Feb 262015
 
Josh Brown, New York Giants (December 7, 2014)

Josh Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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While there were some bright spots, the special teams of the New York Giants continued to under-perform in many key statistical areas in 2014. Consider the following:

Field Goals: The Giants finished 3rd in the NFL as place kicker Josh Brown converted on 24-of-26 attempts for a 92.3 average. This is all the more remarkable when you consider one of those misses was blocked. Brown also hit all 44 extra point tries. Unfortunately, the only real miss by Brown was a factor in the 1-point loss to Jacksonville in November.

Punting: Steve Weatherford, who was impacted by an early-season ankle injury, finished 16th in the NFL in gross average (45.5 yards per punt) and 22nd in the NFL in net average (40.1 yards per punt). He was middle-of-the-pack with punts in the 20-yard line with 25 and touchbacks with six. The Giants also allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Eagles.

Kickoff Returns: The Giants finished 18th in kickoff returns, averaging 23.3 yards per return. They did not return a kickoff for a touchdown and the longest return was only for 45 yards.

Punt Returns: The Giants finished 19th in punt returns, averaging 7.7 yards per return. They did not return a punt for a touchdown and the longest return was for only 25 yards (which was 26th in the NFL). The Giants were 5th in the NFL in fair catches with 27.

Opposing Kickoff Returns: The Giants were very good at covering kickoffs as opposing teams averaged only 18.3 yards per return (2nd best in the NFL), with a long of 33 yards. Forty-six of Josh Brown’s 82 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks (56 percent).

Ted Ginn, Arizona Cardinals (September 14, 2014)

Ted Ginn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Opposing Punt Returns: The Giants were not as strong covering punts as opposing teams averaged 10.6 yards per return and the Giants allowed a punt return to go 71 yards for a touchdown against the Cardinals. In addition, the Giants finished 23rd in the NFL in opposing fair catches with 17.

With the additions of Trindon Holliday, Quintin Demps, and Odell Beckham, plus the expected return of David Wilson, the return game was supposed to be a strength for the Giants in 2014. However, Holliday missed the bulk of camp with a hamstring injury as was placed on Injured Reserve. David Wilson re-injured his neck in training camp and retired. Beckham kept injuring his hamstring and was not a factor in the punt return game until later in the season. Demps never really flashed on kickoff returns like he did in Kansas City.

The kickoff return game was split among Preston Parker (21 returns, 24.2 yard average), Demps (12 returns, 21.3 yard average), and Michael Cox (11 returns, 23.7 yard average). The punt returns were split between Beckham (21 returns, 11 fair catches, 8.1 yard average), Parker (8 returns, 6 fair catches, 6.6 yard average), and Rueben Randle (no returns, 10 fair catches).

Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (August 18, 2013)

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE KICKERS AND LONG SNAPPER

Steve Weatherford tore ligaments in his left ankle in September and was hobbled with the injury for much of the season. He finished 18th in the NFL in punting average (45.5 yards per punt) and 25th in net punting average (38.6). Twenty-five of Weatherford’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and only six resulted in touchbacks. He did suffer his first blocked punt of his career. Before coming to the Giants, Weatherford played for the Saints (2006-08), Chiefs (2008), Jaguars (2008), and Jets (2009-2010). He is a good directional punter with average length strength.

In his 12th season, Josh Brown had his finest season, making 24-of-26 of his field goals (92.3 percent) with one of the misses being blocked. He made all 44 extra point attempts. And 45 of his 82 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Brown was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Before coming to the Giants as a free agent in 2013, he kicked for the Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2009-11), and Bengals (2012). Brown now owns the Giants records for both single season and career field goal percentage. In his two seasons with the Giants, Brown has succeeded on 47-of-52 field goal attempts (90.4 percent).

Zak DeOssie is one of the NFL’s most consistent and better long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. DeOssie was drafted as a linebacker by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He is now strictly a special teams player. Aside from his long snapping duties, DeOssie also excels in punt coverage.

Feb 252015
 
Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The New York Giants have released running back Peyton Hillis. The 29-year old Hillis played in nine games for the Giants before his season ended due to a serious concussion he suffered in the game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 9. He was placed on Injured Reserve six days later. It was Hillis’ second concussion with the Giants in two seasons.

Hillis finished 2014 with 26 carries for 115 yards and 10 receptions for 87 yards.

Hillis was set to make $870,000 in salary in the final year of his contract and count $945,000 against the team’s 2015 salary cap if he had made the team. By cutting him, the Giants have “saved” that $945,000 against the cap with no “dead” money.

Hillis was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and played for the Browns (2010-11), Chiefs (2012), and Buccaneers (2013) before signing with the Giants in October 2013. He carried the ball 73 times for 247 yards and caught 13 passes for 96 yards in 2013 for the Giants.

Feb 242015
 
Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Thee New York Giants have released Mathias Kiwanuka. The 31-year old defensive end started the first 11 games of the 2014 season, but he was placed on Injured Reserve in December with a knee injury that troubled him much of the year.

