – there’s certainly some similarities, and I’m glad we’ve got Saquon. That’s for sure.     

Q: How different is it preparing for them without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, two guys who’ve been there for what feels like forever?

A: When you talk about a tight end, arguably one of the best ones – top-five to ever play the game, certainly a lot of respect for him as a player. They’re working right now to try to find who those guys are on the perimeter – who’s going to get the big touches on the outside as a receiver and which tight end’s maybe going to be the focal point. I think at the end of the day, they have a belief and philosophy on offense and that starts with running the football. That didn’t matter if Dez was in the game or it didn’t matter who the tight end was, that’s the focus, and the play-action pass that boots off of that.

Q: You limited the Jaguars to 13 points as a defense, shut them out in the second half. How do you feel about your defensive performance coming off last week? You lose the game, but you shut them out in the second half.

A: Make no mistake, we don’t feel great about losing, number one. Two, I love the energy and the effort we played with. There’s some plays on tape where there’s balls that are the sideline and I’m seeing eight, nine and ten guys show up, and that’s who we have to be and that’s what our opponents need to see on tape when they turn us on, and really, that’s what our fans should expect and deserve from us. There were some plays in the run game that we need to fit better and we need to play better, the backed up run is a disappointing play certainly because that’s points. We hold them backed up, we’re thinking that’s a scoring play on defense, and we just need to execute better. Very encouraged but at the same time, I love the thought that we came in with on Monday. We talked about what we needed to correct and our guys are really working like pros and are working to correct those things so we can stack that stuff, and we don’t have to go back and correct some of the same stuff over again.   

Q: How vital is the pass rush this week against a quarterback like (Dak Prescott) who, if he gets loose, can make a big run?

A: Yeah, I experienced it last year when we played them. He got out of the pocket twice on us and he hurt us getting out of the pocket. The pass rush is important, but controlled rush is just as important with him. Just like we did last week, we were trying to make him throw from tight levels, make him field a pocket, close in on him. It’s not about whether you say the word spy or don’t spy, some people use that term. It’s eyes – who has eyes, who is the guy that has eyes on the quarterback as we’re trying to still aggressively rush with four or five, or whatever that might be.

Q: What did you think of the pressure overall last week? I think you had one sack.

A: I thought there were a couple times in our four-man rush where I just have to coach it a little bit better, that’s really where it starts. I have to get us so we’re not high on rushes and we can field the counters on the perimeter, then in some of our pressures, just understanding if we’re getting the back or we’re getting the tight end, those are the muscle-in situations in the rushes. Sometimes, we never get confused – we would love every time you call pressure that we have bunch of guys running free. That’s not the reality of it. The reality of it is that you try to create one-on-one matchups and you try to win those one-on-one matchups, and make quarterbacks’ timing and thought process have to speed up. There are some good stuff, and there’s some stuff, in terms of the edge and feeling how high we are in rushes also, some of the one-on-ones we need to do a better job of.  

Q: How do you think your two rookies – (B.J. Hill and Lorenzo Carter) – handled themselves in their first NFL game?

A: I think both of them played well. Lorenzo played a little over 30 snaps in the game and I think the more he played, the better he played, and I think B.J. was the same way. The longer the game went on, the better he got. We’ve just got to be clued in. Early in this game, we need those end-of-game snaps that we got from both of those guys, we need them earlier in this game.

Q: How do you miss Olivier Vernon?

A: When you’re talking about one of the elite pass rushers in the league, do you miss him? Sure, you’d love to have him. You go ask the 31 other (teams) if they want OV, all 31 will say yes. I do love the make-up of that room. I love Connor Barwin, Kareem Martin and Lorenzo Carter. All those guys got their hand on the pylon, you can see them. We’re lining them up in different spots, sometimes Connor’s inside, sometimes Kareem’s inside, and we’re moving them around and trying to get them on matchups. They’ve embraced all of it and working their tails off. As a group, I like how they play as a group.

Q: The secondary, I think you had two passes in 20 yards and long, was that just good coverage on your guys?

