Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Before we get started with Giants football, just two quick thoughts. We want to give our condolences as an organization to Sam Huff. Obviously, a great player for this organization, did a lot throughout the years. (Condolences) to him and his family. And then a local football coach, Drew Gibbs. For someone who lives in the local community, I know it has hit a lot of people that I know directly. The impact he's had on a lot of lives, this kind of ripple effect goes across high school football. Obviously, high school, college, NFL, we're all kind of connected in the same world, so our thoughts and prayers go out to him, his family and the team up there in Ramapo. That being said, we'll go ahead and jump into questions.
Q: Anything you can tell us about (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan)? We saw he is out today because of COVID-19.
A: So, we're still waiting on some official test results, in terms of the long-term ones. He wouldn't be completely ruled out at this point for the game. We've got to wait and see in terms of the test results coming up. As of right now, we're getting ready to place him on the COVID/(Reserve list) just to go ahead and create the spot movement-wise. I'd say beyond that, close contact-wise, they're going through the whole process. Anytime you have one of these things, (Senior Vice President of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes and (Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist) Justin Maher, for each one of these things that pops up, it's like three hours' worth of contact tracing, who was where, who talked to who, who ate next to so-and-so. There's a whole map full of things. In terms of practice today, everyone will be out here with us. The only one who will be an exception would be (Linebacker) Zo (Lorenzo) Carter. He's at home again with an illness completely unrelated to COVID. Has nothing to do with COVID, but it's another illness and he's going to be home, as well.
Q: Just to clarify, Logan has a positive rapid test, correct?
Q: Because he's vaccinated, he doesn't have to test every day, right? So, did he come in and tell you guys he was feeling unwell and that's why he got tested?
A: I'm not going to go into the specifics of his personal situation, but it was something that drew an alarm to get him tested beyond just once this week.
Q: When do vaccinated players get tested? Do they have a standing day?
A: It's once a week, generally on a Monday. After a Monday night game, it could be a Tuesday for us, but generally Mondays.
Q: (Safety) Xavier McKinney is a guy who's in the room with him. He has said he's not vaccinated, right? How does that work with him as a close contact?
A: Out of precaution for all those players that are unvaccinated, we had a lot of them Zoom in today to thin out the rooms and make sure that they weren't exposed to being close contacts or to being in that situation. The way we set up the rooms anyway in the bubble and the meeting rooms, they're extremely spread out anyway. We're very specific about where certain players have to sit to make sure they're not close contacts with other people, kind of keep them protected. And we've talked throughout the year in terms of both the players who are not vaccinated being very conscious of who they're putting themselves around in terms of being in crowds, in the locker room, the cafeteria, things of that nature. Then also, we have to remind the team as well that you've got to respect their space, as well. We know who the guys are internally. We've got to respect their space, so they're not always all over everything and giving them room to operate.
Q: It sounds like you've ruled out the possibility with Logan that this is a false positive. Since you tested him yesterday, I presume—
A: There's still another test, we're waiting on the results coming back, so there's still another test we're waiting to come back. But I would say this is not a false positive at this time like we had last week.
Q: There's also a risk at this point Logan may miss the Philadelphia game next week…
A: Again, these are things that there's a risk of that. We've got to wait on a couple of different things to come back, so nothing is officially ruled out at this point for the future beyond what we're doing right now.
Q: So, the guys who Zoomed in will be out at practice, right?
A: That's correct.
Q: If he can't play, I assume that means a bigger role for a lot of guys, but mostly (Safety) Julian Love?
A: Yeah, Love has a significant role in the game for us anyway, so Love will be out there playing a lot. Obviously, if you have Logan (out), there's several guys on the practice squad who will be in effect, as well.
Q: How big of a loss though is not having Logan? I mean, this is one of your leaders back there in your secondary in a game when you're facing (Buccaneers Quarterback) Tom Brady.
A: I'd say throughout the year, we've already lost a lot of significant players. We don't want to be without any of our guys, especially a captain, a leader, but that's something we've already gone through as a team. Everyone has to prepare every week, we have to get the team prepared every week. Doesn't matter who we're playing, you want to have all your players out there, but the most important thing is everyone has to be prepared that when they go out there, they can produce.
