Quotes: DC Wink Martindale, OC Mike Kafka, STC Thomas McGaughey, RB Saquon Barkley, DL Dexter Lawrence, OT Evan Neal – Giants.com

Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale

Martindale: Going afternoon. Going back and looking back really quickly to the Carolina (Panthers) game, I was really pleased and happy with A – the fans. When I say they make a difference, they make a difference. It was already quoted from Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers Head Coach) about how they had a hard time communicating, and I think the biggest thing is the challenge I give the fans this week is I told the players from Week 1 to Week 2 is the biggest jump in the NFL of your performance. So, we expect it to be rocking. I heard it’s a white out, so I’ll wear my white sleeves I guess (laughs). And it should be like an avalanche once they get in that stadium. But it was a great environment, and it’s going to do nothing but get better because the fans definitely held up their end of the bargain. And it helps us immensely on defense when they have to go to their silent count and everything else. That should be the goal every time. There was a bunch of great plays in that game, but the biggest thing I was pleased with is seeing a carryover from our practice to our play, and with our effort for 60 minutes. And I can’t be more pleased with what I saw on Sunday. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: Why do you think your defense does such a good job of confusing quarterbacks and obviously there’s some unorthodox things you do, but what do you think the challenges are for the other side?

A: I think that the biggest challenges for our opponents are the same things as the biggest challenge for us. There’s a lot of time put into studying protections and seeing how they’ll react. And by the time we get to – like today we put in our pressures – it’s easy for us to teach, easy for our players to learn. But yet it’s something completely different. And you’ve heard me say this many times before: It’s a position-less defense. So, just because a guy, let’s use (safety) Julian (Love) again, has safety next to his name in the program, he can play anywhere on the field. Why can he do that? Because (of) the way we teach the system; he’s a smart player. And wherever we need him and wherever I think his skillset would fit us best is where we play him that week. And you’ve already seen two different defenses, and it’s a credit to the players because they’re studying their tails off not only with what we do but what they do. And it’s a long process. We got to reap the rewards on Sunday because we gave Carolina a different look than what they’ve seen.

Q:It’s a copycat league and you’ve had success, and you’ve had success. Why do you think there are not more defenses like yours around the league?

A: (I) don’t know that answer. (I) don’t know that answer. There’s a lot of good football coaches in this league.

Q: You were referring to versatility there. (Safety) Dane Belton played quite a bit in that game. I presume you think he has a lot of versatility. How do you think he performed with what you saw – your first look at him? And what can he bring as a versatile piece?

A: I think that Dane’s a really good football player and is going to continue to get better. For a rookie in the first play, you’re in in the National Football League and recover a fumble going down on a kickoff, that’s pretty cool. So, if things go up from there, he’s going to have a heck of a career – which I think it will. He does have some versatility to him. It’s harder earlier with rookies, because until you get them rolling, like the first five weeks after they’re used to (it and) they get in the rhythm of the league itself. You can just imagine being at a young age like that and going out there, and (it’s) your first time doing what you dreamed of all your life. So, I always take that into account.

Q: So, how do you think he played Sunday?

A: I thought he played well. I thought he played really well. As a coach you always think about – like when you just asked me that question – some of the things he didn’t do well. But there wasn’t that many.

Q: For years going against the (Dallas) Cowboys as a defensive guy, you had to deal with that offensive line. They were a problem usually. What do you see in that group this year, and are they not quite the problem they’ve been in the past?

A: I haven’t played them enough to talk about the past except one every four years, being in the AFC as long as I was. But I know one thing is they have a tremendous skillset at the wide receiver, running back and even quarterback position. We’re going against their second team quarterback, and their offensive line – they work well together. When they were giants, big-dudes way back like you were talking about, I know exactly what you’re talking about, but they still play really well.

Q: What do you see from (Cowboys quarterback) Cooper Rush?

A: I see a guy that’s a starting quarterback in this league. Honestly, I do. And I made the comment just watching him and the decisions that he makes, I think he’ll have a long career as a quarterback in this league, and then he’ll be one of those cats that become an offensive coordinator and a head coach by the time he’s 38 or 39. That’s how it usually works.

