Q: How’s your progress going? Are you optimistic?
A: Yeah, it’s going well. Everything, the procedure, went well, went smoothly. It’s healing quickly and I should kind of be getting back into the flow of things and amp up my rehab. I don’t have an exact timetable, this was my first kind of surgery that I’ve ever had so I’m just… be smart with it, let it heal fully and make sure I come back 100 percent.
Q: What led up to the decision? What happened at Duke when you were out there?
A: It was just… I started up my training, my running. It just didn’t feel… the first couple weeks of it, I kind of just went to still getting over an injury, I just didn’t think it was healing correctly. I got some more MRIs, talked to Dr. Anderson in Charlotte for a good while, developed a plan to try to see what was the best scenario. We just felt that this is the safest bet, to go ahead and do the scope at this point rather than waiting and seeing how it felt and going through OTAs and all of a sudden you get to June or July and you want to do the scope and then you might be missing some training camp. We just felt that this was the safest bet, to go ahead. It ended up being a smart idea. When he did the scope he saw that there were some things that needed to be cleaned out. This will ensure that I’m back 100 percent for training camp.
Q: Were you able to do everything at Duke or did you have to cut it short?
A: I did everything, was able to move around, but you know, I had gotten a cortisone shot a few weeks prior, they think that was maybe blocking some of the discomfort that I had earlier. We felt when that wore off that the pain would come back and I would be in the same boat that I was in earlier. I felt to go ahead and do the procedure now was the smartest thing.
Q: Did you kind of know going to Duke that that was a likely possibility and they told you that it might not get worse?
A: Kind of the original plan, I was talking to doctors. Get the cortisone shot, go to Duke, see how it responds to that and then make the decision. Having talked to the trainers here and talking to Dr. Anderson in Charlotte, really by Wednesday we had decided. I had done all of the work, no pain, no discomfort, I felt the best I had felt all year so it was a tough decision to say, ’Alright, now I want to go ahead and have this procedure done and limit my training this time of year.’ But I felt that in the long run it was the smartest decision.
Q: If you felt the best you had felt, why?
A: Just because the cortisone was blocking the pain. Once that wore off, you don’t know, it could have worn off in two weeks or worn off in three months. Then you get to… do you have a procedure then or do play injured. I didn’t want to have that scenario come up.
Q: There’s a picture of you on the basketball court down there. Did you play basketball down there? Did that have anything to do with it?
A: No. We went and shot baskets at the Duke facilities. I wasn’t playing basketball. I did not injure it playing basketball. I think by that point my surgery was already scheduled, my procedure was already scheduled for the next day.
Q: With a new offense going in, are you concerned… obviously you’ll learn it in the classroom but doing it is totally different. What can you do to kind of make up for any lost time?
A: Well, I’ll try to get as many mental reps as possible, get a lot of talking with the teammates and players. I just have to see how quickly I can get back and whether I can get some jog-throughs or just get as many mental reps as possible. I think right now my number one concern is getting back healthy, number two is learning the playbook. Luckily it’s a little different. This is my second offense I’ve had to learn. I think it’s a little different than 10 years ago when I was a rookie in the NFL trying to learn a system. Now I have an understanding of the game of football better and in a lot of cases it’s the same things just said a little differently. I’ll make sure I’m ready and I’ll have time to learn the offense and practice it and be on the same page with everybody.
Q: Do you expect to be on the field for the OTAs and minicamp or are you looking for training camp?
A: I just don’t know. Obviously I’d like to be but we just have to see kind of what the process is and see how quickly I can heal and what the trainers and everyone, how quickly they want to push me.
Q: What are your early thoughts of the offense?
A: I’m excited. It’s been a fun last couple days getting the offense and learning it. I think it’ll bring a lot of opportunities and be able to move the ball and score. I’m excited about… it does bring a sense of urgency to the offseason this time of year. In some years you come in kind of knowing an offense and you’re looking to get better. Now you’ve got to learn new things, different techniques, different fundamentals. A lot going on, the mind’s swimming a little bit right now. It’s an exciting time. I look forward to conquering it.
Q: I think that Giants fans are a little concerned by the uncertainty of this progress. Should they be?
A: I think that was kind of the reason for doing this at this time, to prevent any uncertainty. For me and for the Giants organization, fans as well, it’s to go ahead and do this where it’ll give me plenty of time to heal and be 100 percent healthy for the season.
Q: I think this is the first time we’ve talked since the season ended. Did you find it important over these last few months to go back and look at everything and see why it turned out the way it did? Was any of that something that was important to you this offseason?
A: Probably, I haven’t looked at it as much as past seasons. I think maybe just because I know I have a new offense coming in. I think you almost feel like this is an opportunity to re-invent yourself and to come back and to change what occurred last year and some of the difficulties and bounce back and kind of have a clean slate to kind of prove yourself again and get back to playing at a high level.
