Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

Jul 242014
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Tom Coughlin held a shortened practice. But why?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants tried something a bit different in the team’s third training camp practice.

When the team first gathered on Monday, three players were carted off of the field due to heat-related issues. As a counter, New York held a ‘water break’ 15 minutes into yesterday’s two-minute drill.

Today, there was no water break. Instead, a shortened and rep-reduced practice followed by an extended post-practice stretch.

Why? Because the “GPS” told them to.

“That was a recovery stretch,” Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said after practice. “Again, trying to enhance this soft muscle business.”

On the back of each of the Giants’ players sits a ‘GPS’ tracking device. The device registers how far each player runs, how fast and a player’s heart rate. It can even measure every step a player takes during the practice’s duration.

After studying the readings from the past two days, it was suggested that the Giants have a lighter practice. Instead of going for the normal two hour duration, camp broke after roughly an hour.

Then, the team stretched for thirty minutes. Coaches included.

“The GPS information tries to help us structure the practice and let us know when we should be doing things like this,” Coughlin said. “The purpose is to come back and have a full-speed practice tomorrow.”

While the device seems to be working, the question now remains how Coughlin is understanding all of it. When Chris Snee retired, the 67-year-old coach talked about how he “group texts” his family. Yesterday, he mentioned how understanding the Giants’ new offense was like “learning a foreign language.”

Group texting and language memorization is one thing, but GPS health navigation?

“I’m doing the best I can,” Coughlin said with a smile.

Jul 242014
 
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Marcus Harris, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Where does Marcus Harris stand on the Giants’ unofficial depth chart? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants released their first ‘unofficial’ depth chart of training camp. Please note, this is ‘unofficial’.

Below you will find the depth chart the team has released:

OFFENSE
QUARTERBACK:
Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib, Curtis Painter

RUNNING BACK:
Rashad Jennings, David Wilson, Peyton Hillis, Andre Williams, Kendall Gaskins, Michael Cox

FULLBACK:
Henry Hynoski, John Conner

RECEIVER 1:
Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr, Mario Manningham, Trindon Holliday, Marcus Harris, Travis Harvey

RECEIVER: 2
Victor Cruz, Jerrel Jernigan, Preston Parker, Corey Washington

TIGHT END:
Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Xavier Grimble, Kellen Davis, Adrien Robinson

LEFT TACKLE:
William Beatty, Charles Brown, James Brewer, Roger Gaines

LEFT GUARD:
Geoff Schwartz, Dallas Reynolds, Jamaal Johnson-Webb

CENTER:
J.D. Walton, Weston Richburg, Eric Herman

RIGHT GUARD:
Brandon Mosley, John Jerry, John Sullen

RIGHT TACKLE:
Justin Pugh, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love

 

DEFENSE:
Left DEFENSIVE END:
Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers Jr., Kerry Wynn, Jordan Stanton

LEFT DEFENSIVE TACKLE:
Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, Jay Bromley

RIGHT DEFENSIVE TACKLE:
Mike Patterson, Marcus Kuhn, Kelcy Quarles, Everett Dawkins

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END:
Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore, Kendrick Adams, Emmanuel Dieke

STRONG OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:
Devon Kennard, Dan Fox, Spencer Adkins

MIDDLE LINEBACKER:
Jameel McClain, Mark Herzlich, Terrell Manning, John Beason (PUP)

WEAK OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:
Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, Justin Anderson

LEFT CORNERBACK:
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, Zack Bowman, Travis Howard

STRONG SAFETY:
Antrel Rolle, Cooper Taylor, Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett

FREE SAFETY:
Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps, Thomas Gordon, Kyle Sebetic

RIGHT CORNERBACK:
Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond III, Jayron Hosley, Charles James II, Bennett Jackson

 

SPECIAL TEAMS:
PUNTER:
Steve Weatherford

HOLDER:
Steve Weatherford

KICKER:
Josh Brown, Brandon McManus

LONG SNAPPER:
Zak DeOssie

KICK RETURNER:
Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, David Wilson, PReston Parker, Jerrel Jernigan

PUNT RETURNER:
Trindon Holliday, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Preston Parker, David Wilson

Jul 232014
 
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Ryan Nassib and Andre Williams, New York Giants (July 23, 2014)

Ryan Nassib and Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Andre Williams can’t keep the smile from spreading across his face when thinking about the start of his football career.

Before he was drafted by the New York Giants, led the nation in rushing at Boston College or dominated under the ‘Friday Night Lights’ of two high schools, there was a different field Williams stepped on.

There would be a phone call to friends — Freddy, Dorsey and Alex — before exiting the back door and stepping onto the grass of his yard. Someone would bring a football and hand it to another. Then? Well, things got interesting.

“Kill the man with the ball,” Williams said, laughing.

