HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"It was good to get back out on the practice field today. It seems like forever since we had a normal Wednesday practice, pads, situational football, all of that. That part was good. We're starting to get a few of the guys that have been injured back, some in limited action. We realize who we're playing, need to play a game quickly. The Giants are really playing good football."
With WR Nico Collins and DL Maliek Collins back at practice, what is your sense of where they are?
"To get them back, of course is big, two guys that we depend on. Maliek Collins, it all kind of starts with, most defenses, interior guys, the closest ones to the quarterback. To be able to get Maliek back is big for us. We missed him an awful lot. We're staring that process. He was limited today, but he's getting closer to playing. Nico Collins, one of our best players too, big, good target, that has to help. Eventually, getting both of those guys back in the mix will help our team a lot, absolutely."
Is WR Nico Collins also limited?
"Yes. Nico (Collins) is also limited."
What have you seen with how teams approach attacking the interior in different ways?
"I don't think teams are attacking any differently. I think you have some teams have two excellent interior defensive lineman that play in a lot of different places. That's what we get each week from everybody. Philly had two excellent interior defensive linemen. The Titans did. I think that's what we're seeing as much as anything. Most good defensive lineman can be anywhere along the line. That's what we're seeing is just good interior play. That's of course we talk about Maliek Collins back, closest one. If you're able to get that push up front, it can cause a lot of trouble in the pass and run."
Are WR Nico Collins and DL Maliek Collins on track to play on Sunday?
"They practiced today, so try not to look too much into the future. They practiced today."
Do you expect WR Brandin Cooks to practice in full this week?
When you become a head coach, how important are players like OL Laremy Tunsil to the team?
"It's very important. There's a reason why you pay, you look at how much you're paying each player. The one you're paying the most money to, it's critical that they're on board with what you're doing. That's been the case with the guys that I've been around here. They're pros with what they do. LT (Laremy Tunsil) has been that way throughout, showed up everyday day, done a good job, great player, good teammate, all of that."
Is OL Kenyon Green trending in the right direction?
"Yeah, trending for a young player. As we talk about where the good interior lineman, it's Kenyon (Green). About the best of the defensive lineman each week, they're at his position. When you're a young football player, having to go against guys like that, it speeds up the process an awful lot. He has showed up every day, coming to practice, getting better and learning from playing against great players like that. This week will be no different. It seems like each week, there are excellent defensive lineman you play against and an excellent running back in our case that we play."
What do you remember about Giants Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka as a player and how he's progressed to be an up-and-coming coach in the NFL game?
"Now that's going back a little bit. I think there's some guys that play the game. Where did Mike (Kafka) play? Northwestern? Yeah, it was. I have a son there, so I've given a lot of money to Northwestern. I'm familiar with Mike. I think some guys play the game a certain way and if they want to go into coaching they can. A lot of times, quarterbacks are like that because they have to almost be an assistant coach as they go through the game plans. Mike was that type of guy playing, so it's not surprising guys like that go into coaching and make that transition quickly. I've seen Mike come up, waiting for the opportunity. He's been on a good staff with Andy (Reid), doing an excellent job with the Giants. I know Brian (Daboll) is doing a heck of job with him, but he looks to coordinators and what they're doing. Offensively, 13 package, 12 package, 21 package, 11 (package), all the things that cause defenses trouble. That's exactly what they're doing."
Because the Giants blitz a lot, how important is it to have FB Troy Hairston to pick up their blitz?
"It's important with a defense like that. They're going to blitz more than any team we're going to play all year, but we realize that too. Of course, Wink (Don Martindale) has been a great defensive coordinator in the league for a long period of time, and you've got to look forward to that challenge. You kind of know what the coverage will be most of the time, you know what's coming at you, it's not going to be a whole lot of surprises, there's different blitzes you can get. Then when you have that type of personnel they have, especially up front, it's a tough duty."
How does it help knowing you have OL Laremy Tunsil and OL Tytus Howard against a team that blitzes a lot like the Giants?
"I think in general having two first round offensive tackles that play well, that's big, for of course on the perimeter. As we start going back inside, some of things we've talked about. That's good, that's a security blanket knowing that. It's just five linemen inside, there's an awful lot. To me, it's more about that push inside that gives you more trouble than guys off the edge."
