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Quotes: Coach Brian Daboll, TE Darren Waller, T Evan Neal, CB Deonte Banks

Head Coach Brian Daboll

Q: Can I ask you about linebacker Bobby Okereke? Since he's come into the locker room and everything like that, sometimes guys are a little reluctant to be leaders, speak up and what not. What have you noticed with him in terms of his leadership and how he has taken in the locker room with the younger guys?

A: He's been a true pro. I think he has fit in really well, not just with the defense, but with the offensive guys as well. Been a good leader for us in a short time with OTA's. Usually, when you play that position, the middle linebacker position, you have some leadership traits about you and he certainly does.

Q: I know you have a lot of football you have to get to in the next couple of weeks. When the heat and the elements are like today, what kind of precautions do you take to keep an eye out on how guys are feeling?

A: We met on it last week, just getting ready for this week. So, I think the training staff, nutritionist, sports science, we have tried to get them to a spot these last few days where they are doing what we need them to do to try to stay as healthy as they can with all this heat. That's training camp. We will keep an eye on everybody and make sure we have the cooling tents and all these different drinks to help them stay hydrated. I'm sure they will be sweating a lot out there today.

Q: When they're actually on the field it's just a matter of if you don't feel right, speak up?

A: Absolutely. We put in water breaks. Two or three of them at times and take the helmets off during walk-through, just to let the heat get out a little bit. Try to manage them the best we can.

Q: Is there a temperature where it's like okay or is it humidity, air quality?

A: Those guys do a great job, the training staff. They do a fantastic job. The health and safety of our players is always first and foremost. We will go out there and try to get a good day in. 

Q: What led to evening practices? What is the purpose of these?

A: That is something we have talked about in these meetings. We're going to do that a few times. Plus, it gives them a little bit more recovery time, kind of on the third day. And it's a different feel for the day. So, you know, there will be times during the season we have different schedules. I thought that that was a good thing to do.

Q: Guard Shane Lemieux worked on center in the offseason, kinda on his own, he said. Then he came to you guys and said, 'I want to try to do this now.' What do you guys think of that?

A: It's good. You try to create as much value as you can for yourself as a player. You know, not just Shane, but there's a few other guys who are playing all three interior positions and the more you can do the more you can do in this business.

Q: People get excited when you draft a rookie high, especially at the receiver position. Is there a learning curve? And does someone like Jalin (Hyatt) really need to show you that they are ready to play at a higher level?

A:  Regardless of the position, when you're a rookie, there's always an adjustment period. I coached receivers early in my career for six years or somewhat. Drafted quite a bit of receivers. They're all different, just like every player. Every position is different. So, the job of the coaching staff is, again, to get these guys as prepared as we can. To get them to buy into the program and do the right thing. Certainly, a lot of stuff to learn. That's why we are here to try and help them the best we can. He's got to put the work in, too.

Q: A lot of your rookies got hurt last year during camp. I think you said you would look into the on-boarding program. Have you made any decisions?

A: No, that is something we talk about as well. It's just, these rookies, it's tough, not to make an excuse for any of them. It's just, it is what it is. They go right from their season, right to the combine, right to working out for 40-yard dashes and vertical jumps and all of those type of things. They have their pro days, but don't really get a full off-season of training in. Then, they get drafted or they sign as a free agent, then they're right into the program. So, usually from year one to year two, the second-year players, it's a little bit of a different feel for those guys. But it's the same every year. It's been the same every year since I've been in the league, and we will do the best we can.

Q: How do you see wide receiver Jalin Hyatt fitting in this offense with all the things he can do?

A: It's going to be up to him to go out there and show what he can do. We have had two days. We had an OTA, but we've had two days. He has a lot of work ahead of him, just like everybody on the team does. Everybody will earn their role, whatever that may be.

Q: What makes the offense he ran at Tennessee so different than this one?

A: I wouldn't say it's really that different. I think Josh (Heupel) does a fantastic job there. He runs a lot of good football plays. He executed well, Jalen did. Everybody runs a different offense, it's not exactly the same. Josh has had a pretty dynamic offense ever since he has coached.