Q: You guys have done a pretty good job on (Chiefs Tight End Travis) Kelce and (Raiders Tight End Darren) Waller the last couple of games. (Buccaneers Tight End Rob) Gronk (Gronkowski) is similar to those guys or is it just they're all great tight ends, but his game is much different than those guys?
A: I'd say all three have very different games and skillsets. The common thread would be they're all very, very productive and effective players. Rob is a great player. He's one of the best to ever play that position of tight end. He's obviously going to be a guy who's a key focus if he's on the field. We've got to be very conscious of where he is with situational football. This guy has had a lot of big plays throughout the years playing with the same quarterback, Tom, so obviously he's a big part of their game plan.
Q: You said yesterday you'd have a better idea about (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) after practice. Is he closer, you think?
A: I thought he had a positive day yesterday for us. I wouldn't say that we've ruled anybody officially in or out but coming off the field yesterday, he had a good day for us.
Q: Would you say he's trending in the right direction though, still?
A: Yeah, I would say that.
Q: You know Tom so well. What's your thoughts on trying to hand him what would be his third straight loss?
A: I said earlier in the week, I've seen this movie before. This guy prepares relentlessly. He's the ultimate competitor, so in terms of what's happened in previous games, none of that will have any bearing on this game. It's all going to be about how their team executes and our team executes for 60 minutes.
Q: When a young player like (Tackle) Andrew Thomas is playing as well as he was before the injuries, when he comes back, do you handle it any differently? Do you start from a different vantage point not expecting a guy like that to all of a sudden pick up where he left off if he does move forward?
A: I'd say he's had a positive course of practice so far, but I think what you said is very fair. When a guy comes off any kind of long stint away from the team, whether it's an illness, an injury, whatever it is, when they come back, I don't think anyone just picks back up right away immediately where they left off. There's always a transition coming back. Now, a lot of times you can get that back through practice and you get in the game and you're still playing at a high level, but I don't think anyone just walks onto the field and just picks right back up immediately. You've got to get back in the sync of things playing next to the other guys on the offensive line, being within the calls. You really need the competition we had yesterday in practice to really go ahead and get him back ready. He had a good day of practice for us yesterday in terms of we had a lot of good-versus-good competitive work. He had a good practice for us yesterday.
Q: Are you more confident in him after yesterday's practice being ready for Monday or is it still kind of the same spot?
A: I'd say in terms of movement-wise of being out there and moving around and staying on the field, I'd say seeing him physically go out there and compete does give you more confidence. With that being said, there's going to be some other measuring sticks over the next couple days we'll take a look at.
Q: Would he have been listed as full yesterday? You said he did team stuff it sounded like. If he can do some team stuff, would he have been listed as full?
A: I don't know if he would be exactly full on that right there, but he did some stuff mixed in – team, some individual for us. It was good to see him out there finally doing some football stuff and moving around.
Q: If Saquon has had some down moments this season, it would be understandable given – especially, the stepping on the foot thing. What have you seen from him in terms of continuing to lead even when he's not on the field?
A: Are you referencing down moments in terms of his attitude or leadership?
Q: I don't think attitude, but I would think sometimes he says to himself, 'This sucks.'
A: I can't speak for him. I just know I watch him and how he interacts with his teammates and the impact he has on the team. I'd say I think anybody who's not available to play on the field, (it's) natural they want to be out there. I don't want to put a word in front there and all of a sudden create something for him. But, when I see him with the team, great energy, great enthusiasm, encouraging his teammates, competing every time he has an opportunity to compete in anything, whether that's answering questions in the meeting, it's on the field doing rehab, practicing, whatever it is. To me, he strives to be an impact on this team. That comes through in how he works to get back or whatever the case is and he's done a good job for us right now as a leader.
Q: What have you seen from (Defensive Back) J.R. Reed? Is he a guy that if Logan is down is working towards being a part of the game plan?
