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Quotes: Coach Brian Daboll, CB Adoree' Jackson, WR Darius Slayton

Head Coach Brian Daboll

Q: Does it feel any different coming into this week knowing that you're going into the regular season and focusing on a specific opponent?

A: Yeah. The coaches were in yesterday. Obviously, we've done a lot of work in the offseason but this the first real regular season week for us, so I think everybody's excited and looking forward to our preparations here.

Q: As far as playing the Cowboys, I'm curious, last year was your first year as a head coach in the division. What, if anything, did you learn that you applied moving forward toward the season either roster construction or philosophically.

A: Those are conversations. We've had a lot of them throughout the offseason. We've worked to improve in certain areas. Obviously, you study the games that you play against common opponents and against the team that you're playing here for the two times we played them. There's a lot of work done. The first game of the NFL season, there's a lot of unknowns. Usually, you have a collection of film you can watch throughout this season and let's say after week three or week four, there's three or four games to lean on. So, you do a lot of research, a lot of study on really all the games, but it really comes down to your fundamentals, your techniques, your assignments, your communication because really, it's a little a little bit of the unknown. Obviously, (Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy) Coach McCarthy has done a very good job there, he'll be calling plays. (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer, a friend of mine who's their coordinator, and then obviously familiarity with (Special Teams Coordinator John) Coach Fassel and (Defensive Coordinator Dan) Coach Quinn. They have really good players – some elite players, particularly at certain spots and it'll be a big challenge for us.

Q: Anything stick out as a division as a whole?

A: My focus is on this week, so this is the most important game because it's the next one. We have a lot of work to do, big week of preparation ahead of us and we'll get started today.

Q: When I was growing up, I felt like the slot was the third receiver and the third cornerback. When do you feel like that changed and how much of an advantage is it to have a number one corner like (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) who can go in the slot, especially in this matchup right here where they play their number one receiver in the slot.

A: Well, I don't know how much it's really changed. The game has changed. It's a little bit more of a spread game so it's – when you're recruiting college football there's a little bit more receivers out there, some more DBs. The use of the spread offense really – I'd say the last 10 years or whatever -- came into play quite a bit. It was there even before when Houston was running their stuff, Buffalo back in the day was running their stuff and this is a game of matchups, obviously in our league, so if you play man-to-man, maybe you decide where you want to put the players. If it's zone, maybe you make it look like man and vice versa. I'd say that with the game becoming more spread out, the need for more corners and skill players for the space element is important.

Q: Specific to Adoree', how much of it is an advantage for him to be able to do that? How much of that was done with the Cowboys and (Cowboys receiver) CeeDee Lamb in mind?

A: Well, I'd say Adoree' – last year we played a lot of different coverages and games where we matched and he played inside, he played outside, so he has position flexibility. We'll try to use him the best way we can. Again, they have a very good player that plays both inside and outside with CeeDee, but they have some other skill players that are going to be challenging – really their entire package. All their skill guys from their backs, to their receivers, to their tight ends. All of our guys are going to have to be ready to go with the assignments that we ask them to do.

Q: I'll take care of the injury report for everybody, do you have any injury updates for us?

A: That'll all come out Wednesday now since we are in the regular season.

Q: I wanted to ask you about (cornerback) Tre Hawkins (III), it's one thing that (cornerback Deonte) Banks comes in, first round obviously, but for a guy from Old Dominion to win a starting job as a cornerback in this league and for you, what does that say about him?

A: Tre has had a good camp. I think he's improved since he's been here. He's got the right mindset. It's early in his career, very early in his career, but he works hard, he understands our defense and he will have his challenges throughout the year, but he's done a good job with what we are looking for in terms of his intelligence, his dependability and he's earned his role relative to what we are going to ask him to do.

Q: If I can just follow-up, you guys knew all of that when you drafted him, correct? In terms of the mental aptitude for the game kind of thing?

