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New York Giants Defense (September 23, 2018)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY UPDATE…
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram sprained the MCL in right knee during the team’s win over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Media sources speculate he could be out several weeks.

“Evan Engram has got a knee, we’ll have to just see where he’s at,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We’ll just have to see how it progresses…We’re just waiting to see how extensive it might be.”

Shurmur was asked about injuries to running back Saquon Barkley (knee) and nose tackle Damon Harrison (unknown). “Just normal wear-and-tear, but I think Snacks is going to be fine and certainly Saquon is sore,” responded Shurmur. “When he has as much activity as he’s going to have, he’s going to have some soreness, but he’s OK.”

MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 27-22 victory over the Houston Texans:

Opening Remarks: Let me first start with injuries that we know about. Evan Engram has got a knee, we’ll have to just see where he’s at. Just normal kind of post-game stuff, but we saw that he got hurt on that one pass catch down the sideline. That’s the injury of note right there, and then aside from that, just the normal wear-and-tear after a game. We’ll just have to see where everybody is from there. If you’ve got specific questions, I’ll try to (answer) them other than getting into it.

Again, it was a great victory for our guys. I told our team if we just keep focusing on being a team and being tough and being gritty and caring, which means you work to get better, then I think we can build on this. I encouraged them that even though it was more painful to go through the mistake-correcting after two losses, I think it’s equally important to go through it with the same amount of detail after a win. Then we, as a team, will get better.

There were a lot of good things, I thought the good news is early on we were able to score some points. On the first drive, they got a field goal, which was good. Really, the big play there was (Deshaun Watson) getting outside the pocket and kind of hitting a check down on the move that got the ball down the field into field goal range. I thought we did a good job in the red zone on defense, and same thing on offense. We got our scores, we were able to get a lead going into halftime.

I thought in the second half we did not play as well on offense early in the third quarter. On defense, we sort of allowed them to move the ball but the two key plays were certainly the turnovers that kept them out of the end zone, and then at the end of the game we were able to kind of muster a drive there to make it a two score game again, which is super important in this league, because you can see at the end of the game in kind of a two-minute type coverage, teams can find the way down the field. I thought special teams contributed, we obviously don’t want to have that punt that got tipped, and that certainly is one thing we’ve got to clean up. But I thought the special teams contributions was a winning effort. I was just happy for our guys to get it pushed over the top. So, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Evan Engram, there is a report he had a right MCL sprain. I assume he’s going into an MRI today. Is that encouraging news?

A: Yeah, I mean, it’s a knee. I think that’s accurate, but we’ll just have to see how it progresses.

Q: I was just trying to clarify if that was coming off of the MRI today or just on initial diagnosis?

A: No, we’re just waiting to see how extensive it might be. That’s all.

Q: On Damon Harrison (Snacks) and Saquon Barkley’s possible injuries – sometimes the day after, a knee like that can cause you to get sore:

A: Just normal wear-and-tear, but I think Snacks is going to be fine and certainly Saquon is sore. When he has as much activity as he’s going to have, he’s going to have some soreness, but he’s OK.

Q: Did Saquon show you anything by taking that first hit? He limps off but he came back in a couple plays later, finishes that drive himself in the end zone, and the day he had. Does that show you something about a rookie doing that?

A: Yeah, he’s everything that we thought he would be to this point. He shows up on game day. He really, when you see it up close and personal, you see the way he’s into it and how competitive his spirit is, and how he wants to compete and get the ball in his hands. There’s a reason why he’s got a chance to be a really good player for a very long time.

Q: Did you have any problem with the hits on both Engram and Barkley. There have been some questions on whether they were legal hits or not? Did you have any issues with those?

A: No, I think that’s part of playing football. When you’re running with the football, you have to protect yourself and certainly when you’re getting tackled by defensive backs, then we had another low tackle on (Sterling Shepard) on a naked, you’ve just got to be able to protect yourself. Their style of tackling was to go low. Guys running with the ball have to be able to protect themselves.

Q: It looks like you were able to achieve balance on offense — 27 runs, 29 pass attempts. How important was that for you coming into this game, especially after the lopsidedness the first two weeks?

A: Yeah, I think balance is a weekly thing. I think it’s important to call run plays but also when you call them, you have to gain yards. I think that’s important, because ultimately, you want to score points. In some games, it’s 60-40 runs, and some games it’s 60-40 pass, and some games it’s 50-50, and some games you’ve got to throw your way into it if you get behind. The way that game played out, and the way that we were able to get a lead early in the game, and our defense did a nice job of keeping them off the scoreboard for most of the game, then you’re able to continue to run the ball, which I think is important because then all the other play actions – boots and nakeds and all that – are much more meaningful. So, a long-winded answer, that balance was achieved last night, but I think it could be different each game depending on how the game plays out.

