Aug 312014
 
Nick Becton, San Diego Chargers (May 10, 2013)

Nick Becton – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants Sign Seven Players to Practice Squad: The New York Giants signed the following 10 players to their Practice Squad on Sunday:

  • RB Michael Cox
  • WR Julian Talley
  • OT Nick Becton
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Dan Fox
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner

All except Becton were waived by the Giants on Saturday. Becton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Becton spent time on both the Chargers’ 53-man roster and Practice Squad last season, only appearing in one game. Becton has a nice combination of size (6’6”, 323 pounds), long arms, and athleticism.

In addition, the New England Patriots claimed DT Kelcy Quarles off of waivers. Quarles is a player who the Giants most likely wanted to sign to the Practice Squad.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.

Article on the New York Giants Roster Moves: Giants roster cuts: The best, worst and most surprising moves on NFL cutdown day by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on Wide Receivers Victor Cruz and Jerry Rice: Hall of Famer likes Giants’ new offense by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Aug 312014
 
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants 16 – New England Patriots 13

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed ‘Four Downs,’ which took a look at the top four questions surrounding the Giants heading into the game. Now that the game has been played and the film reviewed, it’s time to break it down.

FIRST DOWN
How will guards Weston Richburg and John Jerry do in their first start of this preseason?
Richburg and Jerry had to play for injured starters Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley. Both played well, as will be highlighted below. In fact, Jerry played so well that one wonders who will be the starting guard against Detroit on opening night. We know Richburg will start at left guard until Schwartz returns in a month or so.

SECOND DOWN
Can Mario Manningham make a last-second push for a spot on the roster?
Mario Manningham needed a near miracle to make the Giants roster, and that never came to fruition. Just four plays into the Giants match-up with the Patriots, Manningham was lost for the game with a calf injury. The former Super Bowl hero managed just two catches for 22 yards total this preseason. The Giants placed Manningham on the injured reserve on Friday. A injury settlement will probably be reached, allowing the receiver to sign with another team, but he may be best suited to sit out another year and truly get healthy.

THIRD DOWN
Corey Washington
Once again, Corey Washington only came into the game in the second half. But this time there were no late-game heroics. Washington was only targeted twice, catching one pass for three yards. But Washington’s strong preseason resulted in him making the 53-man roster, a shocking development for the “camp fodder” receiver from Newberry College who was waived by the Cardinals back in May.

FOURTH DOWN
Ryan Nassib
While his performance was not as strong as the last two preseason games, Nassib still played fairly well. His solid – sometimes outstanding – preseason play caused the Giants to name him the new backup to Eli Manning and terminate the contract of veteran Curtis Painter. The Giants will only go with two quarterbacks this season.

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEWEric Kennedy

Not playing offensively for the Giants were WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), OG Geoff Schwartz (toe), OG Brandon Mosley (back), OT Charles Brown (shoulder), and OT James Brewer (back).

The Giants starting unit only ran eight snaps on two drives – not enough to reasonably critique that unit’s performance other than to note overall preseason trends. Taken in that context, for the starting unit, the passing game continues to struggle while the running game looks much improved over last season. The issues with the passing game are interrelated – shaky pass protection, combined with a lack of receiving targets who Eli Manning seems to trust, combined with a quarterback who predictably is not yet comfortable with the new scheme. This is not to make excuses, but simply to explain. Eli is having to re-train his mind and body to do things differently. Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger explained it well in this article.

Manning also said something very interesting this week in an interview on The NFL Network. He made it clear that the Giants were using the preseason to work on those things where the Giants needed work, and not necessarily focus on making the offense look good to fans and the media.

And Coughlin said on Friday:

I am very confident we are going to get the passing game straightened around. Have we sat back and flat out thrown the ball in one game? No, we haven’t because we are not going to get away from the run because last year we were so poor in the run game that it ruined our balance and in result, we turned the ball over at ridiculous rates. So that is not going to happen and we wanted to make sure of that throughout the course of the preseason. Perhaps there should have been a time where we did nothing but throw the ball, but that really was not something that I wanted to entertain during this preseason.

Excuse making? Perhaps. But Eli and Tom are not prone to that type of behavior.

That all said, this is a new system with new component parts, some of which clearly still need to be upgraded (i.e., offensive line and tight end in particular). As the season progresses, the players will be more and more comfortable with the new scheme. But it will take time.

Manning said on Friday:

It’s a work in progress. It’s not the final product right now. It’s going to be, the more games, the more plays we get, the more practice… there’s definitely room for improvement and that will be a season-long situation, which is, I think, normal. That’s not a bad thing. I think we have to know what we do well and where we need to make our improvements and be dedicated to being harsh on ourselves to make those improvements… Don’t get me wrong, we’re ready for Week 1…We haven’t shown everything in the book.

As for the Giants-Patriots preseason finale, it was more about evaluating the reserves more than anything else. With that in mind, let’s focus on the individual performances rather than the collective success or failure of the offensive unit.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

QUARTERBACKSEric Kennedy

Eli Manning finished the game 1-of-4 for 0 yards. While the NYG beat writers had a ball poking fun at those numbers, it is important to put them into some context. On the first drive, WR Rueben Randle dropped one pass right in his hands. Two plays later, on 3rd-and-3, there was miscommunication between Manning and Randle, as Manning threw up the field and Randle cut his route short.

“I thought the worst play of the night was, again, the misconnection between Rueben Randle and Eli,” said Coughlin. “‘I thought, he thought’ – one of those kinds of things. We’re all – everyone in this room – is tired of hearing that stuff. There’s no place for that.”

Had those two passes been completed, Manning’s numbers look much better and the drive continues, leading to other passing opportunities.

On his last possession, on 2nd-and-7, Manning had pressure immediately up the gut in his face (the type of pressure no immobile quarterback responds well to) and his throw to WR Victor Cruz was rushed. Manning completed his 3rd-and-2 pass to TE Kellen Davis, but Davis could not pick up the first down on his own. End of night for Manning. To say Eli didn’t “play well” isn’t really accurate.

Ryan Nassib went 6-of-14 for 107 yards wasn’t as sensational as he was the two previous games. But the light bulb definitely looks like it has clicked inside him. Nassib continues to seem very comfortable out there, and dare I say, the Giants back-up quarterback situation hasn’t been this strong since 1990 – and you know how that season ended.

Nassib came into the game near the end of the first quarter. He expertly completed a quick pass to TE Larry Donnell with a free blitzer coming up the gut at him. But the drive stalled a few plays later when Nassib threw high twice to Donnell in the end zone. On his second and last possession in the first half, Nassib helped to lead the Giants on their only touchdown drive of the night, completing a 26-yard pass to TE Daniel Fells on 3rd-and-3 and a 22-yard pass to WR Jerrel Jernigan on 2nd-and-7.

In the second half, Nassib played in four series, the first three ending in three-and-outs, where he was the victim of one drop and some shakier pass protection. Still, I liked the way he easily moved around the pocket to avoid pressure, something that Manning has trouble doing. On his last series, he moved the team with three passes to the tight ends of 19, 19, and 17 yards, but on the latter catch, Adrien Robinson fumbled the ball away.

