Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: I noticed last week for teams you just did 7-on-7, no 11-on-11. Will you do any or have you guys been doing any 11-on-11?
A: We do walkthroughs with it. So, different things, tempo it down, kind of teach it and review some of the stuff we studied in the offseason. We'll stay with that today.
Q: Is it much more of a mental camp for the point-of-attack guys as opposed to the skill guys?
A: Yeah, I mean, there's rules for contact and stuff. So, we just take that out of it and again, teach our concepts, blocking schemes, how to take on blocks, run fits, protection things. Tempo it down a little bit and make sure we get it right so when we get into training camp, when we're going full speed with pads on, we've got something to draw from.
Q: Do you think for the rest of the spring, you'll just keep it that way?
A: Today we will, but we talk about that each day.
Q: With all players, especially a rookie last year, when they come here, do you at some point sit them down and say, 'Okay, last year is done,' and set expectations? Especially with a guy like (linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) who had such a spotlight on him.
A: I'd say kind of everybody's the same. We sit down with everybody and talk about things we can improve on, some of the things we did well. Usually, from I'd say year one to year two, for the players that are just getting drafted, they really didn't have an offseason. They're learning a brand-new system. They don't have a lot of experience to draw from in the NFL. And then year two, they can have some experiences to draw from, but you'd like to see a jump from everyone in year one, your rookie class, to year two. It happens at different times. You just get better each day.
Q: How have you seen Kayvon and (offensive tackle) Evan (Neal) come back this year? Any changes in them so far?
A: Again, they've had a year under their belt. So, still got a lot to learn. Still young players. But again, they can draw from some of the experiences that they've had the previous year. Even just, not in terms of playing right now because we're out here in shorts and T-shirts, but grasping the material, different questions they ask. They've been through some of the stuff, so when they're watching cutups of things that we did the previous year, they know it. As a rookie, you have no idea what's going on right now. So, I'd say most players from year one to year two, there's a little bit more comfort level.
Q: I know Evan thought it was beneficial to make changes to his stance this offseason. What's your thought on that and is it something you thought of or looked into also?
A: I'd say (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) does a great job with those guys. I'd say he studies all the offensive linemen. He's with them all day during practice, during this time. I'd say with each player, there's little things that you try to tweak and coach on, and it's no different with Evan.
Q: Can you talk about (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and how he's been throwing the ball lately? It looks like he's doing more deep throwing than I can remember, unless my memory is faulty.
A: Yeah, I'd say we just make sure he tries to throw it to the right guy with the right reads. There's not any emphasis. I think Daniel's made steady improvements since we've been here. He's throwing to some new players out here. I think that's important to try to read their body language. Again, we're trying different things and trying to get to know some of the new players we have, too, and I'd say so is Daniel.
Q: Other quarterbacks you've been around, did they do as much away from the building as Daniel does?
A: That position, they're one of the hardest workers on your team usually. They have the most to learn. It's a tough position to play. Daniel's a true pro. I'm not going to compare him to other guys I've been around, but he is constantly working. There're times where I've got to say, 'Just take a little break here.' He just wants to work, work, work, meet. He's a true pro.
Q: Last year, you were pretty, in the moment, staunch about the fact that putting (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) back at punt returner was a good idea. In hindsight when you review the year, is that something you would still do, put a valuable player like that back on special teams, or is it something you'd reconsider?
A: I think every year is different. Every game is different. We have a lot of guys out here returning punts right now. We don't have to make that decision for a while, so we'll cross that bridge when it comes to it.
Q: You had mentioned with the rookies when they got here at minicamp that you guys were going to be very conscious with how much team stuff they were going to do, how much 7-on-7. As the spring progresses and now you're two weeks out of kind of sending them away, do you look at the rookies and say you want to get some of these guys more involved in the team stuff to see where they're at and what you have to work on?
A: Yeah, I'd say our sports science guys, (director of performance/assistant strength and conditioning coach) Sam (Coad) and (assistant strength and conditioning coach Mark) Loech(er), they do a really good job along with our training staff. You have to take into account that most of them haven't been doing a whole bunch leading up to it. So, each day, we add a little bit more reps each period. Again, it's maybe a little bit more than it was the first day, and then we reassess it. But the number one thing is to try to get them out here healthy, making sure they're learning the stuff while they're able to do it and then hopefully they're ready to go in training camp.