Q: When you say 100 percent at the start of the season do you mean 100 percent at the start of training camp or is that…?
A: I think I’d be safe to say that I should be 100 percent by training camp. Again, I would hope so. I would think for sure that I would be ready for training camp.
Q: From what you’ve seen of the offense so far, can it help you as a quarterback? I don’t know if easier is the right word.
A: I think it is a little bit different than our past offense, some of the timings of the routes. I think the ball comes out quickly. I’m hoping that I can have success in this and become a better player.
Q: There are a lot of new faces. What do you think when you walk around?
A: Yeah, that’s kind of another priority is getting familiar with your new teammates. It’s not only learning the playbook but learning the guys who are going to be playing beside you. We have some new faces as you do every offseason but this year, more so than in past years. Trying to get familiar with everybody, know who everybody is and also get to know them from a personal standpoint, get to understand their personalities and build that good communication, friendship, trust with your teammates.
Q: When you look at the offense, how much of the West Cost concepts… how similar is it maybe with what you’ve seen from Green Bay in the past?
A: I think it will be similar to what they did in Green Bay. That’s where Ben came from so I think it will be pretty similar to that offense. I’ve never been in a West Coast offense so I don’t know if this is exactly West Coast or a form of it or not anything at all like it. I think it probably has some tendencies to it in some of the protections and stuff but I think every offense has its own style, its own uniqueness that makes it work.
Q: Are you planning or have you sat down with him and how much input are you going to get? I think they said when they put together the offense that once this time starts you’ll be allowed to be able to put in some input, what you like. Have you gotten that opportunity and what are you thoughts on that?
A: I think at this point you’re just trying to get the base principles of the offense down – formations, where everybody is lined up, what you call things, how he calls defensive coverages. You know, just kind of where you can talk in the same language. I think we’re getting the basics down. Again, this is coach McAdoo’s offense and I’m here to learn it. I’m sure I’ll have questions or concerns but we’ll figure that out down the line.
Q: What are your thoughts on the additions on the offensive line, including Chris Snee saying he feels healthy?
A: Obviously I’m happy that Chris is healthy and feels good. He’s one of the familiar faces that you can count on and come back. We’re going into our 11th year together, but yeah, I think we made some strong additions among the offensive line, brought in some talented players, so I’m looking forward to working with them and making sure we can get on the same page and play well.
Q: Where are you in your return?
A: Right now I’m trying to be healthy for the season, I’m looking forward to getting cleared and being ready to go for training camp and OTAs so that’s basically it.
Q: Is there anything that you can’t do right now with weight training that you might have been able to do before the surgery?
A: No, not physically. But the doctors are giving me limitations on certain things for right now just to help the healing process speed up.
Q: Do you expect to be cleared for OTAs?
A: For sure. I expect to. I want to.
Q: Has anyone given you the indication that that’s the case or is it still a wait-and-see type thing?
A: We’re just playing it by ear.
Q: What do you have to show them? Do you have to take another MRI? What do you have to do to get cleared?
A: Just see that it heals correctly. The doctors will look at the MRI.
Q: How has it been to wait? It seems like you keep sitting and waiting.
A: Yeah, I had the longest break out of anybody in the locker room, I think. I’m just looking forward to getting back out there with my teammates and competing. I love to compete. I’ve always had that in me. Even after football is done for me, I’m still going to be a competitor in whatever I do.
Q: Is there anything you can do during the process to sort of help it along and help or is it just…?
A: Nothing that I’m not already doing.
Q: Do you have another MRI scheduled and maybe if you pass that then you’ll be given the green light?
A: Yeah. Me and the doctors know that. If I pass that then… as soon as the doctors see what they want to see, then I’m good. For right now he said I’m doing really well and I’m ahead of schedule so that’s a positive thing to hear. I’m staying positive. My teammates and family are all giving me support. I have so many supporters out there that want to see me go out there and play some football wearing the blue and white so I’m really looking forward to that.
Q: So over the past few months or so have you seen your career kind of flash before your eyes at all?
A: No, not for a second because I’m a man of faith. No matter what happens in front of me, with my faith I’m going to do something to make it right.
Q: Your reaction to the team bringing in Rashad Jennings and how you characterize him as competition?
A: No, he’s definitely a helper for the team. Running back is a position where it’s not going to be one guy like a quarterback. When you have a quarterback you have one quarterback. You have like one center, most of the time you want to keep that same center. Running backs, depending on the play, you’re going to have a different personnel in. Running back is a position where people can unfortunately get hurt and that’s a position that you want to have a lot of bodies in.
Q: So you don’t see either of you as an every down kind of back, you see you guys both as totally interchangeable in that offense?
A: Both of us can be an every down back but the way the game is today it’s not going to be one guy. There are very few teams that have one running back that’s always in there.