Curtis Painter was 3-of-5 for 32 yards. He did not play poorly this preseason, but Nassib clearly out-played him. If God-forbid Eli were to get hurt, Painter would be a guy to bring back behind Nassib.

RUNNING BACKSEric Kennedy

I really like the Giants trio of big, physical running backs in Rashad Jennings (3 rushes for 20 yards), Andre Williams (5 rushes for 44 yards), and Peyton Hillis (11 rushes for 40 yards). All are no-nonsense, north-south ball carriers who can wear down a defense. And all three were productive against the Patriots’ reserves.

The best run of the night was Williams’ 38-yard run on 4th-and-1. Behind good blocking, he broke two tackles. However, he followed this up with a poor decision. On 1st-and-goal from the five, for some reason he decided to veer away from his solid run blocking the right and ran right into an unblocked Patriots defender to the left for a 1-yard loss.

Peyton Hillis, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I really like the way Hillis ran the ball on the Giants’ lone touchdown drive of the night in the second quarter. He’s a big man and just kept pounding the ball right up the gut against New England on runs of 5, 2, 7, 7, 3, 8, 2, 2, 0, and 1 (for a touchdown). That’s old school stuff right there. Nothing spectacular, but just keep moving the chains.

In the second half, Kendall Gaskins (8 carries for 41 yards) and Michael Cox (9 carries for 36 yards) received the bulk of the carries. On the night, the Giants rushed 38 time for 179 yards (4.7 yards per carry).

Henry Hynoski won the fullback battle over John Conner because he was more consistent. He had a few nice blocks in this game, but was also flagged with holding and had to leave the game early with a shoulder contusion.

WIDE RECEIVERSEric Kennedy

Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle only played two series. Cruz was only targeted once, a rushed throw that fell incomplete. Randle didn’t have a good night. He dropped one pass and was involved in the aforementioned miscommunication play that Coughlin felt was the worst play of the night. The Giants’ “big two” receivers were targeted a combined three times for three incompletions.

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerrel Jernigan played the entire first half. He was thrown at once for 22 yards.

Preston Parker doesn’t get much separation, but he was also victim of two obvious pass interference calls that were not called in the end zone, including one deep shot. That said, he also dropped the ball. Julian Talley also had a drop.

TIGHT ENDSEric Kennedy

Interestingly, the guy who started the game – Kellen Davis – was the one who was cut on Saturday. None of the Giants’ tight ends are physical, move-them-out blockers, but Davis and Daniel Fells are the most consistent in terms of staying engaged with their opponent. For example, Davis had a nice block on Williams’ 38-yard run. On the flip side, Davis couldn’t gain a single yard against a smaller defender on 3rd-and-2, leading to a punt.

Daniel Fells had a good game. He looked natural catching a 26-yard pass down the field and later did a nice job as a lead blocker from the fullback position on the same drive. I would have liked to have seen him come down with a fastball from Nassib on a 3rd-and-6 play where he was held.

It was really and up-and-down night for Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson. Both remain far too inconsistent as blockers. At times, Donnell and Robinson block their opponents out of the play, and other times they do not. It’s that simple, and it’s that frustrating. My notes for both look the same…”good block…bad block…good block…bad block…” Needless to say, bad blocks are drive killers. What should be a 5-yard run ends up being a 1-yard run.

The good news for Donnell is that he really did make some nice plays in the receiving game, including catches of 19, 19, and 17 yards. He led the team with four catches for 60 yards – that’s outstanding production in limited playing time. Robinson had one big catch for 17 yards on 3rd-and-12, but then fumbled the ball away. Sigh.

OFFENSIVE LINEEric Kennedy

With starting guards Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley out of the game, the starting line was Will Beatty (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), J.D. Walton (OC), John Jerry (RG), and Justin Pugh (RT). In the run game, as one would hope, this group mauled the Patriots’ back-ups. The only issue I saw with the starting group in pass protection was with Walton. His man is the one that got in Manning’s face on Eli’s rushed throw to Cruz.

On the third series, Mark Asper played left tackle and Rogers Gaines played right tackle, with Richburg, Walton, and Jerry remaining the interior trio. This group did a nice job in the run game too. And they were pretty solid in pass protection, though, Walton failed to spot the linebacker blitzing up the middle, leading to direct pressure on Nassib. On Williams’ 38-yard run, Walton, Jerry, and Gaines all had good blocks.

On the fourth and last drive of the first half, Dallas Reynolds came in for Walton. Reynolds did a nice job. Asper gave up one pass pressure.

I’ve always liked linemen who not only make the initial block, but then look to engage a linebacker or safety at the second level. This is how big runs occur. Richburg is not a powerful lineman, but he has the athleticism, smarts, and tenacity to look for that second man. And he stays engaged with his man.

By far, Jerry had his best game as a Giant. There were a few runs where I would have liked to have seen him sustain in better fashion, but he was very steady out there and at times, he just mauled guys. The problem with him has always been consistency. For once, in this game, he was very consistent. And he played a ton, right into the fourth quarter. My favorite play of the night? Jerry on the short pull absolutely destroying one Patriots defender then taking another out of the play, helping Kendall Gaskins pick up 19 yards.

In the second half, the line remained Asper-Richburg-Reynolds-Jerry-Gaines for the first three series that ended in three-and-outs. This group did not play as well in the third quarter. Richburg failed to spot a blitz and then Asper’s opponent pressured Nassib into an incompletion. On the next series, Nassib was sacked when Asper’s man blew by him and Gaines, for some reason, chose to double Jerry’s man instead of blocking the end, who had a free pass to Nassib. Gaines seemed to block the wrong guy again on the the third series as his man had another free pass, this time to the ball carrier. That said, aside from these two mental mistakes, Gaines looks the part and did a nice job in most instances. He and Jerry probably played the most snaps.

On the fourth series in the second half, Eric Herman came in for Richburg at left guard. Asper – the weakest link on the second-team line in this game – failed to make his block on a Michael Cox run that lost a yard.

The final line combination of the night was Asper (LT), Jamaal Johnson Webb (LG), Reynolds (OC), Herman (RG), and Gaines (RT).

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW Connor Hughes

Not suiting up for the Giants versus New England were cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn. Linebacker Jon Beason remained out while rehabbing his foot injury and safety Cooper Taylor, too.

Overall, with the Giants starters playing the Patriots second string, it was tough to really gauge or put much stock into what was displayed by the starting unit. Essentially, what you saw on the field at MetLife was about as vanilla as vanilla can be. In particular, I tried to keep an eye on those players the Giants specifically kept and a few players that continued to stand out.

I wouldn’t look too much into the numbers, but here they are: Patriots went 9-of-19 on third down and gained a total of 319 yards. Net rushing yards were 54 and passing yards 265.