Q: What do you think of your schedule? A lot of road games and primetime games up front.
A: I'm not focused on it right now. I'm focused on today.
Q: From your experience, do those factors mean anything?
A: You know I'm a one-day-at-a-time guy here. Whatever the schedule is, is the schedule. That's the way I approach it. Whatever it is, whenever we play, night, morning, Saturday, Thursday, Friday, it doesn't matter. Just play them when they come.
Q: When you're able to add someone as talented as (tight end) Darren Waller to the team, what does it mean to have him out here at OTAs participating with everyone, especially because there are veterans that might not do that?
A: He's been a great teammate since he's been here. Again, he's learning us, we're learning him. It's a work in progress on both sides, but like I said last week, he's a true pro.
Q: How would you assess Kayvon's rookie year?
A: I'm worried about this year.
Q: How much more is there for him in year two?
A: I'd say just like all the other players, we're just trying to get better day by day.
Q: You added a lot of pieces at wide receiver this offseason. None of them have a proven track record as a true No. 1 wide receiver. There's a big wide receiver that's available as a free agent now.
A: How tall is he? You said a big receiver.
Q: I'm talking about (wide receiver) DeAndre Hopkins. He's pretty tall and he's pretty good. How open would you be to adding a piece like that now and is that something you guys think you would consider?
A: Yeah, no, I'd say like last year, anytime there's someone that's available as a free agent, I'd say (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and his staff are going to look into it and research it. We talk about a lot of different players, so regardless of who it is, that's part of our job to make sure we're doing our due diligence.
Q: Do you have any memories of (wide receiver) Parris Campbell when he was coming out as a draft guy and if so, what are they?
A: Yeah, I do. Actually, Joe and I and I think (Bills general manager) Brandon Beane took a trip to Ohio State and went to dinner with him the night before his workout. So, got to meet him then. A lot of times you meet all these players pre-draft and maybe it doesn't happen that initial year, but they become available a few years from now and you just draw on some of your meetings that you had with them. He was a good young man, smart, enjoyed our meeting. He's done a good job since he's been here.
Q: Is that skillset still there, the same skillset that you saw then, or is it advanced because he has that time?
A: Well, I think you can draw on experiences when you've played in this league. Again, he's learning how we do things, we're learning how he does things. That's what this time of year is for.
Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q. How do you look back at your rookie year individually?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I feel like it was pretty good. I feel like my rookie year I left a lot of space to grow, got better as time went on. Continuously put the work in. I'm excited for the second year now.
Q. What are some of the things you're looking to get better at as far as your technique is concerned?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Getting sacks, finishing, there were a lot of times when I had a good pass rush that I didn't finish. You realize the guy on the other side of the line is paid a lot of money. They're not going to let him get touched. Continuing to sharpen the end of my rush, that third phase and make sure I start to finish.
Q. Were you the kind of guy that almost looked at every snap? Did you sit down at one point and watch and watch and watch?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I watched most of it. I didn't watch the good plays, the good plays are kind of dead and gone now. I was trying to find out how I can eliminate as many bad plays as possible. I don't think there were that many bad plays, but even the rushes that I didn't finish, just trying to figure out what I can do to finish.
Q. During the season, you thought maybe you needed to get stronger, maybe more in your legs. I'm curious how you address that?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I think it's -- it's funny, so my lower body, it will never look bigger but I'm as strong as anybody else when it comes to squatting, when it comes to lifting and things like that.
But what I started to learn was more of the application of my strengths, start to figure out how to use my leverage and use the things I have to my advantage.
Q. Were there one or two plays from last year, talking about finishing, that you didn't finish that really stuck with you?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Yeah, the first game, I think we played Washington, it was a second-guess kind of a step that threw me off even though I was unblocked. There were a couple of snaps in the Eagles game, the first game we played, where I could have had an impact if I finished the top of my rush. I know there was one against the Texans, when I was going against (Texans Offensive Tackle) Laremy Tunsil, he's a guy who's really long, but I let him, at the end of my rush, I let him get his hands on me where I should have been able to get around him.