A: We don’t want any passes of 20 yards of more. That’s what I would say to our guys in the room. I think those guys in the back did a heck of a job, they really did. Some of it was just awareness, and that’s each and every week. You go and look at a new opponent and what are the splits, and what are the routes you’re getting out of those splits, and if the tight ends here vs. the tight ends there – we’ve just got to keep growing that situational awareness and we’ve got to keep coaching the heck out of it and do a better job coaching it. I thought that was something going into that game, our guys played with pretty good awareness.

Q: With (Landon Collins), he’s such a playmaker being aggressive going forward. Can teams try to neutralize that factor that he’s such a playmaker going forward? When he has that big splash play, it kind of gets everybody going.

A: There’s no question. I mean, can they scheme against him? I’m sure they can try to do that stuff, and at the end of the day, we’ve got to do a good job as coaches putting him in good spots, number one, and moving him around a little bit number two, then at the end of the day, don’t make it too hard. Get down, play, get your eyes right, get in a good stance, and it’s football. We won’t overthink it, and try to get a win on Sunday.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula

Q: How did you evaluate the offensive line’s play?

A: I think in general, offensively, I think we got off to a slow start and I think all of us, in that regard, but once we kind of got our feet settled underneath us a little bit, the guys did a good job protecting in the second quarter, protection-wise first and second quarter, in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter there was some really good pockets. At time we took advantage of it, other times we had some near misses so I think all of us, not just the offensive line, need to get out to a little better start and be consistent. Then in the run game I think that we were just a little off early as well, but as we know, it takes all of us. With a guy like Saquon (Barkley) back there in the running game, you just got to keep going, keep going, staying on guys and eventually you think he’s going to break one, kind of like this Sunday.

Q: Wondering how much you attribute it to your group not being much together, it’s a totally new line. How much does that actually factor in your mind?

A: That’s a fine line in having excuses and just – I think you have to look at that a little bit and be realistic, but also we’re here to win right now and that’s the most important thing I think. Obviously having a game now under our belt with the 11 guys in there that we hadn’t had in there earlier in the preseason is going to be helpful and like I said, hopefully we’ll be able to see that improvement from week one to week two.

Q: As the game went on it looked like you gave Ereck Flowers more help on that side. Is that something you feel you’re going to have to do at the start of the game?

A: Well I think in general protection-wise you have to – everything ties in together. Guys have to win one-on-one’s. You’re going to have times where you’re going to slide. You want to mix your protections up whether or not you’re keeping your backs and tight ends in or free releasing them, not being predictable. I think that’s probably the biggest thing, more so, and it’s whether or not you want a five-man protection or six-man protection or seven-man protection. To start with guys got to know what they’re doing, know where their help is, got to get the ball out on time and then when we have backs or tight ends helping out, chipping on the way out or involved with protection, we got to do a good job with that too.

Q: Did you learn something about Ereck in that first game? He’s never played there before.

A: Yeah, I think we all learned a lot about everybody so we just all need to be more consistent in regard to number one, be more consistent and number two get off to a better start. That better start doesn’t mean we need to score 14 points right out of the gate, that’d be great, but just eliminate the negative plays. We had way too many negative plays whether or not they were penalties or plays for losses early that kind of dug us into a hole. When you look at our drives, the times we didn’t have that, we were moving the ball and then we got to get in the end zone.

Q: How’s that change your offense when you have to keep an extra tight end on the line to block?

A: I think every week we plan on mixing our protections whether or not it’s a five-man, six-man or seven-man protection so it’s not really – I think it’s, so far since we’ve been here, it’s been consistent with other places I’ve been in regard to having a plan for different types of protections.

Q: In an offense, with the receivers, do you want them all to get the same amount of touches or do you go with who is hot and he gets the most?

