Aug 182014
 
Share Button
Nat Berhe, San Diego State Aztecs (December 20, 2012)

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It didn’t take long for the quote to make its way down the grapevine and to Giants rookie safety Nat Berhe.

Speaking to the media earlier this month, safeties coach David Merritt was discussing the list of players who had impressed him during the preseason opener versus Buffalo. Eventually, he got to Berhe.

“The Missile,” Merritt said. “That’s going to be his new nickname because he is going to go in there like a missile.”

Sure enough, the coach’s words were near immediately presented to Berhe. His response?

“Who’s ‘The Missile,’” Berhe said with a laugh.

Since having the name all but written across his back, Berhe has done his best to hit just about anything that moves during practice and at games. On his first NFL snap, the 6-0, 194-pound Berhe ran headfirst into an offensive tackle, bounced off and then pursued the running back.

Nat Berhe, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Nat Berhe – Photo by Connor Hughes

The way he sees it, that’s how he’s always played football. He’s never thought much, he’s just gone out and done it. If anything ever needed to be done on the team, Berhe was normally the one to do it. That hasn’t changed now that he’s reached the NFL.

“Whatever the team needs me to do I’m going to do it,” Berhe said. “If that means playing fullback on punt, or running down on the kickoff. I’m willing to do it all.”

In his first three preseason games, Berhe has recorded seven combined tackles and frequently found himself around the ball. Still, there are aspects of his game that he admits he’s still working on.

During his time at San Diego State, playing the run was more of a “see ball, get ball” assignment. Now, Berhe is realizing who to match up with and when to match up with them. It’s no longer just about running to the ball, it’s about playing in gaps.

It’s all a learning curve for the 23-year old. The question now is how quick before it all clicks. Following Cooper Taylor’s injury versus the Indianapolis Colts, the Giants may need Berhe far sooner than originally anticipated.

This past Saturday, Taylor was carted off the field with a foot injury. Speaking to the media the following day, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team should expect to be without last year’s fifth-round pick for some time.

Cooper Taylor (30), New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Cooper Taylor returning a blocked punt for a TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Berhe heard the news on Taylor, a player who has been helping the rookie in his transition to the pros, and realized there was now an opportunity. Taylor had been working as the Giants second-team safety alongside Quintin Demps and behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.

Theoretically, Berhe should now slide in next to Demps.

Demps, Rolle and Brown have all been players Berhe has been watching extensively whenever he gets the chance. Be it on the field, in the film room or how the group conducts themselves at meetings.

The way Berhe see it, each player has something they do exceptionally well, or, in his words, their “super powers.”

“Antrel is the ‘masked magician,’” Berhe said. “He’ll come down and show man, then get out and play cover two and you’re like, ‘Damn, how did he do that before the snap?’ Then you at Stevie and he’s just the master of the post. He can identify a route combination so quickly.

“Then there’s Q, he’s the all-around guy who can kind of play both. You take a little bit form each of them and try to add it to your game.”

So where does Berhe fit into the equation?

“I like to bring the boom,” he said.

Aug 172014
 
Share Button
Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (December 30, 2012)

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Every time Zak DeOssie steps onto the New York Giants’ practice field at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the 30-year-old long snapper dresses in full pads.

It doesn’t matter if his teammates are in shorts, shells, half pads or full themselves, DeOssie is dressed the exact same way he does on game day. From his helmet, to his shoulder pads and down to his cleats, there’s no difference between Sunday DeOssie and Monday-through-Saturday Zak.

Why?

“Why not?” DeOssie said. “I never snap without them.”

It’s that attention to detail that has made DeOssie one of the NFL’s best at one of the game’s least-decorated positions. It’s that same attention to detail that had him voted the Giants’ special teams captain the last two seasons. It’s that same attention to detail that has kept DeOssie in East Rutherford for the last eight years.

He’s not glamorous and he doesn’t want to be. He doesn’t need to hear his named called, see it in lights or plastered across billboards. His job is simple:

“I throw strikes,” DeOssie said.

Something he never thought he’d be doing when he entered the league out of Brown University in 2007.

A NATURAL ABILITY

Sports have always been a big part of DeOssie’s life. In high school at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, DeOssie was a three-sport athlete, staring on the baseball diamond, basketball court and football field.