DEFENSIVE LINE – Connor Hughes

The more I saw of defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in the preseason, the more I liked. Since the Patriots did not play their starters, he was playing against reserves. But Hankins was impressive. In training camp, the defensive line will do this drill where they lay down four bags and the linemen must side step over them. The quickness of Hankins’ feet is noticeable in this drill, especially for a guy of his size. He shows that again in the game. On the second play from scrimmage, Hankins blew up his blocker, shed the block, then quickly made his way down the line to tackle the ball carrier for no gain. He does things like this on a regular basis. If he can develop a pass rush? He may establish himself as one of the better tackles in the game.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There has been so much talk this preseason of Damontre Moore, and for good reason. There’s been talk about Jason Pierre-Paul and his return to form, again, for good reason. The one player who has flown a bit under the radar is Robert Ayers Jr. The free-agent from Denver has looked very good this preseason…but not always at defensive end. In the Giants signature “NASCAR,” or the 2014 version of it, Ayers lines up next to Cullen Jenkins and has been a handful for every guard/center he’s matched up against. He’s deceptively quick for his size and has consistently pressured the quarterback. Moore hasn’t seen many first team reps at end, and Ayers is part of the reason why. He hasn’t warranted a move in the NASCAR package, in fact he’s justified his position there more than most.

The most interesting development the past couple weeks from the Giants defensive line is the movement of Damontre Moore. Look, he’s wreaking havoc on opponent’s second-team offensive linemen…which he should. There’s a big difference between a starting offensive lineman, and his backup. He’s looked good each game, but I put little into that when it’s coming against backups. What I do find interesting is how the Giants move him around. Sometimes he’s at left end, sometimes he’s at right. There’s no set position for him. I didn’t see it much versus the Patriots, but he lined up a bit as an tackle, too. He’s got versatility and the Giants seem to be using it.

The Giants were probably holding their prayer beads in the hope Kelcy Quarles cleared waivers. He did not as these very same Patriots must have liked what they saw from him in this game. I understand why he didn’t make the Giants, he’s not as ready to contribute as Mike Patterson/Markus Kuhn, but he is quite the project to develop. Quarles has all the physical tools to be a player in the NFL, just needs a little fine tuning. He sprinted everywhere against the Patriots and made a few impressive stops against the run.

The Giants elected to keep Kerry Wynn on the 53-man roster and watching the film, I get the feeling it’s for his special teams play, not really defense. He flashed a bit against the run but he was near non-existent as a rusher.

I’m not totally sure how much playing time he’ll get this year because of who’s in front of him, but Jay Bromley had a really nice preseason. He got a couple pressures versus New England and one near sack. By near, I mean he did everything but take the quarterback to the ground.

Mike Patterson recorded a sack versus New England, but the credit should go to Damontre Moore. Moore brought the heat from the outside causing Garoppolo to step up and into the waiting arms of Patterson.

LINEBACKERS – Connor Hughes

I tweeted this and now I’ll write it: I don’t see how you can keep Devon Kennard off of the field. I don’t care who’s healthy. The kid has tremendous speed, is as physical as any of the linebackers and has a tremendous head on his shoulders. There’s a reason he was thrown into the starting rotation the minute Jon Beason was hurt. I know Beason will be ‘ready’ for Detroit, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit and get a week of stamina build up. The fact is, right now the Giants don’t need him nearly as much as was originally anticipated and Kennard is the reason. When Beason does get healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kennard remain the starter at SAM and Jameel McClain take a back seat.

Versus New England, there were two Kennard plays that stood out. The first was when he shot through the middle of the offensive line to make a tackle for a loss. The second was on Zack Bowman’s interception – the one that counted. Kennard came in on a stunt blitz and absorbed a pretty big block from the offensive lineman. After bouncing back a step he hit the lineman with a swim move and dove at Jimmy Garoppolo. The pressure forced a bad throw that Bowman intercepted. He makes plays like this every practice and every game.

I continue to like what I see from Jacquian Williams and his added physicality. He obviously can pass defense, but he also has done very well against the run. I watched one play where he avoided a block and darted into the backfield to make a tackle.

Spencer Paysinger looked pretty good and is quite the backup linebacker to have on the team. There was one play where he stood out poorly to me when I was at the game, but I retract that now. On the long completion down the sideline to a Patriots running back, Paysinger was seen about 10 yards behind sprinting to catch up. The reason? The most blatant illegal pick I’ve ever seen. It may just be me, but Paysinger has looked a bit quicker this year, too. Both in practices and games.

SECONDARY – Connor Hughes

The one player I believe who has impressed me more than any other is Walter Thurmond III. The more I watch him, the more I love the physicality and tenacity he brings to the Giants secondary. He talks the talk, walks the walk and doesn’t care what anybody says.

On the one slant that was a near interception, Thurmond had lock-down coverage, jumped in front the receiver to bat the ball, and then dove in an attempt for an interception. I’m excited to see what he does when the Giants start playing the games for real.

When watching the game live, to me it looked like Trumaine McBride had a rough outing. He was beat several times for catches and once for a touchdown. Watching the film, he didn’t play badly at all. The touchdown could have easily been offensive pass interference, and he had good coverage on each completion he gave up. Give Garoppolo credit for throwing some really nice passes.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a pass breakup in the first quarter and instantly turned around looking for flags. He had a right to…he got there early. For all the calls that should have been non calls, this was a non call that should have been a call.

The big question surrounding Stevie Brown entering this season – aside from his health – was how he’d play against the run. During his breakout year with the Giants, Brown was known more for playing centerfield than getting dirty in the box. During the preseason, Brown has shown his ability to play down low. Versus New England, he had a play where he lined up outside the tackle, came in on a toss play, split two linemen and made the tackle for a two-yard loss. He’s done that a few times this offseason and it’s been a pleasant sight.

When the Giants signed Zack Bowman, it was thought to be for his special teams play. Throughout the preseason, it’s been his defense that has gotten him noticed. Bowman made two beautiful interceptions versus the Patriots. First off, no, that wasn’t a penalty called on him on the first pick. Discounting that bad call, the way Bowman located the ball in the air, reached up, caught the ball and maintained control as he hit the ground was something else. On his second interception, he read an out-route by the receiver and began to break that way. Then, he read the quarterback’s eyes and saw the ball was being thrown outside. Bowman dove backwards and made the pick. It was a really, really nice play. Bowman right now is the Giants’ fourth or fifth corner, but he’d be a starter on a few other teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS OVERVIEW – by Eric Kennedy

The Giants took a lot of steps this offseason to improve their return game: signing Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, and then drafting Odell Beckham. However, those dreaded hamstring injuries derailed those plans. Holliday was placed on IR and is no longer an option. Beckham missed most of the practices and all of the preseason. Now the punt return job seems to be in the hands of journeyman Preston Parker until Beckham can play. If Parker is inactive on game day, it could be Rueben Randle again. Against the Patriots, Preston didn’t help his cause with a muffed punt though he did have one return for 17 yards. Jayron Hosley got a couple of chances but looked very shaky back there. Plus, as we know, he is on the Reserve/Suspended List. Parker had one kickoff return for 21 yards. In the regular-season, it will be Demps returning kicks.

Josh Brown won the place-kicking job and was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts against the Patriots, including from 24, 45, and 37 yards out. Three of his five kickoffs were touchbacks. The other two returned were only returned for 21 and 17 yards.

Steve Weatherford’s busy preseason included six more punts for a 46.2 average and three downed inside the 20-yard line. The Patriots returned four punts for 20 yards.

(Boxscore – New England Patriots at New York Giants, August 28, 2014)
Aug 302014
 
John Conner, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The New York Giants made 22 roster moves on Saturday in order reduce the roster to 53 players as required by the NFL.

