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Quotes: Coach Joe Judge, TE Evan Engram, S Jabrill Peppers

Head Coach Joe Judge

Opening Statement: All right, so we're wrapping up the week today obviously, with reviewing all phases, installing red area and reviewing our big four. So, there will be a lot of work for our guys on the field today. We've had two good days of practice, a lot of intense competition within the squad and they really came to work this week. I've been very pleased with the way they're going in the classroom and on the field. Today will be a big day for us making sure we go ahead and get everything going. Obviously, we're never going to go ahead and tie a bow on it. The hay is never really in the barn for us. We're always looking to go ahead and make adjustments and add anything we think is going to help, or take something out we think is a little bit of overkill. We'll continue our game prep tomorrow and Saturday until up to one o'clock on Sunday. Any questions you may have, I'll answer right now.

Q: How close is (Tight End) Evan (Engram)?

A: He had a pretty good day yesterday. We'll have to see him move around today. I wouldn't say it was a full load yesterday. I'd say he went through a full practice, but in terms of monitoring his reps and stuff with some things. So, we'll see how he goes today, but he keeps making progress for us. That's been a positive.

Q: Any concerns or doubts about (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) or (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney)? Kadarius showed up on the injury report yesterday, but them being able to play barring some sort of setback here?

A: I mean, I'd say we've just got to see them move around today, right now. We'll see where they're at today in practice. They'll start out early with the team, see how it goes from there. I think this time of year, there are a lot of nicks and bumps. Obviously, you go through two games in a short period of time, guys are going to come out with a couple of different things. But we'll see where they're at.

Q: Did Toney get hurt in practice yesterday or was that like a lingering thing – Toney's ankle?

A: It was nothing (that) happened yesterday, no.

Q: (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham said you guys were going to dive into the defense and kind of try to figure out how to adjust. How much do you think you guys need to do differently? How much is it some of the details that you don't think is too far off?

A: Well, I think it's a combination of both. I think there's an element of maybe calling the game a little bit different within the situations of who we're playing against. That's not a knock on anything we've done, it's just looking forward in terms of what we're doing, what we can do to adjust to put our guys in the right position. In terms of the details, we just have to do a good job as coaches making sure the players have a clear mental picture of what they're supposed to do and then going out there and executing it with the details. It's definitely a combination of both. We're always looking to adjust as coaches, do something better for ourselves to put the players in a position to be successful, and then we go out to practice, keep our targets small, make sure we understand each play – what the process of being successful is on that, and make sure we carry out those details of the execution.

Q: Along those lines, you said a lot that you guys are game plan-oriented, like week to week you totally change. What's the balance of that with just doing what you're really good at? Is there a give and take there?

A: Well, there's a combination of being able to do what you do within the different constructs of a game plan to make sure it matches the opponents. So, when I say that, you can say, 'Okay, yeah, a Cover 2, Cover 3 type of team or are you man type of team?' Well, there's different variations of all those things. So, you've got to be able to play with what your base concepts are within different variations to matchup on the opponent right there, and then you've got to be willing at certain times to install a new scheme or system. Now, you build in through training camp enough of the knowledge and the flexibility that when you put it in through the season, they've got something to reference and tie back to. They have something that – sometimes you think ahead in terms of opponents maybe two, three, four weeks away and you put in something as a wrinkle through practice. You may not be planning on using it for a couple of weeks, but it introduces the concept that it's not brand new to them on that game week.

Q: When a pass rusher is chasing a quarterback, what technically do you guys have to do to get him down? It seems like there have been a lot of plays, even going back to Week 1, where you're chasing him, but you're failing to bring the QB down. Is it something that guys are doing wrong or is it just because of the QB?

