Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening statement: All right, so we'll progress with our training camp back in pads today, moving around. It'll be kind of an on and off the field type of day due to some of the numbers and availability to kind of work with some guys in some different situations. So we'll be on the field today, progress on our install. We'll start building a little bit more into team periods and kind of the flow of calling the plays from the sideline and get guys lined up and hearing the play in the huddle, break it and get going. We're kind of getting away a little bit of the transition of drill to drill that you guys see in the first part of camp that we operate with. We've got to get in this next couple flow of weeks and just playing some football, getting out there and letting our guys operate. With that being said, I'll answer any questions you have.
Q: Joe, do you sense the guys are champing at the bit to play a real game next Saturday?
A: I think they're at a point in training camp right now that is very natural where they're tired of beating up on each other. I think they're waiting to get to another opponent. I think every team in the league is at that point now, while it seems like it's only been about two weeks of being in here, it's kind of like dog years. They come in every day, it's a little bit of Groundhog Day to get working. They do a good job. They work hard. I think you get to get a certain point where you may not be 100 percent ready for a full 60 minutes but you're at that point where competition is driving you and you really want to go ahead and play against an opponent. I think one thing about the guys is obviously it's kind of like brothers fighting right now, right? They're all trying to get the best of each other and compete with each other and then you get to a point where you want to get outside of the house and no one messes with you.
Q: We saw (Offensive Lineman) Zach Fulton told you guys he was retiring, can you give us any details on that and is there any concern that that's three veterans now that have retired? I know each one is unique, I'm sure.
A: I had a good conversation with Zach last night. He talked with me, (Offensive Line Coach) Rob (Sale), Flats (Offensive Consultant Pat Flaherty), (Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett), (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Dave Gettleman and a few other people in the organization. I would say specifically to Zach's situation, look Zach was doing a good job for us. He's a guy that I didn't want to see go; however, I respect his decision. I'll let him speak completely for himself. I would say that a lot of these older vets, they're at a different point in their life with different things. Zach's a guy that started a business in the offseason, he just had his son. His family is down in Texas. This is an opportunity for him to get back. We talked a lot about just the duration, a career and different things. Without going into everything, look, he indicated to us, hey listen, coming out of where he was last year, your body's in a different point than when you're younger. You get to the point to see do I think I have it for 16 games? And you have to respect when these guys look us in the eye and say, 'listen, I really wanted to see if I could push through it, but I don't think my body's at that point,' and you can leave this point in the game with your health. I'd say all three situations are different. Everyone has a different personal circumstance. I respect all three. We've left the door open for all three. These are three good guys who worked hard for us. Listen, I can't tell you how much respect I have for the players who come in and work hard for us. I know this is a demanding place. I know this is a place that will want to work them, but we're smart about how we work our players and we're very calculated. But at the same time, we have to push our players and train them that when they go on the field, number one, they're safe and, number two, they play effectively. It's our job to help these players produce on the field and put them in position. It's training camp. There's different things that come up along with it, but I think in terms of these three vets, look, it's not unique to the league. I know there's been several vets that are retiring. It's not unique to this year. One thing I'll say that is a little different this year than previous years is there's more people that you call that are on the street trying to get into camps calling, where the agents indicated that they're done playing football. I'd say these are guys with varying ages, but mostly guys that I'd say have six years in the league. You call these guys this time of year normally and everyone's training and waiting to get to training camp. This year's just been a different year. It's our job to know who's available as far as talking about having constant tryouts and going through the personnel and knowing who's available in the league and you never know what happens in your roster and other rosters. That's our due diligence we have to keep on.