In addition, the Giants activated linebacker Jon Beason from the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Beason passed his physical and can now practice for the first time since injuring his foot on June 12 during an Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice. “He’s ready to practice,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “You need that kind of dynamic leadership. The guy loves the game, he loves to play it. He’ll have the biggest smile on his face come Monday when he trots out there.”

The Giants waived or terminated the contracts of the following players:

  • QB Curtis Painter
  • RB Kendall Gaskins
  • RB Michael Cox
  • FB John Conner
  • WR Julian Talley
  • TE Kellen Davis
  • OL Rogers Gaines (waived/injured)
  • OL Mark Asper
  • OL Jamaal Johnson-Webb
  • OL Adam Gress
  • DE Israel Idonije
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • DT Kelcy Quarles
  • LB Dan Fox
  • LB Terrell Manning
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner
  • S Thomas Gordon

The Giants also placed the following players on season-ending Injured Reserve, although this doesn’t preclude the team from making an injury settlement:

  • WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring)
  • WR Mario Manningham (calf)

The Giants also placed the following players on the Reserve/Suspended List for violating NFL drug policies:

  • OL Eric Herman (4-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (4-game suspension for illegal drugs)

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

“There were a lot of good, competitive positions, even going into Thursday night’s game with New England,” Coughlin said. “Many of the young guys were competing, not only for roster spots but for the practice squad. That is an important concept as well. It is in the best interest of the clubs to be able to go to their practice squad, if the need is there, for a player who has been in your meeting rooms the entire summer and fall.”

With Painter being cut, Ryan Nassib will be the only quarterback on the roster behind Eli Manning. “Ryan Nassib made big strides,” Coughlin said. “I think that his third and fourth preseason games were outstanding. You see definite improvement. You see the work that he’s put in. He’s been a very good student and he’s applied that to the field. What I really liked is he did have a poor preseason game and he came back with two good ones. That showed me, he didn’t do it by talking, he did it by working.”

Speaking of the competition at fullback between Conner and Henry Hynoski, Coughlin said, “Two very good players. Both guys can play in this league. Very, very close. Both of them are physical. They’ll knock the heck out of you. Utmost respect for John Conner, I think he’s a heck of a player and a great competitor and a good man. He doesn’t say a word, just goes and does his job. Give me all of those you can find.”

Preston Parker, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Coughlin on WR Preston Parker, who made the team: “Preston’s been around a little bit. Preston also has the punt return/kickoff return ability. Right now that’s very critical for us, because Odell Beckham was going to be the punt returner.”

Coughlin on keeping Kerry Wynn over Israel Idonije at defensive end: “We had tremendous respect for Izzy (Idonije) because of the quality of man he is. He came in here and whatever we asked him to do, he did. He battled, he competed. The other night he played a lot of nice snaps. At this point in time, the idea of developing the young player was first and foremost on your minds as we put the roster together…I like the fact that (Wynn) has very good size and he runs well. He flashed in the preseason and he is a young prospect that works hard, studies hard. We think he has a lot of upside.”

“They’re great stories and that’s what this thing is all about,” Coughlin said. “Your needs are much deeper than seven picks in the draft or sometimes you’re not in position to help yourself in free agency because of the cap, so this is still the source. And when a young guy comes along and they look like they’ve got a high end, you’re excited about it. Especially when they work hard, they study hard, it’s important to them and they have great desire. You can see it on some of these kids’ faces that this means so much to them, and quite frankly it re-energizes me.

“Even on a day like this where I have to let people go, when I see what the game means to certain players and when I see that, then I think there’s hope, to be honest with you. I do. Not just hope here, hope for everybody in this world because we’re not going through the motions. They love it. They love what they’re doing, they love the game. That’s how it all starts. For the normal young person that comes along and plays this game, it started with the love of the game. You compete, it’s about competitors. It’s still about competitors and people who are determined to be the best that they can be at what they do. That’s what reinforces me.”

After noon on Sunday, the Giants can sign 10 players to their Practice Squad, if they are not claimed off of waivers first.

“The practice squad is not taken lightly,” Coughlin said. “There are a lot of things that go into making choices and one of the things that’s really important, that has to be stressed, this summer is that we’ve got it to 10. And that’s a very important thing, the fact that we can have 10 practice squad guys means a lot in terms of your ability to prepare. Because as you go through the season and you have the various nicks that occur during the course of it and players can’t practice, at least you can continue to service your first groups with your practice squad players. That helps tremendously because the drain always comes.

“If a two becomes a one, then who services the other side of the ball? That’s a major concern for us at this level, because you have to continue to improve. People don’t realize that, it is about improvement and it’s not just about games, it’s about improving and your chance to improve on the practice field is so important.”

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Embarking on a New Path by Bill Pennington of The New York Times

NY Post Q&A with WR Victor Cruz: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Victor Cruz by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Aug 292014
 
Tom Coughlin, Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Tom Coughlin and Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) Updates: In case you missed it, articles from BBI today:

August 29, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Head Coach Tom Coughlin provided injury updates on two players injured during Thursday’s preseason finale against the New England Patriots: FB Henry Hynoski (shoulder) and WR Mario Manningham (calf).

“Henry has a contusion of the shoulder,” said Coughlin. “Nothing more than that. Even today he says he is much better than he was last night. Mario has strained a calf.”

LB Jon Beason (foot), who has been on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list since training camp started, looks like he will return to the practice field this week. “I think he is going to be allowed to practice come Monday,” said Coughlin.

OG Brandon Mosley (back) missed practiced last week and did not play against the Patriots. “Well, they are telling us that they think he will respond very well, and in effect, if he does, with Thursday being our Wednesday, that they would expect he may very well be ready,” said Coughlin.

CB Prince Amukamara (groin) has been cleared to return to practice. “Last week I was only able to do individuals, but the doctor cleared me that I can do everything, so I am excited about that,” said Amukamara. “I am expected to play Monday (against the Detroit Lions).”

LG Geoff Schwartz (toe) is not sure when he will be able to return to the practice field. “No idea (when I will be back),” said Schwartz. “Just see how it goes. There is really no other way to put it…This is a unique type of thing. Especially the toes, and with big guys, you just have to see how the rehab goes.”

Schwartz did confirm he will not need surgery. “Surgery was not even an option,” said Schwartz.

When asked if short-term injured reserve might be a possibility, Schwartz responded, “They haven’t mentioned it. That is upstairs. That is not any of my business.”

“I think Geoff Schwartz himself said it may take something like three to four weeks, and I would add a little bit to that, I would think, just to be safe,” said Coughlin.

August 29, 2014 Tom Coughlin Conference Call: The transcript from Friday’s conference call with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at BigBlueInteractive.com.

August 29, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: How old will be too old for Tom Coughlin? by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on QB Eli Manning: Eli Manning confident in offense, eyes Detroit by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on WR Corey Washington: Giants roster cuts: Corey Washington won’t slip through waivers, league sources say by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Aug 292014
 
Peyton Hillis, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NEW YORK GIANTS 16 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 13

The New York Giants passing attack is bad.

Or, instead of bad, you can go with pathetic, or anemic, or treacherous, or just about any other word you can find in a thesaurus that holds the same definition as “not good.”