Q. What does it say to you and your room really, that they made a lot of upgrades, brought in a lot of players at different positions. They're kind of running back with you guys there as edge rush there. It's kind of the same group that it was last year. What does that say?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: We have a great GM. Since I've been here, I told myself I want to be something like a GM one day, so I started to look at the team's needs and whatever the case is. I think he's brought in the right pieces for us to continue to grow on the offensive side and defensive side. A lot of guys he did bring in that are here now are primed and they're some great players, so I'm excited to get out there and start training camp.
Q. They didn't bring any edge rushers though. What does that say about your group?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I don't know how much more money they were going to spend on edge rushers (laughs). I'm excited.
Q. You piqued my interest. You see yourself working in the front office?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Not really. I just want to be an analyst like you guys and see what the next moves are for teams. For me even being on a team trying to figure out what components does a team need to succeed. Just kind of looking at it from a 360 point of view.
Q. Do you dig into analytics at all in terms of how it can help you as a player?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: I mean, we just brought in a corner. I know that will help. I'm excited to see some more lockdown coverage. I'm excited to be able to make things happen.
Q. Along those lines, you like to do this type of stuff, what do you think of all the new additions to the defensive side of the ball?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: They're amazing. Now we have depth. I'm excited. A lot of guys are here to work. There are no egos. There's nobody that doesn't want to get better. If you look out there, it looks like practice is still going on because there are a lot of guys still training with each other, helping each other out. That's the culture we're building.
Q. What about on the offensive side of the ball, you've got some guys that can really challenge you guys?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: Even today they made some plays, it made me excited seeing them make plays and seeing them gel together and continue to grow that chemistry.
Q. Other than the snaps you said you studied, things can you do better, what do you think you learned most about what this is all about, what the NFL life is all about, that you couldn't have known before this?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: That, yeah, dinner gets expensive. When you go a year going out to dinner every week you start to realize I'm going to start eating at home, going to the grocery store.
Q. The Giants did a video the other day where you guys walked off the field and you had to say something nice about the guy -- I noticed you were walking off with (tackle) Evan (Neal). You guys will always be linked, same draft class, top-10 picks. You had success; he had ups and downs last year as a rookie. What have you seen from him in terms of where he's grown and you going against him, what he showed you as a rookie versus what he showed everybody else?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: You know, the thing about playing defense and offense is that if we lose, they're not just going to point at me. But if we lose, they're going to point at the o-line. For him I think he's been able to process it more mentally. I feel like coming into it he starts to get an understanding. And me too, just figuring out you have to play to your strengths. A lot of guys come to the NFL, they want to be like somebody else or want to take every tool that you can get. But at the end of the day, you are who you are. Once you start to understand what type of player you are and how you can grow with the assets you already have, you become a great player. I think he's done a great job, one, blocking out the noise and continuing to stay on his grind, and continuing to ask those questions, be hungry, be curious.
Q. When you look at last year in the spring versus this year now and how maybe last year was maybe a whirlwind – my words not your words – how more locked in do you feel like you are into your game versus last year and how much is that going to help you moving forward?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: When you talk about being "locked in," it's a different mentality. When you haven't played against NFL-caliber guys, you don't really know how big, how strong you need to be, how fast you need to be. Once you kind of get that down and you start to really learn the ins and outs of the games, which is what I started to do at the end of the season last year, going into this year, it becomes a lot easier. Now I can focus on the offense and not so much focus on myself but figure out the different tips and tricks I can give going into training camp.
Q. You talked about how you want to finish more this year. In terms of sacks, can you put a number on that at all?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: No, because I had a number on it last year, and I figured out that the season is so long that you have to do it by game. If I can make impactful plays like I was able to do and continue to win, I mean, no one will ever remember me. As long as we win, as long as I continue to play well, play for my teammates I think I'll be good.
Q. When did you go through that shift of maybe thinking not about a number of sacks, but kind of about more the season as a whole. How did you process that, or when did that start to change?
