Head Coach Joe Judge
Q. So you've been around a lot of players who have had pretty good careers focusing mostly on special teams. Are there any qualities among those guys that are in common that you look for when you're projecting if somebody can handle that role and be that kind of guy in their career?
JOE JUDGE: Yeah, I think a lot of things we talk about when you talk about special teams players are more intangibles, sense of urgency, physicality, guys that really play with a heightened sense of intensity on field but at the end of the day, it not the -- the intangibles we look for in common for every player on special teams is speed, you know, and really speed is the biggest difference. It's a space gain, so it really start with the coverage units. You talk about special teams, return game is nice. It's very important but ultimately it comes down to, you know, punt and kickoff coverage. You really build your special teams and your coverage unit, and it's got to start with speed. Some guys are fast players, some guys are speed players, some guys are smaller more athletic speed players. But you want to make sure they have an advantage in space in single blocks and being able to beat double teams.
So to me the common thing is all that speed and some of the guys, Slater, Bolden -- that's three different body types but they are all fast and they all play explosive. A lot of things you get with special teams players is you get a mix of body types and a lot of times there's a measurement of stiffness that correlates to being on special teams. It's not a desirable trait, but just something a lot of those guys end up having and the thing that allows players to control their stiffness in space. We do a lot with guys working on drills, working on football position and body positions and hopefully it carries over and gives them a chance to control their stiffness and play in space.
Q. Does Gary have those abilities?
JOE JUDGE: Yeah, I do, I think Gary has enough traits to work with and build with. He's a long way from some of the top players in the last few decades and there's a reason those guys have made a living out of it and won a lot of games and been successful.
There's things you see from Gary as a running back and you saw on his tape in college covering kicks that we are giving him the opportunity to come and compete. But he definitely has the speed and the size to factor in and go out there and give himself an opportunity. Now at this point it's just an opportunity. We'll see what he does with it and it's up to him and go ahead and carry the coaching to the field, and it's up to us as coaches to put him in the right position to be successful.
Q. You said at the end of yesterday you were going to go check with the trainer on Kadarius and we saw him sit out the second half of that work out today. So is there something bothering him physically?
JOE JUDGE: No, it's not an injury situation with him right there. I think every player out here is kind of on their own program in terms of, you know, what's best for them, what the schedule of the day is. One thing we keep in mind with these guys is these guys have not been with team sports now in over five months, and that's something we have to consider bringing them in and for all these guys, the first time of football activity. That's why we structure practice the way they do. There's different positions on the field. A lot of them are skill positions early in their career, so you have to make sure you don't put two days together that may put them in a stress position.
Again this is an orientation weekend. Our goal is to get them started so that this week coming up they can jump in with our vets and they can jump in with our full off-season program and be moving and stay healthy. Again, it's going to be a four-day week of working this next week for them and we want to make sure we don't take it and make it a seven-day week for them. It's a different pace we work at for different reasons, but no, it's not an injury case to answer that.
Q. What can you do now with the rookies for the next few weeks and what are your expectations for the off-season of when you're going to be able to get guys in? Do you expect them to come in for OTAs?
JOE JUDGE: We've already scheduled and released the OTA dates. Obviously it's a voluntary period so we are going to work with every player we can whether it's virtual or in-person. So obviously whoever is here we'll coach in person, whoever is virtual for the meetings we'll work with them virtually. Some guys will be doing both.
In terms of rookies, what we're looking to accomplish at this point we are just trying to get them caught up enough and physically in good enough shape that when they come back tore training camp, they can compete with the vets. That's the biggest goal right now, give them a further understanding of not just the X's and O's but everything associated with the league.
We have a player development team that will meet with these guys multiple times every day. We will spend a lot of times meeting with the strength and conditioning staff not as far as just lifting weights but understanding how to best manage their bodies, recover, sleep, nutrition, everything that's going to help them be a better pro.
Q. With the vaccinations there's been a lot of talk about masks around the building. Have you talked to the team about getting vaccinated and how they should approach it or you let them make their own decision?
JOE JUDGE: I leave that to the medical professionals. I'm not in the business of giving any medical advice to anybody.
Q. With Kadarius, how similar or different is what you're going to ask him to do in your offense compared to what he did at Florida?