What are some of things you've done that has led to the team to not being consistent?
"It's hard to say one thing that we've done. We've won one game so there's a lot of things we need to improve upon. That's what we're doing. We've gone through a half of football. Normally when you go through a half, you make adjustments at the half and you come out, hoping you're playing your best ball, and you've learned from a lot of the things that have happened. All the things you're talking about, the question I've been asked today, we've got to clean up on all of those things. That's why we're excited about another opportunity to do that. If you keep doing things the right things in practice and guys learn, eventually you'll get over the hump. That's been my history I've seen, and I'm hoping that'll be the case."
What can you say about third-and-3 and longer and playing cover-2?
"This is what I'd say, third-and-long we would be in cover-2 or blitz, you could say that part. Third-and-6 or less, we haven't been in cover-2. I've said we're going to be in single-high most of the time as we break it down. I think that's what most people do. Third-and-short you have to play a little tighter, more single-high there. If you're a cover-2 team, the times you don't play cover-2 would be in passing situations, that's third-and-long. If you say that's who we are, that is who we are."
Do you ever worry about that predictability?
"Not at all. What are you getting? We can blitz or we can play cover-2. What else is there? You can play three-deep, it's single-high. You can play cover-4, it's single-high. Man is single-high. You play single-high, you play cover-2. I think our package of single-high plus cover-2 is harder than the teams that only play single-high."
On playing people at different positions referencing a comment in the offseason.
"I'm still going back to I hinted at I wanted to play guys at different positions. I'm trying to figure out when that happened. I think it'll help if a guy can play that. We do not want to play guys at multiple positions. The great players I've been around, they play one position most of their career. We like to build our guys into that. If our guy can play multiple things, that helps his position on the team, but our good football players – we're not going to play (Derek) Stingley at safety and corner. Safeties, same with that. In an ideal world, we want to get guys locked in. Every position is different, so when guys play multiple things, to me, it's kind of a jack of all trades, a master of none a little bit. Tavierre (Thomas) on what we like to play with him, when he comes back, he's going to play nickel for us. We'll have a few guys that'll play multiple positions, a few, very few. That's mainly (Desmond) King. Des will play some nickel and corner, but most of the other guys we're going to try and keep them at one position. I don't even like playing guys, you know, defense tackle and defense end. It's about getting locked in. Every position has a lot of little details that are pretty important for you to get down."
On the improvement of LB Christian Harris and if he will contain QB Daniel Jones.
"We have a spy element in a lot of our defenses in general as we mix it up. Christian Harris, just talking about him a little bit, he's another one of the young guys that's getting better. The third down scramble by Jalen Hurts of him making the tackle and yanking the football out was a pretty special play. We're expecting more plays like that from him. This period of time, a lot of people kind of went off doing things, he's just steady, cramming. I think with his game, we're going to see him get better and better."
QB DAVIS MILLS
What challenges do the Giants defense bring?
"I've already seen a ton of it on film. They like to bring a lot of pressure. We'll be ready for it. It kind of comes in any scenario. First, we've got to be able to run the ball. If we catch them on a pressure and gash them on a run, that could be a big play. We've already been on top of it starting off this week with the protection plan in passing scenarios, how we're going to treat their different looks. Make sure we're on the same page. We know there's going to be some new things we haven't seen. A lot of the stuff they bring is gameplan related. We've just got to be ready for it and be ready to adjust in that way. Another big thing we have been talking about is just stay out of third-and-long, those are situations where every team in the league picks up their pressure percentage. Stay out of those situations so we can be clean out there on Sunday."
How would you describe your interactions with OL Laremy Tunsil?
"It's been great. Obviously, with me coming in last year as a young guy, he (Laremy Tunsil) was one of the vets on the team. He's not a real outspoken guy, but the longer I've been here, the closer I've gotten to him. Just know that he is coming in every day, being a professional, putting his best foot forward. We know what we're going to get from him because he's, if not the best, one of the best left tackles in the league right now."
How is it to have WR Nico Collins and WR Brandin Cooks back?
"It will be great. I know Nico (Collins) is still day-to-day, but hopefully we will get him back this week. Brandin (Cooks) is going to be back, so excited for those guys. Obviously, both are extremely explosive, know the offense really well, and we have a lot of chemistry built up from the time we've had on tasks. I'm excited for both of those guys to get back into the flow of things."
