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Transcripts

Quotes: Coach Joe Judge, QB Daniel Jones, S Jabrill Peppers, DB Adoree' Jackson, C Nick Gates

Head Coach Joe Judge

Opening Statement: Obviously, today is Wednesday. This is really, officially the start of the Denver week. We've got a preview over the last few days with the players and Denver, but today we kind of kept the normal week schedule, jumping straight in. Our focus today is really early down situations. We'll preview a little bit of third down, and then that moves into tomorrow's progression of third down and dipping into the red area a little bit as we get going right there. That's said, obviously starting with this team, it starts with the (Broncos) Head Coach, Vic Fangio, and he's obviously beenone of the top defensive minds for decades in this league, he's had a lot of success. I think his team plays with his identity, that's an aggressive downhill mindset. They play very tough, they play very disciplined, they take opportunities to make plays, they're not looking to get through any situation, they're looking to make home run type plays, I mean, whatever they do. As you go through the coordinators, obviously (Defensive Coordinator Ed) Donatell and Vic have a history together. Ed does a great job with the back end and tying it together, the aggressive fronts and blitzes that Vic puts together. They work together very well. It's been one of the top defenses in the league for some time now. You turn over and you look into the offense, look, (Former Giants Head Coach and Broncos Offensive Coordinator) Pat Shurmur is an outstanding coach. He's done a fantastic job. I have a ton of respect for him as a man, a ton of respect for him as a coach, I've have a lot of respect for what he did for this organization as well, as well as some of the other places I have competed against him. The one thing Pat's going to do is Pat's going to look at your history and he's going to expose some things you've put on tape, so we're be very mindful about not only our own past experience against Pat, but also different times that he's seen this scheme or schemes that are similar to this and things that could be exposed. He does a great job at getting players in matchups, he does a great job of creating explosive plays for players. It starts with the run game with Pat, (he) does a great job of getting this thing downhill, setting up the play action pass game. I think right now, (Broncos Quarterback Teddy) Bridgewater is doing a great job of operating within his offense of making good decisions, facilitating the offense, getting the ball moving consistently going on down, tying in that running back combination they have right there with two talented running backs and obviously they have one of the top, if not the top receiving corps in the entire league. You tie in a bunch of very talented tight ends and right there, they got a skill group who is very tough to match up against for any team in the league. It'll be a great challenge for us this week. As you get into (Broncos Special Team Coordinator) Tom (McMahon) with the special teams, one thing I know about Tom is he is very, very aggressive. I have history personally going against him, so does (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) T-Mac and (Assistant Special Teams Coach) Tom Quinn. I think when you know you play against Tom, you got to play against some smoke and mirrors. You've got to be very sound in your assignments, you have to communicate across the board, and there's movement to confuse your blockers on your punt team and your kickoff return. It's about formations to see if they can get you out of whack and make you adjust. He's always setting up the next play, so he'll show you something on one play and he's looking for the fake coming the next time if you don't adjust accordingly. So, in terms of us playing on the same page in all three phases, that's critical to our success this week. We have to have a good week of practice, this is a very good opponent coming in. This is not a team that dips their toe in the water. It's a fast start team that's going to come out swinging. We got to make sure we have a good week of practice from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and carry it over into the game on Sunday. With that all being said, I'll open up to any questions you may have. 

Q: Can you get specific on some of the things that you're looking for that you want to see from (Running Back) Saquon Barkley today and tomorrow?

A: Yeah, a large degree of what I want to see is kind of how he responds to some contact. We're going to be in pads today, bumping some guys around a little bit, some different drills we're going to do. I want to see how he puts together three straight days of work as well. There's a big part in just watching our players bodies respond. He's no different than a lot of other guys we have right now coming off of injury that we're going to have to see if these next three days, in terms of what they can handle by load and how we think their bodies are going to respond going into Sunday. We got to make the best decision for everybody's health going into the game. Saquon's no different than that, so we're taking that lens of player safety as we go ahead and look at all these guys for the opener.

Q: What have you seen from Saquon in regard to his explosion and his ability to cut?