KAYVON THIBODEAUX: When you go four sacks, four or five games with no sacks you start to realize forget that number. What can I do to just make a play? Come the Baltimore game it was like okay, I've got to make a play. I don't really have time to think about the goals I had. I've got to go for something now.
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson
Q. What do you think about drafting a first-round corner who obviously you'll have to mentor here a little bit going to be playing opposite you?
ADOREE' JACKSON: I'm excited. I think about when I was in Tennessee, and I had Logan Ryan being able to help me and mentor me. And the following year, I had Malcolm Butler. I always think of it as a added benefit to us as a whole, not just the defense but the team as a whole. So, I'm excited, watched his tape. Like him. Watched him go through the walk-throughs, different things. Talked to him. He's got a good head on his shoulder. Seems like a great guy. I was excited to get D(eonte) Banks.
Q. Do you see similarities? I would imagine you're working on film, what you're seeing on tape and out there in practice. But in terms of his personality, I would imagine as a veteran you know how personalities mesh in this locker room. Personality wise are you getting him to open up? Has that been a challenge?
ADOREE' JACKSON. It hasn't been a challenge. He's a great guy. He's been acceptable to the culture, what we're trying to build here. And I can't do anything but really appreciate him and welcoming him in the same as us; it takes a lot to gain so much trust and vice versa. He came up with open arms as we did. He's been a good guy, giving us laughs, singing and stuff, which is pretty cool to see him not shy away or be shy at all and trying to be one of us, it's dope to see.
Q. What do you think the best thing a veteran cornerback can teach a young cornerback is?
ADOREE' JACKSON: What Dick LeBeau taught me when I was in Tennessee, if something doesn't go my way or if a play doesn't go this, that or a third, he always told me his experiences and what goes on, just give him tools to make him better. I think that's the best thing a veteran cornerback can do, just let somebody learn from their mistakes and try to help them and be that voice of reason in their ear, how I would have wanted it vice versa. Just trying to be there as much as possible for him.
Q. By most metrics, I would think people say you had a really good season last year. I'm curious, how do you look at your season? And the one knock people have on you is not a lot of game-change -- turnovers, forced fumbles and such. Why do you think that is for a guy who is around the football as much as you?
ADOREE' JACKSON: I don't know. That's a good question. I feel like the season was all right. I feel like a good season. Going all the way, winning the whole thing. But I can't explain being around the ball a lot and not getting plays. Hopefully the Lord hears me put it up in existence, and he gives me a lot more this year.
Q. Is that something you think about, something you work on, trying to get more?
ADOREE' JACKSON: Trying to get the ball. It doesn't happen that way, I'm not going to beat myself over it and just think about I need to do this, do this, then I'm thinking about the wrong thing. And then something else happens, and I give up or a mess up a play somewhere else.
For me it's just being in the moment, be on that play and then clear it, be in next-play mentality, because say I do get a pick first quarter, I've still got three more quarters left to play -- or I do get a PB (pass breakup) or something happens. Wink always says give us two. For me, just try to play my game when opportunity comes, make the plays.
Q. Seems like it was a point of emphasis during the offseason, do you notice that the offense is markedly faster, the receivers faster than maybe they were last year?
ADOREE' JACKSON: I would say, being able to be familiar with the offense and having another year in it, Wink last year, and learning to come here April 4th, I always tell Dabs that was way too early to come in. But we benefit from it. But having Wink still here and Dabs, Kafka and having their same offense, and D.J. being under that system and being able to teach the guys. They went out to Arizona, were able to work together and get familiar with everything. I think that makes everything faster. Speed-wise, those guys are moving out there like -- this league now is offense dominated, in the passing lane, to be able to see that speed is great for us, because we're going to face a lot of guys, they do similar things on offense.
Q. Your match up with Waller. What's it like for a corner to see that guy line up on that side?
ADOREE' JACKSON: It's crazy. His catch radius being able to -- but you can jump a route and D.J. can throw it somewhere else, and he can still be able to do get to it. The speed he has, it's not like -- it's a different type of speed in a sense where he builds up his speed, just running strong. He's trying to run through you, run around you, whatever. But I love it because you never know what you're going to match up with. You can go against a 6'5 receiver or smaller guy. You just get different looks. I think that's what I appreciate most about this offense. You've got a lot of different type of body strengths; you got a lot of different attributes in front of these guys. And having everybody to help us be better as a defense.
