I think the one thing that I would say, and then I'll field all of the questions that you have, is it's always a real pleasure to come some place where people are genuinely friendly and enjoy having you here, and that's the feeling that I have each time that we come to the University at Albany. The preparation has been outstanding. The fields look to be in excellent shape. We've gone through the locker rooms and into the offices. Our coaches' room upstairs has really been done over, adjusted, with some new desks, chairs and things of that nature, which I'm happy about. So we're excited, and I think the one thing that I would say starting out is that our goal, our objective, is to apply all of our skills, all of our ability, to encourage our players to have great purpose. To have greater purpose in everything that we do, in order to improve ourselves. And that (if) under any circumstance should the gearshift slide into 'idle', I think all we have to do, all of us who bleed Giant blue, is remember that 17th game last year, and there will be plenty of motivation for us to try to take it up another notch. It's about improvement, it's about being here. We know that there's a tremendous amount of work involved again at the start of the season, we look forward to that. We have to earn the right to win, go back and refocus on our preparation, our concentration, on getting the maximum out of our meeting time, and taking full advantage of our field time and our practice time. And, once again, whatever the undertaking might be, if it's a pre-practice drill, if it's a meeting, whatever, we do it with greater purpose. We have a good football team, but there are many teams that have improved in this off-season, so the challenge is great. And there's none greater than the NFC East.
Q: How do you feel about hearing preseason references to the Giants making the Super Bowl?
A: I think that if you're going to talk about the World Championship, or the Super Bowl, or whatever, what has to accompany that is the idea that our thinking, our maturity, our team unity, our singleness of purpose and the way in which we go about our business, our practices, etc., have to all be at the championship level. And I think, again, if the effort, the preparation, the skill and the performance level parallels talking about the world championship, then I think that's a good thing.
Q: What are your expectations for Eli Manning coming into the season?
A: The continued advancement of his game, his growth and development into his third year, his second full year as a starter, of being able to take all that he's studied and learned in the off-season to the field. I see it as a natural progression.
Q: What are you most curious about going into the start of training camp?
A: Obviously we've made a lot of changes in the secondary and I'm looking forward to seeing how that particular group is going to come together. But that's just one phase. You look at it, it's how your team is going to accept that challenge if you're going to be able to continue to develop and get better and take your game to the next level. It's how your team is able to accept that challenge, and I'm looking forward to that.
RE: A very difficult regular season schedule
A: It's without a doubt a very difficult schedule, it's a very difficult start. But if you're going to want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. I think that's the way you look at it. You look at it as a challenge, you look at it for what it is. It is most difficult, but on the other hand, you've earned the right to play that kind of schedule. Again, if you're going to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Q: Are all of the rookies expected to be at camp tomorrow?
A: I think so. I know that everything isn't done at this point in time, but hopefully we'll have those that are left signed this evening, and they'll all be here tomorrow.
Q: How much do you still think about last year's loss in the first round of the playoffs?
A: It never has left my thoughts from the evening after the game, and it's not going to change, and I don't want it to. I want to pour a little salt into the wound.
Q: Will any players be reporting to camp with restrictions or limitations?
A: There'll be some, there will be a few at the beginning. I think we may have to restrict those guys who are coming off of some knee surgeries, you know who they are as well as I do. There may be, Lewis Kelly had the sprained foot right at the end of our spring work, so he's going to be limited. I think (Tim) Carter may have some patella tendonitis that we may have to be concerned about right away. LaVar Arrington has some tendonitis and an Achilles, so we may have to make sure he's ready to go twice. Hopefully that's it.
RE: The Giants traditionally not posting back-to-back strong seasons
A: I remember having two or three good seasons when I was an assistant. I'm interested in this team right now, where we are and the challenge that we have in front of us. You people can write the history.
Q: How soon will you mention last year's playoff loss in camp?
A: It'll probably take me about as long as tomorrow afternoon to mention that.
Q: How will not practicing against the Jets during camp affect the team?
A: It's not going to affect us. More and more teams are moving away from that. It was a good opportunity for us the two past years, it's not an opportunity at this point in time. We'll just adjust our schedule and go from there.
Q: How will you get in the mindset of starting from the beginning again this season?
A: That took place after the 17th game last year, and the entire off-season. 'Putting it behind them' is not the way I would phrase it. I would say learn from it, understand it, know what took place and never let it happen again.