A: Yes, to both questions. Yeah, I mean throw to the open guy and get the ball there on time and accurately. The main thing for the quarterback is make good decisions and make them on time and obviously the physical part there is getting the ball there accurately. We don’t want the quarterback thinking about you have to throw to this guy or you’ve thrown too many times to this guy, you have to throw over there. It just happens natural with his progressions and his reads. Then us as coaches, if there’s – obviously you’re looking for things that are good looks and if they’re not good looks then you have to have change up looks of it or that’s where your quarterback is so important to make sure he doesn’t try to force it.

Q: What did you think of Eli’s game?

A: Like the whole offense, I think there was some signs of really good play. I loved the way he moved in the pocket and he gets the ball out fast and we just weren’t quite consistent enough and we just had a couple opportunities where if we hit him, we can get points on the board and then it might be a totally different ball game so I think he’s like everybody else just working on being more consistent, but there’s a lot of good things there that we want to continue to build on and then there’s some other things we think we can get better.

Q: Given that Odell had 4.6 yards of separation, could his day have been and maybe should his day have been even bigger and your day as an offense bigger?

A: Should we have throw to him more? Is that what you’re saying?

Q: Or hit him when he was open.

A: Well we try to complete all of our passes so hopefully we’ll continue to stride in that regard.

Q: But you know what I’m asking, you have a premier guy who is against a really good defense, but he is getting really, NFL-wise, open targets to his quarterback.

A: Yeah that’s good and hopefully he’ll continue to do that and again, it kind of goes back to an earlier question I think that you want to be able to allow your guys to do what they do best and then get the ball to them and yet not be predictable. It’s a fine line in doing that and forcing the ball to certain guys. Then all of a sudden you have Saquon back there as well. You can say, ‘Well, did you give him enough carries?’ so those are all good questions to answer and I think that as we move forward we’ll continue to (answer). The biggest thing for us to do offensively is make first downs and stay on the field so then you have more opportunities for everybody.

Q: Did you give him enough carries when you said that to yourself?

A: I think we had a good balance and I think that, again, it’s about maximizing, whatever the call is, what we’re doing run or pass. Just got to win a game now.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: What did you tell Kaelin Clay after that play?

A: Just catch the ball. Protect himself. There’s no reason, in that situation, we had a blocker on him and just protect yourself with a fair catch. Just being situationally aware, that’s all.   

Q: Do you intend to give him another chance back there?

A: Yes, he’s like any other player. You’re not just going to give him one chance and throw him away. There’s a lot of things that happen over the course of the game that we all kind of want to get back, but Kaelin is a pro. This is his third year (in this league) going in, he’s made a lot of plays in this league, and I expect him to do that moving forward.

Q: How do you feel about your unit overall?

A: It’s okay. I think there’s a lot of things we can do moving forward to get better, especially in the return game. I see us taking big steps moving forward, and I look forward to doing that.  

Q: For the last punt return, Coach Shurmur’s talked about situational use of (Odell Beckham Jr.) or (Saquon Barkley) – situational maybe being when you’re behind, in that kind of a situation. Is there a discussion between you two at that point at all?  

A: It’s always something in our minds that we can possibly potentially do, but it just didn’t happen. It was one of those things that looking back at, maybe you could do something different and maybe not. Maybe you stay in the same situation, depending on Kaelin making the play. He makes the play, we go down and we score, we’re not even talking about it. It’s just one of those deals. In the moment, you make a decision and you live with it.    

Q: The fact that the block was on him – having the block on him and having Odell back there probably would not sync up. If you’re going to have Odell back there, you’re going to have a return?

A: Correct.

Q: With the way they regulate the way the kickoff team can operate, would Saquon as a kickoff returner be interesting because he would get that full head of steam, perhaps? He would have that advantage now?

A: I think if you put Saquon in any situation, it would be interesting (laughter). But no, I agree with you. I will continue to say this – any time you put the ball in the hands of a great playmaker, it’s always a positive.   

Q: I know it’s the head coach’s call, which you might say to me, but then why not do it?  

A: You answered your own question.  Again, that’s one of those deals where that’s above my pay grade. I would welcome Saquon back there any time.

