First of all, as I told our team, do not be misled by the record of Tampa Bay. In the fourth quarter in both games – the Dallas game is 20-14 with 11 minutes and some seconds left in the fourth quarter. And Buffalo, it is 23-14. They rushed the ball for 174 against Dallas. Anybody that can do that – and we just finished playing them – can rush the football. And they were disappointed at only 19 rushes against Buffalo and felt like they lost their balance because of really being behind 14-10 early on. And so they were disappointed in that. But they have got all kinds of big play capabilities. Their running game is strong with (Carnell) Williams and Derrick Ward. So the big play capability down the field, of course, is enhanced more if Bryant plays. I don’t know much about that situation right now. But to be able to play a kid like (Maurice) Stovall, who only had three plays down the field, is pretty impressive. They are aggressive. They run extremely well on the defensive side of the ball. They have good special teams, a Pro Bowl player, punt returner, kickoff returner in (Clifton) Smith. So they do have multiple weapons and they have played two games which were very tight. In the first game – you look at Leftwich, there wasn’t a sack, and there wasn’t an interception. The guy threw for, I believe, 276 and they rushed for 174. They are averaging 401 yards a game. And they are 0-2. So it doesn’t quite fit. It doesn’t quite jive together. And our team has always focused on the next opponent and studying as hard we can to prepare for a team which is a good football team, has played two games extremely competitively and lost both games.
Q: How much more do you know regarding Tuck and Hixon?
A: I don’t know any more really except for the fact that they won’t work today. It is going to be day to day and hopefully by the end of the week there will be some progress.
Q: Are you holding out hope that both will be available this week?
A: We’ll see. That is all I can do.
Q: Do you think that your players understand the danger of this team the same way that you do?
A: I think they do. I think they do. They were very attentive this morning. Let’s face it, we haven’t played this team in a couple of years. So therefore there is interest simply because of that. They don’t know this team. They have got to study this team. And I think they were very attentive this morning. And I think that one thing – even going back a couple of years – about this team is they quickly put the last one away. And they can move forward. And there isn’t any sense of going backwards today. That is over and done with.
Q: When we talked to you on Monday, you didn’t have the full results on Tuck’s injury. After you had the full results, was it better than you thought?
A: First of all, that is something that occurred in college in that shoulder. And that is where the doctors go back to. It is a matter of soreness and strength; soreness and strength. And who knows, maybe he will end up having to wear a harness. Which, that is not a problem; we have a couple of guys doing that. He is a little bit less sore today than he was yesterday. And so hopefully that is going to improve.
Q: Is that something he has been dealing with?
A: No, he really hasn’t had any (problem). The issue occurred the other night in the trip.
Q: What did you think of the play that injured him?
A: What do you want me to think? It was a foul, a flagrant foul.
Q: How about Ross, Nicks and Dockery?
A: Nothing, nothing; same status. They are not going to work today.
Q: Do you think guys that commit a flagrant foul that results in an opponent getting injured? Does that warrant, in this case, a guy missing time?
A: I’m not going to speculate on that. That is not my decision to make.
Q: Derrick Ward knows your defense; but your defense knows him. How do you see that playing out?
A: Derrick Ward was an outstanding student of the game. He does have a sense of our team, our personnel, our defensive structure, etc. I’m sure he will quickly relate once he starts looking at the tape. But you still have to --- 11 will be out there. A lot of it is timing and when - when things get called.
Q: How are they using him? Similar to the way you did?
A: They seemed to have a pattern. Williams starts and plays a couple of series. Derrick comes in and they give him a couple of series, Graham for a couple of series. They are pretty strong at that spot.
Q: You mentioned something about your defenders not being in position and giving up yardage. Is it a matter of alignment before the snap or is it over-pursuit after the snap?
A: It is not necessarily always over-pursuit. It is just being in the right position according to your gap responsibility once the ball is snapped.
Q: RE: The production of your running game. Is it just a product of what the defense is doing or have they been struggling?
A: Well, you have to give credit to the defense as well. The defense is trying to, number one, stop the run. And we have been able to take advantage to a certain extent of some other things. But we need the running game to get going. Let’s face it, we do. We need to run the ball and stop the run. That is where we start every week. So that is the challenge. The guys know the challenge. They know what it is.
Re: more on what defenses are doing vs. Giants offense
A: Well, as I just said, I’m sure people – the number one thing they want to do is stop the run.
Q: RE: Manningham and his progress this year from where he was last year.
A: I think I said this the other night and I’ll repeat it. Along about the midpoint of the year last year, as a scout team receiver, there was a sense on our part offensively that this kid had something special. He was very good in that capacity, playing the position at the receiver that a defense would have to face. And he carried that on into the spring. And he knew that this was his opportunity. And he worked hard and he studied and on into the summer. And he has made progress - steady progress from the offseason on.
Q: If Tuck can’t play, Dave Tollefson would be the starter. In training camp he said that he wants to elevate his play. Has he done that?
A: Well, to be honest with you, and in fairness to him, he hasn’t had a lot of chances. He has done a nice job on special teams, which he did the other night. I think given the opportunity, he definitely wants it and he is prepared for it.
Q: RE: Eli said Mario has often texted him and communicated with him and asked a lot of questions. Were you aware of this relationship between them?
A: Yes. And all of the young guys. Really all of the young guys are in the same situation with Eli. Eli has done a good job. All from day one, making sure everybody is on the same page. If there was an error, let’s talk about it, let’s decide what should have been done. What I saw, what you saw, that has been going on.
Q: If Tuck can’t go, do you expect a little more from Osi?
A: We are going to need a little more from everybody. We obviously have to play better defensive football than we did the other night.
Q: The first game you guys played the run fairly well. You had Chase playing the weak side. Michael came in and he didn’t do very well. Is there any chance Chase gets more time?
A: These things are all for consideration. I’m not going to tell you that there is anything set in stone. Michael did some very good things. It was the first time he has played. So I hear what you are saying, but fortunately we do have options.
Q: Winning in close games seems to be a fabric of your team.
A: I think so. I think there is a definite belief that we can win and we will win in the fourth quarter and the fourth quarter has to be ours. We talked an awful lot about the fourth quarter last week. Don’t forget now, we had a touchdown on defense two weeks in a row, which is an incredible stat. And we took both interceptions to the 22-yard line and had touchdowns off both interceptions. So three interceptions in the game. One was run back by Bruce Johnson and two were touchdowns by Manningham and Smith. It says a lot about winning the turnover battle.