General Manager Jerry Reese
April 19, 2012
Q: Opening statement.
A: Weíre getting close for the draft and we did a little bit in free agency and weíve had a pretty good offseason so far, we think. The draft is coming up. Itís always exciting for us on draft day. Our scouts, who do a tremendous job, who really you never hear about that much, theyíre excited. Itís like game day for them.
Q: You got some low budget but huge upside additions. Was that the plan?
A: Well, the salary cap, it kind of rules everything that you do. Kevin [Abrams] (Assistant General Manager) does a good job with our cap. We had to juggle some contracts, restructure some guys to make a few moves, but we feel good where we are right now with respect to the salary cap and free agency.
Q: Do you think the moves you made in free agency free you to pick the best players in the draft?
A: Not really. We never do that anyway. We never try to reach in the draft. Weíre conscious of what we think our needs are, but we try to pick the best player in the draft. We do try to fill holes in free agency when we get an opportunity to do that, but we never say letís get a certain position in the draft. We just try to pick the best player.
Q: Are there positions that you donít like to take in the first round?
A: No. If there is a good player there, it really doesnít matter what position it is. It would be hard for us to take a kicker or a punter, something like that, in the first round, but any other position, if itís a good player, weíre not opposed to taking anybody in the first round.
Q: How do you approach picking at 32? It seems like thereís more gray area.
A: I donít think itís more gray area when we pick at 32. You just wait and see if somebody is going to fall to you or if there is somebody you may be able to move up for, that youíre in love with. Itís always a good problem to have when youíre picking 32. More likely, somebody we have ahead of our 32nd pick in our first row, more than likely somebody will be down there where we want to pick. Again, at the bottom of that first row, we think those guys are second round picks, unless we have somebody pretty high that falls. But weíll see. We could easily have somebody fall down. I think guys are going to come off the board all over the place early on.
Q: What makes you say that?
A: I think there are a lot of players with the same kind of value.
Q: Good value, bad value?
A: Good value.
Q: Is that unusual?
A: No, not really. I think the draft has good players, a lot of value in every round. You just have to look deep and try to find them. The last time we picked 32 we picked some pretty good players that have helped us win a lot of football games. I think we picked Kenny Phillips in the second round. I think Terrell Thomas and Mario Manningham, I think we got Jon Goff in that draft, too, after we picked 32 a few years ago. So there are good players. You just have to look deep and find them.
Q: Where do you think youíll try to replace Jacobs and Manningham?
A: We have some running backs, a couple of young running backs. Andre Brown, DaíRel Scott, we expect them to step out of the shadows a little bit and see what they can do. We like those guys. We know what Brad[shaw] can do, we know what Danny Ware can do. Weíll continue to look in free agency. Weíll look in the draft as well and see if thereís a running back there that we think can help us.
Q: And how about the receivers?
A: Barden, we want him to get healthy. We want him to get healthy and play. We picked him high. We think he has talent. Heís done a decent job when heís been able to get some snaps in the game, but we expect him to stay healthy and show us what he can do. And Jernigan, he showed a little more confidence as the year went on last year. We think heís a good player as well. Domenik [Hixon] is back. We have some other receivers that we like. Weíll continue to look at that position as well, just like all positions. We try to get as many players as we can at every position, create as much competition as we can at every position and see what happens when the 53 cut comes around.
Q: How confident are you that Bradshaw can put his foot issues behind him?
A: I donít know about that. Iím not a doctor, but heís had problems, but he always seems to get out there and play. But heís had different procedures. Hopefully heíll be able to stay more healthy than heís been in the past. Usually in a big game he always plays and he always plays tough.
Q: Are you happy with how your linebackers stack up going into the draft?
A: Weíll see. I think we have some good players at that position and we brought in a couple of new guys as well to get into the mix. Weíll continue to look for linebackers, just like every position. But we think we have a good group of linebackers. We have some young kids that played some last year that we really like and we think there will be a lot of competition at that position.
Q: Is Boley in the middle really a possibility?
A: He plays middle linebacker in the nickel a lot for us anyway. I think he can play any position. We like our linebackers to be versatile, to play different positions. I think he can play any of the linebacker spots. I think Rivers can play any of the linebacker spots. I think the young guy, Jacquian, I think heís a WIL, though. I think heís an outside backer just because of his size. But he could probably play SAM in some schemes as well though. We like those guys to be versatile. Theyíll play all over the place. Thatís the coaches job to figure out where they play. Itís our job in personnel and my job to try to find a lot of players to give them some choices to pick from.