Q: How deep do you go on him? He’s got two career starts. What do you try to do to find out as much as you can about him?

A: He’s got two career starts, but he’s also 2-0 with those career starts. So, this guy’s a proven winner. And we’ve gone back to college tape on his favorite throws, because obviously when the schedule came out, we worked ahead. But then after the (Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s) thumb injury, some of the coaches went and looked at some of his (Cooper Rush’s) college throws, all of his preseason games since he’s been there. And he’s a smooth operator back there, and he doesn’t get rattled. Our job is to try to rattle him.

Q: Just looking at the other side of the ball, when you see a player like (Cowboys linebacker) Micah Parsons, what makes him so difficult to contain?

A: Because of his skillset and versatility where he moves all around.

Q: You’ve talked about stud running backs the first two weeks. This team has kind of two of them. What problems does that create for the defense?

A: A lot of that is, first of all it’s very difficult for the defense when you have two running backs of their caliber – especially when they’re out there on the field at the same time. But either one of them could be Pro Bowl running backs. They basically have very similar skillset. I’ve always said going against Zeke (Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott) that once he gets his shoulders squared and he starts heading downfield, he’s a problem. You better be ready to come tackling. So, it’s going to be another one of those games where we got to tighten up our chinstraps and try to get 11 people the football.

Q: You guys obviously have (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) here for a reason, and he’s trending to play Monday. I know that will still be determined. But when he and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) are in the mix for you in your toolbox, does that change anything in terms of how you can deploy your guys?

A: No. I mean, they’re two really good football players, Kayvon being picked where he is and Zeez (Azeez Ojulari) being a second rounder. The change is we have another two guys that are ready to go and play on Monday night if they are. I don’t know if they are or not yet.

Q: The Panthers went after (defensive back Cor’Dale) Flott early, Cor’Dale Flott. What did you think of how he played? Why’d you make the switch to (defensive back Fabian) Moreau, and how do you view that going forward here?

A: I first of all – Cor’Dale has his best week of practice going into Carolina; and he started off well yesterday. He had some cramping issues during the game. Once again, that’s that rookie thing I was talking about with Dane Belton. They’re breathing heavier and everything else because they’re so excited about being out there to play. And then we put Fabe (Fabian Moreau) in there, and he did a great job as well. So, going forward, we’ll see where we’re at. We can still rotate them or do whatever we need to do. But I was pleased with both of them actually.

Q: How would you evaluate (defensive lineman) Dexter Lawrence so far?

A: He’s maybe one of my most favorite players that I’ve ever been around in my life. He’s a great guy first of all – a great person. And he’s a problem. I mean, he is athletic. And I’m glad you brought that up because that play – I told the whole defense on Monday – the play where he chased (Panthers quarterback) Baker Mayfield down and got him short of the sticks on that scramble, I don’t know (if) in my career I’ve ever seen a big man like that make a play like that. And that’s the kind of effort and leadership that he brings to the defense. And he and Leo (defensive lineman Leonard Williams) and X (safety Xavier McKinney) and Julian, they’ve been the blocks of granite. (Cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) on the outside has been playing lights out, and we’re just excited to go get this thing cranked up on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka

Q: What is your process as a staff for making adjustments at halftime? How much time do you spend on it and how detailed is that?

A: It’s detailed. Those conversations start happening throughout the first quarter and second quarter, really as the defense presents itself. Really, if you have a two-minute or maybe you don’t have the possession, that conversation will happen between series and then those will get written down by staff and they will already be on paper as we walk into the locker room. We discuss them, make sure we’re all on the same page, and then get those adjustments to the players before moving on to half.

Q: How much is (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) running the ball almost part of the progression? It seems like he’s trying to get the backers to drop. Do you tell him if you don’t see it just take off?

A: I think he’s done a good job of seeing seems and hitting them. He’s converted on several big-time third and fourth downs for us. That’s a part of his game, he’s an athletic guy, who can get out of the pocket. You definitely don’t want to take that part of a game away from him.

