Dec 262015
 
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Jason Spriggs, Indiana Hoosiers (August 30, 2014)

Jason Spriggs – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: December 26, 2015 Bowl Games (Early Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

CONNECTICUT

#22 S Andrew Adams – 6’0/198

Fifth year senior. 3 year starter. Leader of the defense and by far their best prospect. This will be only my second look at Adams, a guy that can play both safety spots. Some expect him to be a 4th or 5th rounder. Strong and reliable tackler that approaches the point of attack hard. Will finish off plays. He can make plays in coverage but he isn’t a range guy. I don’t think the athleticism is good enough to be considered a guy that will make a big difference in deep coverage. Need to see more though.

Other Notables:

#95 DE Kenton Adeyemi – 6’4/287
#90 DT Julian Campenni – 6’0/302

MARSHALL

#3 WR Davonte Allen

Fifth year senior. Stood out to me last year when I was scouting the Marshall QB. Has the body. Long and strong with big hands. Will swallow the ball on contact. Tough with the ball in his hands after the catch. He may run 4.4 and if he does I think he has a good shot of being drafted. He has some deep threat potential.

#47 RB Devon Johnson – 6’1/244

(Not playing due to back injury. He should be back for the East/West Shrine game)

#31 LB Evan McKelvey – 6’2/218

Fifth year senior. Started off at safety for the Herd. Made the move to LB in 2012. Tore left ACL in 2012. Tore right ACL in 2014. This guy is a player. Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. Tackling machine that is all over the field. Leader of the team. Packs a punch in a frame that has room for growth. McKelvey will need to pass a lot of tests when it comes to the medicals but I’ll take him on my team any day. At the very least he can be a core special teamer. 5th or 6th round if the knees check out.

Other Notables:

#19 WR Deandre Reeves – 5’10/179

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MIAMI

#11 WR Rashawn Scott – 6’2/203

Fifth year senior. Sat out a good portion of 2013 because of a suspension and missed all of 2014 because of a shoulder injury. Had a nice but unspectacular year in 2015. Scott is tools-rich. The body type is there. He has some long stride speed once he gets going downfield. Usually has the length advantage over anyone that is covering him. Actually out-maneuvered FSU’s star CB Jalen Ramsey this past fall on more than a few occasions. More on Ramsey in a few days, though. Scott can be attractive to a lot of scouts and coaches but man he is really sloppy as a route runner and pass catcher. Lacks consistency all over. Upside will get him drafted late.

#2 S Deon Bush – 6’1/205

Started off on fire in 2012 and everyone thought he was going to be the next big thing at safety. He’s battled some minor injuries that forced him to miss time but nothing major. Bush doesn’t stand out to me on tape. He doesn’t get after it consistently as a tackler. He’ll make some highlight reel hits but those don’t impress me as much as a guy that is constantly in the mix and taking down ball carries in wide open space. He doesn’t get his hands on a ton of balls either. I don’t see top tier athletic ability nor do I see the essential instincts. Maybe a 4th or 5th round caliber guy that can backup in the NFL.

#3 CB Tracy Howard – 5’11/192

Has been in and out of the starting lineup the past four years. I think he got the short end of the stick as a result of the poor coaching staff and overall program. Howard can play. I’ve seen him matched up on an island against some of the top WRs in the ACC and he can hold his own. He moves well, reacts well, reads thrings before they happen. May not be overly physical, may not be a playmaker, but he can make a roster and stick as a backup. 5th or 6th round.

#17 LB Tyriq McCord – 6’3/241

Fourth year senior. Never panned out after being highly sought after out of high school, typical of a lot of Miami guys these days. Started off as a pass rusher only and moved his way back to the second level in 2014. This kid still shows flashes though. Even though he is off and on the field a lot, there is talent. He can explode from a standstill and obliterate a target. He has the speed and length. Sexy prospect but does he have any football player in him? He gets fooled real easily. Gets caught in traffic a lot. Maybe he can stick as a special teamer somewhere. Late rounder or priority UDFA.

Other Notables:

#6 WR Herb Waters – 6’2/199
#47 DT Ufomba Kamalu – 6’6/295
#93 DT Calvin Heurtelou – 6’3/315

WASHINGTON STATE

#80 WR Dom Williams – 6’2/200

Fifth year senior. Leaves school as one of the all time leading receivers in school history. Being a focal point within the Mike Leach scheme will do that to you. Williams is rail thin. There is some toughness to him but he gets altered by contact with defensive backs too easily. He isn’t a quick in and out guy, more of a long strider that can get behind a defense. Williams has the hands and coordination along with good tape and size to get himself drafted late.

#56 LT Joe Dahl – 6’4/310

Fifth year senior that started off at Montana. Has played LG and LT for the Cougars, the last two at LT. Dahl has the feet but lacks the essential flexibility and hand power. His punches don’t re-direct anyone. There will be a lot of strength development needed here. Practice squad guy for a year at least. UDFA most likely.

Other Notables:

#63 LG Gunnar Eklund – 6’7/305
#40 LB Kache Palacio – 6’2/231
#3 LB Ivan McLennan – 6’4/233
#99 DE Darryl Paulo – 6’2/255

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WASHINGTON

#82 TE Joshua Perkins – 6’4/226

Fifth year senior. Among the all time TE receiving leaders at Washington. Perkins is a receiving threat-only kind of guy right now. He is too small for the traditional role in the NFL but as teams start to migrate away from that, he may be attractive to some scouts. I wouldn’t call him a top tier matchup problem though. He doesn’t have the explosion or agility to strike fear in to a defense and we aren’t talking about an overly physical guy. Maybe an upside based 7th rounder.

#1 WR Jaydon Mickens – 5’11/170

Second all time on Washington’s career receptions list. Small, quick, jittery slot type with good after the catch ability. I’ve only seen him twice. He had a n easy time getting open against man coverage and he didn’t have any drops. He’ll have to run really well if he wants to get drafted.

#42 LB Cory Littleton – 6’3/227

Three year starter. Washington has a couple pieces on defense with long term upside and Littleton is the best of the bunch. He needs weight room strength, however. Against quality blockers, he gets locked on to easiliy and doesn’t have the moves to get off them. There is a nice frame there to work with though. Late rounder at best.

Other Notables:

#65 C Siosifa Tufunga – 6’3/314
#41 OLB Travis Feeney – 6’4/226
#90 DT Taniela Tupou – 6’2/288

SOUTHERN MISS

#88 WR Mike Thomas – 6’1/200

Transferred to Southern Miss prior to the 2014 season. Showed flashes last year but he broke out big in 2015, setting single season records for the program. Thomas is a big play guy. He has the speed to get behind a defense and shows consistent ball skills in traffic. He really attacks the ball. Strong hands catcher. Somewhat of a sleeper here that could be had in the 5th or 6th round. High upside.

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INDIANA

#78 LT Jason Spriggs – 6’7/305

Best prospect in the game. Four year starter and quietly is one of the top OL in this class. Spriggs has the size and frame to go with the light and balanced feet. He doesn’t always play the power game very well but he has an aggressive style and will play through the whistle. Spriggs is very far along when it comes to technique and mechanical development. Could be a 1st round prospect, possibly even top 15 overall.

#7 QB Nate Sudfeld – 6’6/240

3 year starter that missed half of 2014 with a shoulder injury. Was a big time get for Indiana in 2012 recruiting, as he was a very sought after player. Sudfeld will leave as the all time leader in passing yards and TDs in school history, but his career was never what most were hoping for. Big and powerful arm. Brave and decisive in the pocket. Struggles to make accurate throws under pressure and will often have mechanical breakdowns. Sudfeld is a middle round QB that someone will be excited about. He has legit NFL arm power. To me, he looks the part but his tape is too inconsistent to warrant anything higher than that.

Other Notables

#56 DE Nick Mangleri – 6’5/270

DUKE

#87 WR Max McCaffrey – 6’2/200

Fourth year senior. Son of former WR Ed McCafrey. Brother to Stanford star RB Christian. Three year starter that has been a steady, yet unspectacular presence for the Blue Devils. He is a sure route runner that can consistently run himself open underneath. Could be a nice third down target for someone. He does exactly what you would think a son of a former blue collar WR would do. Catches the ball with strong hands. Competes hard. Overcomes any lack of physical disadvantage with savvy movement and awareness of the defense. I like guys like this more than most. Likely a late rounder.

#16 S Jeremy Cash – 6’2/210

Three time All American safety that has a legit shot at being drafted in the top 45. Started off at Ohio State, transferred right away and sat out 2012. Cash is a legit strong safety prospect, no doubt. Some think he is top tier based purely on his production but I think the scheme and role had a lot to do with that. He pretty much roamed all over the field and was able to freelance. Not a bad thing at all and he certainly performed well, but I didn’t see enough plays in coverage over the past couple of years He isn’t Kam Chancellor. Hay may not even be Rashad Jones. But in the right scheme in the right role, Cash will help a defense early in his career.

Other Notables:

#62 C Matt Skura – 6’2/305
#89 TE Braxton Deaver – 6’5/245
#80 TE David Reeves – 6’5/255
#40 LB Dwanye Norman – 6’1/216

Dec 242015
 
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Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (September 12, 2015)

Kevin Byard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: December 24, 2015 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

#20 FS Kevin Byard – 5’11/223

Fifth year senior. Will leave school as one of their all time greats. Has been starting since his redshirt freshman season. School record for career INTs (19). I bet if Byard was 3 inches taller and simply played at an SEC school, we are talking about a potential 1st rounder. His awareness and intelligence stands out on tape. He knows exactly what is going on around him in deep coverage at all times. He can turn his hips and accelerate well enough. He is a physical downhill tackler that is reliable in space. My only grip with him is the long speed. He won’t catch up to guys if they get by him and his range to the sideline in pursuit is limited. I’ve seen speed players outrun his angles more than a few times. Maybe a 3rd rounder because of the all the things he can do for a secondary, just needs to run fast enough.

Other Notables:

#80 WR Ed’Marques Batties – 6’0/198
#6 RB Jordan Parker – 6’1/214
#38 LB T.T. Barber – 6’1/238
#24 LB Cavellis Luckett – 6’0/241
#22 SS Quay Watt – 6’0/204

WESTERN MICHIGAN

#70 LT Willie Beavers – 6’5/309

Fifth year senior and three year starter. Has some impressive tape against some of the best pass rushers the nation has to offer. He held his own against Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun, showing flawless and consistent mechanics, lower body strength, and easy awareness. I’ll be curious to see where he actually measures out, as I don’t think he has the ideal length for the outside. Beavers looks like a guard to me and I think he can be a 4th or 5th round pick there. He does the little things well and he has more than enough talent.

#7 CB Ronald Zamort – 5’10/174

Fifth year senior. Three year starter. 51 pass break ups over past three years which is among the nation’s leaders. May be another smaller than what he is listed. His lack of presence is noticeable. He gets pushed around by bigger receivers. He is a guy that will need to rely on quick feet and speed to last in the NFL and I’m not sure it’s good enough. He’s a fighter though. Very competitive and somehow gets his hands on a lot of balls. Has a feel for the position. UDFA, maybe draftable late.

Other Notables:

#1 S Rontavious Atkins – 6’0/207

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SAN DIEGO STATE

#72 RG Darrell Greene – 6’4/315

I haven’t seen San Diego State yet this year, so this will be my first look at Greene. Three year starter. Honorable Mention All Mountain West in 2014. Was among 5 players that were suspended for the first 5 games of the 105 season for a violation of team rules last summer. I haven’t done any digging on what he did but that’s a hefty price, so it wasn’t little. I’ve been told he projects to be a backup in the NFL, maybe a 6th or 7th rounder. I need to get eyes on him though, this will be my first look.

Other Notables:

#71 RT Pearce Slater – 6’7/331
#46 FB Dakota Gordon – 5’10/236

CINCINNATI

*#11 QB Gunner Kiel – 6’4/208

Former #1 QB High School QB has had a wild ride. He hasn’t been practicing with the team because of an off field, non-disciplinary issue. So he may not even be playing in this contest. Many think he will declare for the draft. Kiel went to Notre Dame and redshirted, then had to sit out a year because of the transfer. He has all the arm talent you want in a QB and he is pretty mobile as well. Good feel for the game, can process information and find his reads consistently. He gets erratic when there is pressure around him and will rush a lot of throws. Mechanically he has a lot of work to do. If he comes out he could be a 4th or 5th rounder.