Q: Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but why would having a punt block on preclude using Odell in that spot?  

A: You can put him back there in any situation, it doesn’t have to be that situation. But that situation, you just catch the ball. Odell back there, Kaelin back there, it doesn’t matter, just catch the ball.  

Q: What do you like about Cody Latimer as a kick returner?  

A: He’s a big, strong man that has really good straight-line speed and he’s done it before in his career and been effective at it. We like what we saw when he was in Denver and he’s the same way here. Again, we had one attempt and we’ll obviously have some more moving forward. I think Cody is a very reliable candidate to do that job.  

Q: You weren’t here with (Aldrick Rosas) last year but I’m sure you’ve watched a lot of film on him. Does he look different? Does he look more confident?  

A: Absolutely. He’s like any other young player. You look forward to watching them mature. The maturation process has been really, really fun to watch. He’s a very talented young player that has a ton of upside, and he’s learning. He’s like any young player in this league, you learn from your mistakes and you just continue to work to get better and he’s done that.

Q: What was it like bringing Tom Quinn back and how has he helped in his role?

A: Tom’s been great. We worked together for four years, so it’s like putting the band back together. Tom is very knowledgeable, very detailed, very organized in what he does and he definitely brings a lot to the room. We work well together.

Q: But there’s a new lead singer in the band – he used to be your boss and now you’re his. How does that dynamic work between the two of you?

A: We work together. He doesn’t work for me, we all work together. Me, him, and (Anthony) Blevins, we sit down and come up with the scheme for the week and how we’re going to attack the next opponent. We work together. It’s not a, I’m the boss – it’s not one of those deals. That’s how we operate.

Q: Any concerns with Dallas with what they do on returns?

A: You’re always concerned about the opponent. Dallas is a formidable opponent, they’ve done a great job over the years. They’ve got a new coordinator, but they’re a talented football team. They’ve got some good pieces there – Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin, those guys have made plays in this league. Any time you get an opportunity to line up against those style guys, you’ve got to be ready because they’ll pop you upside the head.

Q: On the kickoff rules – does it make it any more or less enticing when you’re maybe two or three yards into the end zone to return it or take a knee?

A: Just depends on the situation. It’s all situational. It just depends on wind, direction, time of the game – it’s just situational. It just depends. You’ve got to pick your spots.

Q: Did you get any feedback from former players or friends when you told us you had cancer?

A: Yes, I got a lot of text messages that day because that’s not something you just broadcast to the world. The people that are around me, really close know, that deal with me on a day-to-day basis, but it’s not something that I picked up the phone and called everybody I knew, so a lot of people were surprised. It is what it is. I appreciate them reaching out, that’s for sure.

Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Q: How did you come out feeling in that first game after all those days off?

A: I’m not going to lie, I was sore after the game. First time in, whatever how many days it was, 300 something, getting hit out there. I felt good to make it out, but I was feeling it. I was feeling it the Monday after. We’re here healthy, get back in and do your rehab, and get ready for this week.

Q: What did you think of your performance?

A: There were a lot of things I went and looked at. Stuff that I felt like I could’ve done better. There’s little chances we had in the game that could’ve been a difference. It’s just about connecting on them, and just getting the small details down. Whether it’s getting the depth of your route, which is something I’ve always felt like I needed to work on. So, there’s little things that I took from it. There were some good, there were some things that I know I that I want to work on.

Q: What were you encouraged by?

A: I was encouraged by the way that we fought against one of the better teams in the league. Unfortunately, we lost, but if you look at it, the game could’ve went either which way. We just didn’t make more plays than they made. I think we’re optimistic about it. I know everybody wanted to get the first game out the way, and now you can build off of what we left out there.

Q: This is the first time you played in Shurmur’s offense. What did you think about some of the schemes and some of the ways he got you open?

