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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 3, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fourth summer training camp practice on Monday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) and left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice. The Giants say Flowers is “day-to-day.”

“(Flowers) doesn’t seem to be bad,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It’s a hip flexor issue. This morning he was sore, but by the time I caught him in the meeting room, he was doing this [stretches leg]. Hopefully, it’s just a short amount of time…(It’s something that happened) a couple of days ago…He tried to (play through it).”

Cornerback Chykie Brown left practice early. “I’m not sure what it is,” said Coughlin. “They said something about a foot or possibly a shoe issue or something. Hopefully, that’s it. He’s been doing pretty well, he’s been flashing a lot. I’d like to see him stay with it, he’s very motivated.”

THE JASON PIERRE-PAUL SAGA…

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp. ESPN is reporting that Pierre-Paul plans to play this season but he will not sign his tender until he is sure he can pass a physical. General Manager Jerry Reese said he had a “great conversation” with Pierre-Paul on Sunday and has also spoken to his agents. He did not offer any details on what was said.

“I don’t want to really talk about it because when you talk about those things the agent listens and he thinks you’re trying to send a message,” Reese said. “So I don’t want to talk about it at all. If I don’t talk about it, there’s no message.”

Pierre-Paul has also spoken to Giants Senior Vice President of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes and Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Justin Pugh, left guard Adam Gettis, center Weston Richburg, right guard Geoff Schwartz, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse. The Giants also worked in John Jerry at right guard, Dallas Reynolds at left guard, and Geoff Schwartz at right tackle.
  • Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson worked as the first-team safeties with Landon Collins and Jeromy Miles working with the second-team.
  • Left tackle Justin Pugh and defensive end Damontre Moore got into a fight.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham got behind cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety Mykkele Thompson deep for a touchdown. (Video)
  • Running back Shane Vereen continues to look sharp catching passes out of the backfield.
  • Cornerback Trevin Wade picked off quarterback Ricky Stanzi. (Video)
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his three stars of practice were linebacker Devon Kennard, safety Bennett Jackson, and quarterback Eli Manning. He also pointed out that Manning has yet to throw an interception in training camp.

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

Q: Have you ever seen a player change positions the way Bennett Jackson has from corner to safety?

A: Yeah, I think so. Sure. Guys change their position whether it be somewhere in the college ranks or in the pro game. He’s progressing and we hope he continues to because it’s early and there’s a lot to go.

Q: The guys that do it successfully, do you notice a commonality with those guys?

A: Well, basically they have an awareness and the big picture of how to play–what the game is all about. Because they’ve been in the secondary, they listen, they see, they listen to corrections. Whether you’re a corner or a safety and you’re playing a specific coverage and if you listen over and over again to what the important ingredients are to play the coverage well, and then the corrections. He’s a smart kid. I’m sure he adapted some of that, although he may not be able to put his finger on it like I’m saying it. There’s the commonality, I think—you’re a player, you’re a football player.

Q: How bad is Ereck Flowers?

A: He doesn’t seem to be bad. It’s a hip flexor issue. This morning he was sore, but by the time I caught him in the meeting room, he was doing this [stretches leg]. Hopefully, it’s just a short amount of time.

Q: Is it something that happened during the practice yesterday?

A: No, a couple of days ago.

Q: So he played through it for a little bit?

A: He tried to, yeah.

Q: What have you seen out of Robert Ayers and can he be that dynamic presence?

A: Robert has played well. He’s been a really good soldier, he’s been a good teammate. He’s grabbed guys and talked to them, whether it be in the meeting rooms or out here. He’s worked hard. I’ve seen nothing but good things out of him.

Q: Chykie Brown looked like he walked off. Anything on him?

A: I’m not sure what it is. They said something about a foot or possibly a shoe issue or something. Hopefully, that’s it. He’s been doing pretty well, he’s been flashing a lot. I’d like to see him stay with it, he’s very motivated.

Q: Can you talk about Justin Pugh’s versatility and what he brings to the table?

A: Well, he’s obviously played left tackle in college. He came here and played right tackle. In the spring we moved him to left guard knowing full well that he would have to move around. So, we thought today would be a good day to put him at left tackle. [Geoff] Schwartz came back out, so we had Schwartz out there. We had John Jerry out there so that he could do a little something with the right side as well. His versatility—he’s a smart player.

Q: I know he’s only a rookie but how vital is Flowers to your offense at this point because you lost Will Beatty?

A: He’s a first-round draft choice. The left tackle from last year tore a pec, he’s out there trying to learn how to play. He’s important.

Q: You’ve been using Devon Kennard as a pass rusher, do you envision him doing that?

A: I hope so, but he’s playing linebacker. You see the pressure packages, so he comes in the packages.

Q: If you have to replace the sack total from JPP, is he going to add to that?

A: I hope so, I hope there’s lots of guys who will add to it. I hope that we develop more people that are effective as pass rushers, no matter where they come from–secondary, linebacker, up front.

Q: The first skirmish seemed to be heated but quick.

A: That’s the way they usually are.

Q: You have any problem with that one?

A: Oh yeah, I’ve got a problem with all of them because they’re out there swinging. I’ve been hurt firsthand by a guy who broke his hand in a fight.  In the old days they used to wrap it up and play with it, they don’t do that anymore. I was upset about the fight and losing their temper and all that stuff. The bottom line is you can’t afford to do it, to lose a guy.

Q: Did you have to say something or did they self-regulate?

A: I usually say something to everybody.

Q: Gently, right? Nice, calm tone.

A: However it comes out, it comes out. Sometimes not so gentle, sometimes it is.

Q: This morning Jerry Reese said that he spoke to JPP yesterday, have you had that chance to speak to him yet?

A: No.

Q: Is that disappointing that you haven’t had the chance?

A: As long as he’s talking to Jerry [Reese] or somebody in the building, it looks like there’s a chance that the communication thing will open up and when that does, I’ll end up on the phone, I’m sure.

Q: How did Adam Gettis do today?

A: He had a good day yesterday, I’d say so-so today.

Q: Why did you decide to go that direction without Flowers, with Pugh at left tackle and Gettis there?

A: Because Gettis played well yesterday and we thought this would give him a chance. If he was going to catch our eye, this would be a good way to do it.

WIDE RECEIVERS COACH SEAN RYAN…
Sean Ryan addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com).

CORNERBACKS COACH TIM WALTON…
Tim Walton addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: With Victor and Odell back on the practice field, can that help your group get better? Can everyone make everyone better?

A: Oh, without a doubt, it is a great pleasure to have those guys out there because our guys have to work, they have to be really prepared. Those are two elite receivers in the league that have a lot of credibility, they are very competitive, they have good ball skills, they understand coverages and they know how to run routes, so when you go against them every day, that helps us get better so we can be better prepared for Sundays, going against guys with that experience and that athletic ability.

Q: What tells you that DRC is healthier right now than he was last season?

A: He has been able practice. The thing I look at is for the guys to get better, we have to practice every day. We have to be on the field and guys have been working hard on trying to do that and given the condition to be able handle the games on Sunday, he has taken a great step forward with that.

Q: Prince said he wanted to take a little shot at Odell the other day saying, “I would’ve hit you.”

A: It is good competitive fun, guys are working hard together. That makes both sides of the ball better. You have two experienced guys that understand how to play the game and that makes you go full speed and play with great effort with a great respect for each guy on the other side of the ball.

Q: Tom said yesterday that DRC and Prince really haven’t had a lot of opportunities. There hasn’t been a lot of down field passing in this camp so far. Do you expect that to happen and do you need that to happen?