Q: We talked about the seriousness of your neck situation before, was anybody advising you not to come back?
Q: Did anybody else tell you that if you hit it the wrong way…?
Q: So it’s not going to happen again as far as the doctors are concerned?
A: Freak of nature, anything can happen again.
Q: I think you said last year that you didn’t have any pain, you didn’t have any symptoms. Is that good in a way because now in a way you’re not going to be thinking about it as much or is it going to be in the back of your mind?
A: I never had pain from the injury, even after it happened, the day after it happened, the moment after it happened. I’m in the locker room telling the coaches, ‘Let me go back out there, I don’t feel anything.’ I snuck out on the field and was removed. Because I didn’t have any pain. I’m going to see all of these doctors, I passed every test except a picture and that’s the only reason I’m not on the field. Because of pictures. Right now we just need to get the photograph that we need.
Q: You know the severity of it. You don’t want to mess around with a neck.
A: It’s hard to realize the severity when you don’t’ feel any pain or symptoms. I was limited to nothing and that’s the same way I am now. The only thing I had was the cut in front of my neck and that was the only time I felt pain because I got cut. Right now I feel fine, before I felt fine and right now we’re just waiting for the picture we need.
Q: You sound very calm. You’re not worried that this is a risk at all?
A: No, not at all.
Q: What kind of shape are you in?
A: You see me.
Q: Can you do everything that you would do in a normal offseason?
A: Yeah, I’ve been doing everything.
Q: With all that extra time you must be extra ready.
A: Yeah, anxious.
Q: Did you have a reaction to when Eli underwent his surgery?
A: He’s strong. He’ll be back. He’s a competitor as well. That’s the main thing we need this season is for guys to stay healthy because when guys aren’t healthy and you’re expecting to have these guys throughout the season and they go down, it changes up the whole game plan and it’s hard to win like that.
Q: What have you been able to gleam from the new offense that’s being installed? I think Chris Snee was saying that right now you’re working on the running game. What is it about this particular brand of offense that you like? How is it different than what you’ve done in the past?
A: I’ve got to get a grasp on it. This is only the second day that I’ve seen the plays. We’re all trying to learn and absorb and come into the meeting rooms and be students. We’ve got new coaches and they’re going to be students, too. We’re going to all get along and figure it out as we go. Hopefully by training camp we’ll be all familiar with the playbook and know exactly what we need to do.
Q: We just saw David Wilson come out. What do you envision the one-two punch of you and David Wilson to be like?
A: This backfield has a lot of talent. We’re mixed with veterans, young guys… a good mix. Great running backs coach, Craig Johnson. We’re going to mesh into the system. They’re throwing the book at us right now so we’re going to spend a lot of extra time as a unit, breaking it down and seeing how we can fit. But as far as a one-two punch, that’s something we’re going to strive to become. He brings an element to the game that’s unique and special. I think every other running back brings something unique and special to this offense. We’ll see how time plays itself out but I definitely want every running back to contribute as much as they possibly can.
Q: What do you think you can contribute?
A: Something I always pride myself on is being a complete back. That’s never having to come off the field. First down, second down, third down, fourth-and-short, goal line, pass protection… just molding and perfecting my craft of becoming a complete back is something that I’m going to continue to strive for as long as I’m in the NFL. What I bring to the table is completion.
Q: Can you talk about how much a running back like yourself, or just in general from the position, needs the quarterback to be out there in order to run the running game in the context of what’s going on with Eli?
A: Yeah, continuity is something that every team wants, synching into an offense together. We understand what Eli has going on. He’s working, we see him every morning up here bright-eyed, working, understanding the offense, meshing with us. We know he’s going to come back as quick as he can and we have other quarterbacks in place to step up. The NFL is always about the next man up mentality. It’s never about one particular person alone. I think any player will tell you that. There are 11 of us and we all have to carry our weight. That’s why we’re out here. That’s what OTAs are for, that’s what the summer is for, that’s what we do when the cameras aren’t around, when the coaches aren’t around… we meet outside the building to make sure we understand this offense inside and out.
Q: What do you need Eli for? You need Eli out here. Josh is here, those people are here to step up when he’s not able to do certain things but you still need to get on the same page with the guy that’s expected to start.
A: Right, of course. As he’s striving to get healthy we know that he’s doing everything he possibly can. As soon as he’s ready to step out on the field with us, we’re going to take extra time with him.
Q: How do you view this opportunity for you coming to New York?
A: It’s a great opportunity to be on such a prestige team, to be back on the east coast, an opportunity to showcase once again the talent that I have. I want to win a championship and this is a great place to do it.
I’m still rehabbing but I’m healthy and I think I’m back at it.
Q: Rehabbing your shoulder, you’re talking about?