Q: You guys have thrown for less than 200 yards in the first two games. There is a narrative that Daniel has not been willing to throw the ball down the field. How do you answer that in terms of his decision-making?

A: I think he’s doing a great job with the football. There was one turnover in the red zone that I’m sure he would like to have back, as we all would. I think he’s doing a great job with the football. He’s managing the game, he’s playing within the system and I think those big plays that you’re seeing, those are going to happen. You never want to go out there and force a whole bunch of things. That’s where the bad decisions happen. That’s where the turnovers happen. I think you continue to play within the system, let the system work for you and the offense work for you and then you’ll see that those things show up.

Q: Carolina was able to limit (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) a little bit in the first half last week. What can you do to create more opportunities through him when other teams do know that this offense runs through him?

A: They did a good job with that last week. This week, that’s what we’re focused on. We’re focused on putting our guys in the best spot. Communicating, we’re emphasizing communication. We’re emphasizing execution and then when we get down into the fourth quarter, down into the game, finishing games.

Q: At halftime as a play caller, to that question, Saquon has got three yards on five carries. The game is close, so you don’t have to go off script or anything but is it a battle in your head and do you ask (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) a little bit about we got to stick with it? Because sometimes these things just fade off a cliff and you got to get some yards.

A: Sure, I think it’s tying in a couple of things with the adjustments – what kind of adjustments you want to make. Communication, how we are going to get that to the players, and then the execution part of it. That’s really kind of been our emphasis this week throughout practice is getting those three things worked out.

Q: Is it kind of like, we are going to stick with the run game, but we got to change a little bit?

A: I don’t think it’s just run or pass, per se. I think you have to take advantage of what the defense is presenting and able to be flexible with the run and pass within the scheme. You don’t want to just call runs to call runs or call passes to call passes. You want to be able to have some, be multiple in that, and take advantage of what the defense is presenting.

Q: What are some of the things that you can do to start off faster in the game?

A: I think what we’re emphasizing is the communication part of it at the line of scrimmage, player to player, coach to player, coach to coach. The communication part of that and then the execution part. We’ve kind of taken a step back within ourselves and said, ‘Alright, how can we be cleaner on this scheme? How can we be cleaner detailed on these types of situations?’ That’s really been our focus, I think. If we can start to build on that, I think that’s when we’ll start seeing a faster start for us.

Q: Are there things that you can do as a play caller or play designer during the week to get (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) more involved? Or does Kenny have to adjust to what’s being called so he can have a bigger role?

A: I think there’s a mix of both. I think there’s a mix of both and every week we evaluate the matchups, we evaluate the defense, we evaluate our personnel and where they’re at. That’s just part of our process as an offense.

Q: Earlier this week, I asked Dabs about this. It’s almost a league-wide question as much as it is for you guys. 10 years ago, some of the bread and butter plays for your offense or other offenses in this league would be viewed as gimmicks or gadgets and nowadays it’s really go-to plays in certain situations. How have you seen the evolution of not just the execution of those plays, but also the philosophy knowing that you’re in the red-zone and these are plays that you are going to go to and it’s not going to be getting too cute?

A: Sure, sure. That’s really interesting that you say that. Specifically, when you get into the red zone, the area shrinks for you a little bit. So, you’re kind of working against the depth and you’re working with more sideline to sideline things. I think you see that around the league a little bit more is the speed sideline to sideline versus vertical just because you’re limited with space. When you see around the NFL, you see a lot of teams trying to displace defenders or influence defenders in certain ways which I think is great to see teams across the league do interesting stuff like that and try to apply it to your offense.

Q: I was looking at your bio at Northwestern and I think you said back then or at least wrote back then that visualizing is a way that you prepare for games. Do you still go back to that as a play caller now and how?

A: Absolutely. You want to take those mental reps. We kind of play a game upstairs with our staff. It’s a game that can put you in situations, you’re kind of calling it, and then based off whatever number, you roll the dice. It puts you in a different situation whether it’s minus yardage or plus yardage. You’re able to play the mental game off the call sheet and get mental reps of it and put yourself in those situations. It’s been pretty fun; we’ve been doing it for the last couple of weeks here.

