Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Tremendous challenge this week, opening up against the defending NFC East champs. Huge challenge for our football team. Offensively they've got a heck of a team. They are returning nine out of 11 starters from one of the best offenses in the league. They do a nice job of mixing personnel groups and they have added a no-huddle package to the mix. They've lost a couple starters up front, but they haven't missed a beat there. They have a stable of talented ball carriers and perimeter carriers that complement each other with their skill sets. Defensively, they are fast, they're physical, they play hard. The front end and back end are tied together well. They make you work for every inch. They were number one in the run in 2016 and they've added some good young talent over the past couple of years. They play with vision, they rally to the ball well and they are probably the best team in the league in stripping the football. Special teams wise, they have a trio of specialists and coverage players coming back and they do a nice job on special teams. With that, we will open it up.
Q: What was your reaction to Ezekiel Elliott being available for this game?
A: No reaction. He is a tremendous ball carrier and we want to play against the best. So, we are excited for the opportunity.
Q: Is it better for you guys to know now as opposed to Friday?
A: Whoever suits up for Dallas, we'll go play.
Q: Did it change your preparation even a little bit?
A: Whoever suits up for Dallas, we'll go play.
Q: How is Odell progressing?
A: He got some treatment. He's getting all of the work in he can get and we'll see how he progresses.
Q: Is this more than he has done in the past, including Monday?
A: We'll see. I haven't had a chance to go into the training room yet. They take it day by day.
Q: Do you need him to go through a full practice for him to play on Sunday?
A: We are just going to take it day by day. If he is cleared medically to play in the game, we will play him. If not, we won't.
Q: What are your thoughts on somebody not being 100%, but you think they can help?
A: Again, if it is safe for the player to play and he is not going to do further harm to himself physically, then we would think about playing him, but I have never put a player out there who would do further damage to himself physically.
Q: How much influence does a player have in that decision?
A: It's a medical decision.
Q: The player's opinion doesn't count?
A: It's a medical decision. It has to be cleared by the doctors.
Q: Shane Smith was listed as a tight end on the depth chart.
A: I haven't seen one yet. How does it look?
Q: Pretty intimidating. He can do a variety of things though?
A: Yeah, he can do a variety of things. He's a football player. He's able and he's willing.
Q: What do you expect Evan Engram's role to be this season?
A: He's a young player. He's developing. He works hard at getting better. I think that the most encouraging thing is, when he goes out, he practices, he makes mistakes and he cleans up those mistakes. He's not a repeat offender when it comes to making mistakes.
Q: How comfortable are you with his blocking and leaving him in there on run-heavy downs?
A: He's a tight end, so he has to block. That's his number one job.
Q: How has B.J. Goodson looked as an every down linebacker, particularly in coverage?
A: Good. I mean he moves around like a football player. I talked to him today and I told him that he looks like he is born for the position, but most importantly, he has earned it. First, second and third down, he's out there. He takes ownership of the defense and I'm excited to watch him play on Sunday.
Q: If Beckham does not practice all week, but on Sunday if he is feeling okay and he looks okay, could he play despite not being on the field since the Cleveland game?
A: If Odell is cleared to play medically, we'll play him. If he's not, he won't.
Q: How do you think Dalvin Tomlinson can contribute to the success of stopping Dallas's run game?
A: Again, Dalvin is developing. He is good with his hands. He was good when he got here with his hands. He continues to improve being a violent and physical player. Dallas is very talented up front. They have a good offensive line. They haven't missed a beat even though they lost a couple starters. So it's going to be a tremendous challenge for us, but it takes the whole defense to stop the run especially against a unit like this. If you don't set an edge, build a wall and track the hip, you don't have a chance versus these guys.
Q: If Jay [Bromley] is healthy, is he still your starter next to Snacks?
A: If Jay is cleared to play medically, we will play him.
A: We'll see on Sunday night.
Q: He's cleared because he practiced, right?
A: He's cleared to practice, yes.
Q: Is Dwayne Harris still your primary returner?
A: He'll be involved, he'll be in the mix, yes.
Q: What gives you confidence that he can bounce back this season?
A: I think, quite simply, his catch mechanics are better. They are better this year. It was more of an emphasis for him and he is back on track.
Q: Do you think that was a health thing for him?
Q: Do you think Ross Cockrell will be ready to go on Sunday?
A: He's a guy that we are taking a look at right now. There's a chance that he will be ready to go on Sunday night. He's learning the position. We just brought him in. He's got the whole defense and special teams to learn, so we'll see how it goes.