While he loved every sport he played in, there was one that held a place in his heart above any other: Football. DeOssie was his team’s starting quarterback and a good one at that. He was voted to the ‘All-New England’ prep team and dazzled fans with his play under the Friday night lights.

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

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

But it wasn’t until a practice his senior year that DeOssie realized he wasn’t just able to throw the ball down the field, but he was pretty good throwing it between his legs, too.

After an injury forced the team’s long snapper to miss extended time, Phillips Academy coach Leon Modeste made a call to one of his player’s parents who had just a little bit of experience in the area. Steve DeOssie, Zak’s dad, who had played both linebacker and long snapper in the NFL for over a decade, came to practice to teach some the team’s players how to snap.

“I was basically just giving some of his teammates and players a few pointers,” Steve DeOssie said. “Next thing I know (Zak) walks over to the group and starts paying attention to everything that’s going on.”

Recalling the moment, Steve DeOssie chuckled thinking of the skinny-legged DeOssie lining up to practice a snap. Zak DeOssie took his stance, spread his legs and then sent the ball flying between his legs 12 yards back with near-perfect accuracy.

It was the first time in his life he’d ever tried to long snap a ball. After a few reps, DeOssie said goodbye to his dad and ran back to the quarterbacks group.

It didn’t matter how good or natural he was because he’d never do it in a game. DeOssie was his team’s punter, too.

A LOST LOVE

When DeOssie committed to Brown University, he gave up his days as a signal caller and turned his attention to bringing opponents down. The physicality and violent nature of being a linebacker was something DeOssie loved.

In his four seasons at Brown, DeOssie started 29 of 36 games. He recorded 315 tackles, 10.5 sacks, forced five fumbles and intercepted four passes. He was voted first-team All-Ivy League three times, was a third-team All-American and a Buchanan Award finalist twice.

He snapped a little his senior year, but he was primarily a linebacker. That’s how he viewed himself. NFL scouts, too. Those that watched DeOssie play loved his 6-4, 249-pound size. He was physical, a natural leader and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds.

When the NFL Draft came, DeOssie heard his named called by a familiar team. The New York Giants, the same team that his dad had played for from 1989-1993, selected DeOssie with in the fourth round. There was only one person in the world who was happier than DeOssie when his name flashed across the bottom of his television set.

“When he got drafted by the Giants, I was so happy for him,” Steve DeOssie said. “He was going somewhere that I knew was as good an organization as there was in the NFL.”

During DeOssie’s first two seasons with the Giants, he primarily saw action on special teams while also working spot duty as a long snapper. When Giants’ veteran Ryan Kuehl was injured in 2007, DeOssie took over as the punt snapper.

But his goal was always the same, he wanted to be an NFL linebacker. That was until a back injury turned his world upside down.

Following the 2008 season, DeOssie had a mico-discectomy on his back in order to help heal a herniated disc. Following the surgery, the Giants approached DeOssie with the team’s doctors and told him he could still play linebacker, but his career wouldn’t last nearly as long.

While DeOssie hadn’t seen any first-team reps at linebacker, he was progressing. Defensively, the game was slowing down and he felt he was making strides. He didn’t know what to do, so he called his dad.

“For a young man to give up his dream, it wasn’t a cut-and-dry situation,” Steve DeOssie said. “We talked about it a lot. He would talk, I would listen and the more he started talking the more he started to realize there’s more than one way to help a team win a game. “

The next season, Jay Alford tore his knee and DeOssie took over as the team’s field goal snapper as well.

“That’s when I said bye to linebacker and hello to long snapper full time,” DeOssie said.

A CHAMPIONSHIP SHARED

When DeOssie and the rest of his teammates were given their championship rings for their Super Bowl victories in 2007 and 2011, it added the second and third rings to the DeOssie family.

Steve DeOssie was a linebacker and long snapper for the Giants’ Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills in 1990. When asked about the accomplishment and the fact both he and his son share rings from championships with the same team, Steve DeOssie’s voice immediately changed.

Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Steve talked about the times he and his son participate in charitable events together. Be it signings or just appearances, there will be several times throughout where both make eye contact. Nothing is said, but the two share a moment unlike many others.