Q: What have you as a staff, or you personally, told Golladay he needs to do better to earn more snaps?

A: We’ve been in good communication with Kenny. He’s done everything we’ve asked, to be honest with you. He’s done a great job and I think looking at it as a positive, he wants to be out there. He wants to play and contribute. On a week-to-week basis, like Dabs touched on, we’re evaluating those matchups, we’re evaluating how to put guys in certain spots. It might be not a lot one week, a lot more next week and we’ll kind of just go week by week and evaluate. That’s the beauty of our receiver room right now, there is a lot of competition, and they have another opportunity today to go prove themselves to add themselves to the gameplan.

Q: Is it an issue of a player isn’t playing and doesn’t seem to understand why he’s not?

A: That’s been one big part about Dabs is making sure that everything is out there in the open. We have meetings with players and let them know exactly where they stand at any point in time. This started in the spring, they have the ability to come talk to us and I’ve had conversations with Kenny about that. I feel like we’re in a good place with being on the same page with that.

Q: Would it surprise you if you were, two snaps and he wasn’t expanded this week?

A: We’re still in a Thursday practice, we still got a long way to go before Monday. We’ll continue to evaluate that.

Q: Do you still see (Golladay), the two snaps he got were red zone and he hasn’t gotten a touchdown in 17 games with the Giants, do you still see him as a red zone threat?

A: Yeah, I think any time you put on that helmet and you’re out there on the field you have to have the ability to execute what you’re called upon. Kenny has done a great job in practice, he’s working hard, he’s working his tail off this week and so I’m happy for him for that.

Special Team Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Q: Is there a field goal that (Kicker) Graham Gano cannot make?

A: What can you say about Graham right? Anytime we ask him to come through he does. I’ve been on the other side of it before, but it’s more often than not he’s come through for us.

Q: Is he any different than he was in Carolina? Has he changed anything?

A: The two years I had him in Carolina, I think the second year is when it just clicked for him. I think that’s when he figured it out. In the ’15 year, he made a lot of game winning kicks during their Super Bowl stretch. Then the next year he was starting to figure it out and then right at the end of the year we played Tampa, and it was a windy stadium, he kind of struggled a little bit that day. But that next year is when he went to the Pro Bowl. He’s taken off since then.

Q: What’s his range on a non-windy day? What’s his max?

A: 65, I think? 64 or 65 something like that. I mean, we’ve seen him hit 63 in a game. We’ve all seen that one. He has a strong leg obviously.

Q: Do you have a Panthers 2-yard bonus for him when he knows he’s going against the Panthers?

A: That’s this league. These guys are prideful. Anytime they get a chance to go against their old team, you can sit up there and lie and say, ‘Aw it didn’t make a difference.’ Yeah, it does. If you leave the way he left, that’s just the reality of it. That’s coaches, that’s players. Anytime you get a chance to go stick it to your old team, that’s what they do. That’s this league, it’s competitive.

Q: What does it do for your room, two weeks, two turnovers? What does that create in your room?

A: Momentum. I always tell them, big plays, once they start, they come in droves. We’ve got to just continue to keep working as a group to get better regardless of what happens, we’ve just got to keep working to get better. If it’s trying to get another turnover, we’re always working to get those. We’re trying to do the right things and hopefully we can continue to get them.

Q: Have you ever seen anything like that? Where a guy (Safety Dane Belton) has that as the first play of his career

A: That’s crazy, huh? That’s a new one for me. You step on the field and the first play you get a fumble recovery. That’s new for me, so I’m happy for Dane. He’s a hard-working kid, he’s smart, he has a lot of good football in front of him.

Q: Is that play as perfect as it gets? The way everyone seemed to do their job. (Inside Linebacker) Cam (Brown) blew up one guy, (Inside Linebacker) Micah (McFadden) got a piece of him.

