"We're at the point in training camp where you have some bumps and bruises, and knock on wood we don't have more, but we keep pushing thru and keep fighting on, and the next couple of days we're really excited to get some productive work. It's really going to be great for our O and D to work versus the Giants, a chance to see different looks, full-speed looks against a very good quarterback, good schemes. And it's a great eye-opening thing for the young players. They had a good opportunity on Saturday to get a feel for what a game is like, and how they're going to be out there extended time. There's a heightened level of competitiveness when a guy has a different colored helmet in these practices, so that will be good for our young guys. I'm really excited for the young guys and the perimeter players, both offense and defense."
Is breaking up camp with different events something you learned from other coaches, or something you picked up yourself?
"I think back when I started in Pittsburgh in '92 we would have a day where we meet Buffalo somewhere, the Redskins somewhere. With Bill (Cowher) we did a lot of that stuff. We had days like this, where it raised the emotions. We'd go away on a Friday and have a practice at a high school, so I guess it's built in. We did similar things in Baltimore when I was there, with Brian (Billick). I don't know whether we practiced against other teams, but we went to different sites. I think it does get guys to adjust and get ready to focus in on what their job is and play football. Regardless of where we are the environment were in, we have to go in and get our work done."
With all the hype of the practices, how do you get the players to control their emotions?
"Fighting doesn't work in football. You get ejected from the game, so it shouldn't be an issue. You don't see it happen on our field, so it won't happen."
Do you sense there's a different vibe with these practices?
"They do get excited. I think I caught the vibe at the start of practice yesterday, because we were pretty low key. Then we had to get going. It was humid yesterday, and today won't be as humid, so they try to gauge themselves. It's my job not to let them gauge it, but to have them put it out there every day."
There is a heightened sense of emotions/intensity?
"You want to be in a good football positon, that's part of football. That's what they've been taught throughout their life, and it got them here, and it taught them how to practice. You have to finish in a good football position all the time."
Do you and Coach Coughlin exchange any ideas for these sessions?
"No we haven't. When the schedule came out and Coach Coughlin called, we waited a little bit. Then put together the practice plans. He had some thoughts, I had some thoughts. I put them on paper and sent it to him, he sends it back. We've gone back and forth and were going to touch base again here at 2 p.m. so everyone is clear on what fields and where they'll be throughout."
Has he seen the fields yet?
Can you give any concrete examples of Andy Dalton's improvement?
"No. Come in here and point out to you what Andy Dalton's proven to me. I'm sorry. I won't."
How important is it having Tyler Eifert back?
"Well, he provides a dynamic of a well-rounded tight end, a guy that can catch the football, whether it be inline, running across the field. He has a lot of special abilities that way, and when you have a year away, to sit back and watch what everyone is doing, it helps you mature and grow up. I think you see that from Tyler."
What benefits are there from going vs. a Coughlin-coached team?
"He prides them on being low on penalties, low in error. They've been a good run football team, a good play-action football team, which is great for our defense. Defensively, they're making the transition with Steve Spagnuolo, and back to some things that they had success with before. I'm sure whatever else Steve brings in from his time in Baltimore, those are all good things. To me, it's exciting because we had our quarterback a few years ago, get to watch how Matt Ryan did things. The same thing now, he gets a chance with Eli (Manning). Those guys have some years on Andy, so he has a chance to take away some good thoughts from them."
Are you satisfied with Andy's progress?
It must be a fun day for fans; where else can you see Odell Beckham and Eli Manning for free?
"Other than Giants camps. (Laughs) They've got some talented guys, no question about it. It's a fun thing. That's what camp is about; a chance to get close to the players and have an opportunity to watch, so it's good.
How has Jake Kumerow's progression been?
"I think he's doing a good job that way. The speed of the game and so forth are big for these guys. When you start playing these preseason games, that's a big part of it. When you're trying to keep the receiver up on his feet and so forth. Now when we get challenged like on Friday evening, those are big opportunities for guys to come out and show."
What are your impressions of John Peters?
"John has shown okay. Physically, he's been able to show that he's not lost. It's new, different. He's making not only a step up, he's making lots of steps in levels. He's got a lot to learn that way. He continues to work at it, he's not shying out of it, he sticks his head in there, and that's a good thing. That's what you're looking for from a guy like him."
Are you looking forward to Friday?
"Well you look forward to Friday, then hold your breath and want to get out of Friday night. (Laughs) And then you go to next Monday night, then to Saturday, then Thursday night, and then it's real. So yes, there is some anticipation and excitement. You do want to see young players play. I think our draft class has done well thus far in practice. Now they have to go out and demonstrate that against an opponent. And you have kids who were with us last year who now have an opportunity to do it again. They're in that same boat. It's exciting for them."
Is it coincidental that most of the preseason practice matchups are AFC/NFC, or is that by design?
"I think it's coincidental by schedule. You would probably not want to work against a team you're going to be in rotation with more often. The relationship with the coaches is important as well."
What is the process for the depth chart?
"Blame P.J. (Combs, assistant PR director) (laughs). We don't have to coach from a depth chart. Our guys know where they are. A couple years ago, we had a young DE be the starter (on the depth chart), and he never started one game. (Laughs.) I would ask him every week, "When are you going to start?" So that tells you how I feel about the depth chart. P.J. told me we needed one, and I looked at it and said, 'That's fine." "
Does it look like everyone on the roster belongs?
"That's a good point. and I'm pleased with that. We have 90 players on the roster right now and I feel like 90 guys deserve this opportunity. It's important to me that when we sign someone after the draft and bring them on, that they get an opportunity to go out there and show. As long as they're learning what to do in practice and they know how to practice the correct way, then it's my pledge to them to give them an opportunity in a preseason game. It may be their only snaps they get on an NFL field, but it'd be one more than I ever got. What a great opportunity it is for them and their families. It's a pretty cool deal and it means a lot. They've been busting their tail every day since April."
Will you hold out Rey Maualuga from the game, as you work him back in?
Will you give starters reps on Friday by feel?
How do you manage the Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard dynamic?
"I think both Gio and Jeremy know that neither of them can shoulder the load the entire season, and were going to need both of them. Hue (Jackson) will do a great job of working them, as well as working with Rex (Burkhead), Cedric (Peerman), and whoever else we keep at the position. That's important to know; that those two guys and whoever else we keep on the roster, that we can't do it with one, and probably not two. We're going to need three guys minimum, and were blessed to have four players who have been here with us that we feel really good about; that can go in and play snaps and help us win games.