JOE JUDGE: We are going to look to play him to his strengths and so there's going to be some things you'll see that may look similar what to what he did in college, although it's different systems.
So we are going to be looking to go ahead and make sure we create enough versatility in his game to play him in different spots to play him in our system, but also we'll have to change our system like we do with everything to cater to our players.
I can't give you a definite answer until we get through training camp to see everything he can do and how it fits with other players on the field. I'm sure you'll get some things that you can say, hey, that looks very similar to what he did in college, and you'll see some other things that you can say, we've never seen that on tape before.
But our focus right now is working with him on the field and identifying exactly how to use his skillet and putting him in the best position to be successful.
Q. Fair to say you didn't have anyone on last season's roster with his skill set. He's unique in terms of what he brings.
JOE JUDGE: Yeah, I think I really like our receiver room. We have a lot of guys with a to the of talent and different skill sets, some guys are more size, speed, inside, outside, guys with good quickness, good top end and long speed. I like the combination of layers we have right now both the receivers and the tight end room gives us a lot of versatility as an offense.
Q. Do you have like a handshake agreement with Nate right now like with the rugby? I know he's technically a free agent, kind of an understanding there that he can get through that and you'll double back, or what's the situation?
JOE JUDGE: Technically Nate is a free agent right now but we fully intend for him to be a member of the Giants and he has to go through Olympic rugby training and we're supporting him with that.
But that's an experience I've been through with him before. Actually he returned from the Olympics in 2016 and had a tremendous year for us. So I've gone through this before with him. I understand exactly how his training applies, rugby and can lead into football, and look, honestly it was one of his most productive years ever.
He's a guy that's very locked in and focused. He was a captain last year and is a great team leader. This team, what he's helping build is very important for him and while I don't speak for anyone else, I don't mind going echoing that for Nate because I know I can speak very directly and honestly. But look, he's a very important part of this team and we look forward to getting him back.
Q. On the running backs, what are the qualities you're looking at in the tryout guys?
JOE JUDGE: I think all those players, they are different players. So the qualities are going to vary a little bit. Really what you're looking for is movement skills on the field. With the guys this weekend, you're looking for a mix of things in terms of how they look on the field, what shape they are in currently, your interactions with them as a player, and that's a big part of them is getting them in your meetings and having them on the field and it's your first chance of really getting these guys in person on the field with your coaching staff and really seeing how they react to your style of coaching.
It's a good experience for us. I really enjoyed all those guys. I thought they did a good job this weekend, and the unfortunate thing is there's only a limited amount of spots on the roaster total. So again it was a good experience to have them all here and we'll see where it goes from here.
Q. How much do you try to take advantage of this time in your building with these guys? You got to meet a lot of these guys in the draft process but a lot of it was virtual, the Senior Bowl, now you've got them and it's a more relaxed situation to some extent to get to know who they are, see what they can take, get a little personal story, get a little joke to help you know who those guys are moving forward?
JOE JUDGE: You know what, really, that's honestly the most important thing we can do right now is trying to establish requires, establish what the boundaries are within our organization, let them know what to expect on a daily basis, but ultimately we have to start forming relationships with these players beyond just evaluating from the Draft.
Look, to be honest with you, yesterday was the first time that I got to see in person a lot of players that we drafted, which is bizarre to say any other year but without a combine, without having, you know, full pro days everywhere, it was just a different process.
So it's funny, there's a lot of guys you meet for the first time in person and you turn around, me and Pat are talking walking off the field, yeah, that guy is bigger than we thought he was going to be; that guy has thicker legs than we thought they were going to be. The first time seeing a guy in practice is bizarre because even our meetings are virtual.
So it's not like you're sitting in a meeting room across from the guy. Your first experience is on the grasses and they are wearing a helmet looking at you. It's different. But look, it's great to have life in the building and it's great to have players back and it was a fun weekend working with these guys.
Q. If you and Pat walk off the field and say "that guy is a lot smaller and scrawnier than we thought he was going to be," that would be a problem.
JOE JUDGE: That would be the issue, you know, that would be the issue. Yeah, the scouting department can a great job of painting a picture of these guys, luckily we had a lot of personal experience, as well with a lot of these players we drafted with coaches on the staff so as we went through some of the guys who personally were sight unseen we could rely on the coaches on the staff and the scouts who had worked with them before.
