Jan 312015
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (January 31, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was named the Associated Press’s “Offensive Rookie of the Year” for his performance during the 2014 NFL season. Beckham is the first New York Giant to win the award in team history. Linebacker Lawrence Taylor won the “Defensive Rookie of the Year” award after the 1981 season.

The other finalists for the award were Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans and Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin. Beckham received 42 of the available 50 votes with Martin receiving seven and Evans one vote.

“To me (the award) really means everything,” said Beckham. “It’s one less award that I fell short of. I said I wanted to win a Heisman. I didn’t win a Heisman. I said I wanted to win a national championship. Never won that. Biletnikoff, never won that. Top 10 pick, never won that. Rookie of the Year is something I get to take home.

“It really means a lot because I put in everything I had into it. I wanted this more than anything, not to prove anybody else wrong but to prove I know what I’m capable of. This is one I’m very proud of. I’ll be able to hold that above my head for a little bit of time.”

Although Beckham had earlier one Rookie of the Year honors the Professional Football Writers Association and The Sporting News, the Associated Press award is considered the most prestigious and more official award. Beckham was named the “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month” in both November and December.

Despite missing most of training camp, all of the preseason, and the first four games of the regular season, Beckham finished the year with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns – all franchise rookie records.

Other statistical accolades of note:

  • Beckham is the first wide receiver in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards after missing the season’s first three games (he missed four).
  • Beckham set NFL records for most catches and yards in the first 12 games to start a career.
  • Beckham’s 91 catches were the second-highest total in franchise history, topped only by WR Steve Smith’s 107 receptions in 2009.
  • Beckham’s 91 receptions are tied with Denver Broncos WR Eddie Royal (2008) for the second-highest total in NFL history for a rookie; Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin caught 101 passes in 2003.
  • Beckham’s 1,305 yards were the third-highest total in Giants history, surpassed only by WR Victor Cruz’s 1,536 yards in 2011 and WR Amani Toomer’s 1,343 yards in 2002.
  • Beckham joined Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Irvin as the only players in NFL history with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. Irvin accomplished the feat in 1995.
  • Beckham is just the fourth player in franchise history with at least 12 touchdown receptions in a season. WR Homer Jones set the record with 13 in 1967. WR Plaxico Burress (2007) and WR Del Shofner (1962) also had 12.
  • Beckham’s 12 touchdown catches are a Giants rookie record and he tied the franchise total rookie touchdown mark set in 1943 by Bill Paschal (10 rushing, two receiving).
  • Beckham averaged 108.8 yards a game, surpassing Victor Cruz’s previous Giants record of 96.0, set in 2011. Beckham’s 108.8-yard average is also an NFL rookie record, topping the old mark of 105.2 set by Groman in 1960.

For videos on Odell Beckham at last night’s award ceremony, see Giants.com:

  • Odell Beckham wins AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (Video)
  • ‘NFL Honors’ Xfinity Couch: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (Video)
Jan 312015
 
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz spoke to reporters on Saturday night at an NFL Honors event and answered questions about his injured right knee. Cruz tore the patella tendon in his right knee on October 12 during a Sunday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’m about 15 weeks post-surgery. Feeling good,” said Cruz. “It’s about building the strength up in the knee, the quad, all the major muscles down there. That’s where I’m at right now.

“The trainers have a game plan but they’re not telling me. They tell me weeks as they approach so I don’t look too far ahead. I think that is smart. But I’ll do light running in about two weeks or so.”

It remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability. Cruz finished the 2014 season with 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in six starts.

Article on Seahawk DE/LB O’Brien Schofield: How a failed physical turned into a blessing for this Seattle DE by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jan 302015
 


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The father of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Archie Manning, told the press on Thursday that he believes his son would retire before playing for another professional football team. One of Archie’s other sons, Peyton Manning, plays for the Denver Broncos after a long career with the Indianapolis Colts.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“Peyton’s enjoyed his three years with the Broncos but he always envisioned himself playing for one team. So I’m glad when he did have to change, he made a good choice,” said Archie Manning. “But Eli, I think if the Giants traded Eli, he would retire. He loves his team. He loves the New York Giants…Eli wants to (finish his career with the Giants). I hope he can. Eli doesn’t worry about it too much. That is kind of the Giants decision.”

