RB Saquon Barkley -- August 2, 2019
Q: Bucket hat, huh?
A: I need a haircut, thatís why. Iím hiding the hair.
Q: You mentioned the first time you were here that pass protection was something you were really working on. Howís it going?
A: Going pretty well. Just picking Eliís (Manning) brain, picking the coachesí brains, watching film, picking (Alec Ogletree) Treeís brain, he does a really good job of understanding defense, and they do a really good job of hiding blitzes and bringing crazy blitzes. So, I think itís really good for me to be able to go up against a defense like that, and have a guy like Tree over there who knows it so well that if they throw a funky look at me that Iím not used to seeing, I can go up and ask him. Thatís the kind of way that Iíve kind of been approaching it, asking questions, learning, and Iím just trying to be on point and trying to elevate my game in that area.
Q: We can hear you a little more in practice this year talking trash to the defense and that type of thing. Is that just you being more comfortable, or were you doing it last year and we just werenít hearing it as much?
A: Probably me just being a little more comfortable. When youíre a rookie, your head is spinning, and youíre just trying to get in here and show these guys that you belong, and I guess now I feel more comfortable. I know that little trash talking, it brings a competitive nature to the team. I know if Iím not bringing it one day, Jabrill (Peppers) is going to bring it, I know DJ (Daniel Jones) is going to bring it, I know Evan (Engram) is going to be there, Sterling (Shepard), all those guys, and when you have a competitive group and a competitive nature, it only makes your team better because you guys will compete at a high level against each other, and itís only going to be easier when you go against another team.
Q: Saquon, even though you have Eli here, who has been here for longer than most of us have been alive, do you feel yourself moving into a leadership role, kind of asserting yourself a little more as youíve gotten more comfortable?
A: Yes, Iíve definitely asserted myself in more of a leadership role. Thatís the beauty of sports, and especially the beauty of footballóyou donít just need one leader. Itís not like when Iím saying Iím asserting myself into that role that Iím the leader of the New York Giants. Thereís multiple of us, we all lead in different ways. Iím trying to find my way to lead, and a way that I believe is going to help the team, but I know Evanís going to find his way, Eli, Tree, AB (Antoine Bethea), Jabrill, all those guys, and the list goes on and on, is going to lead in different ways, and we all have characters on our team that can help lead a team, and not just one person. I think thatís one benefit Iíve seen a lot.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: A little bit of both. When I was younger, I would say high school and college, I was a guy that would just come in and work and lead by example, and you have to do that, you have to lead by example and show what youíre able to do, but you have to be vocal. Thatís where I had to get a little more comfortable. I guess you could say from last year to this year, as the season went on, I got more comfortable, started being more vocal in the locker room, started being more vocal on the field. Iíve always been more vocal on the sidelines, but came to be more vocal there. Whether itís youíre up 40 and trying to keep the team going, saying, ĎFinish them, letís stomp on their necks and finish the game,í or if youíre down by a lot saying, ĎWe got to get rolling, we got to get rolling, letís go.í
Q: Saquon, this is probably the most experienced offensive line youíve played behind, even going back to college. How much does that help you as a running back, or how much of an impact do you think thatís going to have on your year?
A: Definitely, and not only me, but all of the running backs and all the quarterbacks. We have an experienced O-line, an O-line thatísólike I was saying, I think I said it up here last time I was up hereó(Kevin) Zeitler is teaching me things that I didnít even know before. (Mike) Remmers is teaching me things I didnít even know before. You can see all five of those guys are clicking on a high level, but whoever weíre rotating in that mix are all clicking on a high level, and we have a very good defensive line hereóI believe soóand theyíre challenging our O-line, and theyíre going at it, and thatís only going to make them better. But for myself, Iíve just got to continue to work and continue to get a feel for the O-line, and get a feel for the running game, and get a feel for the pass game, and as more reps continue to happen Iím just going to come more natural.
Q: You guys go ones versus ones (starters-on-starters) a lot in this camp, maybe more so than a lot of other NFL teams do. How valuable is that? You talked about how good the defensive line is, how valuable is it to get those reps in practice against your starters, knowing whatís ahead of you in the season?
A: I think thatís important. Youíve got your best and your best going against each other, and the way weíve been competing, it kind of started off in OTAs--trash talking, I guess you could call it that, but itís all fun love to get the mojo going right. I think when youíre going against ones on ones, best on best, you get the best out of each other.
Q: With as productive as you were last year, what do you consider a good, proper encore for you? How difficult is it to kind of back that up when youíve raised the bar so quickly?
A: For me, I consider a proper encore would be just doing whatever I can to help my team to get in position to compete in the playoffs, and compete for a championship.
Q: Saquon, you spoke a little bit about pass protection earlier, is it fair to say that was the focal point, or is the focal point for you of where you want to improve this offseason?
A: No, Iím a big believer in trying to improve everything, not just one focal point. I donít think I was awful on pass-pro last year, I donít think I was really awful in anything, but I thereís a lot of things that I can work on in my game. Whether itís things I might be, or people view me to be really good at, or things I know Iíve just got to continue to get better at, whether itís pass-pro, running in between the tackles, catching the ball, reading, all those little things, continue to grow in those areas. You have so much time, especially when youíre laying in bed at night in the hotel and youíre just looking up at the ceiling, to just think. So, in that moment, Iím just trying to find way that I can improve, and if itís inside zone, go and watch a Zeke (Ezekiel Elliot) or a Todd Gurley, any of those elite running backs, how they set up the inside zone. If itís catching, look at elite wide receivers or look at elite running backs, whether itís catching or route running, all those little things are where I try to get better. I donít really try to just have one focal point because I think when you do that, you kind of just put yourself in a box focusing on one thing. I try to make sure I maintain the same mindset to continue to get better at everything.
Q: You guys were pretty into it yesterday, what did you think of Daniel Jones and the things he did yesterday?
A: DJ, heís a player. I know you guys saw that dime over there to Perk (Paul Perkins), who made an unbelievable catch, but you can see heís getting a lot more comfortable, heís understanding the offense a lot more. Him and Eli are vibing really well. Eliís being a great, I donít want to say mentor, I know thatís what people try to make it seem, but just a teammate. Being a great teammate, helping him out, and all those quarterbacks, with Kyle (Lauletta), with (Alex) Tanney, and all of them, are doing a really good job. Like I said, Iím excited to seeóI know we play soon with our preseason game, and Iím excited to see him in live action.
Q: You seem to like when he--especially guys take pleasure when he moves around and runs.
A: Yeah, he can move. Kind of like when you see him, you really just think of probably a pocket passer, but no. When you go back and you watch his Duke highlights, there are some games where he took it 50, 60 yards. So, you see that he has that in his package, and the versatility, but like I said, heís been doing a really good job so far and I canít wait to see him in live action.
Q: How much will we see of you in the preseason games?
A: Thatís a great question. You will see as much of me as coach wants me to be out there.
Q: You donít have any say?
A: I mean, Iím not the coach, or the GM. So, if they tell me to go play, Iím going to go out there and play at a high level and try and get better, and how many reps they want me to take. But if not, then not.
Q: Do you have a preference?
A: I think you know the answer to that one. I love football. Practice is fun and you get better every single day, but thereís nothing like going out there and playing with your teammates. Weíve been going against each other, and weíve still got a couple more days to beat up on each other, but when you actually get to go up there and go against another team, thatís the thing that you love, thatís the drive that you love is competing, and I would love to be out there and compete at a high level with my teammates.