CB Rodarius Williams
Q. What's this been like for you? How different is this experience from what you've kind of been through in college and along the way?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: Oh, it's been a great experience, you know, as far as getting on the team and everybody competing for a job, whereas in college you got a scholarship. So it's a different environment and a lot of learning.
Q. What kind of advice did your brother give you about what to expect and as a rookie?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: Take advantage of every opportunity; whether it's a mental rep or a physical rep, take advantage of whatever I'm given.
Q. In terms of the experience, being on the field the last two days, it has to be different when you look out there and you're essentially getting one-on-one work with your position coach. I don't know the last time you can recall being on a field and being in this situation. Do you find a level of comfort? Does it make it easier to adjust quicker because you're getting one-on-one attention?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, that definitely play a role in it, just getting one-on-one help definitely helps you set until and calm down your nervous system as far as being on the field and being in front of the coaches for the first type. Coach Jerome did a great job on just telling me and let me know at the end of the day, it's just football.
Q. Did you anticipate that coming into this rookie mini-camp or did it surprise you yesterday with the amount of coaches versus the numbers of players that were actually out on the field?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: It was kind of played hand-in-hand. You expected to go out there and compete against other guys. Far as going against coaches and stuff like that, it was definitely different. It was all same learning tools.
Q. Coach Judge was talking a little bit ago about how there were some players he had never met in person before this week. Were you one of those guys or had you been able to meet with him?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: Can you repeat that one more time.
Q. Coach Juge was talking about how there was a number of players and draft picks that he had never met in person and really had not had a chance to have a conversation with until this weekend. Were you one of those guys or had you -- were you able to speak with him in person in the pre-draft process?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was one of those persons that Coach Judge hadn't met. We just had conversations over the phone. So this was our first time, first meet-and-greet.
Q. What's that like? Strange situation, they drafted you and you hadn't met the head coach?
RODARIUS WILLIAMS: I was nervous at first but at the end of the day you settle in and getting to know where he is and what he can tolerate around the facility, just learning and adapting to the new system right now.
LB Elerson Smith
Q. Can you talk about what you picked up from Defensive Player of the Year, Bryce Paup, that helped you get to this point and what you want to work on moving forward?
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, to be honest with you, I pretty much learned everything I know about football from him. Going into college, I didn't know much about this game. I just knew a little bit about football.
So it was exciting to have him in my corner, obviously try to soak up as much as I can could, pass rush and the run, offenses, things like that. So he was awesome to have.
Things I want to work on in the future, I mean, I've got a lot I want to work on. It's hard to pinpoint a certain thing that I want to work on; it's a plethora of things. I'm excited to keep getting better.
Q. In terms of you mentioned you learned about the game of football. Does that also include the little nuances? Obviously there's pass rush moves and stuff like that, but also, like I guess studying film and stuff, is that some of the stuff you learned from him as well?
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, yeah, how to break down film from offense's and defense perspective on offense. Little nuances that's maybe a tell for a pre-snap read, formation tells, what the formation's telling us.
So you can kind of just eliminate the variables and make sure I'm playing as fast as I can. He was awesome at that. He was always super willing to spend time with us as players and was always there for us as players, which I really appreciate from him.
Q. You have a number that a lot of Giants fans associate with Carl Banks. Did you pick out that number? Have you met him or reached out to him?
ELERSON SMITH: I didn't pick out the number. It's an honor to have the number. I am extremely grateful he gave me that number. I haven't met Carl yet but I heard he'll be around the building. Excited to get a chance to meet him and pick his brain a little bit and get some advice from him.
Q. Do you know anything about his game at all? He was probably retired before you were born but did you watch any film of him at all throughout your life?
ELERSON SMITH: No, I haven't yet. I know he was a great player, but like you said, yeah, he was a little before my time. I'm excited to get a chance to watch it and see what he's done.
Q. What's your initial impression of what they were asking you to do as a linebacker here even compared to the basics of what you were doing at Northern Iowa?
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, I'm excited for the opportunity to play outside a little more. At UNI, I was a more traditional d-lineman that would play a 5-tech, 4-I, things like that. And here I get to stand up a little bit, move around a little bit more.