Q: Can you talk about what winning the first game in Dallas last year was like for you?
A: No, that's a little bit too much drama. We play one week at a time. We want to come out of each game with a win and find a way to get a little bit better each time we take the field.
Q: What gives you confidence that this team can be better than last year's team?
A: Again, we are taking it week by week. We have one game to get ready for and it's this week. 2016 is over. 2017 is here. We're just going to take it one day at a time, one play at a time, one week at a time.
Q: What makes you confident that this team is better than the one that showed up to training camp?
A: I think we got better today. There was a lot of energy and effort out there on the field today. If you take this practice here for a Wednesday in-season practice, with this type of energy, we move around and play with this type of energy on a Wednesday in December, January, and February, we'll be in good shape.
Q: Does Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) match-up well against these guys?
A: They have some talented receivers. We have some talented corners. I am excited to see how it shakes out on Sunday. There will be some good matchups out there.
Q: Do you wish that Jenkins didn't go into so much detail about how he covered Dez last year?
A: Yeah, I don't get caught up in all that.
Q: Now that Ezekiel Elliott is officially playing, did you see any difference from your team now that they know he is playing?
A: We are preparing for an opponent. It's a good opponent, but we are focused on ourselves and getting better and being ready for the opponent come Sunday.
Q: Are you happy he is playing?
A: Again, I am focused on our football team. Whoever Dallas rolls out there and dresses on Sunday, we will go play.
Linebacker B.J. Goodson
Q: How closely were you following the Ezekiel Elliot situation?
A: Not really much, but you know I think it is great for competition. It's good. So, there won't be too many 'what if's'. So, I think it is great for competition.
Q: Does that change your preparation for this week?
A: No. The preparation is the same.
Q: Do you like not having any 'what if's'?
A: Yeah, I like that it takes away from that element so, I love that.
Q: Jonathan Casillas talked about how you're not doing this alone and that everyone else has your back, can you talk about what that means to you?
A: The guys around me are…I always say, them being comfortable with me calling and leading the defense was the biggest thing for me. So you know those guys feeling that way makes me feel a whole lot better with calling the defense and it makes is a lot easier for myself.
Q: What kind of support do they give you when you're out there on the field?
A: Just little tidbits. Even though I am running it, I am not out there by myself. As you know, any great defense in any sport, there has to be great communication. So, talking to those guys, those guys responding and talking to me, it makes everything a lot easier.
Q: This almost feels like a new chapter for you and your career, what do you think is going to happen on Sunday night?
A: I keep life simple, man. I keep life very simple. Just taking it a day at a time. Preparing and just having fun man. A lot of guys get caught up in the moment and forget to have fun.
Q: Did you ever doubt you would be in this position?
A: No, I never doubted it. I've always prepared as a starter so it's something that I've always felt it coming.
Q: Is your preparation different depending on what running back you face?
A: Well their running styles are definitely different, but all in all, they do what they do. They are who they are. They have great players and regardless of who's back there, they are all great backs so, I feel like it's good for competition that they have all of their options.
Q: So, your preparation is pretty much the same?
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How do you feel?
A: I feel better. It's a new day. So just taking it day to day.
Q: Where are you in terms of being medically cleared?
A: Yeah. I don't know. Whenever they clear it, then we'll be cleared. So, it's just kind of – it's really a day to day thing. I feel better than I did yesterday. I feel better than I did the day before yesterday. So, it's progress.
Q: Did you do the most today at practice that you've done?
A: Today was a good day. I don't know about the most I've done, but today was a good day.
Q: Have you done any running, sprinting or cutting?
A: Yeah. Here and there. I've done some running and cutting.
Q: Is there anything in your mind that stands out as the most important thing you need to do and prove to yourself?
A: I don't know. It's just something you feel. Something you feel and when they clear you, they'll clear you to play. I mean, it sucks, but it's just a day to day thing. You try and get better each and every day. I've been rehabbing an endless amount of hours and treatment, etc. So, just trying to get it right.
Q: How much do you anticipate in the next couple days based on the progress you've made and do you see yourself playing on Sunday?
A: I wouldn't count it out. My heart – it's just not going to make this easy. I can say that it's a day to day thing – really trying to get better. It's been two weeks. I'm itching. I'm itching, but just patience and trusting.
Q: Is recovery taking longer than you thought?
