Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement:To give everyone a quick update in terms of what we did today and why we're going virtual, we came in this morning and we had the players using our indoor facility that we set up as a meeting facility since the beginning of COVID last year. Everything's been approved by the league. We started the day out in the bubble and we started out in position meetings. As the meetings are starting, we're getting alerts on a couple new positives that came up today along with several players who came up with flu symptoms. At that time, we deemed the best thing for the players was to end the meetings. We went immediately outside, we did a brief walkthrough that lasted about a half hour outside with the players masked and spaced out when they weren't involved. When that was done, we sent them home and then we Zoomed for about an hour and a half. We just ended that not too long ago. We'll bring the players back in here tomorrow more in the afternoon, which will take the place of our Saturday meetings. We won't do anything at the hotel tomorrow. We'll just meet here, we'll have a brief walkthrough on the field, we'll make sure that everybody's in an environment where it's spaced out and open air, all that stuff. We'll continue with our process getting ready for the game. That being said, I'll open up to any questions you guys have.
Q: Are you ramping up testing to every day now?
A: No, the testing protocol from the league really hasn't changed for us. The unvaccinated players test every day. If you come in and you're symptomatic, you test. If you're vaccinated and you're asymptomatic, you're not required to test more than once a week. In terms of the guys coming down with flu symptoms, we send them and make sure that everybody gets tested that's symptomatic. A lot of the symptoms are shared from flu and COVID. They all get tested for COVID immediately. When they come back as negative, they get tested for flu. Now, that takes a little bit longer to get the results on the flu than it does on COVID, so we always make a decision with those guys. Is it safe to keep them around our players? Is it best to send them home? Do we want to isolate those guys in a different part of the building, have them Zoom in for meetings and join us on the field? Everyone is a different case-by-case basis. Today, we felt it was best to get the players all away.
Q: Your secondary has been hit pretty hard in particular by the flu and the COVID stuff. I'm curious if you are worried about having enough guys out there in the defensive backfield Sunday.
A: We're talking through a lot of moves that could happen defensively and schematically, things we have to do to make sure we can adjust. Right now, there are some things in the air. We'll know a little bit more tomorrow in terms of guys like Zay (Safety Xavier McKinney) when his five days of testing are up and see where he's at. We'll go ahead and make any necessary adjustments we have to. I'm about to meet with the defense in a little bit and go through some different adjustments that could take place.
Q: Has Xavier still been testing negative to this point?
A: Yes, to this point he has.
Q: Are there any guys on the COVID list this week that have a chance of testing out of it, like (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) or (Linebacker) Cam Brown or any of these other guys?
A: I wouldn't say it's impossible for any of those guys to test out. We do check their viral loads, which show up on their daily testing. Typically, you want to get the number closer to about 35. As you get closer to 35, that's really when you test negative. You kind of watch as it goes up, if that makes sense. We'll watch as some of these guys raise and they get a little bit closer. It's a similar situation to when (Defensive Back) Logan Ryan was out, so we're keeping a close eye. Obviously, with the window we have left, there would have to be multiple negative tests in the next couple of days leading up to it. I wouldn't say it's impossible, but we're planning at this moment not to have them.
Q: Is your quarterback position affected at all by the flu symptoms?
A: At this moment, it has not been.
Q: If I could take us off COVID for a second, when Giants-Cowboys games late in the season have a chance for the visiting team – this goes both ways, obviously – for the visiting team to kind of turn a game into a home game with the fans invading and the home team selling their tickets to the road team. Obviously, this year that would be Cowboys fans invading MetLife. I'm wondering if that would be discouraging for you for a home game for Cowboys fans to kind of take over your building.
A: It's the National Football League, every stadium you go into has different jerseys. I think it's more discouraging sometimes when you go into a game and you see a jersey of a team that's not even playing in the game. It's more of a lack of common sense. In terms of whoever's in the stands, we've got a great atmosphere, our fans have been great this year and we look forward to getting out there in MetLife this weekend and hearing the fans in our jersey.
Q: With regard to Logan Ryan, obviously he's always been very standup and accountable. He was very accountable for that long touchdown last week. I'm kind of curious, what is the process of a player getting over that and moving on? What is your level of appreciation for guys that take ownership for mistakes like that?