A: Yeah, and I think again just credit goes to (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and the scouting staff. We brought him for a 30 visit, got to meet with him there. There is a long process relative to the evaluation part of it and then once you get here, it really doesn't matter how you get here. Free agency, late pick, UDFA, high pick, it's all what you do when you are here. He's earned what he's got.

Q: With Haddy (outside linebacker Jihad Ward), are you a believer that a team needs kind of guy like that who is willing to put at least a figurative hammer down in some situations?

A: Yeah, I would just say Haddy is a great teammate. I think everybody respects him, he brings a lot of juice to the meetings, to the practice field, he's an intelligent player, he's played in (defensive coordinator) Wink's (Martindale) system, understands the requirements of playing his spot, knows multiple roles, but a very good team player. Glad we have him.

Q: (Wide receiver) Darius (Slayton) obviously showed a lot last year, given the situation of the start to where he finished. Do you think there is more in him, in terms of what he is capable of being?

A: Again, you talk about another good teammate. We've talked about the start that he had last year. I'd say his ability to really just be laser focused on his job and improving every day really helped us throughout the season. Got him back and he's been a very good teammate. I think he has improved in a number areas, understands the system better, has some good leadership traits about him, particularly with some of those younger receivers and happy to have him.

Q: Without naming any names, have you seen guys who were put in a similar situation to Darius?

A: Throughout my 23 years, probably a bunch, but I'd say that mental toughness you have to have when everything is not going right, all of us, we are going to hit adversity, whether that's in a game, during the season, maybe play and just to keep forging ahead with focus on the next play, the next day, trying to improve. That's not an easy thing to do. You know you have a guy like Darius that did it last year and kind of went through some of the growing pains that he had, but I've been around a significant amount of players. I've also been the other way where things got tough and they never came out on the other end of it, so it's not just players. I'd say it's coaches, it's everybody within an organization. When you are getting ready to go through a long season, there is going to be bumps along the way and your job is to try to stay committed to what your job is and do a better job and learn from the mistakes that you made and just come out a little better each and every day.

Q: On Tre Hawkins, do you remember when you guys first realized you could go with what you're going to go with here with him as a starter on the outside, and how those conversations went?

A: I'd just say each and every day there's an evaluation throughout camp from OTAs all the way through of basically how you perform on the field when you have an opportunity to perform. I think, again, he's improved. Are you going to say he's there? No. He's a young player that has earned his role. He's going to continue to work hard to try to get better. He has the right mindset. That's what we hope for all of our players.

Q: Did that come up in OTAs, or was it not till training camp where it really came up?

A: I'd say really OTAs—I know I mentioned OTAs. Really, in OTAs, they're just trying to learn and get stuff down. So usually, when the pads come on, and you see it play-in and play-out or day-in and day-out, and you see improvement and you really can look at the skillset of the player and see how they're performing on a daily basis. That's kind of what we preach, just focus on your job, do it as well as you can do it each day, and if you do that, then good things will happen for you.

Q: I know you said it's not going to come out till Wednesday and it's probably late practice today, but did (wide receiver) Parris (Campbell) take part today?

A: We haven't been out there yet, but yeah, when we talk about—he'll be out there. Parris is fine.

Q: When you look at the lineup you put on the field last year, your opener, and the one you'll put on the field presumably this year in the opener, there's pretty dramatic changes. Certainly, at the linebacker position, the wide receiver position, tight end is a little different, certainly. Can you talk about how you guys maybe targeted some areas you felt you needed to improve, and what do you think the result is now? How much do you like this group you're going to start on Sunday night?

A: I think Joe said, 'we'll see'. I agree with him. Again, until you get out there, you start playing the games, you find out what you have. I don't go too much other than evaluating the tape because, and you've done this a long time, I don't think there's ever been the same team the last 20 years that there was the year before. So, we're different. The team we're playing is different. Obviously, there are some pieces that are still in both spots. The play caller is different on their side. There're so many different changes. Each year is such a unique challenge and unique in and of itself. So, this is a new season. We'll put our guys out there and try to have a great week of preparation and practice, make sure we're dialed in to the game plan and get ready to play an outstanding opponent.