The Giants traded for Manning in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 34-year old Manning has played 11 seasons and won two Super Bowl MVP’s with the team. He is entering the final year of his current contract. Manning is scheduled to count $19.75 million against the 2015 salary cap unless the Giants extend his contract.

Statistically-speaking, Manning had one of his best seasons in 2014. Manning finished the year with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career and in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

And Manning did all of this with a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and West Coast Offense-based system.

“I thought going to the West Coast was great for Eli at this point of his career. Really great,” Archie Manning said. “But I didn’t know it was going to involve mechanics and footwork and all that stuff. It was a transition, but he made it and he got more comfortable. Maybe he got comfortable when Odell (Beckham Jr.) started playing.”

(Giants fans are discussing this topic in The Corner Forum).

Article on LB Jon Beason: Jon Beason believes he’ll thrive with new Giants ‘D’ coordinator Steve Spagnuolo by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on Former Giant OT/OG David Diehl: David Diehl’s lasting impact on the Giants by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on Former Giant DE Justin Tuck: Justin Tuck reflects on SBXLII; still considers NY home by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Jan 292015
 
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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RB Rashad Jennings on the NFL Network: The video of Thursday’s NFL Network interview with RB Rashad Jennings is available at Giants.com.

P Steve Weatherford on ESPN Radio: The audio of Wednesday’s ESPN Radio interview with P Steve Weatherford is available at ESPN.com.

DE Justin Tuck on WFAN Radio: The audio of Thursday’s WFAN Radio interview with former Giant DE Justin  Tuck is available at CBS New York.

Article on LB Mark Herzlich: LB Mark Herzlich ready for new defense; SBXLIX prediction by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Checking in on Prince Amukamara by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on Former Giant WR David Tyree: Catching up with Super Bowl hero David Tyree by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on Former Giant OG Chris Snee: Chris Snee reflects on career and plans for life after football by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Jan 272015
 


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Perry Fewell Joins Redskins as Defensive Backs Coach: Perry Fewell, the former defensive coordinator of the New York Giants who was fired by the team on January 7th, has joined the Washington Redskins as their new defensive backs coach. Ironically, Fewell replaces Raheem Morris, who interviewed with the Giants for the defensive coordinator vacancy before the Giants hired Steve Spagnuolo.

Fewell had also interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers, who reportedly offered him a position as their defensive backs coach.

Article on Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: Sam Madison: Spagnuolo has unmatched preparation by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Articles on WR Odell Beckham:

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Should the Giants try to do something about Victor Cruz’s contract? by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on OC J.D. Walton: Know Your Giants: Center J.D. Walton by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Giants.com “Building Blocks” Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • OC/OG Weston Richburg (Video)

Article on Former Giant TE Mark Bavaro: Bill Belichick praises Mark Bavaro by Bob Glauber of Newsday

Jan 272015
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Perhaps the two biggest story lines of the 2014 season for the New York Giants were at the wide receiver position. First came the devastating knee injury to Victor Cruz in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 5. Cruz was lost for the final 11 games of the season and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to his pre-injury form.

“It is a significant injury that he has,” said General Manager Jerry Reese after the season. “You never know how he is going to come back from that. We are hoping that he is definitely going to come back and be the Victor Cruz that we know. You never know with the significant injury he had. We are hopeful that he will come back and be the Victor Cruz that we like, but you never know.”

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. The irony is that Cruz and Beckham only played one game together in 2014, and that was the game Cruz got injured. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games, and playing with significant hamstring tears. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season. Right or wrong, his performance may also have saved Tom Coughlin’s job as one wonders what the Giants’ record would have been without him.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying.

In the end, it was Beckham and not much else at the crucial wide receiver spot. Other teams knew that too and still could not stop Beckham.