How do you approach getting new wide receivers up to speed on the playbook?
"I know it's different preparation for every guy, but we have a pretty comprehensive list week-to-week that we carry with us in terms of the play calling and what we are able to run. So, it's a big challenge for those guys to come in and get ready to play early. Props to the coaches, Pep Hamilton and Ben McDaniels, getting those guys ready. I think the guys we have in that room are a lot of older guys who know how to be professionals. When the new guys join that we bring in and need to be stepped up, there are guys in the room who are leading them to do the right thing and make sure they are ready when they get out there on gameday."
How do you approach meeting those new wide receivers yourself?
"Obviously, get face-to-face with them whenever they come in, introduce myself and really just let them know I'm trying to make plays out there myself, so I need them to be in the right spot. Put a little bit of pressure on them to go out there and make plays. Everything else works itself out."
What makes Giants DL Kayvon Thibodeaux an elite player?
"He is an explosive player who is able to bend, so if he can get on the edge of any of those tackles, he is able to get around the edge fast and make a play. Obviously, he was a high pick, so we've got to be ready for him. They also have a couple of other defensive linemen we've got to be ready for as well. I think week-to-week, our offensive line has held up really well. This week is going to be another challenge, but I think we're ready for it."
How did facing a blitzing team like the Raiders earlier in the season help you prepare for a defense like the Giants?
"The Raiders, when you compare them to the Giants, I don't think their blitzes were as exotic. I don't think they were bringing a ton of guys up and walking around the line, switching up the fronts. They were kind of just letting their guys, (Maxx) Crosby especially, kind of win his one-on-one. This week, the Giants are going to show us a lot of looks to try and confuse us. We've got to make sure we are on the same page with the protection, make sure everyone, the whole line, running backs and tight ends, if we need to get to some kind of zero pressure check, make sure everyone is on the same page. From what we've seen on film, we have a really good plan for how we're going to pick everything up. We've just got to make sure we're executing out there."
How does the success of the run game change how you do things?
"It doesn't change anything in particular. My job as a quarterback is to make sure the offense is getting in and out of the huddle efficiently, running the right plays, making sure we're all on the same page, protect the football and then get the ball out to playmakers in space. Nothing more, nothing less. On third down and in the red zone, there will be situations where I'll need to extend some plays, get out of the pocket and make a play if the defense catches us and ends up playing our concept well. But other than that, protect the football and score points."
How important has it been to have FB Troy Hairston here, especially in pass protection?
"It's great. He has done extremely well to get better each and every week since we started with him in camp. He came in here as a linebacker and switched over to fullback after that, so his progression in the blocking game, run blocking and pass blocking, has gotten better each. We're looking forward to this week."
What does OL Laremy Tunsil say in terms of leadership during the heat of the battle?
"The biggest thing you feel from him is his confidence. He's just going to go out there and lock down whoever is facing him on defense every play. I think that kind of echoes around the offensive line, knowing that, 'Hey, it's on us. We've got to win our one-on-ones so we can get some time and make a play downfield.' They know a lot of that's on them to really get the play started. They've done that at a high level."
Does OL Laremy Tunsil verbalize that confidence, or is it more of a sense?
"More a sense. He's not a loud spoken guy, so he's leading by example and everyone kind of feeds off of that. He's done that well, and that's obviously why he's got the captain's badge on his jersey."
What are some similarities and differences you've seen between your draft class and this year's?
"We've had more young guys step up. Last year we only had five in our draft class and a couple of free agent signings. A lot of these guys are getting an opportunity early on and won their jobs. They've been performing at a high level. Obviously, they are still young in the league, so there is a lot of room to grow, but they have been playing really well up to this point. I think they've done their jobs really well. The biggest thing when you're a rookie, when you walk in the building, don't let anyone know you're a rookie. Don't stick out, and those guys have done that. It's kind of day by day. Put your head down and get to work. That's what they're doing."
What do you think RB Dameon Pierce's chances of being named offensive rookie of the year are?
"He has done a really great job up to this point. I don't want to get started talking about that too early. He's still got a lot of games ahead of him to go out and play and perform. Up to this point he has been playing really well and hopefully he can keep it going."