Player Diary

‘It's almost like I'm an assistant coach here'

I've been lucky so far with the transition to the new coaching staff because I have a great running backs coach, Jerald Ingram. He uses me as a sounding board and asks me for a lot of input. He knows I've been through a lot in my eight years here. It's almost like I'm an assistant coach here. I help with the young guys; make sure that Ron (Dayne) is on top of all of his assignments and that Chris Douglas, who's looked great in camp, is aware of things. He asks me what I like, what we need to do and how he can be a better coach. It's more of a give/take relationship for me now.

Training camp is always training camp. It changed a little this year because the offense is different and there's a lot of learning to be done. But as far as the physical aspect of it, it's all the same. You're going through the motions of learning and getting better; it's a grind. You have to fight through and stay injury-free heading into the regular season.

We have many more meetings this year. Coach Coughlin focuses on the little stuff – the turnover ratio, the penalties, field position, situational things that might not even come up during the year, but if you don't practice them you'll never be prepared for them if they do. He's spent a ton of time attacking the mental part of the game with us. Besides all the extra meetings, it's pretty much camp as usual.

I know everyone was wondering beforehand how tough this camp would be. Physically, it taxes you. We're out on the field twice, in pads all the time now, which gets us used to hitting and learning the physical part of the game. I can't say that it's that much harder than Coach Fassel's camps. The good thing about Coughlin's camp is that it's concise. We know exactly what we're doing from period to period. We know exactly how long we're going to be on the football field so it allows you to prepare for it.

I feel pretty good this year because of the way they're splitting Ron and me. I'm not getting pounded as much as I have in the past. We have five running backs in camp, so it's not as big a grind as it has been in the past when we've had guys getting injured and there's only been three of us. Physically I feel real good, which is a plus.

Ron is critical to this offense, which is why it was so nice to see him do so well against the Chiefs. Over the last couple years, so much of the load was put on me. Now with Ron back, it gives me an opportunity to be fresh at all times during a game and to make some of those big plays that I've made in the past. It also gives Ron an opportunity to establish himself.

I've always said that having one great rusher on your team is good, but it doesn't win you games. Team rushing is what wins you games. Controlling the clock for the game is what wins; that's tough to do with only one guy. With Ron being in great shape and down 25 pounds, it's going to help me and it's going to help the team.

As for our offensive line, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned. But after the Kansas City game, I feel a lot better. They really played pretty good. They came off the ball, they didn't make many mistakes. There was only one holding penalty and that was questionable. They played smart, which is all you can ask for from those guys. Just don't put us in position to lose. That goes for everyone, but particularly them, because that's where it all starts.

I guess I better weigh in on the main topic of camp, the quarterbacks. I can honestly say that I think we'll be great with whatever one wins that battle. I'm in the fortunate position where I don't have to make that decision. I think they both have a lot to prove, whether it's Kurt trying to live up to the greatness he's had in the past, or Eli, to that of his pedigree. But they're both pushing. Whoever we end up with is going to be great for us.

I couldn't write a diary without bringing up ‘the fumbling issue.' I know that's what people will talk about, but it is their right to talk about it. But I also know that I've done a lot of great things for this team. I've been very productive for this team. It's easy to talk about all the negatives, but it's not so easy to talk about how I rushed for 1,200 yards last year and had 600 more receiving. I was a big part of the numbers for this offense last year, but unfortunately we didn't win so people will focus on the negative.

That lack of winning ultimately cost Coach Fassel his job. As a player, you can't really feel guilty about that. You just have to understand that that's the cycle of this game. No one is going to be a head coach for one team forever. He was a great coach here, regardless of why he was fired. He got us to the Super Bowl and the playoffs three times and had a lot of emotional ties here.

But now it's a new regime and that's all that matters. Coach Fassel has moved on and will have a successful career from here on out. All we can do now is focus on winning with Coach Coughlin. My dealings with Coach Coughlin so far have been really good. He's direct. He doesn't beat around the bush. He doesn't send you any mixed signals. What he's telling you is exactly what he means. You take everything he says at face value, which is good. He lets you know when he wants you to work harder. You will never have a question of where you stand, that's for sure. That allows you to just focus on doing what you need to do to get better as a player.

Every year we've been here we've had questions. But I also know that this team has a lot of talent. From the top down, our expectations here are high. Regardless of what the perception is outside the organization, our expectations are high within it and we're trying to live up to them.

Off the field, it's been a great offseason. I have two kids. A.J.'s at that age where he understands a lot of stuff and can communicate with us much easier now. He's two now and he's wild. He just runs around all the time. Chason is five months old now and he's just a doll. He's beautiful. He smiles now. He's sleeping through the night, which is great for my wife. It's really cool to see them interact. Chason gets so happy when A.J. comes around. When they grow up, they're going to be good buddies, which is going to be nice. We bought a new apartment in the city. That's Ginny's pet project. We gutted it out and she's renovating it. We can be there indefinitely. We can stay with Ginny's parents, two kids and maybe even another one if we decide so in a couple years. It's been a busy offseason and start to the year.

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