THE HEADLINERS

Despite missing virtually all of training camp, the entire preseason, and the first four games of the regular season with hamstring tears, Odell Beckham, Jr. had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history in 2014. Beckham finished the season with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, all franchise rookie records. He also set a franchise record and NFL rookie record averaging 108.8 yards per game. Beckham set NFL records for most catches and yards in the first 12 games to start a career and tied an NFL record for with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. He was voted first-alternate to the Pro Bowl and played in the game. He was also voted Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year.” Beckham was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. While Beckham lacks classic size, his long arms, big hands, and jumping ability give him a very good catch radius. Beckham is a tremendous athlete with excellent speed, quickness, and agility. Explosive. For such a young player, he can already play multiple positions and runs good routes. Beckham is very quick out of his breaks, adjusts exceptionally well to the football, and regularly makes the circus catch. He is dangerous with the football in his hand after the catch. Competitive, smart, and hard working. Beckham also was a very dangerous return man in college. He averaged 8.1 yards per punt return with the Giants in 2014.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (October 12, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014 and it remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability. Cruz finished the 2014 season with 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in six starts. Signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, the rags-to-riches Victor Cruz story is well known, culminating with his impact season in 2011, first Pro Bowl in 2012, and big offseason contract in 2013. In 2011-2012, he compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. However, in 2013 Cruz had his least productive season since becoming a starter in 2011. He also missed the last two games of the 2013 season with concussion and knee injuries – the left knee requiring arthroscopic surgery. Cruz has ordinary size and timed speed. However, he has very good quickness and plays faster than he times. Cruz reads coverages well, runs good routes, and has a good understanding of how to get open against both zone and man coverage. Cruz has good hands and is capable of making the circus catch, though he sometimes will drop the easy reception. He is elusive after the catch and usually isn’t caught from behind. Cruz is a hard worker. He can play outside, but has really developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers.

THE OTHERS

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Rueben Randle, a 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, remains an inconsistent performer. But he had his best season in 2014, catching 71 passes for 938 yards and three touchdowns. He played in all 16 games with 13 starts with his two best games coming at the end of the season. Randle was benched for the first quarter of two games for disciplinary reasons. Randle has a nice combination of size and athletic ability, and he has flashed play-making skills as a vertical receiver. While Randle is not a burner, he is fluid and smooth with good foot quickness and acceleration for a big receiver. He needs to improve his ability to read defenses and improve his route-running. Randle adjusts well to the football in the air and has good hands. Most of all, he needs to become a more consistently reliable performer so his quarterback can trust him. Randle can also return punts, averaging 7.8 yards per return in 2012-13.

Preston Parker, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

An afterthought by many when the Giants signed him to a reserve/future contract in January 2014, Preston Parker became the team’s primary slot receiver after Victor Cruz was lost for the season. Parker played in all 16 games with seven starts. He finished 2014 with 36 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns. Parker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2010 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers waived him in September 2012. He was with the Saints in training camp in 2013 but he did not play that season. While Parker lacks ideal size and speed, he is a decent athlete with good quickness and hands. Parker needs to be a more consistent performer. He returned both punts (6.6 yard average) and kickoffs (24.2 yard average) for the Giants in 2014.

The Giants signed Kevin Ogletree in October 2014. He played in seven games, but only caught five passes for 50 yards. Ogletree was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013), and Detroit Lions (2013-14). The Lions waived Olgetree in September. In six NFL season, Olgetree has played in 69 games with four starts. He has 83 career receptions for 1,049 yards and six touchdowns – two of which he scored against the Giants in the 2012 opener as a Cowboy. Ogletree has decent size, athletic ability, and hands.

Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants claimed Corey Washington off of waivers from the Arizona Cardinals in May 2014. He was a preseason standout for the Giants, catching 10 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns. While he played in 14 games in 2014, he seldom saw the field and finished the year with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Washington originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Washington played at Division-II Newberry College. Washington combines excellent size, overall athleticism, and speed. However, given his small-school background, he is very raw and needs a lot of development.

Jerrel Jernigan was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with a mid-foot sprain. He played in two games and finished the season with only one catch for six yards. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, Jernigan had a coming out party late in the 2013 season. In his first two years with the Giants, Jernigan played in 17 games and had a grand total of three catches for 22 yards. Through Week 14 of 2013, Jernigan had “amassed” 10 catches for 92 yards. Then in Weeks 15-17, Jernigan exploded with 19 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns in addition to carrying the ball twice for 57 yards and a touchdown. However, Jernigan did not really flash during the 2014 training camp or preseason. Jernigan lacks size, but he is a quick, fluid athlete with good speed. He is better suited to the slot position than outside. Jernigan also returns kickoffs, averaging 23.4 yards per return in his first three seasons on 21 returns.