#15 WR Chris Moore – 6’2/190

Fifth year senior. He actually isn’t on the field as many as some of the other senior WRs they have, but Moore has the highest upside. His size and speed will open eyes. Very impressive skills. He can really get up there and out reach defensive backs. Strong and aggressive in traffic. Moore has the quick burst to deep speed that has made him one of the best deep threars in the nation over the past three years. Maybe a late rounder here.

#19 WR Shaq Washington – 5’9/179

Fifth year senior. Set the Bearcats career record for receptions this season (238). Small and shifty but has a power presence to him. He breaks a lot of tackles and will move defenders back that try to tackle him once he has a head of steam. He ran a very simple route tree art Cincinnati so it’s hard to tell how quickly he could transition to the NFL. But physically he has a solid potential out of the slot. Late rounder.

Other Notables:

#2 WR Mekale McKay – 6’5/210
#3 WR Johnny Holton – 6’2/191
#25 WR Max Morrison – 6’1/182
#80 WR Alex Chisum – 6’3/200
#92 DE Silverberry Mouhon – 6’3/255
#9 CB Leviticus Payne – 5’10/192

Dec 232015
 
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Darian Thompson, Boise State Broncos (October 31, 2015)

Darian Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: December 23, 2015 Bowl Games

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

BOISE STATE

#1 WR Shane Williams-Rhodes – 5’6/173

Fourth year senior. Every year of his career, Williams-Rhodes was a high catch/low yardage receiver. He is a gimmick player, most often being used in the screen game and underneath. I am pulling for this kid. He plays with as much heart and desire as anyone. He tries to block harder than guys that are 6’6/250. But at the end of the day, it is very rare to see a player this small make it in the NFL. He has some return ability so there is a chance he could be in the mix for a roster spot somewhere. UDFA most likely.

#4 S Darian Thompson – 6’2/212

5th year senior, has been starting since the second half of his redshirt freshman season. 1st Team All Mountain West in 2014 and 2015. Might be the top prospect in this game. His 19 career INTs are the best in MWC history. Thompson isn’t an enforcer but he tackles well and he can move downhill to close a gap in a blink. He may not be a top end speed guy but he shows range to roam the deep half. He is a very well balanced defensive back that has starting potential in the NFL. It’s expected to be a so-so safety group and Thompson has an outside shot at being the top senior of the group.

#5 CB Donte Deayon – 5’9/155

Fourth year senior and three year starter. Three years in a row he was a 2nd team All MWC performer. Deayon is a movement based CB. He can stick to guys but he won’t alter anyone at the point of attack. He plays hard but he we won’t impact the game physically. He can easily be overwhelmed by the game’s bigger, more physical receivers. Corners this size have a very hard time sticking around. UDFA type but he will get a look from someone as a slot corner.

Other Notables

#72 C Marcus Henry – 6’3/286
#69 DE Tyler Horn – 6’5/268

NORTHERN ILLINOIS

#45 LB Boomer Mays – 6’0/244

Fifth year senior and three year starter at middle linebacker. Absolute bull between the tackles that can own the inside gaps. Will beat up blockers. Will fill the lanes hard and drive through ball carriers. Smart and instinctive guy. He is exposed when he has to move laterally, though. Just doesn’t have the speed to the sidelines. Can be an OK cover guy but to me he is a two down player. Best fit is the 3-4 scheme. Maybe a 5th or 6th rounder.

#29 CB Paris Logan – 5’9/195

Fifth year senior and 3 year starter. Undersized but tough as nails. Tackles very well and shows no hesitation in going after the ball carrier. Reliable in space. Can play a few different roles in coverage but it at his best in an aggressive man scheme. He gets his hands on and reads the flow, reacts quickly. Teams will go out of their way to avoid throwing at him. 5th or 6th rounder.

#44 OLB Perez Ford – 6’0/227

Two year starter that has seen time as a rush linebacker and DE. If I had to make a list of 5 sleepers that I think have star potential, Ford would be on it. He is undersized and will need a year or two to pack weight on. He needs a team that will show patience. But there are traits here that are rare to find. He is such an easy bender. He gets off the ball real fast. He has long arms and knows how to use quick hands and body positioning to get the advantage. Ford had a great second half of the year. He led the team in sacks. His potential is sky high and I don’t see anyone talking about him.

Other Notables:

#55 C Andrew Ness – 6’3/314
#11 WR Juwan Brescacin – 6’4/230

*****************************************************

GEORGIA SOUTHERN

#16 SS Antonio Glover – 6’1/200

Fifth year senior. Tools-rich safety with length and speed. Has a lot of things that coaches want to work with. Light started to come on this year with 6 INTs. Physical player as well that wraps up well. Pretty good player in space. Held his own against Georgia. He struggles to read and react in coverage, doesn’t drive out of his pivot and tends to be a step behind too often. Still a guy that will be drafted based on upside, maybe round 5 or 6.

#37 LB Antwoine Williams – 6’3/248

Fourth year senior. I’ve been told he is going to test extremely well in workouts. Big time height/weight/speed guy with the length and NFL ready body. That is graeat and all and I can see what scouts like, but man he was awful against Georgia. He gets lost among blockers too often. Linemen can lock him up. He doesn’t change direction very well. I think physically he has some attractive tools but that only means so much at LB. I’m not sure he feels the game. He could be drafted though because those hard to find tools are there

BOWLING GREEN

#8 RB Travis Greene – 5’10/189

Fifth year senior. Set the school record for rushing yards in 2013 but hasn’t really taken off from there. He may not have the build for the NFL RB position. He is elusive. Shows the hip swivel and easy foot quickness while moving at full speed. He can catch the ball. Willing blocker. Probably a candidate for 3rd down duty in the NFL if he can find a backfield that isn’t crowded.

#11 QB Matt Johnson – 6’0/219

Fifth year senior. Missed 2014 with a nasty hip injury. Came back with a monster season in 2015. 4,700 yards/43 TDs/8 INTs and 68.8% completion percentage. What is most impressive about him is the toughness and short memory. Johnson takes as many shots deep downfield as anyone. His stats are not just a result of an easy scheme. He lacks size. His accuracy is annoying-ly inconsistent on easy throws. He takes too many hits. But this kid is a gamer. I like him. Late rounder or UDFA worth looking at.

Other Notables:

#6 TE Chris Gallon – 6’4/246
#53 RG Alex Huettel – 6’3/309
#92 DT Zach Colvin – 6’3/29

Dec 192015
 
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Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (October 30, 2015)

Vernon Butler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: December 19, 2015 Bowl Games (Late Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

SAN JOSE STATE

#7 RB Tyler Ervin – 5’10/177

Fifth year senior. Was nicked up early in his career, missing some considerable time with a shoulder and ankle, respectively. Had a HUGE year in 2015. Second in the nation behind only Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey in all purpose yards. Ervin did not get a ton of carries until 2014 but since then, he’s really blossomed in to a legit prospect in the backfield. His return ability alone was good enough to get him drafted but now we are looking at a guy that some teams may want as a 3rd down back. Can he block? Can he put some weight on? Can he hold on to the ball in the NFL? Those are my questions on him. Likely a late rounder as of now.

#72 LT Wes Schweitzer – 6’5/314

Fifth year senior. Three year starter. Team Captain. This is another guy I am very intrigued by. I saw him play against Auburn and not only did he look like he belonged, but dominated. Very impressive blocker on the move in space. They do a lot with him and he showed the ability to stick with SEC caliber athleticism in the open field but also showed the power and mechanics to handle their big boys up front. He looks like he needs a year of strength development but I think there is a future as a starter in the NFL here. Whether its at guard or tackle I’m not quite sure yet, but he has the ability.

#8 CB Jimmy Pruitt – 6’0/203

Started all four year of his career. Mostly at CB but does have 11 starts at safety. He looks the part with the size and length, light feet and quick reactions. But there is too much weakness I see when it comes to tracking balls downfield and tackling. He isn’t a physical guy and he doesn’t have the catch up speed downfield. The essential traits to either DB position aren’t there for him. UDFA type.

GEORGIA STATE

#9 WR Donovan Harden – 5’11/175

Fifth year senior. Played two years at Illinois State and had to sit out a season because of transfer rules. Missed training camp and the first 3 games of 2015 with a broken bone in his foot. Came back strong and solidified his likelihood of being drafted. Harden is a speedster. May run in the 4.4 range and despite lacking ideal size, he can get up in traffic and come down with the ball. He is a tough guy. I think there is potential here to man the slot on a team that consistently puts 3 WRs on the field.

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OHIO

#75 LT Mike McQueen – 6’6/287

3 year starter that has played LG and LT. Has the feet and frame for the outside. Has the frame teams will look for. This is only my second look at him and I think he is a high upside guy. Late rounder.

#81 TE Keith Heitzman – 6’4/255

Played a 4 year career at Michigan, mostly at DE but made a good move to TE in 2014 after injuries to the actual contributors. Heitzman transferred as a Grad student to Ohio after Harbaugh took over. He has had a solid season at Ohio and showed potential to be a true two way tight end. Physical blocker that can take on DEs and LBs alike and showed some easy catching ability. I think he is an UDFA that could make a team.

#41 CB Ian Wells – 5’11/202

Fifth year senior. Haven’t scouted him yet. Some are saying he is a better prospect than Travis Carrie from a couple years back. He was one of my top sleepers of 2014 and he’s been playing well in Oakland relative to his 7th round draft position. I am looking forward to seeing this guy.

APPALACHIAN STATE

#49 DE Ronald Blair – 6’4/270

Top prospect in the game. Was a JUCO guy prior to transferring to App State in 2014. Has some tools. Wide frame that could easily add some more bulk. Really long arms and big hands. Blair jumped off the screen early in the year against Clemson. He was lining up all over the place and was able to beat different blockers in different ways. He is stout against the run, shows really good pad level and upper body strength. Has refined rush moves and appears slippery to blockers. Lacks the top end athletic ability but he can play. I think he can be a middle round guy that needs a year to develop in to a versatile starter.

#21 S Doug Middleton – 6’0/210

Strong safety type that showed really good tackling. Wraps up and hits hard. Can take guys down in the open field. Haven’t given him a hard look yet but he will be a late round possibility because of his ability to run and hit. Strong presence.

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ARKANSAS STATE

#15 WR Tres Houston – 6’2/199

Played three years at Arkansas State and one in Community College. Upside guy that has some length and speed to him. Makes tough, highlight reel catches. He showed some refined ability as a route runner as well and I think there will be teams that see a lot of upside here. He’s a big play guy but seems to struggle to get away from physical corners. As of right now he is a long strider that will need time to develop. Late rounder or UDFA.

#23 WR JD McKissic – 5’11/193

Fifth year senior. Has played in the wide open spread attack all four years. His first two seasons he combined for 185 catches and 1,872 yards including some return duty and a few carries each game. He has been their jack of all trades athlete but his production has slightly decreased over the past two years. Exciting guy to watch but there isn’t anything that jumps off the screen athletically. Product of a system but he likely gets a shot as an UDFA somewhere.

#19 TE Darion Griswold – 6’5/255

Fifth year senior. Interesting athlete here that some teams will view as potentially the next late round TE that blossoms in to a star. Former QB and basketball player. He has the frame and movement ability to work with. I saw him a few times in 2015 and I don’t see the upside that some do. He gets beat up in the trenches and there are rarely times where he jumps out at me. Late rounder maybe based on upside only.

LOUISIANA TECH

#28 RB Kenneth Dixon – 5’10/213

A four year career full of accolades. Freshman All American in 2012. 2nd Team All Conference USA in 2013 despite missing 2 games. Became the school’s all time leading rusher in 2014. 2 TDs shy of tying the all time rushing TD career record. Dixon is a guy that consistently makes the first man miss. He has the late shifty movement ability to miss the meat of a huit and the lower body strength to keep moving. Dixon is a complete back. He blocks, he catches, he protects the ball. My fear with him is he’s taken a ton of hits over his career. He’ll have over 800 carries by the time he leaves school. Mid rounder at best.

#6 QB Jeff Driskel – 6’4/231

Fifth year senior that transferred from Florida last spring. He had a very good year for Tech and it may have saved his chance of being drafted in 2016. He got the short end of the stick at Florida and fresh start here was the best thing that could have happened. Driskel has the talent as a runner and passer. He has top tier intangibles. Being at Florida brought out the worst in him and while he is far from a first round grade, someone can easily see him as a draftable QB to stash on the bench for a year or two. He will be one of my top 10 QBs in this class. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl.