“We’ll just catch a glance between each other and it’s just like… yeah,” Steve DeOssie said. “One of those inside moments where there’s just a smile or look and it’s almost unimaginable where you don’t know how to express it to somebody.”

A FAMILY MAN

Growing up in Massachusetts, DeOssie’s relationship with his dad wasn’t exactly what many would expect. Football was one of the least talked about topics in the DeOssie household.

When Zak DeOssie began playing pee-wee football, Steve DeOssie stayed back. He wasn’t the coach, wasn’t telling coaches his son should play or teaching fundamentals at the dinner table each night.

The way Steve DeOssie saw it, wherever path Zak’s life took him was fine with him. He didn’t care about Zak DeOssie’s sack total, just his grades.

“If his grades in high school started to sink,” Steve DeOssie said, “The first thing he’d have to give up was sports.”

When Steve DeOssie showed up to help Zak’s high school team learn to long snap, the dad recalls that as the first time he ever shared a field with his son. Now that Zak is a dad of his own – he and his wife Kate welcomed their first son three months ago – he plans to raise his child the same way.

“I’m gonna teach him whatever he wants to learn, just like my old man did,” DeOssie said. “He let me figure it out on my own and guided me along the way.”

Aug 142014
 
Share Button
Israel Idonije, Chicago Bears (September 13, 2012)

Israel Idonije – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It would have been easy for Israel Idonije to walk away.

He was coming off year No. 11 in the National Football League, one that was filled with injuries that hampered his play. He’d accomplished everything he set out to do over a decade ago.

Well, just about everything. He hadn’t won a Super Bowl.

“ When I first came into the league, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish,” Idonije said. “On that list, I still have to win a Super Bowl. “

And the Giants hope they can help him make that last check.

After 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, the 33-year-old signed with the Detroit Lions last year. While he expected to make an impact on a defense that already featured the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah, those plans never quite materialized.

Idonije suffered a hamstring injury in training camp, attempted to work his way back after six days and was never the same. The ensuing season was one Idonije admitted was his toughest of his 12-year career. He recorded just a half of a sack and 11 total tackles. This performance coming off three straight seasons where he averaged nearly seven quarterback takedowns.

He contemplated walking away, but just couldn’t. Had he suffered a knee injury, neck injury or anything serious, the decision to retire would have been made and no regrets would dare cross his mind. A hamstring strain? That was different. Idonije knew he could still play.

When Idonije began his pro career with the Bears, he used to take the field and run around, letting his natural athletic ability take over a game. That mentality has changed as he’s gotten olden. Now, Idonije has a “tool kit.”

When lining up across an offensive tackle, Idonije will read everything from his body language, to his stance. Depending on what he sees, he uses a different technique. All of which are stored in his “tool kit.”

“You just need to show up to work and know what you do well,” Idonije said. “I didn’t do that when I was younger.”

The moment Idonije put pen-to-paper on his contract with the Giants, he became the eldest statesman of an otherwise youthful meeting room. Cullen Jenkins, Mathias Kiwanuka and Mike Patterson are the only defensive linemen that are 30-years-old or older.

Others in the meeting room hope to emulate Idonije’s professional longevity. Already, several have started picking his mind and watching the way Idonije works.

“You’re never too old to stop learning,” Giants 21-year-old defensive end Damontre Moore said. “He’s constantly learning something and always asking questions. He’s letting everyone know that you can always be taught something and always learn a new technique.”

There’s no guarantee Idonije will be on the Giants 53-man roster when the team travels to Detroit to kickoff the season. He knows that, but he also knows the value he holds to a team.

Idonije can rush the passer and play the run on defense. He’s also capable of playing every special teams package. He also knows he can still do what he used to do so frequently in Chicago.

“I can still make plays, no question,” Idonije said. “Especially in a system like this.”

Aug 142014
 
Share Button
Will Beatty, New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Throughout the New York Giants training camp, offensive tackle Will Beatty has done just about everything one can expect.

He’s attended every meeting, been a full participant in all individual drills and with the starters during team drills. By just about every count, he’s shown little side effects from a fractured leg suffered during the last game of the 2013 season.

In fact, the only thing Beatty hasn’t done is play in either of the Giants first two preseason games. And that’s about to change.