A: He's a guy that's obviously gotten more familiar with our system these last few weeks. He's definitely a competitive guy, he's an intelligent guy and he's a physical player. Those three things right there really help you when you play in the deep part of the field in that safety position. He's definitely a guy that factors in all of our safety positions and some of our sub defensive positions, just like Logan, Love and Zay (Xavier McKinney) do, so he's definitely in that mix. He's a guy that's been working for us on the field and playing. We rotate all these guys throughout practice. We try to prepare everyone that you never know what's going to happen. It can be something before the game, it could be something two plays into the game. Someone's got to go in there and go ahead and answer the call. He's done a good job progressing for us. He's a guy that as you get more comfortable, you play more aggressive and we've seen that from him.
Q: Are you aware of the stat that Brady's only lost three games in a row once ever in his career and that was in '02?
A: Over the course of his career – there's a million stats you can tie into a lot of things. I don't think any of that stuff's relative to what we're going to do or relevant to what we're going to do Monday night.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: How were you feeling out there today?
A: Feel pretty good. Getting better every day. Just continue to get acclimated and take it one day at a time, listen to the training staff, listen to the coaches.
Q: What is your injury?
A: Something with my ankle.
Q: Is it like a low sprain? That's what was reported, that's why I'm asking.
A: I mean, I really don't want to get too much into that – whatever was reported – it is what it is. I'm just coming out every single day trying to get better and trying to get back.
Q: No setbacks with your knee, right?
Q: Did you have any setbacks with the foot during the rehab process?
Q: How much longer did it take than you expected originally? Originally, it seemed like even when you talked to us it didn't seem like you thought this would be a four-game type of thing.
A: Yeah, I didn't. I think everyone – when it first came out reported, I think at first no one thought that, but when the MRIs came back, obviously we knew it was going to be a little more difficult than we thought. I've just been keeping my head down and coming to work every single day.
Q: Was it a grade three sprain?
A: Really don't want to get too much into the details. Those questions are more for (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge or (Director of Rehabilitation/Physical Therapist) Leigh (Weiss) or (Senior Vice President of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes.
Q: Is this something that, similar to the high ankle sprain, that you're going to have to manage and play through the rest of the season?
A: I don't know. I guess I'll know whenever I'm able to get back out there. Right now, I'm just focused on practicing and leading and trying to get better and trying to get back for my team.
Q: Was that COVID test a setback, do you think you might have gotten back sooner if not for that?
A: I mean, that's kind of up in the air. Obviously, as a competitor, I would've loved to try and play last week, but missing practice for a day or two – I had to be home for a day or two – and not being at practice, definitely, I guess you could say, set me back from what I would've liked to accomplish. But no one knows and I can't predict that. I could've came out and practiced and not felt good and still not been able to play or could've came out of practice and felt good enough to go out there and play.
Q: You look pretty explosive out there now. Do you feel – I don't even know if 100 percent is even a thing midway through a season – do you feel like you usually feel the Friday before a game?
A: I would say just some soreness when you're rehabbing and when you're coming off of an injury, especially an injury where you had to be non-weight-bearing for a little bit. There definitely will be some soreness there, but that's part of football, that's part of the game that I love to play, and I just have to continue to listen to the trainers, listen to the coaches and trust my body.
Q: What has this last month been for you just psychologically working through this?
A: It sucks. As a competitor, you want to be out there. I just went a whole year, missed 14 games because of a knee and having to watch all the games on TV or being there. Then having to miss three or four games, however many games I just missed, obviously it sucks. Just missed the game and just hopeful that I get that opportunity this week. Just got to keep trusting it and keep building.
Q: Do you expect to be on a pitch count?
A: That's not a conversation that I had with Judge or any of the coaches, so I really have no expectations. I'm just trying to just get better and show them that I can be able to go out there and play and be able to protect myself and help the team.
Q: What did you do the week you had COVID? Were you able to work out on your own?
A: Fortunately, I have a gym in my house, so – actually, I didn't have COVID, so I want to clear that up. I actually didn't have COVID. But when I was false positive or however it went, I had a gym in my downstairs, so when I did have to quarantine a little bit I kind of just went down to my basement, stayed away from my family, and talked to (Director of Strength and Performance Craig Fitzgerald) Coach Fitz and got the workout sent to me. Went in my weight room and did it.
