Coach Coughlin: Good afternoon and welcome to the opening of camp. We’re anxious, we’re excited, and we’re looking forward to getting going and getting out on the field tomorrow. It had been raining here for maybe an hour and a half and the grass was a little slick. So today we stayed inside and did a run and a little bit more than a full stretch, kind of a warm-up routine. Then we taught our "stretch down" routine that we usually do at the end of practice. So, we got some things done and we have our first team meeting at 2:30, which is (an hour) away. We’re just very excited about getting going. However, we have (two) guys that are going to have to start the year on P.U.P, Fred Robbins, Michael Boley, and (one player on Non-Football Injury) Rocky Bernard. But, for the most part, for those rookies that missed some time this spring, they need to be healthy and ready to go.
Q. How long do you think Fred Robbins and Rocky Bernard will be out for?
A. I wouldn’t even speculate. I know Fred (Robbins) has been running, but there’s a difference between running straight ahead and running while cutting and maneuvering. (Rocky) Bernard was a bit of a surprise, I didn’t really expect this. (He left with a shoulder.) The shoulder seems to be okay, but the hamstring seems to still be an issue.
Q. Two years ago you won the Super Bowl and last year didn’t quite end the way you wanted it to. Talk about the mindset going into this year.
A. In training camp, everybody starts at square one. We’re very excited to be here, and are looking forward to getting our rookie group and all of our new players integrated with our present team. I think the mindset is that our players are disappointed with the way things finished last year, they’re all eager to get back on the field. We all know that it’s a long grind and we have to take full advantage of every opportunity that we have. We’re starting a little bit later here at camp this year, because of Labor Day and also because our opener falls on a Monday night. Quite frankly, we’re not going to get those two days of practice back so we have a lot of work to do and are anxious to do that. I think it’s a good, humble, serious mindset that we have going in. Everyone’s just anxious to get on the field and make progress together as a whole.
Q. Can you address the Antonio Pierce situation … how will that be handled?
A. The Antonio (Pierce) situation is a very serious matter. He’s been very serious about the way he has been going about getting it all cleared. John Mara made a strong statement about our feelings on it. It’s a new year, and we’re anxious to get started. We have a football team that’s been very mature in the way in which they’ve handled situations like this. Hopefully, this will be resolved in a manner that’s very positive for our team. We are going to move forward and focus on this upcoming season, and hope for the best with the result of the grand jury.
Q. Do you think Antonio Pierce’s play on the field last year was affected by this situation?
A. Well, I’m not ready to make any classifications on how he played, or didn’t play, that’s a whole other matter. As I said, this is a very serious thing and he took it very seriously. Every time I spoke with him about this matter. He seemed frustrated and just wanted it to be cleared.
Q. Do you sense any cautious optimism as far as a positive resolution for Antonio Pierce?
A. I’m not going to speculate on any of that. You, perhaps, know more about it than I do. As I said, we’re here at training camp and are trying to get started, thinking about our entire team. We’re well aware of what is going on, and we support Antonio one hundred percent. I can use his words, he couldn’t wait to get here and get started with this season, and I think that’s how we all feel.
Q. Did you think that this matter would go away when the team let Plaxico Burress go?
A. Well, quite frankly, I didn’t know how this was going to come about. I didn’t know with the Burress matter, if it was going to put it completely to rest. We’ve just tried to move on from it. We deal with issues as we have to deal with them. This team has done that before and will continue to do so. But again, as I said, it is an unfortunate part about us starting camp, but our focus is certainly about us moving forward and all the new challenges that are ahead of our team.
Q. You have a very young receiver corps this year. How do you feel they will perform?
A. Well a lot of attention has been spent on our receiving corps. I thought our young guys came in and did a good job in the spring, and hopefully that will carry over to the fall. Let’s get on the field and find out about this, there’s no sense in just talking about it, let’s just do it.
Q. Eli had said earlier that the team planned on using the wide receivers as a committee similar to what you did with the running backs last year. Can you talk about that?
A. I’m not going to speculate on any of that until I see how we work. It’s a nice offering, but we have some good guys on the roster and they’ll create some outstanding competition at that spot. I’m eager to see how they will perform and to see what they can do. We’ll see how that goes.
Q. Is there anybody missing today?
Q. What have been the benefits of coming here to Albany?
A. Well in the years that we’ve been coming up here, to me at least, the opportunity to have five grass fields, plus the stadium field has been nice. Also it’s good for our team because they have an opportunity to bond. (Albany) Mayor (Jerry) Jennings has done a tremendous job as far as helping our team with anything we need, he has been constantly available. The university, the city, the people, the fans, they’ve all been great. So that’s been the advantage for us. The disadvantage is obviously what we’re going through right here. If we can’t practice on the fields, we’ve got no place to go….that’s been the factor since we’ve been coming here.
Q. With this being the last year on the team’s contract with the UAlbany, do you have a preference to where you will go next year.
A. I’m worried about right now. I’m not worried about next year…we’re worried about camp right now.
Q. How was your visit to Iraq?
A. Very inspirational, very moving…a sincere eye opener. I was talking to Mayor Jennings about it this morning, and he said that it’s too bad that all Americans, all young people, couldn’t see things from the standpoint of our courageous men and women representing our armed forces in Iraq, and certainly in Afghanistan as well. I was very moved by the politeness of the soldiers, their enthusiasm, their attitude, and the idea that they understood exactly what they were there for. Our first day there we flew into Mosul with General Odierno in 125 degree weather, That’s one of the more dangerous spots in Iraq. Our interaction with the troops was tremendous. General Odierno was great, his leadership skills, and the things that he provided for us so that we could meet with the troops. When we were in Kirkuk we did hit some sandstorms for a couple of days and were unable to really fly anywhere, but we were at Camp Victory and there are between 50,000-75,000 troops there. So at least three times a day we probably met between 300-500 troops. It was just a great experience for us. Our whole message while we were over there was to thank the troops for what they had sacrificed. I think the people that were there with us from the National Football League, the coaches that I was with, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher, John Harbaugh all did a tremendous job at that
Q. How’s Barry Cofield?
A. He’s ready to go.
Q. Will he be a one-a-day guy though?
A. We’ll see.