A: Oh yeah, it will happen. It hasn’t happened against those two guys where they have a lot of opportunities now, but they are going to the fourth day of camp and they will definitely get opportunities to go in. That is what we need to be good at. We have to be good at playing the ball at the top of the route and finishing down field in the pass game, so that is a thing we will get a chance to evaluate and they need that work on it and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunity to get that in.

Q: Tim, I’m curious how does it work as a secondary when the cornerbacks have so much experience, especially the two starters, and the safeties have very little and yet the safeties make the calls?

A: Well, it is a trust factor. Coach Merritt has done a great job with those guys. Those guys are developing and it is a family atmosphere, guys trust each other, guys work together, guys believe in each other and then guys help each other out. We’re doing this thing as a team, so everybody works together and those guys are doing a good job and …communication. You know those guys are growing up fast and they are doing a good job. If we have confidence in them outside so we are good with what they are doing.

Q: I think it was Spags who said he almost asked the cornerback to sort of let [the safeties] do the talking. Are you guys still doing that?

A: Yeah, and they are directing the show and we just communicate with them. They are directing the show and we let them do it to let them get the confidence of doing it. We have the experience outside for those guys but we don’t want them to ever step on their toes or try to do it for them, we want them to develop that communication on their own and we just communicate back with them, not communicating for them.

Q: Is that tough with those guys though?

A: No, [because] we understand leadership. Spags tells us how he wants it done and that is how we are doing it, so it is easy for guys to buy in. That is the thing that is good for the group of guys on defense. Spags sets the tempo of how he wants things done; guys are following it really good so we understand the plan of, “You have to get that development with those guys now so when the time Sunday comes, we are already in a good position with that.”

Q: That is nice to do now on the practice field but come September 13, can you envision that changing a little bit?

A: They will be ready by then. That is why we are doing it now and like you said, communication is a two way street. Obviously if something is going on, those guys have enough experience out there that they know how to help them out if the time comes when it’s needed but for the most part we are trying to let them run the show and they are doing a good job at it and like you said, if we communicate back and forth, we will all be on the same page.

Q: As you get to know Prince and DRC as a combo and I know the nickel is going to come into play, can they be as good as they will need to be in this division and for this defense to do what it’s going to need to do?

A: Yeah, we can be. The thing that we have to do is take it one day at a time. We need to prepare and practice each day to make sure we develop because it is a new system, it is a new scheme, you are playing with new guys, so have to make sure it all blends together and we can be as good as….they are talented guys, they are smart, they understand the game, they have toughness, but each day we come out to the practice field we want to make sure we get better because we are going to be playing against some other good teams and good players out there so we want to make sure we control what we control and that is making sure we get better each day on growing on all the little things we need to do.

Q: DRC said it is a cornerback-friendly defense. My take on that was he probably has the opportunity to make some plays?

A: Yeah, it is a multiple defense. We are going to have opportunities over there to make plays but what happens is, is you have to understand all facets of the defense because when it is your time to cover, we need to be able to do that. When it is time to pressure, when it is time tackle, so it is a deal where they are going to be very involved with the overall scheme with the defense. The thing we stress is being complete football players.

Q: Where do you stand at this point with your slot cornerbacks? Do you feel any closer or better about that spot at this point?

A: We try to have competitions at all positions. It is really early right now, so we have a long time before we play and what we have to do is evaluate the strengths and areas of improvement that each player needs to do. Even at the spots at corner, we try to create competition so we can evaluate. We move guys around so we can evaluate and try to see what works best together, what guys’ strengths and weaknesses are and now you get a chance to see it in live action. In OTAs you are just in shorts, so you can’t really tell what people can do until this time of the year, so we need to just give that process time to develop and get a true evaluation of it.

Q: Jayron Hosley said that when you walked in the door you kind of broke him down and built him back up. What have you thought about his progress since you [arrived]?

A: He is doing good. The thing about it is it starts with confidence and technique and the approach to the game, study habits, so we start from ground zero and go through the steps of getting to be a good player. We just go through each day to make sure we are having building blocks and he is a very coachable kid, he is buying into it, he is working, improving each day and I just try to give daily feedback on what I see. I try to be honest with him and he is taking a good step so far.

Q: Is it even more important for a guy who admits that he kind of lost his way a little bit last year?

A: Well, here is what happened. To go and develop and to go where you want to go, you have to first of all admit where you are. We have to always operate in an honest manner and he has…what he started to do he mentioned that to me. The first thing with that is starting to gain confidence back. But how do we do that? It is about doing all the little things, alignment, communication, study habits, all the little things that prepare you so when you get on the field you are prepared for the things you are going to see and he is doing all the little things to take that approach. I can see a change, I wasn’t here last year but I can see a step forward on his approach.

SAFETIES COACH DAVID MERRITT…
David Merritt addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: It’s a little early but do you have any more clarity on what you have back there?

A: No. I’ll tell you, you look at these young guys and you’re still trying to make sure you figure out who’s going to be the leader, who’s going to be able to stand back and make the calls and make the adjustments that we need on game day. When you pull your eyes back and you look at it from a depth perspective, we have rookies on the field. I mean, the one guy that we have that is a veteran is Jeromy Miles, and Jeromy just came to us from Baltimore. As far as clarity and who’s going to be the starters right now— right now, it’s still wide open.

Q: How long would you figure that would take to develop organically?

A: We’re going to have to get into some preseason games. When you look at the practices, it’s great going against our guys every day, but once you go into the preseason games, you’re able to play against opponents, and you’re able to go against other offenses that are playing against our first defense– you’ll be able to roll some guys in and out. Then, hopefully it will clear up right away.

Q: Does that become next week in Cincinnati? Does that help you accelerate the process?

A: It does, it does. Always when you’re going against an opponent, that’s going to be a great eye opener for a lot of these young guys that never played in the NFL, such as a Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson. So, once you go against an opponent, again, that’s going to clear up a lot of things. Not only just the first preseason game. You go into the second, and then hopefully by the time you roll into that second preseason game, going into the third for sure—hopefully you have this thing solidified.

Q: This early in camp, how important was it to have Miles in here, not just a veteran with these young safeties but with Spags’ system. Is he kind of like a coach?

A: He is, but you know what, it’s different. I heard the young man say yesterday, he said “Coach, this defense is different.” It’s because we’re not Baltimore. The thing is that some of the things they did in Baltimore, and coach Spags would be able to talk about that, it is different because Spags wasn’t the [defensive] coordinator. So, when you look at the defense they ran in Baltimore, it’s a completely different defense that we’re running here. For Jeromy, some of the techniques he understands, some of the words, some of the lingo, but as far as overall package– it is completely different.

Q: You said in the spring that you were looking for which guys work well together. Are you starting to get any clarity on pairings or anything like that?

A: Today, for instance, I am going to throw in Bennett Jackson. He is going to be out there with the ones, and then I’m going to try Mykkele Thompson out with the ones. The thing is that when you look at these linebackers and the corners, they need to feel comfortable about who’s going to be back making the calls. So, there’s no one that has a job that it is walking in saying “Hey, this is your starting job”. Even hough a lot of people want to put it on Landon Collins, right now, there is no clarity. I still recall the days of Kenny Phillips, when he was a first-round draft pick. Kenny Phillips had to come in here and had to fight and try to get on the field. As we all that were here understand, you had Michael Johnson and James Butler, a free agent and a seventh-round pick, that started that entire season. I’m still looking for the chemistry and hopefully that will kind of iron itself out over the next few weeks.