Kiwanuka had a disappointing season, finishing with only 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He had one year and $4.775 million in salary left on his current contract and was scheduled to count $7.45 million against the 2015 salary cap. According to OverTheCap.com, the Giants will “save” $4.825 million with $2.625 million in “dead money” by cutting Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka has shifted between defensive end and linebacker ever since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Giants. He primarily played linebacker for the Giants in 2007 and 2010-12, and defensive end in 2006, 2008-09, and 2013-14.

In his nine seasons with the Giants, Kiwanuka played in 120 regular-season games with 82 starts (52 at defensive end and 30 at linebacker). He accrued 412 tackles, 38.5 sacks, intercepted three passes, and forced 12 fumbles. He also won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants.

“Mathias has a warrior mentality,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He has been the ultimate team player for this franchise, and was a true pro from day one.”

“The thing that has always impressed me about Kiwi is how serious he is about the game,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He was always prepared and always in outstanding condition and played very hard. And he had some nasty in him.

“I always felt like you could count on certain things from him: eight-nine sacks, harass the quarterback, and you could move him around, inside, outside. He is dependable, reliable and there is no question about his professionalism.

“I would have to back him off in practice and remind him that we’re not hitting the quarterback. He would always agree and then I’d have to remind him again the next play.

“His character and professionalism and serious approach to the game will be missed.”

With the release of Kiwanuka, there are no defensive players remaining on the Giants from the 2007 Super Bowl team.

Feb 242015
 
Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants (October 21, 2012)

Osi Umenyiora – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who spent 10 years with the New York Giants from 2003-2012, recently told ESPN.com that he would like to retire as a New York Giant. Umenyiora will become an unrestricted free agent in early March.

“It was nearly a third of my life that I was there in New York, and I did a lot of good things there,” Umenyiora said. “As a team, we won some Super Bowls. I was able to go to a couple of Pro Bowls and be like an All-Pro player over there. Unless I’m able to do that somewhere else – which I don’t know how likely that is – then it would only make sense, whenever it is that I retire.

“I’m not going to play another 10 years. I’m not going to play another three years. Whenever it is that I retire, I think it would only make sense for me to do that as a Giant.”

The 33-year old Umenyiora was originally drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In nine seasons (he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury), he played in 129 regular-season games and accrued 376 tackles, 75 sacks, and forced 32 fumbles. Umenyiora has been named All Pro twice (2005 and 2010) and played in two Pro Bowls (2005 and 2007). He also was a key member of two NFL Championship teams for the Giants in 2007 and 2011.

Umenyiora signed with the Falcons in during free agency in 2013. While he played in all 16 games in 2014 for the Falcons, he did not start and finished the season with only 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

“Zero plans to retire at this moment,” said Umenyiora. “I feel like I can still play, No. 1. The way things ended last year, I’m just not going to end my career like that. That’s not going to happen.

“I feel like when put in the right situation and given the opportunity to play, I would still be able to help somebody. I want to end the way it’s supposed to end.

“I think I’ll know exactly when the time (to retire) is right. When you’re physically not able to play anymore, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You have to watch tape and study yourself from when you had good years, when you had not-so-good years. You have to look at your explosion, how you’re playing the game; if you still want to practice. And you have to have enough pride that you’re not going to go out there and embarrass yourself. You don’t want to go out there and look like a fool. I think the league will let you know when you’re done. Ain’t no charity cases being handed out. Either they feel like you can help them or that’s it for you. If you’re unable to play, they’ll tell you because you’re not going to have a job.

“More importantly, I think the league will let you know when you’re done. Ain’t no charity cases being handed out. Either they feel like you can help them or that’s it for you. If you’re unable to play, they’ll tell you because you’re not going to have a job.

“Do I expect to get a look from the Falcons? Absolutely. I think I did the right things when I was there, especially last year. I did and said all the right things, and I’m in great shape. Whether or not they decide to re-sign me, that’s another story. But do I expect them to look into it? I would think so.”

Articles on the New York Giants and Free Agency:

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: An updated list of players visiting with the Giants at the 2015 NFL Combine by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Safeties: Expect Giants to give young safeties a shot by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Feb 232015
 
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Before the season, many had anticipated that the secondary might not only be the strength of the defense, but the strength of the entire team. The Giants had parted ways with long-time contributors such as Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas and had reinforced the unit with free agents Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie (DRC), Walter Thurmond, Quintin Demps, and Zack Bowman. The team also re-signed Trumaine McBride and Stevie Brown. As for those already under contract, Prince Amukamara appeared primed for his best season, Antrel Rolle was coming off his best season, and Will Hill appeared to be a budding star.

