Guard Justin Pugh
July 30, 2015
Q: Are you still a guard?
A: Still a guard.
Q: What was your off-season like? You went out to Los Angeles again, so what are you gaining out of that?
A: I feel good right now. My body fat is as low as it has ever been. I feel good. I weighed in at 307 today. I feel good. I think out in L.A., I really gained an advantage. I was able to work on my mentality out there, itís a fighterís mentality. You go across from a guy, youíre going to make it a long day for him. Youíre going to make that guy wish he didnít go up against you. Just a lot of things out there, working on leverage, hand violence, bunch of different things. So it was good.
Q: What itís like working alongside Weston Richburg ?
A: Yeah, weíre very close guys in the locker room so we definitely talk a lot about how we can get better, how we can gain that edge and I think that is something thatís going to help us out throughout the season. That communication is going to be something that is huge.
Q: There are a few returners on the line, but no one is coming back to the same position. How long do you think itís going to take to find the groove?
A: Weíre going to find it real quick. I think itís going to be great going out to Cincinnati, getting those reps. Itís almost like getting three games in because you get two full practices against them. So that will be big, and then itís just to keep working the communication. I think mentality is going to be the biggest thing we keep harping on. A group of tough guys.
Q: What about working with a rookie left tackle (Ereck Flowers)? You are in a new position and you have a guy you are trying to bring along so how is that going to work?
A: Itís been fine. Weíll see what happens once we get full pads on, thatís always another story. Iím confident in Ereck. Heís a great player. We drafted him ninth overall for a reason and I think he is going to show that to people. To come in and play as a rookie right awayóI have some experience with thatóis just really getting an understanding of the plays inside and out. I think thatís going to be the biggest obstacle for him. It was for me. So weíre just there for him to lean on us and I think weíll be alright.
Q: Have you had a conversation with him about this? Shared this with him?
A: Yeah. When he first got drafted you knew he was probably going to be playing right away or very quickly. I think you go out there and like I just keep saying, we have got to be a group of tough guys. Thatís what weíve got to be. If you go backóweíve been watching í08 film when the Giants o-line was probably best in the business and they were just a bunch of tough guys. After plays, putting in a little extra stuff and between the whistles, they were knocking guys down and no one really wanted to play against them. I was watching Ravens film when they played them in í08 and they beat them like 30-10. Watching (Chris) Snee, (Rich) Seubert, all those guys in there at guard, I definitely got an appreciation and I want to try to emulate the way they played the game.
Q: Was that lacking a little bit the last couple of years?
A: Yeah, I donít think we were as intimidating a unit as they were. I think we brought a lot of good things to the table, but overall we obviously didnít rush the ball well enough to garner that respect that í08 line had. They were probably considered the best in the NFL. So I think thatís the goal. I mean the goal is to intimidate your opponent and go out there on Sundays and prove it.
Q: Does that come with a little bit of maturity? I mean you were a rookie, Iím sure your head was spinning.
A: Yeah, I think that first year is definitely a whirlwind. You get to a new city. Iím sure a lot of guysówhen I was at Syracuse, the most people that ever interviewed me were like two people, so now I have like 20, 30, whatever is here right now, so thatís obviously a jump. Youíre paying bills for the first time. All these little things that you would never think of, itís definitely tough. I look at it like you try to get your life in order. Itís like a highway, you have a bunch of different lanes. You have your money, your friends, your family, your social life, football. Whatever it is, you got to get all of those and get them in order. No road blocks in your way and thatís something that takes some guys longer, some guys a little less time. So hopefully we can all help each other all get going in that EZ Pass lane.
Q: Youíve been a tackle and Iím sure you felt you could be a tough guy at tackle. But inside, can you be a tougher guy sometimes because itís a lot more of the dirty work?
A: What I like about inside is a lot of times youíll have a double-team block or youíll have some help or youíll have some guys around you, I think it makes it easier to help out your tackle if heís on a one-on-one block becauseóI played tackle, I know how tough it is to go against some of these defensive ends and Iím hoping to be able to help out the tackle whenever I can to slow those guys down because you know those defensive ends are your best athletes and to have those guys one-on-one out there is definitely a tough block.