Q: Any change in defensive tackle Rakeem (Nunez-Roches)'s status?

A: No, he's making progress. He's not going to do anything today. But hopefully he is getting close.

Q: What did you think of that collision with cornerback Rodarius Williams and wide receiver David Sills yesterday?

A: Yeah, I mean, it's football. Like we talked about the other day, you try your best to avoid contact, particularly without pads on. Even when you do have the pads on, you want to take care of the guys. There will always be some of that.

Q: Any injuries coming out of yesterday or guys you are dialing back?

A: Yeah, I'd say Geo (Gervarrius Owens) will do walk-throughs, just got a little bruise that's still pretty stiff. Then, Cole (Beasley) got kneed in the quad. So, we will give him a rest day. 

Q: Any of the PUP guys coming off or close to coming off?

A: I'd say they are all at different areas. Nothing today. Getting closer, though.

Q: Anyone in particular getting closer?

A: All of them.

Q: With tight end Darren Waller, I know it's early, how has what you thought he would be coming in here stacked up to the real thing?

A: You've watched tape, he's a good football player. He's been productive in this league and the biggest thing is getting him acclimated to our program. You always have a great amount of respect for people who have produced in this league, and he certainly has. There has been good give and take. You know, just trying to string them together. But he's been a good player in this league for a while and he's done a nice job since he's been here.

Q: Is it tough to get receivers to buy into, like, when you have Parris Campbell in the slot, when you have him lined up at running back. What are those conversations like about this is how we are going to use you? Have you done it before? Are you comfortable with it?

A: Yeah, we have a bunch of really good guys that are team guys. They are usually willing to try anything. So, the guys that we think have position flexibility and can handle it mentally, we mix and match them. I think they have fun with it a little bit. Parris is a great example of that. An ultimate team guy that has been a really good addition for us. Happy we have him. 

Q: You always talk about focusing on today. What have you learned about the todays you have had so far through spring and the early stages of this?

A: Today, it's really hot. I don't go too far back, you know that. Try to go out there and have a good one today.

Q: You seem like the type of coach that wants to tap into the guys, emotionally and mentally, where they are at. How big of a role is that when guys are going through ups and downs, whether it is early or knowing when that happens to be on it?

A: I think it's big. I think, again, I wasn't always as empathetic as I try to be right now. This is a tough time of the year for a lot of players. There's only so many roster spots that are available. You really have to try to just focus on today. For young players, sometimes that's hard. So, again, getting to know them. Giving them opportunity and rolling guys, that's our job as a coaching staff. But, you can start drowning a little bit if you start thinking too far ahead. You try your best as a coach to just keep it day-by-day, focus on the things that you can control. And when you get opportunities, make the most of them.

Q: Are there times where negative plays almost deserve more attention from you guys than positive plays this time of year heading toward the season?

A: I think all plays are teaching plays in training camp, whether they're on a play that wasn't executed properly or a really good play. I think as a coach you have to be able to teach off the ones that, you know, that you don't go the way you want them to go. Then, also give them praise when things are going well. I would say it's a delicate balance. But I think the players know the coaches are really trying to help them improve their craft. They buy in.

Q: Going back to Darren (Waller) a little bit. He talked today about the route freedom he has had. How have you seen him respond to that?

A: He's a great pro. We have good conversations. I would say he has really fit in with the group. I think guys have a lot of respect for him, not just for the player that he's been in this league, but the person he is, some of the stuff he's been through. He's a really mature, young, not young man, I guess he is young still. He's been a really great teammate. Really happy we have him.

Re: more on freedom in running routes

A: We run certain routes and if the guys can do them, are able to read coverages and make adjustments, we'll try to use them any way we can.

Tight End Darren Waller

Q. What's your relationship like thus far with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and how far can you guys take it?

A: It's a relationship that's gelling. We've got a few months under our belt of staying in touch and just open dialogue, ego removed. We can tell each other what we're thinking, what he may want, things I've been comfortable doing and things I like doing and find a midpoint or be able to just learn about each other. I feel like it's paying off and just trying to keep going day by day and let the results take care of themselves.