But these high expectations soon began to turn to dust. Will Hill failed yet another drug test and was cut in early June. Jayron Hosley also failed a drug test and was suspended for the first month of the season; when he returned, guys signed off the street quickly passed him on the depth chart. Cooper Taylor looked sharp in the preseason but broke his foot in August and was lost for the year. Injuries then struck hard at corner once the regular season began. Nickel corner Walter Thurmond was placed on Injured Reserve after only two games, followed by  Trumaine McBride and Prince Amukamara. The loss of Amukamara – who indeed was having his best season – was particularly a hard pill to swallow. Without two of their top three corners, more pressure was placed on DRC, who was also dealing with a litany of injury issues to the point where he could not play a full game. A year after playing his best season, Rolle may have played his worst, failing to make many impact plays. And Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps were both disappointing at the other safety spot, both losing the starting job to the other at different points of the season. Stevie Brown’s 2012 season – where he led the team with eight interceptions – appears to have been a mirage.

The Giants were quickly left to scramble and made in-season roster moves including signing Chykie Brown, Mike Harris, and Chandler Fenner. Chykie Brown and Harris performed reasonably well given the circumstances, but overall, the secondary failed to fulfill their preseason boasts as one of the best units in the NFL. The Giants finished 18th in the NFL in pass defense.

THE CORNERBACKS

Although Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played in all 16 games, hamstring, back, side, and shoulder injuries limited practice and game snaps for much of the season and impacted his play on the field. Nevertheless, Rodgers-Cromartie remained the team’s most physically-talented defensive back and he often shut down his opponent. Rodgers-Cromartie finished the season with 38 tackles, two interceptions, and 12 pass defenses. Rodgers-Cromartie was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and signed with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Rodgers-Cromartie combines superb size and overall athletic ability, including speed, size, and leaping ability. When motivated and focused, Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better cover corners in the NFL. But he needs to be more consistent, and he s not a very physical player as a hitter or tackler.

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Prince Amukamara was having his best season before being placed on Injured Reserve in November 2014 with a torn biceps muscle. Amukamara started eight games and finished the season with 45 tackles, three interceptions, and 11 pass defenses. Amukamara was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, but his initial season was a virtual wash due to a broken foot that required surgery. Amukamara also battled a high ankle sprain and hamstring injuries in 2012. Amukamara is a well-built corner with good overall athleticism and speed. He usually does a good job of keeping his opponent quiet during a game and he finally started making more plays on the football in 2014. Amukamara flashes in run defense with his hitting and tackling.

Walter Thurmond III was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery after playing in only two games. Thurmond was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. He missed much of the 2011 and 2012 seasons recovering from a broken leg (fibula), playing in only eight regular-season games. In November 2013, he was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. That year he played in 12 regular-season games, with three starts, and finished with 33 tackles, six pass defenses, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. The Giants signed Thurmond as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Thurmond combines decent size with good speed and quickness. Smooth in coverage, Thurmond is considered one of the better slot corners/nickel backs in the NFL. Thurmond obviously has off-the-field concerns.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Trumaine McBride was placed on Injured Reserve in October 2014 after thumb surgery. He finished the 2014 season 21 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 pass defense, and 2 forced fumbles in six games with one start. McBride was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in September 2009. He has also spent time with the Cardinals, Saints, and Jaguars. The Giants signed McBride to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2013. That season, McBride played in 15 games with 10 starts, and he finished the season with 37 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. McBride lacks ideal size and speed, but he plays with good quickness and instincts.

The Giants claimed Chykie Brown off of waivers from the Baltimore Ravens in November 2014. He ended up playing in eight games with four starts and finished the season with 31 tackles and two pass defenses for the Giants. Brown was originally drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In four seasons with the Ravens, Brown played in 46 regular-season games with two starts. Brown has decent size and athletic ability. While he struggled in Baltimore, Brown held his own for the Giants in the final month of the season.

The Giants signed Mike Harris off of the Practice Squad of the Detroit Lions in October 2014. He ended up playing in five games with one start, mainly at slot/nickel corner where he performed at a reasonable level. Harris finished the season with 21 tackles, one interception, and two pass defenses. Harris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In two seasons with Jacksonville, Harris played in 31 games with eight starts. Harris was waived by the Jaguars in August 2014 before signing with the Lions in October. Harris has decent size and athleticism. He is a good tackler and special teams player.

Zack Bowman, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Zack Bowman played in all 16 games with five starts but saw his playing time decrease as the season progressed despite all of the injuries that hit the secondary. He finished the year with 24 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass defenses. Bowman was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Bears. In six seasons with the Bears, Bowman played in 73 regular-season games with 23 starts. The Giants signed Bowman as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Bowman is a big, physical corner who can make plays on the football. He lacks ideal speed and quickness and can be beat deep. Bowman is a good special teams player.

Chandler Fenner was signed to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in October 2014. He played in 11 games, mainly on special teams, and finished the season with seven tackles. Fenner was originally signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but the Seattle Seahawks signed him to their Practice Squad in December 2012. He missed all of 2013 with a knee injury that landed him on Seattle’s Injured Reserve. The Giants signed Chandler Fenner in August 2014. Fenner has a nice combination of size and athleticism and he plays a physical game.

