Head Coach Joe Judge
Q. A lot of talk around the league with coaches and players negotiating the condition of the off-season program. Have you done any of that?
A: No, I think our players understand that any time we put them on the field we are always going to do so first off with their safety in mind, and then also what we think is best for the team to progress each individual's technique and conditioning as well as the team collectively going forward. No, look, I'm always very clear, very transparent with the team in terms of how we're going to practice what we are going to do and what our intents are going on the field and the reason behind that. We haven't had any discussions like that. It if at some point some player wants to talk to me, I'm always very open to it. I'll give a very direct answer.
Q. And then sort of a follow-up. You have eight OTAs scheduled, not 10. What's the thinking there?
A: Eight plus the three gives you 11 total days. That was just a good schedule for us to work on in terms of getting what we want accomplished through the install and the players to get jumping on their summers. A lot of guys will be training else with where with different players and locations and others go to family vacation and build back into training. We thought it was a good time frame for us to wrap up camp. The rookies have time on the back end when the vets leave to stay and get some extra meeting time and with the strength and conditioning staff and to really help their development leaving training camp.
Q. What have you seen from Daniel this off-season, and not just on here in the building but him bringing the team together with the offensive guys, and what do you want him to accomplish this off-season?
A: Well, first off I'm proud of the way he works every day. This guy comes to work every day and whatever phase he's in, if he's in the weight room, getting treatment on field, throwing with his teammates, organizing things outside this building, the guy always has a plan of how he's going to attack things and proud to watch how he's worked. I look for them to come in and work their hardest and pay attention to details we are coaching and put the team first. This guy does that every time he walks in the building. Very pleased with the way he's working and looking for improvement from every one of our players on I daily basis and our coaches as well.
Q. Do you think he can hold that leadership role?
A: I think we have a lot of great leadership throughout the locker room. There's a lot of layers of leadership. Doesn't come from just one person. It has to come from different people and you have to make sure you can reach and touch every player on our roster. I love the way our team interacts and the leadership emerging from different age groups and guys being willing to share across the ball and share wisdom and put their arm around the guy and I like the way they challenge each other on the field and push to get better. I'm proud of the way Daniel is working and leading both polyacrylamide gel and vocally. Proud of the guys stepping up and taking that leadership this year.
Q. On Daniel, we put you in a position often of having to defend him publicly and defend your belief in him but internally how are you challenging him to be a dramatically better version of himself?
A: He just has to be the best he is every day, that's what we ask of all our players. It's not going to be perfect all the time but we need to be the best version you can be of yourself and as coaches we can put you in the best position to play your strengths. That's what we ask of all our players with. Daniel he never shies away from a challenge comes ready to work. Some is of the conversations we have, when we challenge him internally, this guy steps up every day to the plate and comes to work every day with a plan.
Q. I'm not sure we've asked you this but there are some high-profile quarterbacks out there whose futures are undetermined. Is there any possibility of you making a move to upgrade at quarterback or is Daniel your week one starter?
A: Daniel Jones is our quarterback.
Q. Since we last talked to you, you signed up a couple running backs. What did they show you?
A: Yeah, at that position we are looking for a lot of depths. Running backs have to have a role offensively and in the kicking game. You're going to play more than one in each game and you need more than one running back to sustain a season. It's a physical position and obviously a lot of wear and tear so you need a lot of depth, and not just the depth but you need different body types, skill sets to really complement your offense. Corey, I've known him for a long time now and admired the way he's played both in the offense and kicking game. He's got some experience and I was pleased with the way he came to rookie mini-camp being a vet on a trial basis and really attacked it. Liked the way he worked on a daily basis and liked what I saw in terms of him coming in in shape and condition and working on the field. That's what led us to sign him right there. We are going to always look to upgrade this team however we have to and we are always going to do whatever is best for the team.
Q. You obviously went in with a plan -- you mentioned the OTAs are going to have a lot of attention individually. Two weeks from now when this ends up -- two or three weeks, I know you have a plan for everything, but what do you need to accomplish this spring? Are you looking to have any team on team or is it really going to be an individual fundamental, get these guys ready to go by the end of the spring to come back and compete in training camp?
