Quotes from Monday's media hour:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Q: How much was Odell [Beckham] able to do today?
A: He stayed on the bike and worked with the training staff today.
Q: Where is he in his progress?
A: He's working with the training staff, getting treatment, we'll see how he responds. He did some work today and we'll see how he responds tomorrow morning.
Q: Has he done any running?
A: He is doing everything that they ask him in the training room and if he is ready to go on Sunday, we'll play him. If he's not, we won't.
Q: Since he is such an important part of your team and if he is not 100%, does that make you more inclined to sit him out to not risk a long-term injury?
A: It's early to talk about it. That's a medical question. If he's cleared to play medically, then we will play him. If he's not, then we won't.
Q: So far, he hasn't been cleared medically?
A: It's early in the week. We haven't even crossed that bridge yet.
Q: How has Keenan Robinson been progressing?
A: He is still in the protocol.
Q: Jay Bromley was back out there?
A: Jay Bromley was back out there in a limited role.
Q: How about Eli Apple?
A: Limited role.
Q: How different would the Cowboys be to prepare for if [Ezekiel] Elliott did not play?
A: Listen, our focus is on preparing for Dallas and all backs run the same when there is nowhere to run. So, our goal is to do our job and be prepared to stop the run and if he's playing, great; if he's not, then that's great. We are going to play whoever suits up for them.
Q: What does [Ross] Cockrell bring to the table?
A: He is a heady corner who has played a lot of football. He's been a starter in this league and he provides some versatility.
Q: Is he a special teams guy?
A: He hasn't played a ton on special teams, but he is able and willing.
Q: Slot guy?
A: He has flexibility to play inside, yes.
Q: Can you talk about big picture what it means to have a guy like Eli Manning under center?
A: Well, Eli, he was locked in today pretty much like he always is, but we are taking the preparation off of cruise control. That's big for us now heading into the first week. We really need to amp it up and we expect Eli to lead the charge.
Q: What is the difference between him being locked in and other times?
A: He's locked in and he's a consistent person that way.
Q: Are you glad the season is finally here?
A: We just try to take advantage of every day. We have to find a way to get better regardless of what time of year it is, whether it is preseason. Preseason is just as important as anything else. Making sure you evaluate who you need to evaluate, so you make good decisions when it comes to your 53. So, we are all excited for the season, glad it is here.
Q: Are you feeling any more pressure after going 11-5 last year?
A: No, we are our biggest critics. I am my biggest critic. No one from the outside can put any more pressure on ourselves than what we put on ourselves. We want to play at a high level in all three phases. We know what to the goal is and we just have to take it one week at a time, one play at a time. Stay in the moment.
Q: How much does the Cowboys being your week 1 opponent add to the hype?
A: It's pretty normal around here, isn't it?
Q: Are you set with the first team offensive line you had against the Jets?
A: We will take a look at it as the week goes on and put guys to the test and see how they respond. We have a big padded practice on Thursday. We'll see how guys play and how they prepare and we'll make the decision from there.
Q: What is the area where you have improved in most in the preseason?
A: Again, preseason is no gauge for the regular season. So, it's tough to say. Again, we are taking it one day at a time. We are preparing for an opponent and we thought we made some progress evaluating players and building a good team. I like this team and I am confident in this team and we will move from there.
Q: Can you talk about the confidence you have gained in [Aldrick] Rosas?
A: Yeah, I mean we put him to the test. He was in a tremendous competition and on Thursday night, he had an opportunity to respond to a great night by [Mike] Nugent the week before and he answered and that says a lot about a young player.
Q: Did that last kick win him the job?
A: No, it was a full body of work. That was one kick in a pressure situation. It just cemented things.
Q: When will the nerves start leading into Week 1?
A: Well, I think there's obviously going to be some guys excited and a little nervous. That's normal going into the first game. So, as you get closer to the game, those tend to come up a little bit. But, I think it's more excited to get things going, excited about the upcoming season and get out there and play a game that counts and going in on an away game – the opening game, Sunday night – should be a great environment for us.
Q: How much are you wondering about where the team may still need some work since a lot of starters didn't play too much in the preseason?
A: I think you're always looking to improve from week to week. That's part of football – never being satisfied. I think we have a great understanding of what we're trying to do, what our assignments are and the style of football that we need to play. We just have to do a great job preparing for Dallas, understanding their tendencies and go out there and execute and make plays when we get the opportunities to.
Q: Head Coach Ben McAdoo said you looked 'locked in' at practice today. Did you feel that way and what does that mean?