Q: Is the league trending to less base defense and more nickel?
A: I donít know about that. We just try to make adjustments. Itís up to our coaches who plays and how much they play. If you have three linebackers that can stay in for all three downs or four downs, thatís great. But coaches now, they like to sub and get four or five defensive backs plus receivers, you get four or five receivers and then the running backís a receiver as well. But if you have linebackers that can stay in and cover those guys, so be it. But itís Perry [Fewellís] job to figure out who plays.
Q: Whatís happened to Rivers in the four years since he came off the board as a ninth overall pick?
A: I think the injuries are the number one reason he hasnít produced like he was ranked. We had him ranked high on our board. Obviously he got picked high and unfortunately, as a rookie, he got his jaw broke. Then he had a wrist injury, missed all of last season. But if you put all of the tape together and piece together his performance, his profile tape, he did some nice things that we like. Itís a new, fresh start for him. Heís excited about being here. Heís got to prove that he can do it. Heís going to be in a great scheme. Heís going to be playing behind a pretty good front and heís going to have a great opportunity to show us what he can do.
Q: Is there any difference to drafting coming off of a Super Bowl win?
A: Not really. The only difference is you see a lot of really good players come off of the board in front of you. But again, we feel like there is going to be from pick 15 down to pick 32, there are going to be some very similar kind of players that we like in the row. Again, we talk about rows in our room instead of rounds. We donít think there are 32 guys that should be picked in the first round, but in the first row you have to pick somebody so thatís how we have them ranked. And more than likely, the guys where we are, we think those guys probably should be picked in the second round.
Q: That doesnít alter your philosophy?
A: No. We just try to pick a good player right there. Thereís going to be a good player for us there at 32.
Q: Whatís your situation at tight end?
A: Weíll see what the doctor says about those guys. It looks like Jake [Ballard] is going to take more time than Travis [Beckum]. Travis, heís very confident and he feels good. He thinks heís ahead of schedule, but we have to be careful about that. We donít want to push him out there too quickly and have a setback. Bear [Pascoe] has done a terrific job for us. Heís kind of a joker for us. He can do the fullback. He can do the H-back. He can do the tight end stuff. And Martellus [Bennett], heís going to have a great opportunity to show us what he can do. We like his skill set. We think he probably can thrive in this offense and weíre really excited about his chances. Weíll continue to look for guys in free agency and the draft as well.
Q: What was your scouting report of Bennett when he came out?
A: We thought he was a big, good looking athlete that should really do well in this league. He has the skill set to do everything. Heís a huge man. I donít know if you guys have seen him. Heís a gigantic man and he can run. Heís long. He can catch the ball. He has the skill set that you like at that position, but it looked like he had been buried some behind a hall of fame tight end in Dallas and didnít get to play that much there. So heís going to get a real good opportunity to show us what can do here.
Q: Did you think third row for him?
A: Bennett, I canít remember. I donít even know what year he got picked. I canít remember that far back.
Q: What youíre saying is that with your first pick, even if that guy is at a position that you consider your strongest, you would take him because of value?
A: Without a doubt. Without a doubt.
Q: Quarterback, too?
A: Quarterback, too. Without a doubt. If Andrew Luckís down there, you think we wouldnít pick him?
Q: Whatís reasonable for Chad Jones?
A: Again, Iím not a doctor. Personally, I think he has a long way to go. Heís rehabbing. If you see him on the field, youíll see him rehabbing more than in drills with the players during OTAs and things like that. We wanted to get him here, have our doctors see him, have our trainers put their hands on him, evaluate him and see where he is. Just me personally, I think he still has a ways to go before he gets out there and plays in the National Football League.
Q: Is it impossible to judge last yearís draft class because of the lack of an offseason?
A: You can judge them if you want to, but they didnít play a lot. Itís hard to judge. I can judge them because I think I have a grasp on what I think they can do. We feel like weíre going to get our first three or four picks, weíre going to get those guys again because they didnít play a lot. Jernigan played a little bit at the end. Brewer didnít play. Prince [Amukamara] played a little bit. And Marvin [Austin] was out the entire time. So weíre going to get some high picks even though weíre not picking high. So we feel weíre getting high picks still because our guys didnít play a lot. So weíre fortunate to have those caliber of players coming back and theyíre going to be healthy. So thatís a plus for us.
Q: How do you feel about the characteristic that you guys go under the radar in the offseason as opposed to the Jets? Does the public response ever play into decision making?