A: The one thing we've done, this being a little bit of a different spring than we've been used to in the past, last year was the anomaly and want to take that out of the fold. This has been a shorter term for us. The first part is see where our players are at physically. Until I know these guys can go out and operate at 100 percent and stay healthy and protect themselves on the field, soft tissues, and we want to avoid collisions at this part of the camp. Until we know that we are not really going to go ahead and keep this as a competitive drill. You will see team on team, 11-on-11 activities out there but we will control the tempo in practice. But there are other times in individual and group work where we will ramp that up and make sure the guys work on skill development, timing, offense, defense, and place a large emphasis on communication this time of year. You have to take the mental steps forward in terms of the understanding of the scheme and you have to develop chemistry with the communication on offense and defense. This is a great time of year to have it. You're not preparing for an opponent and you can take it day-by-day and challenge the players in different ways and see the interaction grow with young and old guys.
Q. How crucial is this period for the younger guys and what is the main objective for them and also the second half what is your reaction to seeing that the stadiums will be opening up at full capacity in week one and have all Giants fans there?
A: Yeah, I'll start with the second part first. One, I couldn't be more excited to know there's going to be 100 percent capacity. I'm not going to speak for the entire team but I know there's a lot of energy, upon hearing that announcement, personally, look, I can't wait to walk in a stadium and hear it at a deafening level. That's something I'm really looking forward to and feeling the energy of the fans. It's something we've missed and I've expressed before how much we value and thrive on as a team, going out playing in front of your home crowd and the animosity playing on the road against a visiting crowd. In terms of the rookies and their development, every opportunity you get to work with any of these players, I don't care if it's a rookie or ten-year vet is crucial and the goal is the same this year for everyone, to develop their skills, functionalities and schematic and conceptual understanding of what we are doing. Make sure we are all speaking the same language and make sure when everyone comes back in training camp, they are in better physical shape and their bodies are more prepared to go at a faster pace and everyone is ready to compete by playing aggressive and confident in what we are asking to do fundamentally, technique-wise and schematically with the knowledge.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q. What is the benefit of having OTAs? You guys didn't have them last year. How much do you think this will help you guys?
A: I think it's important. It's a good opportunity to get on the field, get together, get with coaches. Everyone starts hearing the verbiage, hearing the system again, practicing lining up, getting in and out of the huddle, start developing some rapport on the field with the guys. I think we've got some good work in with guys and we'll keep working on it.
Q. Do you lose anything with the new guys not being here?
A: I know everyone is working. We're focused on what we're doing here. I'm certainly focused on my fundamentals and technique. I think that's kind of the opportunity right now in the spring to do that. I know guys are working. We're just doing what we can to take a step every day.
Q. What do you think of the components you're going to have this year? Are you excited? Do you feel like you've got a group to work with that are capable of being game changers?
A: Yeah, I'm excited to get back out on the field. I think we've got a great group of guys coming in from last year. Like you mentioned, a few new pieces here and there. It's about working together and building chemistry, getting on the field. I'm excited. I think we have an opportunity to improve this spring, keep that going into training camp.
Q. Does that put additional pressure on you?
A: It's on all of us. It's on all 11 guys to do their job every play. That's how we're going to make big plays, is everyone doing their job. It's not on any one person more than the other. It's about everyone executing together as a unit. That's how we're going to create explosive plays, be a productive offense.
Q. What were you thinking as you're sitting there this off-season, Dave said it, we need to get help for Daniel. What is going through your head?
A: Like we've talked about, it's exciting for all of us to have an opportunity to bring in a couple new guys, build on what we already have. We have a lot of good play-makers in the building. You add a few pieces, it's exciting. Looking forward to getting out on the field. Really this spring, when all that stuff was happening, I think the focus for each of us was on ourselves, on improving our technique, our fundamentals, doing what we can so that when we did get the opportunity to get together now and later on in camp we're ready to hit the ground running.