Q: Do you look at just chemistry or do you look at abilities and being able to balance each other on the field? Or do you just look at guys who play well together?

A: Of course you have to look at their abilities, but at the same time, I can have a guy who’s out there [that is] big, strong, and fast, but if he’s making mental errors, that’s going to kill you. Versus the guy who may be a little less athletic and who can go out there and make the calls and put himself in the right position. My greatest example is the one that I just gave. You’re talking Kenny Phillips, by far, was a better athlete than James Butler and Michael Johnson. But, when it came to chemistry, who was going to be out there on the field meshing this defense and the guys feel confidence in, it really goes back to two guys working together and therefore being on the same stream, being on the same accord. That’s my greatest example that I draw on as a coach from my own experience.

Q: Do you ask the linebackers and corners about that, who they’re comfortable with?

A: No, I don’t. The corners just go over and just listen to the call. As far as the linebackers, as a former linebacker, I don’t try to bother those guys because they have enough on their plate trying to get the defense and trying to get the front. They just need to make sure that we control the rotation and control what coverage you’re going to be in. So, I don’t ask.

Q: What has Bennett Jackson shown you? Obviously he was out in the spring a lot. What do you like?

A: Bennett, this kid, when he sees the ball—it’s simple: see ball, get ball. When that kid sees the ball, he goes and gets the ball. This kid’s ability to put his toe in the ground and go and burst out of his break, you guys see it out here, he’s able to make plays. He’s making production and production, as Spags has said over and over, production is at the ball. This kid is able to get his hands on a couple of balls and passes already here. By far, more than any other safety I’ve had in camp so far. When you see this kid doing those things, I’ve told them all, I’ve said “Look, the relentless meter and what we preach as far as running to the ball, guys—you have to handle that. I can sit up here and I can try to come out here in a skirt and be your cheerleader and pump you up “let’s run to the ball,” but eventually that has to come from inside of you. Bennett Jackson is one of those guys who’s a self-starter and he’s able to go out there and perform and do the things that we’re asking him to do. On top of that, he’s able to relentlessly run to the ball, which is a plus.

Q: You moved him out of necessity. Do you think he’s better-suited at this position than corner?

A: I do, I do. I think Bennett came in as a corner and then, near the end of camp, we tried to move him in as a nickel last season. He did fairly well in there, as a nickel. The kid can play corner, he played corner at Notre Dame as well. The fact that he’s a big kid and he’s learning the safety position, as we all know, with these safeties—you have to be ready for three safeties to be on the field. This kid who can go down and cover a slot receiver is going to be huge for us, if he’s one of the guys that we decide is going to be in there with the first group. So, it was out of necessity at first moving Bennett. He’s able to pick up the defense and being able to regurgitate it back to us, it’s been a plus for us.

Q: How much of a game of catch-up has it been for Nat Berhe? Over the first few practices, has he made any strides?

A: He’s made some strides. Nat, he missed the OTAs, he missed minicamp. So for him to come back in training camp, it’s just like him starting at the beginning—which it is because he missed so much time in the offseason. So, it is a learning curve for him. You’ll see him out today and running around and he’s picking it up though. But, he’s definitely behind the eight ball right now a little bit.

Q: Is he gaining any ground?

A: Well, you know what? Two practices, three practices—he’s moving slowly. Snail’s pace.

Q: You said you’re going to get Mykkele Thompson with the first group, what are you seeing from him so far?

A: Smart kid. Mykkele is one of those kids that is able to take it from the classroom and it appears, so far, take it to the field. Even with the checks that we have on the backend. With him being able to think and being able to maybe be a quarterback on the field—that’s what I see from him. He’s a smart kid. Hopefully, he’ll be able to control the coverages today and along with the heat, we’ll see if he can think.

Q: It’s very early, but do you see Jackson being a productive member of this secondary and possibly starting?

A: I see him being a productive member of the secondary. As far as starter, again, it’s wide open. There are not starters right now. Giving him an opportunity yesterday, he went with the first group, today he’s going to go with the first group. I told him, “Once you get in there and you’re able to step into a first team role, don’t give it back. Don’t sit up here and have me turn around and throw another guy in there. If you’re in there as a starter with the first group, hold your position.” It’s very early, again, we have no starters, but we have that first team, second team. I told them, “At the end of the day, however Mr. Mara, however Mr. Reese, however many guys that Coach Coughlin decide to keep, if it’s four—you’re all going to be starters. You have to think of yourself that way. You cannot look at yourself as a backup.” So the one thing that I like right now is rotating these guys around because no one has a position locked down.

Q: Will you work Thompson with Jackson today with the ones?

A: Yes sir, that’ll be the group that you’ll see out there today with the ones. Hopefully these kids can go out there and perform and do the duties that we’re asking them to do.

Q: One of the things that we’ve noticed in practice is that you guys run your fits in both first and second groups at the same time. What’s the benefit of that?

A: The benefit of that is when you’re out here and going through jog-through, going through walkthrough and we’re trying to get the guys to have multiple reps in practice. A lot of times its hard having one team out there and sending them through five or six plays then the second unit gets out there for five or six plays. What we do is we stack them, you go out there and stack your position. Therefore, you have the first and second team out there running the same reps that the guys would get if they’re waiting. It’s just a time saver, which has been good.

Q: Physical or mental reps?

A: Both, definitely.

Q: Some guys have said that maybe Landon is a little more advanced because of where he went to college. Do you feel that way?

A: Well, if he had gone to NC State (Merritt’s alma mater), then he would definitely be advanced, but I won’t get into that. As far as Alabama and all the schools, that to me, he’s coming from a good program. Landon has the ability to probably be able to receive more information and to be able to go out and perform it because of the system that he came from Nick Saban, who was a long time NFL coach, so the fact that he had that system down in Alabama, I would probably say that he may be a little more pro-ready than some of the other guys who maybe have come from a smaller school, such as I won’t say that blue school in the state of North Carolina.

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 do not practice on Tuesday. They return to the field on Wednesday but that practice is not open to the public. The next practice open to the public will be on Thursday from 2:30-4:30PM. 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 five remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
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Shane Vereen, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third summer training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN TWO…
The Giants have signed second-year wide receiver Derrick Johnson (Maine) and rookie defensive end Brad Bars (Penn State). Johnson has spent time with the Patriots.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (soreness in surgically-repaired ankle) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

“(Schwartz) was sore, so they held him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No. It wasn’t planned. I’d like to have him practice. But the trainers just said we’d be better off holding him. Maybe he can go tomorrow.”

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson received first-team reps at safety along with Landon Collins. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe practiced at safety with the second-team.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a touchdown.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell made a sliding catch on a pass from Manning.
  • Wide receiver James Jones made a diving sideline catch on a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his four stars of practice were linebacker Devon Kennard, safety Bennett Jackson, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and linebacker Jon Beason.
  • NJ.com agrees that linebacker Devon Kennard was a standout and also singled out tight end Daniel Fells, safety Bennett Jackson, left tackle Ereck Flowers,

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
Jerry Reese addressed the media on Sunday (video is available at Giants.com):

Reese: Welcome to training camp. Our coaches are working hard, our players are working hard. We’re excited about the 2015 season. There’s a lot of competition at several positions that we like. We look forward to the challenge of this season. I’m open for questions.

Q: Have you had any contact with Jason Pierre-Paul?