A: I like the way that I can get in the slot, I can get second man inside, I can stay on the outside. It makes it hard for defenses to plan against us because you’re moving around so much. All the pieces are interchangeable, like I said. (TE) Evan (Engram) can get on the outside. (RB) Saquon (Barkley) can get on the outside. (WR Sterling Shepard) Shep can be on the outside. Cody – everybody can move, and it makes it a lot harder for teams to game plan.

Q: Do you feel like teams have a game of film on you and some things will change in terms of how teams will cover you moving forward?

A: I figure it might, or it’s always going to be the same as was it was. We’re doing that, there’s going to be matchup problems across the board that they’re going to have to deal with, and if they’re cool with dealing with that, that’s fine. I know that these other guys, Shep and Evan and everybody else is going to make plays, is going to make it tough. Once we get going, and really get going, I’ll really see it. I don’t want to say impossible, but very hard to stop this offense. Get the run game going, get the passes, the play action, like everything. Once it gets moving, it’s going to be tough.

Q: (QB) Eli Manning was saying the number of targets to you was a lot because they were playing one-high (single safety look). Is Dallas similar to that?

A: Dallas does a little bit of that. They kind of go back and forth on some coverages. It’s really just about situation – situational football. Whether it’s third and short, or they’re playing press and they’re playing the sticks, what are they going to do? Eli and Coach Shurmur have a pretty good connection of setting that up and putting us in the right positions. It’s going to be a fun game. I’m looking forward to being back in Dallas. Back against your rival, or whatever you want to call it. We’re all excited about the opportunity.

Q: Can your body take 15 targets a week?

A: I wouldn’t mind. It is what it is. If that’s what the plays are getting called, it’s honestly at a point of whatever it’s going to take to help this team. If I need to get 15, then I need to do the most with those 15. Like I said, I was pretty sore Monday, but that’s what the whole week is for. You start recovering and you get your body right.

Q:  You have the most separation in the league of players targeted at least 10 times. What does that tell you about where you are and the weapon that you can be in this offense?

A: I worked hard to get back to where I’m at now, and I want to work even harder to get even further. With Coach Shurmur helping me and putting me in a position to really get open, and run away from people, and use the abilities that I have, he’s putting me in good places to where I should be able to get open and get separation and be able to make big plays. The crazy thing about this offense is the guys on this offense, we’re always one play away. It can be any second of the game. Like you saw him take it 68 yards (Barkley). That’s what he does. A slant, we’re going 60. Evan is liable to go at any time. I get on Shep all the time. It’s time for you to start taking these slants to the house. It’s a one play away offense. At any point in time, we want to be a very dangerous, dangerous offense.

Q: Primetime divisional game in Dallas against your rival. Does this kind of get you even more?

A: I don’t know. Yeah, it is a big game. It’s Sunday night, and all those things. It’s the Cowboys. It’s Jerry’s World, all that, but it’s like, you’ve been there. You’ve been there before. You’ve played against them a few times. Not to say that it’s going to be any different. I just think you got to watch your emotions and just know that I’m going to be excited just to be back on the field, period. Whether it’s Sunday night, 1:00 (p.m.), 10:00 a.m., in London, wherever we’re at, I’m excited about playing.

Q: Somebody is going to be 0-2 at the end of this game. How important does that make this game?

A: Very. (Wide Receivers Coach) Tyke (Tolbert) always says somebody is always going to come out on the end of a play with a win and a loss. Might as well not be you. We plan to come out and win. That’s always the goal is to win. I hate losing, anything. Whether it’s cards against Shep over there, (RB Jonathan Stewart) Stew, I don’t like losing (laughter).

Q: It’s been over 20 months since you’ve won a game. How hungry are you to win?

A: I need that. There’s no feeling like winning. Just the overall feeling of everybody in the locker room and knowing we did what we had to do. We’ll live on this moment for a little bit. Cool, and then get back to work. Everybody here wants to win, and we know the importance of this game. We know you don’t want to get 0-2, and start the season off that way, even though it is a long season. You just want to start fast and finish fast, and finish strong, too.

Q: There was a stat where this was your 20*th* game of over 100 receiving yards. The Giants have only won seven of those. Does that surprise you? Does that frustrate you?