Q: Obviously, you don't know what's going to happen, but initially, when you look at what you did and what you have on paper, do you look at it and say, 'Okay, on offense, I think we can be more explosive, and on defense, I think we're more fortified on the inside linebacker spot to be more competitive there?'

A: I'd say the goal every year is to improve whether that's by personnel or by scheme or how you do things structurally, but our focus is just each day try to get a little bit better. It's an important day for us today. It's really the introduction to their team and to their team what it is this year and to their additions. They got (wide receiver Brandin) Cooks, they got (cornerback Stephon) Gilmore, they got some new draft (picks). There's quite a bit of changes, even if it's 20, 30 percent of it, it's still different. So, we've got our work cut out for us and that's where our focus is.

Q: Joe last week said a lot that he sees from last season to this season as closing the gap. Do you look at it that way, or is this simply another game and go from there?

A: I look at it as it's our next opponent. It's our first opponent, obviously, of the season in the regular season and all of our work and what we're doing has to be focused on our stuff and making sure that we're locked into what we're doing and then understanding the opponent that we're playing. It's the most important game because it's the next one.

Cornerback Adoree' Jackson

Q: Can you talk about (Cowboys wide receiver) CeeDee Lamb. You've obviously had some great matchups with him over the years, played him tight last year, the one-handed touchdown catch he made, how difficult of a receiver is he? What makes him unique?

A: Just exceptional talent and I think when you have a quarterback and receiver that are on the same page, you can look at numerous duos and they are there favorite target and give them the ball, a lot of things can happen. I think he's a tremendous talent, a tremendous athlete and works hard and does the right things right for the organization over there.

Q: How much of the move into the slot, do you think had to do with this matchup? You face the Cowboys twice every year, he's their best receiver, you are your team's best cornerback, how much when this idea came about was, we need Adoree' to help us against CeeDee Lamb?

A: I don't think this game in particular, I think it was just about the season in general. The long haul, obviously just trying to go 1-0, but I think it was more of just a trajectory of what do we want to do throughout the season and to experience and get some trial out at the nickel position.

Q: You have obviously done it a little in your career, but it looks like you are going to do it more than usual, how comfortable are you right now after a whole camp with the nickel and having to go basically defend left and right without no boundary next to you?

A: I feel good. Doing it, being able to go out there, practice and compete. You know, watching a lot of film. Obviously, I have (cornerback) Darnay (Holmes) and (cornerback) Cor'Dale (Flott) to help me out a lot when I need pointers or have questions with Rome (defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson) and Mike (safeties coach Michael Treier). But to have the safeties and the linebackers, us being on the same page, we always talking about playing football and having that awareness of different splits, formations, a different alignment. Just trying to tie all that in and us all being on the same page, makes me feel good out there.

Q: I mentioned that one handed catch he (Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb) made for a touchdown on you last year, is that something that sticks with you, is that one of those, just tip your cap to a guy who makes a great play, anything you remember about that play?

A: It was a great throw and catch. Caught it kind of, not on his helmet, but dang near. Threw that way. We always talk about when we are playing in the red zone make sure that they throw it to the back pylon, which they did, you don't want to have anything cross your face or be anything in front of you, playing low to the hip. Just a great throw and catch, it's just one of those things you just nod your head, tip your hat off to them and just keep back lining it up.

Q: When you look at the team you guys put on the field last year for the season opener and the team you are probably going to put on the field this year for the season opener, I mean as a whole, do you think it's a better group, a better roster, stronger? Every year, the goal, personally and as a team is to improve. Do you think this group is improved?

A: I think so. Especially being under (defensive coordinator) Wink's (Martindale) defense for another year and then having (head coach Brian) Daboll to be able to orchestrate us for another year, I think that helps out a lot. I for sure think we are better than we were last year.

