Head Coach Brian Daboll
Daboll: Normal Friday for us. Whatever you guys got.
Q: Barring a setback, (do) you feel good about (wide receiver) Kenny (Golladay) being able to play this weekend?
A: He's had two days. We'll see how he does today, but I'm optimistic that he should be ready to go. But we'll go through it one more day and see if anything happens.
Q: Are (outside linebacker) Oshane (Ximines) and (defensive back Cor'Dale) Flott in the same boat?
A: They're in the same boat, yeah. So, all three of those guys will be questionable, and then (tackle Evan) Neal and (tight end Daniel) Bellinger will be out.
Q: You have the three guys – (tackle Matt) Peart, (cornerback) Rodarius (Williams), (guard) Shane (Lemieux). Are you going to activate any of those?
A: I think that's a conversation we'll have after today's practice. I'd say we could. We could do one. We could do all three. We could do none. We'll talk about that after today's practice.
Q: At inside linebacker, what are you looking for from the spot where (inside linebacker) Tae (Crowder) and (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden) are rotating?
A: Well, I think, again, it depends on what we have in, the packages that (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) calls. Again, a linebacker's job is to do a good job of diagnosing run-pass, gap control and then making tackles in the run game and then coverage in the pass game.
Q: So, you flipped those roles in the last game. What made you do that? What did you see from (inside linebacker) Jaylon (Smith) being the mike (linebacker)?
A: Yeah. We thought that was the best thing for us that week. I'd say he's done everything we've asked him to do. I think he feels comfortable playing there. He did a good job for us.
Q: What kind of spark or lift has it been finding Fabian Moreau, a number two corner(back) who was released, obviously, by the team you're playing this week (the Houston Texans).
A: He's done a good job for us. I know we've talked about him earlier, a couple of weeks ago. (He's an) instinctive veteran that's really done a good job in our defense of playing the things we've asked him to play. (He's) tackled well, made plays on the ball, covered well. He's been a good addition.
Q: You've been very consistent about being very consistent. Do you feel like your players have bought into that so that a 1-6-1 Houston (Texans) looks the same as at Dallas (Cowboys) on Thanksgiving? It all kind of looks the same to them?
A: I think that's a good question for them. I know that's what we preach day in and day out here – myself, the coaches, (general manager) Joe (Schoen), his staff, just being as consistent as we can and concentrate on the stuff that we can control and focus on the things to get better that day.
Q: There was a stat that, I think, (Houston Texans running back) Dameon Pierce leads the league in broken tackles. Is there something you can tell your players about a guy who breaks tackles?
A: Tackle him well. Run to the ball. Get as many hats on him as we can. Defeat blockers up front. We've talked about, it seems like, a lot of good players each week. He's one of them. He's done a good job as a young player. He's got great balance and body control, vision. (He) doesn't dance a whole lot. (He) creates issues for defenders. (He) runs with power, aggressiveness. He's a good football player.
Q: Do you look at (safety) Landon Collins as somebody who can help fill the (safety Xavier) McKinney void, or is he (Landon) more of an inside linebacker?
A: He's been more of the down closer to the line of scrimmage than rather back for us. But you never know.
Q: The majority of this season, you guys have kind of been (that) the masses outside of here kind of looked past in terms of the underdog. This week, that's kind the flip where the Texans are going into this one as the underdog. Do you have to talk to your players at all about the change in role?
A: No. Because I think it goes back to the consistency approach. Every team in this league is good. Any team can win any given day. If you play well, you put yourself as having a chance to win. It doesn't guarantee anything. And if you play lousy, you're probably going to lose. And we just focus on the things we need to do each week – some of them are consistent. They never change based on who we're playing. Some of them are game plan specific. If we hit those marks, we give ourselves a chance. And if we don't, we lose. Pretty simple.
Q: What do you like about (safety) Terrell Burgess, the guy you just picked up at safety?