A: Well, I think it's a combination of different quarterbacks bring different challenges. Are you chasing him from the front end? Are you holding your leverage? Are you a back side chase guy off a boot where you're going at the high shoulder to deny that boot getting out, and now you're in a behind position right there to play your contain responsibilities? And then there's a combination of who the individual is. Like if you're tackling (Steelers Quarterback) Ben Roethlisberger, you've got to take him high. The reason being, if you go low on him, he's so strong, he's made a lot of passes down the field with guys on his legs. There's going to be other quarterbacks where the second you get on their legs, they go down right away and they're not trying to throw the ball down there. There are other quarterbacks you want to intentionally tackle around the waist or maybe the thighs because you know maybe they're going to force the ball down the field, and they have a history of throwing poor decisions or poor balls when someone's on their legs. So, we go into each game plan talking about the specific quarterbacks of what they do when they scramble and extend plays, the number one goal is to keep them in the pocket. You don't want to let them go ahead and create loose plays, whether that's through designs by boots or just scrambles by losing contain. You want to make sure you keep them in. In terms of getting them on the ground, if you're face up on the quarterback, to me it comes in on open-field tackling principles of making sure you hold your leverage, play with gather, don't stop your feet, keep your head up and see what you're hitting. Then it's first step, wrap, second step, drive, get him on the ground. If it's a situation where it's a loose scramble play and you're in more of that chase position and again, to me it's about knowing who the quarterback is. Making sure you're taking the proper leverage your teammates can work off it if you were to miss the tackle. But in terms of getting them on the ground, that's really a lot of individually style quarterbacks. I'd say the biggest thing is just making sure you get them down and secure it. That's a pretty blanket answer. It's kind of like a, 'Yeah, we got you on that Joe.' But at the same time, it's look, let's not sacrifice going too much for the strip, the punch, the turnover and miss the tackle. Our coaching point is generally, first man secures the tackle, second man comes in and works on turnover for the strip.

Q: You have an open roster spot after putting (Center) Nick (Gates) on IR, is the plan just to promote (Wide Receiver) C.J. Board or did you figure out what you're going to do there?

A: We're going to talk about that internally and see what the best move for the team is. A couple of different options internally, and then see also who's available on the outside in terms of maybe addressing some different positions. But C.J.'s done a good job for us and we'll see where that goes going forward.

Q: Do you plan to still have (Ben) Bredeson at left guard and Billy (Price) at center going into this week?

A: You'll definitely see an element of that and there's going to be probably some flexibility and moving around as far as getting some different guys in there and just making sure we work some different rotations as well. We'll see how it goes between today, tomorrow's walkthrough and going into the game on Sunday. You'll definitely see an element of that.

Q: You mentioned the potential rotation there, would you do that at center?

A: We'll see how it goes at center. Obviously, we have different guys working at that position right there, but in terms of the guard position, tackle position, we roll our guys every game.

Q: How has (Tackle) Matt Peart looked? I know you gave him some reps on the inside to try other positions, what has he shown you there?

A: Matt's working a lot of positions right now. I'd say he was working hard and making gains at all of them right now. He was obviously rotating at tackle. We've given him some reps this week at guard. That's a new position for him. He's definitely done some positive things that we'll continuing build with. But it's just about building in the versatility. This isn't a wholesale position change for this guy and say that he's going to be a wholesale guard. Now, if that turns out to be the best thing for the team, that's the best thing for the team. But he had a couple of days of working it this week. He's done a good job embracing it and jumping into it. The techniques are a little bit different from tackle to guard. The multiples become a little bit different in terms of what you're seeing, the speed of what you have to react to inside just by nature of being closer to the ball. But Matt's done a good job for us so far there.

Q: With (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), when young guys on the edge come into this level, you talk patience because they don't want to set the edge. It seems like Azeez is setting the edge and it's almost like getting the pass rush going. Do you have more faith in trusting a young guy like that when he shows he can handle the different responsibilities?

A: I think the confidence comes from – we talk about performance in practice, consistency, execution. I think the confidence within the game comes from doing the job and making sure there's not breakdowns and mental lapses. Azeez has done a good job for us so far, as far as understanding the system and the scheme of where he fits and understanding how everyone plays off him as well. Those edge players are critical and by scheme, you might give them a two way go, send them under and have someone else play the contain responsibility or they've got to play either outside with the rusher, set the edge to make sure we keep it bottled up. Our guys are used in all those different elements. We kind of build that in with the game plan. There's never just one exclusive thing for them. Azeez has done a good job for us as far as setting the edge. He's done a good job as far as playing firm and strong with extension. Really, kind of playing and create extra length with his body lean and he's done a good job getting to the passer when he's had a chance to right there. Kind of tying back in the question earlier about getting the quarterback on the ground, there's been a couple that he's had some chase plays, some pressure plays and then obviously we've got to tie all 11 together to make sure we create opportunities to get the quarterback down.

Q: Big picture, I know you preach patience and you're worried about this week and this week only, but how important is it to avoid 0-3? That's a pretty steep hole in this league.