In terms of dealing with vets that make decisions like this, the biggest thing is that you have to understand, you've got to respect them as a person first, okay. As you look at your roster, sometimes you don't want to see any of those players walk out. When we sit down and have an honest conversation, you don't really talk much about football. You talk about family. You talk about their experience in the league. You talk about what they want to do long-term in their life. You talk about a lot of different things. I've offered every one of these players an opportunity to actually take a couple of days and think about it before making a career-deciding decision. Each one of them had already told me that, hey, listen, this is something that either they were thinking about throughout the entire process before they came here or had been thinking about the entire process leading into training camp throughout the summer. These are natural thoughts to have. I appreciate everything they've done for the team. They all worked hard for us. I don't want to see any one of them go. We left the door open for all three based on circumstances that if something were to happen, they can return if we have room for them. I'd welcome all three of them back, I really would. These are guys we brought in our program because we think they would help the team. They're three good dudes. I tell you that right now, all three of them are good dudes. In the short exposure I had with Todd (Davis) and Joe (Looney), I mean these guys instantly you can see in the locker room that they made an impact on guys around them, so you appreciate all that stuff about them. Zach's been with us through the spring. He's a guy that's been great in meetings. He's an older guy. When you sit down and have an actual conversation with him, you kind of get deeper and you put football aside and just talk about family and interests and things going on. You really see the depths of the person. You've got to take the helmet off sometimes. We come out here and it's all ball on the field, but what we're working with people. It's a people business. We've got to make sure – I talk all the time about knowing the people. I can't turn around and ask somebody to give me their all and that we're always going to have their back and when they make a decision that's best for them and their family, turn around and think slightly. You've got to respect the decision made and respect every day that they came out here and worked for us, so in the end they have to make a decision for a different path in life and that's it. We support them in anything in the future that comes with them and we'll always be there for them.
Q: Where do you stand with the offensive line considering that two of those guys were part of that unit?
A: Obviously, it's our job to make sure we see who's out there, as well. We need depth on the line. One thing about the way we operate, to be honest with you, is we have to consider the numbers in what we do, which will play a little bit into today's practice. We've got to make sure that we supplement different periods with different things that people need, but ultimately we can't just keep piling reps on top of guys. We have to be smart about how we do it. Sometimes that means trimming down a certain period or changing the way the structure of practice is being done for that day. It's our job to adjust and adapt, and make sure that we play with the players we have available at hand. We'll keep developing all the guys on our roster, that's always our number one mission. These young guys are going to get an opportunity to play a lot of ball this year, a lot of ball through practice and a lot of ball through preseason, a lot of opportunities. It's our job to make sure we put them in a position to take advantage of those opportunities going forward.
Q: How important would it be for you to add a veteran? You said there are a lot for young guys, but you just lost a veteran guy that you did add this offseason.
A: I always say all the time, whether it's a veteran or a young guy, the important thing is to add a good football player that can help this team. We'll work with anybody. If they're going to come in here and they're going to give it their all and they're going to do what we ask them to do, that's a critical part of it right there. It's important to bring in the right kind of people for the program. We've done a good job of bringing in guys who are good, solid people into the locker room and that always helps going forward. In terms specifically of the age, we're just hung up on getting quality players in here. We're not overly concerned with their years of experience in the league.
Q: You mentioned the numbers, outside linebacker seems like a really short-handed position. Any of those guys close to getting back?
A: A few of them are. A lot of them are day by day right now, they're all making progress. We'll see where they're at right now. We're trying to get a few of them through the weekend, see where they're at next weekend. The goal is to get these guys that are coming back to ramp them back up, see if they can play in the Jets game, will we push that back to Cleveland, and the guys that are out here right now getting ready for that game next week because there are a lot of young guys who are going to play some ball this week. We'll treat next week – typically, for the most part, it's not 100 percent – for the most part, we're going to make sure we're giving the young players a strong chance to make an impression early on. We don't have preseason Week Four this year, where typically a lot of young players get to make a lasting impression on the backend of camp, different than previous years now. We've got to make cuts, we've got to cut five after the first game and five more after the second. I want to make sure that we don't move on from a player without giving him an opportunity to go out there and play as much football as he can and make a strong impression.
Q: Joe, it seemed like last year (Wide Receiver) David Sills (V) was right on the border of making the team and then he gets hurt that last training camp practice. It seems like he's back out here making a lot of plays again. What was the last year like working with him, telling him to stay positive? Is this the same guy you saw last training camp?