And little Andre always won.

Since his days running through friends under the sun in Kennesaw, Georgia, Williams has molded himself into the Giants’ own big bruising Andre the Giant. But during the early portions of his career, Williams resembled very little of the 5-11, 230-pound back the Giants selected in the fourth round this year’s draft.

Williams was always one of the ‘taller’ kids growing up, but bulky he was not. Williams described himself as ‘lanky,’ mentioning the long arms that often made him look awkward. But in the backyard, his weight meant nothing. Quickly, Williams found a way to make sure he’d never let a friend beat him in the backyard antics.

“I used to get my momentum up to the point where it would be really hard to stop me,” Williams said. “I used to explode on contact. That was really the most fun for me. I was trying to build that and shape it into something that I could use to my advantage.”

Andre Williams, Boston College Eagles (November 23, 2013)

Andre Williams led the nation in rushing last year– © USA TODAY Sports Images

Williams transitioned from the backyard to the backfield in sixth grade, but his career nearly ended before it began. At two years old, a car struck the New York native. Williams’ mother, Lancelene, forbid her son to play anymore, fearing contact sports “weren’t really for” Williams.

Williams’ response? His little brother.

“She was letting my little brother play flag football,” Williams said. “She just kinda thought, ‘I can’t let him play football and not his older brother.’ So I started playing again.”

While Williams displayed potential on the field, he never truly took the sport seriously, partially because of lack of team success. Sure, he was scoring, but the team wasn’t winning.

Then he began school at Harrison High School, played with better players and coaches introduced him to the weight room. Suddenly, everything changed.

“Those lifting programs, it was like a college program,” Williams said. “I saw football and what it was as a team sport and how raw talent could develop into something that could contribute to something bigger. It started becoming a lot of fun.”

Williams played two seasons at Harrison before moving to Allentown, Pennsylvania. As a junior, he committed to Boston College. BC gave Williams both the chance to play early, and the ability to stay close to his mom.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (May 31, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Over the ensuing four years, Williams saw his production increase each season. As a senior, the 22-year-old rushed for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns. Williams was a Heisman Trophy finalist and holds the school record for rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns.

Despite all his accolades, scouts questioned Williams’ ability to play at the next level. Sure, he could run the ball. But could he catch? In four years, Williams recorded just eight receptions. None his senior year.

Williams says the lack of catches isn’t for lack of ability, but rather opportunity. At Boston College, running backs weren’t required to catch the ball. Now, he’s looking to make up for lost time.

“I’ve been catching a lot of balls in the offseason,” Williams said. “Just in terms of being able to build confidence in my ability to catch the ball and what steps are necessary in order to catch the ball.”

During training camp, Williams has flashed multiple times. He’s shown an extra gear and ability to move with the ball in his hands. But also, that that time spent catching is paying off.

In the Giants’ first practice, Williams made an impressive grab out of the backfield. He’s turning heads. And the right ones, too.

“He’s become more than a one-dimensional back,” Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said. “He certainly wasn’t used that way at BC, but he’s demonstrated the ability to do that. He also hits that button and he can go.”

For Williams, he’s just looking to improve. Be that as a pass blocker, receiver or runner. As for motivation, he’s his own.

“I actually made it to the professional level. Professional football,” Williams said. “Now I have an opportunity to explore what that means for me. What am I going to develop into? What am I going to look like against the best of the best?

“That’s my motivation. To continue to sharpen myself and be the best back that he can be.”

Jul 232014
 
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New York Giants Linebackers (July 23, 2014)

New York Giants Linebackers – Photo by Connor Hughes

JULY 23, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT… Practice No. 2 is officially in the books for the New York Giants. It came and went without a single player being carted off the field…seriously! Below you will find a few quick hits and observations from the day’s events. Remember, this report focuses strictly on the on-field aspect of practice. Click here for updates on William Beatty and Jameel McClain, along with here for news on the re-injured Odell Beckham Jr.

SETTING THE STAGE… As will be the case with each practice, we’ll set the stage with some key facts before diving into the report. Basically, throw at you what we know is on your mind:

  • Unlike yesterday, not one player was carted back to the locker room. This could be because Tom Coughlin gave his team a ‘water break’ midway through practice. During the two-minute drill, Coughlin sent everyone back to the field house. Coughlin didn’t credit this for the lack of heat-related injuries, but it couldn’t have hurt.
  • It was a hot, hot one.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
Yesterday, the team worked on punt returns. Today it was kickoff returns. At different points throughout practice, the Giants worked on field goals, coverage and kick returns.

  • Brandon McManus, Temple Owls (September 8, 2012)

    Brandon McManus – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    The Giants worked through a couple different guys at kick return. Jerrel Jernigan, David Wilson, Corey Washington, Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps all got reps at some point or another. It looked as if it was Demps first, followed by Holliday and Wilson.