A: I’m rehabbing both (shoulder and back). I mean, everything’s fine but I’m still continuing to rehab no matter what.
Q: Are you limited at all? If they go on the field are you…?
A: Right now, not at all.
Q: Is surgery out of the question?
A: Yeah. It’s out of the question. Totally out. That was a couple months ago. So that’s totally ruled out. I’m fine.
Q: Given what you went through last year, do you feel more pressure to show people that you can be the player of 2011?
A: Not at all. I think I have a job to do. It’s not showing people what player I can be. I know what player I am and what I bring to the team. I just have to go out there and we have to make the playoffs and try to get back to the Super Bowl.
Q: With Justin Tuck gone, will your role change at all in the defense?
A: Not at all. We’ve got guys that are going to fill up that role. You know, me personally, I just want to be that guy that helps my team out and be out there as much as possible and stay healthy.
Q: You’ve always had a guy, you had Osi here, you had Tuck here. They’re gone now and you’re here. How different does that feel?
A: I think most of the D-line is going to look up, we still have Kiwi here, too. Most of the D-line is going to look up to me and Kiwi. We’ve got young guys in there, guys from other teams and we’ve been here the longest, so they have to follow us. We’ve got to lead.
Q: Does it make you feel different?
A: Not at all. I just have to go out there and do what I do best. That’s play football.
Q: Do you have any doubts that you’re going to be what you were before all this?
A: No doubt, no doubt. I’m going to go out there and play the game like I was 21 again. This whole offseason I’ve just been training and thinking that I want to get back on the football field. It’s coming.
Q: Did you do anything different with your training? Did you come in lighter?
A: Actually, I am lighter. I’m 270 pounds, I was 285 pounds. I’m 270 pounds and I feel good at the weight I am.
Q: Is that something that you wanted to do?
A: Yeah, I’m getting older. I can’t hang with the young cats now that I’m getting older. I feel good at that weight, too.
Q: There were reports today that Will Hill failed a drug test again. That would be his third and probably a year-long suspension. How big of a blow would that be to this defense?
A: I didn’t even get that memo. That would be a big deal but we’ve got guys that will fill in. Fill in and take care of their job. You can’t depend on one man but he is a big part of this defense. We’ve got guys that can fill in that spot so we’ll be alright.
Q: Do you recognize anybody in the locker room anymore?
A: Yeah, I recognize a lot of faces. Some new, some old. Faces change, goals don’t.
Q: A lot of the changes came in the secondary, do you like what the team has done to rebuild that this offseason?
A: I love what they’ve done. I think they made some great moves, some explosive moves, guys that can come in and contribute right away and help this team win.
Q: Can you talk about getting all of these guys into the fold? With the defense you guys are carrying over the same system, unlike the offense. How big of a challenge is it for you to get everybody on the same page and get them all to buy in?
A: We have a very simple tactic with our defense. Just hustle every play, make sure you communicate awesome and the plays will come to you. You make the plays that come your way. As far as getting everyone on the same page, that’s why everyone is here. We’re gelling together, trying to make sure the chemistry is down-pact and make sure we’re learning on the same curve. And, you know, everything should fall in place.
Q: There was a report today that said Will Hill failed another drug test. If he did, then it’s a suspension. How big of a loss is that for this team considering how well he played last year?
A: We don’t know what’s going to take place with that yet. We’re just here to support Will and make sure we keep his spirits up high. Whatever happens with the league office and obviously with Will Hill has to take its course. I’m not really going to speak on the matter if he’s not here. We’ll hit that once that time approaches.
Q: Do you feel for him personally because he’s battled this for a long time? Is that tough to see a guy that you’ve gotten to know in the locker room continue to deal with?
A: That’s always tough. Will Hill is a phenomenal guy, not only an athlete but also a great guy and a great teammate. He’s like a little brother to myself. Obviously you don’t like to hear those things, especially… my main concern is Will Hill. Not so much even the Giants. My focus is Will Hill. Like I said, we’re just going to keep on encouraging him and embracing him and lift his spirits up and hopefully it’s nothing.
Q: What do you know about Rodgers-Cromartie? Have you had any contact with him over the years? What do you think?
A: I think he’s the best corner in the league, hands down. He’s a phenomenal talent, one of the most gifted corners I’ve ever seen and the sky’s the limit for DRC. He can be as great as he wants to be. I think right now with him entering his seventh year, I think his maturity level is where it needs to be. I think his work ethic is where it needs to be and more importantly he wants to win. He’s been to two Super Bowls, he’s lost them both. One, I was a teammate of his, so he’s hungry. He wants to win and he wants to be the best.
Q: You really stepped up last year in a leadership role. With Tuck now gone, are you going to step up and kind of take it to the next level even more than you were last year?