Q: That's the coaching and your familiarity, but how about just, you are not giving me a rundown of each player, but just as far as a unit? Like the defensive unit that's your expertise right now, you know inside linebackers are different, you have rookie cornerbacks now, is this just a better more talented, more potential group right now?

A: I'll go back to how I answered it earlier. It's still with the guys that we had here, understanding the defense and then bringing those new additions along to be able to fall in to the culture and what we want to be here as a Giants defense. I think having that experience from last year, understanding, getting that respect from Wink and vice versa and then coming in this year, adding new pieces in, but everybody falling in line and understanding this is the way we want to be and how we want to go about. I think from that standpoint we are better.

Q: When did they first come to you and say you we're going to play nickel because we like this rookie? What was your first thought on that?

A: The first time they mentioned the nickel position was actually like last year. We talked about it; I played there a little bit. When it came about this year it was more of a – we talked about a déjà vu moment. Been there, done that, had that conversation and talk. For me, I was ecstatic and excited about the opportunity that I was going to be able to have in that position and at the end of the day it's all about 'we over me,' that we talked about and understanding that if that's where Wink and the rest of the staff sees fits best, then I'm going to go out there and play it to the best of my ability and give it 100% effort.

Q: With (cornerback) Deonte Banks coming in as a first-round pick, they had high expectations for him. With (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III), when was the first time that you said, 'Hey, this is more than a first-round pick. This is a kid that can really do this.' When did he really come on your radar?

A: I'm not even going to lie, it'd probably be when I just seen his work. He was going out there with the three's and doing his thing, going with the two's, doing this thing. It's like, 'Man, this guy keeps showing up.' I had seen him with the threes and the two's but when he did it with the one's, I don't want to say it rung my radar, but it was one of those things where you knew he was about his business. When he came out there and competed and played. Then when you saw him in preseason games, the joint practice, and the rest of the games that we've played, he's done a tremendous job and he just carries himself the right way. I can tell how he approaches the game – he respects the game a lot and I think that's going to play dividends for him in the future.

Q: What do you like most about him? Is it the way he goes about his business or is it something about his game that you admire?

A: Him as a person. Quiet, humble, but at the same time does not shy away to ask questions and wanting to learn and go out there and put in the work. I think when I say he respects the game, he does things the right way, he's goes out there, is respectable, humble, asks questions, is out there working on his technique then takes care of his body as well. He approaches the game like a pro.

Q: How are him and Tae different?

A: One of them has locs and the other one doesn't. Besides that, I think with his – I don't want to say any differences. The thing that I appreciate most about them is how they compete and how they come to work every day and how together they are. Watching them celebrate and talk to each other is one of those cool things. It's kind of like true freshman coming in together and that's your boy. I wouldn't have known that they didn't know each other – if you'd just met them, it'd look like they're two peas in a pod. I think them feeding off each other and wanting to compete. I think that's what makes those two special.

Q: Knowing how important that position is as a guy who has played it. How much pressure is on them to perform as rookies?

A: I think for them it's just go out there and do what they've shown. We talk about football being football at the end of the day. Just going out there and doing what you do in practice, just be yourself. I'm excited for them. You asked about Tre, and they moved me into the slot during camp – I'm just excited to see those guys thrive and achieve and do great things. Not just for this team but for this league.

Q: Do you have a handle yet on how Isaiah Simmons is going to fit in?

A: I feel like just utilizing him to the best of his abilities and when you see his abilities, they just jump off the charts as you've seen. A guy that can do a little bit of everything and does it well. I'm just excited to see his role and the things that he's going to do to contribute and help his team win games.

Q: Is there a belief among the players with Wink that he is going to play players to the best of their ability, or at least what he believes is the best of their ability?

A: Oh yeah, of course. You can see—you can take (cornerback) Nick McCloud, just coming from Buffalo doing special teams and then getting a role on defense, (inside linebacker) Cam Brown, (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden), different guys like that. Then another one would be Cor'Dale Flott, coming in the Vikings game at the last second, probably didn't even play more than two snaps, and then the biggest snap of the day, he gets a PBU. I think that goes to show the confidence that Wink has in not just us as players, but his system and how he runs things and doesn't shy away from it. I think that helps out a lot.