Marcus Harris was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a hip injury that required surgery on his labrum. Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent time on Detroit’s Practice Squad in 2011, but the Lions waived him in July 2012. The Titans signed him in August 2012 but waived him a few weeks later. Before the NFL season started in 2013, Harris played in the Arena League caught 94 passes for 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Giants signed Harris as a street free agent in August 2013 and he spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Harris has a decent size-speed combination. He flashed with the Giants during training camp and the preseason in 2014, even earning time with the first-team offense, before being played on Injured Reserve.

Julian Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013 and 2014. Talley spent most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons on the team’s Practice Squad, although he did play in two games each season. He does not yet have an NFL catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.

Juron Criner was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Criner was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him on August 26. In 13 games with the Raiders, Criner has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He is a big receiver with good overall athleticism, but he needs to develop better technique and consistency.

Chris Harper was signed to the Practice Squad in October 2014. Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team but spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

Jan 262015
 


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Odell Beckham Says He Tore His Hamstring Twice in 2014: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham played in the Pro Bowl on Sunday and finished the game with five catches for 89 yards. After the game, Beckham revealed that he tore his right hamstring twice before the 2014 season began. Beckham missed most of training camp, all of the preseason, and the first four games of the regular season. But he finished the season with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (January 25, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Beckham originally hurt his right hamstring during Organized Team Activity (OTA) workouts in the spring. He suffered the second injury in practice during the preseason. Beckham tore the semitendinosus muscle and the hamstring belly.

“Well, I was never really healthy this season anyway,” said Beckham on Sunday. “I was just trying to manage and maintain it the best I could all year.

“It’s still not right. I’m still wrong on it, trying to get it 100 (percent) for next year…I could never really have that last gear that I wanted to have. If you go look at the Colts game and the Philly game, every time I went to break away I was stumbling and tripping, trying to fall over just because my hamstring wasn’t strong enough to maintain all that. That is something I’m working on today and I’ll keep working on throughout the offseason.

“Just make sure you get it full healthy. A hamstring (injury) is something that never really goes away. It’s very hard to get over. I’ll do my best to get it to 100, but if it’s not there, it’s not there.

“I should be good by training camp. The plan is to play at full strength next season, and I definitely hope to do it. I’m just looking forward to getting healthy.”

Video highlights of Beckham’s play are available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Player Q&As: Video of player Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • FB Henry Hynoski (Video)

Article on RB Andre Williams: 2014 Rookie Recap: RB Andre Williams by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Pro Bowl QBs impressed with Beckham Jr. by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Article on S Nat Berhe: 2014 Rookie Recap: Safety Nat Berhe by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on the New York Giants Special Teams: Progress? Giants finish 25th in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Giants.com “Building Blocks” Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the 2007 New York Giants: Giants have fond memories of last Super Bowl in Arizona by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Jan 212015
 
Larry Donnell, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Larry Donnell led Giants tight ends with 63 catches – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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As the New York Giants entered training camp in July 2014, the tight end position appeared to be a pending disaster. The Giants had parted ways with the disappointing Brandon Myers and jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none Bear Pascoe. The only returning players were Larry Donnell (16 games, 3 catches in his two NFL seasons) and Adrien Robinson (3 games, no catches in his two seasons), both of whom had demonstrated very little to date. The Giants had only added Kellen Davis (unrestricted free agent from the Seahawks), Daniel Fells (who was out of football in 2013), and Xavier Grimble (undrafted rookie free agent). Late in training camp, the Giants also signed Jerome Cunningham (who was out of football in 2013).

The only tight ends drafted by the Giants in recent years were the disappointing Travis Beckham (2009 3rd round pick) and Robinson (2012 4th round pick). In free agency, the Giants let Kevin Boss walk in 2012 most likely due to a combination of salary cap and concussion concerns. His replacement Martellus Bennett was a good addition, but he departed in free agency the following offseason in 2013. Bennett’s replacement, Brandon Myers, was clearly a free agent mistake.