#9 DT Vernon Butler – 6’3/316

Top prospect in the game. Some guys really like Butler, labeling him a borderline 1st rounder. I’m not quite there but I do think he is a day 2 caliber prospect with big time upside. He looks like a man among boys at times. He won’t get pushed around. Very stout at the point of attack, big time strength and thickness. He will make plays on the move away from the line and he can make an impact as a pass rusher. He’ll be a starter in the NFL.

Other Notables:

#21 CB Adairius Barnes 5’11/186
#6 S Kentrell Brice – 5’11/198
#8 DE Vontarrius Barnes – 6’4/253

Dec 192015
 
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Bronson Kaufusi, BYU Cougars (October 2, 2015)

Bronson Kaufusi – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2016 NFL Draft Prospects: December 19, 2015 Bowl Games (Early Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

ARIZONA

#77 RT Lane Maiava – 6’5/301

Fifth year senior. Torn ACL in 2012. Played both guard spots in 2014 for half the season. Starting RT in 2015. Strong upper body and can control guys when his hands are inside. But he plays really high and I’ve seen him against 3 NFL prospect caliber DL and he was outclassed strength wise. So a guy that plays high and lacks staying presence, I tend to steer clear of them. Late rounder at best.

#4 WR David Richards – 6’4/213

Fifth year senior. 2+ year starter that never really developed in to what they were hoping for. Tough for WRs in that kind of scheme though, especially guys that need to get downfield to show their worth. Nice height and length and a good catcher of the ball that lacks quick twitch and acceleration. UDFA type.

*#33 LB Scooby Wright – Arizona – 6’1/246

Junior that has not yet declared and I don’t think he will. He had one of the best seasons ever in 2014 production wise and cleaned up at the College Football Awards night, including the award given to the nation’s top defensive player. 2015 has been a nightmare, though. He tweaked his knee week 1, then had a regular season ending foot injury 2 weeks later against UCLA. He is telling people he’ll be back for the Bowl Game, we’ll see. I’m not as in to him as some are. The scheme is really set up for him to produce. He gets credit for getting it done but looking at the movement and power presence, he’ll have a hard time in the NFL meeting expectations. Solid mid round prospect if he comes out but I wouldn’t be comfortable drafting him early especially after the injuries.

#11 S William Parks – 6’1/194

Has played both the bandit and spur position in their 3-3-5, both vital components to their scheme. Parks is probably the highest upside draft guy in this game because he can do a lot of things. He can be physical, tackles well, has the movement ability to cover. The length and versatility are always sought after by NFL teams late in drafts. That is where I think he goes.

#8 DE Reggie Gilbert – 6’4/262

Fifth year senior. Consistent 4 year starter that has seen time at DT and DE in their hybrid scheme. Most likely a 4-3 DE in the NFL. There isn’t much to brag about here other than he can bend well and plays hard. He doesn’t get off blocks and he won’t beat anyone off the edge with speed. Priority UDFA type.

NEW MEXICO

#6 RB Jhurell Pressley – 5’10/203

Fifth year senior. Has averaged almost 7 yards per carry for his career, which is ridiculous. He’s the kind of guy that you say if he was another 10-15 pounds heavier, we are talking about a potential 1st or 2 rounder. His slight frame has to worry you a little, he is a slight 203 pounds. Very loose hips and each change of direction with nice top end speed make him a fun watch. At the end of the day though I think he will struggle with ball security and pass protection in the league. That is enough to not even consider him for some teams. Late rounder at best.

***************************

BYU

#10 WR Mitch Matthews – 6’5/210

Intriguing guy to some people. Long strider with the obvious size advantage. Caught a lot of passes and TDs over the past two years (125 and 20 respectively). I don’t see the quick twitch and I think he will get beat up in the NFL. His size doesn’t play to his advantage as much as I want. Late rounder, maybe a UDFA.

#72 LT Ryker Matthews – 6’6/322

Lethargic pass blocker with bad footwork. He can catch your eye as a run blocker though with some strong leg drive and effective hands. I think he makes a move to guard at the next level but won’t be drafted. UDFA type.

#90 DE Bronson Kaufusi – 6’8/280

Four year contributor, played in all but 2 games over his career. I really like this guy. Initially I thought he was unathletic and too big for his own good, but the more I watch the more I am intrigued. He is a guy that you really need to watch from start to finish in a few games to understand and appreciate his game. Realtive to his level of competition, Kaufusi can dominate a game much like JJ Watt. He is moved all over the point of attack. He is so big and so long but has enough mobility and quick reaction to exploit one on one matchups a variety of ways. He has the NFL body already and I think he can start in the NFL right away. What is his true position? I think 4-3 DE is best but like Watt, he would probably work in a role where he can be moved around between the C and A gaps. If he can test well at the combine I think he can be a 2nd rounder.

UTAH

#23 RB Devontae Booker – 5’11/212

*Will miss the game after a meniscus surgery he had a couple weeks ago. Unfortunate. Some think he is a top 3 back in this class.

#2 WR Scott, Kenneth – 6’3/208

6th year senior that has lost two seasons to injuries (ankle and knee). I haven’t see him jump off the screen yet but a few people say his upside is much higher than what you would initially think. Long strider with strong hands. Does some little things well like route running, selling double routes, blocking, consistently catching with hands. I would like to see him beat guys one on one more though. Late rounder but if he can test well he could sneak in to the middle rounds.

#60 C Siaosi Aiono – 6’2/310

Fifth year senior with experience at RT and C. Leader of the OL. Has the feet and short area quickness to play against speed. Even for a shorter guy I catch him playing too high often. Doesn’t play the power game as well as I want out of an inside guy. Solid college guy but don’t think he can hack it as a starter or even a primary backup. UDFA type.

#7 QB Travis Wilson – 6’7/233

4 year starrer and will leave Utah with a few career passing records. People were real excited about him after his freshman year. Had an unusual combination of size, speed, and arm strength. Real tough kid but he’s battled injuries throughout his career. His tools are enticing but he never took the step up to the next level. He’s real inconsistent and doesn’t have that feel or clock in the pocket. I could see him getting drafted late based on tools but I don’t think he has it.

#41 LB Jared Norris – 6’2/240

Fifth year senior. One of the best linebackers in the Pac 12, fought some nagging injuries this season but still played well. He is old school. Tough and gritty, can smash blockers and ball carriers in the mouth. Enforcer in the middle of the field. Probably won’t test well athletically but he has average to above average game speed. He can be moved around, productive blitzer off the edge. I like his feel for the game but I do think he will be limited speed wise. 4th/5th rounder that could start right away in a few schemes.

#51 DE Jason Fanaika – 6’3/270

Will be a 24 year old rookie. Spent 2 years at Utah State before leaving school to aid his family while his father had Cancer. Played at Utah past two years and became one of their top pass rushers. He isn’t quick or fast, but he gets a lot of production from consistent hustle and grit. Strong guy. Not sure he has the tools to play DE in the NFL but he’ll get a shot. Late rounder or priority UDFA.

#13 LB Gionni Paul – 5’10/225

Started off at Miami in 2011 and 2012. Actually showed some big time playmaking ability in 2012, earning a couple of weekly awards. He transferred and sat out in 2013. Started for a couple seasons at Utah and he jumps off the screen at times. Real quick and shifty. Hard guy for blockers to get a hold of. He has made some crazy-athletic plays. He has a lot going against him, namely his lack of size, but he plays hard and knows where to be and how to get there. He is a guy I am looking for in late rounds or UDFA period. I think he can surprise.

Other Notables:

#9 S Tevin Carter – 6’1/215
#53 LB Jason Whittingham – 6’2/245
#34 RB Bubba Poole – 6’1/197

Oct 072015
 
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Emlen Tunnell (45), New York Giants (October 22, 1950)

Emlen Tunnell (45), New York Giants (October 22, 1950)

Emlen Tunnell and Roosevelt Brown were the first and second African-American players of the New York Football Giants franchise, respectively. They arrived from obscurity – Tunnell as a free agent who walked in off of the street and asked for a job, and Brown as a 27th round draft pick chosen on a whim when his name happened to be noticed on a newspaper clipping. Despite their humble beginnings, both men became deeply rooted in the Giants family and remained fulltime members of the organization for the remainders of their lives.

Professional football was an integrated sport in the 1910s and continued to be so when the American Professional Football Association (APFA) formed in 1920. That circuit is known to have employed at least 13 African-American players between the years of 1920 through 1933, although none participated during the 1927 season. Most were members of the small-town teams like Akron, Rock Island, Hammond, Dayton and Canton. The one with the highest profile was Fritz Pollard, an extremely talented tailback who played with five teams from 1920 through 1925, including the APFA Champion Akron Pros in 1920 (which he also coached). Pollard was posthumously enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

The only big-city team to have African-Americans on their roster for a significant length of time was the Chicago Cardinals who had three during their early years. They included the excellent tackle Duke Slater from 1926 through 1931 and halfback Joe Lillard who led the team in scoring in 1933. Lillard was released after that season, as was tackle Ray Kemp from the Pittsburgh Pirates, initiating a 12-year span where the NFL was an all-white league.

Although no official ban of African-American players has never been proven to have existed, it would be ludicrous to entertain the belief their exclusion was mere coincidence or happenstance. Some theorists believe, though it has never been proven, influential Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who entered the league in 1932 and became infamous two decades later for his all-white roster, was significant in convincing the other owners to eliminate black players from their rosters.

Possible motivation for an all-white league was marketing preference. Pro football at the time was desperately trying to climb the ladder of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s and tried to emulate baseball, which had been segregated since the 1880’s, in many ways organizationally. It would have been in line with the beliefs of the times that a league of white, college-educated players would be more appealing to prospective ticket buyers.

The league slowly and incrementally bolstered its fan base through the Great Depression and World War II years, but it likely had nothing to do with all-white rosters. Rather, it was accomplished by intelligent organization, the institution of an annual championship game and rules changes that improved the way the game was played on the field.

As a result of the ban, many talented black players, who professional football fans surely would have embraced and appreciated on a grander stage, languished in obscurity in semi-pro leagues. That is exactly what happened in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier. The impetus for integration was inspired by expansion, relocation and the threat from a rival league.

No Longer Separate, but Not Exactly Equal

Cleveland Rams owner Dan Reeves (no relation to the Dallas player of the 1960s who also coached the Broncos, Giants and Falcons in the 1980s and 1990s) had his eyes on the untapped market of the West Coast for a number of years, but his requests to move his franchise had been voted down. That all changed with the surplus of players who became available after the conclusion of World War II in 1945. Prospective owners who had unsuccessfully attempted join the NFL via expansion formed their own league, the All American Football Conference (AAFC), to begin play in 1946. The new league announced they would not only have a franchise located in Los Angeles, but also San Francisco. The NFL, which did not have a franchise further west than Green Bay, realized their tactical error and finally granted Reeves’ wish to move his team to avoid giving the AAFC exclusivity on the West Coast.

As Reeves negotiated to have the Rams play at the expansive Los Angeles Coliseum, he was told they would not be allowed to do so unless they had at least one black player on the team. Reeves responded by signing two former UCLA stars from the independent pro team Hollywood Bears, Kenny Washington on March 9, 1946 and Woody Strode shortly thereafter. Coincidentally, both players were college teammates of Jackie Robinson at UCLA.

Nearly simultaneously, Paul Brown was in Cleveland assembling the team that would dominate the AAFC and push the NFL into the future. Brown had known nothing but success everywhere he went, achieving legendary status as a high school coach at Massillon, OH, won a national title at Ohio State in 1942 and had his 1944 team at the Great Lakes Naval Station finish in the Top 20. Two of Brown’s hallmarks were having the best players he could find on his roster, and not tolerating racism. Despite there being no apparent color line in the AAFC, Brown signed the league’s first two African-Americans in August 1946, Marion Motley, who had played for Brown at Great Lakes, and Bill Willis, who played for Brown at Ohio State. Brown said years later, “I didn’t care about a man’s color or his ancestry, I just wanted to win football games with the best possible people.”

Despite these four men having integrated professional football a year ahead of Robinson and Major League Baseball, without receiving little fanfare, their perseverance was no less significant. Comparatively, the apparent indifferent public response was more indicative of pro football’s subordinate status at the time. Regardless, their contributions remain irrefutable as they opened the doors for many others to follow. They endured numerous hardships, including sometimes brutal physical and verbal abuse from opponents.

