Head Coach Joe Judge
August 11, 2021
Q: (Tackle) Nate Solder seemed to leave practice yesterday with his right arm hanging for a second. Anything on that?
A: Nothing much. We’re going to see where he is today, see how he feels. No kind of bumps and bruises from what we can tell, but he’s gotta get looked at by the doctors and see where he’s at. I think Nate’s obviously having a pretty good camp for us. I’m pleased with the progress he’s making right there, so we want to make sure we keep him on the field as long as we can, but obviously won’t do anything that puts a player at risk. Obviously, today going into the stadium, third day in a row, we’re evaluating a lot of guys based on loads earlier this week and from last week, so we’ll see periodically with individuals how we manage them tonight.
Q: As you get set for the practice tonight and the preseason opener coming up on Saturday, what are the qualities you like best about this team so far?
A: I like their work ethic. I like the way these guys show up every day and they work, and you see constant improvement. This is a team that’s got a lot of mental toughness, this is a team that as we’ve challenged them to go ahead and improve, as we’ve challenged them on different things, they’ve responded. I like the way they compete in practice. It’s not perfect, we’re far from a finished product, we have a long way to go as a team, but I love their spirit and how they come to work every day, and what they’re doing to improve.
Q: Obviously, this is a practice, but it is in a different venue. You’ve never coached a game at MetLife Stadium when there were fans in there, so this is different. Have you thought about that at all, that when you walk on that field it could be 20, 30, 40, 50,000 people maybe?
A: Well, I’ve thought definitely in terms of the excitement we’re going to have to go out there and see fans. It’s a practice, the formula of a practice will be like what you guys have seen already on the practice fields at Quest; however, it is going to be different. It’s our first opportunity – this and the Newark trip we did a couple weeks ago – as far as being in front of fans, but the first time under the lights with fans. Look, there’s going to be a lot of natural excitement from the coaches and players tonight, there’s going to be a lot of raised intensity. One thing we’re going to be very conscious of as coaches throughout this practice is making sure we watch our guys, making sure we control the tempo and the volume of practice. We understand there’s going to be a raised level of excitement for these guys, we’ve got to make sure we keep them in the moment and in the flow of things, but, look, the experience tonight of being in front of fans, we’re all looking forward to it. It’s also going to be a practice for us. One of you asked a question the other day about communication in front of fans. It’s going to be a great opportunity for our offense and defense to really work that for the first time with actual crowd noise and not just simulated noise at practice. So, that’s something that’s going to really help us right there. Look, it’s a practice, but there will be a different feel to it tonight.
Q: Really quick, how important is homefield advantage? The Giants have not had that in recent years.
A: Look, you want to win every game you play and obviously you want to defend your home turf. I’d say in terms of homefield advantage, the advantage always goes to the team that plays and executes better on that Sunday. So, while it can be an aid for you with obviously the energy and excitement provided by your fans, you’ve got to show up as players and coaches, do your best job and make sure you outperform the opponent.
Q: Hey Joe, your two rookie edge rushers. How serious are the injuries with (Linebacker) Elerson Smith, the hamstring that I guess he hurt during the conditioning run, and (Linebacker) Azeez Ojulari with his leg?
A: Really quick, can you be more specific about the conditioning run?
Q: I think there was an interview yesterday and (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) had said that he had hurt his hamstring during a conditioning run or a conditioning lap at the start of camp.
A: It was absolutely not a lap or a conditioning test of that nature. That’s not what happened at all. In terms of their recovery, both guys are coming along nicely. We’re looking forward to getting Elerson out there as soon as we can. He’s made a lot of progress over the last week and a half with the trainers and medical staff. That should be good right there. In terms of Azeez, he’s been out at practice. He’s been working. There’s different loads we have different guys on different days. One thing about guys of all different ages, you’ve got to make sure that throughout practice you monitor what they do, you know? We rely a lot on our medical team, our sports science and information and what they’re doing. We talk about our players every day, want to make sure we monitor what their bodies have been through. Put them in a position to go out there the next day and go through the practice that we prescribed for them in a safe manner. Everything we do is very planned out and in terms of both those young guys, they’re working hard and doing everything we ask, so we want to make sure we get them back on the field.