If Friday night’s 16-13 victory over the New England Patriots was meant to be a confidence builder as the team prepares for the season opener in Detroit…uh oh. Versus the second team Patriots defense, Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 1-of-4 passes for zero yards.

Yes, zero yards.

Jacquian Williams (57) and Larry Donnell (84), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Jacquian Williams and Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

STUDS:

Larry Donnell
It’s been an up-and-down training camp and preseason for Larry Donnell this year. At time, he’s looked like the every-down tight end the Giants wished he would be. Then, he’d look like a player that shouldn’t sniff an NFL roster on any NFL team. Friday night versus New England, it was the good Donnell on display again.

While receiving has never been really been the issue with Donnell, he again displayed what he has the potential to do. He caught four passes for 60 yards, but he also displayed his pure athleticism on a pair of incompletions from Ryan Nassib. Down at the goal line, Nassib went to Donnell on back-to-back plays. The way the tight end jumped in the air in an attempt to catch the ball showed what has caused coaches to fall in love with.

John Jerry

There’s a good chance John Jerry is the Giants starting right guard Monday night versus the Detroit Lions. So, before marching the former Miami Dolphin out against the likes of Ndamukong Suh, the Giants wanted to see how his surgically-repaired knee would hold up.

The answer? Through nearly an entire game, pretty well. Jerry lowered the boom on key blocks which resulted in big runs for several Giants running backs. He was the lead blocker on Andre Williams 38-yard run, Kendall Gaskin’s 19-yard run and Michael Cox’s 14-yard run. He may have won himself the starting guard position…including when Brandon Mosley returns from injury.

Zack Bowman

Look, we all know, the holding call on Bowman’s first interception was tough to watch, but it doesn’t take away from the beautiful interception Bowman hauled in after the fact. The veteran located the ball in the air, then hauled it in while falling backwards. It truly was a thing of beauty, even if it was called back.

Bowman said after the game that interceptions sometimes “come in bunches,” which was the case when he intercepted another one a couple of passes later. The Giants knew what they were getting in Bowman was a special teams player, but he’s been a pleasant surprise on the defensive side of the ball, too.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DUDS:

Eli Manning

There is no other way around it, Eli Manning has looked unbelievably pathetic this preseason, and that’s being kind. In two possessions against the Patriots’ backups – seriously, all backups – Manning ONE first down, ONE completion and ZERO yards. Unacceptable. Add in another “miscommunication” with Rueben Randle and fans have every reason to sound the alarm. It hasn’t been pretty this preseason. In fact, it’s been disgustingly ugly.

Rueben Randle

I’m not sure how many times Manning and Randle haven’t been on the same page throughout the receivers three-year career, but I’d venture it’s more than many other quarterbacks and their wide receivers. It happened again on a curl. Tom Coughlin’s quote after the game says it all: “I thought, he thought – one of those kinds of things. We’re all – everyone in the room – is tired of hearing that stuff. There’s no place for that.”

Adrien Robinson

The positive: Adrien Robinson caught a pass. The negative: He fumbled the only pass he caught. I’ve said it from the very beginning, Robinson is not a lock to make this team. Not at all. In fact, he’s playing himself directly off of it. A golden opportunity was placed in front of the ‘JPP of tight ends’ and he’s dropped it. When Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells are ahead of you on a “wide open” positional battle, there’s an issue, and Robinson has no one to blame but himself.

Preston Parker

With injuries to Mario Manningham, Trindon Holliday and Marcus Harris, Preston Parker had to simply not mess up and he’d probably make the Giants final 53-man roster. Then he messed up. Parker muffed a punt, putting a blemish on his one key way to make the team. I’ve always been a little curious on why the Giants didn’t cut Trindon Holliday during the 75-man trim if they didn’t still want him on the team. With Parker’s fumble I truly believe Holliday still has a shot. If the doctors feel Holliday is ready to play, I could see the team waiving Parker.

Parker has little value as a receiver, similar to Holliday, but Parker is nothing like the returner Holliday is. The Giants made a big effort to improve their return game this year.  I don’t really imagine they envisioned Preston Parker as their punt returner in game one. Parker had a shot; his muff may have blown it.

THE GOOD:

  • I like what the Giants are doing with Damontre Moore. When he stepped foot on the field, he never lined up at one spot. He saw reps at left defensive end, right defensive end and defensive tackle. Taking a player like him and moving him all around will beneficial for the team. Moore’s a special talent, I just wish he got more reps with the starters.
  • Ryan Nassib wasn’t as perfect as he had been the last two weeks, but he was still impressive. He puts unreal zip on the ball, is getting more and more comfortable within the offense and marched the Giants down the field on two scoring drives including a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The Giants so desperately wanted Nassib to take hold of the backup QB job, and he did that.
  • The expectation is that when the Giants make their cuts to get down to the 53-man limit, Jon Beason will be activated from the PUP list. When this happens, he will presumably slide in as the team’s starting middle linebacker and Jameel McClain will move out to SAM.  Personally, I don’t see how you take Devon Kennard off of the field, not with how he plays. Another five tackles for the rookie including an impressive one for a loss. He has speed, he’s physical and is showing all the tools to be something special.
  • When the Giants signed veteran Israel Idonije, it raised a few eye brows. Why bring the veteran into a group of primarily young players? Friday night he showed why. Two sacks and superb play on special teams. I’d be shocked if Idonije isn’t on the Giants’ 53-man roster.
  • Since being signed, Chandler Fenner has done nothing but flash time and time again in practice and on the game day field. He did that again Friday night with a pair of pass breakups. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Holy Cross alum land on the practice squad.
  • One quick note on something I did like a lot, but this puts him into just the “good” category and not “stud” because it’s an observation that’s already been made. Andre Williams can run with the ball. Like run really, really well. The issue he’s had throughout the preseason is (1) he can’t catch, and (2) he can’t block. If he could work and develop the ability to do both of those things, he’s an every-down back in the NFL because with the ball in his hands…it’s something special.
Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE UGLY:

  • There are two things I just can’t get my mind around: (1) Why Corey Washington hasn’t seen reps with the second team? (2) Why Damontre Moore hasn’t seen reps with the starters. Moore is a guy you want to contribute on Sunday’s…it won’t be Marcus Cannon he’s facing then, so get him reps with the starters. With Washington, he’s a guy you want to see if he can beat someone other than a fourth stringer, why not give him a chance? The Giants have stated over-and-over they plan to, but never do on game day. Oh well.
  • This is just something that has gained steam over the preseason: Steve Weatherford has punted the ball 32 times for 1,506 yards. Just let that sink in. Is it his fault? No. This more falls on the offense.
  • Mario Manningham needed a miracle to make the Giants roster. He didn’t get one. Entering the game in the second quarter with the second team, Manningham lasted just one series before being forced out with a calf injury and didn’t return. Not only did the injury signal an end of the night for Manningham, but most likely his Giants career as well. It’s a sad end to a career that once seemed destined for stardom. Manningham just doesn’t have the burst anymore, or the separation. To be honest, I don’t see him landing on any NFL roster this year.
Aug 292014
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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If ever there ever was a way to perfectly sum up the Giants 2014 preseason, Friday night’s 16-13 victory over the New England Patriots was it.