A: Guys, I’m not going to say much. I don’t have anything really to report about that situation. I am going to say this, I wish Jason [Pierre-Paul] nothing but the best. This is a traumatic situation—it was an accident. Plenty of people have opinions about it. My heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life is life-changing for him. I hope and pray for the best for him, that’s what I can say about that. Other than that, I’m not going to say anything else about what Jason’s situation is, except I hope for the best and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m going to say about the Jason situation.

Q: Can you say whether you hope he’ll be back?

A: I’m not going to say anything else about the Jason situation guys. There’s plenty of people [who] already talked about it, and everybody’s got an opinion about it. You can still form your own opinion about it, but that’s my opinion about it.

Q: Do you think your defense still has the ability to be solid?

A: I think we’ll be really good defensively. I think we’re going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play and play at a high level at that position. I do think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year. I’m excited to see them out there playing.

Q: Some of your defensive ends were saying that Jason was the star and the name. Do you think a defense needs somebody else to step up and become a star? Can the rest of the guys get it done without that?

A: It’s a great opportunity for us, that’s what the National Football League is about. When you have an injury, somebody can step out of the shadows and do something great. It’s a great opportunity for some more guys at that position to step out of the shadows and do that. There’s some guys that have been around for a while—Damontre Moore is a guy that sticks out in my mind, Kerry Wynn. We’ve got some other guys, we drafted Owa [Odighizuwa]. There’s some more guys at that position that we like and think can help shore up that position for us.

Q: How do plan going forward? There’s that situation that’s lingering out there. How do you plan as the general manager with JPP, whether you’ll have him or maybe you don’t. How do you look at that?

A: I’m not talking about the JPP thing, guys, I’m not talking about it.

Q: I mean for your roster, though.

A: We’ll keep all of our options open with respect to the roster.

Q: Were you relieved to see Victor and Odell pass that physical and get out there?

A: Yeah, I’m just happy to see Victor [Cruz] out there. It’s a long way back, he had a big injury. I still don’t think he’s 100 percent back but I think he’s close. We’ll continue to take him slow. To see those two guys out there together, it’s exciting for us and exciting for our fans. We think they can be a good tandem out there together.

Q: John Mara said the other day that there’s enough here for this team to contend for a playoff spot. Is it fair to say that’s your belief?

A: We always have high expectations here, and that will never change. We always have high expectations and we expect our coaches to perform high, John Mara expects me to perform high. We expect our coaches to perform high, we expect our players to perform high. Our expectation is always high here. Again, we want to go out there and compete for the division and get a chance to get in the tournament.

Q: Does it faze you at all that at the end of last season John Mara said this is a win-or-else year for a lot of people?

A: It’s every year– that happens every year. Regardless, in the National Football League, every year is a win-or-else season in the National Football League, that never changes either.

Q: After three years of missing the playoffs, do you feel more pressure to see this roster perform?

A: No, the pressure is always there, the pressure is always the same—it’s the National Football League, guys. Every year is a different year regardless if you win or you don’t make the playoffs. It’s a pressure-fueled profession and it’s a high-performance business and we relish the challenge.

Q: I know you don’t like to talk about contracts but with that said, with Eli going into his final year, how do you think he’s going to respond to the pressure? I have to think that weighs on his mind.

A: You’re right, I’m not going to talk about a contract. Eli is here and he’s working hard like the rest of the players. He’s excited about the offense. It’s his second year in this offense and he’s got some healthy guys around him again. Our offensive line, we worked on that some. We think the sky is the limit. I think Eli should have a big year.

Q: Is that something that you would expect to get done before the season though?

A: I’m not talking about the contract, he’s under contract.

Q: Speaking of the offensive line, how do you feel about that unit going in? Do you feel you have enough there?

A: Yeah. We’re going to get Will Beatty back at some point, hopefully maybe in October, I’m not sure what exactly the timeline is. He’s working hard trying to get back. We drafted Ereck Flowers, obviously. He’s working hard out there at left tackle. We got a couple young veterans that we’ve drafted lately and a couple older guys that we have in our offensive line. There’s some guys behind them, as well, competing for some positions. I think we’ll have enough to get us through and play well up front.

Q: Do you still keep your options open, though, in case someone comes available?

A: Absolutely, we always keep our options available. Every day we look at the wire. We’re always looking for trade possibilities, we’re always trying to upgrade our roster.

Q: I know you looked at Jake Long twice, is he a possibility or is that knee not okay?

A: Yeah, we’re going to keep our options open with respect to him as well.

Q: You brought in a new receiver, a veteran guy, what do you like about him and what do you think he is?

A: Obviously we had an injury early on and he [James Jones] was a short-list guy for us and really makes sense. He’s been in that system before and he was very productive last year for Oakland. He knows the system, he jumped in really quickly here and hit the ground running. So that’ll create some competition. There’s three, four, five spots at the receiver position.

Q: What did you see in Jeromy Miles? He’s another guy you signed recently. Did you feel you needed a veteran in that room?

A: We just needed some more depth. We’re always trying to upgrade the back end of the roster. He was still out there. We thought he’s been with Spags, he knows him a little bit from being over at Baltimore. We thought we’d bring him in and let him compete for a roster spot. Guy has played some and started a couple of games in his career. He’s been more of a special teamer but he’s started some games.

Q: You always want your rookies to come in and play and contribute. You’ve got a first and second round pick that are lining up with the starters. You need them to be good players right away, don’t you?

A: Well, we hope so. I’ll always say this, your first three picks—you expect those guys to come in and be contributors right away and what you get after that [first three rounds] is a little bit of a bonus. Our first three guys, we expect those guys to come in and be strong contributors right away. Again, I’ll always say this, you might get a couple of starters and it looks like we could possibly get a couple starters out of our first couple of picks.

Q: How important is the health of Jon Beason to this defense overall?

A: [Jon] Beason, it’s a big year for him. I hope he can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, I think he gives us a lot of pop in there. He gives us that leadership that you want out of that middle linebacker position. So far, so good. He’s been running around and playing with a high motor, he’s a high motor player. If he can stay healthy, that will be tremendous for us.

Q: Health has obviously been a huge issue for you guys over the last couple of years. I know you look at everything in the offseason, have you found anything at all that you think ‘if we change this, we’ll get better luck on the injury front’?

A: Well, we’ve tried different things. We readjusted the schedule, we adjusted some things in the weight room, we’re trying to have more room for down time; it’s an opportunity for guys to recover. But I think it’s just been some bad luck. When guys break bones or tear muscles off the bone or something like that, it’s just unfortunate. Bad things happen sometimes in the National Football League, and hopefully this is our year to stay healthy.

Q: What is your confidence in the roster right now in comparison to what you’ve had in recent years. How do you feel in general about the roster?

A: I like the roster. I like our roster. I think it’s a good roster and, obviously, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve got to get out there and prove it. Like I said earlier, it’s a high-performance business and you’ve got to go out there and perform. I think our players are hungry, they’re excited about the season, the expectation is high and I think they’re up for the challenge.

Q: Is it unusual to have so many new starters? I mean you have five new starters basically in the positions on the offensive line, new starters at safety, a new starter at weakside linebacker. Is that unusual? Does that make you nervous a little bit?

A: No, I don’t think it’s unusual. You always like to have some continuity but you see teams all the time turn their roster over. Again, Seattle, I think maybe the year they won the Super Bowl or the year before, they turned their roster over pretty quickly and had a lot of new starters there. So it happens around the National Football League. It’s just the way it is. Your young players have to play these days. You can’t bring guys in and expect them to sit for a couple of years. You have to bring them in and they have to be contributors early. We like where we are right now in respect to the roster.