Q. What do you like about him as a quarterback?

A: I just like his even-keeled nature. First and foremost, he just has a calm spirit about him. It's not too high or too low, it's staying in the middle. You can tell by the way that he's navigated so many adversities in the noise of his career, that that's something he's focused on, and it's paying dividends for him now.

Q. You and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) have been open about kind of that open communication and open dialogue when it comes to your fit with the Giants. What's that look like just these past few days of camp?

A: It looks like certain freedom on certain routes to where it doesn't have to be super rigid or a way that it's drawn up in the playbook, but really put your personality and your feel into how you sell certain routes and coming up with ideas of concepts that he's used with tight ends in the past. I can offer things that I've done in the past like, 'Hey, let's try this.' It's something that we can bounce ideas, but also know there's a standard of being prepared and knowing what you're doing and growing your knowledge in order for you to participate in that dialogue. I feel like it's fair. It allows me to learn but also allows me to have input.

Q. That freedom that you talked about and giving that input, is there something the last two days that you can pinpoint as an example of that that we might've seen?

A: I mean, it's not a major detail, but it's the way you may set up routes on a third-and-short situation to where the paper and the playbook may tell you, 'Hey, you do this, and you run into this landmark and do this,' but you can put your own little sauce on it and get open. It's encouraged as long as the fundamentals are there, and your knowledge of what the defense is doing, and your timing and the concept is there. So, it's little things like that. It's not anything drastic, but it's just really small details of a route that you probably can't even notice.

Q. Some of your teammates, I don't know if they've started a fan club for you yet, but some of their comments about you have been quite over the top in some ways. (Safety) Xavier McKinney saying you're basically unguardable, I think (wide receiver) Parris Campbell was saying the other day that you're a freak of nature. Have you heard that before from teammates, and what's the vibe you're getting from these guys here about all this love you're getting?

A: I mean, it's an honor for my teammates to speak of me in that way because these are guys that do it at a high level and have done it for a really long time. I guess it's just for my size and my weight and I guess the way that I run and the multitude of routes that I try to be comfortable running, and a lot of guys don't necessarily do that. But it's just coming in with a mindset of I don't want to be limited in any part of my game. Whatever they want to line me up and run at, I want to be able to do that and be effective at it and not just be like, 'Oh man, I'm not really that good at that,' or, 'I can't do that.' I want to be able to do everything and just present myself as a viable option to the quarterback every time I run a route. That's really the goal. Keep it as simple as that. Every single rep I go out there, make myself presentable. If he wants to throw it there, he can throw it there and throw it to me. So that's just how I approach it.

Q. You're comfortable with freak of nature? You like that?

A: I'll take it. Sure.

Q. I guess it's a compliment, right? I'm sure it's a compliment.

A: Right. Yes, sir.

Q. You talk about the routes you're running. Even from day one, I know contact is supposed to be a gradual thing, but you were making catches in traffic, you had one on the goal line, you took a pretty good hit early. Did that almost help you get into this camp even quicker than you normally would? You kind of like that so far early on, that you're really in it, it seems like, in every drill.

A: Yeah, as you get acclimated to the different stages of football every year, the contact kind of wakes you up and reminds you, 'Okay, this is what it's about,' and it raises just your overall adrenaline and your energy. So, I feel like it does help you with getting back acclimated. I know the guys on defense are just trying to make plays on the ball and it's been competitive so far. I like what I'm seeing and the energy I get from them lining up against them. It's been a lot of fun, and they definitely raise my level of play.

Q. A former teammate of yours, (Raiders running back) Josh Jacobs and a current teammate of yours (running back) Saquon Barkley, both running backs, have been frustrated throughout this offseason about their lack of positional value and contract offers they were trying to work on. What is your viewpoint on that? You've seen how important Josh was to the Raiders and how important Saquon is to the Giants, but I just want to know what your opinion is as a veteran guy who kind of follows the entire league.