The starting offense looked anemic, the defense sporadic. Eli Manning resembled something far similar to a first-round bust than a two-time Super Bowl MVP. There were three-and-outs, muffed punts, sacks and near turnovers.

But some how, some way, the Giants escaped with a victory to improve their preseason record to a meaningless 5-0.

Were there bright spots? Sure. Were there pitch black ones, too? Oh yeah.

Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In the final tune-up before the Giants travel to Detroit to take on the Lions, Manning completed just 1-of-4 passes against the Patriots backups for zero yards. Victor Cruz went catchless and there was another miscommunication between Manning and receiver Rueben Randle.

“It was the right route,” Randle said. “It just wasn’t timed right. I guess (Manning) was expecting me to run it quicker since it was press.”

In two drives, the Giants managed one first down, one three-and-out and two punts.

Oh, and that rebuilt, injury-riddled offensive line? It continued to allow pressure. Despite playing an extra preseason game, the Giants looked like they needed four more.

“I’m ready to move on,” Cruz said. “I’m ready to move on to Week 1. I’m ready to get a good week of practice in come next week and get our focus onto Week 1 and starting the season off on the right foot. I’m excited for that opportunity.”

While the Manning and the starters continue to struggle, New York’s reserves continue to show McAdoo’s offense does, you know, work.

Building off of two strong performances versus the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, second-year pro Ryan Nassib again found success versus a preseason opponent’s reserves. The quarterback completed 6-of-14 passes for 107 yards and led the Giants two scoring drives including a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive which was capped by a Peyton Hillis diving touchdown on 4th-and-goal.

Rookie Andre Williams again displayed strong running, gaining 44 yards on five carries, including a 38-yard scamper on 4th-and-1. Tight end Larry Donnell caught four passes for 60 yards. Even Jerrel Jernigan made a play on a 22-yard catch-and-run.

But it won’t be Nassib under center in Detroit. It won’t be Williams as the team’s starting running back.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’ll be Manning, who enters the Monday Night season opener having completed 20-of-41 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown.

“Well, I thought we had a good week of practice,” Manning said. “We didn’t get much going tonight, but we’re getting ready for Detroit, that first game. We got the starters out healthy so that’s always the most important thing.

“We have to get ready for Detroit on Monday night. It should be fun.”

Yes, but unless the Giants improve dramatically, in 10 days, the team won’t be having much “fun” at all.

Video highlights/lowlights from the game are available at NFL.com.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference on Thursday night are available at Giants.com.

New York Giants Post-Game Player Media Sessions: Transcripts and video clips of the post-game media Q&As on Thursday night with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Aug 282014
 


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Giants.com Interview with S Antrel Rolle: The video of Tuesday’s Giants.com interview with safety Antrel Rolle is available at Giants.com.

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Giants not scared to talk ‘championship’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Articles on the New York Giants Running Backs:

Article on TE Daniel Fells: Giants TE Daniel Fells likely to receive first-team snaps vs. Patriots team that dumped him last year by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Linebackers:

Article on S Nat Berhe: Giants rookie check-in with Nat Berhe: ‘The Missile’ or ‘The Icebox’? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on PK Brandon McManus: NY Giants keep Eagles from getting kicker Brandon McManus by Stephen Lorenzo and Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Aug 282014
 
Brandon Scherff, Iowa State Hawkeyes (January 1, 2014)

Brandon Scherff – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Early New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview

By Colin Lindsay (Great Blue North Draft Report)

The college football season kicks off this weekend, and while it is way to soon – like by about 5-6 months – for people to start saying ’this is THE guy I want for the Giants in 2015,’ it is never too early to start watching the top prospects for the upcoming draft. And while there is still much sorting out to be done before next spring‘s draft, the early signs are that the strengths of the 2015 draft could match up reasonably well with the primary needs the Giants are likely to be trying to fill this coming off-season.

Offensive Line

For starters, it certainly appears that it could be yet another banner at OT, which could be good news for the Giants if LT Will Beatty continues to struggle this fall and the Giants feel they need to go in another direction at the position. Indeed, there are as many as 4-5 potential top-10 left tackles, including Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M, Cameron Erving of Florida State, Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and La’el Collins of LSU. All four had expected to enter the 2014 draft where each was projected to be at least a first-round prospect, but they ultimately opted to return to class for one more year. Ogbuehi, for example, is a better overall athlete than former teammate Jake Matthews, the 6th player picked this past May, while the Hawkeyes’ Scherff is a little ragged around the edges, but he’s a huge guy with freakish strength and athleticism. Meanwhile LSU’s Collins is a rugged run blocker who could ultimately play inside at the next level, but he also has the long arms, light feet and surprising agility of a prototype left tackle. FSU’s Erving, who has played only one year at LT after converting from DT, may have the most upside of the bunch. In the end, though, the top OT prospect this year may end up being Stanford junior Andrus Peat, who hasn’t received as much national ink to date, but who has remarkable size and strength, along with excellent agility and a nasty disposition.

The bad news part of the OT story for the Giants, if in fact they head into the 2015 draft in search of an elite pass-blocker OT to pair with Justin Pugh, is that all the best ones could come off the board early and there is something of a drop-off to the next level at the position. However, there are several second-tier OTs this year who will be worth a look on the second day including 6-7, 350-pound Corey Robinson of South Carolina, along with Sean Hickey of Syracuse, Cincinnati’s Eric Lefeld, Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson of Oklahoma, Rob Havenstein of Wisconsin, Oregon’s Jake Fisher and unheralded Ty Sambrailo of Colorado State, who could just be the best prospect in the country nobody has heard of! And the depth at OT this year could be augmented if any of a small army of good, solid, although not yet elite, junior OT prospects enter the draft, including Spencer Drango of Baylor, D.J. Humpries of Florida, Le’Raven Clark of Texas Tech, Brandon Shell of South Carolina, Donovan Smith of Penn State, Miami’s Ereck Flowers, Jason Spriggs of Indiana, Taylor Decker of Ohio State, Tyler Marz of Wisconsin and Georgia’s John Theus.

Needless to say, the Giants also still have issues at OG, although they are probably less likely to use an early pick on the position than say at OT. Which is probably just as well as it does not look like there will be many, if any, OGs who are locks to be opening round picks next spring anyway, although Tre Jackson of Florida State and South Carolina’s A.J. Cann could be close. Jackson is a wide-body road-grader who is a dominating drive blocker with some short-area quickness, but isn‘t necessarily a great athlete, while Cann isn’t as big or physical, but is a better athlete and more polished technician. Meanwhile, there are some solid later second-day candidates at the position including Jackson’s FSU teammate Josue Matias and Alabama’s Arie Kouandjio, the brother of Cyrus Kouandjio who was considered to be a near-elite OT prospect last year, before a balky knee bumped him into the second round where he was selected by Buffalo. That second-day second-tier group could also get a boost if junior OGs Vadal Alexander of LSU and/or Landen Turner of North Carolina opt to enter the 2015 draft. However, even without much input from the underclassmen, there is some impressive depth at OG including the Miami’s Jon Feliciano, former teammate Malcolm Bunche who‘ll line up with UCLA this fall, 345-pound Quinton Spain of West Virginia, underrated Laken Tomlinson of Duke, John Miller of Louisville and Notre Dame’s Christian Lombard among others. Bottom line is that there could be potentially useful options at OG come next April/May well into the third day of the draft.