A: I just go out there and play ball. I just know how to be Antrel. I don’t worry about wearing several different kinds of hats, I just go out there and play ball. If I need to say something, it’s going to be said. If I need to do something, it’s going to be done. I just go out there and play ball. I think there should be 53 leaders in this locker room, not four, five of six. Every man leads in their own way.
Q: They added not only Rodgers-Cromartie but Thurmond, Demps, Stevie Brown is back. When you look at these players that you have back there what do you think?
A: I think it can be dynamic. I think it could be a dynamic group. We all know that no matter who you have in the unit, if you don’t gel, you don’t have that chemistry, you’re on the same page at the same time it could be a disaster. That’s what we’re here for right now. Every guy seems to be in tuned to what we have going on. Everyone seems to be buying into the organization, the program and what we have set in front of us. We’re here, we’re all here, we’re all working together, we’re all grinding together, we’re all smiling together. That’s a great start.
Q: The team that just won the Super Bowl didn’t win it with their front group, they won it mostly with their back group. Do you see that maybe being a little bit of a change here that maybe that can be the case here too?
A: Well the back group probably got more of the attention but we all know what that front group did. There is no back group without the front group. Any ballplayer knows that. Their front group was actually a very dynamic group. They had an awesome six-man rotation. Seattle, they deserved to win. I think they did everything the right way. This is a new year so may the best man win this year.
Q: Are you concerned about all of the new pieces fitting in place? Not just in the secondary but with all of the new players coming in.
A: No, I’m not concerned at all. It’s a part of football, it’s a part of the business. We all have guys that come in, there’s a transition each and every year. There are new faces, a different scheme, so fourth and so on.
Q: Does it feel different though when you walk around the first day or two? There are a lot of faces that aren’t here and a lot of guys that maybe you don’t even know.
A: I wouldn’t say it feels different. Obviously you miss the guys that are not here, Tuck, Webby, Ross, T2. At the same time this is a business and we approach it as a business. We can’t be blind to what’s going to take place year after year. There are changes every year with every team. We’re just looking to embrace those guys that are here. That’s going to help us out this year. Like I said, we’re trying to make a run. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make a run. Last year left a seriously bitter taste in my mouth. We have a lot to prove, to ourselves more than anyone.
Q: For the people who remain from last year, how much does that continue to be a motivator, especially in the spring?
A: It’s a huge motivator. That’s the reason why I’m here, that’s the reason why a lot of guys are here is to get an early start. There is nothing you can do to take away the feeling that took place last year. It is what it is, we lost those games as a team. Hopefully this year we’re here to change that around and make sure that we go out there and compete and win as a team. More importantly show heart than anything.
Q: No name tags yet?
A: No name tags. I did request an e-mail with all of the pictures of all the new players. Seriously, I did. So that helps.
Q: Just how important are these voluntary workouts? That when you come in and you do have so many new people to get used to?
A: Well it’s important every year but like you said, with all of the change that’s going on you just really have to get comfortable with one another. I mean, eat together just to get to know each other because this is the most change that we’ve encountered here. We have to get to know each other quickly because really the time that we have is a month less than we usually have.
Q: What do you think of all of the changes that the team has made?
A: What I think? I think everyone’s excited about putting last season behind us. It’s not easy to see certain guys go, guys that you put a lot of time in with and have had some memories with but that’s the nature of the game. That’s what was necessary. Jerry (Reese) and everyone else put a team out there that they think is going to win, that being this year there are a lot of changes. We just have to, like I said, try to get to know each other and build on that and get out here in two weeks and just starting going through it with the new offense.
Q: Are you guys doing anything differently given all of these changes? Are you studying more? Are you forming groups or doing anything like that?
A: Yeah. We’ve met the past two days and we’ll continue to do so. It’s different for me because I have to learn the offense. Before it was the same offense I had for 10 years so I kind of knew it inside and out and I was able to help everyone else who came in and was trying to learn it. Now I’m trying to learn this just like everyone else. Like I said, that’s why it’s so important to have all of us in here together.
Q: What can you tell us about the new offense?
A: It’s different. It’s, I mean you know exactly where Coach McAdoo comes from so you can build off it from there but it’s different, everything from the terminology to the run concepts. We haven’t even gotten to the pass game yet so I think everyone’s just trying to wrap their head around what they were taught the past two days.
Q: What are you able to do? What are you expecting for yourself these next couple weeks?
A: I’m doing everything. I ran with the team this morning, I lifted with everyone so I’m back at it 100 percent.
Q: Is that the plan going forward, to go 100 percent the whole way?
A: Yeah, I haven’t been told any different. I think the thing is to go 100 percent and see how I feel at the end of June.
Q: How optimistic are you that when the season starts you can be back in the spot that you’ve been in every year?
A: I’m very optimistic and positive. I did all the research throughout the offseason, I spoke to the doctors and then really have been putting myself through tough workouts the past two months to see how my body would handle it. I’ve continued to climb in every aspect of my strength so I’m very encouraged with what’s been going on.