A: I feel like there are two sides to it and there's truth on both sides. With the running back position, it's like, those guys take a beating. I haven't been around Saquon during the course of a season, but being around Josh, he takes a beating as far as he would run every week during the season. If you're in the front office, you take that into account and the beating that they take, you don't really know how long they may last or what may happen, but also, you can't just go out on the street and just find anybody that's like a Josh Jacobs or a Saquon Barkley, right? Those guys bring such value. Both sides have something to stand on and I don't necessarily know a solution, but I know that they have a little bit of merit on both sides. It's a tough situation – hopefully going forward running backs can feel valued and front offices can also make decisions they feel like are right.

Tackle Evan Neal

Q: What did it mean for you to see (tackle) Andrew's (Thomas) extension? What can you tell us about him coming into work that day?

A: I saw him walk in with a three-piece suit so I kind of knew what time it was. Just extremely happy for him, he's came a long way through all the adversity, all the hard work he's put in. I can't think of anyone that is more deserving than him, so I am extremely happy for him.

Q: You talk so much about your stance and all of that throughout the offseason. Are you settled with that now and how much more comfortable are you being at right tackle now two years in a row?

A: I feel very comfortable. I felt great out there the past two days. Just going to use the rest of camp to continue to hone in on those skills, just make small improvements every single day. I feel like I am never going to be a finished product, I am just going to take each day to get better and better.

Q. Obviously, Andrew is a couple years ahead of you, right? Another first round pick. As good as he is and as good of a teammate as he is to you, is it sometimes difficult to always hear, 'Well Andrew did this in his second year, so we are expecting Evan to do this in his second year,' you know you are not the same person or the same player. How does that manifest itself with you? Is it really good but is there a little bit of a pressure that comes with it as well?

A: I don't think about that at all. Andrew Thomas is himself and I am Evan Neal. I'm just going to focus on being the best Evan Neal that I can be. Andrew is a great player and he's a great role model for me as well. I'm just going to continue to get better every single day and control what I can control.

Q. Does the fact that there is evidence from him of what can happen in year two, does that help you, motivate you, like there is a path there? Rookies are supposed to get better like he did.

A: Just to see somebody in your room make the improvements that he's made, especially in the same position group, it's just good to be around for sure, but I am confident in myself to make the jump that I need to because I know the work that I put in day in and day out. I'm just excited.

Q. What about the fact that he cashed in with a big contract, as a 24-year-old? That's a nice thing out there for a young player like you, right?

A: That's an extreme blessing for him (tackle Andrew Thomas) and his family. He's put the work in, he's put in the hours. He deserves every penny of it so I'm happy for him.

Q. I know camp's only a few days old and there is a long way to go, but as an offensive lineman do you start to get a feel for what this offense can be and particularly how explosive? If that line holds up for them, you've got some really explosive players on that offense this year.

A: Like you said, it still is early. We are only going on day three. We haven't even been in pads yet but as an offense we have been functioning really well from the way I see it as an offensive line. We have been practicing well so I feel like it's just us continuing to get better every single day and to make the small improvements. Those are going to add up and going to pay us off huge dividends in the long haul. I feel like the sky is the limit for our offense and our team. 

Q. For you in particular, with some of the offseason work that you clearly did, do you just come into this camp with maybe a little more confidence?

A: The confidence has always been there. It's just a matter of the repetitions. This is year two. I've seen everything, I've been in the building for a while. I'm just going out there and doing what I have been doing my entire life which is playing football.

Q. Where did you improve the most last year in your opinion?

A: Like I said, it's still early man. We are still in training camp, but I definitely can say I am in a lot better shape, I feel a lot healthier. I'm a lot more comfortable in the offense as well for sure.

Q. What about your goals for improving? Where would you like to continue to excel?

A: In every facet of the game. Whether it's pass protections, run blocking, I want to be the absolute best that I can be and it's going to take one day at a time. Putting the work in one day at a time, that's what training camp is for and it's going to lead into the season.