Q. Coach Judge was talking about your growth as a leader, how you're coming into your own. How do you feel you've taken those next steps as a leader from the end of last year to now?
A: Yeah, I mean, going into my third year, a lot of it has to do with the relationships you develop with guys. A lot of these guys I've played with each of my first two years. Going into my third year. We have a good group, a lot of leaders who are communicating regularly. Everyone's always thinking about ways we can get together to get better, to improve, do everything we can to be prepared going into camp. As a quarterback, my role is a lot of times to be that communicator, to bring guys together, to get guys moving toward where we need to go, thinking about our goals and what we want to accomplish come this fall.
Q. A lot of people say the pressure is on the quarterback. How do you balance distributing that pressure?
A: Yeah, I mean, I think, like I said, it's on all 11 of us to do our jobs. That's certainly something Coach Judge, Coach Garrett remind us as a group, as a team, especially on offense, to do our job. Each person of the 11 has to do their job in order for us to be successful. Certainly, the quarterback plays a role in that, come communication, getting everyone on the same page. I have a lot of responsibility in that, but it's on each of us.
Q. As the longest tenured quarterback in New York football, do you have any advice for your new Jets counterpart?
A: I don't know Zach. Certainly looks like a talented guy. I'm sure he'll do great. Get used to doing media and talking to you guys (smiling). I'm sure he'll do great. I'm pulling for him.
Q. Did it feel like the off-season the organization was building around you? Every time they signed a wide receiver, they talked about how they were looking to get you play-makers, not the team.
A: Yeah, I mean, I think I'm not sure I necessarily saw it that way. Any time we're bringing guys in, however we do it, I think it's about the team, it's about building something as a group together, trying to build for everyone in that locker room. I certainly felt that way as we went about it through the off-season.
Q. You keep saying it's all 11. Do you believe that great quarterbacks can make guys better around them?
A: Absolutely. I think, yeah, quarterback plays a big part in it. Like I said, communicating, getting everyone on the same page, getting the ball where it needs to be as quickly and accurately as possible. I think that's a huge part of the equation. I certainly respect that and appreciate that responsibility.
Q. In incorporating these two weapons, how much say do you have when you're talking to Jason Garrett, Joe Judge, in crafting what this offense looks like? Can you make suggestions on how to use them? Are there plays they could install? Are you heavily involved in that element of it?
A: Yeah, I mean, I think there's a constant dialogue between Coach Garrett, Coach Judge, Coach Schuplinski, all the coaches. Myself, I'm certainly involved in that, how I see things, what I'm comfortable with, what plays I like. That's a constant conversation and dialogue. They're the coaches and I'm the player. I certainly understand that. They ask my input. When they do, I certainly provide that. Yeah, there's a constant conversation back and forth there in terms of how I see it, what I like, stuff like that.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q. It's been announced that we'll be having a full stadium, 100% of its capacity. No mask if you are fully vaccinated. How do you feel about it?
A: I feel great about it. I mean, I missed the fans a lot. Last season was a little weird playing without them. Happy to get them back in the stands, cheering us on.
Q. Shep, do you think it hinders an offense's chemistry at all that everybody who you'd be working with come the fall isn't here at this time? I know it's voluntary. Do you think it's important that guys should be here, especially guys new to the team?
A: No, like you said it's voluntary. I'm confident that everybody is getting the work they need right now. No, I don't feel like it does.
Q. Sterling, one of the guys that's not out there is Kenny. Have you had a chance to interact with him? What do you think he's going to add to the offense?
A: Yeah, he's a big body guy, someone that can stretch the field, something that we need as an offense. If you have any questions who is here and who is not here, you can take that up with Coach Judge.
Q. How excited are you to see all the additions that have been added to the offense, looking forward to seeing all you guys being together on the field at once?
A: Yeah, I mean, super excited about it. Like I said in a previous interview, we're adding playmakers to this offense. That's something that we needed. We needed guys you can get the ball to and they can make something special happen after the catch. I'm really happy about the additions.
