After having their offensive line hit hard by injuries the New York Giants selected Justin Pugh out of Syracuse with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Pugh, who is coming fresh off his first round of OTA’s caught up with the Empire Writes Back to discuss being drafted by the Giants, what it’s like to work for Tom Coughlin, and his future in the NFL.
EWB: What were you thinking when you found out your Syracuse teammate Ryan Nassib was going to be joining you on the New York Giants?
Pugh: When he got drafted it was a great feeling just knowing he’d be here and we would be able to go through all the rookie activities together – You know starting out with the rookie mini camp, and then being in the same hotel, being able to go over the playbook together can help us out because he has that quarterback’s perspective so he can kind of give us that little extra help with the formations and things like that. It’s definitely great having him here and I’m really thankful for that.
EWB: What’s it like showing up to the facility on the first day knowing Tom Coughlin’s your new boss? Must have been pretty intimidating.
Pugh: Yeah it definitely is but coach Coughlin’s a great guy, he jokes around with you a little bit, keeps it light, but at the same time when you’re out there to work he’s definitely very business like and makes sure we’re doing things the right way. So it was cool having him there and him being a Syracuse guy makes it even better.
EWB: One area that the coaching staff has praised you on is how quickly you’ve been able to adapt to new challenges, especially since you’ve been moving around the line and playing multiple positions. Are you surprised by how quickly you’ve been picking those things up?
Pugh: You know just learning all the little things, and all the parts of each play is the hardest part. It’s hard to work on technique when you’re still trying to get the plays down so that’s the biggest thing right now is just trying to master the playbook which is a lot more plays then what I ran at Syracuse, so that’s the biggest thing right now is getting that down and then working on your fundamentals and getting better at specific football related areas like making sure you take the right steps and play with the right technique.
EWB: Biggest surprise from your first round of OTA’s?
Pugh: It’s probably how much of a family the Giants organization is and how well they take care of the players. Also what nice facilities we have and everything else that the organization does for us. A lot of guys say how lucky we are to be Giants, and obviously I haven’t been on any other teams so I don’t know but I think we’re kind of lucky to have what we have.
EWB: For fans who might not have seen you play at Syracuse tell them what they can expect out of Justin Pugh on the football field?
Pugh: I’m going to give my all. I’m a blue-collar type of player. You know I’m going to work hard, I’m a tough player who’s going to go out there and get the job done and put the team in front of myself, that’s the biggest thing, I want to go out there and win – that’s the most important thing, I don’t really care about personal accolades. Winning games is the most important thing to me, and it’s something at Syracuse I got used to towards the end of this last year, so I’m looking to keep it going.
EWB: Greatest strength as a player?
Pugh: Probably my biggest strength is that I’m young and full of energy. I want to come here and I want to work and I’m going to bring that energy to the team. That’s something I know that I’m excited about and hopefully I’ll be able to show that over the next couple days and then ultimately in training camp.
EWB: Area Needs to improve?
Pugh: Honestly just getting bigger and stronger in the weight room, trying to keep my weight up is something I know I need to do.
EWB: Although it’s early what have you been able to pick up from the veterans on the team?
Pugh: Just how to be a professional, and how to go about your business. I’m behind Dave Diehl and he helps me out with lots of things on the field and just watching those guys and the way they carry themselves off the field is probably the biggest thing. So it’s something I’m definitely learning and every day you see something new or take a little bit from each guy and try to add that to yourself. I’m learning from guys like Chris Snee, Dave Diehl, David Baas, and the great leaders on this team.
EWB: Favorite sport besides football?
Pugh: I’m real big into Hockey and Baseball; those are probably the two besides football that I follow the most.
EWB: So who do think takes the Stanley Cup Final?
Pugh: The Blackhawks I think are going to take it. The Bruins have been hot lately but for some reason I’m thinking it’s the Blackhawks that are going to win it this year.