A: It was well played. It kind of ended up in a solid result. We always talk about biting the ball and running through contact, accelerating your feet on contact with our tackling. Getting our eyes up, chest up, running through, and it was a textbook tackle. Knocked the ball out. That was a great play by (Inside Linebacker) Carter (Coughlin).

Q: Do you take pride in guys like (Running Back Gary) Brightwell and (Wide Receiver) Richie James now this year, who were pretty much exclusively with you and now they’re having to do things on offense?

A: Right, I mean that’s part of it. I always tell the guys, because this is our special team’s room, ‘our job is to help you graduate.’ You come in here, you make plays as a young player and then your job is to graduate to go play offense and defense. Then we repeat the process with younger players. Then some guys just become special teams players – that’s their role, that’s what they do. But we want them to make as much money as they can possibly make, make as many plays as they can possibly make and play as much football as they can possibly play. Whether it be on special teams and defense or offense.

Q: As a guy who has been here for a while, how would you speak to the fact that you’re answering questions after a couple of wins? It just feels like it’s been a long time since that’s been the climate.

A: Yeah, it has been. It’s been a long time. It’s fun though. It’s fun to be able to talk about our team in a positive way. People not asking questions, condescending questions kind of jabbing you a little bit as opposed to still doing their jobs. It’s really fun but we’ve got a lot of football left. It’s definitely been a lot better than what it’s been.

Q: When (Punter) Jamie (Gillan) hits that punt for 80 yards in the air for a touchback. Is that a good punt? How do you view that?

A: In the situation that was because of where the guy was playing him. The ball comes over his head and into the endzone. I guess you’ll take 67 yards and 47 yards, and you’ll take it in that situation but ideally that’s not what we want to do. Jamie’s working to get better. He has a live leg. Again, that process of getting better, we use the word kaizen, it’s the act of continuous improvement. That’s something we’re always working towards.

Q: You had three long snappers in for a workout this week, is that any reflection on (Long Snapper) Casey (Kreiter)?

A: No, that’s part of it. Eventually we’re going to have three kickers in. It’s just part of the process in personnel. They’re always bringing guys in. Just kicking the tires on guys making sure if something happens, we’ve got a short list of guys and they can come right in, and we can work with them.

Q: Because Jamie has such a strong leg, do you almost have to analyze each kick differently. If he hits something the wrong way with his leg, I mean he’s that strong where he may out kick it 10-20 yards just based on his strength.

A: It’s something that we’re working on. It’s a control thing. It’s like being able to hit a nine-iron. You know your full nine is 155 but depending on the wind, depending on direction, rain, all the conditions, you’ve got to be able to control it. That’s the thing he has to get better at. Just working on controlling.

Running Back Saquon Barkley

Q: The Giants are having a ‘White Out’ Monday night against Dallas. You’ve had those at Penn State, what are they like? What am I going to see? What am I expecting? What kind of feel is that?

A: Oh yeah. If it’s anything like State College, it’s unbelievable. Words really can’t describe it. Literally when I found out we were going to do that, went right back to memories of playing in State College. I had a lot of good memories in the White Out. Hopefully, that can rub of this Monday too.

Q: Does this feel like the biggest game you’ve had in your Giants’ career? There’s not a lot where you guys have a winning record, the other team has a good record.

A: No. For me it’s just, it’s the biggest game because it’s the next game. That’s the mentality that I kind of always have. It was instilled in me in college. Obviously, I had a little more success in college than the first couple of years in the league. Never get too hyped over a game, just got to come in continuing to love the process, enjoy the process and do what we can to try and get a win.

Q: Not that you can think of one that was bigger, it’s that you don’t really believe in big games?

A: Yeah, I don’t really believe in it. I just try to stay in the moment, treat every game the same and at the end of the day, if we take care of what we got to take care of, do the little things right, make less mistakes than them, make more plays than them we’ll come up with the outcome that we want.

Q: What kind of competitive relationship do you have with (Dallas Linebacker) Micah Parsons?

A: Me and Micah, we’re pretty good friends. Obviously, I respect the heck out of him. He’s a heck of a player. One of the best players in the league if not right now, you can make an argument playing like the best player in the league. He’s very talented, but we have our little fun when we hang out. We’re two competitive individuals, so we might get into something whether its cards or anything. Like I said, nothing but respect for him and wish him the best of luck coming up.