A: Maybe I need to do more. It is what it is. You can put together a 100-yard game, even though I feel like a lot of stuff that happens is third downs, or plays to get us going, but if you’re not putting points on the board, then it’s hard to win games. We need to put more points on the board. If I need to step up and do more, then I’ll step up and do more, and that’s what I plan on doing.

Q: Did you have any advice for Saquon after seeing him in his first game?

A: Like I told him before, just be you. There’s a reason why you’re at where you’re at. There’s a reason you were picked here. There’s a reason he’s going to be one of the greats. I’m just happy to be on this journey with him. For sure, I can’t wait to see him. Tell him to keep breaking those 60-yarders (laughter). We need all of those plays.

Q: Did you give him his touchdown football back?

A: No, that’s at my house. It’s gone already. No, I gave it back to him. It’s funny how just being in the locker room, it’s like your brother and you’re joking around with him. Next thing you know, it’s across the entire world. It really was nothing more than me just messing around with my boys. I gave him his ball back, or I gave him a ball back (laughter).

Q: With the two pass interference penalties last week, do you think you’re going to have to deal with that sometimes?

A: Like “Hack-A-Shaq?” That’s fine. It’s a first down for us. It keeps the drive going. Of course I want to catch those passes, but you get to keep the drive going. Then, it’s just about capitalizing on those mistakes that they make. At the end of the day, it’s all about putting points on the board.

Q: Can it be frustrating to not get into the end zone and have fun celebrating touchdowns?

A: Well, I do want to get into the end zone so that way it gives energy and I can bring that energy forward, but if I can’t, I’m going to try to bring it any other way that I possibly can.

Q: On both of those plays, do you thing you would’ve scored if they hadn’t grabbed you?

A: If I made the catch, which is what I had planned on doing. We just didn’t get it to happen. Hopefully this week, we can all get in there. Everybody can have a touchdown ball to go around.

Q: Do you know what your first celebration is going to be already?

A: We’ll see when it happens. Yeah, I got something.

Q: Did you notice defensive backs playing you more physical in the Jacksonville game?

A: That’s a physical team. I don’t know if it’s more physical. I’ve watched them on tape all last year. They talked to whoever they wanted to talk to. They’re all there at the ball. There’s seven people around the ball at all times. They’re standing over you. That’s just how they play. It was a very physical game. Probably the result of why I was so sore after it. We’ll be alright. It’s just time to shape back, put points up, and get some wins and start putting them together.

Q: Eli had mentioned some miscommunication on the route where he missed you in the end zone. Can you elaborate on that a little more?

A: It’s just first game stuff. Everybody getting on the same page, and just connecting. You got to hit those, and we didn’t connect on that one. It’s like, first game of the season. Ok, we can watch all of that film. Next time, we’ll hit it. The time after that, the rest of the time, we start hitting it. First game, we’ll just have to deal with it.

Q: He was saying the safety pushed you out a little bit more than what you have liked.

A: It’s all good. We’ll get it next time.

Q: Did you have any conversations with Saquon before or after the game?

A: Yeah, I told him I thought he was pretty decent at running back. Just keep working hard. He’s great, he’s going to be very good. I just told him to keep being himself, keep doing what you’re doing, keep bringing that spark, that energy to the team, and keep making plays. Most importantly, have fun.

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

Q: I know you were a little banged up yesterday. How do you feel?

A: I’m practicing all day today, so I’ll be good.

Q: Did you pick up the baby the wrong way or something?

A: I must have (laughter). I slept wrong or something like that. It’s nothing major though. We’re all good.

Q: What makes the Cowboys and Giants game so exciting? Seems like they always come down to the final moments all the time.

A: Yeah, everybody is going to play fundamentally sound. You don’t get that many opportunities as an offense against Dallas. They tend to keep the ball in their hands a while. This year, hopefully it’ll be different. We’ll get some turnovers, and get the ball back in the offense’s hands.