Q: About (Tight End) Rysen John. He’s just getting back to practice, but he looked really comfortable with you guys in the spring. Is there still time for him to make an impact for you guys and to be a factor in the competition at tight end?
A: Listen, every player is still competing. That doesn’t stop and it’s not just how you start camp, it’s consistent with what you do day in and day out. Obviously, he dealt with a different deal, he wasn’t allowed to be here because of the situation on the COVID list, 10 days in a hotel. No one comes back in camp condition, so it’s going to take him a couple days to get back out there and get his legs under him. One thing he did show yesterday as far as getting out there for the first time with the team was he was further along than maybe we anticipated as coaches. And the training staff is optimistic and confident with what they saw. The previous few days were really ramping him up and getting him ready to go on the field, so we’ve got to manage his loads obviously as we go through this. All that being said, every player on the team has an opportunity to compete every day, so nothing’s final.
Q: Back to that homefield advantage question and how it’s specific to the Giants. I’m sure that’s something that you noticed when you were interviewing for this job and saw. What does it take to overcome what’s been a pretty lackluster home record for this franchise since that stadium was built?
A: Look, it just takes executing better than the other team. In terms of anything that’s happened in the past, that’s not relevant to this year, it’s not relevant to any game we’re going to play this year. I would say that obviously when I became involved with this job, you start thinking about the history of this organization and the area of the fan base. There’s a reason this is such a paramount organization in the National Football League and that really starts with the fans. I mean, the game is about the players, it’s about the fans, that’s really what the connection is. The passion of New York, having the experience to be in MSG during a Knicks playoff game and feeling the energy of those fans really pouring into the game, that’s something that’s unique. You don’t go into every stadium and feel that energy and passion. There’s a natural demeanor in this area of the country, specifically in North Jersey and New York of – look, it is a mentally tough area. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s supposed to be and that’s the way we’ve got to train our team to be, and I like that atmosphere. I like coming to the stadium and people expect to see excellence, and that’s what they deserve for the money they spend. That’s the product we have to work to give to them.
Q: The flip side of that is there’s no blind loyalty, right? There are some teams that every Sunday they fill the stadium and everybody’s rooting for them, and everyone goes home happy win or lose. Here, you get booed off the field at halftime quite a bit.
A: Look, you get what you earn and we have to earn their respect.
Q: The fans haven’t seen this team since the end of the 2019 season. What would you tell them they should expect from this group?
A: You’re going to see a group of guys go out there and lay it on the field every time they take the field together. We’re going to work hard for 60 minutes. Talk about it all the time, I want the team smart, tough, fundamentally sound. We’re going to play for 60 minutes. That’s what you can expect to see from our team. If you step on the field for us, that’s what you can expect to see.
Q: About the offensive line. You revamped that coaching staff, obviously brought in (Offensive Line Coach) Rob Sale, brought back (Offensive Consultant) Pat (Flaherty), moved Freddie to more supervising the offensive line. Just curious, how do you feel like that’s gone with those new guys there and how receptive have the offensive linemen been to this new structure you’ve got over there?
A: Yeah, I think it’s gone very well actually. I think all four guys do a great job. I wouldn’t say Freddie’s job is to supervise the offensive line. Freddie has a load of responsibilities, encompasses a lot of things. I’m not going individually into each one of those right there, but he does a tremendous job for us overall with the structure of the offense. In terms of Rob and Ben working together with the offensive linemen, that’s been great, and Pat brings a lot of experience to the plate. We do have two young line coaches who are very knowledgeable and very capable of running a room and making adjustments, but it never hurts to have a guy who just has a lot of skin on the wall, has seen a lot of things and can share his experiences with two young guys and help them along, too. I know I benefit myself being a young guy in the profession from the experience of others.