Q: Did you ever let him know that you got him on that route last year?

A: No, I don’t think that conversation came up. I kind of tried to put that game behind me because that same play I hurt myself, I stepped on someone’s foot and was out for a couple games. It’s not just the fact that it’s Micah, they got a lot of guys over there that are talented. They’re a great team, they’re the Dallas Cowboys. Especially when you got a guy like Micah, you want to compete with a guy like that. You know how talented he is, you know how special of a player he is so you always want to go against the best as a competitor, and I look forward to going against not only him but all those guys over there. We know it’s going to be a tough task, but we got to continue to love the process and stick with each other.

Q: I think you’ve faced them six times and they’ve more or less limited you – does that put a little fire into you going into Monday?

A: No. No fire needed. I had enough motivation throughout the whole offseason just for the season in general meaning with my mindset coming in to try to be the best player that I can be, to help this team win games and we’re off to a good start right now, but we got to keep this thing rolling.

Q: You’ve had a little bit of experience in “White Out” games. This is really a fan thing but as a player does it do anything if it looks like a white out? When you were in college or that kind of thing?

A: Yeah, like I said earlier – if it’s anything like State College, words can’t explain it. It’s truly amazing. It’s breathtaking. Like I said, I had a couple of good games in “White Outs” so hopefully that can rub off this Monday too.

Q: A lot of people out there wonder, they see the Giants are 2-0 teams. A lot of other 2-0 teams are established, winning teams for a long time. Do you guys feel like you belong among the ranks of the undefeated?

A: We’re not really worried about that. It’s really early in the season. We’re just coming out every single day trying to compete, trying to get better. That’s the only thing we can focus on. We really can’t get too caught in what people are saying outside. The focus is everyone inside this locker room, not you guys right now. I know you guys are in here right now, but everyone inside this locker room, in this facility and just continue to get better every single day.

Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence

Q: Can you talk about the play where you chased (Carolina Quarterback) Baker Mayfield to the sideline?

A: One of my goals is to never let a quarterback outrun me. That’s kind of like a competitive little thing I just have in my head all the time. I was just trying to go get him, really.

Q: You can see how to some of us that might sound crazy for a man your size to feel like he can run down.

A: That’s fair.

Q: You don’t think it’s crazy, obviously.

A: I don’t think it’s crazy. That’s just my little competitive edge. There’s a big second or third down play, things like that – that’s just how I just keep going.

Q: Will that go for when you play (Arizona Quarterback) Kyler Murray or (Baltimore Quarterback) Lamar Jackson?

A: I might have chased down Kyler one time. I don’t think it really matters what quarterback it is. It’s just something that, if I take a good angle, I can possibly get him or slow him up, something.

Q: For (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale), who’s been around a long time, to call you one of his favorite players he’s been around – what’s your reaction to that?

A: We’ve been together for what, six months? It just shows the trust that I’ve been earning from him and the work ethic and learning his scheme pretty well and just being a leader.

Q: He’s made clear in different conversations, one I was a part of, that had he had an opportunity to draft you, he would have. Has he conveyed to you that from the beginning?

A: No, he never said that to me.

Q: Does that help you understand that he has great conviction about you and what you can do for his team?

A: For sure. I just want to do my job every play. He knows that I can do a little more and he trusts me to do a little more. I just do what I can and keep playing, just get other guys to come along and playing hard and leading.

Q: How is your job under Wink different than the past years? Does he expect different things of you or more of you?

A: I don’t think it’s anything like that. I think me as a person, I’ve just been getting more comfortable with learning my position and becoming a leader and growing in different aspects of the game. He’s seeing that from me.

Q: Has he helped you with that?

A: Yeah, he’s helped me with little confidence things or just allowing me to be a free player type of thing. That’s kind of like his role, his mindset on defense is just an aggressive mindset and that just helps with the whole unit.