A: I'd say the first thing, that's just what I believe in. I believe in when you make a mistake, you own up to it. Look, I make mistakes all the time. I make a point of when I screw up, I make sure the team understands that I'm going to own it in front of them. We come out of games and I tell them all the time, 'Guys, that's a mistake on my part, it's not going to happen again.' I expect the coaches to do the same thing, which they do. That way I expect the players to understand, you make a mistake, you don't hide behind it. You own it, you move on, you make the correction. People respect people who own their mistakes. We don't really have much of a tolerance for people who point fingers and make excuses. That's not really what the culture in this building is. It's not what we're ever going to allow it to be. In terms of the appreciation and respect of someone being a standup guy, that's what we expect and that's what we do respect here. On the other part, in terms of the process of getting over giving up a play, you've got to have a short memory as a defensive back in the National Football League. You have to. You've got to be able to move on to the next play immediately. When that happens, you've got to learn from it. You've got to realize what mistake you made and how to correct it and make sure you're on the same page as teammates. As any defensive back in the NFL, you've got to move on the next play immediately. You don't have time to dwell on that.
Q: The flu going around is just the flu, right? It has nothing to do with COVID? How prevalent would you say it is? Is it just because it's flu season and guys get the flu?
A: You're correct that the flu stuff has nothing to do with COVID. I don't know that I have any more diagnosis than what you just described it as. It's flu season and things go around. We're wearing masks in the building, we talk to our guys all the time about being smart about who you interact with outside of the building. It's just common sense this time of year. None of our guys have really done anything that we would call foolish or anything that's putting themselves at risk other than just living a normal life. We've just got to be careful at all times of the year understanding where everything is. Washing your hands, taking proper protocols, disinfecting things around the building. The cleaning staff here does a phenomenal job, the medical staff does a great job educating our players with it. We kind of just stay on that and stay proactive with it. It is what it is. The guys that come in with symptoms, sometimes they can go out and practice, sometimes they Zoom in for meetings and stay isolated from the team, sometimes they go home and get rest and then stay in through the post-practice film through Zoom. It's always different, but there's been cases of guys who wanted to get IV's or pumping their body full of fluids, coming over it quick. A lot of the guys come in the next day and feel a lot better. I'm getting a lot of those reports from these guys. You've just got to be aware of when it comes up, you're looking to avoid it spreading throughout the building.
Q: At some point, you look on social media and you see teams around the league that have 20 guys out, people debating whether games should be cancelled, top quarterbacks are out, it's a competitive advantage or disadvantage. At some point Sunday morning when you know who your team is and who everybody out there will be, how difficult is it to just put it all aside and say, 'That's it, no more COVID anymore, now we've just got football'? It's really unprecedented stuff here, isn't it?
A: I mean, it's been football for us the entire week. I don't have any control over an illness. We coach who we have available to us. We get those players ready and prepared, so it is what it is. We've known from the beginning. Same thing as last year, the games are going to go on. Whoever you have, you have to have them ready.
Q: How did (Defensive Lineman) Leonard (Williams) do yesterday and what do you expect from him? Can you just talk about if he is going to be available and that trajectory from the early pretty dire tests in the week to where he is now?
A: He had a good day yesterday. Moving around well for us, was able to use his upper body, do it, test it out. Today was a day we were going to push it a little bit longer and, to be honest with the way things turned out with how we had to do things, kind of bought him a day, if you would. We'll bring him in here tomorrow and move him around early in the afternoon before all the other players get here, get us a better view of what it would look like going into a game day. Whatever he can do, we'll make sure we go ahead and utilize that putting him out there, if he's safe to go out there.
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Cowboys.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: I have a question about (Defensive Back) Logan Ryan and the leadership he displayed in taking ownership for giving up that long pass last week – and that's not an isolated incident, he's always been standup. What does that mean to the guys in the locker room, particularly the younger games and the example that may show?
A: It's huge. He does a great job with mentoring the younger guys, but also, communicating with the other guys. I feel like to have the team going in the right direction, you have to be able to communicate to some of the vets too. Logan has always done a good job with that. I really appreciate some of the work that he puts in on the side and off the field. It just shows you how good of a guy he is. I really appreciate that about him.
Q: With all that is going on with COVID around the league, as a player, how much do you have to put up your guard or make changes to the way you approach your work week and everything?