Q: Would a younger Adoree' have necessarily handled any kind of a position switch the same way? Has this always been in you to say, 'This is all cool to me, wherever you need me,' or is that something maybe that you have grown into a little bit as an NFL player and as a young man?

A: I think that's always been me. Even when I moved out to California to play high school ball, all I played was offense. They told me they had every position filled up, but you can go play defense. Even when I went to SC (University of Southern California), I went there to play offense. They switched me to defense. I was at corner, and they told me to try to safety rollout, did that. At the end of the day, it's just about playing ball and competing at a high level. I think those around you notice it. I don't think of it as anything different. When you're out there on the field, you can be productive and make plays. I just think that's always been me, just loving to play the game, loving competing and just trying to showcase talent.

Q: Last year you obviously got to face CeeDee in prime time and got hurt right before the rematch with the Cowboys later in the season. How much has that first game from last year really stuck with you since then, and how much do you just take these matchups personally against receivers like him?

A: I think not just receivers like him, I think across the league you take those matchups personally, because at the end of the day, you only get—it's not like basketball, where you can play someone twice, four times, however many times or whatever it may be. It's all about taking this series personal because you never know when it'll be your last snap. As you said, I played them Week 1, looking forward to playing them a second time, wasn't able to be out there. I think every matchup that I go against, regardless of who it is at receiver, who the team is, you take it personal and want to go out there and showcase and display your best.

Q: That touchdown that you gave up to him last year, was that maybe a play that's stuck with you and you kind of were like, 'I want to get him back for that,' and that was a play that kind of got away from you, and you know you can do better the next time?

A: We talked about on the sideline, me and Rome did. I remember that vividly, asking what I could have done better, this, that, and the third. Played it through the hands, played it through the pocket, it was one of those where the quarterback put it where he needed to put it. He stuck his left hand out there and caught it one-handed. So, it was one of those things where you don't really harp too much on it. It's one of those things where it could go 50/50, could have been a bad throw, doesn't catch it or whatever it may be, I can get my hand on it. Just for me, just keep playing my technique, playing your game. It's never a situation where you go out of your frame of work, you go out of your frame of body and think that you need to do anything different. Just keep doing what you've been doing and go from there.

Wide Receiver Darius Slayton

Q. When you're going into this season, I'm just kind of wondering where you're at mentally, especially because at this time a year ago, you barely made the roster and didn't get to play against the Cowboys in prime time. Where are you at mentally as a player, and do you feel like you can take another step forward for yourself personally this year?

A: Yeah, I think I'm in a positive place, and I think I've put together a strong camp. I worked really hard this offseason to better myself in any way or shape and form I can, and I plan to try to display that to the best of my ability this season.

Q. Do you think that what you overcame last year at the end of camp and really earning a spot early in the season was a big turning point for your career?

A: I think it was definitely a stroke of adversity. It's definitely something that I had to deal with, something like you said, I had to overcome, but ultimately, it's not somewhere that I hadn't been prior to that and I'm sure, hopefully not again in football, but maybe in some other avenue of life I'll be in a similar predicament. I'm just happy I'm on the other side of it now, and it'll be a good life experience going forward.

Q. When you look at last year versus this year as far as what you think you're surrounded by and the talent level on the team and the roster. When you look at this roster right now and the potential starters on Sunday night is it just a better, more talented team right now than it was last year this time?

A: They had a lot of good football players on last year's team as well to be honest with you, but I definitely think they did a good job of adding talent to our team. There are the obvious guys like (inside linebacker) Bobby Okereke on defense, (safety) Bobby McCain, the veteran safety. Obviously, you know we added the two young corners as well. On offense, we've got (wide receiver) Jalin (Hyatt), (tight end) Darren (Waller), and (running back) Eric Gray. Then (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) whose had a really good camp for us up front, so I think they did a good job of accumulating talent and adding guys that would boost our team.