A: Well, I've had a lot of time to prepare for Dallas. Really all of last week, they told me don't even look at New England and start prepping for Dallas. So, watched a lot of film and had some ideas. Coach McAdoo has told me some ideas, so I knew a decent amount of the plays that might be going in today. So, had a good feel for it and made some good plays. We have to keep that going.
Q: Did you feel locked in at practice?
A: I felt good with the plays we ran today. It was a short practice, but it's good to get back out there and get things going a little bit. Tomorrow – have another big preparation day and then get back to the practice field on Wednesday.
Q: What's the biggest difference between this year's Dallas team and those you've seen in the past?
A: Tough to tell just from, obviously, you're watching preseason games and their starters didn't play a whole lot, but I think they're a very fast team. They run to the ball. They know their assignments. They're very disciplined and they do a good job just flocking to the ball and keeping everything out in front – not giving up too many big plays. So, we have to just be able to be patient, have long drives and try to find some ways to hit some big plays on them.
Q: How concerned are you about WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s status?
A: Hopefully, we just have to – I don't really know much about it. My job is to prepare for the upcoming game and have all the guys who are playing prepared to go and hopefully he's one of them.
Q: Will you have to prepare differently if WR Odell Beckham Jr. isn't in Sunday night's lineup?
A: I don't think the preparation is different. I think guys know what their assignments are. Just go about our business and still run the same plays and guys have to know how to execute and we have the guys that can do that.
Q: Do you feel that you're on the same page as WR Brandon Marshall at this point on the field?
A: Yeah. Brandon and I will be on the same page. But, again, there's always a learning curve. We're on the same page. It doesn't mean we'll complete every pass that I throw to him, but we've gotten a lot of work and communicate all the time about the different things. So, I expect us to go out there and make the plays that we need to make.
Q: What does it mean to you to start another season-opener?
A: Well, it's exciting. Excited about this upcoming season. It's always an honor. You don't take it for granted being able to play in this league and be a starting quarterback. So, a lot of hard work went into it, but looking forward to going out there on the game days and making plays and winning some football games.
Q: Do you look at this game as one step along the journey to playoffs?
A: Whether you call it a step or just one game, it's the next game. It's the first game of the season. You want to go out there and play well. But, you can't win a Super Bowl in the first game also. So, we have to just play smart and find out our style and figure out ways to win football games and give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter.
Q: How do you feel about having a fullback and four tight ends on the roster and how much that can enhance the offense?
A: I think the fullback and multiple tight ends will help us out just in keeping us in different formations, different personnel, and I think that'll help us out so teams will have to prepare for more things.
Q: Where do you feel the offensive line is?
A: I think the offensive line has done a good job. I feel very confident. They know their assignments. They've been together for a number of years now. I thought they had a good spring and they'll do a great job.
Q: Do you expect the offensive line to be better this season since they've played together in the past?
A: Yeah. I expect everybody. I think you have to grow and have to get better from year to year. I think all the guys have shown that commitment, that desire, that mentality that they want to get better and it'll show on game day.
Q: What was this offseason like for you off the field?
A: I think I do a good job separating everything. When I'm here in the building, my focus is on football and when I'm at home – my family. So, I think I've done a good job separating everything and staying focused on what I need to do to get ready.
Q: Are the expectations higher for this team now that you've gotten back to the playoffs?
A: I don't think you can get too overly concerned with the expectations from the outside. I think we have expectations of ourselves, the style of football we want to play, what we want to do and need to do to be successful. So, I think from that standpoint, we're going to try and hit those goals. That should be our concern, not worried about what the outside expectations are.
Q: Will the injury to your shoulder affect you going forward or is it behind you?
A: Everything can affect us. You never know. I'm not perfect, but I feel great and there's nothing that should hold me back. I should be able to do everything.
Q: What do you anticipate about a Giants vs. Dallas game in regards to the energy?
A: I don't know. I don't know. I've watched them. I've watched the battles over the years, but it's going to be cool to really experience it. So, I'm going to be mindful. I'm going to take it all in and have fun with it, but at the same time make sure I do my job.
Q: Are you worried about WR Odell Beckham Jr. not being at the first game with you?
A: Well, who knows. I'm just approaching it every single day like he's playing and if he's not, we'll have to just try to do our jobs a little bit better to make up for it, which will be hard to do. But, who knows if he's going to play or not. Hopefully, he does.
Q: You've talked about how much it means to make the playoffs.
A: I've never talked about making the playoffs. That's not my goal.
Q: What is your goal?
A: To win. Win it all. I don't want to just make it to the playoffs. What happens if we make it to the first round or we have a bye and then we get knocked out? That's not fun.