Motley said in their first few seasons officials turned a blind eye to late contact and dirty play, including elbows to the face (in an era where facemasks were still rare) and said he had several fingers broken by the opposition deliberately stepping on his hands. “Of course, the opposing players called us ‘nigger’ and all kinds of names like that. This went on for about two or three years until they found out that Willis and I were ballplayers.” Occasionally their teammates took policing action into their own hands and would call a “bootsie” play directed at an offending player where justice would be meted out at the bottom of the pile.

Off of the field, slights were commonplace. African-American players were often not welcome at the same hotels where their teams stayed, and regularly ate at separate restaurants. During the 1946 season, Brown left Motley and Willis behind on a road trip to Miami to play the Seahawks because he feared for his players’ safety. He assured them that Miami would not be in the league the next season, and true to his word, the franchise was rescinded and a new one arose in Baltimore.

Strode and Washington were both already past their primes when they joined the Rams and had brief stays in the NFL. Willis and Motley were magnificent performers, won multiple championships, and are both enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hitching a Ride to the Big Time

The floodgates didn’t exactly open after 1946. The flow of African Americans into professional football was more like a trickle. The AAFC bolstered their African-American population at a slightly quicker rate than the NFL. Most notable of the 1947 additions were Cleveland’s end and punter Horace Gillom and the New York Yankees dynamic halfback and returner Buddy Young. Detroit was the second NFL team to employ African Americans when they signed halfback Mel Groomes on April 17, 1948 and end Bob Mann one week later.

Tunnell still had a year of college eligibility left in 1948 after missing his senior year at Iowa with an eye injury, but wanted to give pro ball a try. He hitchhiked from Garret Hill, PA to Manhattan. Tunnell recalled, “I was just about to forget it and go home when I got a ride from a West Indian guy in a banana truck who took me all the way to the Lincoln Tunnel.”

He made his way to the Giants offices at Columbus Circle and asked to speak with Coach Steve Owen. After Owen told Tunnell he’d never heard of him, General Manager Ray Walsh recognized Tunnell’s name from his time at Iowa, and brought him to meet owner Tim Mara. The owner was impressed enough with the player’s positive attitude and self-confidence to allow him a try out. It did not take long for Tunnell to prove himself worthy to Owen on the field and be offered a contract, officially making him the Football Giants first African-American player. The New York Times printed a three paragraphs documenting the Giants signing of the “Negro back” on July 25.

Tunnell and Tim Mara forged a bond that lasted until the owner’s passing in 1959. Tunnell said, “During that very first morning in the office, Mr. Mara gave me the feeling that I had found a friend in New York. He impressed me as a man who believed in his judgement. He stood on his own two feet and expected you to do the same. He was one of the finest men I’ve met. It wasn’t that he was a financial friend, although he certainly was that, but a personal friend.”

To survive physical practices designed to test the efficacy of newcomers, Tunnell befriended the Giants other African-American employee, trainer Charlie Porter. After being rousted by Owen from the cold tub after a brutal practice, Porter reinforced the coach’s fundamental beliefs while offering compassion to the bruised player who was questioning his confidence, “I let you come in here because I know he wouldn’t give permission to a rookie. Steve always says this game has to be played down in the dirt. He knows you’re physically tough enough to get down in the dirt. But in this league you have to be mentally tough, too, and some guys just aren’t.” Tunnell took Porter’s message to heart, and would ultimately set the NFL standard for most consecutive games started with 143 [since broken] before his playing days in New York were finished.

After learning the rigors of the trade at camp in Pearl River, New York, a battle-hardened Tunnell returned to New York and faced a host of off-field challenges. He was nearly arrested attempting to cash his first paycheck from the Giants when the teller and security guard had believed it was stolen. Lacking a driver’s license, Walsh had to come to the bank to vouch for Tunnell. He also experienced difficulty finding himself welcome at Manhattan Hotels, until he found the Henry Hudson, which Tunnell described as “a white hotel” and stayed there for eleven years. He also found himself late for a team meeting when a cab driver refused to bring him to the Polo Grounds. After being turned away at many restaurants, Tunnell alternately invited teammates to his favorite establishments in Harlem.

Tunnell had no such difficulty being welcomed in the locker room. His first and longest-lasting friendship was with another newcomer in 1948, quarterback Charlie Conerly. “I consider Charlie Conerly to be one of the best friends I have in the world, and I have reason to believe that he feels the same way about me. We hit it off right from the start. Charlie was a war veteran like myself…another thing we had in common was neither of us carried our race on our sleeve. We judged one another as football players and guys.”

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants (1948)

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants (1948)

During his first regular season game, Tunnell was concerned about what the fans thought of him, and it caused him a deep conflict because his resolution conflicted with his coach’s orders. After taking several hard hits on punt returns, Owen told Tunnell to signal for a fair catch for the sake of his own safety. Tunnell said, “Like a good little rookie, I signaled for a fair catch on the next punt. As I ran off the field I heard some boos…There was another punt; another fair catch and a lot of boos. That tore it. When I got back to the bench, my neck was no longer brown. It was red. No player worth his salary reacts favorably to boos, and in my case there was something behind those boos that I didn’t like. I was sure that some of those people were booing because they thought to themselves, ‘The nigger is afraid to run with the ball.’ This was one of the few times in all my years in sports when I have been insubordinate to my coaches. ‘To hell with those fair catches,’ I snapped. ‘If you want somebody to make a fair catch, put another guy in there. I’m not going to have those people think I’m gutless.’ That moment of decision grooved me for the future. If I had been willing to go for the fair catch or if Steve had been unwilling to let me play it my way, I would not have been the player I turned out to be.”

Tunnell went on to set NFL single-season and franchise records for punt returns and punt return yards that lasted over a decade.

Tunnell struggled with more than punt returns his rookie season. He was unsure of his assignments, and accrued a large number of defensive holding penalties as he repeatedly was fooled in one-on-one coverage situations in pass defense and also never quite found a defined role on the team as he played sporadically on offense.

The turning point came on November 21st against the Packers in Milwaukee when Tunnell intercepted three passes (the first of four three-interception games of his career) and returned one 43 yards for his first touchdown as a professional. Tunnell said, “I was making the ping-pong transition from a guy who thought he was a great pass defense man to a guy who realized he didn’t know anything about pass defense to a guy who was learning a little about pass defense.” His renewed confidence was expressed with exuberant tackling. Tunnell knocked Green Bay back Jack Jacobs from the game.

Tunnell, who had also knocked out Philadelphia’s All-Pro halfback Steve Van Buren earlier in the season, relished the physicality of tackling as much as he enjoyed making a play with the ball in his hands: “I could make tackles until I’m 50. Your body may go, but your heart doesn’t.”

Influential Impact

The following offseason George Taliaferro, a multi-purpose back from Indiana, became the first African-American selected in the NFL draft. He passed up the opportunity to play with the Chicago Bears and instead chose to play with the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC. At the conclusion of the 1949 season, six of the AAFC’s eight teams had at least one black player, while only three of ten NFL teams had one (the Rams, Lions and Giants.)

In 1949 Tunnell returned two of his then-franchise record 10 interceptions for touchdowns, as well as his first punt return for a score. The 10 interceptions is quite remarkable when considering the NFL played a 12-game season and teams only threw the ball approximately 41% of the time. [In 2014, NFL teams threw the ball nearly 57% of the time during a 16-game season.] Over the first 10 years of his career, Tunnell never registered fewer than six interceptions.

His most significant contribution to the Giants came in 1950 as a key cog in Owen’s Umbrella Defense, which was designed specifically to slow down the dynamic and explosive Cleveland offense. Tunnell said, “Steve Owen had a fine football mind, and he used it to concentrate upon the problems presented by the Browns…Otto Graham often sent out four potential receivers against the opposition’s three deep backs. When Cleveland’s great ends, Mac Speedie and Dante Lavelli, ran hook patterns that took them toward the middle of the secondary, the Browns halfbacks, Dub Jones and Rex Baumgartner or Ken Carpenter, would double flare, a maneuver that took them outside and deep. As an alternate to this, Speedie or Lavelli, or both, would run down and out to the sideline. The sideline pass was Graham’s bread-and-butter play.”

Emlen Tunnell (45), Tom Landry (49); New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (October 1, 1950)

Emlen Tunnell (45), Tom Landry (49); New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (October 1, 1950)

Owen’s concept was to congest the traffic along the sidelines. After lining up in a six-man line, the ends would drop back into coverage, leaving the interior four to rush. The two safeties covered the deep middle while the two defensive halfbacks covered the area between the ends and safeties. The single linebacker keyed on fullback Marion Motley. Looking at the scheme on a blackboard, the defense resembled an opened umbrella.

The defense performed like an umbrella as well. In their first meeting, New York upset the Browns in Cleveland 6-0, the first shutout in the Browns’ history. Graham threw three interceptions and did not complete a single pass through the first half. It was the perfect answer for the quickly evolving T-Formation offense that had taken pro football by storm after World War II. The umbrella would be further refined by Tom Landry later in the decade as the 4-3 defense. The four defensive backs, operated intuitively with one another, passing off receivers and covering the field with an intricacy never before seen.

Tunnell said that 6-0 victory was so enjoyable that he never felt the urge to play on offense again. “I guess I got sold on defense when I teamed up with Tom Landry, Harman Rowe and Otto Schnellbacher in 1950. That was the best-tackling backfield I ever saw. Everyone knew what the other fellow was going to do and that’s what made it such fun. After that I never wanted to play offense again.”

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants; New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (December 17, 1950)

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants; New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (December 17, 1950)

Tunnell reemphasized his passion for physical play when he reacquainted himself with Van Buren late in the season finale, which New York needed to win to maintain a tie in the standings with Cleveland. New York held a 9-7 lead on a snow-covered field when the Philadelphia back turned the corner and appeared headed for a long gain until Tunnell came across the field and stopped Van Buren dead in his tracks with a thunderous hit. The drive stalled and the Giants held on for the win. After the game Van Buren said, “I’ve been hit hard, but never that hard.”

After the 1950 season, Detroit released its two African-American players, Bob Mann and Wally Triplett and did not have another black player on the team until 1958, a span that covered the entire coaching tenure of head coach Bubby Parker. After 1952, 10 of the NFL’s 12 teams had at least one black player, the exceptions being the Lions and Redskins. Washington owner Marshall infamously stated during the period, “We’ll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.”

Tunnell set an NFL record in 1951 with 34 punt returns, three of which were run back for touchdowns. He also took place in a unique occurrence in pro football history on November 4, 1951. Against the New York Yanks at the Polo Grounds, Tunnell combined with Buddy Young, to record the first back-to-back kickoff return touchdowns in NFL history. Tunnell’s covered 100 yards for his and Young’s 90.

1952 was the season that Tunnell earned the moniker “Offense on Defense” as he was a big play waiting to happen when he got his hands on the ball. His seven interceptions for 149 yards, 30 punt returns for 411 yards and 15 kick returns for 364 yards totaled 924, more than the NFL’s leading rusher, African-American back “Deacon” Dan Towler of Los Angeles who gained 894 yards.

Quotas, Stacking and Skill Positions

African-American players were often relegated to positions that allegedly required less intelligence, which gave birth to the term “skill positions.” Black players found themselves grouped at such positions as halfback and safety on defense and backs and ends on offense. This tactic became known as “stacking”, which limited the number of African-American players who could make their respective team as they were competing against one another for the same roster spots. There were also implications that some teams may have had a quota in place for African-American players.

Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry, however, saw beyond common perception, and complemented Tunnell for more than his athleticism: “He had brains. He knew what was going on out there. He could cover, tackle, do it all. He was so knowledgeable about the position and the defensive schemes he played in.”

The position that proved to be the most difficult for black players to assume was quarterback. The first black quarterback since Pollard in the 1920’s was Willie Thrower in 1953. His experience was limited to two appearances, and eight pass attempts for the Chicago Bears. Thrower was released after the season and was not signed by any other teams. Tunnell reset the record for punt returns that same year with 38, and would stand until 1965.

Still, Tunnell is remembered by those closest to him for his physical style of play. Teammate Sam Huff recalled, “He was the hardest hitting guy in the league. He would hit people so hard they’d be afraid to catch a pass in front of him; catch a pass in front of Emlen Tunnell and usually you don’t finish the game.”  Hall of Fame back Lenny Moore said Tunnell was the second-best tackler he faced after Dick “Night Train” Lane.