A: No. That doesnít bother me. We try to make good football decisions here. What people say and the media or whatever, you guys have a job to do. We have a job to do. We try to do our best and make good football decisions. We really donít pay much attention to what other teams are doing. We try to mind our own business.
Q: At the combine you said youíre open to talks with Osi Umenyiora regarding his contract. Has anything happened?
A: Iím still open to that.
Q: Have there been any discussions?
A: Thereís been a little bit of talk, but itís a long way to go before we play and a lot of things still for us to do. Thatís on our plate as well.
Q: Does whether you do or donít have Osi change the way you look at this draft?
A: The draft really has nothing to do with what we do in the draft. Weíre just going to try to draft the best player as we can find. Osi has a year left on his contract. Heís not a free agent. Weíll try to address as many of those situations Ė Osiís situation and other situations that we have Ė moving forward. Itís a long time before we play, but the draft stands alone by itself really for us. We try to pick the best players available in the draft and then at the end we see what we still need and we try to fill some holes after that.
Q: How much attention do you pay to the possibility of moving way up in the draft?
A: You have to give up so much to move way up. Iím not sure what you mean when you say Ďway up.í You have to give up a lot of picks and we like our picks. We think you build your team through the draft. We try to develop players through the draft and thatís important to us. So I donít see us moving way up because you have to give up too much to move way up.
Q: But it could be giving up players, especially unhappy players.
A: Weíll see.
Q: Are you looking at Victor [Cruzís] contract?
A: Everything is on our plates. All of those things you guys can think of, itís on our plate.
QB ELI MANNING
April 19, 2012
Q: Are you excited to be back?
A: Definitely. It is good to be back, to be around all of the guys again and seeing everybody after a two-month break and getting back to work and start discussing the things we need to change; things we need to improve on and get to working on them.
Q: You talked about the things that you need to change and work on. Can you talk about the adjustments that you are looking to make with Mario and Brandon gone.
A: Obviously we are going to need some guys to step up. At the receiver spot we have that third receiver Ė it is going to be some tryouts for us. Some guys who - Ramses Barden and Hixon and Jernigan and whoever else is going to be here, they are going to be competing for that spot. So that should be good. You have good competition. Obviously some running backs trying to come in and help them out. We would like to use multiple running backs and then Kareem McKenzie at tackle. So we have some spots to fill, but that happens every year. Everybody is always competing for their job in this League. It is always competitive. So everybody has to keep working hard.
Q: Scott said one of the things he really wants to do is gain your trust, particularly with the protections in the backfield. How much will you be trying to reach out to younger guys?
A: I think we are always trying to get the new guys Ė younger guys Ė caught up to where the starters are Ė to where Ahmad is and the understanding of the offense. And so obviously experience is the greatest way of learning. But just getting the reps, just getting into the meeting room Ė taking those practice days and if they have questions have time to talk it over with them. And get them on the field and discuss things so they will have a true understanding of what is going on.
Q: When you return as a World Champ and you know what is ahead and how difficult it is to look back, where does the motivation come from when you know you will be getting a ring next month?
A: I think the motivation is always trying to improve; always trying to get better; always trying to become a better player. Sometimes you canít worry about winning a championship next year. You know how difficult that is; you know that a lot of things have to happen. But you canít always control that. You can control making sure you are doing everything you can to be prepared Ė to get your workouts, to be in shape. Make sure you are doing everything you can to try to stay healthy and get your teammates mentally and physically ready for the season. So that is what we are doing right now. We are working hard. We are getting prepared and figuring out ways to get better.
Q: How much are you looking forward to May 5 and SNL?
A: I am looking forward to it. Saturday Night Live will be fun and it will be a new experience for me. Right now I am probably more anxious than anything just to kind of figure out what I might be doing. I might be doing something that is a little bit out of my character or uncomfortable. But Iím looking forward to just working hard that week and having a lot of laughs and being prepared.
Q: Would you describe to us how you might be preparing for that on your own as far as Ė doing any impersonations of yourself Ė are you consulting with your brother Ėwhat are you doing to just kind of prepare for your performance?
A: Right now Iím not doing a whole lot to prepare for it. Right now I have two good weeks of preparing for football and getting my workouts and being back up here that week before. You have a lot of skits. I have talked to Peyton a little bit so I just understand the schedule. Before I made the decision to do it, I asked for a complete schedule of what was the most I could possibly do Ė what was the most they have ever asked anyone to do. And they sent that over and I looked at it. I saw that I would not miss a workout or I would not miss any meetings or not miss any team activities here. So that is always my first priority Ė is making sure Iím here with the players Ė here with my teammates and doing everything I can here and then afterwards I can get into the city and do my preparation there and prepare for that.