Q. You just mentioned you're a lot healthier. People often forget that when a guy has an injury that they come back and play but they are not necessarily entirely healthy. How did you feel like you were playing? Did you feel like you were making a lot of progress last year before that MCL injury? Did that linger at all during the course of the season?

A: Last year was last year, man. I'm really focused on the 2023 season. I did feel like it made it more challenging for me because I had never got hurt during the season and had to play through it. So, I definitely feel like that was a factor but I'm not going to make any excuses. That's the past, we are in the present now.

Q. You put in all this offseason work; the pads are going on Tuesday. How eager are you to get that point of training camp?

A: I am extremely eager, but that day is going to get here when it gets here – so I'm just going to focus on practice today and just getting better today. 

Q. Did you cut weight? How much weight did you cut getting in shape this offseason?

A: Probably about 10 or 15 pounds. I definitely put on more muscle and got more lean. I weighed in whenever we got here for training camp, I was 345. My final weight was 353, so I shed a few pounds, but I put on a lot more muscle for sure.

Q. What do you think you did differently in your regiment this offseason from a training standpoint to do that? Or did you just do more of what you already had been doing?

A: Pretty much just been doing more of what I've always been doing. I've always worked out hard, I've always trained extremely hard but one thing I can say is I was a lot more conscious about my diet. I hired a chef, and it was really helpful in terms of just what I was putting in my body. Just having meals there for me so that way I didn't have to think about eating, it was already there ready to go for me so that was a big help.

Cornerback Deonte Banks

Q. How do you feel like your first couple of days of camp has gone? And if a rep hasn't gone well, how have you been able to quickly bounce back?

A: I'm just getting acclimated. It's only day three, and I've only had two practices, but I feel like I'm doing good. As far as the reps go, I've got short term memory so, 'next play mentality.'

Q. What's the biggest difference between a training camp practice with the Giants and any other training camp that you've ever done?

A: Probably how up-tempo it is (and) the speed of it. That's probably about it.

Q. Are you looking forward to the time that you get to see how you measure up against your teammate?

A: Right now, I'm just taking it a day at a time. I'm just ready to practice tonight. 

Q. You mentioned the up-tempo pace of the camp so far, but this is the first time that you had full speed, 11-on-11 reps. What do you sense from the speed of the receivers that you've gone against so far?

A: Like you said, it's only been a small sample, so I haven't really gotten the hang of it. Like, I can't really speak on it too much.

Q. What are you working on specifically this camp? Where are you trying to get better?

A: Just my technique on the field, mainly.

Q. Is it tough for a receiver to beat you? Do you think you always can do the job and take care of things?

A: I feel like I can challenge anything. I can always hold my own.

Q. Do you like the challenge more than anything when it's one-on-one?

A: Yes sir. Of course.

Q. What's been the early feedback from Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson and the other coaches?

A: They just told me to keep going.  

Q. Have they told you anything that's stuck out so far?

A: No ma'am. 

Q. You come in as a rookie and you get a big playbook. What is your process for learning a playbook?

A: First, I take notes. I take notes on my stuff and learn what I can learn from my position, and then I try to see the bigger picture, and see what everybody else is doing. Also, ask vets what they'd do or how they'd look at this or things like that. 

Q. Has anything surprised you about how complex or deep the playbook is?

A: No sir. Not at all. 

Q. What do you consider your greatest strength and your biggest weaknesses as you start your rookie year? What would you like to improve one?

A: Just trying to get my body acclimated and getting my mental acclimated to what's going on.

Q. Is there something that you feel like you really need to work on as a cornerback to be a top-level NFL player?

A: I'm just focused on getting better every day. I only can control what I can control.  

Q. What can a defensive back work on in training camp to help create turnovers during the season?

A: Ball drills, getting on the jug (machine) and working on seeing the ball and catching it.

Q. In the team drills, are you conscious of the opportunities to create a turnover?

A: If you're in position, you're always just trying to make a play. It's the best that you can do.

Q. Do you think that that's a strength of yours?

A: I just try to be better every rep.



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