  • Wilson’s agility was again on display. During a drill focused primarily on kickoff coverage, Wilson returned the kick as gunners ran at him. He bobbed, weaved, juked and cut his way throughout the incoming defenders with ease. He can be deadly with the ball in space.
  • Some notable names on the Giants return unit: John  Conner and Henry Hynoski were both featured as up-men.
  • Notable names on kick-off coverage unit: Walter Thurmond III, Devon Kennard, Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams, and Bennett Jackson.

THE DEFENSE…
After spending most of my time with the offense yesterday, I turned my attention to the defense today during the individual portion of practice. In particular, I focused on the linebackers.

  • The linebackers performed a drill where they set up just a few feet from a blocking sled. On the coaches command, the backers looped around and exploded into the bag, extending their arms and shedding the bag. The drill itself wasn’t that impressive; the strength displayed by both Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard was. Both players made the bag (which is not light) look like a rag doll. Kennard nearly threw the thing on its side. Really impressive display of strength.
  • The more I watch Kennard, the more I’m amazed at how much faith the coaching staff is giving the rookie. It’s rare that first round picks get this much attention, but a fifth? Kennard ran with the one’s in McClain’s absence in the middle after running with the one’s at SAM yesterday. It’s a lot to throw at one player, but Kennard is handling it remarkably well.
  • McClain took part in this portion of the drill, but struggled a bit. He exploded, but not with much strength. It could be he couldn’t drive off of his foot.
  • The defense then came together and practiced a bit more of its three-safety package. The safeties remained the same in Quintin Demps, Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown, but the linebackers were a little different. Spencer Paysinger joined Devon Kennard while Jacquian Williams practiced with the two’s opposite Mark Herzlich.

TWO-MINUTE, 11-On-11…
As has been the case throughout the entire offseason, after positional drills, the Giants come together for a full-team two-minute drill. One interesting note here, Newsday’s Tom Rock made a very poignant observation on the timing between snaps:

It seemed as if the Giants were moving at a much more constant pace. Now its confirmed. The offense is definitely up-tempo and should only get faster as camp progresses.

  • Yesterday, Charles Brown opened as the team’s starting LT and Will Beatty relieved him. Today, it was Beatty first out of the gate.  Brandon Mosley got the first reps at guard.
  • Linebackers with McClain absent: Jacquian Williams, Devon Kennard and Spencer Paysinger.
  • Eli Manning missed a few passes today that were head-scratchers. It’s early in camp and he’s still looking to get on the same page with his wide outs, but it was noticeable. Manning overshot Victor Cruz over the middle, missed Rueben Randle on an in-route and Trindon Holliday on a deep pass.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had blanket coverage on an out-route by Jerrel Jernigan. He jumped in front of the play and batted down the ball.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul exploded off of the ball, but William Beatty handled him well. Beatty extended his hands with power and knocked Pierre-Paul off balance. The play gave Manning enough time to launch one down the field. Although, Manning’s pass did fall incomplete.
  • With Odell Beckham Jr. out, Mario Manningham, Marcus Harris and Corey Washington were your second-team wide receivers.
  • The tight ends were a lot more active today than yesterday. Adrien Robinson made a few impressive grabs, including one on an rollout where he was wide open. Larry Donnell caught one down the seam. Much better showing from the group.
  • My pick for a player that is going to surprise some people is Andre Williams. The rookie continues to look very, very good and flashed again today. Williams scored on a stretch run that had his teammates ooh-ing and ah-ing at a cut. He has incredible speed once he gets to the second level and also runs with power. If he can learn to catch, he may be the complete package.
  • We’ve been seeing a lot of motion from the tight ends. One particular play stood out where the Giants brought Larry Donnell from the slot and motioned him to the fullback position. The team then ran behind Donnell. The more I take note, the more I realize how often the tight end lines up at fullback for the Giants.
  • As referenced above, Manning missed an open Trindon Holliday on a streak route. Holliday ran right past Walter Thurmond, but Manning couldn’t get him the ball.
  • Mario Manningham sighting. The wideout made a nice grab over the middle from Manning.
  • The Giants offense looked to be getting in a pretty good rhythm after Manning hit Adrien Robinson and Mario Manningham in back-to-back passes. Then James Brewer jumped offsides. Not good from one who appears to be on the roster bubble.
  • Mike Patterson continues to take every single rep with the first-team defense. A lot of people expect that spot to belong to Jonathan Hankins. I’m not so sure. It looks like it’s Patterson’s to lose and he’s done nothing to have it taken from him.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

7-On-7…
After some special teams and field goal work (see above), the Giants went to a 7-on-7 drill. For those that don’t know, the drill works the receivers/tight ends/running backs versus the linebackers/corners/safeties.