Q: Whatís your expectation for the line in training camp and does it almost change from last year or the year before because of all the new guys?
A: You got to establish the run game, establish chemistry, establish a run game. I think itís just what I keep saying, establish a toughness, a mentality that weíre going to go out there and weíre going to fight. That is something that Iím bringing to the table this year. I want to go out there and be as physical as possible.
Q: How do you establish that in practice? You only get to hit so much.
A: The mentality, the way you finish a play, your demeanor after a play. You see a guy with his head down, that is not the mentality that we need. We need guys ready to go, staring at the line, like, Ďhey, lets go again,í and really wear those guys down. You can tell that moment you break somebody when their head drops or they look away for a second and they donít have that eye contact. Itís something that I learned working withóI was training with Rashad Evans. Heís like one of the UFC fights, pound-for-pound, one of the best of all time and Iím wrestling with him and he has that mentality at all times to just go, go, go and break guys down. I think thatís the mentality we got to have.
Q: Do you think you can learn toughness or does it have to be in you?
A: I think guys have it, itís just bringing it out of some guys. Some guys, youíll be training with and you make them mad and all of a sudden, you see a different side of them. Itís to keep that side out for the full, full time. I think itís definitely a mentality that can be trained and learned. I think itís in you and if you can bring it out and the guys that bring it out are the ones that are the good fighters, the great players or whatever the case may be.
Q: Do you get caught thinking too much maybe when youíre younger because youíre worried about so many things going on around you?
A: Yeah. I think learning the playbook is definitely tough. You just want to make sure youíre going in the right direction. So I think the biggest thing now with most guys is once you know the playbook, have a great understanding of it, then itís doing the little things, the little nuances that you may not have known when you were a rookie.
Q: Do you feel like there is enough talent on this team to compete for a Super Bowl?
A: Yeah, of course. I think if you seeóif we get into the playoffs, the goal is to win the NFC East, get into the playoffs and once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. I think you saw how explosive our offense can be. We get Victor Cruz back, hopefully weíll get Will Beatty back down the road. Weíre going to be dangerous and I think when you do that, I think weíre going to have a lot teams that are like, Ďoh, we got to go play the Giants this week, we better make sure we have our A game on defense,í because weíre going to score some points.
Q: As a player, when you look at something like what happened to JPP, are you angry at him or are you disappointed? How do you react to that?
A: Itís his life and Iím just worried about his overall safety and health. Heís a great guy, I know him personally. Accidents happen and itís very unfortunate to see that so Iím just hoping he just gets as healthy as possible because you know how dominating he can be when heís on that field playing 100 percent.
Q: Nice to see Victor Cruz running around?
A: Yeah, of course. If you look at our receivers, who wants to line up and play against those guys right now? I donít think any defense in the NFL is raising their hands saying, Ďyeah, letís line up against those three guys across the board.í
Q: What was your impression of Flowers in the spring?
A: Heís a big, strong, tough kid and I think that just keep going back to toughness, he fits right in with the mold weíre trying to create here and what weíre trying to do. Itís a lot of things. You get drafted right away, they expect you to come in and play. I know he has that pressure on him and Iím just hoping that he can lean on guys that like Iíve been through, Westonís (Richburg) been through. We can be there and have that support system and really build this thing and get going in the right direction.
Q: Whatís going to be the toughest part for him if he has to start right away?
A: Learn the playbook. I think that is the toughest thing for all of us still. I mean, youíre learning the playbook last year for the first time, it was tough for some guys. Once we got it down and really got it going, I think towards the end of the year, you saw what we were capable of doing as an offense and I think if you talk to Eli (Manning), I know he is very, very comfortable with the offense now. In the spring we showed a lot more explosive plays, a lot more dynamic runs and plays of that nature. I think itís something thatís going to show right away in preseason of how comfortable we are with this offense.
Q: Do you see any difference between right and left? Maybe one being more difficult than the other in regards to playing tackle?
A: In regards to playing tackle, the guy you go against at left tackle is probably the best pass rusher on their team. Normally their right defensive end is their best pass rusher. A lot of time itís getting down the phrases or the words that we use for tackle, if you get them down, you can probably play both sides relatively easy. So I think him just getting in there and getting these reps is going to be big for him.