A: We've kind of been through this for a while now, so we kind of know how to handle it. Been through pretty much every situation you could think of when it comes to COVID. We have precautions that we take. I'm fully confident in (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and the staff that they're going to have us doing the right things and using the PPE that we need in order to stay safe. Sometimes things happen, but all in all I feel like we have a good little system that we have going on in the building and trying to keep guys safe as we can while being in there. But I mean, nobody's going to care about what 's going on with COVID on game day, so we have to prepare the best that we can and if that's through Zoom, then that's what it has to be. But, we've been through it before.
Q: Have you thought about the possibility of there being a point where too many players are being sidelined and you guys being able to go out there and do what you need to do?
A: Yeah, I mean, you've got to figure it out. We have guys that stay at home that we can use if we have to, but I guess we'll worry about that when we get there. Yeah, I mean, it's no fun having guys having to sit out. It's kind of what we're living in at this point.
Q: As the veteran guy on this team and in the league, do you think the NFL should consider postponing games or are you in support of the plow through method that they've used for the last two years?
A: I don't know, I can't really say. I don't really know what's going on around the league. I know there's an outbreak, but for our team, I mean that's all that I'm really focused on. We've got a couple of guys sick whether it's COVID or the flu, whatever. I'm not sure. It just depends on how many guys end up getting sick. It's hard for me to say what I think the league should do though.
Q: Football wise, while you were out injured, it seemed like every day and every week somebody – a coach, a quarterback – says, 'We've got to make more of an effort to get (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) the ball.' There's a concentrated effort to get Kenny the ball. Now that you're back and obviously you're one of the best receivers, do you worry that that could take away from your targets? How do other receivers feel about the concentrated effort to get Kenny Golladay more targets?
A: At the beginning of the season, we all talked about it and I always said that I wanted a leadership's characteristic to be selfless. That's kind of what it takes to have a successful team, so it doesn't matter who gets the ball to me. I just want guys to make plays and that's what it really comes down to. We're going to get Kenny the ball. He's a dynamic playmaker, so we've got to find ways to get him the ball. There are enough balls to go around for everybody if you do it the right way. I'm confident in the coaches' game plan that they'll be able to find a way to get everybody the ball.
Q: That said, you only had one target in the first half the other day and your team is struggling to score. Was it frustrating getting back in the lineup and not being a big part of the game plan there?
A: Yeah, but I was kind of told that it was going to go slow for me at the beginning. Just trying to get my feet back underneath me. I mean, I hadn't really practiced up until last Thursday and Friday and that had been the first that I'd really ran around in weeks, so I knew it was kind of going to be slow for me. As time has gone on, I'll begin to get more touches. I'm not really worried about it. I'm just focused on this game and trying to get things rolling on offense.
Q: Just related to COVID really quick, is there any kind of fatigue on your guys' end as players, like here we go again with them telling you can't go out to certain places, you've got to do all of these intensive measures? I know I'm tired of it from a media side. How are you guys reacting to it?
A: It's tough, man. You want to be able to get together with your friends and your teammates outside of the building, but you've got to keep the best interests of the team at heart. Doing that kind of stuff can affect the team, so you have to be cautious of what you do. But yeah, we're tired of it (laughs), but like I said before, this is kind of the world that we're living in right now. You've just got to power through it.
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: I have two questions, one of which is regarding kind of the process of getting over a situation like last week with the long pass for which you were very accountable for obviously right away. I know in your business it's a short memory kind of thing, but can you speak to kind of coming back out of that and what your mindset is and what that process is like?
A: Yeah, you answered it, it's a short memory. It's football. When you're a fan of football like me and you study the game and you prepare, you give credit where it's due. It was a great pass, but to be a defender in this league, you can't expect that great players aren't going to make some great throws, great catches on you. You respect the game. You respect the throw. You learn from it, and you move on, but you don't let it discourage you from going back out there the next game or the next week. I've played in thousands of snaps, some good, some bad. That's just the nature of any athlete in any sport, you've got to move on to the next play. It has no bearing.
Q: Just as a follow up, you've always been very accountable since we've known you here and obviously prior to that. How important is that in your mind as a veteran to kind of show the younger guys around you because some guys don't want to take kind of public ownership with things like that sometimes?