Exacerbating the legitimate concern about the lack of headline talent was the adoption by the Giants of new offensive system that would feature the tight end position. In a West Coast Offense, the tight end is a critically important component as a pass receiver. Mini-camp, OTA, and training camp reports confirmed that new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system would not only rely heavily on the tight end, but often employ two- and three-tight end formations. The fullback position was marginalized. And rather than use more three- and four-wide receiver sets, the multiple tight end packages were more prominent. It began took as if McAdoo would not adapt his system to the strengths and weaknesses of the given roster.

So pessimistic were many fans about the prospects for Donnell, Fells, and Robinson that they had penciled in Davis and Grimble as the two most likely to make the team. However, by late August, Davis and Grimble had been cut. Cunningham was cut too but then signed to the Practice Squad. Larry Donnell had won the starting tight end position, followed by #2 tight end Daniel Fells, and #3 tight end Adrien Robinson.

Overall, while the tight end was not a position of strength on the 2014 New York Giants, it certainly was not the mess many had expected. Donnell had a breakout year as a receiver. He finished tied for 9th in the NFL among tight ends in terms of catches (63), 13th in terms of yards (623), and tied for 7th in terms of touchdowns (6). Blocking was not a strength of his game, but Donnell appears to be an ascending player with enough physical talent to get better. Fells proved to be less dynamic, but was more reliable as a blocker. And he did chip in with four touchdowns. Robinson remained buried in last place on the depth chart, but at least he finally saw some playing time and caught his first NFL touchdown.

THE PLAYERS

Larry Donnell went from a little-known player to the team’s primary tight end in 2014, playing in all 16 games with 12 starts. Donnell finished the season with 63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns. Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent 2012 on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest. He finished the season with only three catches for 31 yards. Donnell combines very good size and overall athleticism. A very raw player when he came to the Giants, Donnell is still a work in progress. In the passing game, Donnell is a big target, adjusts well for the football, and is capable of making the circus catch. He needs to do a better job of holding onto the football (four fumbles in 2014) and gaining yards after the catch. While Donnell gives a good effort, he still has a lot of work to do to improve as a blocker.

Daniel Fells was the #2 tight end for the Giants in 2014. He played in all 16 games with nine starts and finished the season with 16 catches for 188 yards and four touchdowns. Fells was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Atlanta Falcons after the 2006 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Falcons, Raiders, Buccaneers, Rams, Broncos, and Patriots. The Giants signed Fells to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Fells has good size and average athletic ability. He is a decent blocker. He does not really threaten defenses as a receiver, but he is reliable.

Adrien Robinson has not developed as hoped since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2014, he was the team’s #3 tight end and played in all 16 games with one start. Robinson only caught five passes for 50 yards on one touchdown. In the previous two seasons, Robinson only played in three games and had no catches. He missed virtually all of the 2013 season with a foot injury he suffered in the preseason. Robinson has a good combination of size and athletic ability, but to date he has been unable to put it all together at the pro level as a blocker and receiver.

Jerome Cunningham was signed to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad in December 2014. Cunningham played college football at Southern Connecticut State University from 2009-2012, but he was not with an NFL team in training camp until August 2014 when the Giants signed him. He did try out with the Indianapolis Colts in May 2013 and Arizona Cardinals in May 2014, but was not signed by either team. Cunningham lacks ideal size for the position; he’s built more like an H-Back. But he is a good athlete who catches the ball well.

Jan 202015
 
Mark Herzlich (58) and Jay Bromley (96), New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Mark Herzlich and Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Giants.com Q&A With DT Jay Bromley: A video of an exclusive Giants.com interview with DT Jay Bromley is available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Q&A With OT Justin Pugh: Know Your Giants: OT Justin Pugh by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Articles on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Salary Cap:

Editorials on Hiring of Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:

Articles on the New York Giants Defense:

Article on the 2014 New York Free Agent Class: Giants free-agent contracts, one year later by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Giants.com Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • RB Andre Williams (Video)
  • OT Justin Pugh (Video)

Article on the 2007 New York Giants: Tedy Bruschi on Super Bowl XLII: Giants were the better team by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Jan 192015
 
John Jerry and J.D. Walton, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Two Shaky Offensive Line Components – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The overall play of the New York Giants offensive line improved in 2014 from its dreadful performance in 2013 but the unit was still sub par. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Pass protection was better as the Giants gave up 30 sacks on the season, which was 9th-best in the NFL. But that figure is a bit misleading given the offense’s new emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly (West Coast Offense) and quarterback Eli Manning’s long-established tendency to get rid of the ball quickly not take the sack, which he probably actually should do more often when under duress.