This coming Saturday when the Giants travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts, it looks like Beatty will see his first game action of the season.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment,” Beatty said. “I’m blessed to be in this position. The coaches feel I have proved myself in practice enough to allow me to play in this preseason game and to travel with them.

“I am traveling. So traveling means I will have a chance and an opportunity to be out there on the filed. I’m looking forward to it.”

And so are the Giants.

In Beatty’s absence, former New Orleans Saints second-round pick Charles Brown has been filling in. Despite being highly coveted out of USC just four years ago, Brown has struggled in the NFL. During the Giants training camp, that hasn’t changed.

Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore have had extreme success versus Brown during the team-oriented portions of practice. Versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Giants preseason home opener on Saturday, Brown was beaten for a sack by Jarvis Jones. A few series later, Brown allowed a pressure off the edge which caused quarterback Ryan Nassib to rush a throw.

A healthy Will Beatty will be welcomed back with open arms by quarterback Eli Manning, coach Tom Coughlin and others within the organization. That’s a ‘healthy’ Will Beatty.

The 29-year-old, who signed a five-year contract worth $38.75 million last offseason, admits his injured right leg is not the same as it was before it was fractured, but it’s getting there. There’s no chance of him being re-injuring it, it’s completely healed. Beatty just needs to get more comfortable.

But there won’t be much of an acclimation period. This Saturday, he’ll be facing off against Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. Last season, Mathis recorded 19.5 sacks, went to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time and earned his first All-Pro honors.

“I know he’s going to look at it as a regular season game each snap he gets,” Beatty said. “This is my marker for how well I’ve trained during the offseason to recover and get back to top shape.”

Aug 132014
 
Share Button
Mario Manningham, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Mario Manningham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s the catch that he’ll never forget, but doesn’t want to remember.

New York Giants receiver Mario Manningham split wide left on a first-and-10 with the Giants trailing the New England Patriots, 17-15, in Super Bowl XLVI. Quarterback Eli Manning dropped back, planted his back foot, took a crow hop and let the ball fly in Manningham’s direction.

As the ball hung in the air, Manningham slowly pulled away from his defender, reached up, made the catch and kept both feet in bounds while absorbing a hit.

The highlight reel grab is one that will live on in Super Bowl glory for as long as the game is played. In Manningham’s mind? He’s tried to forget “The Catch” the moment he pointed down the field to signal a first down.

“I remember it,” Manningham said, “but I don’t think about it. I’m just trying to make some more plays.”

In order to make more, Manningham will have to earn a spot on the Giants 53-man roster. After two dismal and injury-filled seasons in San Francisco, Manningham made his way back to New York this offseason and into a crowded receivers’ room.

There are roster locks Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jerrel Jernigan. Then, there’s Manningham, rookie Corey Washington, Marcus Harris, Trindon Holliday and others all vying for one, potentially two, spots. For the first time in his career, Manningham isn’t a lock to make a team.

While there have been glimpses at Giants training camp of the old “Super Mario” who once dazzled fans and eluded defenders at MetLife Stadium, the flashes have been few and far between. Far more often is Manningham dropping passes than catching them. He admits his surgically repaired knee isn’t 100 percent, but it is “getting better” each and every day. Two weeks ago, Manningham said he wasn’t entirely comfortable cutting or planting. Now, that’s not the case.

“I’m comfortable,” Manningham said. “I’m real confident in sticking my foot in the ground and going out there and just not thinking about it.”

Presently, Manningham finds himself behind Marcus Harris and Corey Washington on the team’s depth chart. Harris has caught nearly everything throw his way in training camp. Corey Washington has caught the game-winning touchdown in each of New York’s first two preseason games.

Manningham? He’s dropped six passes in his last two practices and has just one reception on three targets for 17 yards in two preseason games.

But none of that’s on the 28-year-old’s mind. Right now, he’s just determined to make plays, something he used to do on a regular basis in New York.

In 2010 and 2011, Manningham’s final two season with the Giants, he caught 99 passes for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns. Manningham left New York for San Francisco as a free agent following his Super Bowl catch. Before tearing his ACL and PCL with the 49ers in 2012, Manningham caught 41 passes for 449 yards in nine games started.

Can Manningham return to that receiver? Or have injures taken away a career that once seamed on a path to super stardom? Manningham believes he’s still a player and he knows he needs to do just one thing to convince others.