Q: You signed Dwayne Harris and gave the indication he can also play receiver, but with the guys you have, is there enough room for him?

A: That’s a lot of competition. If he wants to be a contributor at the receiver spots, he’s got to compete and earn that spot. We do think he’s talented as a receiver as well, but there’s a lot of competition at that position and we love it. We love the competition at that position. At any position, we like competition.

Q: You mentioned that there are several groups of competition that you’re looking forward to. Which ones in specific really stick out to you?

A: I think there’s competition all over. Obviously there is some competition at the safety position, I think our offensive line has some competition, the receiver, the tight end position. I think our defensive ends, that group of five that I talked about, that we feel like can play, are going to be competing for the starting job and a lot of playing time there. Even in our defensive tackle position. I think we have—the running back position has competition. I think there’s competition all over the roster.

Q: How concerned are you at the depth of offensive tackle?

A: I think we have depth there. Again, we are going to get Will Beatty back but we have, you know (Justin) Pugh is playing guard but he can easily go out there and play tackle. He’s been a starter out there for two years. If we have to move him back out there at some point, we are not afraid to do that. I think we have enough and, again, we are going to get Will back.

Q: Do you think overall the offense will be explosive? Do you expect it to be explosive?

A: I hope so. You just think about last year, if you have Odell (Beckham Jr.) for 16 games and you have Victor Cruz for the entire season, you would think you could probably squeeze out a few more wins if you have those explosive-type players playing for the full season. Hopefully those guys, the offensive line, Eli (Manning)’s playing well, continue to grow from this offense, the tight end, Larry Donnell, stepped up in a big way last year and there are some more guys competing at that position. So I expect our offense to score points. If you don’t score 28 points in this league, it’s hard to win. Those 14-10 games, there are not a lot of those games left around the National Football League in light of how the rules favor the offense mostly, how the rules are made now. So you have to score points. You have to take advantage of that, of the rules.

Q: Jerry, you were very optimistic with Cruz from the very beginning when we talked to you. When you see him out here the last couple of days, are you even a little taken aback by how far he’s come?

A: Well, again, it was a big injury and if anybody can come back—the guy is a terrific athlete, number one, and if anybody can come back and has that determination. The guy comes from UMass and develops into a star, so he knows what it’s like to be coming in undrafted so he knows what it’s like to come from some depth to get to where he is. So he has the willpower, the fortitude to come back from something like that and he’s come along way. I still think you won’t see the real Victor Cruz until he gets into some real games and starts to let his quickness take over and his instincts take over.

Q: Just to go back on something you just said, there was a mantra in this league for decades that a defense wins championships. Do you think that’s changed?

A: Well, I still think you need to have a solid defense, but the rules now favor the offense. In my opinion, the rules favor the offense mostly and you have to score points because if you don’t score points—if you’re playing from behind all the time, it’s hard to win football games. You’ve got to get out and score points. We hope our offense can do that.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge Odell faces trying to follow up on last season?

A: I think Odell just has to be himself. I don’t think there’s any challenge. Obviously, he’s gifted. I think he just has to let the game come to him and not try to force things because he’s going to make plays. I don’t think he should press and try an ‘I have to do everything’ kind of situation for him. He’s driven, he loves football. I don’t think he’s going to have any issues. I think he’ll perform high again.

Q: Compared to other sports, football has been a little slow when it comes to using analytics, evaluating players and that kind of thing. What role do you think they should have?

A: Analytics? Everybody is trying to implement the analytics part of evaluating players but, again, here with us, we evaluate guys with our eyes. Our scouts go out and we look at them and we evaluate them with our eyes and with our experiences for different positions on your football team. Analytics play a role, we try to look at it, but the number one thing we use here is our eyes. Our eyes tell the story. Believe what you see.

Q: Is the analytics more for you guys to confirm what you’re seeing with your eyes? Is that an accurate way…

A: Well, you can say that. It’s just part of the puzzle. I think that can be part of the puzzle, it can confirm some things for you, I guess, in some ways. But at the end of the day, what you see is what you have to believe.

Q: Some of the defensive players have been talking about how Spags has been stressing the history of the Giants’ defenses. How does bringing Spags back make that connection to the defenses of the past and why is that important for them?

A: He did a terrific job when he was here the last time, but Spags, he can motivate these guys and tell them what they have to do, but the players have to get out there and perform. So it’s up to the players. I think we have a terrific coaching staff on both sides of the ball. They are working their behinds off and I appreciate the work they put in. I think our entire football team would be motivated to perform at a high level and compete. We open up September 13 against Dallas and I think we will put a terrific football team out there and play well.

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

Q: Did Geoff Schwartz practice today?

A: No, he was sore so they held him.

Q: Was it ankle/leg/foot?

A: Yes.

Q: Was it something that was planned?

A: We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No, we’d like to have him practice. Trainers just said they’d be better off holding him, maybe he can go tomorrow.

Q: You practiced Cruz and Beckham three straight days, do you have any plan for those guys?

A: It is the plan, you’re seeing it. They only take a certain number of reps. They work their way up into things. You’re seeing it.

Q: First day in uppers, did it sort of go the way you wanted?

A: Some of the plays are not exactly what you would like because they end up getting in some poor positions sometimes. But otherwise, I’m hoping that we came out of it good. They have to learn how to handle the pads and learn how to practice together with the pads on. It has to start somewhere.

Q: What have you seen from Cruz thus far?

A: He seems to be doing well. There’s no complaints and he’s gone through some things that I think he’s maybe challenged himself and came out the other end. So far, so good.

Q: Did you find any new punt returners out there at the end?

A: Yeah, we did. Some of them, their sternums held up well. Did you hear the sound of the hits? But they caught it, four straight defensive linemen caught the ball. We may have found a tight end or something.

Q: How’s Flowers doing so far? Do you like his attitude?

A: I love his attitude, his attitude is great. He just goes to work, he doesn’t say much. He’s got to go through it again. Lots of things to learn, lots of things happen fast. He’s out there, he competes.

Q: How’s his singing?

A: You know what, he did pretty good today. He got it over with, I think, at least one time. They may make him do it again.

Q: How is Bennett Jackson handling his transition?

A: Seems to be doing okay. There’s a guy coming off an injury, too, but nobody talks about him much. He’s been out there and done a pretty good job.

Q: What’s the biggest thing for that transition from corner to safety?

A: There’s a lot to learn. Safeties have a lot of information to spit out in a short amount of time. It’s a totally different position from corner, so he’s got a lot of things to learn but so far he’s done pretty well.

Q: I saw him out there with the first team. Was that something that was earned?

A: Guys are going to rotate, guys are going to rotate. Should be going on at other positions as well.

Q: Did you back off of Rashad Jennings a little bit today? Was he limited?

A: No, he was fine, he was in there. Got a few guys who can run through there, which is nice. They all got work.

Q: Prince and DRC, are they pretty sharp in your mind at this point?

A: They’re getting there. I would say there has not been a lot of just plain opportunities for them to flat out defend. DRC made a nice play yesterday on the ball up in the air with Beckham. Everybody has a long way to go. It’s early on, but we’re working on it.

Q: I don’t know how much you can say about Derrick Johnson?

A: He’s just over here for the first time trying to help out and trying to learn some assignments so we can get him in there.

Q: Why did you want to bring in another wide receiver?

A: Why did we want to bring in a receiver? Because we’re trying to see guys that are coming back and limiting their snaps, so we need some people to be able to put out there.