A: I've seen a lot of improvement. I think when you come off an injury like this, that's obviously a significant injury, there's a confidence level that a lot of people go through. I was obviously never an explosive athlete myself, but I've had similar injuries that I can tell you that you've got to get over that wall of confidence. I've seen Saquon push through that with how he works and I think the confidence comes from what you demonstrate through your rehab and then build into the team as you get it to go on with them. I've seen him improve his movement skills, I've seen his football conditioning really improve. Obviously, as he got into just playing football with us towards the tail end of training camp and through these last couple of weeks, that's probably been a daily increase and improvement for him and a lot of that's just natural. You're out of football for that length of time, you got to get back into the movements, the execution of plays, there's a lot of things that go into that, but I have seen him progress on a daily basis. I'm very pleased. 

Q: In regard to last year, do you see that? You talked about needing to see him in contact. Does that mean in your mind he's there on the speed, explosion and ability to cut areas?

A: Some of that's what we got to see this week, too. We got to put him through a couple of different things with that, just see how he responds to different movements. He's progressed nicely, he's gotten better for us. We want to make sure we make the best decisions for him long-term. I can't stress that enough. As we look at Saquon, he's a young player, he's a very talented player, he's a guy who's been a leader for this team, he's been elected captain second straight year for us, and he's been a captain before that as well. Speaking just about Saquon in general is we've got to make sure that we do the best thing for him and ultimately the best thing for him will be the best thing for the team.

Q: When you make a decision for this Sunday, how much of a factor is two quick games in a row come into play?

A: We kind of make it game by game, to be honest with you. That's a factor with all of our players. The way we kind of kind of look at it is we just have to prepare the players next week how we prepare them next week, and we've got to get to that later. We have a plan we've already scripted. We've got a routine we go through in these short weeks. Everyone's going to have a quick turnaround. Now that may tie into some of what we ask individual players to do game by game leading into it based on their health situation. As I said the other day, when we get the clearance for a guy to go, we have to assume he can go in there and play the game.

Q: Where does (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney stand with his status for Sunday and is it realistic, even though he hasn't been on the field much, for him to have a significant role, whether it be kick returner or on offense?

A: Well, I'd say in terms of significant, I look at that not so much as volume, but production. I'd say it is realistic for him to have a significant role based on how he practices this week. We're seeing his health improve, we've seen him do a lot of things with the team as we've kept on moving. He's handled the installs very well. I'd say for a player who hasn't seen obviously pre-season games or a lot of significant time volume wise on the field with the guys through preseason, he's been able to go out there and manage it and execute in practice what we've asked him to. I think that's a tribute to how he's worked off the field, I think it's a tribute to the coaches (Wide Receivers Coach) Tyke (Tolbert) and (Offensive Quality Control) Russ (Callaway) of how they've gotten some extra work with him and meeting work throughout training camp to get him caught up to speed and making sure him and (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and some other players who were nicked and banged throughout training camp didn't lose that mental installs we went on through physically.

Q: How would you compare (Quarterback) Daniel Jones to where he is right now getting ready for this opener in Week 1 to where he was as a player, quarterback last year at this time before the opener?

A: Well, I think the biggest difference, obviously, is just time in the system. He's obviously a year further in the league. We didn't have preseason games last year. We didn't have any kind of a spring last year. Training camp itself was just tremendously different and limited on time. I think obviously the time he's had to prepare and be with his teammates has helped him. I've seen a lot of growth with him throughout the offseason and it's carried through spring, training camp and in the regular season right now in terms of being a leader, being a guy who really is vocal with the team and gets the guys going. He's not a cheerleader, which I like. I don't like rah-rah guys running around to be honest with you. I like guys who are just kind of about it and they line up and they do their job and guys respond to it and that's really what Daniel is. So, he's definitely progressed within his craft. He's a young player in this league. He has a lot of room to grow, but I think he works on a daily basis that he's going to go ahead and take all the necessary steps to put himself in position to maximize his potential.

Q: We've asked you obviously a million questions about (Kadarius) Toney and (Kenny) Golladay this camp. I don't know if you've been asked anything about (Wide Receiver) Darius Slayton. He's just sort of been under the radar. What have you seen from him in terms of the progress from last year? And you talked in your previous answer about not liking necessarily rah-rah guys, do you see that from him too that he's just sort of a 'steady-Eddie?'