Q: What are the feelings you have starting this season?
A: I guess it's hard for me because I'm such a competitor and sometimes I'm blinded. The competitiveness blinds me. I promise every single year, I've always thought we had a chance and now that I look back it's kind of a little stupid to think that, right? So, we do have high expectations. We have a really good team, but I've been in this situation before. I've been on some great teams in Chicago and Denver. Even with the Jets. We had to go up to Buffalo and win and we didn't. This preseason reminded me that you can't just show up. We had a chance to go out there with our ones against Cleveland. I was out there. Didn't click for us. We have a lot of work to do and we just have to get it done on the practice field and hopefully it rolls over to game day.
Q: Do you feel like you're on the same page as QB Eli Manning?
A: Yes. I do. I haven't caught a pass from Eli in a game, but we have a lot of work in practice. So, confident that we'll be right where we need to be on Sunday. We'll make enough plays to get the job done.
Q: Do you and QB Eli Manning have a route in the red zone when he throws to the corner that you look forward to running together?
A: No. I won't disclose that. But, I do pride myself on the red zone. I just have to get it done down there. That's on me. Odell (Beckham) will see a lot of attention and I'll be back side and I have to be able to run the entire route tree in the red zone. I have to come down with it.
Q: Do you know what you bring to QB Eli Manning when it comes to catching touchdowns in the end zone?
A: Yeah. I think in New York, we did a great job of running an entire route tree back there, so I know what you're talking about – the fade ball – but you have to be able to mix it up. You can't just run one thing because defense will be able to take it away.
Q: Were you ever a Plaxico Burress fan and are there any similarities in your game?
A: I was. No, we're totally different receivers.
Q: Is clicking as an offense one of the challenges the team is facing?
A: No. No. There are some teams like that, but this team is put together with high-character guys. It's just a reminder for me that it's extremely hard to win in the National Football League. It's always good to get that reminder early.
Q: When you were deciding what team to go to play, how much of a factor was QB Eli Manning in your decision?
A: Well, what I was looking for was stability in ownership. I never really had that since I left Denver. I was looking for a championship quarterback and could have went a lot of places and made money or went places and caught a lot of balls – a system where I caught balls may have been a number one. But, I only have a few years left, so I wanted to make sure that I can take advantage of that and hopefully win the Super Bowl. That was extremely important. That was number two. Number three – I was looking for a great defense. Number four – I was looking for a number one receiver on the other side. So, that's what I was looking for.
Q: Does it surprise you that even defensive players want to play here because of QB Eli Manning?
A: No. It doesn't surprise me. A lot of smart defensive ends – they want to play with great quarterbacks because that means they have to lead and that means other teams in two-minute mode, which means more sacks for the defensive ends.
Q: Given where you have been throughout your career and the quarterbacks that you've played with, is it unfair to put emphasis on what the quarterback's resume is?
A: No. It's a quarterback driven league. It's fair.
Q: Would the quarterback affect your decision to choose a team to play for along with other factors you mentioned?
A: Yeah. That was my formula. That's what I was looking for.
Q: How do you feel like you are better as a player right now compared to a year ago?
A: Experience. And then just knowing the defense is the second thing. Just playing ball and playing fast, but you need to update, really need to understand each other. Understanding our players and what I know they can do and they know what I can do, we can play a little faster and then play off each other. So, that's big.
Q: Can there be too much hype surrounding just one game to begin the season?
A: Yeah, I mean, it's one game, it's early. We've all got a lot of time to make it into playoffs. It's definitely big. It's a big and important game, but the hype, I hope it calms down eventually, but it probably will not. Just looking forward to playing a good game and just coming out with a 'W'.
Q: Do you feed off of the hype?
A: Oh yeah, I feed off of that. It's something that I harp on. It puts a fire in me and just makes me play a little bit harder.
Q: Is creating defensive scores the next step for this defense?
A: Turnovers [are] a big step for us. Ripping at the ball, making game-changing plays and getting our offense back the ball as quick as possible. When you can put points on the board, that's even a plus, but we harp on their mistakes. If they're going to make mistakes, we're going to feed off of them.
Q: Is stopping the run at the top of the priority list when trying to beat the Cowboys?
A: Stopping the run is top of the list for each and every team we play against. So, that's big and Coach 'Spags' [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] drives us on it each and every week. If some team gets over a certain amount of yardage and we allowed it – man, we can't stand to hear his voice, so that's our biggest and most important goal from the get-go.
Q: Do you put any stock into paying attention whether or not Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott will play against you?