A: Well, I'd say first off relative to this training camp, he's making a lot of plays for us. He's doing a good job, he comes out, works hard every day. Sills is a guy who does everything you ask and he does it 100 percent. He's definitely a guy you've got to tell, 'Hey, slow it down a little bit.' This guy's commitment off the field in terms of what he's done in the offseason, basically this guy followed (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) around the country. Wherever Daniel was, he was going to be there to catch passes. That's someone who you can tell has really invested in himself to give every shot he has. Last season in terms of him being on the IR deal, the message is that he's gotta stay positive. You know, we're going to work with you, get you healthy, get you back on the field, give you an opportunity to compete, stay mentally engaged, stay involved with the team, keep being a good teammate and that's something that he definitely did. He was in here every day with the strength staff, the rehab staff, smiling, good energy, challenging other guys. I know it hurt him because of the work he put in on the front end to get out here and compete. He did a good job for us. It was very unfortunate the way it happened last year. Based on the way he's playing, we'll keep him going forward.
Q: Was he on track to make the team last year in your mind?
A: I'm not going to get into the final roster decisions from last year, but I'd say at that point he gave himself a lot of opportunities to compete.
Q: Tell me more about your running group here and what (Running Back) Devontae (Booker) has been looking like and what (Running Back) Corey (Clement) has been looking like.
A: Yeah, they all have a different skill set and they're all doing a good job on improving. The running backs are all very … at times of how you use them. Some guys have different skill sets that pick-up pass game with more early down runs which we can tackle downhill. Right now, we're kind of finalizing all that out. One thing I've seen from all those guys is they're improving and it's not just when the ball is in their hands and how they're making cuts and making that reach, but it's the blitz pickup, it's the scans, it's the third down protections, getting out when they have to, it's understanding multiples on the offense. These things all add up when they're playing full speed. They key is with a running back, the guy playing …
Q: To follow that, we see (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) out there, where is he at right now?
A: Yeah, we're going to have conversations on a daily basis about his rehab and conversations on a weekly basis at times on where we think he is coming up. In terms of the timetable, I say it all the time to you guys, I'm just being flat out honest, I'm not a doctor. I let the medical team and they tell me a guy is good to go and put him on the field, I know he's good to go. Sometimes we'll have guys come out and they'll say, 'Hey, we got to limit this guy to these periods only today and phase him up' and you see a lot of that day by day. In terms of a player like Saquon and a timetable coming back, he's making daily progress. I know it sounds like a broken record, but that's important for us to see coming off an injury like this. You want to make sure that it's not push forward and take a step back.
Q: Where I was going with the other running backs, the non Saquon (running) backs is with Saquon's status not really known at the moment, do you ramp these other guys up in a different way than you normally would?
A: No, we're getting them all ready to play if that's your question. This doesn't change the course of action right here, what we're doing. Everyone's practicing, getting ready to play, we're going to keep more than one running back, that's no secret. I'll keep as many other quality players as we can. Running backs have to have roles beyond just offense, they're the guys that cover certain guys during the week. They have to have early down run value, they have to add a certain kind of value. Running backs are valuable, running backs … and kind of outside linebackers. Those bodies and just team building. You look at these guys that have a role on offense or defense, they have a role in situational football, third down or red zone, but then they also have the kicking game role as well which is important. We only take 46 guys to a game, their role is going to be more than one.
Q: How do you keep tabs on Saquon? Do you kind of peek over during practices? Do you find yourself looking over there?
A: There are times I look over. Over on that part of the field, I'll look over and watch him. In terms of watching if there's something specific he's trying to show me, the highlights of the things he's done, we'll go through that together. Then we have daily meetings. He's working hard.
Cornerback Rodarius Williams
Q: Quite a day again for you, Rodarius. Talk about how camp is going for you.
A: Camp is going well. Just showing up and learning from everyone every day. Each day I'm learning something new from coaches and from people in the room. Just taking it day by day.
Q: (Defensive Back Coach) Jerome Henderson mentioned yesterday that you're always telling him you want to go against the first team. He said you've got to calm down, you're still a rookie, but today you got a chance to go against those guys. How much of that is a part of your personality, wanting to go against the best and how do you feel like you did?
A: It just put a fire inside me competitively and I think every DB had the same fire underneath their butt in the room. We're a deep group, so everybody is looking for their one opportunity. Every day, I just show up and take advantage of whatever opportunity I get. I'm in Coach's ear like, 'Coach, I'm ready.' Whenever my moment comes, I'm going to take advantage of it.
Q: Take us through that interception. What do you make of that? What were you thinking on that play?