A: He's a fairly high draft pick. I think he's got some athletic ability. It'll be good just to get him out here and see how he operates in our defense. I met him a short amount of time. Seems like a good young man, so (we'll) put him in our stuff and let him see how he does.
Q: You praised the home fans a lot this year, and now you're four out of five (wins) at home. What can they do for you in this key stretch?
A: We have to do it to give them something to be loud about. Again, I've been impressed with just the people around this community and how they support the team. And it helps when you're on defense and it's loud and create false start penalties or timing issues off the snap count. So, very appreciative for their support.
Q: The Texans have obviously really struggled against the run this year. They're last in that category. When you go up in a matchup like this, is it just – and you've obviously done well in the running game – is it just like, 'Okay. Let's just see if they can stop us at this point, and we'll work from there.'?
A: Good question. Fair question, too. I think anytime you look at the stats and where everybody is, you just think, 'Boy. This team should run, this team has trouble stopping it.' And I think each week, you're trying to improve – I know, I'll speak for our team – improve on things we're not doing as well. And you anticipate that from every other team. There's going to be extra guys down in the box. There has been the whole year. We're going to have to do a good job of blocking them, blocking the stuff that they do, which they create some problems too. I know they've given up some big ones – (Titans running back Derrick) Henry had some big ones. Again, Henry made three guys miss in the hole. He could have been tackled for a two-yard gain. Instead, it goes for 40 yards. So, running with the ball well. Making people miss in space, handling their movement – which they move a bunch. They've got some quick guys up front. They've got some good veterans, too, that know how to do it. Every week's a challenge regardless. I don't get involved in 'This team ranks here. This team ranks here,' because each week's different. You'd like to do what you do well, and sometimes that doesn't happen. So, you have to have an answer to, 'Hey. They have so many guys down there, we just can't get it going.' You better be able to pass it and run it based on how they play and how you're playing, too.
Q: How much are you intentional about putting in stuff that maybe you want to improve on in games? How often are you doing that?
A: We do that every week.
Q: Like intentionally doing that?
A: Yeah, we do that every week. I'll show something, either at the beginning of the week, (and say), 'Hey, here are some of the things we've done well. Here are some of the things we can work on.' Again, it starts with your team and doing the things that you can do well and improving on the things you're not doing well. And that goes into 'Okay, what's the matchups you're playing against? How does this team play their defense? Or how do they play their offense or their kicking game?' I think this is probably the best kicking game unit we've played all year for Houston. So, we got our work cut out for us in that area.
Q: You can see it in this league: You get to midseason, and a lot of teams run short on the offensive line. They start losing the numbers game. You guys have kind of made it a priority really from the summer to kind of lengthen your unit, using the practice squad, having guys that are options. Do you feel that going forward here in the second half that you're in a good spot right now? Obviously not trying to jinx anything, but you've absorbed injuries. But you still have guys that are there that you can look at and say, 'Alright, maybe that guy is a good option down the road?'
A: Yeah. I think Joe and his staff have done a good job of adding to that position. You can never have too many. I think we have guys that we can work with whether they're on the practice squad or down-the-line guys that are on the roster. It'll be nice to get Evan (Neal) back when he can get back, so you – knock on wood – hope they stay healthy. It's an important position for any football team.
Q: Would (cornerback) Adoree's (Jackson) importance to your defense stop you from putting him back at punt returner?
A: No. We'll see how that goes with who we put back there, but that wouldn't (stop us). He's been a good returner in the past, and if we think that's the best thing for our team, we would use him.
Q: How do you balance that if you have a player that's so important on one side of the ball then using them on specials, not using them on specials?
A: I'd say every play is important. I've coached receivers. I coached a guy by the name of (former New England Patriots wide receiver) Troy Brown, who was a leading receiver for me when I was a coach. And he's back there returning all these punts. You see (Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle) Patterson returning kickoffs yesterday. You put your best guys that you think are going to give you the best chance back there. So, whoever that is, that's what we'll go with.