A: I'm hoping that his appeal goes through. He's a great player, an exciting player and I love to play against the best players. If not, we're going to see him in the second game [against Dallas] and we'll keep working on whoever they've got [playing running back] and work them throughout the game.
Q: So whether or not Elliott will play does not change anything for you guys?
A: No, it doesn't change the mindset [of] us making a defensive hold and stopping the run.
Q: Is it an advantage to face Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott in his second year, as opposed to his rookie season when there was not as much film to study?
A: Yes, it's a better advantage. We've got film on him, we know what he likes to do, we know where his escape routes are and we know his concepts.
Q: What has this week been like for you?
A: Things obviously move fast in the NFL. I am excited to be here, obviously. This is a very good team, very good defense so, whenever I can contribute, I will do that.
Q: What do you feel like you can contribute?
A: I am still learning right now. I know this is a team that has good pass rushers, playmakers on the outside. So, I am finding my role and wherever the coaches feel like they can use me, I will be there.
Q: Will you be ready by Sunday?
A: That is what I am working for, that is what I am working for. I know we have a big game, division rivals, Sunday night. So, I am in the playbook hard, learning, and in the film room as well.
Q: Did you know your time in Pittsburgh was short when [Joe] Haden signed?
A: Well, obviously Joe Haden was a big acquisition for them. So, I was just waiting.
Q: So, you figured you weren't going to be there past the weekend?
A: No, I didn't know. I didn't know if they were going to keep me, find a way to keep me, or what was going to go on. So, like I said, I was just waiting to hear. I knew the deadline was going to come up so, I was just waiting on that.
Q: I assume you found out you were being traded pretty close to the deadline on Saturday?
A: Yeah, I found out I was coming here at about 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon.
Q: Can you play inside and outside?
A: That's what they've been asking me to do here so, yes.
Q: What goes through your mind when they tell you that you are traded? You are probably hoping you got traded to a good team, right?
A: Yes, yes that is exactly right and I was very happy to find out it was here. Like I said, I know this is a good team on the rise and a team that is chasing a Super Bowl. That was the focus of my offseason training so, I am glad that it didn't go to waste.
Q: Do you focus on the game plan or do you try to learn the playbook?
A: At this point, I am just trying to learn the basics. I have to get all of the terminology down just to make sure when I get into the game plan, that I have those basic fundamentals down, that I have the building blocks that are necessary for me to be a contributor on the team.
Q: Do you know anybody here?
A: I knew Shane Vereen through interaction with his younger brother. Romeo Okwara and I are from the same hometown and then obviously we played the Giants last year so, I played against a couple of the guys here.
Q: What is it like when you get traded?
A: Well yeah, the transition is fast. I don't have a house in Pittsburgh, but you know you have to figure out a way to get out of leasing agreements and stuff like that. But yeah, it all happens fast. The team has been very helpful with the transition, just letting me know whatever I need and getting me contacted with the right people to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Q: Give us a scouting report on yourself.
A: I would see a guy that's on the line of scrimmage. Likes to get hands on the receivers at the line of scrimmage, which I know is something that we do here with [Janoris] Jenkins and Eli [Apple] and DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie]. So, I think I fit right in with that mold.
Q: What have you learned that you would like to improve on?
A: I've learned a lot, I've learned a lot. One of the things that I've come to learn lately is that you have to be ready for transition at any moment. So whether that is playing on the outside, playing on the inside, I have to be willing to grow and adapt and stay open to all of the possibilities within this team.
Q: You are coming from a camp where you had to cover Antonio Brown now, you are coming here to Odell Beckham. How advantageous is that for you?
A: It's very advantageous. Obviously because these are some of the guys who are top 5 receivers in the league. So, whenever you get to go against that kind of talent, it is going to elevate your game.
Q: Is it tough for you that the trade came so close to the end of the summer?
A: Well because it is happening so fast, I believe that makes it easier because I don't have time to worry about this or worry about that. I am here in New York with the Giants. I am learning a new system, I am learning a new game plan and we got a big game on Sunday night. So, there's not really time to think about anything else. I am very happy that I have a wife who is handling things for me in Pittsburgh and handling some of the details on that end. So, it makes it easier for me to focus on football.
Q: Is there something that you can learn from being behind guys like DRC, Apple, and Jenkins?
A: Yeah, well these are guys who played at an all pro level last year, top 5 defense, all of that. So, I am coming in with an open heart, open mentality to learn as much as I can from them and wherever they see a role for me, I'll be in that role and I will contribute.
Q: What can you bring to this group?
A: I think there is a balance there with some of the guys. Their personalities, my personality. We are all people that love football and I think that's going to help the room a lot just talking football, learning football, and knowing football.