A: Mainly I was just thinking read the little hook and as soon as I brought up the hands just turn the jets on and undercut it and look for the ball. That's something that we go over in film every day on the deep over routes and stuff like that because we're going to get in guys' faces and play man, so just gotta do what Coach says and come out with a reward.
Q: Rodarius, given the personalities in the secondary and in the DB room, do you think you need to be as vocal and as confident as you are, that if you go out there and you're quiet you kind of get swallowed up with all those big guys?
A: Oh, definitely. I feel like in this game, you definitely gotta go out there and show guys you're not scared. You go out there quiet as a mouse, they're going to feel like they've got the upper hand on you, so I'm definitely going out there even though I'm a rookie and showing them, like, you gotta beat me at the end of the day.
Q: On that (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) interception to Shepard, did you get a hand on that pass?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: A lot of rookies say that they're kind of spinning, that things are moving kind of fast. How do you feel?
A: I'm definitely not where I want to be, but we definitely take it each day at a time and getting better. Each day, I go in the film room and I don't only watch the good plays, I watch every play that my technique is bad and stuff like that. There's mental errors. Just learning from (CB) James (Bradberry) and learning from (CB) Adoree' (Jackson), small technique issues that I'm working on every day.
Q: What did you think when you found out that you guys were going to be spending a few days going against Cleveland?
A: It's awesome, man. It's going to be the first time next week getting to see my brother. I'm really excited to get up there with him, watch the work that he put in. Definitely going to be learning from him some more and trying to take my game as far as I can.
Q: When was the last time you guys were on the same field? Were you guys high school teammates?
A: Yeah, since high school. Definitely offseason training like that, but definitely going to be a thrill to see him on the field.
Q: What was offseason training like? Since you got drafted, did you guys train together?
A: Yeah, we train together every offseason, just working with each other.
Q: You gonna give your receivers some tips on how to beat (Browns Cornerback) Greedy (Williams)?
A: No, you know, it's good with the Giants. We'll deal with that later.
Q: Are you going to ask (Head) Coach (Joe Judge) to play offense for a play?
A: I ain't moving up the chart that far, but definitely I'm enjoying this process. I'm happy with where I'm at and I'm happy the Giants gave me this opportunity, and every day putting one foot in front of the other.
Q: Have you and Greedy talked smack about whose team is better?
A: Oh, yeah. We're definitely going to talk stuff every day. Even right now in camp, I'm letting him know like, yeah, I'm here.
Q: What are you going to tell him about today?
A: Oh, he already knows what's coming. He already knows. But it's definitely good to have a brother over there who everybody knows. They know Greedy is going to make plays and now it's my turn, simple as that.
Q: Is there a part of you as a sixth-round pick that does feel like you have to come out here and prove yourself?
A: I feel like even if I was a first rounder, it's the same mentality. At the end of the day, it's me versus me. I'm out there in control of what I do on the field, so every day put one foot in front of the other.
Q: 'Greedy' is kind of a name that jumps off the page. Do you ever have the urge to pick up a nickname of your own?
A: Oh, yeah. We're definitely moving in the right direction right now, but I'm proud of the confidence he had and like I said, I'm in the loop playing now. All I can do is just go up from here.
Q: What's your nickname?
A: Ain't got one yet. We're all in the room working on something fly.
Q: You sure you want to leave it to those guys to come up with a nickname for you?
A: I trust those guys. I feel like they're going to give me something kind of swaggy.
Q: Just don't let it be 'Generous.'
A: Oh, no, no, no.
Q: Does your mom think you're a better corner than Greedy?
A: I don't know. It's a tough question, I feel like you just have to ask her about it. She'd probably say both of those guys are my babies.
Center Nick Gates
Q: You're not retiring, are you?
A: No, not yet.
Q: What do you make of all that?
A: It's personal things, I get it. When you're a nine, ten-year guy, you know, when there's personal reasons. I wish him the best and he's a good guy and we'll see. I mean I know (Head Coach Joe) Judge said he's welcome back whenever under the circumstance.
Q: Is it, as a teammate, unsettling not knowing who's going to be there to your right or left when these things happen like it's going to happen again tomorrow?
A: You can't really worry about that. You've just got to take each day as it is and keep moving forward and we're here. You've got to do what you've got to do, just play football. It's a business, usually. Guys get in and out usually and sometimes you don't really know who you're going to play next to.