Jayron Hosley has not developed since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He not only received a 4-game suspension for drug use at the start of the season, but he was quickly by-passed on the depth chart by guys signed off of the street when injuries hit the secondary hard. Hosley ended up playing in just six games with two starts. He finished the season with eight tackles and one pass defense. Hosley lacks ideal stature, but he is athletic with good speed and quickness. However, despite his athletic ability, Hosley’s play against the pass actually seems to have deteriorated since being drafted. He has also been very injury prone, missing significant time in both 2012 and 2013.

Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List in October 2014 with cartilage damage knee injury that required microfracture surgery. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. He is a good hitter and tackler. Jackson was a team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.

Josh Victorian was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Victorian was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, he has spent time with the Patriots (2011), Saints (2012), Steelers (2012-13), Texans (2013), and Lions (2014). He has played in 12 NFL games, four for the Steelers with one start in 2012 and eight for the Texans in 2013. Victorian has average size and lacks ideal overall athleticism, but he is a hard working, instinctive football player.

Travis Howard was waived/injured and placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014. Howard was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent some time on the Practice Squad of the Patriots that season before the Giants signed him to their Practice Squad in December 2013. Howard is a physical corner with good ball skills. He has good size and long arms, but lacks ideal speed and quickness. Howard is a good hitter, but he needs to become a more consistent and reliable tackler.

Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE SAFETIES

Despite starting all 16 games, Antrel Rolle did not have the same impact on the playing field that he did in 2013. Rolle finished the season with 87 tackles, three interceptions, nine pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Rolle was steady but did not make many big plays. Rolle was originally drafted as a cornerback in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. After three inconsistent seasons at corner, the Cardinals moved him to free safety in 2008. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move. One of the better coverage safeties in the game, Rolle has good speed and range. Due to his experience as a cornerback, unlike most safeties, Rolle can play man coverage and has often been called upon to play the slot corner position. He is a good tackler and run defender. Rolle has become one of the key leaders of the defense. He also has been very durable, never missing a game in his five seasons with the Giants. Rolle has been voted to the Pro Bowl twice (2009 and 2010) and named All-Pro twice (2010 and 2013). He also played in the 2013 Pro Bowl as a second-alternate.

Stevie Brown played in all 16 games. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks, then regained it for the last five weeks of the season. Brown finished with 38 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders released him in September 2011 and he then spent time with the Panthers and Colts. The Giants signed him in April 2012. Brown had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. He was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2013 after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the preseason. Brown has superb size for a safety, but lacks quickness and range. Despite his size, he does not stand out as a run defender and tackler. Against the pass, Brown lacks range and quickness, and is prone to making mental mistakes. Contrary to 2012, he rarely made plays on the football in 2014.

Quintin Demps, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Quintin Demps – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quintin Demps begain the season as the Giants’ third safety, was promoted to the starting job for half the season, then lost it again the final month of the season. Demps finished the year with 57 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Demps was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has spent time with the Eagles (2008-09), Houston Texans (2010-12), and Chiefs (2013). The Giants signed Demps in March 2014. Demps has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. He’s a frustratingly inconsistent player who flashes play-making ability but also makes too many mistakes in coverage. He does not stand out against the run either.

Nat Berhe, a 5th round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, played in all 16 games. Although he was mainly relegated to special teams, he did see some time on defense and finished the season with 10 tackles. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is a smart, aggressive competitor who plays hard all of the time. In college, Berhe made a ton of tackles against the run, but was not as active in pass defense.

Cooper Taylor was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a semasoid bone issue in his foot that required surgery. Cooper was impressing with his play during training camp and the preseason. Cooper was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. A heart condition caused him to slip in the draft. Taylor has an excellent combination of size and athleticism. Taylor missed six games in 2013 with shoulder and hamstring injuries. He played in 10 games that year, serving almost exclusively on special teams.

Thomas Gordon was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. The team waived Gordon in August, but re-signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Gordon lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and a decent athlete. He is a good run defender who hits and tackles well. He started 38 games at Michigan.

Feb 212015
 
Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

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Jerry Reese Addresses Media at NFL Combine: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese addressed the media on Saturday at the NFL Combine. The video of the media session is available at Giants.com.

Q: You said you saw a couple fast receivers out there – did it bring you back to last year?
A: I am not sure about that, but there were a couple of fast guys out there this morning.

Q: Where were you in the process last year with Odell [Beckham Jr.]? How did that evolve and what did you see from here?
A: We had our pre-[combine] meetings. There are a lot of holes until you do the combine, pro days and the interviews. We talked about him a little bit, just pre-combine.

Q: Did anything here sway you or really define your intentions towards [Beckham]?
A: He was fast and he caught the ball. He really caught the ball nice. We call it arrogant hands. He had that. That caught our attention and he was really fast.

Q: Odell told us at the Pro Bowl that he played the last half of the season with two torn hamstrings. Is that accurate or is that an exaggeration?
A: I don’t know about that. I think he is trying to be a hero. I don’t think he could play with two torn hamstrings and run fast like that.

Q: I assume if he would have had that, you would not have let him play…?
A: I don’t think so. I think our doctors would have caught that.