Q: Are you in a better position today than you were a year ago at this time?
A: Yeah. Last year I was still recovering from the hip. In return my other hip was starting to act up on me from all of the intense rehab I was doing for my left hip. I never really got to a position where I felt comfortable. That’s why I’m excited to get out here and to see how I feel when I do the position drills.
Q: When you were in the middle of that last year did you even think you were coming back? At that point did you think that might be it?
A: I was trying not to think about it but sure it creeps into your mind. It creeps into your mind – how your body is going to respond to another surgery, let alone two. I really, really just focused on getting healthy. That’s what I did for the most part. Sure there were probably nights where I was sitting up thinking about what’s the next step. After the initial surgery and everything went well, then I just focused on just trying to get healthy and making a decision from there.
Q: When you signed here before they signed Rodgers-Cromartie did you think you were going to be coming in to a starting position on the outside?
A: It’s a competition. Anywhere you go you never look at the opportunity as it being handed to you. Coming from Seattle, everything is about competition so that’s my mindset, come in here and compete and compete for playing time.
Q: Where are you more comfortable or where do you see yourself? Is it on the inside or is it split out?
A: They don’t really have any nickel cornerbacks so most definitely I’m going to be on the inside but I love playing both, outside corner and inside corner. They’re two different worlds and I just love the opportunity and challenges in both.
Q: What was it about here that kind of attracted you? What made you choose coming here?
A: I think it’s a business, you know, and it was an opportunity to be able to play and to help my career both on and off the field. That was the biggest decision.
Q: Do you view this as a sort of prove-it year for a long-term deal? How do you look at that, it’s one year and you’re going through the same process next year.
A: Just the way the league is going it’s always a prove-it year. It’s a young man’s game at the end of the day. You have to prove yourself every time you go out on that field. That’s my mindset in this situation.
Q: With this team, Antrel is here, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie obviously, Prince, you, Demps. You came off a defensive backfield that got a nickname, which they usually don’t do, and won a Super Bowl. Do you see any re-creation of that here? Athletically, mindset, what’s your sense from last year to this year?
A: It’s a very talented group. The guys here are older than being in Seattle and stuff like that and there’s a lot of potential here. The organization has done a lot of great transactions this offseason to really revamp that defense and I’m looking forward to this opportunity. The sky’s the limit. Of course at the end of the day it’s going to come down to us really just preparing and working hard in this offseason to have success in the season.
Q: When you do come from a championship mentality in addition to the Legion of Boom mentality, which I know combined well together, is there something you can bring to this group from that?
A: Most definitely I think so. It’s a mindset of being physical and having teams feat you in a sense. That was the mindset that we had out there. It came down to our work ethic and the way that we prepared each week. I think I can bring that mentality of competition every day at practice and just leave it on the field and just play like it’s your last. I’ve had the situation of being injured my first couple of years in the NFL and in college as well. I’m very passionate about the game, I love the game. You really do have to play like it’s your last because you never know.
Q: You don’t know the personalities yet but your defensive backfield has very strong personalities.
A: They do. I got to know them the first day here. It’s a great group of guys. Everyone’s just really bonding and meshing pretty well, really welcoming in the new guys that are coming in this offseason. I’m really looking forward to this whole process of training with them leading into the season.
Q: I wouldn’t think Prince and Richard Sherman have similar personality styles.
A: They’re a little different. Richard is a little bit more forward and he always has something to say, there’s never a dull moment with him. These guys are very funny, they have character and a sense of humor. That’s great for building cohesiveness amongst a team and moving forward at the end of the day.
Q: What about the three cornerbacks if it’s you, Prince and now Rodgers-Cromartie. That’s a proven group.
A: We have the potential to be the best in the league. That’s going to come down to our preparation now, really understanding how we all play in our different talent sets and stuff like that and really moving forward and really challenging each other during practice. That’s where it starts during that competition in practice. That just transfers over to the game. If one person makes a play, I know for sure the next person will make that play. You just rise to the level of your competition. I think we’re all capable of that.
Q: Do you think it could be as good as the three you had last year?
A: Most definitely, if not better, in my opinion. Just the talented guys. In Seattle we didn’t have two first-rounders out there, it was a bunch of guys that were later round picks but who have first-round caliber abilities and stuff like that. We do have that potential and we just have to prove it this year.
Q: You’re talking about the whole defensive backfield or the cornerbacks?
A: The cornerbacks and all of the defensive backs at the end of the day. Antrel is leading the group, 10 years in the game now. His volume of work speaks for itself. He’s one of the best players in the game at the safety position. I’m looking forward to playing with him.
Q: How do you rate yourself as far as a slot corner? In the league?
A: I’m the best slot corner in the league. I’ll say that for sure.