A: It's everything that I would want in leaders when I was growing up, captains. We talk a lot about leadership, I get asked about it a lot obviously in the position that I am in my life, and it's really about being yourself. It's really about being comfortable in your own skin. I would just hate to be on a team where the best players or the older players, the veteran players, don't take accountability for what they're doing – good or bad. I believe in taking ownership. I'm comfortable in my abilities, in my own skin and when I mess up. I've learned a lot in marriage, you've got to apologize sometimes when you're wrong. Honestly, it works out the best that way for me and I let these guys know, 'hey, I think I could have made that play.' It wouldn't have been an easy play to make. I felt I could have made it. I felt like I was prepared to make it and I didn't make it. It'll be alright. I'll go back out there next week with some confidence to go back out there and make the next play. I just want to let everyone know that accountability is necessary to be a leader and those are the best leaders in my opinion, the people that aren't afraid to make mistakes and admit when they do.
Q: I've got two for you, the first one's a little off beat. You guys have a super fan, 'License Plate Guy', who's actually trying to get Giants fans to give him tickets rather than sell them to keep Cowboys fans out of the building and your teammate (Cornerback) Darnay Holmes actually gave him some tickets to do that, according to Twitter at least. Can you appreciate that and the willingness of Giants fans to try to keep Cowboys fans out of the building for you guys this week?
A: 100 percent. Listen, I'm a big fan of LPG. We've got him on an acronym name type basis over here. I saw him in the stands with an authentic half Rutgers, half Giants jersey – Logan Ryan jersey, that I've never seen before. He had to make it from hand. I'm a fan of his because he's a die hard. He's there every game obviously for years and he does a lot with charity. I gave some cleats away and he raised money for my charity. When I heard that, I had a similar idea. I was working behind the scenes to try to see if I could a purchase a block of tickets or do something to give it away for those who are more unfortunate around the holiday season. I don't want to see Giants fans in there. I don't appreciate that. Sorry, Cowboys fans. I want to see Giants fans obviously. I don't want to see Cowboys fans in there, so I was trying to find a way to kind of be on that same wave, try to take a situation where you hear that's happening and try to get those less fortunate in the stands or those who wish to be at the game or those who still want to be at the game, to be at the game. You want to have enthusiastic fans and I understand people spend their hard-earned money, so give it to LPG and he'll do a good thing with it, so I support him.
Q: My other obviously more serious football question is by my count you only had five defensive backs healthy today for your walk through now that we know (Defensive Back) J.R. Reed and (Defensive Back Natrell) Jamerson tested positive. How are you guys supposed to play football with only five defensive backs? What can you guys do?
A: You've got to do what's asked upon you, I'm sure the coaches and management will try to get some more healthy legs in there if possible. Just because (Safety) Zay McKinney didn't practice, that doesn't mean he won't play. You've got to see what you've got. I would say I've never had any experience like this, but I kind of played through last year and we obviously didn't have outbreaks this big or bad last year for the Giants. But you kind of do have a lot of experience of just going in completely unknown of who's playing, who may be there, who may not. You've got to be ready to be prepared and we're going to go out there and if I've got to play a little bit of some defense or some special teams, I did it in college, so I'll be ready to do it.
Q: This has been a strange week with the flu and COVID and I'm wondering at this point in the season obviously you're not getting a lot of on-time field practice. I'm wondering if at this point in the season, you really don't need it as much as you need to be mentally alert for the game?
A: I think mentally alert is the number one thing. You've got to do what the team needs. I think a coach always has to figure out what the team needs. Sometimes that's pulling back, sometimes it's going out there full. It's kind of a balance as a coach, I believe, to have a pulse of the team, but this is something that's out of your hands. This is something that everyone in the league's dealing with. Like I said, you can go out there at practice and only have five DBs today, what can you really get done and whatnot. Honestly, this is a pandemic that is out of our hands. You have to be willing to adapt, adapt or die honestly. You have to be willing to adapt and that's what we're doing. We've done virtual meetings before. We're all familiar with it. Obviously, everyone in the world got used to Zoom last year so we're comfortable with that system. (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) will do his best with the schedule to make sure that we're prepared to play. But the Cowboys aren't going to care about how many DBs we've got or whatever that may be. You've got to be prepared, and I really don't care – we've really got to be prepared to go play the game and go win the game. Whatever the task is, I know we're going to go at it 100 percent and give our best effort.