Q: That Friday after you got cleared from the false positive, you weren't on the practice field. Were you at home quarantining working out in that gym that day?
A: I forgot the makeup of it and how it went. I think I came in to test Tuesday – yeah, that Friday I don't think I would've been on the field, but I think I was able and allowed to come back into the building because of the rules because I'm vaccinated. I really don't remember, but I wasn't on the field that Friday. Or maybe I was by myself with Leigh and them. I'm not quite sure.
Q: As big of a competitor as you are, have you been able to find ways to kind of feed that competitive nature while you weren't on the field?
A: When I thought I had COVID, I played a lot of Madden, I guess that's some way. Playing board games with my family. There's nothing that's going to feed it like playing football. It's not just a competitive side, it's just the love of the game and just how passionate I am about it. Like I said, every single day so far this week, just trying to come back and just get better and show the coaches that I'm able to go out there and protect myself and be able to help the team.
Q: Do you call like 75 handoffs in a row when you're playing Madden?
A: No, I made like a franchise mode and make the team suck and get rid of all the star players and get my own draft pick.
Q: You rebuild.
A: Yeah, I just do like a whole big rebuild.
Q: Do you trade yourself?
A: No, I don't play with Giants because it's too close to home. Say if I'm playing a game and if I fumble the ball, I've got to take myself out of the game. It's too weird for me, so I stay away from the Giants.
Q: Did you practice fully today or were you limited?
A: What did it say? Did it come out?
Q: They didn't say it, so that's why I'm asking you to get a jump on whatever the injury report is.
A: I guess we'll wait until it comes out, right?
Q: How much extra rehab do you have to do right now on this still with the ankle? Like after practices.
A: Both. You've got to rehab the ankle, you've got to rehab the knee, and you've got to rehab your body. I know I've been banged up and hurt the last two years, but I hire a lot of people. I do a lot of extra work on my body. That's why some of the injuries, I guess you could say, don't make sense, but you've got to continue to stay on your body. No different if I didn't have an ankle injury or if I didn't have a knee injury the year before, Week whatever we are in the NFL, it's a grind and tear on your body, so you've got to take care of your body no matter what. The extra stuff that you've got to do to your body is needed no matter what, if it wasn't for injury or just want to continue to go out there and be healthy.
Q: Did you get a second opinion on your ankle? Like did you have to go to LA or something?
A: No, I didn't have to go to LA, but my agent got a hold of the MRIs and it's always smart to get a second opinion. Obviously, I trust everyone here from (Hospital for Special Surgery) HSS, (Head Team Physician/Orthopedics) Dr. (Scott) Rodeo to Leigh, all their opinions. Like I said, I also don't want to go too deep into that.
Q: You're a pretty business-oriented person. When all these injuries happen, how do you avoid thinking that it's costing you money? Look, I understand there's nothing you can do, you stepped on a guy's foot, but the reality is the more time you miss the more the perception is, 'Hey, he's injury-prone.' You know the situation. How do you not think about that?
A: You live life, you know what I mean? I can't control that. A lot of people say, 'control what you can control' and that's what I live by. I spend time with my family, live life, smile, work my butt off. I'm a big believer in no matter what, the things that you want to accomplish, you've got to visualize it, you've got to work for it. All the things I want to obtain are still out there for me to obtain. That's how I've got to live by it. There are going to be setbacks. There's going to be adversity – not just as a football player, but in anything you do in life. Just because you have a little adversity, little setbacks, doesn't mean you've got to start listening to all the noise. You've got to ignore the noise, put your head down and keep working and have faith and have belief that all the hard work that you put in is going to come to light.
Q: Have you thought about it though? Is it something you have been completely able to avoid, or has it crossed your mind and then you're able to get over it? I know you mentioned last time it's like a cycle, right? The first initial reaction is disappointment and then you have to kind of get over it like a day or two or whatever.
A: No, the only thought process is getting back, getting back with my team, getting back playing the sport that I love. Obviously, right when I felt like I started getting back, obviously, I got injured. But we've got, what, eight, nine games left in the regular season? Everything we want to accomplish is still out there and just try to get back as healthy as I can to go out there and try to make a run at this thing in the second half of the season.