The improvement that did take place not only had to do with the individual components playing better, but the Giants had greater cohesion up front due to far fewer injuries. In 2013, the Giants used seven different starting offensive line combinations, the second-highest total in the NFL that season. In 2014, the same players started all 16 games at left tackle (Will Beatty), center (J.D. Walton), and right guard (John Jerry). Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and Justin Pugh started 14 games at right tackle. In 2013, not only were the Giants continually shifting players around due to an inordinate number of injuries to starters, but they were sometimes relying on third-stringers as backups were also getting injured.

That all said, it is widely-recognized that the offensive line was once again a sore spot in 2014. The Giants counted on high-priced free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz to be a major building block, but Schwartz only played in two games due to injuries. Chris Snee, who the Giants never really counted on, retired before training camp. Overall, the line is more finesse than power, which usually is not good for any offense, but especially so for one predicated on balance and the ability to run the football.

Another issue is the poor overall depth situation. For years now, the Giants have not had quality up-and-coming reserves waiting in the wings in case the starters faltered or got hurt. Questionable free agent decisions and shoddy drafting have been the primary culprits. Most of the offensive linemen drafted in recent years have not developed, including Mitch Petrus, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, and Eric Herman.

THE STARTERS

Will Beatty, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Will Beatty started all 16 games at left tackle. He rebounded from a terribly inconsistent 2013 and a fractured tibia that he suffered in the regular-season finale at the end of that year to have a mostly positive performance in 2014. Since Beatty was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Giants, Beatty has had issues staying healthy, including a broken foot in 2010, a detached retina in 2011, a back injury that caused him to miss offseason work in 2012, and the broken leg in 2013. Beatty is a big lineman with long arms and a very good athlete. When on top of his game, Beatty can mirror and slide with the best pass rushers, and is athletic enough to pull and engage defenders at the second level in the run game. However, Beatty is more of a finesse player. He does not play with a lot of strength and power and he is not a very physical or aggressive blocker. Beatty still has consistency issues.

The Giants drafted Weston Richburg, a 4-year starter at center in college, in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of his practice reps with the Giants came at guard in training camp and when Geoff Schwartz suffered a preseason toe injury, Richburg became the starter at left guard. He started 15 games at the position, being benched for one game in November. Richburg had an inconsistent year as a rookie as both a run and pass blocker. Richburg is a good athlete with decent size, but he needs to get bigger and stronger. He is not a mauling type of lineman, but he plays with good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. He is smart, tough, and aggressive. His best position is most likely center though he is obviously versatile enough to play guard.

J.D. Walton started all 16 games at center for the Giants in 2014, but his play was sub par. Walton was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He started 32 regular-season games in 2010 and 20011 and the first four games of 2012 until he missed the rest of the season with a severe left ankle injury that required surgery. Walton had a setback on the ankle during the following offseason and underwent a second surgery in June 2013. He missed all of training camp and the preseason and was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Broncos waived him in December 2013 and Walton was then claimed off of waivers by the Redskins. The Giants signed him in March 2014. Walton has average size and athletic ability for a center. He does not generate much movement in his run blocks and can be physically overpowered by bigger, stronger linemen. Walton is a better pass protector but he is vulnerable to powerful or quicker linemen in that area as well. The strength of Walton’s game is his intelligence, scrappiness, and effort. The Giants were comfortable with him making all of the offensive line calls.

John Jerry started all 16 games at right guard for the Giants in 2014. He was a wildly inconsistent player who alternated far too much between solid and poor play. Jerry was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins where he started 45 games in his first four seasons in the NFL. The Giants signed Jerry as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Jerry looks the part with very good size and long arms, and he flashes both as a run and pass blocker. But he simply is not consistently reliable, technique-oriented, and physical enough blocking for both the run and the pass. Simply put, Jerry needs to work harder at keeping his opponent from making the play. He also seemed to struggle at times mentally with recognizing stunts and blitzes in pass protection.