So I'm excited to play outside backer. I have also played this earlier in my career at UNI. I'm somewhat comfortable with it. For sure I have a lot to learn and a lot to get better on, learn with the position.
Q. And also, going back to college for one second, the Giants mentioned that Iowa State game in particular, I believe, as a game that really stood out to them to sort of prove that you can play with a higher level of competition. What do you remember about that game about how you played?
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, I mean, I think it was a good game overall for us as a team. It was an exciting game. At the FCS level we had those early games, probably the most media attention we are going to get for a small school like that. It was a fun game. It sucked that we lost. We were able to take them to three overtimes. I was just out there trying to compete with those guys as much as I could and playing for my team.
Q. What did you think of your performance and the competition you went against in that game?
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, I think I was able to contribute to the team. I was able to make some plays. Able to, you know, help put us in positions to win. So you know, I think it good -- obviously I can watch the film, so things I want to work on, so hard to say it was a great game.
Q. Elerson, you're one of the guys that opted out of last season, and I know the Giants in the pre-draft process talked about it's 20 months for some of you guys that you had not really been on a field. Curious if you feel rust at this point or if -- how that process is for you, if you feel rusty or if you're just glad to be back on the field, if it feels completely natural or if it just feels like you haven't been out there for awhile.
ELERSON SMITH: Yeah, so actually, my season got canceled last year. So I didn't have a chance to play. I feel like football is one of those things where I've been playing for ten-plus years now, so a lot of the things can come second nature at this point. There's obviously little, you know, like you said rust that you have to knock off here and there. Getting in football shape and conditioning is one thing you can spend a lot of time doing things in the gym, but being on the field and drills is different. I feel pretty good for sure. I have a lot to work on and excited for that.
Q. You mentioned the teaching and notes you're going to be taking and how much you have to gain, just curious, I know it only been two days with Azeez, but the two of you guys are coming into a situation where you're playing similar positions, I would imagine you can kind of lean on each other a little bit. What's been that relationship like so far and what do you think of his game?
ELERSON SMITH: I mean, I think Azeez is a good dude. I don't know much about his game otherwise. I'll let him handle that. But I think he's a good guy and excited to get to work with him every day.
LB Azeez Ojulari
Q. Coach Judge was talking about how there are a couple of players that were drafted that he had never really met face-to-face. Were you one of the players that he had never met before?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Yeah. I was one of them. I never met him before, face-to-face.
Q. That's kind of strange. What was that like to finally meet him today, or yesterday, I guess?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Oh, yeah, it was great. You know, just got to finally meet the head coach, the one that runs the show. It was a great opportunity for me to meet him. I'm happy to be here with him and I'm ready to work with him.
Q. How much does being drafted in the second round motivate you or is it something that you just put behind you and not worry about at this point?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Yeah, it's just behind me. I'm just here. I'm here ready to work. You know, I'm just here. I'm happy to be here at the NFL, so I'm just here to work, you know.
Q. You're not the chip-on-the-shoulder kind of guy?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Yeah, no. I'm just here to -- you know, God has a plan and I'm just with it and I'm ready to work, so I'm happy.
Q. What did you think about -- you got a real basic introduction of the scheme, but what did you think about it and what they are going to ask you to do compared to maybe what you did at Georgia at last few years?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Yeah, it's nice. They had some similarities between what I been doing at Georgia, so really it's perfect. It's great. It's a great scheme for sure.
Q. I'm just wondering, leading up to the Draft, leading up to this moment, can you talk a little about the training you've been doing? Were you working with maybe a former NFL player or specific trainer and just kind of what you've learned to kind of make this transition easier for you?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Yeah, I was at EXOS Pensacola. So I was down there, working down there with Graham Russo, other guy, Chris Rump. It was a good experience just working out there. Just there's no one around, just locked in. There's not too much to do around there, so it was just focus in on what I got to do to get done and get ready to be here.
Q. Where do you think you need to make that biggest jump. Obviously there's a mile long checklist that you have of things you want to accomplish, but in order to hit the ground running, where would you like to kind of make that biggest jump?
AZEEZ OJULARI: Understanding the playbook and everything that I'm asked to do, and just doing it the right way 100 percent and just trying to get better every day.