Q: You mentioned that for you personally everything you want to obtain is still obtainable here, so whenever you do come back for the latter half of the season, what are your expectations for yourself?
A: I've got a 'C' on my chest for a reason, be a leader. I still believe I'm capable of the things that I've shown on the field before, so when I'm able to make those plays, when those plays come to me, make those plays and don't force anything and take it one day at a time. That's really the only thing I can do. Those are my expectations. Take it one day at a time, be a leader that I am, and be the playmaker that I know I can be and know that I will be.
Safety Julian Love
Q: I hope you've got a better jumper than half your team over there.
A: Sadly, I don't. I wasn't a big jump shot guy. My dad wanted me to be, but it didn't pan out.
Q: With (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan) out, obviously probably a much bigger role for you? What was today like coming on practice and what will it be like if Logan can't play?
A: Yeah, today on the practice field, it was very similar to my usual Friday's because I feel like I'm always kind of subbing in and out of every type of position. I think from a leadership perspective, it's tough. We obviously, we've got to see what happens. He is kind of the vet, experienced guy in our secondary right now. I mean, obviously we want him out there with us.
Q: How big of a blow is this for you guys? It's a big change to have if he can't play. You're playing a team with (Buccaneers Quarterback) Tom Brady and they're the best offense, if not one of the best offenses in the league. How big of a blow is it to lose a guy at this point in the game?
A: Yeah, I mean, he was really excited to get after it this week especially against Tampa, against Tom. That's just the competitor in him. His juices were going this week for sure. It's tough. You want to have all of your tools available and ready versus a team like this and obviously, their offense. It's definitely a blow, but we've got some resilient guys. We're going to just really spend the extra time like we did today after practice just to really get everything sharpened up.
Q: What's difficult about defending somebody like (Buccaneers Tight End Rob) Gronkowski from your perspective? Did you guys take away anything from playing the Chiefs and the Raiders about stopping those tight ends?
A: I mean, Gronk is one of the best to ever do it at his position. He's very talented and him and Tom just have a great connection. They just find a way. We've definitely got to have an eye on him. He's one of the game wreckers that we've got to minimize or do our best to minimize. That goes into our prep. Obviously we had a good plan versus (Chiefs Tight End Travis) Kelce in Kansas City. We've got to just continue that growth and just really execute.
Q: You had a pretty good tweet that you were going to dye your hair half blonde. You're really going to do it?
A: Yeah. That's a true statement. I told him (Safety Xavier McKinney) I'll dye my hair half blonde if he makes the Pro Bowl. So, yeah, that's accurate.
Q: Tell me about that. That's being a good teammate. That's supporting your guy. He's actually younger than you and he's playing a bigger role. Is that just selfishness on your part wanting your guy to get praised? What went into that?
A: I think Xavier is a rising superstar in this league without a doubt. I think he's wise beyond his years. Obviously, he's a year younger than me, but he goes into each week with a great preparation and a great focus. He's really intentional about what he's doing. He's a great guy, so you want to support all your guys who are in that role and I think he's having a great year. I think attention should be shown his way, for sure.
Q: How would you look half blonde?
A: Probably better than him, honestly (laughs). But yeah, that should be an exciting thing. Hopefully he gets it done.
Q: Have you guys had the opportunity to speak to Logan today?
A: Yeah, I talked to him. I talk to Logan a lot, I talked to him this morning. It's tough. I know we're waiting on some results and all that stuff. It's just tough, it's just tough to see. First and foremost, you just want to wish safety on him and everyone he's around, his family and all that. That's kind of what's on my mind is for him, just his health and safety, really.
Q: How is he feeling?
A: He said he feels fine. He said he feels fine. He's got all his extra workouts in and all that stuff. He's been kind of doing his normal routine, hasn't felt too phased this week. It sucks to see a test come back positive.
Q: I'm guessing it would be more of a surprise if you hadn't heard from Logan, right?
A: Yeah (laughs). I'm sure he's going to have a zoom call scheduled with us later today just to recap what he sees on film. That's just the type of leader he is. He's really attached and he's really in it with us no matter what.
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their Monday night matchup against the Buccaneers.