Training camp is here for the New York Giants and with that comes the first official player interviews of the 2020 NFL season. New head coach Joe Judge was the first to speak with the media, doing so on Wednesday. You can read those quotes here.
Yesterday, Daniel Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Blake Martinez spoke with the media. Today, it was Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, and Saquon Barkley’s turns to speak. The three players each completed ten-minute interviews via Zoom today. Here are the highlights:
Sterling Shepard is the longest-tenured player on the New York Giants’ roster. Sterling was drafted by the Giants in 2016 and has played a prominent role in the team’s offense ever since. Could 2020 be the year the Shepard gets himself a Captain’s Badge? Shepard said he “be happy to wear that badge and take that role” if the team votes him a captain but whether he gets it or not, he will “find a way to lead” in “whichever role” they have him in.
“(I will) just set a good example for the young guys and kind of teach them about some of the different rivalries that we have and how important those games are to the New York Giants as an organization.” – Sterling Shepard via Giants.com
Shepard also expressed excitement for the Giants’ new offensive scheme, coached by Jason Garrett. Sterling noted that “it’s an offense that utilizes everyone’s skill set.” The fifth-year slot receiver also gave some insight into Joe Judge’s virtual offseason program: “When we were going through the OTA period on the Zoom calls, the coaches would have some trivia questions for us, so we did this Kahoot! challenge to kind of get guys going and understanding the history of the organization.”
Superstar running back Saquon Barkley spoke with the media today and gave some insight to his offseason. Barkley considers the Giants’ current regime and roster to be “a fresh new start,” explaining that this is a team of young players who “are learning every single day, on the offensive side, and on the defensive side. Learning a new scheme and system and trying to focus on the little things to get better every single day.”
Saquon made it clear that head coach Joe Judge is instilling a new culture for the Giants:
“The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right. That’s something that coach Judge and all the coaches have made a focal point for us in the short time that we have been here. That’s what we try to attack every single day and try to get better every single day.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com
Barkley also discussed his teammate and quarterback, Daniel Jones, stating that he is “definitely excited for DJ.” Barkley said that they have grown closer and that they have been hanging out and working together.
Certainly, the most exciting part of Saquon Barkley’s media session came when he discussed his expectations for himself in the upcoming season. Barkley is only focused on improving, despite being one of the best running backs in the league already:
“What I want to seem from myself is just growth,” he said. “I feel like I have been saying this answer so much in my first two years. I’m really focused on trying to get better in every area of my game. I feel like I have so much more room to continue to grow and there is so much I can continue to add to my game. I would say some big focal points are pass pro(tection), in between the tackles, outside the tackles, catching the ball, ball security. Every single day try to focus and try to get better in every area of my game. I am a big stickler when it comes to stuff like that. Definitely when our coaches sat down, they really have us focused on the details and all the little things matter. That’s the focus and where I want to improve my game, which I guess you could say is everything.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com
The Giants’ newly acquired defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, also spoke to the media today. Williams was acquired in the middle of the 2019 season via trade in what has been a controversial and polarizing move amongst the fanbase. The Giants placed the franchise tag on Leonard Williams this offseason after the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal.
Williams discussed this, saying he thinks “it’s always in the player’s interest to get a long-term deal, but that’s something that worked itself out between my agents and the organization.” Leonard said he is not disappointed that there was no deal agreed upon, he is simply “looking at it as an opportunity.”
But Williams also made it clear that he is ” just happy to be here, play with this team again, and learn about the guys that I’ve been with since last year.”
The media asked Leonard Williams about his injury. The disruptive defensive lineman showed up to training camp with a hamstring injury and was placed on the non-football injury list. When asked about it, here is what Leonard Williams had to say:
We can’t really talk about injuries. If somebody wants to get more information on that, you might have to bring it up with Coach (Joe) Judge or someone else on the team. I’m definitely making strides on it and doing the best that I can to get out there with my teammates. – Leonard Williams via Giants.com
When asked about learning that new defensive scheme that Saquon Barkley mentioned earlier, Leonard Williams referred to new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham as a “genius.” Williams said he loves the new scheme and that he loves working with the team’s new defensive line coach, Sean Spencer.
Overall, the Giants’ three young stars sound excited about the upcoming 2020 NFL season. The players are optimistic about their new coaching staff and seem focused on improving after a disappointing 2019 season.