Q:That’s what I thought.

A: Then why did you ask?

Q: I need you to say it.

A: Why? Don’t quote me on it.

Q: With your defensive ends, who do you really see as ready to step up without Jason Pierre-Paul here?

A: Well, they’re going to have to. Damontre [Moore] has done a pretty good job in the early going. Robert Ayers. The young guy, Owa [Odighizuwa], he missed a lot of the spring. He’s a guy that we’re going to end up counting on, too.

Q: How much does it help having Jon Beason out here?

A: A lot. Refocuses everybody. He’s got great energy. Very positive guy, good leadership.

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 fourth training camp practice will be held on Monday from 2:30-4:30PM. 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 six remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 022015
 
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Geremy Davis and Jayron Hosley, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Geremy Davis and Jayron Hosley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 1, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their second summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

JAMES JONES OFFICIALLY SIGNED, MATT LaCOSSE AND BRAD HARRAH WAIVED…
The Giants have officially announced the signing of unrestricted free agent wide receiver James Jones.  Jones will wear #89. The Giants have waived/injured tight end Matt LaCosse (hamstring) and defensive end Brad Harrah (quad).

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), safety Nat Berhe (calf), and safety Mykkele Thompson (hamstring) were held to a limited number of snaps. The Giants want to work them back in slowly. Offensive guard John Jerry (sick) was limited.

Tight end Jerome Cunningham and wide receiver Preston Parker had to leave practice early with cramps.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit tight end Jerome Cunningham (now wearing #86) for a touchdown.
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa saw some first-team reps at defensive end with Robert Ayers.
  • The defense performed well on Saturday with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Landon Collins, and safety Bennett Jackson each making a couple of pass break-ups.
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson made a nice catch.
  • Safety Nat Berhe saw some time with the second-team defense.
  • Cornerback Jayron Hosley had a good practice.
  • Wide receiver Geremy Davis made another nice reception and has looked good early.
  • Running back Andre Williams has looked quicker than last year and has received some first-team reps in practice.

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

Q: Did you get word on what happened to Preston Parker yet?

A: Cramp.

Q: I just saw Jerome Cunningham go off on a cart…

A: Cramp.

Q: Are you going to be in some kind of pads tomorrow?

A: Uppers, yes.

Q: You had two guys with cramps here, a guy with a hamstring injury. Does that concern you? You wanted guys to arrive in shape.

A: They’re in shape. Evidently, they didn’t hydrate well enough. One guy had had the runs, one of those deals. So, try as you might, you’re still going to get these things. No matter who you try to blame, it’s going to happen. It’s 90 degrees.

Q: Has Cunningham shown you a little bit?

A: Yesterday he did well. I didn’t think too many people on offense showed me anything today. He did a few good things yesterday.

Q: We hear a lot of the players saying “be where your feet are.” Where does that come from?

A: Mindfulness. Mindfulness. If you’re going to be in the gym, be in the gym. Be where your feet are. Stay in the moment. Take care of one moment at a time. While you’re here, you deal with your football, deal with your job. It’s all the same type of theme.

Q: Who came up with that? Where was it discovered?

A: Well, we studied it this offseason as a staff. We’ve always had lots of statements about things of that nature. It’s just been reinforced more heavily, to the point where the guys are repeating it.

Q: Did James Jones come in as advertised?

A: Yes. Seemed like he was in good shape. Took some snaps today.

Q: Do you think he will acclimate more quickly. He thinks the offense is very similar to Green Bay.

A: The terminology, yes.

Q: Is his ability to do things in the red zone something that you liked?

A: Well, we’ll see. Hopefully it’s that, and in the field as well. It doesn’t have to be just the red zone.

Q: What have you seen from Ereck Flowers and Landon Collins? The two rookies starting right from the get-go.

A: I haven’t seen anything particularly good or bad just yet. It’s very early. They’re both working hard.

Q: Any word from JPP yet?

A: Not to my knowledge, no.

Q: Is Larry Donnell over the Achilles tendinitis from the spring?

A: He’s practiced and he’s done well with that.

Q: I haven’t seen John Jerry that much. Does he have something?

A: He was sick yesterday, and kind of sick today but he kept going. He took some reps today.

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 third training camp practice will be held on Sunday from 2:30-4:30PM. 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 seven remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Sunday, August 2: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Jul 312015
 
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Jerome Cunningham and Bennett Jackson, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Jerome Cunningham and Bennett Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 31, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their first summer training camp practice on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

JAMES JONES ON THE WAY…
Head Coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that the Giants will sign unrestricted free agent wide receiver James Jones once he arrives at the facility tonight. “He’s a veteran receiver, outstanding hands, been in this system, knows the system well, should fit in well, and should compete,” said Coughlin.

BEN EDWARDS WAIVED, WILL BEATTY TO THE PUP…
The Giants have waived/injured wide receiver Ben Edwards, who pulled his hamstring during the June mini-camp. The Giants officially placed left tackle Will Beatty on the Active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Giants also terminated the contract of offensive tackle Troy Kropog from the Reserve/PUP.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), safety Nat Berhe (calf), and safety Mykkele Thompson (hamstring) were held to a limited number of snaps. The Giants want to work them back in slowly.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz looked sharp in his first practice since suffering the knee injury in October 2014.
  • The starting offensive line continues to be left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Justin Pugh, center Weston Richburg, right guard Geoff Schwartz, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • The starting defensive line had George Selvie and Robert Ayers at defensive end and Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins at defensive tackle.
  • The starting linebackers were Jon Beason inside with J.T. Thomas and Devon Kennard outside.
  • Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor were the first-team safeties.
  • The first touchdown of training camp was a quarterback Eli Manning slant to wide receiver Odell Beckham. (Video) Manning later hit Beckham again on a 60-yard catch-and run for a touchdown.
  • Wide receiver Geremy Davis made two acrobatic catches from quarterback Ryan Nassib. (Video) Nassib also connected with wide receiver Dwayne Harris. (Video)
  • Tight end Jerome Cunningham received a lot of work with the first team. He made a really nice one-handed catch on a seam pass. Larry Donnell also worked at tight end with the first team.

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

Q: How does Victor Cruz look?

A: He actually went on the ground one time and actually felt good about doing that. That’s one hurdle. He was out there and working and enjoying himself. So there’s more to come.

Q: They (Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr.) didn’t start the first period but they were in like the second, it’s just…?

A: It’s just going to be a kind of rotation. They have a pitch count, they have a work load. One guy is watching one thing and coaches counting the other.

Q: I don’t know about you, but whenever Victor or Odell were on the field, I just wanted to see them finish the play and what they did when they walked back. Were you that cognizant and thinking, ‘hey, are they okay?’

A: Well, I watch what everybody else watches. When something good happened and I saw it breakout, I listen for the whistle to blow and then I move my eyes somewhere else.

Q: We talked to the guys before practice and all the offensive guys kept saying this is going to be an explosive offense. Did you see that today when you were watching?

A: Well, it’s the first day. We’ve got a ways to go.

Q: Is Nat Berhe another one who is on a pitch count as well? I didn’t see him in that much.

A: Yeah, he is and so is (Mykkele) Thompson, but so far, so good.

Q: Is that one of the positions you would consider the most up for grabs? Those safety spots?

A: You hope there are a bunch that are competitive. That is what you hope for. That certainly is one.

Q: Are you bringing in a wide receiver, James Jones?

A: Yes and he will be in here tonight, hopefully, for meetings.