Q. (Wide receiver) Isaiah (Hodgins) wasn't on the team at this point. You were on the team, but you weren't on the field. You and Isaiah can almost seem like new players as far as opening day from this year to last year. Is that the way you look at it?

A: I hadn't really thought about it until you just said it to be honest, but I mean, yeah. From that standpoint we'd be additions as well as far as week one goes to the team as well.

Q. When you look around the locker room now, does it just have a little bit of a different feel?

A: Yeah, I think so. Anytime you add new personalities, fresh faces there's going to be a little bit of change in the dynamic of the locker room, but it's been positive. Everybody that we've had come in I'd say is a good dude, has been personable, has meshed well with the guys that we already have here.

Q. You obviously still a very young man, but you're a veteran in that room in terms of knowing everything Giants. Do you find teammates, especially the younger ones, including rookies asking you questions?

A: Yeah, from where to live and to where to eat, and how to do these – what are they called? The little side turns.

All that type of stuff but on the football field as well. I do my best to help the young guys in any way I can. I just try to help them; our system is very wordy. Just helping them in anyway (and) try to give them tips and pointers because we were in the same boat last years when (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs first got here. Even though we were veteran players, you're learning a whole new system, so I just do my best to help them any way, shape or form I can, and we have a lot of young smart guys, so they're easy students to help.

Q. Do you find that (wide receiver) Isaiah (Hodgins) is a resource as well, given his history with that offense and everything else?

A: Yeah, technically he's been in it longer than any of us. He can kind of give, sometimes there's things that change that is new to us, that he's like 'well no, we used to do it this way anyways', so he helps give some insight on those types of things for sure.

Q. You lead this team in receiving yards in three of the last four years, would it mean more this year, given it seems like this receiver room is as good as it's ever been?

A: I don't know if it would mean any more than it has in the past. I think my approach is just to make plays when the ball comes my way. You know I've been fortunate that I've been healthy enough and played well enough to lead this team three out of my four years here, but I don't really look at as okay, there is better guys here than there were before, so now if I do this it's more impressive or anything like that. I think it's just my job to go out there and make plays, and I do my best to do that every Sunday.

Q. Does 1,000 yards mean anything to you? Even though you have led three of four, that's a big number. Is that a number that matters to you?

A: I think every receiver would love to be able to say, one day when I retire, I'm old and my knees don't work anymore, you know I can tell my kids I had a 1,000-yard NFL season at one point. It's a nice benchmark to have, but obviously to get there you got to start with game one first, so I just take it one week, one day at a time.

Q. Given what you went through last year, where you started, where you ended up and the fact that you've led the team in three of the last four seasons, was it disappointing at all not to be named a captain or voted a captain? I mean, obviously you are a leader on this team, you don't have to be a captain to be leader. Was it disappointing at all not to get that recognition?

A: I don't really know if I would say disappointing. At the end of the day, it's something that's voted as a team, and I think that all the guys that we have that were elected as captains, deserve to be captains. I can't really say that I was necessarily disappointed. Like you said, I try to lead in whatever way I can, and you know, if my teammates ever feel the need to vote me in another year or something like that, I'll be grateful to accept that.

Q. With you guys moving now to a game week, what kind of advice do you give to the younger guys? How does it change your approach, your preparation, now that really the preseason is behind you? I'm just curious from a tip's standpoint, a preparation standpoint, is this much more what you want to be doing on a week-to-week basis rather than what you have gone through the last six weeks?

A: I think the biggest thing is there's just a different level of urgency, (and) a different level of attention to detail. During camp, especially for rookies, you're learning, so it's not the end of the world if on Tuesday, August 22nd in camp you mess up a play. It's like whatever, and at the end of the day, it's just practice, but when a game comes you can't have small miscues and things like that against good teams in this league and expect to win. That's probably the main thing that I try to impress upon them is that this is a different level of intensity, different level of urgency, and you have got to focus, and be on top of your assignments and be ready for the game.


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