Q: To clarify, these were [injuries] that happened at the beginning of the year that healed?
A: According to our doctors, it was healed up. He may have gotten fatigued later in the season. I don’t think you can go out there and run like that if you have a couple torn hamstrings.

Q: Where are you with Jason [Pierre-Paul]?
A: We are talking, but that is all I am going to say about that. It really is not appropriate to talk about where we are with respect to that, but we are talking.

Q: Have you had discussions with Eli [Manning] that you could share?
A: It is inappropriate to talk about that, too.

Q: How difficult is it to evaluate these spread quarterbacks who don’t do a lot of the things you are asking them to do at this level?
A: I think it depends, if you have a run-spread, you have seen in this league that the spread offense works. If you are going to run that, then I think you draft those types of guys. If you draft a spread, read-option quarterback and ask him to drop back and read defenses, I think it would be difficult for him. He would have to – it would be a big learning curve, I think.

Q: How would you describe the balance of risk/reward with guys putting up great numbers at the combine to knowing if that is going to translate to being a great football player?
A: With us, like most teams, it is what you do on the field. [That] weighs the most when you are evaluating a player. You just fill in some holes and some of the blanks with the running and things they do at the combine, [such as] the interviews. What they do on the field carries the most weight with us.

Q: I know you don’t want to say specifically what is going on with JPP, but in the past when you have used the franchise-tag, it has been a way to buy time for a long-term negotiation. Do you have any philosophy with allowing that player to be on the tag all year long, even if it [takes up] a lot of cap space?
A: I am not going to talk about that. We are just going to keep our options open with respect to that. Sorry about that.

Q: How much healthier are you guys in regards to cap space than you have been the last couple of years?
A: I think we are in pretty good health. We are headed in the right direction with respect to the cap.

Q: Is it a concern to you at all with how that money gets distributed?
A: I think we will be able to do what we need to do. I think we will have enough money to do what we need to do in the offseason, as far as free agency goes and whatever we decide to do with the other guys.

Q: Do you take a look at [Marcus] Mariota just in case he winds up in your division?
A: We look at everybody.

Q: Do you look at specific players and say we may have to face them, so do you look at them with a different eye that way?
A: We are evaluating him if he is there when we pick at nine. We are evaluating him for that, not necessarily if he is going to be in our division or something like that. We are evaluating him as a prospect right now.

Q: Have the changes to the conduct policy changed the way you guys evaluate off the field concerns? Have you noticed any change in that regard?
A: We always try to weigh the options of what a guy’s off the field issues are. Sometimes we have taken chances on some guys who have had some issues. We have taken guys like that. You have to weigh the options.

Q: Now they come in with a strike against them because of the new policy… Does that change the way you weigh that?
A: I say this all the time; if a guy has a blotter of things, they usually don’t change that. Again, these kids are really young and they make some bad decisions. You can’t kill these guys, 18,19, 20-year old kids for decisions they make.

Q: How do you look at this year’s draft and where do you see more depth than possibly other positions?
A: There are good players in this draft all over the place. I don’t really have one position that is deeper than the other.

Q: How do you assess your offensive line going into the offseason now and the possibility of moving [Weston] Richburg and [Justin] Pugh around?
A: We are going to continue to build our offensive line just like we are going to do every position. I think we still have some work to do there. We are going to continue to try and build our offensive line.

Q: When you look at Richburg, do you see him as a center? Coach [Coughlin] said the other day that he is going to compete for center…?
A: He played center in college. We had some injuries early on, so we put him in there at guard. He really didn’t get a chance to compete for the job. He will get a chance to compete for the center job.

Q: Getting back to the issue of prospects with character questions – because of the fact now they are trained on how to answer questions, I s it getting more difficult to judge the sincerity of these kids?
A: They are really good. We had interviews the last couple of nights. They are well-versed in what they want to say. It is a little tougher right now. We have some crafty questions that we can get the right answers.

Q: Do you have every intention of having Jon Beason as your middle linebacker next year?
A: Jon is under contract. We will see where that goes, but he is under contract.

Q: What do you see from the kid from Washington, [Shaq] Thompson?
A: He is a good player. He is versatile. I think he has played a lot of different positions. He has played linebacker, he has played some safety and some running back. He is a Swiss Army knife-type of guy.

Q: Do you envision him in the NFL at one of those positions?
A: I think the more you can do in this league, I think whoever takes him, he will have a chance to play any of those positions.

Q: If you think back to this time last year, could you have known what you were getting with Odell?
A: We thought he was a good player, we really did. We thought he was a terrific player and he obviously had the injuries early on and everyone was down on him a little bit. We tried to put him back in there a little too soon. With those hamstrings, you just have to rest them and let them heal.

Q: When you are picking in the top-10, does it change anything [because] it is obviously more of an investment with that guy?
A: If you are picking in the top 10 or the top 12, you should be getting… That is how the system is built. You should be getting better players. If you are picking last, the players are not the same quality as the first 10 or 12 players. If you are picking high in the draft, you should get better players.

Q: Does that increase the pressure on you and your staff to not make a mistake picking a guy up that high?
A: No, we work hard on the ninth player just like we would the 32nd player. We work hard on it.