Q. Guys who make the move from corner to safety, Logan obviously comes to mind. We saw Nick McCloud playing some safety today. How does he look there and that group as a whole trying to replace Julian?
ADOREE' JACKSON: I think Nick is a man, a Swiss Army knife. A guy that is going to do whatever you ask him to do, he's going to do it at a high level. One thing I can say I appreciate Nick never put his head down, never wavering, never being woe is me, just like, 'coach what do you need me to do'. Him being able to switch around it's great because we can utilize him in different ways. I say I just appreciate Nick for him being unselfish. A lot of guys probably would be mad or whatever it may be, but him just going out there and loving the game, having fun with it, good things happen. It gets him on the field as well.
Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q. Who is faster you or (Jalin) Hyatt?
DARIUS SLAYTON: It has to be me. Love him, great kid, but it has to be me.
Q. We know you're a speed guy. When you're out there with guys who are faster than maybe players you've played with, does it make you notice your speed any more or less when they're out here and it's not just, oh, well, he's the fast guy, these guys are kind of moderate?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I think kind of selfishly as a speed guy, I lean towards other speed guys. I like watching people flying around fast. We've got a lot of them now. Parris (Campbell) was a 4.30 guy. Jeff Smith was a 4.2 guy, low 4.3 guy. And Hyatt obviously could fly. I could fly. You turn on the film, it's a whole lot of flying. I mean, it's fun to watch, fun to play with guys like that.
Q. Was it fun to watch him towards Alabama for five touchdowns?
DARIUS SLAYTON: That was the most fun. I was a fan before he got here.
Q. You've been with Daniel (Jones) basically since the beginning. Can you talk about the growth you've seen in him this spring? Notice he's throwing a lot deeper balls and whatnot. What have you seen from him and how well is he throwing the ball, in your opinion?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I think he's doing great. I think definitely walking away from last season, explosives were the thing we needed more of. I think definitely this spring it's been a conscious effort to push the ball down the field. We have all these guys, like having a bunch of Ferraris, keep them in the garage; take them out to the track. I think that's kind of been the mindset and maybe why you see a little more of the ball going down the field.
Q. Is that what intrigued you the most when you let yourself think about playing against another team, that how does that explosiveness change? Essentially your life on the football field.
DARIUS SLAYTON: For sure. They don't know where it's coming from. You've got me or Jalin or Parris or any of our guys. Darren (Waller) is huge but can fly. It's like you've got all these guys flying at you; you've got to guard somebody. I think for us it, it puts us all in an advantage situation.
Q. What's it like when Darren is in those wide receiver drills?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I kind of like try to stand away from him. You get a picture too close; it's Slay is really small. So don't get too close. (laughter). But he's impressive. I kind of just was telling someone, he's like what it looks like. Somebody asks what's an NFL tight end, you just point to Darren Waller; big, fast, can catch it. He's been a great addition to our team.
Q. Talked about all these new guys. You're not one of them. You know what I mean. What was your confidence level after the season that you would be in this position again to be here?
DARIUS SLAYTON: High. I believe in myself. I believe in my ability. I believe in the work I put in the offseason. Whether we add 10 guys, whether we add all of you guys, I believe I'll find my way on the field.
Q. Sometimes guys want to look elsewhere. It's like the grass sometimes is greener somewhere else. Why was it not for you, do you think?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I think there's a lot in limbo this offseason. D.J. was out there. A lot of us were free agents, that type of deal. But I think once he came back, I think it made all the sense in the world to keep playing with him. Got great chemistry with him. I enjoy being a part of this franchise. So, for me, it just made the most sense to come back.
Q. How much do you think -- teams are reluctant to do that when they lose -- the fact that you have been around a lot of losing. The fact that you guys won last year was it easier for everybody to say, let's bring him back, let's bring him back, let's sign him?