A: I knew what it was when it happened. It's just a matter of how fast you can get back. I think we're on a tremendous path 16 days out. So, like I said, it's really – it's getting there day to day and we'll see when the time comes around.
Q: How much worse did the injury feel the day after it happened?
A: You still have the adrenaline and everything that was flowing through you. There's a whirlwind of stuff going on. So, the day of, it wasn't as bad. The day after, you wake up and it's pretty sore. The day after that, it's pretty sore, and then it takes its time and your body does what it does, heal, etc.
Q: How much do you regret going back to the sideline after jogging off the field?
A: No. It wouldn't have done anything either way. The injury had already happened. It's not like jogging, you know, testing it on the sideline is going to make it worse. It already happened, so that's how I get my body right. The only way to feel something for me is to feel it. Unfortunately, so I try to feel it out while I'm out there.
Q: Were you angry with the hit that caused your injury?
A: I guess it's part of the game. In my opinion, they made rules about safeties hitting high and it being a problem and I know I probably shouldn't say this, but I will. I'd rather a safety hit me up high 21 times out of one time. I don't even know the ratio. I'd rather him hit me up there every single time than go low. But, it's part of the game. It's part of the game that you risk getting fined, you risk a suspension. There's all kinds of things that a safety has going through their head in the moment. So, I can't really fault what happened. It just happened. It is what it is. It's life. Take it on the chin. You keep moving.
Q: Obviously, you want to be on the field for the opening game on primetime.
A: All that. I had probably one of the longest offseasons ever in my life and I feel like this camp, this season coming up, there was no better season that I would have. So, it's just unfortunate, but it really was just a little setback for me to come back. Whatever. However you want to look at it, I just know I'm in a good place and trying to get there day to day just being patient.
Q: How are you balancing your anxiousness to play with rehabbing correctly?
A: Itching. I'm itching. It's just what you love to do and, you know, nobody ever wants that taken away from them, especially with the amount of work we've been putting in. The chemistry and everything. We were just rolling. We were in a good place. That's life, though. Life happens. You get set back. It's really how you come back from that, how you handle adversity. This is nothing that I won't overcome.
Q: Do you think you'll wear a brace or tape if you play Sunday?
A: If I have to wear a brace or tape it, then I'm probably not going to play. Pretty natural. I haven't taped since high school. I don't remember. I just stopped taping ankles. I just kind of go with the natural feel of it. So, if it feels right, there's no way I'm not going to play. If it feels right and they clear it, we're working it.
Q: Will Ezekiel Elliott being in the lineup affect your team and has it affected the locker room this week?
A: I mean, I don't know who was surprised in here. I knew he was playing Week 1. There's no questions about it. It was going to always be the same game plan and right now I think the mentality is what coach said. 'Every back is the same when they have nowhere to run.' This is a tough defense he's going against. He's one of the best in the league. This is one of the best defenses in the league. So, it'll be a good matchup. Hopefully, he gets everything figured out.
Q: How do you feel about the offensive matchup with the Cowboys?
A: I'm itching to get out there. Let me just say that. We have a very good matchup. We have a very good game plan. It's going to be a very good game. I know on this side – I don't know what's going on over there – but I know the Giants are coming with it. Set the tone for the season and really start things off the way we want and get us on the right path. So, I know for sure we're coming with it and we look to take advantage of the mismatches and the opportunities they do have in their defense.
Q: Talk about Sunday's game.
A: I think we can set the tone and really establish a tone. It was like, we won last year. No, now you need to – this is how you're coming all year. Make it an emphasis and that's just really where my mind is at. I know everybody else is there. I know everybody is beyond excited to play. Felt like it was a quick little preseason. Three games in 10 days, 11 days, something like that. Everybody is just ready for some real action. I know everybody is ready.
Q: What are you expecting from the offense this season?
A: Just keep it one day at a time. We're trying to get 1% better. I never hold my tongue. I'm expecting big things.
Q: What do you lose if you're not able to practice the rest of this week?
A: Reps. That's about it. We've been doing this. I've been throwing with Eli (Manning) since I was a sophomore in high school. It's been two weeks. Nothing is really going to change. Yeah, I wish I could be practicing. I wish we could have routes and this and that, etc. But, it is what it is at this point. You just have to kind of keep going with it. Whenever they clear you, you can go.
Q: What is your injury?
A: Some kind of ankle sprain. Somewhere in that area around the ankle. Somewhere.
Q: Is it in the upper part of the ankle maybe?
A: Upper, lower, middle, left, right. Southeast.