The Sleeper Pick

The Giants added their second African-American player, tackle Roosevelt Brown, in the 27th round of the 1953 draft. A member of the Giants staff saw his name mentioned on a black all-American team in the Pittsburgh Courier [a black newspaper] and during a moment of indecision when the Giants were on the clock, he suggested Brown as the team’s choice.

Brown was a unique physical specimen. He was a sculpted 245 pounds his rookie season with a 29-inch waist. In addition, he was one of the fastest players on the team, and would always be considered the fastest lineman in the NFL his entire career. Dedicated to physical conditioning, he was noted for routinely staying on the field after practices to run extra laps on his own.

Roosevelt Brown. New York Giants (1953)

Roosevelt Brown. New York Giants (1953)

Like Tunnell before him, Brown’s mettle was tested right away in training camp. Coach Owen lined Brown up across from ferocious All-Pro defensive tackle Arnie Weinmeister in drills. Brown was beaten repeatedly and finished the day physically battered, but Owen was impressed with the young player’s resolve.

Brown ascended from the bottom of the depth chart and was New York’s starting left tackle on opening day in September as a rookie. His transition to New York was made easier by the now-established veteran Tunnell. Brown, who roomed with Tunnell in 1953, said, “Within two months, Emlen had introduced me to every cabby, maître d’hôtel, barber, teammate, cop or politician I needed to know in New York. There was no fuss to it. They were Emlen’s friends.”

While New York had a dismal season in 1953, Brown proved to be a bright spot and someone the new coaching staff could build around. Brown proved to be an instinctive pass blocker early on, exhibiting patience that belied his experience as he held his ground while defenders tried to maneuver around him. On running plays, Brown dominated the point-of-attack and pierced the front wall of the opposition’s defense creating running lanes. Beginning in 1954, offensive coach Vince Lombardi turned Brown into pro football’s first pulling tackle on his signature play: the power sweep.

Brown regularly logged the most minutes played for the Giants the first 10 years of his career. In the days of small rosters (teams carried 33 active players in 1953, expanded to 35 in 1957, 36 in 1959 and did not reach 40 until 1964), versatility and endurance were highly valued. Brown was a mainstay in New York’s goal-line and short-yardage defenses, and regularly lined up over the center in the middle guard position.

While being a generally quiet man who chose not to draw attention to himself, his former teammates were not at all reticent to describe his play and importance to the Giants. “As far as I’m concerned, Rosie was the best offensive tackle ever to play,” said Frank Gifford. “We knew the moment we saw him that this was one of the great physical specimens, eventually rounding out at about six-feet-five and 270 pounds. But nobody imagined his incredible athletic ability. Rosie was so fast he could have played running back and would have made a great tight end.

“Rosie and I teamed up on one of Lombardi’s most effective plays, the 48 Option. It was a quick pitch to me, and I either ran the ball around the left end or threw it, depending on what the defensive cornerback did…Rosie just loved to annihilate those little cornerbacks. There’d be nothing but grease spots left of them when he got up. In the huddle he’d practically froth when they called the 48 Option. It gave me my longest career run from scrimmage [79 yards, November 29, 1959 vs. Washington]. On that one, Rosie creamed the cornerback, got up to chase after me, and wiped out another defensive back nearly 40 yards downfield.”

There was no coincidence that in 1956 when Brown was named the NFL’s Lineman of the Year, Gifford was also voted the NFL’s MVP. “I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it weren’t for him,” said Gifford.

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1956)

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1956)

Sam Huff said, “Our MVP lineman had to be Roosevelt Brown. He was nothing but muscle, a bigger version of Jimmy Brown, and he was all heart. He was so valuable to our team he even played some defense. Rosie also played on all the special teams.”

Opponent, peer and Hall of Fame Baltimore guard Jim Parker said, “Rosie never did the same things twice. He was incredible. He was my favorite, my idol. Everything I learned I picked up from him. I wanted to be just like him.”

Refuting the perception that black players lacked intelligence, longtime New York coach Allie Sherman regarded Brown as being an “extra coach” on the field for his team. He said Brown often alerted teammates to changes in the opposition’s sets. And he also marveled at Browns’ athletic gifts. “Nobody could do the things he could do,” said Sherman. “He was so quick that on an end run, in the time it took a quarterback to lay the ball in the runner’s belly, he could slide all the way down the line in the direction of the play, get there before the ball carrier and join in the run block with the two guards at the point-of-attack.”

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1958)

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1958)

Brown received numerous accolades from his peers and football personnel, who voted him to nine Pro Bowls and named him All Pro six times over his career.

Progress

As more black players made their mark in professional football, more joined the ranks. In the 1953 and 1954 seasons, African-American Joe Perry of San Francisco became the first player with back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons.

Emlen Tunnell (45), New York Giants (November 28, 1954)

Emlen Tunnell (45), New York Giants (November 28, 1954)

In 1954, the Giants added end-kicker Haldo Norman and fullback Bobby Epps, which doubled the number of African-Americans on the team. Norman injured himself mowing his lawn shortly before training camp and only appeared in the preseason. Epps had a productive three-year tenure in New York and started 21 games over the 1954 and 1955 seasons.

Two cornerstones of the great Giant teams to come arrived in 1955, defensive tackle Roosevelt Grier and fullback Mel Triplett. Their transition was made easier by the men who preceded them. Giant captain Andy Robustelli reflected years later: “One of the reasons we never had problems was because of Em Tunnell. Emlen was good to all people. He was a hell of a decent person who meant a lot to young ballplayers.”

While the NFL’s African-American population gradually increased during the 1950’s and locker rooms appeared to be harmonious, there were still uncomfortable encounters on the field of play. Gifford recalled: “Perhaps because Rosie was so talented, some of the clowns we played against gave him a real racist initiation. He’d hear, ‘you black motherf—–,’ and a lot worse. When he’d come back to the huddle, I’d be as embarrassed as he was.”

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants (1955)

Emlen Tunnell, New York Giants (1955)

Tunnell was perceived as pleasant, friendly and easy going without a care in the world. But he often confided his worries and frustrations with his close friend Conerly. Conerly told Tunnell one evening in the early 1950’s, “Time will heal everything. Just like you came here to play. You were the first colored guy and since then there have been more and more. That’s how it will be in everything else.”

While the social pressures were tremendous, there also happened to be an unforeseen positive consequence – a little freedom from the coaches and bed checks while on the road. When the team stayed in white-only hotels, alternate arrangements were made for Tunnell, Brown and the other black players on the team. Brown said, “Wellington Mara always took care of it, and the people we stayed with were always nice people with nice homes, and we loved it. We didn’t have any curfew like the other guys, and we could do anything we wanted – drink beer and party – with no coaches checking up on us. Sometimes Charlie Conerly, Frank Gifford and Alex Webster would come over where we were staying, and once Frank said, ‘Hell, you guys got the best of two worlds.’ It actually upset me when the segregations arrangements ended, and we had to stay with the rest of the players.”

Bill Svoboda (30), Emlen Tunnell (middle), Alex Webster (29); New York Giants, (December 30, 1956)

Bill Svoboda (30), Emlen Tunnell (middle), Alex Webster (29); (December 30, 1956)

By the decade’s end however, many players had had enough and stood up for change. Rosey Grier remembered an exhibition trip to Dallas with the Colts in 1959. “We black players knew what going to Dallas meant: the white players would stay in one hotel and we would be housed in another one that was presumably more suited to our race. It was always that way in the South. It was awkward, because we had to take a bus to the hotel where the white coaching staff and players were staying for meetings and the like. But, when it came time to eat, we had to get back in the bus and go someplace where it was okay for blacks to eat.

“But, in 1959 in Dallas, we had a change of heart. It may have been provoked by the promotional nature of the trip that called for all the players to attend a pre-game party downtown where we could be gazed at by local businessmen who might be interested in backing an NFL franchise for Dallas.”

Grier, Brown, Triplett and the black players from the Colts, including Lenny Moore, discussed boycotting the pre-game event as a form of protest. When Grier and the others refused to board the Giants bus to the pre-game party, Coach Jim Lee Howell became alarmed. Wellington Mara had overheard the discussion and intervened, “We didn’t know you felt like this, and I promise you in the future we won’t go anywhere we can’t stay together.” All the Giants attended the party, but the African-American players from Baltimore refrained. Although Grier questioned whether they had given in too easily at first, Mara proved true to his word and New York never again patronized a segregated establishment.

Breaking Barriers off the Field

Tunnell’s final game in a Giants uniform took place on December 28, 1958 against Baltimore in the “Greatest Game Ever Played.” Tunnell was believed to have slowed down with age. He had his return duties reduced and occasionally chafed with defensive coach Tom Landry, and was released after the season. He played three more years in Green Bay, and his final game was the 1961 NFL Championship Game against the Giants, where he intercepted a Y.A. Tittle pass during the Packers 37-0 victory.

Tunnell spent the 1962 season in the unusual capacity of serving as a freelance scout for both New York and Green Bay. The Giants were impressed with Tunnell’s insightful work and hired him as a full-time assistant coach in 1963, the first African-American to serve in such a capacity. Lowell Perry of the Steelers served as an assistant coach in 1957 after having his pelvis fractured and hip dislocated by Grier and Bill Svoboda of the Giants in 1956, then was a part time scout for Pittsburgh in 1958 before moving into private business.

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1962)

Roosevelt Brown, New York Giants (1962)

Brown was forced into retirement by a chronic phlebitis condition after the 1965 season and joined Tunnell on New York’s coaching staff in 1966. Both men cherished working with young players and reflected on how pro football had changed dramatically in the time since they had entered the league.

Tunnell said: “You knock people down, you stop people from scoring – there’s no difference. The only difference is that there are more players and there’s more money…I think the quality is different simply because there’s more teams…I think the desire is gone because I’ve had players say to me, ‘There are 26 teams, I’ll get a job.’ And it’s true…It doesn’t bother me, ‘cause it’s their money. There are a lot of guys making money who don’t put out and that bothers me more than anything. I don’t understand it, because when they go out to work they can’t make the same kind of money they’re making playing pro football. They don’t stay after practice. They don’t enjoy themselves. The Kyle Rotes, the Giffords, the Tunnells, the Rosie Browns, the Robustellis – they stayed out every day on their own time. I used to run up to 10 punts every day, 75-80 yards, up until I got too old. I did it because I enjoyed it.”

That love poured over into his coaching as well. Tunnell once reprimanded a player he had personally scouted and brought to the Giants, Carl “Spider” Lockhart, during a contract dispute. Tunnell told Lockhart playing for the Giants was a privilege, “You should be paying them. Sign that contract!”

Tunnell said of the changes since he became one of the first African-Americans to play professionally in 1948, “There are more black players now. They’re playing because they’re good enough to play, not because they’re black.”

Joe Green (#33), Willie Williams (#41), Coach Emlen Tunnell, Carl "Spider" Lockhart (#43) at practice in 1971

Joe Green (#33), Willie Williams (#41), Coach Emlen Tunnell, Carl “Spider” Lockhart (#43) at practice in 1971

While coaching the Giants group of defensive backs, known as “Emlen’s Gremlins”, Tunnell received pro football’s highest individual honor, enshrinement into the Hall of Fame in 1967. Tunnell is not only the first African-American member in Canton, but also the first player recognized as a defensive specialist from the two-platoon era (though his punt and kick return accomplishments were certainly considered.) During his brief acceptance speech, he thanked his coaches, the Maras and the driver of the banana truck who picked him up hitchhiking to the Giants offices.

During this time, Marlin Briscoe became the first African-American to assume the role of a regular starting quarterback for a pro football team. Briscoe started 11 games in 1968 for Denver of the AFL. He spent most of his career traveling and started 66 games for six different teams over the course of his nine-year career and played in the 1970 Pro Bowl.

Tunnell coached through 1973 and returned to scouting the following year. He served in that capacity until his death at training camp in 1975. John Mara said, “It’s fair to say that Emlen was the most beloved member of our organization, perhaps in its history.”

Brown coached through 1970 and returned to scouting in 1971, when he found a little-known defensive tackle named John Mendenhall who became a stalwart for the Giants defense through the decade. Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975, and was the second player selected strictly on the merits of line-play (Parker was the first in 1973).

Brown remained with the Giants for the remainder of his days until 2004, an uninterrupted span of 51 years, and was ever-present around the offensive line drills during every training camp. Brown said in 1972, “I am very fortunate to have been with the Giant organization. I have never had to look over my shoulder…the organization, the coaches, they all had faith in me and I had faith in them. Even though we weren’t winning my first years with the Giants, there was a tradition of winning. The Maras were fine people and they know how to treat people right. The only thing for me was to do my best in return.”

