Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- August 19, 2019
Opening Statement: I donít really have much to lead with, so Iíll do my best to answer your questions. Fire away.
Q: Was that a challenge period there at the end on the goal line?
A: No. It was just part of team work. We did the same thing yesterday, I just did it in the red zone (today). I did twoís on twoís, threeís on threeís. Thatís it.
Q: I didnít see Michael Thomas out there. I was just curiousÖ
A: Heís involved with some league business. Excused, by the way.
Q: Daniel (Jones) always looks really good in practice, but it seems like he has raised his play to a higher level in the games. When you evaluate players, do you factor in that some guys are better when the lights are on?
A: Yeah. Thatís a good thing, obviously. We want to make sure they perform well in games. Period. There are some guys that, through the years Iíve been around, that are just absolutely horrible practice players, but they can turn it on for the game. Youíre certainly looking for consistency. You sleep better at night when the guy practices well. Thatís just part of it, I guess. At the end of the day, you want him to play well in games.
Q: We hadnít seen (DeAndre) Baker the last couple of practices before today.
A: Heís been doing individual (drills). Weíre going to move him back in there as quickly as we can. So yeah, itís good to have him back out there.
Q: What have you seen from some of the guys that have been bumped up? I know (Corey) Ballentine took some first team reps, and Antonio Hamilton before the groin injury. How valuable was that time for them, and what did you see from them?
A: I think very valuable. Again, we get to evaluate them in game settings. Theyíre finding a way to make plays, getting around the ball, becoming more and more comfortable within the scheme. We can see, I donít know if itís obvious with the naked eye, that when we play a certain defense Week 1, we play that same defense Week 2. Even though there may not be any action his way, you can see his movements are a little bit more fluid, heís a little closer to where he needs to be, heís in position to make a play if it comes that way. Thatís the benefit of young players playing, is we get to see them do that. There are times when there is no action, but you still need to be in the right spot. You see some of these guys that are getting more reps than they maybe would have if the guys in front of them were healthy making progress in those ways.
Q: Besides Evan (Engram) staying healthy, which is obviously a big thing for him, what on-field progress have you noticed over the past year?
A: I think heís more comfortable. He probably goes in the Eli (Manning) category. Heís more comfortable with what we want to do. Weíve really defined how we want to use him as a coaching staff. Those are probably the two main areas.
Q: Does that take a year? Did you have to get to know him and his skillset to define that role?
A: No, I think we had a feeling last year. But he was kind of hindered by his injuries. Thereís not a real process of that when youíre in the lineup, out of the lineup, in the lineup, and then out of the lineup. Weíre obviously starting much further ahead than where we were a year ago.
Q: A year ago at this time, he took a lot of knocks from the outside for his blocking. When he did play last year, was he a much-improved blocker?
A: I think so. Yeah, I think he improved his game in all areas. That just comes with learning a new system and obviously getting comfortable with what weíre doing.
Q: The decision not to play him in the preseason, was that simply because he was hurt part of the time last year and you want to keep him healthy?
A: No, itís just my call. There are things youíre looking for from your team (in the preseason), but weíre always keeping in mind whatís important for the individual as he gets himself ready to play within the team concept. So, thatís my call.
Q: Youíre calling plays this week. Youíll be going against a guy who was on your staff last year in Lou (Anarumo). I know itís not necessarily about winning the game, but for evaluation purposes, does that present an issue? He knows your playbook from last year.
A: Not really. I would say this, and this will be the caseÖ None of us have only coached in one spot. I was talking to my wife last night. Weíve lived in nine houses in seven states. You coach on a lot of teams, so you coach with a lot of guys. You all end up in other places. Nine times out of ten, when you go somewhere and say, ĎI know this guy,í it screws you up. I really believe that. Thatís not the deal. Itís going to be the Bengals playing the Giants, and we just happen to be coaching on opposite sides. Itís obviously a preseason game, so weíre all not showing our hand yet. Louís doing a great job. I like what theyíre doing on defense. He was a really valued member of our staff when he was here, and I look forward to seeing him before the game.
Q: The other day, you mentioned Chad Slade as a backup offensive lineman that kind of jumped out at you. What do you like about him?
A: I think heís been very competitive and very multiple. Heís played stretches at right tackle and left tackle, back and forth. In the event he makes our team and heís not a starter, thatís going to be an important component to his game, being able to be multiple. He competes and heís out there. When heís out there and heís competing and heís doing a lot more good things than bad things, then we start to depend on him. Thatís when we start to like a guy, and thatís certainly where weíre at with him.
Q: When you look at how the roster is going to be composed, does (Eli) Penny get lumped in with all of the running backs, or is he sort of his own category?
A: If you ask him, heíll tell you that heís a converted halfback. Just ask him, heíll tell you. Heís fond of that. Heís a fullback. But the one thing about him is that if we have a dire situation, he can go in there and run the football. Just ask him, heíll tell you. Iím very fond of him because heís one of the people in this building that, in my opinion, has never had a bad day. Heís smiling. He may have had a bad play or a bad meal, but heís never had a bad day. Heís a little bit of an inspiration to me because he just keeps going. He loves the game and he keeps playing. Heís done some good stuff for us.
Q: We know the experience factor with Antoine (Bethea). From a football perspective, how different does he make you guys on the back end this year, as opposed to what you had there last year?
A: Well, the veteran component is huge because heís steady, experienced, and heís obviously seen a lot of things. If you have a guy in the back end thatís been there, done that and is confident and experienced, I think thatís good for your defense. If an offense shows us something that we havenít seen, heíll be able to help us adjust. Heís been with (defensive coordinator James Bettcher) Bettch in the past, so thereís some familiarity there. I really believe safeties come in pairs, and I think he and Jabrill (Peppers) are working well together. Thereís probably a long list of things, but just a stream of thought. Thatís what comes to mind.
Q: It seems like the last few practices have leaned a little more towards the oneís, the starters, getting the work. Will that impact playing time on Thursday night?
A: I donít know. Generally speaking, I see us playing the game a lot like we did the first two. I still think weíve got some guys that are in the second and third group that we have to see. We have to see them play. Youíll see the oneís a little bit, too. Maybe more than a little bit. In terms of practice, this is a good little stretch here. We had the game on Friday. We were off Saturday. Yesterday was a very physical, hot practice. We took advantage of the heat today. We did some good situational work that was very physical in the heat. These two practices are very, very important. Just in the big picture, getting ultimately 53 guys ready to play day one. That wonít have as much of a bearing on what I do Thursday night, as itís just an important thing to do this time of camp.
Q: Have you decided about whether Saquon (Barkley) will play in any of the two remaining preseason games?
A: Iíll let it reveal itself. Youíre the third person this week thatís asked me that question, so it wouldnít be fair to the first two.
Q: How are the guys handling the heat, and what advantages do you think it brings to work in the heat like this?
A: The advantages are there is extra conditioning and the pressure that you put on your body dealing with the heat. Weíre going to play some hot games early in the year. I know weíre inside against Dallas, but early in the year, weíre going to play in Tampa. God only knows what the weather is like around here. It could be 90 (degrees) one day, 40 the next. We could get rain, snow, sleet. I think itís important, especially for the first five or six weeks, to have had some heat conditioning. Thatís why this was a little blessing for us, this kind of extreme heat the last two days. The guys handled it pretty well.
Q: Tae Davis?
A: He was a little under the weather today. Heís fine.