Q: How do view it after picking a receiver last year picking ninth and the potential to go back to that position… Do the odds of that happening decrease because you went in that direction last year?
A: Best player available. We will take the best player on the board.

Q: It is obviously a quarterback driven league… Do you get calls about Ryan [Nassib]?
A: I can’t talk about that. That is inappropriate to talk about that. I can’t speak about that.

Q: How do you feel about the safety position going into next year?
A: I think we are going to try to upgrade that position just like all the other positions. We are going to try to upgrade every position as we go. Free agency, the draft, we will try to upgrade very position.

Q: Do you view [Cooper Taylor] and [Nat Berhe] as guys who could step in there as starters?
A: They are going to get a chance to compete. Cooper, obviously, needs to stay healthy. I think both of those guys will get a chance to compete at that position.

Q: What did you learn from having the draft a little later in regards to how you adjusted your schedule?
A: I think with the schedule you have a little bit more time. If you are out of the playoffs, you have a little bit more time to start your evaluation process. We are working hard like we always were.

Q: The receiving position is not a huge need if Victor Cruz is back and healthy… Where is he in his rehab and how much can you count on him being the old Victor Cruz?
A: When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket. Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.

Q: Do you have to plan for a plan B with another receiver just in case?
A: We will upgrade receiver. We will try to upgrade that spot as well. If Victor is back and Odell and Rueben [Randle], that is a pretty good core. There are a couple of other guys [such as] [Preston] Parker, there are some more names, [Corey] Washington and there are some young guys. If there is a good receiver, we will draft him.

Q: After the season ended some of your guys stuck around and kept going as if they were in the playoffs, as it might be a benefit next year… Do you see that as a benefit?
A: It is good to see the guys hungry and want to get right into the offseason and start working. We want to be in the postseason, so to see some of those guys hang around, it shows me what kind of dedication they have and how hungry they are to get back into the playoffs. We like that. Obviously there are some rules now with the offseason program with what they can do with the coaches, but some individual stuff they can do on their own – we have had a lot of guys in there.

Q: How much of a priority is it for you guys to fill a role of what David Wilson was going to give you?
A: He is a little different. We have some big bangers. David was a fast, quick guy who could catch the ball out of the backfield and return kicks. When you lose that dynamic type player, I t stings a little bit, but it is football and we will try to replace that position.

Q: How do you feel Ryan Nassib is progressing?
A: I think Ryan has done a nice job. I think if Eli got dinged up in some kind of way during the season, I think he could jump in there and help us win games. I think he has done a nice job. He prepares himself as if he is going to play, so he has done a nice job.

Q: Rueben has had some ups and downs throughout his career… How do you feel about him and how comfortable with him are you right now?
A: I think Rueben gets banged on a lot. Sometimes he should get banged on, but I think he gets banged on sometimes a little too much. I think he is a good, young player and all he needs are some chances. With Odell and Victor, I think he will get plenty of chances.

10 things we learned from GM Jerry Reese by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Giants.com Interview with Giants Officials: Video clips of interviews with the following New York Giants officials at the NFL Combine are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • Executive Scout Steve Verderosa (Video)
  • Scout Chris Pettit (Video)

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Giants have no choice but to slap franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Feb 212015
 
Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Giants and Jason Pierre-Paul Have Not Talked Contract: According to NJ.com and ESPN.com, the New York Giants and representatives of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul have not begun talking about a new contract. Pierre-Paul is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10 (players can actually begin talking to new teams on March 7).

Media speculation continues that the Giants will designate Pierre-Paul the team’s Franchise player, which the Giants can do during a two-week period from February 16 to March 2. By doing so, Pierre-Paul is all but certain to remain a Giants through the 2015 NFL season. He could play out the year on the near $15 million tender or still possibly sign a long-term deal.

“We are convinced that we want (Pierre-Paul) back, without a doubt,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Thursday. “There has been a lot of different discussions, and hopefully he is going to remain a Giant…The goal is for him to be a Giant and play as a Giant forever, and retire as a Giant. How that works out is another issue.”

Free Agent Rumors: According to ESPN.com, the New York Giants have expressed interest in re-signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agents cornerback Walter Thurmond and defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

ESPN.com is also reporting that soon-to-be unrestricted free agent safety Antrel Rolle is looking for a bigger contract than the Giants are willing to offer.

“Certainly we would like him to come back. Obviously we do have financial restrictions involved,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin of Rolle on Thursday.

Salary Cap Expected to Be Near $143-145 Million: According to press reports, the 2015 NFL salary cap is expected to be near $143-145 million, which would be a $10-12 million increase over the 2014 NFL salary cap.

Article on the New York Giants and the NFL Combine: An updated list of players visiting with the Giants at the 2015 NFL Combine by Nick Powell for NJ.com

BBI on CBS Sports Radio (940 AM) on Sunday: BBI’s owner Eric Kennedy will be on CBS Sports Radio’s GameFace this Sunday at 9:20 AM on 940 AM in the NY/CT market and on www.940sportsradio.com. GameFace is America’s longest running, year round, NFL radio show.