Brown shared Tunnell’s view of the modern ballplayer, “Right now, I think we have too many average players. Too many ballplayers are thinking about Wall Street…A good player wants to win. For him this is it. Winning is the name of the game. I don’t think many of today’s players are as dedicated as they should be…[There is] no difference in the game itself. I think there is a difference in the money structure, which tends to lead a number of players the wrong way.”

Wellington Mara said Brown was the best lineman ever to perform for the team “Rosie was a great Giant. He was with this organization for more than 50 years as a player, coach and scout. He excelled in every area and he was always a gentleman.”

Both Brown and Tunnell combined to play in 17 pro bowls and were honored with 10 All-Pro selections during their careers in New York (Tunnell also participated in the 1959 Pro Bowl with Green Bay). Both men were selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as members of the All-1950’s Team. When Tunnell was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team in 1969 it was a unique honor, as he was the only safety chosen. He was essentially declared to be the best safety in pro football’s history at the time. Brown was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team in 1994, along with Forrest Gregg and Anthony Munoz at the tackle position.

At the time of the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, approximately 30% of all players were African-American. That number rose to 68% for the 2014 season. More than just numbers, the modern era of professional football displays the talents of African-American performers on the grandest of stages. Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 1987. Tony Dungy, who played on the 1978 Super Bowl champion Steelers, won a Super Bowl as a head coach with Indianapolis in 2006. The Giants have won two Super Bowl titles under the watch of general manager Jerry Reece.

Professional football advanced exponentially after the inclusion of African-Americans in 1946, and its popularity today reinforces the importance of the sacrifices endured by the pioneers who stepped forth during a time when they received no recognition. The game that is enjoyed by millions of fans today is better because of their contributions.

most non offensive TDs cET RB decorations

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SOURCES:

  • New York Football Giants 1954 Press, Radio and Television Guide, Robert Daley, 1954, New York Football Giants, Inc.
  • New York Football Giants 1957 Press, Radio and Television Guide, Robert Daley, 1957, New York Football Giants, Inc.
  • The Giants of New York: The History Of Professional Football’s Most Fabulous Dynasty, Barry Gottehrer, 1963, Putnam
  • Footsteps of a Giant, Emlen Tunnell with William Gleason, 1966, Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • The First 50 Seasons, Bob Oates Jr., 1969, Ridge Press
  • New York Giants: Great Teams’ Great Years, Jim Terzian, 1973, Macmillan Publishing Co.
  • There Were Giants In Those Days, Gerald Eskanazi, 1976, Prentice Hall Press
  • Rosey: An Autobiography, Roosevelt Grier with Dennis Baker, 1986, Honor Books
  • Tuff Stuff, Sam Huff, 1988, St. Martins Press
  • The Whole Ten Yards, Frank Gifford with Harry Waters, 1993, Giff & Golda Productions
  • Pigskin: The Early Years Of Pro Football, Robert W. Peterson, 1997, Oxford University Press
  • The National Forgotten League, Dan Daly, 2012, University Of Nebraska Press
  • 2015 New York Giants Information Guide, Michael Eisen, DeAndre Phillips, Corry Rush, 2015, New York Football Giants, Inc.
  • 2015 Official NFL Record & Fact Book, Brenden Lee, Jacob Gellerman and Robert King, 2015, National Football League
  • Historical New York Times searchable archive (via ProQuest)
Aug 272015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 27, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants concluded their summer training camp on Thursday with a “recovery cycle” day of yoga, massage, contrast bath (hot and cold tubs), self-massage stuck rollers/bands, functional movement screen exercises, and air compression boots. With preferences based on seniority, players were able to choose from two of these six 15-minute recovery activities.

INJURY REPORT…
The injury that right tackle Marshall Newhouse suffered to his right ankle on Wednesday is apparently not serious. “He is fine. He just got stepped on,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “That is a surface scratch. Someone stepped on his leg when he was on the ground and it was down relatively low and it scared him because of where the step occurred.”

Safety Nat Berhe, who has been sidelined with a calf injury since May, re-aggravated the injury in practice on Tuesday. “He re-injured his calf, that is all I can tell you,” said Coughlin. “Whatever the mechanism, whatever goes on, he had one day of practice, felt really good, came out here and had the same occurrence that happened the last time – occurred this time, so he is re-injured.”

Center Weston Richburg has been bothered by tendinitis in his left knee. “He actually feels pretty good today,” said Coughlin. “We should’ve called a practice for today. We’re going to keep working with him and seeing what the doctors and those people tell me. I don’t have anything new for you right now.” Coughlin would not indicate if Richburg would play on Saturday against the New York Jets.

“A little bit of swelling,” said Richburg. “That was the issue. The swelling can kind of take away from some muscle function. So trying to get that swelling down, get that figured out.”

Linebacker Mark Herzlich is still recovering from a concussion he suffered in the second preseason game. “He was coming along well and just didn’t feel real good yesterday,” said Coughlin. “(He’s) not (doing) as well as I would like.”

Coughlin said receiver Victor Cruz (calf) and linebacker Jon Beason (knee) would not play against the Jets. But he did say safety Landon Collins (knee) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) would play.

Left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), and cornerback Chandler Fenner (hamstring) will miss the game.

According to NJ.com, wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis) should play against the Jets. But NJ.com says offensive lineman Brandon Mosley (back) has not practiced all week.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media on Thursday (video is available at Giants.com):

A little different week for us. This is what I call the GPS week. We’re following that to a ‘T.’ We’ve had two hard practices, followed by basically meetings, walk-throughs and a recovery cycle. So all three – special teams, defense and offense – had good, long meetings, they had walk-throughs and we finished that up with a recovery cycle. The recovery cycle has basically six elements and, by seniority, they can choose two. It is two fifteen-minute periods and we are currently right toward the end of the second cycle, so it is a unique kind of a day and I am interested in the feedback that I get from our leadership council and also from the assistant coaches as we go through the day and, of course, the proof will come later as to how we perform.

Q: What are those elements? What kind of things are they?

A: Yoga, massage. There are some fancy names for things we do with rollers and sticks and so on and so forth — cold tub, but it is basically just the recovery cycle muscular so on and so forth along with yoga and some of the other things we employed.

Q: Is this something you may implement during the season?

A: We are going to see. I will see what it looks like and again tomorrow is another day of this experimentation, so we are going to go through with that and we’ll see how we like it at the end of the week.

Q: Do you consider this the end of a certain segment? The last day of training camp, such as it is.

A: We just keep going. Nothing ended, everything keeps right on going. It is much different, as you know and as you have recognized in other years, and I think at this point in time the players who are able to have a home in this area, they have checked out of the hotel, the other guys will stay in the hotel and we just keep going.

Q: You talked about wanting to see more urgency in practice in the beginning of the week. Did you see that over the course of the week?

A: Yesterday, I saw a little bit more and I would like to continue to see more.

Q: Marshall Newhouse looked like he [got injured]?

A: He is fine. He just got stepped on.

Q: [What about] Nat Berhe?

A: Berhe re-injured his calf.

Q: Is it kind of back to square one with him?

A: He re-injured his calf, that is all I can tell you. Whatever the mechanism, whatever goes on, he had one day of practice, felt really good, came out here and had the same occurrence that happened the last time — occurred this time, so he is re-injured.

Q: You have all these new tools, you have the GPS and all this stuff. Can it prevent these things from happening or can it decrease the probability of these things happening?

A: Not in the case of a guy that has not been practicing. It can tell you — it can monitor the players under certain types of practices to tell you what their workload should be and if they approach that, you can back them down, but in the case of someone like Nat, he wasn’t even practicing, so there was no workload level other than the fact that he was doing a very, very limited amount of work the day before.

Q: How bad is Marshall Newhouse?

A: That is a surface scratch. Someone stepped on his leg when he was on the ground and it was down relatively low and it scared him because of where the step occurred.

Q: He should be able to play?

A: I think so.

Q: Just to be clear, this GPS day, recovery cycle day, that would be in place of a practice if you implemented this during the regular season?

A: That would be in the place of a practice. What you would do is you would load up according to the GPS system the first two days of the week. In other words, you cover a lot of territory. I don’t know if you noticed, but yesterday’s practice was quite long and could’ve actually been another five minutes. So you’re getting a lot of things done on an overload kind of a day and then you’re having an unloaded cycle and then the week’s not over yet.

Q: You don’t seem like a ‘less practice is better’ kind of guy?

A: Let’s not go there.

Q: Do you personally spend any time with the data? Do you find it interesting?

A: I have people that give me the feedback. It’s interesting, there’s no doubt about it.

Q: What about it has jumped out to you personally?

A: To be honest with you, they can tell you by virtue of the information the potential for a guy to have a soft tissue injury. When that happens, you back the guy down, and that’s the whole purpose. The whole purpose is to recognize someone who is headed for a strain, if you will, and try to do something about it.

Q: Have there been instances when you’ve gotten the information during a practice?

A: We’ve gotten the information that’s said to back off a guy, yes.

Q: Is Jayron Hosley okay?

A: Hosley practiced yesterday and he’s got the greenlight to go.

Q: You said he was doing some things before…

A: Yeah, he was. We’d like to see him do some more things. There’s a bunch of them we’d like to see some more things.

Q: After you see what happened with Nat Berhe, do you have to handle Victor Cruz any differently with his calf issue?

A: It’s the same basic area but two totally different injuries. We’ll do whatever we can if there are similarities. I’m sure the medical people follow that practice but each case is different. They’re not exactly the same.

Q: Victor is not going to play, correct?

A: He’s not going to play, no.

Q: With Weston Richburg, where do you stand with him?

A: He actually feels pretty good today. We should’ve called a practice for today. We’re going to keep working with him and seeing what the doctors and those people tell me. I don’t have anything new for you right now.

Q: Is it possible he plays then on Saturday?

A: Anything’s possible. It might rain. You never know.

Q: You just said Cruz is out, though. Is Richburg likely to be out as well?

A: I’m not answering that question. How much more—what can I do? I answered the Cruz question, that’s it.

Q: You said after a couple of days with the medical staff you may have a better idea on Jon Beason. Do you have that?

A: I don’t have any more for you. He won’t play this week.

Q: Will Landon Collins play?

A: Yes.

Q: How’s Mark Herzlich doing? Is he still…

A: He was coming along well and just didn’t feel real good yesterday. Not as well as I would like.

Q: So when that happens, it’s back to square one with the concussion thing?

A: Protocol has to be accomplished; otherwise, no.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants training camp practices for this summer are now over. The team will conduct a walk-thru practice on Friday in advance of Saturday’s preseason game against the New York Jets.

Aug 262015
 
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Preston Parker, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 26, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their second-to-last training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), center Weston Richburg (knee), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), linebacker Jon Beason (knee), linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Chandler Fenner (hamstring), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

The bad news on Berhe is he re-aggravated his calf injury during practice on Tuesday.

Cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) returned to practice.

Right tackle Marshall Newhouse left practice early after injuring his left ankle. The Giants said another player stepped on Newhouse’s ankle.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Jeromy Miles and Brandon Meriweather remained the first-team safeties.
  • Landon Collins practiced with the second-team unit at safety.
  • Wide receiver Preston Parker had another good practice, including catching a deep ball from quarterback Eli Manning. (Video)
  • Cornerback Jayron Hosley broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Geremy Davis.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham beat cornerback Jayron Hosley for a touchdown.
  • One defensive line formation employed Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Cullen Jenkins, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore.
  • For the second practice in a row, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a pick-six interception. This time he intercepted quarterback Ryan Nassib. Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa pressured Nassib on the play.
  • Cornerback Trevin Wade picked off quarterback Ricky Stanzi. (Video)
  • Safety Cooper Taylor blew up a screen pass.
  • After right tackle Marshall Newhouse left practice due to injury, Geoff Schwartz and Bobby Hart split snaps with the first-team offense at right tackle.
  • Tight ends Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell, and Jerome Cunningham were all active catching the ball, with Donnell also catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning.
  • According to Giants.com, the top players of the day were defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, tight end Daniel Fells, and wide receiver Preston Parker.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media on Wednesday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: Landon Collins didn’t really seem like he did much yesterday?

A: He did enough. They wanted to take him and work him and just see him on the side and I think he passed all the tests, so he is going to get some time today.

Q: How is Rueben Randle doing today?

