Head Coach Joe Judge
August 9, 2021
Opening Statement: What’s going on, guys? So, players had a little rest yesterday with the day off. We’re going to bring them back in today. The focus is going to be fundamentals today, a little bit of a briefer practice, on and off, only about an hour and fifteen minutes. You’ll see a lot of individual periods, some team run focused, switch to seven-on-seven, make sure we give the offensive and defensive lines plenty of time to go one-on-one, two-on-two, five-on-four. Everybody just making sure we go through our previous installs, come out of today after a long week of practice last week and eliminating the mistakes we made on the grass. After that, our focus going forward will be on new install and pushing forward on that. So that being said, any questions I can answer.
Q: You guys activated (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) off the PUP list. What can we expect to see from him over the course of today and this week?
A: So, look, as they keep greenlighting Saquon to do more and more, we’re going to let him do more and more. I always say all the time, look, I’m not the doctor, I’m the listener. They are the guys with their hands on him with his rehab. Whatever they allow us to do, we will. What you‘re going to see from him these first few days, he’ll be doing mostly individual teach periods. We’re not going to put him in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 at this point right now, but as we keep building him up, we’ll really kind of start to get his body into the volume of practice, the pace of practice of the players out there, more football drills. That’ll be something that benefits him going forward. There’s only so much you can do at a certain point with the trainers and strength coaches on the field by yourself. It’s time to get him moving forward and as long as they say it’s safe for him to do, we’ll keep on pushing.
Q: Was he very excited when you told him the news?
A: He was. Been tapping his foot for a while, guys. This guy, he works tirelessly hard, he’s been chomping at the bit. The biggest thing I just hit him with this morning was I can’t ask him to be patient because that’s not really natural for an athlete in his situation, but I can ask him to be understanding and trust the people that are making decisions with your interest at heart.
Q: Joe, do you have to worry about, as a coach, protecting Saquon – I mean, he’s a bright guy, but he’s also competitive – protecting him from himself ? You know, ‘Let me try this, let me do a little more than I should or think I can do?’
A: Yeah, I think protecting the players tied in based on how we set up the practice and what he’s available to do. So, when we give him certain drills, that’s something that’s been coordinated with the medical team and the rehab group, and that’s something that’s tied into the volume he’s going to have every day. Just the plan is what’s going to protect him right there. We’re not going to at some point see him do something, let him jump into a drill that he’s not allowed to do. That’s our job as coaches to regulate what’s going on in practice.
Q: What does this mean for his path to potentially be ready for Week One?
A: I don’t think this changes anything at this point. There’s nothing different now than what I’ve talked about the entire time. We’re going to be patient with him, we’re going to watch how he responds to each situation, and when the doctor says he’s greenlighted to go out there and do something, he will. I’m sure the next question is going to be something about preseason. When he’s greenlighted to do something, we’ll go ahead and keep advancing him. I don’t have an answer for anything right now preseason-wise or regular season-wise. We’re just going to watch him on the field and see how it goes day by day.
Q: Would you be alright with putting him in a preseason game now, in theory?
A: Theoretically, yeah. Yeah, I am, absolutely. And to be honest with you, I’ve had experience with this. Look, there was a day I had to walk in and tell Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and Julian Edelman, ‘Hey, all three of you are going to play against the Giants in preseason game four because you haven’t done anything competitively in training camp.’ Now, they’re going to naturally look at you like you’re crazy, but the intention isn’t to go out there and just say, ‘You just have to play.’ The thing is, before you get hit in the first game at full speed when the speed does elevate, we want to go out there and just get you used to the tempo of the game, the pace of the game, get you a catch, get you hit, get the feel of being tackled. That’s natural preparation. You don’t want to put someone in a situation where they’re just getting the gauntlet out there getting hit, but that’s part of actually preparation, your body understanding and feeling the flow of how to get hit, how to fall, how to recover after that. So, am I looking to put Saquon into something that’s not going to be in his best interest? Absolutely not, but at some point the doctors say, ‘He’s ready to play,’ and if we have the opportunity to get him in at a certain point, we will. But I’m not going to press that timetable.
Q: Joe, for how long now has he been on a steady ascent to this point today without like a hiccup or anything? Can you recall?