DARIUS SLAYTON: Yes, of course. Because if you win, it tells you have winning players. If you're losing, it's like I think we have winning players but we're losing. Definitely winning helps everybody, the building, us, everybody has confidence that we can go out and win games.
Q. If I made a list, I wish I did before I asked this question. I didn't. But if I made a list of guys who led their teams in receiving yards three of the last four seasons, it wouldn't be a very big list, have like a lot of Pro Bowl type receivers in it. Do you feel you get enough credit for being as good as you are for leading this team for three of the last four years, do you feel like you do -- I don't -- but does it bother that you don't?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I wouldn't say it bothers me because everybody doesn't know what I know. Everybody is not in the Giants building. At the end of the day, you can only judge based on what you see from afar. You see this guy go for a 1,010. Or see a guy go for 100 yards every week, and you go, he's really good. Some of these guys play with nobody. I play with Saquon (Barkley). Where do you think the ball is going first? Not me. (Sterling Shepard) Shep, we had Evan Engram and now Darren. I didn't play with just a bunch of bombs. That's a little annoying because at the end of the day it's not like I've ever been the only person or one person to get the ball, whereas somebody is. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I just play to win. As long as the Giants win, I'll be all right.
Q. What do you think about Jalin Hyatt, what's impressed you most about him so far?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I hate to say speed, but he's fast. Like I said, he can play. You can see the talent. Not just his speed. He has a little viral video of him telling the coach he can route run and stuff. I think he does route run well. He catches the ball well. I think just all the way around he's a very talented player.
Q. What about the mental aspect of his game; do you see a lot of mistakes? What do you see from that?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I wouldn't say any more mistakes than that's abnormal. This offense is tough, I'll be honest with you. Some days I'm like, I think I have a go ball. So that's going to come with being a rookie. I wouldn't say anything more than normal mistakes.
Q. Probably in the offseason when you were a free agent you never stopped using "we," referring to the Giants offending Daniel, slander. Was that a conscious decision for you, or was that just subconsciously you never allowed yourself to separate from being here and being a part of this?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I think the Daniel stuff is subconscious. I could be in Antarctica, and I see a bad tweet, I've got to address it. I think it's just a subconscious thing. I've been here. This is all I know. D.J. is all I know. The Giants are all I know. Definitely probably a subconscious deal. But I did have to, like, remember, like, I'm a free agent sometimes. I tried not to, but yeah.
Q. You talked a lot about the speed and the receiver group, what other skills kind of help add diversity to a room like that that can help you pop off, Jalin pop off, some of your fastest guys?
DARIUS SLAYTON: I think guys like Collin (Johnson) and Isaiah (Hodgins) add a good changeup, bigger guys, big, strong guys that can beat you up. It's not like we just have a bunch of speed guys. We've got big guys; and obviously Darren is an everything, big and fast. A guy like him helps. And all of our backs -- but whenever we get Saquon back and (Matt) Breida and those guys, they help in mismatches.
OT Evan Neal
Q. How has your offseason been and reflecting on your rookie season?
EVAN NEAL: Offseason was good. I got some time to rest. Spent some time with family. Did a little traveling. My rookie year, I learned a lot. Gained a lot of experience. Proud of the way I performed.
Q. You worked this offseason with (former offensive tackle) Willie Anderson. Can you talk about the work he's done with you, what he's taught you? Have you found a stance you are more comfortable with?
EVAN NEAL: Working with Willie was cool. Just gaining a lot of his knowledge, him being a Pro Bowl player, we were playing around with my stance, seeing what's comfortable, seeing what's not comfortable. The stance that I can be functional out of and explode out of and stuff like that.
Q. How much do you think you -- I know you're not going to make excuses -- but your knee injury probably limited you last year. How much was that a factor?
EVAN NEAL: It wasn't a factor. A lot of guys get dinged up, banged up. I wasn't the only one out there dealing with stuff.
Q. How did you get hooked up with Willie Anderson?
EVAN NEAL: It was on Instagram, through Instagram and stuff like that. We've been connected. We knew of each other prior to us working and stuff, but really from social media.