Q: I know the five starters are young guys, 24 or younger. You guys are kind of counting on the older guys who are the backups to provide some leadership experience, answer some questions and suddenly, they're all leaving. What do you guys do there?
A: We're a young group, but I think the young guys have got to step up and be leaders and just got to take care of each other and keep coming to work every day and working. Young guys have just got to step up, that's all it is.
Q: How do you like the progress of the offense so far?
A: We're doing good. We have a long way to go, and we have what, four more weeks of camp or something like that? Hopefully, we can get that right. I like our offense.
Q: What did you think when (Guard) Shane (Lemieux) got carted off?
A: It was scary. Luckily, it wasn't anything major and he can come back hopefully in a couple more days. I was worried there for a little bit, but I'm glad he's alright.
Q: You see a guy go off like that, they usually don't come back.
A: Yeah, usually.
Q: Does it seem odd that they make everyone wear knee braces and he gets a knee injury?
A: Yeah, I mean, knee braces don't protect against everything. It's kind of like a safety thing, just kind of help the guys just in case, you know. It happens, I've seen it in college, we had to wear knee braces all the time and guys still get ACLs and stuff like that.
Q: A bunch of receivers met up with (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) throughout the offseason in a couple of different places and if I'm not wrong, you and maybe (Guard) Will Hernandez and a couple offensive linemen joined the party at one time.
A: Yeah, there was about, I think, five of us down in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was like (Tackle Andrew) Drew (Thomas), (Guard) Shane (Lemieux), (Guard) Will (Hernandez), me, (Guard) Chad (Slade), (Tackle) Matt (Peart) and I think I might be missing one, but yeah.
Q: But why? You guys aren't running routes or blocking anybody.
A: It doesn't matter, just team comradery, you know, chemistry. It's good to get out and have a good time with the guys and we went and worked, but there's still an aspect to going and having fun with the guys and just bonding and stuff like that and being around each other.
Q: What was it like filling in at guard today?
A: I like guard, I've always liked guard. It's like a natural thing, so I enjoy it.
Q: How does the o-line react to a day like today where practice is kind of sloppy, false starts, etc.? How do you guys regroup from that? I know it's only one day of camp.
A: Yeah, it wasn't good. We've got to do a lot better than we did. Some days will be up, some days are going to be down, and you've just got to keep an even keel and just keep moving forward.
Q: Has it gotten to the point in camp yet where you've got the first preseason game on your mind or is that still a ways away?
A: That's still a ways away. I don't even know. It's next weekend, right? We've still got a ways away. We'll get there. We've still got more things as an offense that we've got to install and still trying to get down the exact technique that (Offensive Line) Coach Rob (Sale) wants. We've got a little bit of a ways to go before we start thinking about that.
Q: Do you find games and scrimmages are a break from the normal training camp?
A: Definitely. Games, when it comes to games, it's different. Practice is supposed to be hard and (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge makes it hard for you, so the games are easy when it comes to that.
Q: You haven't had a scrimmage when you were here, right?
A: Yeah, we scrimmaged last offseason in the stadium, maybe two of them. But we didn't have any preseason games, so you gotta go live at any chance you can.
Q: But that was obviously amongst yourselves?
Q: When you go to Cleveland and New England, it's different.
A: Oh, yeah. Definitely. But I like doing that, it makes some good competition, and we'll see what different guys have and practice your stuff.
Q: What's different about the technique that you're trying to get down?
A: Just footwork stuff. Just different ways to block certain plays and if the guy's in the three-technique, three-tech or, just different ways of moving your feet, but if he's lined up there and vice versa.
Q: Matching up the technique with how the defense is lined up?
A: Yeah, exactly. Just still learning which play they're doing, which technique – which footwork. Offensive line technique is kind of…
Q: Do you look forward to the idea of the fans being back in the stands being the center, making the calls? I know you guys played in front of some fans last year on the road, but the idea like on Wednesday night at that Fan Fest, it could be noisy. Is that something that you kind of look forward to, to be able to work that out earlier rather than later?