A: I see a lot of – I'm going to be honest with you, look, I don't think we really have a lot of rah-rah guys in our locker room. We've got guys that have natural juice. We have guys that come out and they practice hard. We have guys that feed off the energy of the guy next to him and get guys going. When I think about cheerleaders, I think about guys who wait until Sunday morning to wake up, turn on some song that gets them all kind of riled up and then OK, you're ready to play. You win the game on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You win the game in the training room getting your body healthy. You win the game in the weight room and you win the game in the offseason doing all the right things. When I see how our guys work, and they're not there just pumping themselves up and whistling by the graveyard, I know they're giving ourselves a chance to have success and improve on a daily basis. But in terms of Slayton directly, he had a good camp for us. I don't think he flew under the radar to us watching the tape every day. The things that he's really improved on to me is his route-running's really taken a step forward. That's something I look at this year compared to last year is just his efficiency with limiting wasted movements in routes, getting off the ball and playing to his speed. Making tough catches, he's done that throughout camp on a daily basis. We've got to keep him moving in that direction. I think his physical conditioning this year compared to last year – but that's true with all of our players who went through our program last year. You kind of look at all these guys and you guys ask me all the time about conditioning and different things. Well, some of the things we look at is when you look at the players who have gone through our program from last year to this year, the difference in where their bodies are and the difference in what they've been able to stay on the field and endure and the limited time they've missed where they've had to be in treatment or anything like that. These guys have stayed healthy, and Darius is a guy early last year who dealt with a couple of things early in camp. He pushed through it. He fought through it. He worked really hard and he's guy that we turn around every day and there he is, 86 just out there. We ain't got to say nothing, you know he's out there. He's catching the ball, he's getting open, he's doing what he's supposed to do. 

Q: Is there anybody who is not going to practice today because of an injury?

A: Let me think real quick. I think we should be just about pretty clear with most guys. We have a couple of guys who are going to check in individual today. I've got to do one more fly-by with (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes). We have kind of a mid-morning meeting every day. Let me get back to you on that right there. We're expecting most guys to be out here at least doing individual and doing some things progressing. We're going to check a lot of these guys in 'Indy' (individuals) and see where they can go later in practice, as well.  

Q: Does that include (Tight End) Evan (Engram)?

A: You know what, Evan would be the one guy right now, you're right, that would not be out here at practice today. He's going to do some things separate with the trainers on another field and then we'll take a look and see how he's going to look tomorrow.

Q: What are the points of emphasis for (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas) when he's going against a guy like (Broncos Outside Linebacker) Von Miller who obviously is an accomplished pass rusher?

A: I think the point of emphasis for anyone going against Von Miller, (Outside Linebacker Bradley) Chubb or any of their very talented rushers is just do your job, play your technique and trust what you've been taught to do. That's it. They don't have to do anything outside what they're taught to do. They don't have to do anything superhuman. Look, these are very, very talented players. These are two of the best edge rushers in the game. Now look, to miss a guy like Von Miller for the season last year, that's a shame to everyone who's involved in football. You want the best players to be out there playing. You want every player to be out there healthy and playing. As a competitor, you don't want to go out there with anybody not being healthy, not being able to play. You want to put your best out there on the field against someone else's best and see how you stack up. That's really what competition is about. Seeing this guy back in the game, that's good for football. Now, he's a tough competitor and it's a great challenge, but to see him come off the edge, whether he's trying to dip and get the edge on you with that great get-off and speed or it's that spin-move coming back inside because you overplay the outside because you're worried about him beating you outside and you give up the inside. This guy is a different level of player. I said this earlier a few minutes ago, but when we talk to our scouts going into the draft and they ask, 'what are you guys looking for in certain roles?' You almost want to say like, 'you know the Von Millers of the world? Don't bother looking for that guy because that guy doesn't exist many places. Like if he shows up, we'll find him, don't worry about it.' So, this guy is just a rare player. He's kind of a unicorn of an edge rusher to be as just explosive and athletic and strong for his size, and instinctive and productive. Look, I've been on the other side from this guy several times and I'm telling you, he can ruin your day in a heartbeat if you try and do something other than your job.

Q: Going off that, so inevitably he's going to beat you on a rep or two or a few. How important is it to drive home like short-term memory and forgetting it?