Feb 192015
 
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (February 19, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Tom Coughlin Addresses Media at NFL Combine: New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin addressed the media on Thursday at the NFL Combine. The video of the media session is available at Giants.com.

Q: Andre Williams got to play more towards the end of the season… Where does he excel and what role has he carved out for himself?
A: We have actually used him in all capacities. He is an outstanding runner, so first and second down back, for sure. He has done a good job of learning protections. He caught the ball much better than anybody gave him credit for. Hopefully he is rounding into a guy who can be used for any and all situations.

Q: In the decades you have been in the league, how much has the vetting process changed from when you started coaching to now?
A: It is what it is, as they say. You are aware of everything. The NFL policies have changed. They have gotten more rigid and strict. You are just trying to be sure that there is a great awareness on the part of the people you entertain thoughts about bringing into your program. You are advised that to make sure when you are in a place like this that the conduct policy is understood by the players. That is the way it should be. Has it changed? It changes with the times. We are a microcosm of society. We have our problems just like everyone else, and hopefully we will be able to help educate our people what is not acceptable. There have been changes, for sure.

Q: One of the big decisions you are facing is about Jason Pierre-Paul… Has any decision been made about the franchise tag and are you convinced that he will be back with you guys in 2015?
A: We are convinced that we want him back, without a doubt. There has been a lot of different discussions, and hopefully he is going to remain a Giant.

Q: Is the goal to get something done long-term with [Pierre-Paul]?
A: The goal is for him to be a Giant and play as a Giant forever, and retire as a Giant. How that works out is another issue.

Q: With Victor Cruz coming back and Odell Beckham Jr.’s burst onto the scene… How do you see Cruz affecting Beckham?
A: Two very, very talented individuals, two guys that have been extremely productive. Obviously the more weapons you have, the better the opportunities are. The only thing any of these guys are interested in is winning. That is all we talk about. The complementing each other, complementing our team, helping our team win – that is what it is all about.

Q: How is Victor Cruz’s knee now?
A: He has worked very hard. He looks good. It is a very regimented rehabilitation program. He has done a good job with it. He is where he should be. I think very shortly he is going to start running.

Q: In what ways is [Defensive Coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo a different coach than he was when he was with you before?
A: I don’t know if he is a different coach at all. I think he is a very personable young man. He is very sincere. He is very interested in the people that he works with, the players and the coaches. He is sincere about that. He has had the benefit of being in a couple different programs now. He has run, as a head coach, a football team in St. Louis, as you know. He has been with New Orleans. He has been with Baltimore. His last stop with [Baltimore Head Coach] John Harbaugh was a very good one, a very great experience for Steve. [It] widened his knowledge, his capacity, the broadening of his own thoughts in terms of how he would defend. He has definitely really learned from his experiences, and that is going to benefit our football team.

Q: On a base level, is [Spagnuolo’s] defense going to be what it was for those two years when he was in New York?
A: I wouldn’t be that simple. It will be more sophisticated. There will be more to it. There are areas on our football team, situationally, that have to improve. I don’t know to the naked eye if you will see a whole lot of difference in that regard. I am hoping the production will be a lot different.

Q: You signed your extension around this time last year… Are you going to work on another deal with the Giants?
A: I think that part of it is underway. Hopefully shortly you have some information about that.

Q: Do you have a preferred position for Weston Richburg?
A: He is a center.

Q: Is he going to be a center for you next year?
A: He will have every opportunity to compete.

Q: What was the evaluation of Larry Donnell after the season?
A: He has been very, very productive in one area. I think he has learned an awful lot about what it is to play in this league over an extended period of time. The entire season, the ups and the downs, I think he realizes he physically has to do a better job of preparing himself. We would like him to be a little bit better blocker. He has had huge games as a receiver and does complement a lot of what we are doing and continues to improve and get better in that regard.

Q: You said shortly there would be some news; there has been some talk about you coaching out the last year of your deal… Does that mean you are negotiating a new deal?
A: I am not going to say anything about that. In a short amount of time you will find out about that. You will discover what is going on. I don’t think it is any big mystery. You don’t have to be overly concerned about it being secretive. There is nothing to it, really.

Q: Is that something you wanted, that you needed to move forward, to have some security to move forward here?
A: Security, security? Thank you very much. There are 32 guys that coach one year at a time, I don’t care how many years you have on your contract.

Q: It would be financial security… How important to you is that moving forward?
A: The important thing is to be the head coach of the Giants, and everything else will take care of itself.

Q: Jermaine Kearse’s catch [in the Super Bowl] brought back a lot of painful memories for Patriots fans… Did it rekindle fonder memories for you of Super Bowl 42?
A: [Super Bowl] 42 it did. I thought it related to 42, not 46. I thought the play in 46 was one the finest precision, executed plays you will ever see. The pass, the catch, the whole business. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the execution of that particular play at this level. The two comparable plays are [from Super Bowls] 49 and 42.