A: Definitely. I know we'll probably use that practice before we go down there and we'll probably have noise and stuff in the speakers and we'll go out there on a silent count. I think it'll be good for me to get to do it because I didn't get to do it last year. But I think it was also nice for me last year to not have fans and us to be able to just talk things out and get comfortable with everybody and now we have the fans, so we'll do the silent count more as we get used to that.
Q: Was there a time where you had to go to a silent count last year?
A: Nah, not yet. With 25 percent capacity, it wasn't too loud.
Kicker Graham Gano
Q: Three veterans retired this week, have you seen that before? Is that unusual?
A: I think it happens during camps. I mean you'd have to ask them, I can't answer for them, but everybody's got their own reasons. I really don't know. I mean, I've seen it before playing for a while. That kind of stuff happens in camp.
Q: So as a teammate, it doesn't turn your head when that many guys do that?
A: No. I mean, you're sad to see them go. They're some great guys, but everybody's got their own individual reasons. You love them and you're happy you got to spend some time with them.
Q: Graham, how different is this for you compared to last year in terms of your focus? Whether you had anything to prove or not, I've got to imagine going into this year you have a certain plan how you want to get ready for the season?
A: I'm excited to have the fans back. I think that's going to be fun. I was just thankful to be playing again. I was just thankful for the opportunity last year. I had the knee surgery, I felt confident in my abilities, but I think the biggest thing I was just thankful to play the game again and that's kind of how I feel. I think I'm just going to feel like that from here on out. I'm just having fun playing the game. I feel blessed to have the opportunity and this is such an amazing organization. Being up here in New York, New Jersey and being with all the guys has been a lot of fun.
Q: How different is this offseason coming back here?
A: Yeah, I think it was just like a week ago when it was like the anniversary of me being released from the Panthers.
Q: They didn't send you a card here, right?
A: No, I thought about sending them one. A little anniversary card, a little thank you. But yeah, I was thankful for my time there. I just love playing this game and any time you get a chance to play a sport for a living is a blessing. Yeah, this offseason was nice knowing where I was going to be.
Q: How do you improve on it or do you just want to have the same year?
A: I just take it kick by kick honestly. I try not to put any pressure on myself and just come out every day trying to get better. I think that's the goal for all of us. We just want to get better every single day, but that's been my focus, just coming out here and putting my best foot forward daily and just trying to get better every single day.
Q: Do (Head Coach Joe) Judge and (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas) McGaughey kind of leave you alone because they know you're a veteran and you know what you're doing? Or do they coach you up?
A: I think you know, when it's me, they say something. I'm in communication with them every day. There's a lot that goes into special teams in general, so I'm in there in all the meetings and I'm sure you've seen coach kick as well. He knows what he's talking about and he can hit an onside kick with the best of them. Yeah, it's great. We've got a lot of experience on the staff on special teams so that was definitely intriguing for me coming in here last year and seeing the importance of it. That definitely helps and they were definitely a big help for me.
Q: What's with that little sidespin he's got going on in there on the onside kick?
A: Oh, he's got all kinds of onside kicks. I don't know. I'd have to see it. He'll tell you, too. He's pretty good at it.
Q: When you're kicking off and you see a guy like (Wide Receiver) John Ross with his speed back there, what goes through your mind?
A: Just don't want to make him feel bad when I catch him, you know? I'm glad he's on my team. I had some speed back in the day, but ideally, I wouldn't want to tackle any of those guys. Yeah, we've been working on tackling drills in here as well.
Q: It's a little bit different this year, you guys are scheduled to practice with both the Browns and the Patriots for a couple of days. Is that something because there's fewer preseason games or what's the value behind it?
A: Honestly, I'm not sure. You'd have to ask Coach about that, but our goal is to enjoy it. I've done it quite a few times just being able to, you know the saying 'iron sharpens iron' and it's nice to be able to do that with specialists from the other teams and get that little bit of competition in and it's a nice change of scenery to go somewhere else. I think it makes everybody better, competition always makes everyone better.
Q: Do you find yourself when you're in that situation just spending time with the other kickers?
A: It's a lot like a fraternity. I wasn't in one in college, but it's like a kicker fraternity, so everybody knows each other. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing those guys both in New England and Cleveland, so that'll be fun. Yeah, you just pick each other's brains and try to make each other better.
View the top photos from Friday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.