Q: Do you expect all of the veterans to report to camp tomorrow?
Re: defensive tackle position
A: Well, that's the one most talked about as being open. I think we have some outstanding competition at that spot, and hopefully that competitiveness is going to create a situation that turns into a positive, from an unknown to being a positive. We have guys who have played in there, you know that. We've had guys who have slid in there before. It was just planting a man to the position last year, and now it's open. We have some young guys who are coming along and we have some people we drafted and some guys who have played in there in the past. I think it's going to be a very competitive spot, to be honest with you.
Q: With Tiki Barber aging, will you work on developing a player behind him?
A: I don't think so. We have players who have been here, even if you go as far as Brandon (Jacobs) being into his second year, their development should be, Derrick Ward's and Brandon's, should be an increasing thing. Tiki, this year, we're talking about this year, period, and our expectations, obviously, for him are very, very high, and rightfully so.
RE: Anticipated development of the offensive unit
A: I hope we're better, I hope we're going to get better. I see lots of areas that need improvement and hopefully we'll be able to focus on that right away. It's never one-sided at camp, as you know. It's never one-sided. One practice may go to the defense, the next may go to the offense, and hopefully both sides of the ball, along with special teams, will parallel each other in growth and development here at camp. Let's face it, we've got to become a good football team right now.
RE: The impact of the new additions to the team
A: I'm excited. We've had some opportunities this off-season to put this group together on the field, but this is for real. There's no more 'volunteer' aspect to it whatsoever. This is for real. Putting the pads on and looking at the various combinations, I'm excited about that. There are lots of things. I'm excited about an offensive line that will play together a second year in a row. I'm excited about Eli's growth and development. I'm excited about the receivers coming back, Plaxico (Burress), Amani (Toomor), (Jeremy) Shockey, and the addition of (Sinorice) Moss. I'm excited about the opportunities on our special teams that our punter and our kicker provide us. I'm excited to discover whether or not our team speed, which looked like it was better during the spring, in fact is such as I look at special teams, as our special teams progress along here at camp. There's a lot of things that I'm very interested in. And, as I always say, I'm hoping and praying that, as happens with all really good football teams, some of those guys that you're not talking about here in the media or not asking questions about them by name will aspire to have better years than anyone ever even thought they could have. If that's one or two or whatever, we're going to be a little bit better for it.
Q: What has Eli Manning done this off-season that makes you think he will be improved?
A: This is the 9,733rd time I've answered this question. 'What hasn't he done?' is maybe an easier way to do it. He's been the number one athlete in attendance in the off-season program. He has more workouts than any player in the program. He's studied more tape. He was in two weeks before anyone else reported for the off-season program. He's gone through every bit of tape with Kevin Gilbride, with John Hufnagel, he's been through sessions after we developed our research. He's been on the field in the mini camps and in the individual workouts that he's had with the various players that have been in the program. He's very serious. He's very conscientious. He wants to be good, and he's willing to pay the price to be good. He'll pay whatever price is necessary for him to achieve success, and you can't have enough of those guys. You just surround yourself with people with that kind of an attitude, and you're going to have a good team.
Q: Why do you expect LaVar Arrington to be an impact player on defense?
A: He's a bigger, stronger player at the position that we have him playing, at the strong backer, than we've had. I think his ability to rush the passer and, more than anything, maybe, his attitude, his physical attitude which he conveys on the field, he's one of those guys who has a smile on his face, he likes football, he loves practicing. He likes that part of it, and I think that's going to be good for our team.
Q: Because of the number of offensive weapons, do you anticipate having to be a 'personality coach' in addition to football?
A: No, I don't think so. I think there's plenty of opportunities, I think there's plenty of situations that occur. I think there is some patience that has to be exhibited by some individuals, particularly on a game-to-game basis. I can remember a couple of years ago having talked to Amani (Toomer) after he came off a game where he had maybe one catch -- not to be frustrated, blah, blah, blah -- and the next week he catches five or six balls. You just have to keep asserting yourself, keep believing and know that the bottom line is you've got to appreciate and take great pride and joy in the team. It's about team success, so hopefully that message will be conveyed, and guys will believe in that. I don't worry about that part of it, as long as we have the ability to have people playing at the top of their game and pose that kind of threat to the defense where those individuals have to be defended, that there's going to be some opportunities. I'd like to see more big plays, to be honest with you.