“Just ball, just go play ball,” Manningham said. “Don’t worry about anything else.”

That means not his place on the depth chart, not his surgically repaired knee and most certainly not his famous catch.

Aug 122014
 
Share Button
Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning; New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

When Curtis Painter re-signed with the New York Giants this offseason, he knew the situation and scenario right in front of him.

Painter, 29, was a journeyman in the NFL who’d only seen action in three of his five NFL seasons. One year earlier, the Giants had trade up in the fourth round to select Ryan Nassib, costing the Giants their own fourth- and sixth-round picks.

New York had been forced to keep three quarterbacks on the team’s roster in 2013. They didn’t want to do it again. There was one open spot behind Eli Manning.

Was it going to be Painter, or the player New York had traded up to select in the 2012 NFL Draft?

Painter knew the odds. Painter didn’t care if they were stacked against him.

“I can’t control anything like that,” Painter said. “That comes from the upper management and coaches. All I can really do is do my best on the field and try to help the team get better.”

The apparent long shot to make the Giants’ final roster has seen his odds significantly increase this week in training camp. After receiving the NFL equivalent of ‘scraps’ for reps in the first three weeks of camp, Painter has worked entirely with the second team in each of the last two practices.

Painter downplayed any such ‘promotion’ on the depth chart, but the increase in snaps has been noticeable. Throughout the early portions of training camp, Manning and Nassib would split 80-to-90 percent of the team’s reps in each drill before Painter would see the field.

When the offense and defense would work one-on-ones, it was Manning and Nassib throwing passes while Painter handed off to running backs in the distance. While his time on the field was far from glorious, Painter made the most of it. Slowly, but surely, his reps began to increase.

Early in camp, interceptions, poor decisions and forced passes began to mount for Nassib. While Nassib has improved both in practice and the preseason, Painter just kept on making the most of what he was getting. Then, Painter made his ultimate case for a promotion when the Giants took the field for Saturday’s preseason home opener versus the Steelers,

After a Nassib’s incomplete swing pass – which was ruled a fumbled lateral and returned for a touchdown — put New York behind late in the fourth quarter, Painter entered the contest and promptly marched the team down the field on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a three-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Corey Washington.

Painter finished seven-of-seven for 68 yards and one touchdown.

“When you can put together a drive like that, whether it be in the first quarter or fourth, you’re going to be pleased,” Painter said. “We did some things well.”

Painter has seen every second-team rep since.

“I don’t think much about it,” Painter said. “At the end of the day, you’re running the same plays. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing and knowing your responsibilities. “

Aug 112014
 
Share Button
Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

All offseason, Jason Pierre-Paul has answered the same question over and over and over again.

How close is he to returning to JPP circa 2011? The one that terrorized quarterbacks, was a force against the run and simply over-powered offensive tackles on his way into the backfield?

Does he feel he’s there? Is he back to the player who some once felt had limitless potential? Heck, can he even be that player again?

The answer is no. Pierre-Paul isn’t the ‘JPP of 2011.’ In fact, he doesn’t want to be, either.

What does the former All-Pro want?

“To be better,” Pierre-Paul said.

Better? Is there a better? Just three short years ago, Pierre-Paul recorded 16.5 sacks in his second NFL season. He was ferocious and fearless, making quarterbacks’ Sunday afternoons a nightmare. ‘Up’ from there would be teetering on a record-breaking year? A record that a recently inducted Hall of Famer set wearing Pierre-Paul’s same jersey.

Is that in clear sight?

“Yeah,” Pierre-Paul said, “Maybe.”

Whether it’s 2011 Pierre-Paul, or a new-and-improved JPP, either will be welcome on the Giants’ defensive line this year. The old, familiar faces who had once terrorized quarterbacks are gone. Michael Strahan is a talk show host. Osi Umenyiora is in Atlanta. Justin Tuck in Oakland.

From the team that defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, just Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka remain across the defensive line.

Actually, in recent memory, the Pierre-Paul who took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in February 2012 hasn’t been seen much since. In New York’s championship run, Pierre-Paul recorded 104 tackles, 17 sacks and two forced fumbles in the regular and postseason.

In the 27 games since? Pierre-Paul has managed just 93 tackles, 8.5 sacks and one forced fumble while dealing with a string of nagging injuries.

