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Victor Cruz updates injury; notes from media hour

Head Coach Tom Coughlin

Q: When you bring guys like [Shane] Vereen and James Jones in, is there something beyond what they can do on the field that's part of the equation?
A: Well, there always is— every opportunity to evaluate is taken, and there's always thought given to, normal circumstances, to how people are going to fit in and how they'll not only help us as a team but obviously in representing the Giants, so I would say yes.

Q: With regard to [Shane] Vereen, you haven't had a lot of pass-catching backs here for a couple of years. How good is he out of the backfield?
A: Well, he had an exceptional year a year ago. In certain situations, he was dominant because people played certain coverages and [Tom] Brady dropped the ball off. The catch and the run were a huge part of their [the New England Patriots'] offense, and we felt like that ingredient, in addition to some of the other people that we would pose as threats, would really do a good job of accommodating the rest of our offense.

Q: Is Victor [Cruz] going to play this week?
A: Probably not.

Q: What have you seen offensively and defensively in terms of your team responding after Friday?
A: I would say it's been a good week of practice— certainly last night was very spirited. The first night of the week, Sunday night, was when you saw all the offensive production with Odell [Beckham Jr.] and Victor [Cruz] and Larry [Donnell] getting involved, and Eli throwing the ball down the field— he threw the ball down the field again last night, which was good— but I'll continue to say what I said yesterday. They have to practice for us to advance in terms of the passing game— the timing, the significance of knowing exactly when people are reacting to coverage and adjusting their routes, etc. That all has to be seen through the eyes of the quarterback, and it's been very rare that we've had the whole group out there to practice with. But there are some other guys that are getting a lot of time and will get a lot of time this weekend, and in the long run, it's going to be good for our team.

Q: Is [Rueben] Randle still out?
A: As of now, he is.

Q: Odell will be back today?
A: Today he's going to work, yes.

Q: Is there anyone else besides Victor [Cruz] that you know you're not going to play in the game on Saturday? Rueben [Randle], I assume, at this point?
A: Well, we'll see about all of that. I'm not going to project anything just yet. We've had some guys that have been out that are going to remain out.

Q: You have a ton of playmakers on offense— what's your confidence level in your defense right now?
A: My confidence level is growing, but we've got to, again, test ourselves in these preseason games. This weekend will be an outstanding test because you have a team that's trying to be very physical and wants to run the ball, has a good run defense, so it'll be a good test.

Q: Who will start on the right side of your offensive line Saturday?
A: In all likelihood, J.J. [John Jerry] and Marshall [Newhouse]. Same combination, but obviously [Geoff] Schwartz is going to get his opportunity to play in there.

Q: At both spots maybe?
A: We'll see. Possibly.

Q: How are Prince [Amukamara] and Nat Berhe coming along?
A: Prince practiced yesterday. Prince had about 15 plays yesterday, which was good to see. Hopefully he'll be able to do some more. [Nat] Berhe does nothing but individual.

Q: What have you seen from [Brandon] Meriweather?
A: He's trying to understand what we want of him and understand the terminology as best he can. He starts to grasp it— yesterday was a little bit better than the day before.

Q: So how much will he play Saturday?
A: Probably a limited amount, since he's been here a very short time and this will be his first experience.

Q: Who do you likely expect to start in that secondary in this preseason game? Do you want to shuffle them?
A: You'll see. I mean, it's not going to be anything complicated. I'll let you know that.

Q: With the new extra point rules, have you spent any extra time thinking about what your strategy will be?
A: Well, I have. As you see, many people came out last weekend and just went for two, but the advantage there is no different than it ever was. I think it's just as important to kick extra points from 33 yards as it is to go for two. I think the real interesting concept there is a defensive penalty. A defensive penalty puts a ball at the one, so most people are going to go for the two points then.

Q: So the fact that statistically it makes sense that there will be more extra points missed, so that difference… wouldn't it affect your thinking?
A: Well, as I've said before, the old extra point circumstance was 99 point something, and a 33-yard field goal was 94 something— so in between there, yeah it's something. But still, I don't think until late— you know, you're talking maybe after November, after Thanksgiving, in December before any of those issues, I think, come up. I'm hoping that our percentages, in terms of 33-yard extra points, are going to be 100 percent— just like I always think.

Q: So, let's say it's a bad day in December here [MetLife Stadium]. Would you literally be in touch with the kicker as to what he thinks about kicking a 33-yard field goal and trying for an extra point at that point in the game?
A: Not necessarily at that point in the game, but obviously pregame, we'd go through all that and it would be part of the questions that I always ask. You know, 'How far— what's the distance like today from both ends?' I get a feel for what the wind is, now that the wind is an issue during the course of the game, and you have to revisit it, so it's a constant.

Q: Any projection on how deep your first teamers are going to go on Saturday night?
A: Play a little more probably than they did the other day.

Q: What are you looking to see from them in general?
A: Improvement. Improvement.

**

Special Teams Coach Tom Quinn**

Q: Josh Brown's leg has gotten stronger on kickoffs in the last couple of years. Have you seen that and is that rare to happen for a player in that stage of his career?

A: I don't think so. I think they're obviously learning about their bodies and nutrition and training and taking care of their bodies and managing their kicks. They are pretty serious about how many kicks we do in a week and in a day, so we don't try and kick our leg out. It's a long season and a long process, so we try and keep him fresh but then he also does a lot of work in the weight room, which is showing up.

Q: When Dwayne Harris was signed, he was supposedly for special teams [or] wherever you wanted to put him. Is that still the case?

A: Yeah, I hope so. If he is a receiver and he can play on all the big four teams, he can be the returner, the gunner, the kickoff coverage, so we are excited about him going forward.

Q: Is he the primary kickoff and punt returner at this point?

A: Yeah, I mean at this point in the preseason, we are trying to get as many guys opportunities to see what they can do, so we will roll a lot of different guys back there to see what we have.

Q: How did Akeem Hunt look kick returning?

A: He looked fast. There was a big hole. I hoped he would have finished it off more and not gotten nudged out of bounds, dive in there and keep scrambling and trying to cutback and trying to score, but he has got quickness, so, so far so good with him.

Q: How has Geremy Davis been progressing so far?

A: He's progressing. He really works hard at it [and] he really has a lot of upside. He didn't do a lot of it in college, so a lot of it is new to him, but he has really taken to the coaching and he tries hard and works hard, so we've been pleased with him.

Q: Is it almost like working with a blank canvas with him?

A: A little bit. I was trying to tell these guys to use your skill set and we will put you in the right position, so if you are a receiver, be a receiver. If you are good at avoiding guys, that is how you cover a kick, so you keep it simple for them and he has done that.

Q: Where do you see him? Gunner?

A: That is [where] we are starting him out. We are starting him out there and he will play all four teams, which he did last week, and try and give him enough reps to show what he can do.

Q: You kind of alluded to it. How different is it to get off the line as a wide receiver as opposed to a gunner?

A: Well, a lot of times as a gunner you have two guys standing in front of you, so you have to pick one and make that the battle…there are limitations on being able to go out of bounds and come back in and all those things and the rules they have to understand. It is just a mentality, it is hard. You talk to David Tyree and you have to earn your money out there and a lot of young guys, it is a whole new experience and they really don't do that much in college the way college is played, so it is a little bit of a transition.

Q: How much of a loss is Mykelle Thompson?

A: We were really excited for him. He is a guy that [had] shown in the spring and the start of training camp that he could really add some value. He is smart, got great speed, had some size to him, so that will be a loss. It is too bad for him.

Q: Do you do anything different extra-point wise?

A: No, we had the two or three preseason games with it last year. I think three because we had the Hall of Fame game and if we kick our field goals, we start at the 15. We always kick a PAT first and then go from there. I think you will get more pressure, more of a chance to block it, so you will have to be ready to anchor down and treat them just like a field goal.

Q: Offensive linemen don't seem to be that much for it?

A: Well, they better be for points. I understand, but that play has always been a violent play and they have done some things to make it safer, but I think if they use good technique, they will be all right.

Q: You always look at Zak DeOssie for his reliability with snapping but when you see him make that tackle in Cincinnati, can you just talk about the contributions he makes on special teams?

A: He is a great leader in the room. We have grown up with him from when he was a rookie to the point he is at now and he does have the ability to cover and tackle. When he first came into the league, he was a little bit rare but now with the rules of not being able to line up over the center and some different things, more and more guys are starting to become more athletic like he is but he does add great value because he is a football player, he isn't just a specialist who snaps. He was brought here as a linebacker, played some linebacker early and then had to become a snapper.

Q: What are the goals for the special teams for you in particular?

A: Obviously, the net punt and the punt return. We want to make a big difference on the opponent's punts and our punts. We need to see a big swing there; we spent some money with bringing guys in to get that done.

Q: So that is what the focus is on?

A: Yeah, I mean you focus on all of them. You don't neglect one or the other but kickoff and kickoff return nowadays, half of the kicks are returned and half of them are covered, but all the punts and punt returns and that is the biggest impact nowadays, so we have to really make that go with a lot of time and effort.

Q: Have you shifted the time you spend on those two?

A: A little bit. We've always spent a lot of time on punt, obviously, and then [we] spend a little more time on punt return than we normally do.

**

Victor Cruz**

Q: How's your calf?
A: It's good, it's good. Got through the treatment today, did a couple things, so it's feeling better than yesterday.

Q: Tom Coughlin was saying he thought that was an issue of dehydration, was that it?
A: Yeah, I think it was a little bit of that. It was a little bit of just things that happen out here. Just a little mix of dehydration, a little tweak running around, routes and stuff like that. And it's just one of those things that happen during the course of practice.

Q: It seemed like you were stepping up more and more each practice, a lot of us were thinking maybe you would be out there this weekend.
A: Yeah, and that was part of it. Obviously they were upping my reps this week in practice and seeing that I was feeling good and doing good. It was unfortunate that it happened, but it's a good thing that it's minor and I can get through it.

Q: Are you going to practice today?
A: I don't know yet. That's up to the training staff, I'll have a conversation with them literally as soon as I leave here. So we'll see.

Q: Calf strains can last for weeks and weeks depending on the severity. Did they give you any kind of timetable?
A: No. They didn't give me a timetable, but I know how it feels for me right now [compared to] how it did when it first happened. It feels light years better than it did then. I doubt Coach will let me play this weekend, but we'll see.

Q: When did it happen?
A: It happened two days ago. I kind of felt it early on during practice, but I kind of kept going. And then I felt it again at the end of practice, and that's when I told the trainers.

Q: Obviously, it's not the knee. Do you prefer to be a little more cautious?
A: Sure. And we are. We are being cautious, and we are taking our time and making sure we're not doing anything out of the ordinary. The training staff has been extremely diligent and myself with taking our time making sure we do this right.

Q: Do you think you can play this week?
A: I don't know. I mean if you leave it up to me, I want to play every day. But it's obviously up to the training staff, so we'll see what they say.

Q: You had to know at some point it wasn't going to be a straight shot, there would be some little setbacks along the way. Is this something that you equipped yourself for mentally?
A: Of course. I knew that the journey is long and hard. It wasn't going to be easy the rest of the way. I knew there would be something that would come up. Whether it be out here on the field or with my body, but I'm excited that it's not something that's major. It's something I can get over, and something that's not going to be a huge hindrance.

Q: Is it the same leg?
A: No. Opposites. Opposite leg.

Q: Rashad Jennings just said that he had complete confidence in the offensive line so far. With you relatively healthy and getting back and everybody else, what do you think about the offense this year and what do you see yourself doing?
A: I see us taking that next step. Obviously, second year in this offense, it's a pivotal year for us to kind of take that next step and make sure we're doing all the good things that our coaches expect us to do out there on the field. I think we have a ton of talent on this team on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams. But offensively, if we can get ourselves together, get everybody out there at the same time getting ready to play, I think we'll be a huge force come this season.

Q: Is there any kind of importance to getting everybody out there, particularly in preseason?
A: Of course. You want to go out there in real-time action and get some good, solid work in with everyone else and everyone ready to go, but sometimes that's not always the case. I think these practices are pivotal in terms of getting everybody healthy, getting everybody out here understanding what we do in practice, because it's such a tedious game with all these little nuances that you have to learn and know, especially with our offense. That's the biggest thing for me, is that we're focused in practice. Then I feel like the game stuff will come.

**

Justin Pugh**

Q: Are you and Odell comparing dental notes?
A: Yeah. It was a long process trying to figure out how to fix it. I fractured my back molar, so it got infected. It was no good.

Q: You fractured it?
A: Yeah, I had a fracture in my back right molar.

Q: You just did it?
A: I did it probably six months ago. They kept telling me I was grinding my teeth. I had to wear a night guard, it was ridiculous. Then they find found out once it got infected that there was probably something wrong with it more than just grinding my teeth. I had to go to an oral surgeon to get the image they needed to finally see. So they took the tooth out, put a bone graft in and all this stuff. I didn't know you could do all that.

Q: Doesn't sound like a lot of fun.
A: It wasn't fun. Now, there's like stitches, so they wanted to keep me out just to make sure the stitches healed up well and it wasn't a reoccurring problem.

Q: So you'd rather go through two-a-days?
A: I'd rather practice than go get teeth pulled and not have a back right molar for two months.

Q: Do you expect to be back today?
A: Yeah.

Q: Where do you guys stand as an offensive line in your mind? You've still been switching around a little bit.
A: I think we're healthier now than we've been. We've got some things going in the right direction, we have competition now. With (Geoff) Schwartz coming back, me getting back into the mix today, it's going to be good. I think it's going to bring out the best, and I think it's going to bring out the best in this offensive line. We're seeing some things and executing some things that gave us trouble earlier in camp. So we're definitely heading in the right direction and I'm excited to see the progress we make from here on out. It's going to be fun.

Q: Have you guys seen any pieces fall into place? Like this guy is set here, that kind of thing.
A: You never want to say someone is set here, because something could always happen and someone has to step up. I feel like we have more than five guys right now who could go out there and win us games on Sunday's. So that's exciting. And I think we're having a lot of fun right now in the offensive line room. It's a good attitude, it's a good atmosphere, and I think it's going to show when we play with each other. I think this is a very tight group, and it's going to pay dividends.

Q: For the good work you've done, how frustrating was the game performance when you kind of did nothing?
A: Yeah, it was tough, because there was some things that we executed well—some line stunts that we picked up and it was very close to hitting. You can see how close, a matter of inches can make the difference in the game. We got ourselves behind with some penalties. So there's a few things that if we eliminate, we're going to be fine. I think we saw that in that nice drive we had later on in the game. Obviously, it wasn't against their first-string defense. But the game is a not a set in stone, one quarter defines a game. It's a long game and who knows where it would have been later down the road. So I think we're going to progress and do well.

Q: Do you think you're a left guard now, or do you think that could still shift?
A: I think whenever I step on the field, wherever they tell me to play, that's what I am. So I've gone out there, and playing left guard, I feel very, very comfortable there. If I have to slide to left tackle or play right tackle, right guard, center—I always go back to David Diehl. You have to be able to play whatever they tell you to play and execute at a level that can win in the NFL.

Q: Do you feel more comfortable at left guard though?
A: I definitely feel very comfortable at left guard. It was great to go out and play against Cincinnati, who is such a good D Line. To play against those guys, it was huge for me. So I'm excited to go against Jacksonville, they've got some good guys. And to just keep getting better, keep fixing things. I saw Chris Snee yesterday, he saw a few things, and we were talking about it yesterday before I went on the field. So it's always good to have those guys having their eyes on me and my play.

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