Q: What are your memories of the first few combines you went to and how different are they now?
A: There is an awful lot that has changed from the very first ones that I can remember attending – I can remember being in New Orleans with a registry of all the position players that you had to look at. There was literally a film bank that we utilized at first, but in coming here, it has gotten better every year. Certainly the ability to be more efficient is trying to be done as well. There are an awful lot of things that have to be accomplished in a short amount of time, let’s put it that way.

Q: What did it come down to for you in regards to the changes made to the defensive staff?
A: That is going to remain my thoughts on why. I just thought change was necessary.

Q: [Spagnuolo’s] best defenses had Osi [Umenyiora], Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan revolving around… Even if you bring back Pierre-Paul, do you need more pass rushers to really make his defense work?
A: You are always trying to be better. We certainly do believe that would be a great addition, along with some other things, as well.

Q: You also have Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore – Is there a belief that you have potential on the roster?
A: I think so, but we would like to add to that potential as well.

Q: Where is bringing back Antrel Rolle on your priority list?
A: He is an outstanding young man and, to be honest with you, I have never come across a player that was more interested in his team and trying to help his team get better in any way he could. I think countless Tuesdays Antrel was in my office with [questions about] how we can get better, what can we do to get better. Just thoughts going back and forth between coach and player in terms of how our team could improve. I don’t think I have ever been involved with a player who was more sincerely interested in how his team could improve. I admire that very much in him as a young man and a leader. Certainly we would like him to come back. Obviously we do have financial restrictions involved.

Q: What is your evaluation on the development of Ryan Nassib?
A: Ryan has gotten better. If you studied our preseason, there was no doubt that he improved. I see him continuing to improve. He is a guy that works very hard below the surface and behind the scenes. He is in the weight room right now, all the time, pretty much four or five days a week. He studies on his own. He is very, very serious about being an outstanding football player and he is willing to pay the price to do it.

Q: Do you believe [Nassib] can be a starter at some point?
A: I do.

Q: How much has [Offensive Coordinator] Ben McAdoo grown into his role?
A: I think anytime you are cast into that role for the first time there are obvious learning experiences that you go through. The offense, let’s talk about the offense, I thought from the second half of the season on we got better. Of course the last couple of ball games, we had some good numbers. I think that therein gives us hope for the future.

Q: Where were you at this point last year with Odell Beckham? What did you know about him coming into the Combine?
A: You learn a lot more about people here. For me, it is the first opportunity to sit and talk with the player. You learn from that as well. It is a process. It is ongoing. This is a big part of it.

Q: How much did you know about him as a player just on the film?
A: Just that much information. Just a little bit of information coming in, not a lot. I hadn’t maybe done my own research yet.

Q: What about the story of Odell knowing Eli Manning from going to the same high school and passing camp… Did you guys tap into Eli Manning for some information?
A: Not really. You are going to make your own observations. Obviously, that human interest with the same school was an attractive thing. It took a while to even realize that. The evaluation process is totally about the young man.

Q: What do the proliferations of these very specific pre-draft and pre-combine training facilities where the guys are training specifically for the drills – How at all does that affect the evaluation process?
A: You have total knowledge that they are well groomed, if you will, in the drills that are going to be run. Therefore you are not that surprised when they do well in them. The differences are still there. The times are different. The execution of the drills are different. All of those things are recorded and compared.

Q: Does it make you more leery of the so-called workout warriors?
A: I think the final analysis comes from the quality of the player and the evaluation on the tape.

Q: Have any decisions been made regarding Mathias Kiwanuka’s future yet?
A: I don’t know that is has been finalized. I don’t know that any particular decision has been made along those lines.

Q: How is he doing physically?
A: He is working his way back, I think.

Q: Re: Kiwanuka coming back?
A: I wouldn’t answer that right now.

Q: What is the learning curve like in defending the Eagles attack under Chip Kelly?
A: Every day is a new day in that regard.

Articles on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft:

Feb 192015
 
Hakeem Nicks, Jerrel Jernigan, and Dallas Reynolds; New York Giants (December 29, 2013)

Hakeem Nicks, Jerrel Jernigan, and Dallas Reynolds – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants Re-Sign Offensive Lineman Dallas Reynolds: According to various press reports, the New York Giants have re-signed offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds to a 1-year contract. Reynolds, who has experience at both center and guard, was scheduled to become a restricted free agent in early March.

Reynolds was active as a reserve linemen in 15 games for the Giants 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 with Philadelphia. The Eagles waived him August 2013 and he was signed by the Giants in October of that year.

Because of this move, we have updated the Transactions and 2015 New York Giants Free Agency Scorecard sections of the website.

Feb 172015
 
Kevin Ogletree, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Kevin Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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FOX Sports is reporting that the New York Giants have re-signed wide receiver Kevin Ogletree to a 1-year contract. Ogletree was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next month.

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 last year and the Giants then signed him in October.

He played in seven games with the Giants, but only caught five passes for 50 yards. 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.

For a complete listing of New York Giants free agents, see the 2015 Free Agent Scorecard.

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