Q: So Richard Sherman did rub off on you in some ways.
A: It’s being confident and studying other guys’ tape and knowing my ability in the slot. That’s it at the end of the day.
Q: The division is turning into, with what the Redskins have going on at the receiver position and also what Philly is doing, does that kind of light up and say, ‘You know what, we now have the bodies and the personnel to match up with those kinds of skill guys?’
A: Yeah, most definitely. It’s different coming from the NFC West where its’ really heavy, all about defense and run-oriented. Then coming to the NFC East it’s more pass-oriented. I’m really looking for that opportunity to match up with the different teams in the NFC East, especially the Redskins now that they’ve got DeSean Jackson and everything like that. I think we’re going to match up well with anybody in this league.
Q: Is this your defense now?
A: I think being the signal caller and being the Mike backer it kind of comes with the territory but you want everybody to kind of take ownership of their defense, meaning go out and do your job at a high level, be reliable. I think if guys do that we’ll have 11 leaders on the field.
Q: Have you ever seen this much change?
A: Not this much but usually there’s a lot of change when you don’t do well. Something is broken so you’ve got to fix it. The changes are good, meaning the guys that we brought in in free agency have been huge. It says that it’s about winning right now and that’s the most important thing.
Q: What was the experience like representing yourself in free agency? What did you learn from being your own agent?
A: I think as athletes we get labeled, that’s all when can do. Obviously when it comes to media I can’t hold anyone’s jock strap out here but at the same time I think if you take the time to learn something, if you really put fourth that effort, you can do it. I wasn’t naive enough to think that I could just do it on my own, I got help. Going through the process, getting ready for the process, it was more so a matter of just wanting to be directly involved as opposed to playing the little kid game on the telephone. You learned a lot but at the same time I actually enjoyed the experience.
Q: Did you feel that you had some unfinished business here and it was really important for you to come back here?
A: I think once you come into this family and you know what it’s like to be a Giant, you want to be a part of it. Obviously they’ve won Super Bowls in recent years, it’s first-class here so it’s been a... it was a great experience last year but I know the sky’s the limit, especially with the guys we brought in.
Q: Did you ever get close to going somewhere else? How close did it get to that?
A: There were a lot of teams that expressed interest, which was good. That’s what I thought going into the process. You’ve got to go through the yellow tape so to speak. You play the game, the negotiations start low and you work your way up. Once you become a free agent, everything changed. That part I think is the way to go about it. It’s a little nerve-wracking but you just rely on the fact that you know you’re a good player and you know you have value.
Q: Was there a point where you thought maybe it was going to end up being somewhere else?
A: I’ll give you guys a little tidbit. I got a call at 3:52 p.m. from the Giants. Obviously, because I represented myself, I couldn’t talk to anybody until the start of free agency. I didn’t have that three-day window, which kind of put me at a disadvantage so they called on the 14th at 3:52. So they started first, which is smart, right? But that’s the game, so you have to wait.
Q: I think last year you spoke about you rehabbing from your injuries. This year I guess it’s maintenance, not rehabbing. Can you just talk about what kind of difference you think that’s going to make for you going forward?
A: I think if you go into anything and you’re not prepared for it, it’s a recipe for disaster. You’re not going to be successful. A lot of times guys have injuries in the offseason, have surgery and people expect that they’re just going to go out and be who they are as opposed to having the chance to actually go through the training where you’re strong, you’re fast and you’re in great condition where you can make those plays at a high level more consistently. That’s what I’m looking forward to this year. I feel good, I’m in great shape and I’ll be able to play at a much higher level than last year. That was just scratching the surface.
Q: There’s a lot of talk, the owner came out and said, ‘The offense if broken.’ You figured there would be a lot of changes on the offense. Then free agency comes and they signed one defensive player after another. When you look back now and see who’s playing behind you there, what do you think?
A: I think we did some great things on the defensive side of the ball. I think we did some good things on the offensive side of the ball as well. Obviously you just can’t go out and sign anybody, you pick a guy for a reason. The draft is still on deck, who knows what we’re going to do in that, we might pick all offensive guys. Who knows? I still feel like the pieces that we brought in were smart moves and it was aggressive and it still says right now… on both sides of the ball.
Q: Last year you had no problem coming in, fitting in and being a leader and playing well but now that you’re here, you’ve signed, you’ve got two years on the contract… do you feel you can really put down roots and will that make you a better player?
A: Yeah, I think… it’s tough, man. It’s hard when you go to work… if you showed up and they said, ‘Hey look, you’re day-to-day. Based on what you do today determines your future tomorrow.’ That’s how our job is, especially when it comes to injuries. To know that a team is invested in you, they’re showing, ‘Hey, we want you to be here. Now you have to hold up your end of the bargain.’ That part is good because it’s in the back of your mind; all you have to do is focus on football.