A: Rueben is fighting his way through. He thought he needed just to get some more work in and so today will be a better day for him, I’m sure, too.

Q: Did you like what you saw from him yesterday?

A: He was slowly getting into it. Hopefully he will be able to start faster today.

Q: Will Weston Richburg go today?

A: No.

Q: Is that concerning?

A: Well, certainly it is concerning; it is always concerning, but he is not going to be able to go today so I don’t know what else to say to you.

Q: What is it? Tendinitis?

A: It is his knee, yeah.

Q: How important is the third game overall because the guys will play the most they will play all preseason?

A: Well, we have played our people a little bit more this preseason. The third game, obviously, is an important game, just like any of them are but as far as advancing our people, we’ll play a half. There may be some that extend and there may be some that won’t not play a full half, but by and large, we’ll plan on playing a half and a half.

Q: Do you always look forward to playing the Jets in the preseason?

A: It is always a good game. It is a game that is well approached by the media, it is a preseason game, we have our issues, we have people that we are trying to evaluate and they do, too, and I think that is where it is. That is where the game is.

Q: Does it seem any quieter without Coach [Rex] Ryan on the other side?

A: You know what, we’ve got our own issues. I don’t pay much attention to what is going on in other places.

Q: In other years you’ve often had the starters in the third game play through halftime.

A: I always say that, Paul. I’m glad you brought that up, but it doesn’t happen much. I come in at the half and if we are in pretty good shape, I say that is enough.

Q: It is a special day for Osi. Any thoughts on today?

A: I just smile when I think of — I have this picture in my mind and it will always be there and I smile every time I think of it. It is that picture on the wall where 72 (Umenyiora), 92 (Strahan) and 91 (Tuck) are walking away from Brady who is laying on the ground in Super Bowl 42 and I just have that picture and every time I think of that, I think of Osi and I think of Strahan and I think of Tuck and I just smile. It will always be there.

Q: In your head, is he always aligned with that group?

A: Oh, absolutely. Early on, it was Strahan and Osi, and then, of course, when a young Justin Tuck comes along, but that way in which stories of how Strahan broke in and then how Osi was put to test, too, by the…that is a rare room, the defensive line room, now; you have to understand that. I will always have that smile and that thought of Osi, number one, and on this special day of his and, of course, those that surrounded him.

Q: That second Super Bowl run, when you think of him coming back, can you overstate the contribution that he made back there?

A: No, you can’t because of the way in which, like you say, he fought his way through some things. He had some injuries and he fought his way through those things and the way he played down the stretch in that situation and then through the playoffs was outstanding.

Q: What was he like to coach?

A: He was fun. He was a good guy. The one thing that probably went below the surface [was] what a job he did preparing. He studied those left tackles and he knew them—he knew the guy he was going against inside and out and that was really, I thought, the key to his success, that and the fact that he was very fast [and] very confident. When he stepped on the field, the guys around him knew that he was a very confident player, he was a master at his craft and that gave them great confidence, as well.

Q: The young group you have now has mentioned that group and how high they have set the bar. Do you see that as a good thing for these guys now to try and aim for that?

A: Most definitely, that is a good thing. It is always important to have something to look at to establish where you have to get to, to have that kind of success, and I think those guys represent that.

Q: Do you see that kind of talent in the room here?

A: Well, that is what we are shooting for. Guys are going to emerge and they are going to have to and these young guys are going to have to come and emerge. Guys like Owa, who people don’t know a whole heck of a lot about because he played on the other side of the country, and so on. He is a guy that is a talented young guy that can learn from watching these guys and knowing full well the success that that group had.

Q: Can I bring you back to this week’s game. What is going to mark the first half for the offense to be a success for you? What do you need to see?

A: It is continued improvement for me. The timing of the passing game is not there yet, and it’s got to happen. I thought our protection did a nice job early on. We’ll be tested this week, the Jets have an outstanding pressure package—they also have an outstanding front, a big front, so we are going to be tested with regards to that, too. That brings up the idea of some kind of consistency with your run game. We have got to have that. We had it at times the other night; we need it more often but we are going up against a very good front, so those would be the ways, you mentioned offense, where we would be looking to see us make progress.

Q: Victor Cruz said yesterday he sees defenses gunning for Odell Beckham. What does Odell have to work through with that?

A: I wouldn’t use those words. Obviously there is a difference between — people are always going to recognize someone who has the type of season that he had and they are going to do things to defend that. As far as gunning for him — you know the continuous of making plays [and] earning the respect of the opponents by doing it over time, proving as a rookie you made these plays and now the continuation of that, and I think that is what the rest of the league will see out of Odell this year.

Q: You saw the last play. The one down the right side where Odell kind of bumped him and gave the guy a little forearm. What did you say to him about that?

A: Well, we talk about those things and that remains pretty much between he and I. He is not going to be that way, I don’t believe so. You’ve got to stay away from those personal battles — that is a general statement for anybody in football, whether you are a lineman; a lot of times you want to attach those thoughts to linemen who get involved personal battles rather than see the whole picture and play for the purpose for the rest of the team. Odell he is going to improve on that.

Q: You had Steve Weatherford placekicking yesterday. Is Josh Brown okay?

A: We were working on our second and third kickers, is it okay to do that?

Q: Anything new with Cruz since yesterday?

A: No.

Q: So he won’t practice again today?

A: No, he won’t.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The last training camp practice for the Giants this summer is on Thursday, but the practice is not open to the public.

Aug 252015
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 25, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their last public training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Monday, the Giants waived/injured safety Justin Currie (fractured tibia and ankle) and linebacker Tony Johnson (knee sprain). To fill these roster spots, the team signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Ashlee Palmer (Detroit Lions) and rookie free agent C.J. Conway (Montclair State).

Palmer was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played both for the Bills (2009) and Detroit Lions (2010-14). In six seasons, Palmer has started 24 games. In 2014, he played in 16 regular-season game for the Lions, starting five, and accrued 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two pass defenses. Palmer is a good special teams player.

Conway was the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s (NJAC) Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, when he was also chosen to the American Football Coaches Association Division-III Team and First-Team USA Football. Conway led the NJAC in passes defended with 17 and was second with eight interceptions, as he also registered 51 tackles and forced two fumbles.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), center Weston Richburg (knee), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), linebacker Jon Beason (knee), linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), and cornerback Chandler Fenner (hamstring) did not practice.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), safety Landon Collins (knee), safety Nat Berhe (calf), safety Cooper Taylor (toe) practiced on a limited basis. Collins did not appear to do much in practice however.

Wide receiver Julian Talley (toe) returned to practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Jeromy Miles and Brandon Meriweather were the first-team safeties.
  • Without Jon Beason, the starting middle linebacker was Jameel McClain.
  • Without Weston Richburg, Dallas Reynolds started at center with the first-team offense.
  • Geoff Schwartz continued to see first-team reps at both right guard and right tackle.
  • Wide receiver Preston Parker caught a touchdown pass.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Odell Beckham for a touchdown against cornerback Josh Gordy. (Video)
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off a pass intended for wide receiver Rueben Randle from quarterback Eli Manning and return the interception for a touchdown. (Video)
  • Cornerback Josh Gordy picked off a pass from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
  • According to Giants.com, the top three players from practice today were wide receiver Odell Beckham, wide receiver Preston Parker, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

GIANTS ON ESPN RADIO…
Audio clips of the the following Giants being interviewed on ESPN Radio are available at ESPN.com:

  • President/CEO John Mara (Audio)
  • General Manager Jerry Reese (Audio)
  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Audio)
  • QB Eli Manning (Audio)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Audio)
  • WR Victor Cruz (Audio)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (Audio)

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media on Tuesday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How was Landon Collins able to keep engaged while he was on the sideline? Sometimes young players have difficulty with that.

A: He’s in every meeting, he’s in every plan, he’s interested. After what he’s missed on the field, he has an opportunity to listen to the coaches talk about it in the classroom. He’s up to date on everything that we’re doing.

Q: He was also kind of engaged with the players, running to the ball, things like that. How important was that to see? Just to not see him on the sideline in his own world.

A: Well, that’s his game. He’s got to be involved like that. To keep him as involved as we possibly can, even though he can’t take snaps—that’s the challenge. Of course with a young guy, who has a sense that he’s missing time, he should be more engaged.

Q: He’ll go full today?

A: He’ll go limited.

Q: What about some of the other guys?

A: What about them?

Q: Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle—do you expect them out here?

A: They say Rueben [Randle] will go tomorrow. And I don’t know when to say Victor [Cruz] will go.

Q: Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe?

A:  [Cooper] Taylor goes today, and Berhe’s  going today. Yeah, he’s going. They’re all limited. Anybody that’s been out, their classification when they first come back is limited.

Q: Any better idea on Jon Beason?

A: No. Nope.

Q: Are you concerned about Victor at all?

A: I’m concerned, yeah. Because obviously there were a couple of slotted opportunities there that didn’t take place, or one. Of course this would have been the second one, if he’s not ready to go. So, yeah, yeah, I am. But I would like to see him get out there, and be able to stay out there. That’s what our real intent is. As soon as that can be done, that’s possible, then that’s what will happen.

Q: Would you say he’s out for Saturday or it’s too early?

A: I’m not going to say anything like that. No, it’s day to day.

Q: It’s not the knee right?

A: No, it’s not the knee.

Q: You said originally that you thought it might be dehydration-related. Did it end up being more serious than maybe you thought?

A: No. I can’t classify it. I just know that he can’t go.

Q: Ashlee Palmer, what’d you like about him?

A: Worked out very well. And I do like the fact that he’s played without injury for quite some time. That could’ve been the reason right there.

Q: What do you like about the combination of Jay Bromley and Kenrick Ellis? They seem to be working well together.

A: Well, they’re big, solid guys inside. What I like is they enjoy playing and they seem to be able to hold the point in there pretty good. So we just need to keep those two getting better.

Q: What has Andre Williams shown you in year two, specifically, in how he has grown?

A: Well, he’s obviously second time around—he knows more about what he’s doing. He’s more comfortable doing it. He is a powerful runner, and when given the opportunity, he’s demonstrated.

Q: Do you notice a different level of patience with him?

A: That’s not necessarily the first word that would come to—but he did demonstrate it the other night.

Q: Johnathan Casillas’ neck, is that a serious thing or day to day?

A: You know, I don’t know what to make of that, because he came out and practiced. He was not supposed to have any contact. Evidently, he did get a little bit, and then he got sore again. They’re just not going to let him go until they feel like he can play and not receive any kind of injury.

Q: Steve Weatherford didn’t seem to have a great night the other night. How open is that competition?

A: Well, it is open. It should be looked at that way by everybody. I don’t care how many years in the league, when you come to camp, it’s competitive, and you’ve got lots of people trying for the same job. So we certainly would like to see it the way we hope to expect it on game day and during the regular season. So I’m hoping that improves.

Q: When you got a better look at the film, you saw Odell Beckham had five targets with no catches. Was that all just timing that you assume will come? Or was there anything you saw as to why he didn’t get to those balls?

A: To me, he had a chance for one ball that was thrown out in front of him. He had a drop. Again, to me, it’s timing, it’s rhythm, it’s all of those things. But that would be where I would start.

Q: I would assume you don’t worry about a guy like that with what he’s done.

A: I worry about everything. I’m worried about everything. You give opportunities and guys make plays and they don’t make plays. Then you analyze why they did or why they didn’t and present it. You’d like to see it the other way. There has to be a little bit of a sense of urgency right now. You’re a couple weeks away from lining up. So, I mean, I’d like to see things done well, done right. Obviously, whoever it is, doesn’t matter, Odell—it doesn’t make any difference. When it doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to go, and we’ve been at this for a couple of weeks, why doesn’t it go that way? So you have to look hard at that. And the one thing—it’s not an excuse—but again, when you see some of the younger guys doing some things and catching the ball and so on, advancing the ball, they’ve been out here. (Geremy) Davis has been on the field all this time, you know? The practice part of this thing has got to be understood and it’s got to be done right. It’s got to be done with a sense of urgency.

Q: Back to Victor, how do you view the importance of him getting into a preseason game?

A: Well, it’s great, but if it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen. You know, Odell didn’t have a preseason game last year. So you want them to play, that’s what the plan was. If it doesn’t work out that way, then what’s the next thing? We can’t worry about something that, right now, is not within our control.

Q: Would you contemplate playing him in the fourth game if he couldn’t be ready for this game?