A: We prepare every week to win. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week. Our only focus right now is the Atlanta Falcons and getting better as a team, so that's what we keep our focus on right there. There are a lot of things that are big picture outside of this. You can't do anything to affect three months from now and you can't go back in time and replicate what happened. So, you've got to fix mistakes that happened and build on what you did successfully, but our target has got to be small. Right now, we have the Atlanta Falcons coming to town. They're a very good opponent. We know they're going to come in here with an explosive offense, a lot of multiples on defense and an aggressive kicking game. We've got to get ready for them to go out there and compete.

Q: Considering your attention to tradition, how much does this Eli Manning day become a point for you to tell your team about?

A: We referenced that earlier in the week. We started our prep on Wednesday, we referenced that right there. I'd say, obviously, the significance of what he did for this organization, what he's meant to this city and what he's been as far as a respected player in this league is all very important. I'd say having Eli here in the building now is great for the organization. I think it's also unique that you're seeing a guy's jersey get retired with a good amount of guys who were in the locker room with him. I think that's something that's a little bit unique. He's not a guy that's got to come back four or five years later. Obviously, last year would've been different if not for COVID to have this right here, so to see a guy like Eli get recognized for what he did on and off the field, I think that's important. It's important for our players to recognize not just the accomplishments on the stat sheet and the accomplishments with the wins, but the daily work ethic and commitment to the team that he had over his course of time, which is really why he had the success.

Tight End Evan Engram

Q: Are you hopeful about your chances of playing this Sunday?

A: I had a great week, a really good recovery. Been doing really well with our trainers, they always do a good job. This week has been really fun back out there with the guys, so it's going to come down to the rest of today, tomorrow and then it's up to (Head Coach) Joe (Judge). I feel good about it.

Q: Did you know at the time that you were probably going to miss those first two weeks? Was this the target, to get back for Week 3?

A: I was just trying to get back as quick as possible. Obviously, I didn't go on IR, so I was just doing everything I could to get better, recover and get back out on the field.

Q: How close were you in your mind last week? A: I can't really get into percentages. It was just something that we wanted to be smart with, as always. Q: Did you think there was a chance throughout the week though last week?

A: I don't know. I was just focused on getting healthy, that's pretty much it. That's all I can tell you.

Q: Last year you were able to play all 16 games, so how frustrating was it for you that you get to the beginning of this one and you weren't able to get out there?

A: It's always frustrating not to be out there fighting with my brothers, but stuff happens, it wasn't in my control. All I could control was how fast I can get back. Obviously, it sucked not being out there. It was killing me honestly, but definitely just trying to get back and get out there.

Q: Right when you got hurt, did you think it was worse than this?

A: No. Obviously, I felt something. I've had calf stuff before, so I knew it wasn't terrible, but it definitely was a 'good' injury. Like I said, we were planning on being smart with it and trying to treat it as much as possible, so when I get back there's no worries, there's no setbacks and there's no holding back from anything.

Q: That IR conversation where you can come back after three games, do you get a say in that?

A: That's a question for Joe. That's all in-house type of stuff.

Q: I was just curious whether you said, 'I think I can do it in three weeks.'

A: I was really consistent on just my recovery and saying that I can get back as fast as possible. Obviously, that stuff is not for me, but that's definitely in-house stuff.

Q: When that decision is made though – and unfortunately in your career you've had plenty of timetables that have been given to you – but when they make that decision that they're not putting you on IR they're essentially giving you a timetable where they think you'll be ready. Does that push you even further to go knowing that you can get to that point?

A: Being out there with my teammates is what pushes me. I want to play. I put a lot of work in, we put a lot of work in and injuries suck. They happen. But my focus wasn't really on that stuff. Like I said, that's all out of my control. I just was doing everything I could just to get back as quick as possible.

Q: Is it worse to be out when you're losing? Is there a feeling of like, 'If I was in there, maybe we could've won this game. Maybe I could have made the one or two plays that would've won the game.'

A: Not playing sucks and losing sucks, whether you're in the game or not. I'm a part of it, I'm part of the team. Obviously, the last two games we didn't get the results we wanted, so not playing sucks, and losing sucks.

Q: In your mind, a couple days before you got hurt, you sat out of practice in New England. Was that related to the calf?

A: It wasn't anything calf-related in New England.

Q: In your mind, what can you add to the offense?

A: Just my versatility. I've been a really versatile player throughout the years here, was a versatile player last year in the same offense. I think our tight ends have been playing great, doing their job, executing and making plays, so I just want to come in and add to that and do everything I can to put the team in position to win.

Q: What are your expectations for yourself this year production-wise?

A: I just want to win. Obviously, I have my goals, I keep that to myself. I push myself everyday to hold myself to a high standard, but I just want to do everything I can to help my team win.