Q: Obviously Ben (McAdoo) knows a lot about him, what do you like about him? What do you see there?

A: I remember the great year he had and then last year he caught a number of balls, he led the Oakland team. He’s a veteran receiver, outstanding hands, been in this system, knows the system well, should fit in well, and should compete.

Q: That’s one of the positions that you have some proven players, guys that have already played at this level and done well. Do you sense any problems fitting a guy like that in? I mean you’re talking about a veteran who…

A: Well, there are a number of guys there that have played and played a lot. You’re always looking for competition and he certainly will provide it.

Q: What did you think of the play where Odell took that quick pass from Eli (Manning) and pinballed his was down the field?

A: I liked it and I’d like to see a lot more of it.

Q: Play to play, do you worry or watch that Odell and Victor are physically okay?

A: You can’t do that. The players are going to play. They’ve got to go play the game. That’s the name of the game. We want to do everything we can to make sure that all the necessary precautions are made but when they do take the field for the required number of plays, they’ve got to play the game and they wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t mention half the stuff that you’re asking about because I wouldn’t—you watch those guys in a meeting and they’re as intense and anxious as anybody just to play the game.

Q: I know you did it in the spring a lot with Ereck Flowers taking reps with both the first team and second team. Is that something you want to continue through camp?

A: Well, really what we’d like to see him do is just take off in this circumstance and become the player that we know he can be and grasp things as fast as he can and move from all the spring’s work and the experience that he had, quickly move past that into what we’re doing and what we’re going to face right now. It’s not as much about, sure he’ll take snaps with both, but in reality we want him to just take off at that spot.

Q: Is the hour and 10 minute practice just slowly working your way into it?

A: That was 14 mods. That is exactly what was planned on. It’ll be a little bit more tomorrow and the whole practice, the whole nature of all of this work, is to a certain extent, we’re going to push them real hard, we’re going to back off it and we’re going to push them real hard again, sometimes two days in a row or three and then back off it. So it’s going to be a series of that kind of thing.

Q: How much did you sense that guys were amped up?

A: It’s always the first practice.

Q: Did you have to hold them back at all in any way?

A: No, but you have to remind them about all the things that you’re trying to do. You want to practice hard, you want to give great effort, you want to play full speed but you want to be smart about it. You certainly don’t want to put somebody in a bad light and you always tell them certain things about being around the quarterback and try to keep people on their feet so you don’t get piles. Piles can be a dangerous thing.

Q: Is it too early to see how the offensive line is progressing?

A: It’s too early. They need to work. Those guys, there is only one way with them and they’ve just got to work and work and work. Lots of times it’s not pretty, but they need to keep working and working and they need to—as these practices extend themselves, get fatigued and play through it, all those things. It all has to happen.

Q: Is that how you gel as a unit? Is that how five people become one?

A: That certainly is one of the ways it works. The number of circumstances that they end up in together, the real tough circumstances, that helps.

Q: Last year you had to flip it around on the offensive line pretty late in camp—I think it was after the third preseason game you had to get two new guards in there. Is there a point where you feel you need to have those five guys set during training camp?

A: There will be. There will be. It’s not quite there. It’s a ways off.

Q: Is the third preseason game usually that point where you want to have it set?

A: Not necessarily, but the third preseason game usually becomes a little more significant because you do put your players through something like a game plan week where as in other games we don’t. It’s nice to say that but whenever it happens, hopefully sooner the better.

Q: Photos were released of JPP today in Florida and his hand is basically completely covered in a cast. Have you seen the photos?

A: No, I haven’t seen them. I haven’t seen them. I’ve heard there was such a picture but I haven’t seen it.

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

The audio of WFAN Radio interviews with RB Shane Vereen, RB Andre Williams, LT Ereck Flowers, S Landon Collins, WR Rueben Randle, CB Prince Amukamara, OC Weston Richburg, LB Jon Beason, RB Rashad Jennings, WR Victor Cruz, and P Steve Weatherford is available at CBS New York.

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The second training camp practice will be held on Saturday from 2:30-4:30PM. 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 eight remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Saturday, August 1: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 2: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Jul 272015
 
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Victor Cruz, Corey Washington, Odell Beckham; New York Giants (June 8, 2015) New York Giants June 8 2015

Victor Cruz, Corey Washington, Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For 11 years, there have been many peaks and valleys under the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning partnership. The high points have been two NFL and two NFC championships, three NFC East division titles, and five playoff appearances. The low points have been six non-playoff seasons and three losing seasons. For the last three years, the Giants have not made the playoffs, including the only two losing seasons under Coughlin and Manning since their inaugural season together in 2004.

Due to many unfortunate career-impacting injuries and poor personnel decisions in the draft and free agency, the overall talent level of the team has declined since 2011. The results have been far too many uncompetitive football games and a worsening win-loss record. The Giants have been dreadful against their two biggest division rivals. The Cowboys were a fingertip away from sweeping the last six games from the Giants while the Eagles are 11-3 against the Giants in their last 14 games. It’s almost impossible to win a division when you cannot beat the teams within your division.

Other than the two most visible institutions on the team (the head coach and quarterback), the Giants have clearly been a team undergoing a major transition during the last three years. Most of the 2011 team is gone. Both the offensive and defensive coordinators have been replaced as well as most of the position coaches. There has been dramatic turnover at almost every position on the roster save quarterback. The Giants have become a young team.

If the reports are true about Eli Manning receiving a new long-term extension soon, then barring injury, the Manning era will continue towards the end of the decade. What we don’t know is if the 2015 Giants will show enough improvement for ownership to retain Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff beyond the upcoming season. The Giants will not be favored to win the NFC East or make the playoffs. The Cowboys are expected to win the division and many believe the Eagles will finish second with the Giants and Redskins battling to stay out of the basement for the fourth year in a row.

So heading into Giants training camp, the team will be underdogs. It’s a role that has suited them well many times during the last 35 years. They have the ability to prove the pundits wrong and win the NFC East, but they will need some things to break their way. And Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have proven to be a very dangerous duo if they make the playoffs.