Q: Are you going to the film room and look at what other athletes have done on the show?
A: I havenít. Obviously there have been a few Ė Derek Jeter and Tom Brady and Peyton and LeBron and Michael Phelps. Even going back to the olden, golden days, I guess, there are quite a few. But I havenít watched much film on them right now. Maybe when I get there and they have some cutups or they have some highlight reel, I can start looking at a few.
Q: Do you watch the show very much?
A: Growing up, always watched it. If Iím home on a Saturday night I will usually check it out and see what was going on. I know a lot of the cast members already. Iím looking forward to getting around them and seeing what they have planned for me.
Q: Did Peyton send you a copy of the United Way?
A: No, I have obviously seen it before. That was a good one. So hopefully I can have one as popular as that one.
Q: Who is your favorite cast member?
A: I donít want to be picking favorites right now. It is kind of like asking, ďWho is your favorite receiver?Ē You can get in trouble answering those questions. So whoever can write the funniest script for me will probably be my favorite one afterwards.
Q: How long does it take to turn the page on the Super Bowl win and start focusing on something new?
A: I think once you get back here for the offseason workouts. My focus is on this season. There is no point re-living last year. There will be a few moments - obviously when we have the ring ceremony Ė when you go to the White House and do those things you are celebrating getting your ring and the fact that you are champs. But from a preparation standpoint and from being in here, I think our focus is definitely on this season Ė getting prepared and getting ready.
Q: When Peyton was going through all of his signing stuff, did he ever call you up and say, ďWhat do you think?Ē
A: I talked to him. We are brothers and I talked to him about some of the places, or the coaches or things I knew about certain offenses and what not. So I definitely had several discussions with him. And I think it is good for him to have someone to talk to and good for him to bounce some ideas off someone to see if he is thinking correctly. But Iím just happy that he will be in uniform next year.
Q: You reaction when he chose Denver?
A: I was just excited for him. Excited that, again, number one that he will just be playing football and excited that he has made a choice and he can put all of that behind him and just focus on getting ready to play this year.
Q: Would you comment about the John Elway factor?
A: I donít know what that factor is, so no; I donít have a comment on that.
Q: It seemed like everybody was doing a lot of things in the offseason. Did you kind of lay low Ė just relax and things like that?
A: Yeah, I was just tired. It is a long season. I was excited after the season. I was here about four or five days in the city and then went back to Mississippi and just kind of relaxed and kind of laid low. I took a few trips with my wife and daughter. I knew this spring when I got back it was going to be a lot of hard work and I was going to be busy doing things. I just wanted to make sure that I got my rest and got a full recovery during that time off.
Q: Are you intrigued at all about what Jets are doing the Tebow Ė how they are going to make that whole thing work?
A: I donít know if Ďintriguedí is the right word. Obviously being in the same city you see what is going on and you hear things, but it obviously not a big concern for me.
Q: The 10 or so guys that are still here from the last championship Ė what do you think you learned by the following season that you can apply this time?
A: I thought we got off to a great start that year. We were playing great football. Toward the end we didnít finish as strong. We lost a few guys and some injuries and things went on. But I think we had a pretty good approach after that one; a good mindset and a good work ethic, and taking kind of the attitude that we still have something to prove. They called it a fluke and we got hot at the right time but we were still not a great team. That should be the mindset. We have to be more consistent. We have to be better throughout the whole season and not have these streaks of good play and bad play.
Q: What do you think about some of the changes? You lost some really good guys.
A: Yeah, we obviously lost some good players, good teammates, good friends. And that is the tough part about this league and free agency. And that is the way things are. You are always going to lose some players that are important to the organization, to our success Ė guys who have helped you win championships. So you canít use that as an excuse for anything. You also have new guys coming in and talented guys who have been here a few years who have been waiting for their turn to step up. Now they are going to get it and hopefully they can play at a high level and fill those roles.
Q: About this time last year you were working out in Hoboken. What is it like not to have to go through that and just to be here working out with your teammates?
A: It is obviously a lot better being here, having your coaches here, having a full weight room and coaches. You can go outside and have a facility. Everybody is around here. You can walk through the locker room and say, ďHey, letís go throw some, or letís do this.Ē And you can just grab guys. You donít have to text, e-mail and call and coordinate what field we are going to or if there is band practice going on or something Ė all of those things. So it is a much smoother way to get better.