“Being injured, nobody wants to be injured,” Pierre-Paul said. “It comes with the game; you never know when you’re going to be injured. You have to fight through it. You go out there and play. If you can’t, you can’t.”

Thus far in training camp, Pierre-Paul’s been healthy and as a result his play has been eerily reminiscent of just a few short years ago. Not only has his game made an apparent return, but so too has his talk.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Pierre-Paul is provoking opponents during his few snaps during the preseason, teasing teammates and, the way defensive coordinator Perry Fewell sees it, having “fun” again.

“I’ve seen a much better attitude. I’ve seen the old JPP,” Fewell said. “His attitude is good. His work ethic has been very good. He’ll continue to develop and I’m sure he’ll re-gain his form.”

Versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Giants’ preseason home opener, Pierre-Paul was as active as he’d been in a long time. He tracked down a receiver on an end around, put in a full-force sprint on Dri Archer following a screen and put a huge hit on quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

He looks, by all counts, like he’s back and if he is, is that limitless potential back? Wanting to be better than the 16.5 sacks in 2011, is there a number in JPP’s mind that he’d like to reach?

“Nope,” Pierre-Paul said. “Unlimited.”

Aug 092014
 
Share Button
Jay Bromley, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

He remembers it ever so vividly. Then again, it was just a few months ago.

Jay Bromley, at the time a defensive tackle for Syracuse, woke up and wandered down stairs on Christmas morning. He sat around the tree, the same way he always had, and began to open up his presents. As he ripped the paper off of his gifts, one caused his eyes to light up. It was the perfect one for a die-hard Giants’ fan.

“Giants’ bed sheets,” Bromley said with a smile.

Many nights the 22-year old tucked his massive 6-4, 305-pound frame underneath those same covers. By just about every count, they were put to good use.

That was until May 9, because, well, it wouldn’t be very professional for Bromley to sleep on them after being drafted by New York.

“I had to change that up a little bit,” Bromley said. “I couldn’t be a little kid anymore.”

The no longer ‘little,’ Bromley is hoping to make a Giant impact on Big Blue this year. The team he once spent Sunday after Sunday cheering to victory will now be the one he’s contributing to on the field. He has the size to play the run, along with the agility to get after the quarterback.

Last season for Syracuse, Bromley recorded 13.5 tackles for a loss, forced three fumbles and sacked the quarterback nine times. He attained career highs in nearly every statistical category. His sack and tackle for loss numbers were higher than his previous three years combined.

And none of it was by accident.

Despite having all of the physical tools, Bromley said he spent his senior season oblivious to his NFL Draft stock. Could he focus on where scouts thought he could be picked? Sure, but where were those opinions going to get him? Instead, he focused on a much simpler task: Be the best he could be.

“Whatever after that comes after that,” Bromley said. “I just wanted to be the best at my position because if I worked hard at that, everything else will just stack on top.”

That same mentality carried over on draft day. While so many NFL hopefuls dress in suits, watches, necklaces and chains, invite camera crews into their homes and soak in every minute of the fame while waiting for their name to be called, Bromley had other plans.

He and his girlfriend, Alexis, went out to rent a movie. Bromley’s Saturday night was supposed to be spent eating popcorn and watching Gravity. That’s when his phone rang with Tom Coughlin on the other end.

Hysteria set in at the Bromley household in Queens, New York. He still hasn’t seen the movie. Nor has it set in yet that he’s a member of the team whose logo once graced his bed.

It didn’t hit him when he signed his rookie contract. Not when he showed up for the offseason conditioning program or training camp. He even admitted it hadn’t hit him when he played in last week’s Hall of Fame preseason game.

But today? When he runs through the tunnel at MetLife Stadium? The same stadium he attended a game two years ago as a fan?

“Maybe, maybe,” Bromley said. “It just might at MetLife.”

Aug 072014
 
Share Button
Brandon Mosley, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Brandon Mosley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was the moment Giants’ guard Brandon Mosley had been waiting for.

After a long, injury-filled rookie season, the former fourth-round pick was going to be able to step foot on the field, go toe-to-toe against Detroit Lions’ defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly and show coaches exactly what he was capable of.