A: Well, I’m considering that the whole time. I’m saying, ‘When can we play him?’ Would I contemplate it? Sure. I mean, we just have to have X number of days together practicing before that’s going to happen, though. We’re not going to make a decision the night before the last preseason game to play him. It has to be something that builds up to it, so I know he’s ready to go. I wouldn’t put him out there without that.

Q: There was a report yesterday that Jason Pierre-Paul is planning a return.

A: I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about that.

Q: He hasn’t told you?

A: He hasn’t told me.

Q: Getting any of your corners back? Chykie Brown?

A: No.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The last two training camp practices for the Giants this summer are on Wednesday and Thursday, but neither is open to the public.

Aug 202015
 
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Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 20, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held another training camp practice on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf strain), wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), wide receiver Julian Talley (toe – boot on left foot), right tackle Brandon Mosley (back), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), and safety Cooper Taylor (toe) did not practice.

“It’s feeling better than yesterday,” Cruz said of his calf strain. “They didn’t give me a timetable, but I know how it feels for me right now [compared to] how it did when it first happened. It feels light years better than it did then. I doubt Coach will let me play this weekend, but we’ll see.” Cruz said the calf strain was on a different leg than his knee injury.

Safety Landon Collins (knee sprain) participated in individual drills. Safety Nat Berhe (calf strain) participated in a few practice snaps and did much of the scout team work. He reported no soreness in his calf. Berhe will not play on Saturday against the Jaguars, but he expects to fully practice next week.

“It’s been so long that getting back out there made me realize how much I’ve really, really missed it,” said Berhe. “It was one thing to say I missed it, but to actually get out there on the field, I’m like, ‘Man, this is where I belong.’ So it was good. I got a lot of reps today on scout, and on (special) teams. I was able to get in a couple toward the end of team, I was able to get thrown in for two, three plays. I was good. Just trying to make sure I ran to everything so I can get my cardio back, and just trying to get in shape at this point.

“Everything is really big. You can play your technique no matter what coverage you’re in, or whatever they put you in on the paper. So I just try to make sure I get to the ball and go through my progressions and stuff like that. Just try to keep sharpening.”

Cornerback Chandler Fenner left practice early with a possible hamstring issue.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (dental work) and left guard Justin Pugh (dental work) returned to practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Giants practiced in “uppers” (shoulder pads, but not full pads) this evening. It was a pretty uneventful practice as there was not much contact and the Giants were doing a lot of scout-team work. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson and Jeromy Miles were once again the first-team safeties.
  • James Jones, Dwayne Harris, Corey Washington, and Geremy Davis received first-team reps at wide receiver in 11-on-11 drills.
  • Jerome Cunningham saw first-team reps at tight end.
  • Geoff Schwartz received second- and then first-team reps at right guard, but John Jerry remained with the first-team offense at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.
  • Linebacker Jon Beason picked off a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington dropped a pass.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit tight end Jerome Cunningham for a touchdown.
  • Wide receiver James Jones caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • Quarterback Ricky Stanzi hit wide receiver Geremy Davis for a touchdown.
  • The Giants ran a wide receiver screen to wide receiver Odell Beckham.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell had two catches during the two-minute drill.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media in the early afternoon before the evening practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: When you bring guys like [Shane] Vereen and James Jones in, is there something beyond what they can do on the field that’s part of the equation?

A: Well, there always is— every opportunity to evaluate is taken, and there’s always thought given to, normal circumstances, to how people are going to fit in and how they’ll not only help us as a team but obviously in representing the Giants, so I would say yes.

Q: With regard to [Shane] Vereen, you haven’t had a lot of pass-catching backs here for a couple of years. How good is he out of the backfield?

A: Well, he had an exceptional year a year ago. In certain situations, he was dominant because people played certain coverages and [Tom] Brady dropped the ball off. The catch and the run were a huge part of their [the New England Patriots’] offense, and we felt like that ingredient, in addition to some of the other people that we would pose as threats, would really do a good job of accommodating the rest of our offense.

Q: Is Victor [Cruz] going to play this week?

A: Probably not.

Q: What have you seen offensively and defensively in terms of your team responding after Friday?

A: I would say it’s been a good week of practice— certainly last night was very spirited. The first night of the week, Sunday night, was when you saw all the offensive production with Odell [Beckham Jr.] and Victor [Cruz] and Larry [Donnell] getting involved, and Eli throwing the ball down the field— he threw the ball down the field again last night, which was good— but I’ll continue to say what I said yesterday. They have to practice for us to advance in terms of the passing game— the timing, the significance of knowing exactly when people are reacting to coverage and adjusting their routes, etc. That all has to be seen through the eyes of the quarterback, and it’s been very rare that we’ve had the whole group out there to practice with. But there are some other guys that are getting a lot of time and will get a lot of time this weekend, and in the long run, it’s going to be good for our team.

Q: Is [Rueben] Randle still out?

A: As of now, he is.

Q: Odell will be back today?

A: Today he’s going to work, yes.

Q: Is there anyone else besides Victor [Cruz] that you know you’re not going to play in the game on Saturday? Rueben [Randle], I assume, at this point?

A: Well, we’ll see about all of that. I’m not going to project anything just yet. We’ve had some guys that have been out that are going to remain out.

Q: You have a ton of playmakers on offense— what’s your confidence level in your defense right now?

A: My confidence level is growing, but we’ve got to, again, test ourselves in these preseason games. This weekend will be an outstanding test because you have a team that’s trying to be very physical and wants to run the ball, has a good run defense, so it’ll be a good test.

Q: Who will start on the right side of your offensive line Saturday?

A: In all likelihood, J.J. [John Jerry] and Marshall [Newhouse]. Same combination, but obviously [Geoff] Schwartz is going to get his opportunity to play in there.

Q: At both spots maybe?

A: We’ll see. Possibly.

Q: How are Prince [Amukamara] and Nat Berhe coming along?

A: Prince practiced yesterday. Prince had about 15 plays yesterday, which was good to see. Hopefully he’ll be able to do some more. [Nat] Berhe does nothing but individual.

Q: What have you seen from [Brandon] Meriweather?

A: He’s trying to understand what we want of him and understand the terminology as best he can. He starts to grasp it— yesterday was a little bit better than the day before.

Q: So how much will he play Saturday?

A: Probably a limited amount, since he’s been here a very short time and this will be his first experience.

Q: Who do you likely expect to start in that secondary in this preseason game? Do you want to shuffle them?

A: You’ll see. I mean, it’s not going to be anything complicated. I’ll let you know that.

Q: With the new extra point rules, have you spent any extra time thinking about what your strategy will be?

A: Well, I have. As you see, many people came out last weekend and just went for two, but the advantage there is no different than it ever was. I think it’s just as important to kick extra points from 33 yards as it is to go for two. I think the real interesting concept there is a defensive penalty. A defensive penalty puts a ball at the one, so most people are going to go for the two points then.

Q: So the fact that statistically it makes sense that there will be more extra points missed, so that difference… wouldn’t it affect your thinking?

A: Well, as I’ve said before, the old extra point circumstance was 99 point something, and a 33-yard field goal was 94 something— so in between there, yeah it’s something. But still, I don’t think until late— you know, you’re talking maybe after November, after Thanksgiving, in December before any of those issues, I think, come up. I’m hoping that our percentages, in terms of 33-yard extra points, are going to be 100 percent— just like I always think.

Q: So, let’s say it’s a bad day in December here [MetLife Stadium]. Would you literally be in touch with the kicker as to what he thinks about kicking a 33-yard field goal and trying for an extra point at that point in the game?

A: Not necessarily at that point in the game, but obviously pregame, we’d go through all that and it would be part of the questions that I always ask. You know, ‘How far— what’s the distance like today from both ends?’ I get a feel for what the wind is, now that the wind is an issue during the course of the game, and you have to revisit it, so it’s a constant.

Q: Any projection on how deep your first teamers are going to go on Saturday night?

A: Play a little more probably than they did the other day.

Q: What are you looking to see from them in general?

A: Improvement. Improvement.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR TOM QUINN…
Tom Quinn addressed the media on Thursday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: Josh Brown’s leg has gotten stronger on kickoffs in the last couple of years. Have you seen that and is that rare to happen for a player in that stage of his career?

A: I don’t think so. I think they’re obviously learning about their bodies and nutrition and training and taking care of their bodies and managing their kicks. They are pretty serious about how many kicks we do in a week and in a day, so we don’t try and kick our leg out. It’s a long season and a long process, so we try and keep him fresh but then he also does a lot of work in the weight room, which is showing up.

Q: When Dwayne Harris was signed, he was supposedly for special teams [or] wherever you wanted to put him. Is that still the case?

A: Yeah, I hope so. If he is a receiver and he can play on all the big four teams, he can be the returner, the gunner, the kickoff coverage, so we are excited about him going forward.

Q: Is he the primary kickoff and punt returner at this point?

A: Yeah, I mean at this point in the preseason, we are trying to get as many guys opportunities to see what they can do, so we will roll a lot of different guys back there to see what we have.

Q: How did Akeem Hunt look kick returning?

A: He looked fast. There was a big hole. I hoped he would have finished it off more and not gotten nudged out of bounds, dive in there and keep scrambling and trying to cutback and trying to score, but he has got quickness, so, so far so good with him.

Q: How has Geremy Davis been progressing so far?

A: He’s progressing. He really works hard at it [and] he really has a lot of upside. He didn’t do a lot of it in college, so a lot of it is new to him, but he has really taken to the coaching and he tries hard and works hard, so we’ve been pleased with him.

Q: Is it almost like working with a blank canvas with him?

A: A little bit. I was trying to tell these guys to use your skill set and we will put you in the right position, so if you are a receiver, be a receiver. If you are good at avoiding guys, that is how you cover a kick, so you keep it simple for them and he has done that.

Q: Where do you see him? Gunner?

A: That is [where] we are starting him out. We are starting him out there and he will play all four teams, which he did last week, and try and give him enough reps to show what he can do.

Q: You kind of alluded to it. How different is it to get off the line as a wide receiver as opposed to a gunner?

A: Well, a lot of times as a gunner you have two guys standing in front of you, so you have to pick one and make that the battle…there are limitations on being able to go out of bounds and come back in and all those things and the rules they have to understand. It is just a mentality, it is hard. You talk to David Tyree and you have to earn your money out there and a lot of young guys, it is a whole new experience and they really don’t do that much in college the way college is played, so it is a little bit of a transition.

Q: How much of a loss is Mykelle Thompson?

A: We were really excited for him. He is a guy that [had] shown in the spring and the start of training camp that he could really add some value. He is smart, got great speed, had some size to him, so that will be a loss. It is too bad for him.

Q: Do you do anything different extra-point wise?

A: No, we had the two or three preseason games with it last year. I think three because we had the Hall of Fame game and if we kick our field goals, we start at the 15. We always kick a PAT first and then go from there. I think you will get more pressure, more of a chance to block it, so you will have to be ready to anchor down and treat them just like a field goal.

Q: Offensive linemen don’t seem to be that much for it?

A: Well, they better be for points. I understand, but that play has always been a violent play and they have done some things to make it safer, but I think if they use good technique, they will be all right.

Q: You always look at Zak DeOssie for his reliability with snapping but when you see him make that tackle in Cincinnati, can you just talk about the contributions he makes on special teams?

A: He is a great leader in the room. We have grown up with him from when he was a rookie to the point he is at now and he does have the ability to cover and tackle. When he first came into the league, he was a little bit rare but now with the rules of not being able to line up over the center and some different things, more and more guys are starting to become more athletic like he is but he does add great value because he is a football player, he isn’t just a specialist who snaps. He was brought here as a linebacker, played some linebacker early and then had to become a snapper.

Q: What are the goals for the special teams for you in particular?

A: Obviously, the net punt and the punt return. We want to make a big difference on the opponent’s punts and our punts. We need to see a big swing there; we spent some money with bringing guys in to get that done.

Q: So that is what the focus is on?

A: Yeah, I mean you focus on all of them. You don’t neglect one or the other but kickoff and kickoff return nowadays, half of the kicks are returned and half of them are covered, but all the punts and punt returns and that is the biggest impact nowadays, so we have to really make that go with a lot of time and effort.

Q: Have you shifted the time you spend on those two?

A: A little bit. We’ve always spent a lot of time on punt, obviously, and then [we] spend a little more time on punt return than we normally do.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants will hold a walk-thru on Friday before Saturday’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only one remaining training camp practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM