I think the one thing that I would say, and then I'll field all of the questions
that you have, is it's always a real pleasure to come some place where people
are genuinely friendly and enjoy having you here, and that's the feeling that
I have each time that we come to the University at Albany. The preparation
has been outstanding. The fields look to be in excellent shape. We've gone
through the locker rooms and into the offices. Our coaches' room upstairs has
really been done over, adjusted, with some new desks, chairs and things of
that nature, which I'm happy about. So we're excited, and I think the one
thing that I would say starting out is that our goal, our objective,
is to apply all of our skills, all of our ability, to encourage our players to
have great purpose. To have greater purpose in everything that we do, in
order to improve ourselves. And that (if) under any circumstance should the
gearshift slide into 'idle', I think all we have to do, all of us who bleed
Giant blue, is remember that 17th game last year, and there will be
plenty of motivation for us to try to take it up another notch. It's about
improvement, it's about being here. We know that there's a tremendous amount
of work involved again at the start of the season, we look forward to
that. We have to earn the right to win, go back and refocus on our
preparation, our concentration, on getting the maximum out of our meeting
time, and taking full advantage of our field time and our practice time. And,
once again, whatever the undertaking might be, if it's a pre-practice
drill, if it's a meeting, whatever, we do it with greater purpose. We
have a good football team, but there are many teams that have improved in this
off-season, so the challenge is great. And there's none greater than the NFC
Q: How do you feel about hearing preseason references to
the Giants making the Super Bowl?
A: I think that if you're going to talk about the World
Championship, or the Super Bowl, or whatever, what has to accompany that is
the idea that our thinking, our maturity, our team unity, our singleness of
purpose and the way in which we go about our business, our practices, etc.,
have to all be at the championship level. And I think, again, if the effort,
the preparation, the skill and the performance level parallels talking about
the world championship, then I think that's a good thing.
Q: What are your expectations for Eli Manning coming
into the season?
A: The continued advancement of his game, his growth and
development into his third year, his second full year as a starter, of
being able to take all that he's studied and learned in the off-season to the
field. I see it as a natural progression.
Q: What are you most curious about going into the start
of training camp?
A: Obviously we've made a lot of changes in the secondary
and I'm looking forward to seeing how that particular group is going to come
together. But that's just one phase. You look at it, it's how your
team is going to accept that challenge if you're going to be able to continue
to develop and get better and take your game to the next level. It's how your
team is able to accept that challenge, and I'm looking forward to that.
RE: A very difficult regular season schedule
A: It's without a doubt a very difficult schedule, it's a
very difficult start. But if you're going to want to be the best, you've got
to beat the best. I think that's the way you look at it. You look at it as a
challenge, you look at it for what it is. It is most difficult, but on the
other hand, you've earned the right to play that kind of schedule. Again, if
you're going to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Q: Are all of the rookies expected to be at camp
A: I think so. I know that everything isn't done at this
point in time, but hopefully we'll have those that are left signed this
evening, and they'll all be here tomorrow.
Q: How much do you still think about last year's loss in
the first round of the playoffs?
A: It never has left my thoughts from the evening after the
game, and it's not going to change, and I don't want it to. I want to pour a
little salt into the wound.
Q: Will any players be reporting to camp with
restrictions or limitations?
A: There'll be some, there will be a few at the beginning.
I think we may have to restrict those guys who are coming off of some knee
surgeries, you know who they are as well as I do. There may be, Lewis Kelly had the sprained foot right at the end of our spring work, so he's going
to be limited. I think (Tim) Carter may have some patella tendonitis that we
may have to be concerned about right away. LaVar Arrington has some
tendonitis and an Achilles, so we may have to make sure he's ready to go
twice. Hopefully that's it.
RE: The Giants traditionally not posting back-to-back
A: I remember having two or three good seasons when I was
an assistant. I'm interested in this team right now, where we are and the
challenge that we have in front of us. You people can write the history.
Q: How soon will you mention last year's playoff loss in
A: It'll probably take me about as long as tomorrow
afternoon to mention that.
Q: How will not practicing against the Jets during camp
affect the team?
A: It's not going to affect us. More and more teams are
moving away from that. It was a good opportunity for us the two past years,
it's not an opportunity at this point in time. We'll just adjust our schedule
and go from there.
Q: How will you get in the mindset of starting from the
beginning again this season?
A: That took place after the 17th game last
year, and the entire off-season. 'Putting it behind them' is not the way I
would phrase it. I would say learn from it, understand it, know what took
place and never let it happen again.
Q: Do you expect all of the veterans to report to camp
Re: defensive tackle position
A: Well, that's the one most talked about as being open. I
think we have some outstanding competition at that spot, and hopefully that
competitiveness is going to create a situation that turns into a positive,
from an unknown to being a positive. We have guys who have played in there,
you know that. We've had guys who have slid in there before. It was just
planting a man to the position last year, and now it's open. We have some
young guys who are coming along and we have some people we drafted and some
guys who have played in there in the past. I think it's going to be a very
competitive spot, to be honest with you.
Q: With Tiki Barber aging, will you work on developing a
player behind him?
A: I don't think so. We have players who have been here,
even if you go as far as Brandon (Jacobs) being into his second year, their
development should be, Derrick Ward's and Brandon's, should be an
increasing thing. Tiki, this year, we're talking about this year, period, and
our expectations, obviously, for him are very, very high, and rightfully so.
RE: Anticipated development of the offensive unit
A: I hope we're better, I hope we're going to get better.
I see lots of areas that need improvement and hopefully we'll be able to focus
on that right away. It's never one-sided at camp, as you know. It's never
one-sided. One practice may go to the defense, the next may go to the
offense, and hopefully both sides of the ball, along with special teams, will
parallel each other in growth and development here at camp. Let's face it,
we've got to become a good football team right now.
RE: The impact of the new additions to the team
A: I'm excited. We've had some opportunities this
off-season to put this group together on the field, but this is for real.
There's no more 'volunteer' aspect to it whatsoever. This is for real.
Putting the pads on and looking at the various combinations, I'm excited about
that. There are lots of things. I'm excited about an offensive line that will
play together a second year in a row. I'm excited about Eli's growth and
development. I'm excited about the receivers coming back, Plaxico (Burress),
Amani (Toomor), (Jeremy) Shockey, and the addition of (Sinorice) Moss. I'm
excited about the opportunities on our special teams that our punter and our
kicker provide us. I'm excited to discover whether or not our team speed,
which looked like it was better during the spring, in fact is such as I look
at special teams, as our special teams progress along here at camp. There's a
lot of things that I'm very interested in. And, as I always say, I'm hoping
and praying that, as happens with all really good football teams, some of
those guys that you're not talking about here in the media or not asking
questions about them by name will aspire to have better years than anyone ever
even thought they could have. If that's one or two or whatever, we're going
to be a little bit better for it.
Q: What has Eli Manning done this off-season that makes
you think he will be improved?
A: This is the 9,733rd time I've answered this
question. 'What hasn't he done?' is maybe an easier way to do it. He's been
the number one athlete in attendance in the off-season program. He has more
workouts than any player in the program. He's studied more tape. He was in
two weeks before anyone else reported for the off-season program. He's gone
through every bit of tape with Kevin Gilbride, with John Hufnagel, he's been
through sessions after we developed our research. He's been on the field in
the mini camps and in the individual workouts that he's had with the various
players that have been in the program. He's very serious. He's very
conscientious. He wants to be good, and he's willing to pay the price to be
good. He'll pay whatever price is necessary for him to achieve success, and
you can't have enough of those guys. You just surround yourself with people
with that kind of an attitude, and you're going to have a good team.
Q: Why do you expect LaVar Arrington to be an impact
player on defense?
A: He's a bigger, stronger player at the position that we
have him playing, at the strong backer, than we've had. I think his ability
to rush the passer and, more than anything, maybe, his attitude, his physical
attitude which he conveys on the field, he's one of those guys who has a
smile on his face, he likes football, he loves practicing. He likes that part
of it, and I think that's going to be good for our team.
Q: Because of the number of offensive weapons, do you
anticipate having to be a 'personality coach' in addition to football?
A: No, I don't think so. I think there's plenty of
opportunities, I think there's plenty of situations that occur. I think there
is some patience that has to be exhibited by some individuals, particularly on
a game-to-game basis. I can remember a couple of years ago having talked to
Amani (Toomer) after he came off a game where he had maybe one catch -- not to
be frustrated, blah, blah, blah -- and the next week he catches five or six
balls. You just have to keep asserting yourself, keep believing and know that
the bottom line is you've got to appreciate and take great pride and joy in
the team. It's about team success, so hopefully that message will be
conveyed, and guys will believe in that. I don't worry about that part of it,
as long as we have the ability to have people playing at the top of their game
and pose that kind of threat to the defense where those individuals have to be
defended, that there's going to be some opportunities. I'd like to see more
big plays, to be honest with you.