A: Yeah, he's got to always play the next play. Guys, whatever happens in a game – good, bad or whatever, you've got to play the next play. The play before doesn't affect anything you have going forward. Look, in terms of momentum, I've said it all before, I'm not a huge believer in momentum because I think every play has a history and a life of its own. You may make the greatest play on first down, you still have to go out and play second down. Second down is completely independent, unless you allow something from the previous down to affect how you play your technique and execution. In terms of Von Miller, like guys, he's a player. He makes plays in every game. They're a talented team. They have a very good defense. They have an explosive offense. They've got a special teams capable of making big plays at any point in time. They're going to play with a lot of smoke and mirrors and force us to do a lot of things. We've got to play each play with awareness and execution and whether we make a play, or they make a play, we've got play the next play. Defensively, you've got to make the offense snap it again. Offensively, we're looking to go ahead and sustain drives and stay on the field and give ourselves the best opportunity to go ahead and be successful.

Q: I know it's a close-knit group, the coaches, the assistant coaches and things like that, did you have a relationship with Pat (Shurmur) before this? Did you reach out to him when you replaced him?

A: I'd say in terms of a relationship with Pat, I knew Pat through the business. I got to meet him at the Combine a few years back. We actually had some familiar family friends from his time in Philadelphia and obviously my time growing up there. Some people that kind of came in common. I think Pat's a fine man. We've shared a beer together. We've gone to Mass together. We've gotten ashes on Ash Wednesday together. This is a guy that I've always taken time to sit down and talk with. I think he's one of the great offensive minds in all of football. I think he does a fantastic job. I can't speak highly enough of him as a person. I think he's a fantastic person. He's a great man. I think a lot of players in this building obviously have ties with him. I think that's important. This guy came to work every day and did his best to put these guys in a position to be successful and our guys recognize that. This guy worked hard every day for them. So, it's a small league. You have relationships with a lot of guys. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of their coordinators. Pat would definitely not be an exception to that. 

Q: Did you reach out to him after you took the job?

A: I can't remember a specific phone call right away on that, but there's been contact different ways throughout the years.

Quarterback Daniel Jones

Q: When you were out there after practice with (Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett) and there's no receiver and you're just throwing the ball at the goal post, is that just a B.S. session to discuss what's coming up this week?

A: No, I mean it's kind of a game we play, an ongoing competition. There's score kept and we're competing. It's not a B.S. situation (laughs).

Q: He throws the ball pretty well. He's still got it a little bit it seems like.

A: He does, yeah. He throws it pretty well and he'll let you hear about it, too.

Q: Is it the garbage can thing? How many you can get in the garbage can?

A: There's several different games we play and the last one is a target game where we pick a target and go for it. 

Q: Where are you now or how would describe where you are and ready for this opening day compared to where you were last year?

A: I don't know, I think I definitely felt prepared going in last year. I remember feeling confident and ready to go. I certainly feel that way this year too. I would probably say I'm more comfortable having played a year and going through a full preseason and a full camp. We're excited to get going. 

Q: How different is it having different receivers and different personnel?

A: There's differences building that chemistry with guys, and I think we've done a good job with it –getting guys in, the people that have been here helping everyone learn. Then the guys who are just getting here have done a great job picking it up and learning fast. I think everyone's comfortable, everyone's ready to go.

Q: Everyone has had an eye on (Running back) Saquon (Barkley) since the beginning of camp and I'm wondering now he's doing full practice – what are you seeing in him now that he has been taking some hits? What is your view?

A: Yeah, I mean I think he looks great. I think he's done a great job following what the trainers and the doctors have told him to do. He looks good practicing. He's practicing hard and he looks really good. 

Q: When you see him, do you see the things you saw before he got hurt?

A: Yeah, certainly. I think he's an unbelievable athlete. You can tell with the ball in his hands, the way he runs routes, he's an explosive guy and he certainly looks really good. 

Q: Even if he comes back, he might be limited or not play the normal snaps he did before. If he gets cleared, what can he bring this offense for the first few weeks of season in your mind?

A: I think he's got a diverse skill set. He can do a lot of different things. He runs the ball hard, obviously, and can do a lot in the pass game as well. When he's ready to go, he'll be big for us to have back.

Q: Psychologically, if he is cleared and plays on Sunday, what would that mean? Is there some sort of intangible lift that maybe you guys get when he's in the backfield?