  • The first tight ends used were Adrien Robinson and Daniel Fells. Those two seem to be coming on the field a lot together.
  • David Wilson caught a couple of passes out of the backfield and looks good as a receiver. If he can learn to block, he could be an excellent third-down back.
  • Trindon Holliday dropped a curl route.
  • Jacquian Williams made a great defensive play on a slant to Jerrel Jernigan. Jernigan got his hands on it but Williams instantly ripped the ball out.
  • The tight ends stood out pretty well here, too. Adrien Robinson made a really nice grab on a deep curl when split out wide, beating Bennett Jackson. He had a good practice.

11-ON-11, FULL-TEAM… 
Maybe the team is tired, but once again today there wasn’t much excitement from the 11-on-11′s to close practice. Either way, here are a few notes.

  • Two tight ends started on the field at once for the Giants: Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson.
  • There was a pretty nice catch from Rueben Randle on a come-back route. He fooled Prince Amukamara pretty bad. Randle has had two nice practices and has caught every catchable ball thrown his way.
  • Yesterday, John Conner got the first reps at fullback; today it was Henry Hynoski. I saw a few running plays today with a tight end in the backfield.
  • David Wilson made Devon Kennard look silly on a swing route. Wilson juked Kennard out of his shoes. Kennard didn’t do anything wrong; I am not sure anyone could have made the play.
  • Damontre Moore had another would-be sack on Ryan Nassib. He chased Nassib out of the pocket before pulling up.
  • It was only a matter of time. Ryan Nassib threw his first interception of camp right to C.J. Barnett. I think it was a miscommunication on someone’s part.
  • John Jerry got some reps with the first team today. He relieved Brandon Mosley about four snaps into the first drive. Trumaine McBride also got work with the first-team defense.

Tomorrow’s practice will follow the same routine as the previous two. It will also be the last without pads. Players will be made available to the media from 11:15 am-12:15 pm. Practice begins at 1:20 pm. Be sure to check out our complete LIVE recap of today’s practice

Jul 232014
 
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Will Beatty, New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin prepared for his team’s training camp, he knew offensive tackle William Beatty would be limited. What exactly “limited” meant, he hadn’t a clue.

Now that the Giants are two practices in, ‘limited’ may mean a bit more active than expected.

“He’s doing a little bit more and it’s very encouraging,” Coughlin said after practice. “I’m giving him a lot of credit for this. He isn’t over doing it, but he’s doing more than expected.”

Beatty missed the Giants’ entire offseason conditioning program while rehabbing a fractured right leg suffered in the final game of last season. Yesterday, Beatty split reps with free-agent signee Charles Brown. Today, the former second-round pick took nearly all reps with the first team.

On one play during a two-minute drill, Beatty looked like his old self for the first time. As former All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul came firing off the end, Beatty matched Pierre-Paul’s jump and knocked him off balance. The block gave Manning enough time to fire a pass down the field.

“I hope he’s able to continue working his way back once we put pads on,” Coughlin said. “I do know he feels like he needs to be stronger. I would say that’s normal.”

Jameel McClain, New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Jameel McClain – Photo by Connor Hughes

While Beatty began training camp ‘limited,’ linebacker Jameel McClain quickly found himself with the same label. McClain was carted off the field yesterday, but returned today. The ex-Raven stretched with the team, took part in some positional drills and shadowed on others.

“He’s fine,” Coughlin said. “He was a little sore but was able to go.”

Jul 232014
 
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New York Giants Wide Receivers (July 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham was a practice bystander on Wednesday – Photo by Connor Hughes

It was the combination many wanted to see. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. lined up split wide and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie matched up with him one-on-one.

Beckham took off on a deep pattern, got inside position on Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Manning let it fly. Just as the ball reached it’s highest point, Beckham pulled up and Rodgers-Cromartie come away with an easy interception.

Beckham slowly walked back to the sideline with his hand on his hamstring. He sat out the remainder of the two-minute drill before fielding a punt during the next portion of practice.

During Wednesday’s practice, Beckham Jr. was held out throughout its entirety.

Giants’ general manager Jerry Reese confirmed Beckham Jr. tweaked his hamstring yesterday. Coach Tom Coughlin confirmed after practice the injury was the cause for his absence.

“He didn’t go and who knows how long (until he returns),” Coughlin said. “Don’t ask me. I have no idea.”

The tone of Coughlin’s voice said much more than his words. The coach seemed annoyed and almost depressed regarding the situation. Since being drafted by the Giants, it’s been one hamstring issue followed by another for the team’s first-round pick.

It started when Beckham ‘tweaked’ it during the team’s organized team activities which kept him out most of minicamp. Now, there’s no prognosis on when Beckham will return. While he was on the field and stretched with the team, Beckham didn’t participate in any individual or team drills.

“He missed today and he said he was sore,” Coughlin said. “That’s about all you can ask.”

Recap our LIVE coverage from today’s training camp here

Jul 222014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 22, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

LIVE UPDATES: July 23, 2014 New York Giants Training Camp

Welcome to the first ‘Live Update Blog for the 2014′ New York Giants’ training camp. For Wednesday’s (July 23) practice, you won’t need to go anywhere else to find everything you need to know regarding Big Blue!

In the past, your source for breaking news and live updates from practice was featured in a Corner Forum post. While the news eventually got there, there was a delay and some was lost between the transfer of copying tweets and posting over to the forum. Not to mention…it was an awful lot of work.

Not anymore.

Below you will find LIVE tweets as they happen. Don’t have a twitter? Don’t worry! They’ll still show up below for you as soon as they are sent out.

Have a twitter and wanna join in on the LIVE conversation? Heading out to practice and want to have your observations noticed? Simply tweet using the hashtag “#BBI” and you’ll see whatever you send below.

BigBlueInteractive.com knows you love the Corner Forum and being able to interact with your fellow Giants’ fans as practice takes place. We want to make that as easy possible for you. Instead of having to keep two windows open (this page and The Corner Forum page), we will open the comment section of this post throughout the duration of practice.

Interact with fans just as you always have in the comment section, with the tweet-bar directly above. You’ll have your live updates and your interaction all in one place. We hope you enjoy!

Jul 222014
 
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John Jerry, Miami Dolphins (November 17, 2013)

John Jerry wants to move on from all that happened during his time in Miami – © USA TODAY Sports Images

John Jerry knows exactly what happened last year in Miami. He knows the details, what he did and what he didn’t do. He knows what’s accused of both himself and Richie Incongnito.

Just don’t expect him to talk about it. At least not yet.

“I don’t have a comment,” Jerry said. “I’m looking forward to the day I can open up and tell you everything about it. We’ll definitely discuss that in the future.”

In the meantime, the New York Giants’ guard is focused on getting healthy and entering the ring of a now wide-open position battle at right guard. As Chris Snee’s body failed him, Jerry is hoping to give his own a jump start to resume his career.

During the offseason, Jerry had a procedure on his knee. The condition, which has not been disclosed or released by the team, took Jerry out for the team’s entire offseason conditioning program.

Jerry has received medical clearance, but didn’t take part in the running portion of the Giants’ conditioning test Monday. Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin labeled him as ‘limited.’ Jerry is not even sure yet what he can do.

“I just think the main thing for me is to get into shape,” Jerry said. “I missed so much time in the spring and everything that I wasn’t able to run. The most important thing is getting in shape.”

A healthy, in-shape and motivated Jerry could be the perfect solution to the Giants’ ailing offensive line. While he had his struggles run blocking, Jerry was one of the league’s best pass-blocking guards last year.

It’s welcome news for Eli Manning, who was sacked a career-high 39 times last year.

In the Giants’ first training camp practice, Jerry received sporadic reps throughout. When he was on the field, it was primarily with the second unit as third-year guard Brandon Mosley worked with the starters.

But when Mosley left with a stomach issue, it was Weston Richburg that took over at guard.

While Jerry is not sure when he’ll be back to full strength, he’s eagerly counting the days he can step foot on the field and contribute. With all that’s happened in his career off of the field, the best remedy may be what happens on it.

“People will think what they want to think and I know that’s out of my hands,” Jerry said. “What the fans really care about is you going out there, performing and getting them some ‘W’s.’”

Jul 222014
 
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Brandon McManus, Temple Owls (September 8, 2012)

Brandon McManus is hoping to win the Giants’ kicker competition – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Brandon McManus, Temple Owls (October 27, 2012)

Brandon McManus – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Signing the contract was easy. The New York Giants didn’t have a kicker on their roster and Brandon McManus was looking for a shot.

Telling his Philadelphia Eagle fan family he was now a member of Big Blue? Eh, not so much.

“They told me they disowned me,” McManus said, laughing.

Growing up 40 miles from Philadelphia, McManus recalls many Sundays spent packed into Lincoln Financial Field with his parents to watch the Eagles play. There was the yelling, the screaming and the cheering. He, like his family, became a die hard.

McManus wanted nothing more than to mimic those that he had watched on the field since he was three years old. He started playing football in middle school and continued in high school. He excelled at kicking and turned the passion into a scholarship to Temple University.

In the four years he suited up for the Owls, McManus established himself as arguably the best kicker to play for the program. Among others, McManus set the record for points scored (338), field goals made (60), field goal percentage in a season (82.4) and extra points made in a game (9). All while dealing with the elements impacting Temple’s home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.

After graduating, McManus signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. He fought tooth-and-nail with Adam Vinatieri for a spot on the Colts’ final 53-man roster. The competition was close, but Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano elected to go with the veteran Vinatieri.

“Last year was great,” McManus said. “I kind of mold my game around Adam being a clutch performer at the end of games. That’s what he’s known for in his career is the clutch Super Bowl kicks.”

While it’s yet to be seen if McManus has a ‘clutch’ gene, what has been on display is his leg strength. McManus says he feels completely comfortable kicking from 60-yards out, comparing it to an extra point. In last year’s preseason, he kicked a 50-yard field goal with ease against the Giants.

Watching from the opposite sideline, New York was impressed. So, when Giants’ kicker Josh Brown had his contract expire at the end of last year, the team wasted no time in acting on McManus, signing him to a ‘future contract’ on Jan. 2.

“I really like McManus,” Giants’ special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. “I liked him coming out (of Temple). He went to Indy for last training camp and preseason and I thought he was a really good kicker. He’s kicked in the northeast at a high level. I think he’s got a real big upside once it all starts clicking for him.”

McManus hopes the light has already been turned on. If he wants to be New York’s kicker, he’ll once again have to battle a veteran. Two months and 10 days after signing McManus, the Giants brought back Brown.

Brown has kicked 254 field goals in his 12-year NFL career.

Tom Quinn, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 29, 2012)

Tom Quinn (left) was impressed with McManus at temple – © USA TODAY Sports Images

McManus is 1-for-1 in the preseason.

“I knew no mater what it was going to be a competition,” McManus said. “I came in here during (organized team activities) and tried to work hard every day. I tried doing my best and we both performed at such a high level this offseason. “

The Giants were one of several teams to reach out to McManus with a contract as a kicker. Two others called him with a chance to punt. Aside from the accolades McManus earned at Temple as a kicker, he holds the school’s record for punt average at 45.4 yards per kick

“It was a lot of fun punting,” McManus said. “It gave me a different dynamic of the game. It was the first time since middle school I had the ball in my hands because when I’m kicking it never is.

“With kicking I used to put so much pressure on myself and I was so critical of myself. When I went out there to punt I just relaxed and it was such a different view of the field. “

McManus admits he sees himself as a kicker first, punter second, but wouldn’t throw away an opportunity to do both. Yet before he gets too far ahead of himself, he knows there’s a roster spot that needs to be won first before double-dipping on special teams.

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought at all about the fact the Giants’ play his family’s beloved Eagles twice a year. Nor has it failed to cross his mind that often times the games come down to a two-to-three point difference.

“Hopefully when we play them we don’t blow them out of the water,” McManus said. “If I could set up for a game-winning kick, that would be great.”

But would there be a little hesitation from Mom knowing her son was about to single-handedly defeat her beloved Birds??

“Oh no, they’ll definitely be rooting for me,” McManus said with a smile. “My parents are all for me now.”

Jul 222014
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Tom Coughlin following the Giants’ first practice – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 22, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…

For the first time since the team broke mini-camp 32 days ago, the New York Giants put on their helmets, jerseys and cleats and trotted out of the locker room at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Then, three took rides on the cart back in.

Below you will find our complete practice report for the Giants’ first training camp practice of the year. Earlier in the week, we asked you what you wanted observed. You’ll find answers to those questions at the conclusion of the report.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Mario Manningham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SETTING THE STAGE…

Before we dive too far into the camp report and details, just a little heads up on all the minor odds and ends. The team was without pads for the first of three practices, otherwise known as the ‘acclimation period.’

As was announced yesterday, the only player that was inactive for the start of camp was linebacker Jon Beason, who remains on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. Mario Manningham, David WilsonJohn Jerry and William Beatty all participated in practice on a ‘limited basis.’

  • Of the three, it appears Manningham did the most. The wide receiver took part in individual drills, 7-on-7, strictly offense and the final 11-on-11 drill. He didn’t stand out much in the team portion of practice, but the fact he’s out there is a good sign. When wide receivers did some work with the quarterbacks, Manningham did two rotations, took one off, then did the third.
  • William Beatty split reps early with Charles Brown at left tackle. He took reps in all facets of practice.
  • Former Dolphins guard John Jerry was more limited than the other two, but still saw reps. He spoke before and told the media his biggest issue is conditioning because he hasn’t run in some time.
  • David Wilson took some reps with the No. 2′s and made a few really nice plays. More on that later.

SPECIAL TEAMS…

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Odell Beckham received reps as a punt returner – Photo by Connor Hughes

As will be the case most practices, the Giants start with a little special teams before transitioning into their team stretch. Today, it was the punt returners turn to draw the eye of reporters. The Giants had a make-shift punt team, no gunners, and while Steve Weatherford fielded snaps, a punt machine was used to send balls to the returners.

  • The return rotation was very, very similar to the one displayed in OTAs and mini-camp. First Trindon Holliday, then Odell Beckham Jr., then Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz closed it out. Mario Manningham fielded one punt as well.
  • It’s looking more and more like Trindon Holliday is going to make this team as a returner. He gets all reps there and flashed a few times on offense again. There’s been talk he may be cut or is on the bubble, I just don’t see it. In every practice the media has been at, he’s taken his first reps as a returner each time.
  • Damontre Moore is sporting a brand new facemask that looks very, very nice. Does it meet the new regulations? Not sure. But it will look good until he’s told not to wear it anymore.
  • Something shown in OTAs was again shown today in camp. The Giants practiced a ‘fake punt’ where they direct-snapped the ball to Quintin Demps. 

INDIVIDUAL…

With the Giants now having the full disposal of each practice field, it’s hard to keep an eye on everything. After the special teams portion of practice, the offense and defense split up. I ran with the offense today, will keep an eye on the defense tomorrow.

  • With the defensive and offensive lines off in the distance, the Giants’ quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks and tight ends came together to work. All players participated, including Mario Manningham, as each ran basic routes. Nothing traveled more than 15 yards or so.
  • John Conner made a pretty nice grab on a quick screen-ish pass. It looked as if the pass slipped out of the hands of Curtis Painter. Conner reached up and pulled it down. Was it impressive as a catch by a tight end? Probably not. But to see the fullback pull the pass down was nice.
  • Xavier Grimble and Adrien Robinson each dropped easy passes on curls. Both slapped their helmets and the ball when the passes bounced away. A coach yelled in the distance. I couldn’t completely make out what he said…but it wasn’t good.
  • It didn’t take long for Grimble to bounce back. On the next rotation, he made a really nice grab extending away from his body to make a ‘hands’ catch. The crowd gave him an appreciative round of applause.
  • Eli Manning didn’t look that sharp in this portion of practice. He missed a couple and bounced others. He regrouped later.
  • Kellen Davis looks very, very slow coming in-and-out of his breaks. It really wasn’t pretty. None of the tight ends looked agile, but Davis stood out as being painful to watch.
  • I took a keen look at Grimble in this portion as I know some fans were curious about him during OTAs. He has some good straight-ahead speed, but struggled a little stopping on a dime to get into a break or cut. Although, he is 6-4 and 261 pounds. Other than that he showed some good hands and ran a pretty nice route a few times. He’s just not very agile.
  • Mario Manningham showed no signs of a knee injury in-and-out of breaks. He showed some good speed, didn’t hesitate and made a few hard cuts. He did drop one pass on a deep-in.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. reminds me a bit of Hakeem Nicks in that he plays bigger than he is. A few times during this portion of practice he extended his body fully to make finger-tip grabs. If he can stay healthy, he can be explosive.
New York Giants Training Camp (July 22, 2014)

The New York Giants warm up in camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…

Normal Giants routine running two-minute drill as the first ‘team’ portion of practice.

Before going into some highlights, here’s your starting line:
LT: Charles Brown, LG: Geoff Schwartz, C: J.D. Walton, RG: Brandon Mosley, RT: Justin Pugh. *William Beatty spelled Brown a few reps in.

And your back-ups:
RT- Troy Kropog, RG: Dallas Reynolds, C: Weston Richburg, LG: Jamaal Johnson-Webb, RT: James Brewer

  • Just to start this off, the Giants’ offense was night-and-day better during the two-minute drill. Comparing how the team left off from mini-camp, and how they reported to camp, it was a big step. Manning was crisp and looked on the same page as his receivers. It was impressive.
  • Being in a two-minute drill, the Giants ran with three wide receivers. Victor Cruz worked in the slot. Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan were outside. Jernigan made a nice grab on a deep-in from Eli Manning and Randle caught one in front of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the sideline.
  • Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

    Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    The Giants offense drove inside the red zone and Manning tried a fade route to Jernigan. Jernigan made the grab, but failed to get his feet in. He jumped over Charles James (I think). It would have been some grab if he pulled it in. Two plays later, Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr. for a TD on a five-yard out.