Q: It was two weeks ago, but (defensive lineman) Leonard Williams had a sack and five quarterback hits against the (Seattle) Seahawks. How disruptive was he when you look back at that?
A: Look back at Seattle? I mean, that's a long time ago. I just keep hoping that he keeps improving. It's good to have him out there. I'll say that. He's been a productive player when he's been out there. Him and Dex (defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence) inside, they present some problems when they're playing at the top of their game. It's good to have him out here.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: Their rush defense, statistically, is not good. What do you see?
A: That doesn't mean anything. I don't really read into that – to the numbers. Obviously, statistically their rush defense is not up there. It's not the highest. When we played Seattle (Seahawks), their rush defense wasn't up there. It wasn't the highest. They did a really good job of game planning and scheming the run. Every week it's a new challenge. It's the NFL; there are a lot of good players over there. They've got a talented team – great coach. Great scheme. You've got to take it – take every week (as) a new opportunity and a new challenge to get better. That's the main focus.
Q: You said after the Seattle game about teams now loading up (the box) against the run. It is what it is, and you've got to deal with that. What are the ways to try to attack that to be productive anyways?
A: The beauty of having more people in the box – the safeties, they're a little tired. Once you get passed a certain level, there's really no one else back there. So, you've got to capitalize on that. But that's really not up to me. The coaches are going to continue to do a great job of doing creative things to put the ball in our playmakers hands to make plays – especially when DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) can make plays with his feet and when we get down the field and start getting passes together on the drive and be a little more consistent on the drive, the run game is going to continue to open up. It's a balance. We've got to balance each other, and that's something we look forward to doing in the second half of the season.
Q: I know it's only two weeks, but does your body feel any differently having time off?
A: It's more mental I guess you could say. The body, obviously, you give it a week rest, it's going to feel better. But just to step away and not be in the same routine day in and day out, just having that different mindset. It actually makes you appreciate football so much more. You're like, 'I want to get back to it as fast as possible.' But spend more time with your family, I was able to go to Odell's (Former Giants Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.) birthday, spend time with him and some of the guys out there. It was good. Good to get off, but back to work. Get ready for the second half of the season against a really good team.
Q: How much time did you spend at Odell's birthday telling him to re-sign with the Giants? Because it seems like every Cowboys player every day tells him.
A: He knows how I feel. He knows how we feel in this locker room. I've said before, he's a heck of a player. I'm more just, not saying worried, just focused on him continuing attacking his rehab, get ready. He's a special player. He's still got a lot left in the tank. And I know how he is already with his mindset going at his rehab. When he's able to come back, he's going to show his skillset.
Q: You see the Cowboys doing it though, right?
A: Yeah, I saw (Cowboys Linebacker) Micah (Parsons). I saw Micah tweet something at him.
Q: Zeke (Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott)…
A: I didn't see the Zeke one, but I saw Micah tweet something at him. But he's Odell. He's a heck of a player. When he's healthy, he's one of the best players in the league. Why wouldn't anybody want him on his team?
Q: What would your sales pitch be here? Why is this a desirable spot in your mind?
A: I feel like there's not really a sales pitch. It's New York; it's the Giants. Obviously, he has familiar faces within this facility and this locker room. Personally, I think it would be a great story to come back to a place that you were at before and continue to help build success and continue to come here with the right mindset and be a leader and be the type of player he can be for his team. Like I said, he's a special player. He can help any team. (I'm) not really too focused on that. I'm really worried about the man himself and getting ready and rehabbing and continue to have a successful career.
Q: I would imagine you don't have to reach out to him on Twitter. You might be able to go a little more privately.
A: Yeah, I don't have to tweet at him.
Q: Does your shoulder feel better than it did two weeks ago?
A: I mean yeah, definitely. When you get a week off, your shoulder is going to feel better. It's more just because I didn't have to bang it on Sunday. It's something that hopefully we'll see this week – that's the only real true test of how much better it got, when you get tackled and you land on it. Like I said, it's pain management, something that I'm able to manage and continue to do.
