Here are a few notes from the myriad of interview sessions held Monday during the media access portion of Giants Training Camp Monday at the University at Albany.
Justin Tuck was asked about the importance of the first few days of training camp. I was not listening in on the group interview Tuck held, but I really don't like the answer he gave. I will give you his quote, then explain my reaction.
"I think it's very important. I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm not excited to be at training camp but we understand that especially these first couple of days will be important, especially that everyone's been running and everyone has to be in great shape but there's a difference between running and putting the pads on and pushing around 300 pounders," Tuck said. "So there are better days but you realize that it's football, not running sprints, so it's just about getting in shape, adjusting to the banging, the moving around and changing direction. You get through these first couple of days and you start to build on what this team is going to be about."
So, here is my problem with that statement -- again with the caveat that I am taking this off a transcript and did not hear the tone in which it was said. Tuck makes it sound like doing what he needs to do to be a top-flight player, and for the Giants to return to defensive dominance is a chore, he doesn't sound like a guy who is excited to be back to work and excited about erasing the sting of last season.
Maybe he is but I just don't like that choice of words from guy most are hoping will step up and fill a leadership role on defense. C'mon, Justin, show a little excitement for crying out loud!
Tuck did, however, say one thing I liked when he was asked if the team had improved the talent level of the defense this season.
"The one thing we have to be careful about is locking into that word "talent." We had the same talent last year, and we all know what happened last year, so I only focus on working and taking that talent and getting some production behind it," Tuck said. "The healthier we can stay this year, the more we can stay on the football field, take reps and the better we'll be."
As was talked about many times during the off-season, the Giants are focused heavily on getting the running game back to where it was in 2007 and 2008, when it was dominant. Head coach Tom Coughlin was asked about that again on Monday.
"I just want to see us run the ball and be productive with the run. Be able to stay with it and play good defense. Stop the run so we can stay with it and stay balanced," Coughlin said. "I don't like the situation we were in last year on occasion where there was no way to stay balanced. We can't win under those circumstances."
A key to the running game, of course, will be the health of Ahmad Bradshaw. Coming off foot and ankle surgeries Bradshaw worked in both practices Monday. Coughlin is watching Bradshaw closely.
"He made some nice cuts and nice runs this morning. He caught the ball in the individual drill. I'd like to see first he have confidence in himself, what he can and can't do. I want to see him extend that and fight his way through some of the tough days and continue out here with his teammates without having to take a step back," Coughlin said. "If you thought you could utilize Ahmad to the full extent, he's a guy who has run kickoffs back and has run punts back. He obviously is an outstanding runner in his own right ... I think that with Ahmad it's just practice, practice, and stay out there and prove to everyone, himself included."
Loved Mathias Kiwanuka's answer Monday when he was asked if there were enough snaps to keep him, Tuck and Osi Umenyiora happy.
"If you're winning, everybody stays happy. That's the number one thing that I think gets lost last year. There was a lot of talk about people being upset, but the main thing was the fact that we weren't winning games so frustration comes out and people take it out in a number of different ways but the years when we're winning, you see that the reps aren't a complaint," Kiwanuka said. "It's all about winning games, you win your individual reps, and you win your individual battles but overall we have to win games."