Q. Why the number change?
A: Yeah, something that means a lot to me. It's been a number that I've been since I was a little kid, after my father passed. He wore No. 3 in college. That's something that meant a lot to me, a lot to his teammates. I wanted to carry that on. When I came into the league, you couldn't get single digits. Whenever the rule changed, I was happy to grab that.
Q. As far as your training this off-season, trying to stay healthy, have you done anything different to get ready?
Q. How excited are you in general looking forward to the fall, looking forward to being with these guys? Do you think Giants fans have something to look forward to?
A: Yeah, for sure. I mean, like I said earlier, I'm super excited about the additions. I can't wait to see those guys get out there and get to running around. I got to run around with KG a little bit. The way he plucks the ball is something special. Can't wait to get out there on Sundays with him, get going.
View the best photos from the Giants' spring practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Linebacker Blake Martinez
Q. What are your expectations for this defense? Do you have a goal of being maybe a top five? Are you looking at some barometers to how you can take another step forward?
A: Yeah, I think for us as a defense, we added a lot of new guys obviously every year, whether it's free agency, draft. Just going off of last year, building on that foundation, that culture that instilled in us late in the season as you saw our defense grow. I think we want to keep building on that and showing the new guys how we want it to get done.
Q. Blake, you mentioned a lot of the additions you made. How about losing much Dalvin Tomlinson? How big of a void does that leave and how important was he to the defense?
A: Definitely, I love Dalvin. One of my really good friends. Actually, talked to him yesterday. Super excited for him no matter if he was on our team or going to another team. Extremely smart player. It's going to come down to the guys we have here, getting them up to speed, making sure when they step in, whoever steps in, they're ready to go.
Q. It's early in the process, but what is your first impression of Azeez?
A: No, I mean, he's a freaky looking player. Just watching him today, he made some great plays out there in practice, showed some athleticism, things like that. Once again, it's OTAs, you got to wait till we put the pads on, things like that. So far I have think he's done really well.
Q. What do you think when you see Danny Shelton in front of you? A big looking man right there.
A: Oh, yeah. I was joking about that the other day. No wonder he was drafted in the first round. You get three picks in one, just how big he is. No, it's been awesome. I tell him every single day, I'm glad I have you in front of me. I literally can't see double-teams so there's no way they can get to me.
Q. Does a lot change by switching guys out there? Do you think that's something that can be made up quickly in regards to what they do, getting used to playing off a nose tackle?
A: Definitely, I think it's going to take time with me and him once we have pads on, things like that, live reps to get used to each other. Just like when I had Dalvin, Austin, any of the guys last year, it took time. Once we got it down, we were good to go.
Q. How was it seeing Lorenzo Carter out there? How did he look?
A: No, it's awesome seeing a guy come back from an injury like that. It's been really cool. Excited for him. I know he's put in a ton of work this off-season getting ready to go. He's just doing his thing out there.
Q. You're one of the team leaders. Two issues: vaccines and the off-season workload. What has the players' conversations with the coaching staff and Judge been like? Do you feel like you've come to a good understanding on both the work you're doing this off-season amid the NFL PA stuff, then being able to return to some normal life with vaccinations?
A: No, yeah, I think us as players, we came together, had a statement that we came out with. All the kind of leadership talked to the whole team, came back to Judge. Done a really good job as a collective unit, coaches, players, making sure when we're out there getting our work in, doing things the right way. Right now it's about getting better with fundamentals, football movements, things like that. It's been really awesome. As things keep changing with COVID and stuff like that, we'll be able to keep adjusting, like you said, get more freedom.
Q. What is your philosophy in OTAs? Do you really think you build a foundation for the year this time of year?
A: Yeah, I think right now the big philosophy is just kind of like working on our fundamentals, our footwork, just little things, whether it's position or things like that. Also during this time, you're able to go out there and make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, get that rust off so when you get into training camp you don't have to remake those 10 mistakes you were going to make if you didn't have this time.