Defensive End

The Giants could also very well head to the 2015 draft looking to upgrade at DE if (1) Jason Pierre-Paul does not have a bounce back year this fall and/or (2) nobody really emerges to replace Justin Tuck on the other side. And like the situation at OT, defensive end looks like it will be one of the real strengths at the upcoming draft, although a lot will be depend on how many of this year’s top underclassmen ultimately opt to turn pro this winter. There are, for example, at least three junior DEs – Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State, Southern Cal’s Leonard Williams and Randy Gregory of Nebraska – with the top 5-10 potential, although they are very different players. USC’s Williams, for example, at 6-5, 295, is built more like a DT – and could ultimately play there in the NFL – but for now looks like a prototype 5-technique 3-4 DE in the J.J. Watt mold. The Huskers’ Gregory is a long, lean edge rusher who needs to add some bulk to better play the run – and at 6-6 has the frame to do so – but who has freakish athleticism and may have the most upside of the trio. Meanwhile, Calhoun won’t blow away anyone with his measurables, but he’s strong, quick, and relentless coming off the edge.

There is also some really intriguing potential depth at DE in this year’s draft class. Florida State’s Mario Edwards, for example, could ultimately challenge USC’s Williams for the top-grade among 5-technique DEs, while juniors Dante Fowler of Florida and Ohio State’s Noah Spence and Trey Flowers of Arkansas are solid second-day types. So is 6-8 Baylor junior Shawn Oakman, the former Penn State transfer who is still learning the game, but who has a really unique size/speed combination. However, no DE is likely to draw as much attention through the pre-draft process as former TCU redshirt sophomore DeVonte Fields, who won’t play at all this fall. Fields looked all of the part of an emerging pass-rushing star as a true freshman two years, but played little last fall because of a foot injury and then got suspended this year when he allegedly threatened an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, other solid DEs to watch include James Rouse of Marshall, Ray Drew of Georgia, Jermauria Rasco of LSU and Nate Orchard of Utah, while other juniors that could have an early impact at the upcoming draft include Danielle Hunter of LSU, Charles Tapper of Oklahoma, Eli Harold of Virginia, BYU‘s Bronson Kaufusi and Missouri’s Shane Ray.

Tight End

It is hard to imagine that the Giants won’t want to do something at TE this coming off season. (In fact its hard to imagine that the Giants wouldn’t really like to do something at the position this week!) Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear that 2015 will be a banner year at the position. Florida State’s Nick O’Leary, for example, is currently the only tight end even remotely close to carrying a first-round grade and even he’s no lock to be taken all that early. O’Leary, the grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, is something of a throwback type in that he’s a willing blocker with nice hands and that 6th sense to get open. But he isn’t all that big at around 6-3, 240, and he lacks the explosive speed and athleticism to be a true field-stretching receiving threat. Plus, there are going to be health concerns after O’Leary was involved in a second serious motorcycle accident this past spring. Meanwhile, Ben Koyack of Notre Dame and Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman are both solid two-way TE prospects with prototype size and decent athleticism, although neither has been all that consistently productive to date in their college careers. Moreover, neither brings the skill set that the Giants are now looking for at the position. And there is another drop-off to the next level of TEs which includes pass-receiving specialists like Rutgers junior Tyler Kraft, unheralded Wes Saxton of South Alabama, Rory Anderson of South Carolina, MyCole Pruitt of FCS Southern Illinois, Clive Walford of Miami and Gerald Christian of Louisville. E.J. Bibbs of Iowa State and USC’s Randall Telfer are the next best two-way type TEs.

Quarterback

For the record, the other real strong position at the 2015 draft will be QB with as many another 4-5 possible top-10 candidates including juniors Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Brett Hundley of UCLA, and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan leading the way, along with Florida State redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, and senior Bryce Petty of Baylor. Let’s hope the Giants aren’t interested as it would mean Eli had another bad year, but throw 27 picks again and all best just might be off. Just saying …

The Rest

Meanwhile, other positions that appear that they could be relatively strong in 2015 include running back with Todd Gurley of Georgia, Wisconsin’s Mel Gordon and T.J. Yeldon of Alabama leading the way. Safety could also be something of a strength with a deep class headed by juniors Landen Collins of Alabama and LSU’s Jalen Mills, as well as underrated Derron Smith of Fresno State. There is also some real talent at outside linebacker, although many of the top guys there including Vic Beasley of Clemson and rising star Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State are more 3-4 edge rushers. Juniors Shaq Thompson of Washington and Oklahoma‘s Eric Striker, though, do have more than a little Ryan Shazier-type speed and explosion. There should also be a relatively strong middle linebacker group, although the top guys – including Denzel Perryman of Miami, UCLA‘s Eric Kendricks, Ramik Wilson of Georgia and A.J. Johnson of Tennessee – all look more like second-day types.

On the other hand, it may be a down year at wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle, although there will certainly be some good players at those positions this year. The top wide receivers, for example, should include juniors Amari Cooper of Alabama, Nelson Agholor of USC, Jaelen Strong of Arizona State and Maryland’s Stefon Diggs, along with seniors Rashad Greene of Florida State, Davante Parker of Louisville (if healthy), Antwan Goodley of Baylor and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a potential top-10 cornerback, although he’s not overly long at just 5-9, while Florida State junior P.J. Williams also has mid-to-late first round potential. At the same time, Michael Bennett of Ohio State, appears to be the consensus #1 defensive tackle prospect this year, although he’s still not considered to be more of an early-to-mid second round prospect as he is somewhat undersized at barely 290 pounds and has limited upside. Indeed, if any defensive tackles are likely to have an opening round breakthrough this coming spring, it may come from one or more of a solid second-tier group at the position including rising juniors Ellis McCarthy of UCLA (an imposing 6-5 330-pound specimen), Arik Armstead of Oregon (who at 6-8 is also physically imposing), Rice’s Christian Covington, and Malcolm Brown of Texas, along with seniors Carl Davis of Iowa, 335-pound Washington, NT Danny Shelton and underrated Tyeler Davison of Fresno State. As of now, though, each of these guys rates as more a second or third rounder. If there is a positive angle to the 2015 DT picture, though, its that it is a pretty deep class, such that there could very well be some potentially useful prospects at the position well into the third day of selections.

Aug 272014
 
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New England Patriots at New York Giants, August 28, 2014

THE STORYLINE:
The “Work in Progress” that is the Giants offensive will write another chapter on Thursday as the starter’s will see 15-18 snaps. Again, it’ll be about the team attempting to build consistency and extend drives.

With the way this preseason has gone, 15-18 plays may take the Giants into the third quarter.

Aside from the starters getting spot duty early on, all eyes will be on the reserves attempting to make the roster. Can anyone pull any kind of performance that allows them to stick on the final 53 or earn one of the 10 available roster spots?

FOUR DOWNS:
First Down
How will guards Weston Richburg and John Jerry do in their first start of this preseason?
For an evaluation standpoint, the Giants should hope the New England Patriots run out their starting defense for at least a series or two, Richburg and Jerry will need the looks. Richburg will be starting on Monday night in Detroit; there’s a chance Jerry is, too. Prior to facing Ndamukong Suh and – maybe – Nick Fairley, the two will need some work against starting caliber players.