Q: Did you tease Eli and ask him if you will get to 15 targets this week?

A: No man, I just take what I can get (laughter). Fifteen would be nice, though. That’ll be nice, I ain’t going to lie (laughter).

Q: Is that something you have to get used to though? More weapons on offense this year may take away from some of your touches.

A: That’s the way it goes. You got a lot of playmakers who you got to get the ball in guy’s hands. Like I said, I just take what I can get and make do with what I get.

Q: Are there some things you saw in Week 1 with this offense that give you optimism of how good this offense is going to be this season?

A: Yeah, like I said earlier this week, this group of guys has a lot of fight in them. You got guys that are going to fight down to the wire. That’s what you want on your squad.

Q: How has the mentality of the team been this week coming off that tough loss?

A: You just got flush it down the toilet, and get right back to work. I think that’s the main thing. Having guys that have a short memory. You take a loss, you learn from it. Come in, and you prepare for next week. One game is not going to define the season. Guys are looking forward to getting a “W” this week.

RB Saquon Barkley

Q: You’ve been in touch with (Ezekiel Elliot) this week?

A: Yeah I have. It was last week, actually. He texted me saying congratulations on the touchdown run and the start of the season.

Q: No communication during the week, though?

A: No, not really, not really. Obviously it’s a grind week. He’s over there preparing to win this game, I’m preparing to win the game for my team, but tremendous, wish him the best of luck to a great dude. We got to have a conversation before, got to meet him a couple of times. I’m a big fan of his game, also, so I’m excited to see him play a lot of the game.

Q: How different is it for you going into week two just – you have an idea of what your first NFL game would be like, but now you actually have a better feel for it.

A: The difference would be establishing a routine. Kind of got a good routine now that I did last week that I liked and want to continue to work on that routine, continue to learn from it, and continue trying to get in the best situation I can to get my team win this year.

Q: Odell (Beckham Jr.) was talking about how he sees in this offense potential, once it really gets rolling, to kind of be unstoppable. Do you see that as well?

A: I do truly believe that. When you look at it on paper and you look at just the people we have on this offense and who we’re surrounded by, it’s a great offense, it’s a great team. We have potential to be great, but we got to continue to work every single day to get to that point.

Q: Every team has rivals. What have you heard from your teammates about the Giants-Cowboys rivalry because this is probably one of the hottest ones this organization could have?

A: Yeah I actually haven’t really heard much about it. I guess I’m kind of just going to figure it out when I get out there. It’s still just into the NFL. At Penn State, we really didn’t have a rivalry game. Pitt tried to be a rivalry, but I think we established that this week that we’re not giving them a chance of being a rivalry team. I’m just getting adjusted to it, so I guess it’ll hit me all in the face on Sunday how big of rivalry game it is.

Q: Ohio State wasn’t a big one for you guys?

A: We haven’t played each other that long. Obviously the last couple of years have been really good games, so I guess you could kind of say it, but we never really have an established rivalry at Penn State, which kind of sucks because you wish you kind of did. I guess the games are a lot funner, but I guess I’ll find out this week how fun it really is.

Q: You had a pretty big first game against Ohio State.

A: Yeah, I guess you could say that was my coming out game on a live national stage, but at the end of the day we didn’t win, so that really didn’t matter.

Q: You’re more familiar with the Jets-Patriots, the Dolphins. Did you kind of enjoy watching those games more?

A: Yeah definitely. I definitely enjoyed watching those games more. I really was like a big Jets fan, just like the Patriots a lot. I remember when the Patriots were playing – anytime the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, I was kind of rooting against them just being a Jets fan, so got to see it on TV, got to see it live, but never got to experience a rivalry game really. Like I said, I guess it’ll all hit me in the face this week and I’m really excited for it, but just another chance to me in my mind for us to establish ourselves as a team and an offense and put a win in the win column.

Q: So when you were growing up watching Jets-Patriots, I mean (Bill) Belichick and (Tom) Brady are there in their prime. I’m trying to think what year you might’ve been aware of them.