Q: Just going back to all of the new pieces that were brought in. Chemistry is talked about a lot in the locker room, can you just talk about what you see needs to happen for the chemistry to kind of come together?
A: That’s the most important thing. You look at teams and say, ‘Oh, they brought this guy in in free agency, they did this in the draft, they spent all this money and then they go 8-8.’ It’s like ‘why didn’t they win a Super Bowl?’ but it doesn’t work that way. Guys have to buy in, guys have to put the time in and then you earn the right based on what you do in the offseason. You get into those tough games and if you know the guy next to you and you care about the guy next to you, you know where he went to school, his family, his kids, it’s easier to fight. It’s a tough game. A lot of times games are won or lost in two or three plays where it comes down to what side of the ball is giving the most effort at that time. That’s who wins the play and who wins the game.
Q: What are your thoughts on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie before, as you saw him in the league. What do you think of his addition?
A: Well I think he’s a special talent. I think he’s a guy who can run with anybody, can do anything. You bring in those types of guys and it’s always going to help you. We got a corner, I think we had some great corners but now we’re really strong at that position. Now I feel really comfortable with the guys behind me, I just want to go out and take care of the run and hopefully we can be one of the top defenses in the league this year.
Q: Some guys say about representing themselves that they like being shielded from that process because they don’t want to hear what goes on and what people may say about them. Did you hear anything during those negations that you kind of said, “You know what…” or…?
A: I think that’s the misconception of it. I think, you know, if you’re going to negotiate, obviously there’s a certain level of professionalism. I don’t think they’re going to take the shots they would maybe if they were talking to your agent possibly, but if you’re talking to a really good player, what are they really going to say bad about you? ‘Oh, you’re too slow, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ I don’t know if that’s how it goes but I was something… the intangibles. Being a leader, being consistent and wanting to win and having that edge. It was a great process. Kevin (Abrams), he was cool and straightforward. He was helpful. If I didn’t know something he would take the time to explain it to me. Like I said, it was just a great process.
Q: You didn’t hear anything that someone may have said to you that would have said, ‘That’s not right”?
A: No, it’s not even that. The slight comes with the number. The number is this and you’re like… I’m pretty sure the market is a little north of that, you know what I mean? That’s where it becomes not an insult but… it’s business. If you’re buying a car, there’s a sticker price. If you’re the buyer, you’re trying to get them a little under. The seller is trying to get you a little over. But I’m the car and the sticker price says this for whatever model and make it is. That’s very different for everybody.
Q: You had to go in high then, right? You probably went in with a number you know was above whatever your market value was.
A: It’s funny because it’s like playing poker. You don’t want to say what your hand it like, ‘Hey, this is the number.’ So now we’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll just get close that that and he’ll come in.’ You don’t want to say that because maybe they thought it was this. You kind of sit back and let them make the offer. This is just normal negation stuff, right? Trying to get a deal.
Q: You spoke about the guys behind you, can you talk about the guys in front of you because now you’ve got two new guys at least in front of you. Can you just talk about that.
A: I think certain guys you’re a fan of from afar. You hear a name or something like that and say, ‘Oh, this guy would be a great plus for us.’ I think we still have to get deeper upfront and I think that’s been the Giants’ philosophy. If you look at what the Seattle Seahawks did in the Super Bowl or their run or what the Giants did in ’07 and ’11, it’s been really six or seven guys up front that have led the team. No disrespect to the offense, the running game, the linebackers, the secondary but we go as they go. We know that. You have to respect those guys up front. I think if we get deeper at that position, we’ll be better off.
Q: How good to you feel physically? You’ve had some offseasons where you just had to rehab.
A: I feel pretty good. It’s fun to actually just train. That’s all I want. You want to be the best, you want to put the time in, you double up, do what you’ve got to do and then you can play at a high level more consistently. That’s the goal.
Q: When was the last time you’ve had an offseason like this?
A: 2010? Going into the 2011 season, I guess. It’s been a long time. Any time you cram, it’s like for a test, you’re just not going to do very well.
Q: Did you have to dial it back a little bit because you were so anxious?
A: Yeah and that’s part of becoming a vet. You’ve got to be smart and realize that it’s all about recovery, where to push it… where you’ve pushed it too much before. Something pops up, I had two soft tissue injuries that just came out of nowhere in the offseason. It’s frustrating but there’s a way to control that in some way.
Q: Do you like representing?
A: I don’t know if I want to be an agent. I don’t know if I want to chase young guys around and tell them how great they are and say, ‘Sign with me.’ I think there may be an opportunity to say, ‘Hey guys, try learning for yourself. That way you have a better grasp of what your agent’s saying or maybe you can counter with this. Maybe your agent didn’t think about it or maybe he’s shocked that you knew about it.’ I think there’s a place for it.