A: Yeah, I mean he's certainly a leader on this team and someone everyone looks to and listens to. He'll definitely help us out. We'll see what happens. 

Q: When (Former Giants Head Coach and Broncos Offensive Coordinator) Pat Shurmur put you in early as a rookie, what did that do for you in a positive way developmentally, and what was challenging about it?

A: I think the best way to learn is playing the game and I got that experience early. I think going through the ups and downs of playing quarterback, of learning how to play this position in the NFL and learning on the fly. I think that was a big advantage of me to get out there and get those reps. That was big for me. 

Q: What advantage did he give you, even just from the draft to that point developmentally getting yourself to being game ready?

A: I think he did a great job simplifying things at times for me and teaching things in a way that were easy to understand for me and simplifying some of the reads. Teaching it clearly that way and allowing me to play with what I saw and make decisions quickly. 

Q: They are very good at red zone defense, that's something you guys are hoping to improve on. What do you see from them in that area and how much better are you prepared for that on offense?

A: Yeah, they're a good defense across the board and like you said, their red zone defense has been a strength of theirs for the past two years. I think it comes down to the ability to affect the passer with the pass rush and playing good defense behind it. I think their safeties are two good players and they certainly make a lot of plays down there in the red zone as well. Just being aware of where they are. I think we've had a good camp as far as red zone and we'll look to translate some of those things.

Q: Is a lot of that from your personnel that you guys have added in the red zone like (Tight End) Kyle (Rudolph) and (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and other pieces?

A: Yeah, I think those guys have done a good job, but I think it's just about getting reps. I feel like that's an area we've gotten a lot of reps at this camp. We'll keep working on it going into the game.

Q: There's been a lot of talk about it being a make-or-break season for you. What do you feel you want to prove this year?

A: I'm not really seeing it that way, I guess. I think my mindset is just to go out and help this team win games. I think we're in a position, we've had a good camp and we're prepared, and my job is to put the team in a position to win games, to protect the football and distribute the ball to guys who can make plays for us. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.  

Q: You have to rely and trust your offensive line. How are you preparing for guys like (Broncos Outside Linebacker) Von Miller and (Outside Linebacker) Bradley Chubb?

A: Yeah, those are two good players who can certainly affect the game. We play a lot of good defensive lines in this league and that's how teams are built. We'll do a good job protecting and it's certainly my job to make decisions, go through my reads and get the ball out of my hand. 

Q: Captains were named this week, and your center was on that list. What do you see from (Center) Nick Gates that deserves that leadership title?

A: I think first and foremost, his work ethic. I think he's a guy who comes to work everyday and takes care of his job. Guys see that, guys notice that, especially playing on the offensive line. Everyone in that room is looking to the center to make calls, get everyone on the same page. He's always prepared and knows what to do. He's a great leader.

Safety Jabrill Peppers

Q: How do you prepare for the Broncos, do you watch the (Broncos Quarterback Teddy) Bridgewater tape from Carolina, the Broncos tape from last year? How did you try to figure out what they're going to try to do?

A: Little bit of both. Looked at where (Broncos Offensive Coordinator Pat) Shurmur's been, and other coaches from that tree. But definitely watched Teddy B at Carolina, the games he played at Denver, a couple preseason games. We've still got more tape to watch.  

Q: Last year, they did a lot out of the shotgun with (Broncos Quarterback) Drew Lock as quarterback. Do you think there's more under center, traditional run game stuff with Teddy there or still a lot of shotgun?

A: I think it'll be a mixture of both. They have two willing backs, so I think they'll try to get those guys the ball, get the run game going early. It's up to us to stop the run. The run opens up everything else for them – their boots, nakeds, things of that nature – so I think we'll see it all. First game, we'll see. 

Q: What have you seen in the times that (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) has been out there? I know he had some setbacks physically, but what have you seen out of him in his first training camp?

A: Gifted athlete, (has) exceptional ball skills, (a) quick twitch, great burst. I haven't seen him open up full speed yet, but from the times that I did see him running in little, short spaces he looks pretty fast. We've got a lot of really fast guys here now, but that's been my consensus of him. Whenever he's ready to get back out there, I'll be excited to see him out there playing.