Q: Is there a sense of coming out of this bye week, what you guys have in front of you that this is an opportunity that you specifically have been waiting for here in the pros to have that second half where every game has meaning and there's an opportunity to earn something at the end of this season? Does that factor in at all? Is there any sense of?
A: No. I don't look at it like that at all. I don't think we do, either. It's another game. It's another opportunity to come out, play the sport that we love and try to have a 1-0 mindset and most importantly – do it at home in front of our fans.
Q: Do you look at these games and see it's Houston with one win and Detroit with two wins and those are W's for you?
A: That's your job.
Q: Can you see Odell (Beckham Jr.) wearing a Cowboys jersey?
A: I want the best for him. Whatever decision he makes – like I said, it's deeper than football. That's my brother. Like I said, I want the best for him. I can see him in any jersey. Obviously, I would love to see him back with the New York Giants but like I said, that's up to him. That's his decision. I just hope a healthy rehab and when he comes back, show the world that he's still Odell.
Q: What do you think about getting (Guard) Shane (Lemieux) back, if it's not this week, just having him back in the fold after what he's been through physically?
A: He's battled some injuries, but he's a great player. He definitely can be a help to this team. We know that. Obviously, it sucks to see him go down early in the season – preseason game. It's just great to see him getting back out there, taking some reps. Coming back from injury is all about the mental part of it, getting mentally right. But like I said, he can help this team. I'm excited for him. Whatever the opportunity is or whenever that chance comes, he already knows – I don't need to say it. I have much confidence in him from myself but also all the players in the locker room have a lot of confidence in him, too.
Q: How much do you need something from (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) here? He was a big free agent signing – hasn't really worked out so far regards to production-wise – but how much does this offense need that receiver to step into that role?
A: I really don't need anything from KG. I just need KG to be KG. Just go out there and play the game that you love. I think I saw he said something in the media where you guys asked him if he had anything to prove or to prove to coaches. His responsibility is to go out there and play the game he loves and do it for his brothers, do it for his teammates. We all have high respect for KG in this locker room and for every single player in this locker room. We know that's the way, how we win games. Whatever it is, whether it's catching the ball, whether it's blocking. We know when KG's out there, he'll give it his all. And that's all we can ask him.
Q: If he does come back and play like you think he should or he thinks he should, how much could that take this offense to a different level?
A: At the end of the day if you have anybody that comes out and plays at a high level, it's always going to help the offense, not just KG. Whether it's myself, whether it's Daniel or it's KG. Whoever it is, going out there making plays, it's good for the team. That's what we need to do to come out with a win this week.
Q: Even Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) has said, you're facing stacked boxes all the time. A big play receiver would theoretically help you out quite a bit, no?
A: I don't know. I mean, I don't look at it that way. I take the mindset that I've just got to be the best player I can be for this team. It might sound arrogant or confident, (but) I want that. I want to be the guy that teams want to stop. You've got to take pride in that, especially as a running back or the type of running back that I think I am. Like I said, not just only KG. Every single one of us needs to step up. I guess going back to your question, yes, it's the second half of the season. We started off really good and we've got to continue to keep it going. All of us need to step up and take it to another level.
Q: When you see the safeties up, I would imagine the antenna goes up. It's the idea of this is a big play possibility here if you have the right call. Has that developed over the seasons where you kind of recognize that even more so when you break the huddle, and you can see that this is what's coming?
A: Yeah, I've always had that confidence that every time I touch the ball, I'm going to score. But when I was a rookie, it was more like I'm going to score just because I think I'm going to make everyone miss, and I'm going to do this. But now it's more of like just understanding the game, seeing the rotations, seeing who's down, knowing the blocking scheme, knowing who's my guy to beat. When you have that, when you're able to identify defense like that, it just puts you in the right position to be more successful in the run game.