  • Marcus Harris continues to flash. He made a nice sliding grab on a deep-in. It offset an easy drop earlier.
  • Andre Williams showed he may have some hands after all and made a nice grab. He also showed he really has a second gear when it comes to speed. He sprinted down the field after a running play and surprised with his speed.
  • Wilson got a carry and sprinted down the sideline. He still has speed. The run may have meant a little more to him than most: it was his first in a team drill since injuring his neck versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted an Eli Manning pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. Manning dropped back and heaved one down the field, his only shot of the day. The pass probably shouldn’t have been thrown as Rodgers-Cromartie had good coverage. The concerning thing here was that Beckham gave up on the route and stopped running allowing Rodgers-Cromartie to simply camp underneath for an easy interception. Beckham favored his leg a little running off of the field but it didn’t seem serious. The biggest concern was him giving up on the play, not the ‘injury.’
  • Ryan Nassib hit Daniel Fells deep down the seam on a beautifully designed play. A few times we saw two tight ends in the game at once. One would line up traditionally, one in the slot. Speaking of the tight ends, no one really has a strangle hold on the top spot. Still a revolving door.
  • Weston Richburg played right guard with the first team when Mosley left practice.
  • Mike Patterson continues to take all reps with the first team defense. That includes nickel, dime and the base 4-3. From what I’ve seen this offseason, Johnathan Hankins is no guarantee to be the starter.

JUST THE OFFENSE…

The offense and defense again split up after the two-minute drill. As was illustrated before, I stuck with the offense today and I’ll turn my attention to the defense tomorrow.

  • We didn’t see any fullback during the two-minute drill except for maybe one play. That should be expected…it was a two-minute drill. With just the offense practicing an ‘I-Formation,’ John Conner was the first fullback out. In fact, I don’t believe Henry Hynoski got any reps. I could be wrong, but I know the first two-three went to Conner.
  • Beckham returned from his ‘injury’ to participate in this drill. He caught one over the middle fully-extending. It looked nice. Again, like Hakeem Nicks, he plays bigger than he is.
  • While I was with the offense, Jason Pierre-Paul got his back checked out by trainers and Jameel McClain was carted off.

SEVEN-on-SEVEN…

The offensive and defensive lines split off as the linebackers/corners/safeties joined the quarterbacks/wide receivers/running backs/tight ends for 7-on-7′s.

  • Rueben Randle made a nice grab, something he did a few times today. I don’t ever believe he’ll be a Top-5 receiver in the NFL, but he can play a long time. He runs good routes, has good hands and gets open pretty often.
  • Mark Herzlich filled in for the recently-departed Jameel McClain. He joined Devon Kennard and Jacquian Williams as the linebackers.
  • Cooper Taylor recorded an interception when a Curtis Painter pass bounced off the chest of Kellen Davis.

11-ON-11…

David Wilson, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Not too much took place in the 11-on-11. It could have been because players were tired, but most of it was cut and dry. A few dump-off passes, screens and draws. No one really stood out as great, no one as bad. Either way, here are a few observations.

  • Andre Williams’ speed was again on display. He has that second gear where if he gets in the open field, I’m not sure someone is going to catch him.
  • David Wilson caught a pass out of the backfield and put on a show. The back made some ankle-breaking jukes and cuts that had some media wowed. It hasn’t been talked about much, but he could be a huge weapon out of the backfield in Ben McAdoo’s offense.
  • Saw the first three-safety look. Quintin Demps came on the field to join Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle.
  • Spencer Paysinger came in on a blitz and Eli Manning juked him out. It was a surprisingly athletic thing from Eli. Looked a little Vick-ish (I kid).
  • Damontre Moore came off the edge and pressured Nassib on a roll-out.

That does it for today’s camp report. Tomorrow will follow an identical schedule as yesterday. Media will have access to players from 11:15am until 12:15pm. There will be an hour break before practice begins at 1:20pm. The practice is open to the public and players will sign autographs after. 

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

FROM REALE01: Projected availability for Wilson, Jerry, Beatty, Beason, and Snee.

  • I know this was submitted before Snee’s retirement, but in case you didn’t know..he retired :) As far as the other three: Beatty worked a lot, so did Wilson. Jerry is limited while he builds his stamina

FROM BIG BLUE BLOGGER: Are there any packages where you don’t expect to run with the 1s? (Short yardage/goal line seems likely. Any others?) How’s Jon Beason’s foot?

  • He saw action with the 1′s in the goal line. Worked with rotation on the most. If I had to guess, he’s third on the depth chart behind Jennings and Wilson. Coughlin spoke about Beason and said if he’s feeling pain he’s hiding it very well.

FROM REALE01: How does Will Beatty look? Also Jerry, Richburg, Walton?

  • It’s very tough to say because there aren’t pads on yet. They all took part in practice, though.

FROM ED A: Ask Moore if he added some weight this off season and what he weighs now?

  • He told me he’s right around the same weight. He added some muscle and lost some fat, but right around the same number.

FROM BOBBY EPPS: Any sighting of Conner or Hynoski in any formations or plays?

  • They came in for the I-Formation. Nothing really in the team portion of practice. Fullback doesn’t seem to be used much, but most of the offense vs defense we’ve seen has been hurry-up.