Q: As somebody who's been in the league a few years, can you tell with a young guy how ready he is for his first NFL experience?

A: You kind of can, yes. But you'll know once you put him out there in a game setting with all the extra stresses that the game brings, that's how you really get your tell-tale. You can kind of tell if a guy is ready in practice and training camp, but the game is the ultimate tell.

Q: If I can ask about another guy who's obviously coming back from injury, (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley). There's been a lot of attention about whether how ready he is, if he's the same guy he was last year before he got hurt. What do you see in camp? He's been working on the sideline.

A: He's been working. He's been working his tail off. That's one of the hardest working guys on the team. He's been working, he's going to keep working and whenever he's ready he'll be out there making plays. But for now, we just want him to get healthy. We're going to keep trying to get him as ready as possible on the defensive side of the ball. We can't wait to get him back, absolutely.

Q: Would it be a surprise for you if he's out there on Sunday?

A: We don't know yet. That's up to him and his body, between him and the training staff, so we'll see.

Q: I know (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge has been talking about you guys giving him a little bit of contact. How much contact has he given you?

A: Hey, that's Saquon. He's going to run hard, but it's up to us to make sure that when he's ready to go back out there, he's ready to go back out there. We've got to bang him up a little bit, go after the ball just to get some contact on his body. 

Q: You got the first shot last week, right?

A: I tried to, tried to.

Q: How'd it go?

A: Pretty well. He's not 100-percent, so I don't really take too much in it. We'll see how he's feeling now later in the year.

Q: You talked last year about how, as much as your defensive responsibilities and how you take them seriously, as a punt returner you just couldn't wait to finally bring one back. Do you go into this week or this season feeling like I can still bring it back there?

A: Absolutely. You've always got to feel like that back there, but you can't rush it, can't chase the plays. I've got to do a better job of making better decisions back there, but I'm going to also be patient, wait for my pitch to hit and hopefully when they give me one I can take back, I do my due diligence.

Q: You were a good defense last year, top-ten in some metrics. In your mind, what does this defense need to do to take it to the next level?

A: It's a new year, so we've got to keep building our cohesion, building camaraderie on that side of the ball, we've got to gel a little bit more. We've got some different schemes going in, so just about all getting on the same accord, playing fast, running to the ball. The sky's the limit for us. We're not thinking about last year, it's a whole new year for us. We know the type of defense we can be, it's just all about running out there and putting in the necessary work. 

Q: What do you think about the possibility of being used more as a pass rusher?

A: Whatever they need me to do. I'm just trying to impact the game any way I can.

Q: We saw some of this last year, but how excited are you that they're putting the ball in your hands? Kick return, punt return, we all know you can do it.

A: I'm very excited. Very, very excited. 

Q: Is that something you lobbied for more?

A: I'm always going to lobby for that, but we have a lot of willing and capable guys who have returned in this league and been pretty damn good in this league. (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) T-Mac's got a lot of choices back there that he can go to, but obviously I'm going to do my job and make sure that whenever I'm out there I'm impacting the game in a positive way. 

Q: Have you thought about the idea that you could very well be the first Giant to touch the ball on Sunday and therefore set the tone for the season and the game?

A: I haven't really thought about it like that. Whether it's kickoff or kickoff return, we've got to start fast. That's how I look at it.

Defensive Back Adoree' Jackson

Q: How's your ankle feeling?

A: Doing good. I'm trying to get better one day at a time. I wake up every day, so I can't complain.

Q: It's a start, right?

A: Yeah, for sure.

Q: Do you think you are going to play Sunday?

A: I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm just getting my prep in like I am, but it's ultimately up to the coaches and what they decide. 

Q: How much did you do out there today? Did you do pretty much do everything today?

A: I was getting a lot of mental reps. I'm just taking it one day at a time. Whatever they have me do, I'm willing to do it. 

Q: So, no team stuff yet?

A: No, sir. 

Q: You're a veteran, obviously, so do you feel like you're the type of guy who can maybe not do as much Wednesday, Thursday in practice and then still be able to go out there and play pretty well?

A: For me, it's just taking the mental reps in. Ultimately, it's about what you do in the game, but at the same time, you're taking the mental reps. Doctor Lani (Director of Wellness and Clinical Services, Player Engagement Lani Lawrence), we talk about visualizing and the mental reps. So, for me, visualizing what you want to do and the things that you may see and then getting those mental reps out there. I take all of it in consideration. Even if you are practicing, you've still got to get those mental reps and visualize if that was you in the situation, what would happen.

Q: The Broncos have a pretty deep receiving corps. How difficult will it be if you're not ready?

A: Yeah, that receiving corps is pretty good. Actually, I played against (Broncos Wide Receiver Tim) Patrick at Utah. I played against (Broncos Wide Receiver Courtland) Sutton before when he was there. I never played against (Broncos Wide Receiver Jerry) Jeudy, but they're a great, talented receiving corps. They cause a lot of problems, so you just got to be out there mentally prepared and just do your job. At the end of the day, that's what it comes down to – doing your job, trusting your tech (technique), doing everything that you prepared for this offseason that's coming up this week.

Q: Do you know what you need to do in the next two days to show the coaching staff that you are ready for Sunday? You can't do mental reps tomorrow and Friday and be out there I assume on Sunday?

A: Just show up to work and do everything they ask and whatever they see, if that's what they like. That's all I can do. Whatever they ask for me to do, and if it's to their liking, it's going to go their way. But other than that, that's all I can do, whatever they ask me to do.

Q: Do you find yourself lobbying to do more? Or do you just have to trust what they're –

A: I've just got to trust. Being an athlete and knowing what you want to do as a competitor, but at the end of the day, you've got to trust the ones that's around you. They know best and know what you need and what's going to help you and progress you and not try to hinder you.

Q: How important is the 'star' position, the slot, in this defense from what you've seen to this point?

A: I feel like every position is vital and important, but at the same time, it's all about communication. I feel like that's the key part. Either the star, the safety, the corner, just communicating with each other. Because it might be sometimes, I don't know what's going on and I get help or vice versa. Somebody doesn't know something and everybody's communicating and relaying it down throughout the line. So, I think the key on the defense, like with the position, is communication. That's the biggest key out of everything.

Q: For you personally, I'm sure someone asked you, how are you feeling first of all?

A: I'm doing good. I told them, I wake up in the morning, so I'm good, man. I can't complain.

Q: I know last year, kind of being put in there, rushing back might have derailed your season a little bit, right? Talking injury-wise. How do you balance that now with wanting to get back, but also thinking, 'Hey, I don't kind of want that same thing to happen again this year?'

A: Like I was saying, it's just pretty much just trusting the coaches and the trainers. That's it, man. It's all about trust. Understanding that whatever they ask you to do, just do it. Sometimes you may want to do more, sometimes you may want to do less, but they know what's best for the body, seeing these injuries and different things. I'm just working with them and understanding that, like I said, they've got my best interest at the end of the day.

Q: For a guy who relies on his speed and his quickness, when you have an ankle injury, is it just about playing through it and playing your same game? Or do you have to adjust maybe the way you play a little bit?

A: I think everything is about not thinking, no matter what. As a kid, my Pops used to tell me, you go out there playing timid or doing something, that's when bad things happen to you. So, I'm just going out there and playing fast, being you and being normal because at the end of the day, they don't care. If you're out there, you're out there. Like either your team or the other team, nobody cares. So, you've just got to go out there and perform.

Q: Where do you think this defense is in its progression?

A: I think we're just taking it day by day. At the end of the day, we're trying to get better from the last day. We're always preaching to get one percent better, and I feel like that's what we try to do out there going against the different receivers, the different matchups, the different looks. We're just trying to get better every day, understanding that we're not going to know how far along we are until Sunday hits and we go out there and put it on the line. But at the end of the day, we preach about September football is all about fundamentals. I'm just doing the fundamentals and understanding that, and just doing your job.

Q: Your (Head) Coach (Joe Judge) said that the Broncos have one of the best receiving corps in the league. Guys like Jeudy, (Broncos Wide Receiver KJ) Hamler, what do they specifically do that is difficult to defend?

A: I'll say knowing them from college and seeing them being elite in the slot, on the outside, being able to affect the game – short pass, middle, or deep, I feel like they can do it all. I feel like that's how they play the game and then you can't forget about the two big guys they have, Patrick and Sutton. They can do the same thing. It's all about just trusting your tech and just doing your job. But at the end of the day, like Coach said, they are an elite wide receiver group.