Q: Do you remember going to Baltimore? In the pre-draft process did you meet with Wink? Did you have a visit to Baltimore? Do you remember anything?

A: I don’t think I did.

Q: Wink said, I think it was the last play of the first quarter with Baker, he said that he wasn’t sure he had seen a big man make a play like that. He’s coached some really, really, really good players. What did he convey to you about that?

A: He just kind of said the same thing he said to y’all. He’s never seen a big guy make a play like that. It shows I’m just working and that just goes to my mindset of chasing down quarterbacks. I don’t want to be outran by one.

Q: With (Defensive Lineman) Leonard (Williams) let’s say possibly out, likely out, not practicing – how big of a hole does that leave and do you have to shoulder some of that load?

A: I feel like we have a lot of depth and it’s been showing over the couple of weeks. I feel like guys like (Defensive Lineman Justin Ellis) Jelly, (Defensive Lineman) D.J. (Davidson), stepping up. Guys like that we feel like we’ve just been doing a good job of getting them ready. He definitely is a key point of the defense, big captain. We’ve just got to keep going, keep the boat rowing.

Q: It doesn’t change where you line up?

A: No, it doesn’t change.

Q: Ellis or whoever just slides into Leonard’s spot?

A: Yeah.

Q: I’m not looking for you to go through your whole Giants career but just the change this year with the coaching and the atmosphere it seems like around here. How would you describe it since you’re in it?

A: I would just say, just with the players, the coaches kind of lead it, but the players take over. It’s just a brotherhood that we come in ready to go and having guys that you want to win for, guys that you want to play for, guys that you want to do your best for just within the locker room. The coaches kind of just dictate it kind of, but it’s more of the players.

Q: Like player-driven leadership and sometimes that’s more effective.

A: Yeah.

Q: And you were just going to say holding each other…

A: Accountable.

Offensive Tackle Evan Neal

Q: What do you think about the matchup with (Dallas Linebacker Micah) Parsons? What makes him so tough?

A: It’s going to be fun. That’s why you always dream of playing in the NFL, to go against the best players. Micah’s a great player. He’s really fast, the guy runs a 4.3. So, it’s going to be exciting to go up against him.

Q: Because you’ve played in the SEC, does that not intimidate you? Even though he’s playing how he is right now?

A: I mean, regardless he’s a football player just like me. He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like me, straps up his shoulder pads one strap at a time just like me, and he’s a really good player. Excited to go against him for sure.

Q: Why do you think you guys have come out at halftime with (Head Coach Brian) Dabs (Daboll) and run the ball better and scored more points?

A: Just taking the halftime adjustments. The past two games we definitely haven’t came out really hot, upfront. So, I feel like just settling more into the game and adjusting to the adjustments the coaches are getting to us, and I feel like we are able to come out and execute better in the second half.

Q: How are you aware that they could’ve drafted Parsons last year. They traded back, picked (Wide Receiver Kadarius) Toney and they got the other pick, and it was you. Were you aware of that?

A: Not really. I was in college at the time, I wasn’t thinking about that at all.

Q: That’s kind of a weird connection that you guys share.

A: I guess if you look at it that way, yeah.

Q: Do you know him at all personally?

A: Back when we were all in high school, we were young, we went to the Future 50 together. I think we might’ve spoke one or two times, but he probably doesn’t remember anything like that. He went to Penn State, I went to Alabama, so we never really knew each other like that.

Q: People have proclaimed him the next L.T. (Lawrence Taylor), what do you think of that and what in particular makes him so good?

A: He’s an elusive pass rusher. He’s really crafty. He’s a very athletic guy and he’s slippery so a lot of times it’s hard for, they play him everywhere. They line him up literally everywhere, he’s a Swiss army knife for their defense, so that’s really what kind of makes it tough to prepare for him.

Q: What is your process of reviewing and evaluating your games? What do you do Sunday night, Monday?

A: Monday, I come in, watch the tape as a team. I take the corrections from the coaches, and I evaluate them myself. My assignment grade, my technique, and I just try to fix my mistakes and build off of the good and just try to move on to next week.

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