Second Down
Can Mario Manningham make a last-second push for a spot on the roster?
In three preseason games, Mario Manningham has one reception while seeing the majority of his snaps versus backups. He’s come a long, long way from the player that once dazzled fans at MetLife Stadium. Manningham has lacked explosion and has created little separation. At this point, he’s a long shot to make the roster, but a strong performance against the Patriots may at least cause the coaches to mention his name twice.

Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Third Down
Corey Washington
Speaking to the media this week, Corey Washington said he was under the impression he’d see work with the second unit. That didn’t happen. While Washington has been a great story, until he shows he can play with starting caliber players, he won’t see a snap come the regular season. There’s a difference between burning Patrick Peterson on Sunday, compared to Charles James II and Bennett Jackson in practice. Washington needs to show what he can do and if he can make an impact on an injury deleted receiving corps.

Fourth Down
Ryan Nassib
Nassib has been near perfect since his demotion to the third team and has all but wrapped up the backup quarterback job. Nassib has made huge strides in training camp this year and has continued it on the field. Will he take another step on Friday, or regress? Being a young quarterback, it can go either way.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Connor Hughes – Preston Parker
With the placement of Marcus Harris on the injured reserve and continued question marks around Odell Beckham Jr., Preston Parker is one hit away from becoming a starter for the Giants. During his time in Tampa Bay, Parker was a serviceable wideout, he needs to show he can still be this player. The Giants no longer just need him to make plays as a returner, they need him as a wideout, too.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 8, 2013)

El Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Kennedy – Eli Manning
Yes, Eli Manning is my “player to watch” for the second week in a row. Eli is the key to the season. He has had one good drive in four preseason games, and that one drive could have ended with another mind-numbing, bone-headed decision by Manning. The Patriots don’t usually play a lot of their most important players in their preseason finale, but they may play most of their starting defense. We’ll have to see. And Manning surely will be under duress behind an offensive line that remains a sieve in pass protection. But Manning has to accept that is the way things are going to be in 2014. Jerry Reese didn’t fix this line. It is what it is. Manning will have to change his ways and learn to swallow his pride and take the sack or throw the football away. He has to become more of a game manager and rely on his defense and running game and not hurt his team with stupid mistakes. Against the Patriots, I want to see one more quality touchdown drive. Score, get off the field. Get ready for Detroit. Let’s end the preseason on a positive note, with some confidence.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Odell Beckham Jr (hamstring)
  • WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring)
  • OT Charles Brown (shoulder)
  • OT James Brewer (back)
  • OG Brandon Mosley (back)
  • OG Geoff Schwartz (toe)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (ankle)
  • LB Jon Beason (foot)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (groin)

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin (on quarterback Ryan Nassib’s play the last two games): “It has boosted his confidence. He came off a so-so game and then played very well for the last two. He works at it. He’s a worker, a grinder and doesn’t have a lot of emotion, whether it be good or bad. He is just a hard working guy.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Connor Hughes – The fact the Giants are entering their final preseason game of the 2014 season and still don’t have a set offensive line formation is troubling, it can’t not be. The scarier part is that the line that trots out against the Patriots may turn out to be the best one, yet. The original line (Beatty LT, Schwartz LG, Walton C, Mosley RG, Pugh RT) had issues, so did every other variation that followed. It’s not like Detroit will go easy on them and the Giants have yet to put a consistent group out on the field. Personally, I think John Jerry has outplayed Brandon Mosley this preseason. I think Richburg has outplayed Geoff Schwartz. As sad as this may sound, and I said it above, the patchwork like that is sent out Thursday night may be the team’s best option. The biggest issue? What happens if someone goes down. At least the team has Charles Brown, I mean James Brewer, I mean Brandon Mosley, I mean… Mark Asper? Giants 28 – Patriots 20.

Kerry Wynn, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Kennedy – The Giants and Patriots always seem to play in this final preseason game and this game really doesn’t usually have much meaning for the starters. Bill Belichick usually rests key guys and Tom Brady never plays in this game. Usually, Tom Coughlin wants to get 1-2 drives out of his starting offense and then sit them. The longer the offense struggles, the more drives they will be on the field. So the best thing for the starters is to put together one good drive to start the game. This game is more about who will make the final 53-man roster and who will make it to the Practice Squad. Look really good and you make the team. Look pretty good and you might not make it but another team may steal the player from the Giants who had hoped for that guy to stick around on the Practice Squad. Will the Giants be able to stash Kerry Wynn and Kelcy Quarles on the Practice Squad? Or will some other team sign them? Other random thoughts: So far, Jerry Reese’s offseason free agent moves to fix the offensive line all look pretty bad. Does Eli Manning have enough firepower to concern other teams with Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, and Daniel Fells/Larry Donnell? Why did Trindon Holliday survived the first cut? Giants 24 – Patriots 16.

Aug 262014
 
Geoff Schwartz, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Geoff Schwartz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) Updates: In case you missed it, articles from BBI today:

August 26, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Tuesday were WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), OG Geoff Schwartz (toe), OG Brandon Mosley (back), OT James Brewer (back), OT Charles Brown (shoulder), DT Markus Kuhn (ankle), LB Jon Beason (PUP – foot), and CB Prince Amukamara (groin).

The Giants received relatively good news on Schwartz, who was being examined by Dr. Robert Anderson on Monday. Schwartz will not need surgery to repair his dislocated right big toe. Schwartz will be in a boot for 7-10 days before beginning a rehabilitation program. After that, he availability will be determined on a week-to-week basis.

“This is just a minor setback,” said Schwartz. “I plan on attacking the rehab program so I can get back on the field as soon as possible with my teammates and help us win games.”

“He is very optimistic and hopefully it is going to mean the recovery is going to be as fast as possible,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “You know how I am. I hear the news and I say, ‘Okay, let’s see how this goes.’ Obviously you can’t rush him back but it sure would be good to get him back ASAP rather the other way around. It is not going to be easy for him. He is a big man.

I hope (Mosley returns soon),” said Coughlin. “He is up and moving, so that is a good sign…All I know is that hopefully (Mosley and Brewer) both will be back as soon as possible. They both feel better today.”

“I think (Amukamara) is (making good progress),” said Coughlin. “He is feeling pretty good.”

Brandon McManus Traded to Denver Broncos: The Giants announced Tuesday morning that they had waived PK Brandon McManus, along with making 14 other roster moves. However, before that paperwork was finalized, the Denver Broncos made the Giants an offer and traded for McManus. Though not officially announced, the pick is believed to be a conditional 7th round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“I think Brandon will kick in this league,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He’s a very powerful young man. Needs a little bit of work on the finer kicks, but certainly he demonstrated his ability to kick it through the back of the end zone.”

August 26, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video from Tuesday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

August 26, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Tuesday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on the New York Giants Offense:

Article on WR Preston Parker: Meet the Giant who was broke and building tiki huts last year by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on the New York Giants Place-Kicking Battle: Why the Giants went with Josh Brown over Brandon McManus at kicker by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com