A Conversation with Tom Coughlin

"We're getting prepared to play our first game."

Q: How do you feel about going into this week with the start of the regular season? A: I'm excited about the fact that it's the start of the regular season. Everything we've done in the off-season and in the preseason has been to get to this point. We're in preparation for our first regular season game and we're excited about it...I talked to the players about that this morning, about the NFC East, about this great rivalry, about this outstanding Philadelphia football team. I also spoke about the excitement and about the enthusiasm that one has for the opener and realizing that it's a marathon and not a sprint and you've got to bring this kind of excitement and energy from your soul for the entire 17 weeks. It isn't just for this one week. Why did you make a change in kickers to Steve Christie?

A: We've been studying this and thinking about this all along. We just felt like we...we worked out a couple of kickers yesterday and felt like the veteran presence was something that we needed in terms of going down to Philadelphia, so we decided to make that move. I spoke with Todd this morning and tried to make him understand what we were doing and make him realize that he does have a future in this league, and that sometimes, just as the quarterback position, the kicking position takes a little time to get your spot. I talked to him about what I really liked about his performance this preseason and made him understand that he is certainly a guy that would be a strong consideration for other clubs as well because of the amount of time he's had on tape.

Q: What are the expectations of Shockey playing this week?

A: I like his attitude. I would like to have him practice a couple of days and we'll see how that goes before any announcement is made. He will practice today in a limited role and certainly I am looking forward to seeing how he does today and how he feels after practice and tomorrow.

Q: What role do you see Mike Cloud filling?

A: He's fulfilled many roles. In the past, he's been a guy that was called upon strongly last year in a situation where they had diminished at running back and he performed extremely well at Tennessee. He is a guy that is versatile. He has been in his career a short yardage kind of a back, he's been a kick returner, he's been a punt block protector, he's been used on special teams, so I've seen him in a lot of different roles.

Q: Are all of these changes a week before the game unsettling to the team?

A: I don't think so. Obviously, you have a certain time in which a number of guys are no longer with the team. Friendships are made throughout training camp and in the spring and it's most unfortunate, but it's part of the game. This is also part of the game, a part of the game that I think everyone needs to be reminded of at one time or another. In this game, in this business, when you talk about training camp you tell people that they're in competition not only for spots on this team but on the waiver wire and all teams. There has to be an understanding about that. Is it unsettling for the team? I don't think so. I think that people will recognize what we're trying to do and it's a continuous process, it's not a one time thing. This is what happens throughout the entire year.

Q: Are you done now? Is this your team?

A: We're getting prepared to play our first game. We have an obligation to evaluate every player that is available. We're going to work guys out throughout the season in an attempt to at least keep a real strong short list and know where we are on that. So, that's ongoing.

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