Q: John Greco steps in at center and he’s played for you at a couple different spots before. Did his familiarity with you and your offense and the system, did that make a positive difference in a game like yesterday? Did that help your offense operate more efficiently?

A: I think so. I think there’s no substitute for experience, especially as an offensive lineman. The ‘been there, done that before’ idea is hugely important, and that’s why veteran players especially in the offensive line can have an impact, especially if they come in sort of a backup role or filling in for an injured player. Yeah, I think that had something to do with it.

Q: Can you talk about Kerry Wynn’s game? He seemed very disruptive.

A: I thought Kerry was outstanding. He had five tackles, he had one special teams tackle, he had two assists, he forced a fumble, he had a pass breakup, one quarterback hit, and one quarterback pressure. I mentioned that Eli (Manning) had a pretty good day at the office. That’s a pretty darn good day at the office as well. Kerry is long, he’s kind of a relentless player, he’s tough, he’s all the things you’re looking for – he’s tough, he cares, he works, and he finds a way to make plays. That certainly was an outstanding performance on his part.

Q: For all that Eli Manning has done in his career, do you think he needed a day like yesterday?

A: I don’t know. I don’t know that. Listen, I believe in him, and our quarterback needs to know that we believe in him. We know that he’s got that in him, and the thing I like about Eli – and I appreciate this about anybody – at some point in this game, you don’t win all the time, and at some point you take a punch, and Eli can take them and keep playing. I think that’s the thing that even before I knew Eli, as much winning as he was involved with here all those years, I always admired the fact that he just stays the course and keeps playing with the idea that tomorrow is going to be a better day if today isn’t such a good one. I admire that. That’s really the most important thing, toughness and grit. You can be smart, you can be well-dressed, you can be well-spoken, but at the end of the day and it’s absolutely demanded in our sport, is your ability to be tough and gritty. Those are the attributes in people and especially in football players that is an absolute necessity in our business.

Q: Saquon mentioned that before the game yesterday, there was just a different feeling about things, a different vibe, a good energy. Odell said the same thing, he said he didn’t think the guys were playing like “oh no, we’re 0-2, we can’t go 0-3” – they just went out and played ball. What do you attribute to the tone being set in that way? Is that you staying the course, or do you think there are players who set that tone? How did you see that develop in the week in such a big game for you guys?

A: I think it’s an organizational message of just shutting out the noise, and it’s equally important this week. I don’t read it, I don’t listen to it, and if I have to hear it or answer the questions to it, it’s not something that we concern ourselves with. The 0-2 and ‘what does 0-3 mean’, to their credit, they shut all that out and went out and played hard. That needs to be the approach every week. You’ve got to turn your back on the pats on the back, too and just keep moving. Then we’ll add them up at the end.

Q: When you watch the tape, what was (Chad Wheeler’s) performance like? Some good, some bad?

A: Here’s what Wheeler did, he did a really good job, I thought, in the run game against a really unpredictable player. I thought he did a good job, and he finished blocks. When you watch him play, you say there’s a guy who’s finishing blocks and doing those things. I’m going to take responsibility for it, a couple times he got stretched out and just pure one-on-one (pass protection) against (J.J. Watt), and I can’t put him in those positions as many times as I did, but he battled and in my opinion, even though he got beat on a couple of snaps, I thought he had a winning performance.

Q: Any optimism on Olivier Vernon being available this week?

A: Better. I just happened to see him running around outside my window here, so we’ll just have to see. I think we’ll consider him day to day and see how far he can come with it. He’s making progress, he hasn’t had any setbacks, and we just all know that these high ankle sprains take time.

Q: Eli Apple as well?

A: Same. He was out there running around as well. At some point here later this afternoon, (Ronnie Barnes) will come back with some of what he thinks moving forward, but they were both out there working out and kind of getting their normal rehab and running. They were both running, so we’ll just have to see how far along they can come.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of the conference call media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

NOTES…

  • Quarterback Eli Manning completed 25 of 29 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His 86.2 completion percentage was the second-highest of his career.
  • Manning’s two touchdown passes increased his career total to 342, tying him with Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton for seventh on the NFL’s all-time list.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 82 yards on 17 carries and caught five passes for 35 yards to give him 117 yards from scrimmage. He is the first player in Giants history with more than 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first three career games.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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