Q. Getting comfortable, how did you work on your stance? How did it change a little bit?
EVAN NEAL: Like I said, just seeing, whether I'm widening out my base or narrowing it or just seeing what's comfortable. You've got to be able to be functional in your stance and be able to move efficiently out of your stance. That's what we were trying to find, find a place that I'm quick out of, that's comfortable for me, a stance that I can get in and repeat rep after rep after rep.
Q. Is that something you're trying out or something that you are now doing?
EVAN NEAL: It's something that it's a continuation. Just going to continue to get work, to continue to work and get better. In every facet of the game, regardless of whether it's my stance or my hands or pad level or whatever.
Q. Is that something you were eager to do? Or when you had success doing stuff technically one way some guys might be resistant, I guess, to make any changes.
EVAN NEAL: I'm open to change. In this league, you've got to be able to adapt. I've done a lot of things that work for me in the past. I've done things that haven't worked so well. This is just another one of those things, me trying something new, just seeing how I can get better.
Q. What about the speed of the game? That's usually a big challenge for a young guy when they get to the NFL. How did that slow down for you? What did you do to help slow that down?
EVAN NEAL: When it comes to that, it's just really reps. It all boils down to reps. The more I went out and played, the more and more comfortable and confident that I got.
Q. (Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) was out here before, he said this year versus last year, this year you actually know and feel what it's like to play in the NFL -- how strong guys are, how fast they are. Did you pick up the same thing once the season ended and come out here knowing now that I felt it, I can come out here and tinker with what I've got?
EVAN NEAL: Nothing is a surprise now. I know what to expect. I know what an NFL-level game is. Just doing what I can to go out there and perform and play well. So, it's definitely good that I got the experience that I did last year, carrying it over into this season.
Q. Did you not feel comfortable in the stance last year? It seems like a big thing to adjust. How did you come about doing that?
EVAN NEAL: I feel comfortable but with anything you want to refine it to the point where you get better results out of it. It wasn't the fact that I was uncomfortable. I was analyzing my game and I was like, okay, maybe if I tweak this part of my stance maybe I'll be able to get to my pass set quicker or maybe I'll be more balanced whenever I take my pass sets. Really, it's just a refining type of thing.
Q. You were also making the transition from the left side. You played the left side the final year of college and switched to the right side. There had to be an adjustment there, no?
EVAN NEAL: Going from a left-handed stance to a right-handed stance, thankfully I'd done it before. I played three different positions at Alabama. It wasn't that big of a deal. The main thing is I feel like it's your hip alignments, stuff like that, just making sure that my hips get back adjusted to the right side. That's the biggest thing.
Q. Forgive me, how much were you working with Willie Anderson? Was it a week-long thing? Was it like months, all offseason? How much time did you spend together?
EVAN NEAL: He came up here, we worked for a few days, watched film, got on the field, worked some different technique things. We have dialogue, we keep in contact, we keep in touch with each other, talk ball. Not everything has to be physical.
Q. So it was up here?
EVAN NEAL: Yes.
Q. Did you stay up here? Have family, where did you train?
EVAN NEAL: I was here. I was there, spending time with my family. Having a little bit of fun. And I was working.
Q. I know the contact has been limited, but what's it been like testing out stuff against guys like Kayvon, who came in last year. How is the iron-sharpening-iron process going?
EVAN NEAL: It's always fun when you go up against another body. It's easy for me to go out and take pass sets against air, but even those walk-through speeds, you get to go through the feel of how you are feeling, just my balance, my base, my hands and my feet, how everything is matching stuff like that. So, it was cool. Even though it's a walkthrough pace at this point, really iron sharpening too much when you walk it through. But it's still good to go through the motion. Get the muscle memory and the reps.
Q. You said you were proud of your rookie season, but there was still some adversity. What are you proud of? The way that you handled it or --
EVAN NEAL: Yeah, I'm sure – adversity is a part of everything. Just battled with some things, whether it be injuries, having to miss time, stuff like that. Playing through bad games and things like that. I just like the way that I was able to be resilient through it all, finish the year strong, didn't complain or anything. Went out there every Sunday and gave it everything that I had. I was really proud of that.
See all the action from OTA No. 5 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.