OL Nick Gates
August 31, 2020
Q: You have been playing center now for a couple weeks. What’s the biggest difference, what’s the biggest challenge?
A: Honestly, just mentally, getting the playbook, getting in and just knowing what to do with every single front the defense gives us. Our defense gives us a lot of different things to look at, mix it up a lot. That’s probably the biggest thing, but it’s good for me to get out there against our defense and see all that because we are most likely not going to get this much different stuff in a game when we go to a real live game.
Q: How does that compare to a guard or a tackle? You kind of just wait for the center and quarterback to direct you.
A: Not wait, you have an idea of what you have to do. They give you the Mike I.D. and kind of give you the call. You go off that what you have to do.
Q: You and Tyler Haycraft are newcomers to this position. Have you guys clung to each other a little bit as former tackles converting to center?
A: I think all three of the centers, me, Spence(r Pulley), and him kind of throw questions off each other. Especially Spence since it is going to be his fourth or fifth year, I forget which it is. He’s a good veteran to ask some questions, get some things off. It’s all been kind of like a group discussion.
Q: I have to ask you obviously the tough question on everyone’s mind. Why do you wear your jersey rolled up so high in practice?
A: I just always have since high school. It’s just kind of like my thing.
Q: Guys give you a hard time about that?
A: Not really, the first couple of days they were like, ‘okay, I see you with the belly out.’ Other than that, nothing really.
Q: How would you describe your chemistry with Daniel Jones?
A: That’s still coming along, it’s going good, though, I feel like. It’s always tough to get under there and get used to a QB. I’ve been rolling with all four different QB’s that we have. It’s kind of good that we have to get used to good snaps with every single one and be able to mix and match and things like that. I think that helps.
Q: I don’t mean to be a bad guy here but when you and Daniel run a penalty lap, do you ever say that was your fault and he says that was yours? How do you handle that?
A: A lot of times we both just try to take the blame on it. We both don’t want to throw each other under the bus. We kind of say, ‘oh, that was me’, ‘that was me’, ‘oh well, both of you can go take a lap then’.
Q: I understand you trained with Will Hernandez in the offseason. Can you talk a little bit about that training and did that give you sort of an advantage knowing that you might potentially be working next to him this season?
A: I got lucky this offseason being able to work with Will. My gym stayed open all through the COVID and the pandemic. They just allowed all professionals in there, there was a lot of Raider guys, a couple of Colts guys, a couple guys that were all from Vegas mixed together. It was really good to get in there with Will and we can run a couple plays off of each other and get used to our fits and work together in that kind of way. It was good.
Q: They talk about communication, the non-verbal and the verbal amongst offensive linemen. Do you feel like you just got a jumpstart on that? How has that process been going, not just with Will but the other guys?
A: It takes time. We didn’t get OTA’s together, which doesn’t hurt us but that time helps gets the kinks and little things out of the way then so when you come to training camp you know the offense, you know the technique and you know how each person plays. It helps during that. I think we’re doing a good job playing off each other. Me, Will and Zeitler have been together with each other for the last two years, I think. We kind of understand each other on the inside.
Q: Is there a certain mentality that a center has to have that you have gotten or you are developing? You are making the calls, everything starts with you. You are used to playing guard and tackle. Is it something when you go out there, you feel like you are a natural at center now? You go line up there or do you sometimes hesitate a little bit?
A: I think mentally I’m thinking about so much, I don’t really think about the physical part, like the technique part and snapping the ball. It’s kind of nice to go out there and think and try to do the play. By the time I give the calls, I’m ready to go and I don’t have to think about it too much.
Q: Two weeks from today you guys will have a game. Can you envision yourself as the starting center for the New York Giants two weeks from tonight against the Steelers?
A: I’m still in competition with Spencer Pulley and Tyler Haycraft. We’re going to go at it and it’s going to be that way until the coach lets you guys know who the starter is and lets us know who the starter is. You can ask coach Judge that question if you want.
Q: Coach Colombo said the other day that you have really sort of become an alpha in the middle of the line. Having to be that guy, is that really an adjustment for you? Are you finding that having to be that guy suits your personality?
A: Let me think about that one real quick. I think just as an offensive line, it’s kind of like a mentality as a whole. I think offensive linemen have to be the alpha people of the whole huddle. As a center, it’s your huddle until the QB steps in. You have to make sure it’s right and it looks good until the QB steps in.
Q: You feel like it suits the way you like to play? You like to be in charge of the line?
A: It’s the first time I have been in charge of the line, it’s nice. It’s a lot more responsibility mentally. It’s something I am getting used to.