A: Belichick and Brady have been in their prime for a really long time.

Q: I know, so you were like six when they were winning Super Bowls.

A: Yeah, even when I was in middle school, high school, and even in college, to be completely honest. The ones that stick out to me is the Mark Sanchez era with Thomas Jones and those guys where the two years they were going back and forth in the AFC Championship games. Those were the type of games that really standout to me that I actually remember.

Q: I know you’re critical of yourself. What did you watch on the tape from Sunday that you can do better in your second game?

A: I went back and watched every play, every rep I had, and just tried to figure out where I could be better, try to break up more tackles. With this week, Sean Lee is a great linebacker and they’ve got a great linebacker corps over there. Continue to work on setting up blocks for the offensive line and obviously know when and where to take chances and continue to just enjoy the game, love the game, and continue to grow as a player every day.

Q: Was there any doubt going into your first game that you could break a run like that, the same way you did in college?

A: No. No doubt at all.

Q: You were preparing to do that in that game?

A: You believe that any time you touch the ball you can score, but you really can’t prepare to score like that. The only way you can prepare is when you get to the next level, work on a move that’s going to open you up or when you get one-on-one with a guy, most of the time those plays happen so fast, a lot of it is just reaction. Just watching film and believing in yourself, and seeing how the defense, and seeing how we’re going to attack them. Just continue to gain belief, that’s how those big plays happen.

Q: What are you expecting from the Dallas atmosphere? What have you been told?

A: I’ve been told not really much about it. I’ve been told it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a fun place to play. I’m still trying to learn and figure out this little rivalry division thing going on in the NFL. But I’m excited to go back to the place where I was drafted, that was the first time I’ve ever been to Dallas and last time I was there my name was getting called and I was walking up in front of the stage and seeing a Giants jersey. To be able to go back there and be able to start off and try to get a win in the NFC East, that would definitely be huge.

Q: Did you play against (Ezekiel Elliott) as a freshman?

A: Yes.

*Q: Did you get to know him?
*
A: Yes, I got to meet Zeke after the game. He gave me high praise after the game. We both had pretty good games that game, and his team came out with the win, but I got to talk to Zeke in the offseason throughout my college career, keeping a little communication with him. I talked to him last week after the game. He congratulated me on my first touchdown, and I just asked him how he’s feeling, good luck to the rest of the season for him. too. I got to know Zeke a little bit.

Q: What did you take away from your first game from maybe the more mundane plays than your big run?

A: The thing I took away from the first game is, it’s just like college, to be completely honest. When I say that I don’t mean the speed, I don’t mean the physicality, I mean just that you’ve got to continue to stick with it, especially at the position of running back. Continue to grind out those tough runs and just continue to tell the O-Line that one’s going to split, and when they give you the opportunity, take advantage of it.

Q: Do you always have the belief that with enough carries, you’re going to spring one?

A: Yes, yes I do. I do believe that. There will be times in games where I fall short, there will be times in games where I see that expectation a lot, so I’ve just got to continue that belief not only in myself, but with the offensive line and the team itself, the general offense that at any given moment we can score and put points on the board so we’ve got to continue to have that mindset and continue to work every single day with it.

Q: What do you think the offense can be moving forward?

A: The sky is the limit. I knew that before we even got on the field. If you go back and you look at the game, there’s just little things, little mistakes we made as a team that kind of kept putting us playing behind the line of scrimmage. Getting behind the sticks, that’s what I meant. Little stuff like that, if we continue to work on that and get better in those areas and execute the opportunities that we had, definitely the game could be a very different outcome. But you’ve got to give credit to Jacksonville and that’s something we’ve got to learn from. Take the good and learn from the bad, and continue to get better this week.

Q: Did Odell give you your ball back?

A: Yes, I got my ball back. There was no way I was not getting that ball back.

Q: Where’s it going?

A: The ball’s right now probably going to go to my mom’s house until after the season or until I buy myself an actual house, then put it in a case and have it with me.

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