Q: I think fans look at it and say you're overdue for a repeat of your first year when you were really good. You haven't been as productive since, so do you think that's the case? Are you overdue?

A: I'm not worried about anything anywhere that's outside of this building. All of the opinions that I worry about, that I care about, are in this building and my family, so I can't control all that stuff. I come here to work every single day and on Sunday I'm going to go out there and compete.

Q: In this league, it's a team game, but a lot of teams have a quarterback that goes as the team goes. When you desperately need a win like you guys need this week, do you think (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) is capable of putting you guys on his back and just delivering?

A: I believe in DJ, we believe in DJ. We work all together. We're a family, we're brothers and everybody has a part in it. We've got do our job to put him in positions to win and to succeed, so no, it's not all on him. It's a team effort, it's an offensive effort and we've go to out there and play together. It's that simple.

Q: The teams been 0-2 every year of your career. It has to be incredibly frustrating. Why would this year be any different? You haven't made the playoffs after starting 0-2. Why is this year going to be any different?

A: We can't even really get into that. We've got the Falcons this week. We're not looking ahead or anything. We're not trying to plan wins or whatever, plan records. We're focused on this week, we're focused on the Atlanta Falcons and winning this game.

Q: Obviously, you said you seem good, but in your mind do you think you're capable of playing right now?

A: Yeah, I had a great week of practice, no setbacks, no soreness or anything, so I feel good.

Safety Jabrill Peppers

Q: What do you think of (Falcons Tight End Kyle) Pitts?

A: I think he's a great tight end. A good receiving target, big body, great catch radius. Someone you've got to be very wary of.

Q: People have described him as a very unique type player in terms of tight ends. Does he remind you of anyone you've seen or played against?

A: Not that I could remember, no.

Q: Why do you think this defense isn't playing at the level I'm sure you guys want to?

A: Every week is about improving. We know the standard. We know what we have to do to get there. It's just all about putting it forth on Sunday.

Q: How tough is an offense with a really good pass catching tight end versus one that doesn't have that threat?

A: A big body tight end? It's always good for an offense. (The) quarterbacks' security blanket, a big target in the red zone, things of that nature.

Q: Does constant losing wear on a team's mentality?

A: Mentality is always the same. Get better, improve each and every day. Be better the next week than you (were) the last.

Q: We talked to you after the first game, and you said there were some things that you could improve and also wanted to get on the field more. How did you feel you played against Washington personally?

A: When I start making more impact plays, that's when I'll think I'm playing some good ball.

Q: You certainly played a lot more snaps against Washington than you did in Week 1 and it was (Safety Xavier) McKinney who was the guy that didn't play a lot. Do you guys expect that is going to be game plan specific, which of you (Safety) Logan (Ryan) and Xavier is the guy that plays the least?

A: Everything is game plan oriented, so whatever the game plan is that week, that's how we approach it.

Q: Are there ways that the three of you can be on the field for a lot of snaps and not just in packages?

A: I believe so, but everything is game plan specific. Whatever we're asked to do, that's what we have to do to the best of our ability.

Q: How big is it for this team not to be in that 0-3 hole? That's a pretty deep hole to be in initially.

A: All we're worried about is going out there and playing good football.

Q: Does a quarterback's immobility – like (Falcons Quarterback Matt) Ryan isn't much of a runner – does that give you guys some advantages in how you can attack an offense?

A: Each quarterback poses different threats. We're going to try to do what works well for us and I know he's going to try to come out and do what works well for him.

Q: When you play somebody like Matt Ryan who's probably seen everything there is to see, are there any ways to trick him or do you just have to play it straight up? I imagine there's not a lot he hasn't seen in his career.

A: We'll see Sunday.

Q: Do you see (Quarterback) Daniel Jones as the kind of quarterback who, when your guys' backs are against the wall this week – I know it's a team game – who can carry you guys and lift you to a much needed win?

A: Absolutely. Daniel has all of our belief, the coaches' belief. We see it every day out here in practice. It's just about going out there and putting it forth on Sundays.

Q: What has been the mood of the defense this week considering how poorly you guys played down the stretch last week?

A: Like I said, every week the goal is to get better. Be better than you were last week. That's the mindset.

Q: How much does this pass rush need to get more sacks? I know pressures are one thing, but a pressure on second-and-two just leaves it at third-and-two, but a sack could make it third-and-nine and make it a lot more difficult. How badly do you guys just need to finish some of these hits on the quarterback?

A: Like I said, every week the goal is to get better and be better than you were last week.

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