A: I can’t answer that completely. We kind of paced it out based on pushing him to a point and then backing him off and then pushing him and backing him off. I’m sure we’ll stay a little bit on that course as well as we go through training camp right now. But in terms of his ascent, that’s been consistent. He’s gotten better since we’ve had him. We’re just being very careful in terms of how we manage it and I always say, we’re taking a long-term perspective with this. This is long-term for him individually and the team with a 17-game season and years in the future.
Q: I know you’re the guy in charge, obviously, but how much say has he had with you? The two of you I assume talk one-on-one.
A: Look, I listen to the players all the time. You’ve got to trust them on how they say they feel, but at the same time, in terms of the question and protecting players from themselves, he is a competitor, and he wants to get out there. Sometimes we’ve got to help these guys make the best decision by putting them in periodically and making sure they’re safe with what they’re going to do next.
Q: Joe, you have another player (Linebacker Oshane Ximines) off of PUP. I mean, he didn’t really do much for you last year. By the time you got your hands on him, he was out. What’s your sense with him at a position of need at edge rusher?
A: You talking about X-man? Well, we had X-man for a period of time last year. We had him for training camp. We had him for a few games last year. He came back and it was unfortunate that he had to deal with an injury. We’re excited to get him back out there today. He’s a guy that works really really hard. He’s definitely someone we look forward to getting out there on the field with us from a team perspective. Again, we’ll build him up a little bit as well. You’ll see a little more from X-man in the next couple of days, like Saquon, in terms of team and competitive things. But we’re excited to get him out there. I know he’s anxious to get out there.
Q: What did he show you last year?
A: Well, he’s a physical presence. He’s got the pass rush ability from the size and the speed and is really kind of the more speed to power type of guy. But in terms of holding the edge, playing with extension, shedding blocks, X really plays more to his physical build which is really power and anchor at the point of attack. That’s really his physical skillset, not that we’re not working to develop more things in that. He’s a guy that’s helped in the kicking game, too. He’s had roles on defense, so we’re looking to get him involved in everything we do.
Q: Hey Joe, have you decided how you are going to break up Saturday? Ones go for 15 plays or anything?
A: No, we haven’t made a final decision on it, yet. A lot of that will come into how the next couple of days go. That’s not looking in terms of do we have to go out there and punish someone to some point, but we want to see how practice goes the next few days. I will say this, the priority for me is to treat this more like a traditional game four and when I say that, it’s more of a make sure all of the players that we really have to evaluate get an evaluation. Because of the rules this year, we have to cut five guys after the Jets game. I want to make sure that we don’t make any decisions that impact our or their future without a proper evaluation.
Q: Is it safe to assume Saquon won’t play on Saturday?
A: Yes, Saquon will not play on Saturday.
Q: Hey Joe, where do you guys stand on (Former Safety) Nate Ebner? You talked earlier this spring about possibly the plan to re-sign him.
A: Yeah, so Nate’s continuing his rehab right now at home. He’s been in touch with our medical team regularly. I’m not going to go fully into his deal, but I will say this, Nate obviously was competing for a spot on the Olympic team. The nature of Nate is, he doesn’t know how to slow down, so there was a point where he was kind of pushing and pushing his body and he had to make a decision at one point. He could talk more directly about it, but obviously he had to step away from the Olympics and kind of focus more on the football season and he’s at a point right now where he had to kind of step back and refocus on the rehab process instead of worrying about going to Tokyo with the competition. I know he’s working hard. That’s the way Nate is and how he’s wired. We’re looking forward to getting him and as soon as we get a chance to get him back, I’m anxious to see him back.
Q: Ultimately, what do you want to see from Saquon over these next couple of days, not just physically, but in terms of his outlook with getting back at this stage?
A: In terms of his outlook, I think this guy –
Q: I guess his confidence in any of his movements is a better way to put it?
A: I don’t have any question with that. I think this guy’s been doing a lot of football movements. In fact, I know he has. I know he has confidence in where he’s at. It’s more important for us to really just make sure that this guy is progressing on a daily basis, that when we put him back into team activities, 11-on-11, seven-on-seven, that he’s in a position that he can go out there and operate at full speed and play like himself.