He started strong. Then, it all came to a screeching halt. In the first quarter, Mosley broke his hand.

His start, his season and his chance: All over.

“It was tough,” Mosley said. “It was very frustrating and I was very down about it. You finally get a chance to start and show them what you got, then that happens.”

Now a year later, Mosley, healthy hand and all, sits atop the Giants’ depth chart at right guard. A place he hopes to stay. A place once occupied by Giants’ great Chris Snee.

When the Giants reported for the team’s offseason conditioning program, there was a familiar face holding the position Mosley now does. 10-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler Chris Snee was battling back from elbow and hip issues, determined to erase all memories from a dreadful 2013 campaign.

Snee started the offseason as a full participant in the Giants’ voluntary workouts. Then, as the days went on, Snee’s body began to fail him. His health deteriorated and Snee walked away, opening the door for Mosley.

During the two years the two played together, Snee had taken Mosley under his wing. Despite being drafted as an offensive tackle, Mosley began to work more and more with the offensive guards. Snee would watch film with Mosley, show him the ropes and push him in the weight room.

While Snee was always regarded as the ‘strongest’ member of the Giants’ roster, Mosley gave him a run for his money.

“I hated to see him go,” Mosley said. “He was such a great leader and teacher. He taught me a lot in the short amount of time I was with him.”

Mosley is now focused on taking what Snee taught him and displaying in on the field. He’s gotten the majority of the work with the starters, but free-agent acquisition John Jerry and rookie guard Weston Richburg are just as eager to fill the Snee-sized hole on the Giants’ offensive line.

In Sunday’s Hall of Fame game versus the Bills, Mosley credited himself with an “all right” performance. There were the ups, there were the downs and all the learning curves of a young offensive lineman.

Early in the game, Mosley had his hands full with Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Against the second-team line of the Bills, Mosley helped pave the way for several long runs on the Giants’ 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

There was room for improvement and Mosley knows that. There are areas of his game he needs to perfect, especially if he’s to take the field with the starters on Monday Night Football in five weeks.

If Mosley steps on the field at Ford Field against the Lions as a starter, it’ll be full circle return from where his season suffered an early stop last year.

“Right now, I’m really just trying to compete for the starting spot first,” Mosley said. “But if it does come to that, it will be exciting to be able to go back there.”

Aug 052014
 
Share Button
Walter Thurmond and Michael Strahan, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Walter Thurmond and Michael Strahan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Where Walter Thurmond III comes from, it’s not uncommon to voice your opinion.

If you think you can be the best, say it. If you feel you already are, scream it. At the end of the day, the way you feel simply stems from the confidence within yourself.

And confidence, well, the 26-year-old corner is overflowing with that. Heck, the first time he met the New York media he declared himself the best nickel corner in the NFL.

“That’s how I am,” Thurmond said “I’m not gonna say something if I can’t back it up. I was able to do that last year.”

‘Last year’ ended with Thurmond and his Seattle Seahawk teammates hoisting of the Vince Lombardi trophy. The California native was an integral part of Seattle’s secondary which gave itself the nickname: ‘The Legion of Boom.’

Thurmond and his teammates were confident, boisterous and let everyone know what they felt they could do on any given play. So when the corner signed with the Giants this offseason, he brought that same mentality with him to East Rutherford.

To his surprise, those already crammed inside the cornerbacks’ meeting room shared that same confidence. They just were a little more reluctant to let it out.

“Some of the younger players just haven’t had the opportunity to express themselves in that manner yet, for whatever reason,” Thurmond said. “They already had it in them, now it’s fun to see them let it out.”

Contributing to Thurmond’s confidence overload is fellow free-agent signee Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The two have worked to bring the Giants’ secondary together as a brotherhood. Thurmond says if the team’s able to do that, it’ll pay massive dividends on the field.

While many secondaries throughout the league have been together for years, Thurmond and his teammates are working to build camaraderie in a short period of time. The closer the group gets, the better all will play.

Thurmond referenced how in Seattle’s secondary, every player knew what every player was thinking without a word being uttered. While the Giants aren’t on that level yet, they’re getting close.

“To be able to play together, especially in these preseason games, it really helps,” Thurmond said. “The more we’re out there together in that fire and on that gridiron being able to compete, that just builds that bond even more.”