Justin Pugh, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Justin Pugh – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In his second season with the Giants after being drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Justin Pugh regressed a bit and had an inconsistent season at right tackle. Sporting a brace on his left elbow, Pugh struggled in the first half of the season and then missed two games with a quadriceps injury in November. He played much better in the final four games in December. In 2013, Pugh started all 16 games at right tackle and was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team for his performance. Pugh doesn’t look the part as he lacks ideal size and has short arms for a tackle. But he is a good athlete who plays with fine strength, technique, and leverage. Pugh is smart, aggressive, and tenacious. Though not a mauler, he can get movement on his run blocks and he has the agility to do well in pass protection, though he needs to become more consistent in that area. He can pull and block defenders at the second level. Versatile, the Giants think he can play both tackle spots, guard, and possibly even center.

THE INJURED STARTER

In his first season with the Giants, Geoff Schwartz suffered through an injury-plagued season that saw him play in two games at right tackle because of serious toe and ankle injuries that both required surgery. He missed both the first 10 and last four games of the season, ending up on Injured Reserve in December. Schwartz was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He has spent time with the Panthers (2008-10), Vikings (2012), and Chiefs (2013). He signed with the Giants as a free agent in March 2014. Schwartz has excellent size and can maul people as a run blocker. He is very solid in pass protection. Schwartz is versatile – he is able to play guard or right tackle.

THE RESERVES

James Brewer simply has not developed as a player since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. A year after playing in all 16 games with eight starts, Brewer only played in two games in November before being placed on injured reserve in December with a concussion. Brewer has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He can play both tackle and guard spots. However, he has not proven to be a very tough or physical lineman.

Adam Snyder was signed by the Giants in September 2014. He played in four games with one start at left guard in Week 12 before leaving that game with the knee issue that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve in December. Snyder was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. During his career, he’s played eight seasons with the 49ers (2005-11, 2013) and one with the Arizona Cardinals (2012). Snyder is extremely versatile, having starting experience at all five offensive line positions. He has started 88 regular-season games in 10 NFL seasons. However, despite having very good size, Snyder was considered the weak link of the starting units in San Francisco and Arizona in recent years.

Brandon Mosley has not developed since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He missed his entire rookie season with an ankle injury. Mosley was active for 22 games the last two seasons, including nine in 2014. His only start came late in the 2013 season. Mosley has good size and athletic ability. He is also versatile, having experience at both guard and tackle. But on a weak offensive line, he has not been able to gain any serious playing time.

Dallas Reynolds was active as a reserve linemen in 15 games in 2014, but he did not start. Reynolds was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Eagles’ Practice Squad from 2009-11. In 2012, Reynolds played in 16 regular-season games with 14 starts. The Eagles waived him August 2013 and he was signed by the Giants in October of that year. A limited athlete with good size, Reynolds is smart and tries hard. He has experience at both center and guard, but he has struggled when called upon to play.

Eric Herman added to the 53-man roster in December 2014 from the Practice Squad, where he spent the bulk of the season. He was also suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Herman was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He spent most of his rookie season on the Practice Squad until being also added to the roster in December 2013. Herman is a big, strong mauler who struggled with quickness and speed at the collegiate level. Herman needs to develop as a pass blocker in order to make it in the NFL.

Adam Gettis was signed to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014 and he was signed the Steelers’ Practice Squad in October. Gettis lacks ideal size, but he is athletic.

INJURED RESERVE

Rogers Gaines was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in August 2014. Gaines was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Ravens waived him in August 2013. The Bears signed him to their Practice Squad in September 2013. The Giants claimed Rogers Gaines off of waivers from the Chicago Bears in May 2014. Gaines has excellent size and long arms. He is a good athlete for his size. He improved throughout the 2014 preseason at right tackle for the Giants.

Troy Kropog was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a foot injury that he suffered in training camp. Kropog was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2012 and he then spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Vikings (2012-13) and Redskins (2013). The Giants signed Kropog to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Kropog has a decent combination of size and athleticism, and he is a hard worker. Versatile, he can play both tackle and guard. But it hasn’t come together for Kropog at the NFL level and he has never started a regular-season game.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Michael Bamiro was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Bamiro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on the Eagles’ Practice Squad before being waived in August 2014. Bamiro is a very raw player with an intriguing combiation of size (6’8”, 340 pounds) and overall athleticism.