Center Nick Gates

Q: Were you surprised it all that your name was rattled off by (Head) Coach (Joe Judge) as far as the captains?

A: Yeah, no, definitely a surprise. I mean I've been in a couple of meetings with the guys and everything, but I was definitely surprised. I'm real honored to be a part of the guys and that the guys see me as that kind of person. I've just got to keep coming to work and keep doing what I'm doing to show them why they picked me.

Q: What does it say about your journey? I remember back in your second year in the locker room, and you talked about, 'I've just got to do what I've got to do in order to not get cut every week.' To get to this point, is there any time that you can take a step back and appreciate how far you've come?

A: I mean, right now I'm getting the chills. It's an honor just to be a captain, especially for this great organization the Giants have. Just the people that have come before me that are captains, just to be able to be a part of that legacy, it's awesome. I'm really excited and really honored. 

Q: Since training camp started, people have had an eye on (Running Back) Saquon's (Barkley) progress. He was working along to the side, but now that he's been back in practice, what are you seeing out of him? Are you seeing similar skills that you saw last year before he got hurt?

A: You know, he's just working every day to get better and get back on the field. I don't know what his thing's going to be on Sunday – how many he's playing or what he's doing, but I know he's working hard to get back on the field and be able to compete with us out there. 

Q: As far as the entire offense, psychologically, what kind of a lift would it be if he were to be cleared and he was out there Sunday?

A: I mean, Saquon's a freakish athlete. He can make little runs turn into 60, 70, 80-yard runs for six points. It's always great to have him out there. Hopefully, we can get him out there so he can compete with us. 

Q: What about (Quarterback) Daniel Jones makes you guys confident internally? Like he just said his goal is not even individual, it's just about winning. So, why is he your winning franchise quarterback?

A: Just the way he prepares and the way he comes to work every day. You know he's going to be prepared no matter what is thrown at him. He watches film more than anybody. He's in here at 5:30 in the morning and doesn't leave till 8:30, 9 o'clock at night. He'll be prepared. That's what everybody loves about him. You know he's going to come to work, and he'll pack his lunch pail and he's going to be ready.

Q: When he talks to us, he's very close to the vest. Is he any different with you guys?

A: What do you mean?

Q: Well, he doesn't give us much, let's say.

A: I feel like not a lot of us give you guys much to write about (laughs). But that's just Daniel. I wouldn't say he's quiet, but that's just Daniel. He loosens up a little bit, but what you see is kind of what you get from Daniel.

Q: How big of a deal would it be – you've been at center, but when you establish a rapport with a QB, if you were to switch that up and change centers, how much does that change the offense that a different person is there working with the QB when you've spent so much time on that?

A: I think (Head) Coach (Joe Judge) is getting us ready and getting everybody on the same page. They're trying to make it as smooth as possible. We're rotating enough out there right now. I don't think it'll be a problem if it has to happen. 

Q: (Guard) Ben Bredeson, how do you get him up to speed? Like even if you're going to play one snap next to a guy who just got here, how much of a challenge is that? What are the hurdles to clear before you do that?

A: Oh, he's a smart dude. He already knows the playbook pretty much pretty well. If he doesn't, he asks a question, 'Hey Nick, what do I got here?' I'm usually pretty, 'Hey, we got this.' He knows basically the gist of the calls and everything and if he needed anything, it'd be, 'Hey, we got this call, this is going to be it,' and he'd be like, 'Okay, got it.' He works hard getting in the playbook and learning it.

Q: You guys have taken a lot of grief this preseason. Are you guys just champing at the bit to get out there on Sunday?

A: Oh, definitely. It's exciting to get out there on game day and compete every day and show what we've been doing for what the past five, six weeks out here and finally get to put it on camera and on the field and just go have fun with the guys.

Q: You guys kind of laid down the foundation last year in your first year under (Head Coach) Joe (Judge). In your mind do you kind of have to make the playoffs now for this to be a successful year for you personally?

A: You know we're just going to take it one game at a time. Just try to win each rep of each game and just take it one week at a time.

View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Broncos.

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Limited Tickets Available for Giants vs. Broncos

Limited tickets are available for the Giants' home opener vs. the Broncos on Sunday

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