Donte Whitner on Eli Manning: “He’s playing with a lot more confidence.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of Donte Whitner’s Wednesday Q&A.

Q: Does this game tell you where you guys stand?

WHITNER: I feel like the Giants are a good football team. Both teams equally, we both need this football game. But I don’t feel like it’s going to define who we are because it doesn’t matter if you go in there and win by 10 or lose by 1, it’s still a win or a loss and we still have a lot of football to be played. It’s a game we want to win because it’s a good opportunity for us to win this football game.

Q: Will you know more about where you stand?

WHITNER: I think we can use it as a measuring stick where we are, what areas we have to improve on, because you have a team that’s coming in here that has an elite quarterback who can make all the throws. He’s going to challenge us on the football field. He’s going to be able to see some things that we do on the defensive side of the ball and be able to try to check in and out of things and attack a certain coverage and a certain defense and we’re going to have to adjust. We can use it as a measuring stick but our season doesn’t depend on a win or a loss against these guys but we really want to go out there and win this football game.

Q: Is almost like a self scout in the second half as you see how teams approach you?

WHITNER: Yeah, we did a lot of that during our bye week, the few days that we did have an opportunity to meet – we looked at some of the things we did well, some of the things we didn’t do as well and how we can improve them and how teams view us and how they try to attack us. It was somewhere near the halfway mark, a couple games before the eight-game mark. We understand that now and we have an opportunity in the second half of the season to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs. We control our own destiny right now but it’s going to start with this game this week.

Q: Is this defense what you envisioned in training camp when you signed?

WHITNER: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come here, having a bunch of young guys who play well together, a bunch of talent. We’ve had a good front seven around here for years. So this is actually why I did come here. I did think that we could have a really good defense. We’ve been able to prove it but we have to keep it up.

Q: Anybody who’s surprised you?

WHITNER: No, because in training camp the guys really stood out, the guys you knew were going to be really good. Even coach made a comment earlier in camp, even with NaVorro, coach was saying, ‘We’re going to show a lot of people we have the two best inside linebackers in the National Football League.’ And they’ve been doing it so far in the first eight games of the season.

Q: What Bruce Miller has done, can you imagine doing that?

WHITNER: It’s tough. I’ve actually seen a guy do it before going offense to defense, a guy named George Wilson in Buffalo. I know it can be done. It’s just a matter of what type of guy are you trying to convert. Is the person really taking this serious? Do they really believe they can get it done on that side of the football? If they do, then they can be really good at it. He’s one of those guys who’s been able to make the transition and play well, and he’s been making plays for us.

Q: I know you don’t look beyond this weekend but wouldn’t it be nice to get a playoff spot this month?

WHITNER: That would be appealing. That would be big. But we don’t only want to secure a spot. We want to secure the best spot that we can possibly get. You do that by winning as many football games as you can and hopefully put yourself in position to have a first-round bye and not to have to play that first week, which would be huge. Home-field advantage and things like that. We look at this game as one football game but if we continue to win we’ll be in a really good position, and we do understand that.

Q: Implications?

WHITNER: They’re 6-2 in the NFC, we’re 7-1. They beat us and we end up with the same record they have the tiebreaker. It does have playoff implications and that’s why it’s such a big football game.

Q: The only time you faced Eli was late 2007 before their Super Bowl run – is he a much different QB then he was back then?

WHITNER:A little bit. Confidence wise during that year, I remember people questioning if he had what it takes to win in the National Football League. That was the same year he won a championship so he hadn’t won it yet. Actually we were up 21 points on them in that football game in the first half and they came back and beat us, and they had to win the next week at New England to even make it to the playoffs. That’s when New England had the streak going … (New England won 38-35) and they went into the playoffs as a wild card and ended up winning the championship. That year I would say was a small difference. He wasn’t really playing with as much confidence as he’s playing with now. After you’ve won a championship and played in the big games, you know what to expect and that’s the way he’s playing right now. He has three really good receivers in Nicks, Manningham and Cruz. They’re making plays for him. He’s playing with a lot more confidence, he’s hitting those balls in there and he’s not making as many interceptions. He’s playing better than he was.

Q: Are you surprised how Culliver is playing?

WHITNER: Not really surprised. If you watched him in training camp you saw he had all the talent in the world. Sometimes they talked to him about effort, but that’s with any rookie who comes into the National Football League. He’s fixed that problem. He’s been playing really well in practice and he’s been doing a lot of things on scout team. You don’t even have to ask him to go on scout team, he goes over there and works his technique. He’s getting better and better every week, he’s getting his hands on the football each game. He has a really promising career if he continues to learn, continues to work and stay healthy. He’ll be really, really good.

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