  • What is going to happen with Jason Pierre-Paul?: Pierre-Paul is (or was) the only impact player on the defense. But it’s hard to see how he will make a positive impact on the team in 2015. At the very least, he lost a finger, severely fractured his thumb, and needed skin grafts on his severely-burned right arm. Pierre-Paul will not be able to train and lift weights and he will not be able to practice. Because he is still unsigned and is likely to remain so unless he and the Giants come to some sort of compromise deal on his nearly $15 million tender, Pierre-Paul will also miss all of the classwork in training camp he desperately needs to understand Steve Spagnuolo’s system. Tom Coughlin and his players will be asked over and over again about JPP. How big of a distraction this will be remains to be seen. And all of this assumes that Pierre-Paul can even play in 2015 and be anywhere near a competent NFL player, which we really don’t know. The situation is a mess. Best case scenario is he signs a compromise deal soon, attends the classroom work in camp, works on his cardio/leg strength, sometime returns to the playing field in September or October, quickly adjusts to the loss of his digit, and remains a quality two-way end. But there are a lot of “ifs” in that scenario and it’s hard to be optimistic.
  • How quickly will the defensive players adjust to Steve Spagnuolo’s system?: Aside from one memorable playoff run, the Giants defense was mostly a statistical mess under Perry Fewell. In three of the the last four seasons, the defense gave up over 6,000 yards and was one of the worst in the NFL. The Giants pray and hope that Spagnuolo can rekindle the magic he brought to the team in 2007 and 2008. The players seem to love him. However, Spags no longer has Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck. Those are three all-time NYG greats. And it’s important to remember that the 2007 Giants really struggled early on in Spagnuolo’s complicated schemes, giving up 80 points in their first two games. The 2015 New York Giants will not have the luxury an extended learning period. Four of their first seven games are against NFC East teams, including two games against the Cowboys.
  • Where will the pass rush come from?: The pass rush was going to be a question even before Pierre-Paul’s injury. Now it’s unknown when the team’s best pass rusher will return. And even if JPP does make it back, will he be effective? The Giants have to hope and pray that veteran journeymen like Robert Ayers and George Selvie can elevate their game and that youngsters such as Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa can develop very quickly into legitimate players. There are some outstanding tackles in the NFC East and they will show no mercy.
  • Will the run defense actually improve?: The assumption is that a combination of Steve Spagnuolo, solid defensive tackle play, a revamped linebacking corps that includes a healthy Jon Beason, and bigger and more physical safeties will dramatically improve what was a dreadful run defense. Spagnuolo has some good tools to work with such as DT Johnathan Hankins, Beason, LB Devon Kennard, and S Landon Collins. Newcomers like Kenrick Ellis and George Selvie should help. Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa have the physical tools to become very good run defenders. DT Cullen Jenkins is healthy. But we’ll have to see how it all comes together. There are questions at end with Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers. We don’t know who the other starting tackle will be next to Hankins. Can Beason actually stay healthy? And linebackers J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas have to prove the Giants made the correct assessments in free agency. We do know this: the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins are three teams who love to run the football with the Cowboys and Eagles being top-10 in rushing yards per game.
  • How good will the safeties be?: The Giants have a lot of young talent at safety, but they are green as grass and unproven except for recently-signed journeyman Jeromy Miles. Steve Spagnulo puts a lot of mental pressure on his safeties and the inexperienced lads such as Landon Collins, Cooper Taylor, Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson, and Justin Currie must grow up fast. Safeties are the last line of defense. Mistakes there lead to big touchdowns and lost games. The upside? This is a young, hungry, and physical group. They have the ability to be very good. But they won’t have a lot of time to get ready.
  • Can Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stay healthy?: With JPP blowing his finger off, Amukamara and Rodgers-Cromartie are now the two most irreplaceable guys on the defense. They can be as good a cornerback duo as there is in the NFL, but there is little apparent depth behind them. If either gets hurt for an extended period, it could spell disaster. Amukmara in particular has been an injury-prone player.
  • Can the Giants overcome their issues at offensive tackle?: Provided everyone stays healthy, the Giants look set on the inside of the offensive line with Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz. The Giants also believe that Ereck Flowers will become an outstanding left tackle some day. But what no one knows is how long it will take Flowers to do so since he needs so much technique work. He could struggle as a rookie. The injury to Will Beatty screwed the Giants in the short-term. Now they will have to rely on Flowers and his growing pains at left tackle and twice-benched Marshall Newhouse, the disappointing-to-date Brandon Mosley, or someone else at right tackle. The Giants may be forced to scramble, moving Pugh or Schwartz to tackle.
  • Can Victor Cruz be Victor Cruz?: We simply don’t know if Cruz will ever be the same player again. If he is, this offense could be special as teams will have tremendous problems trying to defend both Cruz and Odell Beckham (not to mention Rueben Randle). But if Cruz is a shadow of his former self, while Eli and Odell can still make this a very good offense, it won’t be the same as if Cruz was healthy.
  • Is Eli Manning primed to be “elite” again?: In 2011, Eli Manning carried a New York Giants team with no defense and no running game to the playoffs. He was arguably the NFL’s MVP that season. He hasn’t regained that same magic since then. However, Eli was very good in 2014 and seems primed for even a bigger season in 2015. There is a quiet confidence about him. He’s healthy and teammates have noticed a very lively arm in offseason workouts. Eli knows Ben McAdoo’s QB-friendly system now. His favorite target Victor Cruz will be back. In Shane Vereen, he may have the best receiving back he has had since Tiki Barber. He has a top-10 receiving tight end in Larry Donnell. Rueben Randle may be finally coming on. But most importantly, Manning has arguably the most exciting offensive player in the NFL to throw to in Odell Beckham. The way this league is now set up is that an outstanding quarterback can carry a team to an NFL Championship. One more title run and Eli has guaranteed himself a spot in the Hall of Fame.

This team has a lot of issues, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. The best the Giants can probably hope for on defense is to be middle-of-the-pack. Yet after the last four years under Fewell, the Giants would take that. And being just average on defense may just be good enough. The offense, and specifically Eli Manning, can carry this team. The only major question marks on that side of the ball are the status of Cruz and ability of the two starting tackles. I honestly think Manning could be in store for an MVP-type season. He has a lot of weapons to throw to and he is in an offense that gets rid of the ball quickly. The Giants have a nice trio of running backs, an outstanding receiving corps, a very solid interior trio on the offensive line, and a good receiving tight end. Special teams should be much better with the addition of Dwayne Harris and a lot of hungry, young players. If two teams with questionable defenses like the Cowboys and Packers can make a run, so can the Giants.

What the team needs is a little bit of luck on the health front. After two years of leading the NFL in injuries, and freak offseason accidents with JPP and Beatty, the Giants could use a change in fortune.

Jul 232015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Quarterback Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Quarterbacks

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: Largely lost in the disappointing 6-10 season and the Odell Beckham hype was the fact that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning experienced a renaissance in 2014. Approaching his mid-30’s and coming off arguably his worst season in the NFL in 2013, Manning rebounded with one of his best seasons in 2014. Indeed, had it not been for a dreadful 5-interception game against the San Francisco 49ers in November, Manning would have thrown only eight picks all season – his lowest ever in the NFL. His success was even more impressive when you consider he was coming off April ankle surgery that limited his offseason work, had a new offensive coordinator and position coach, was introduced to a radically-different offensive system, and lost his security blanket Victor Cruz early in campaign. Before the season, many said Manning was washed up and the team should move on. By season’s end, those thoughts had largely disappeared. Of all of the Giants’ personnel problems, the quarterback position is not one of them.

It originally looked like Ryan Nassib was going to have an up-hill fight for the #2 quarterback spot as the Giants had re-signed 2013 #2 quarterback Curtis Painter and had added quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Rusty Smith in free agency. But Freeman and Smith didn’t even make it to training camp, and Nassib clearly out-performed Painter in the preseason, completing 44-of-74 passes for 588 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions (107.3 quarterback rating). Nassib not only earned the promotion to the #2 spot, but the team was comfortable enough with him to cut Painter and only go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants signed street free agent Ricky Stanzi in January.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Entering training camp, Eli Manning seems comfortable, confident, and healthy. He worked hard at improving his arm strength in the offseason and his coaches and teammates have noticed.

“Yeah, (his arm) is lively, very lively,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin in mid-June. “He has worked hard on that.”

“I would definitely agree with you on that,” said wide receiver Rueben Randle. “He overthrew me twice and I don’t ever recall that happening. That is something we noticed down at Duke working with him. We noticed that his arm got stronger and that is exciting for us.”

But more important than the increased arm strength is that Manning appears ready to take the next step forward in Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo’s quarterback-friendly system. Combine that with talented targets such as Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, and Shane Vereen and Eli may be primed for a really big year.

“Eli is a lot quicker at this point in time in getting everything going and getting everything moving,” said McAdoo. “Eli has put a lot of time and effort into his footwork and his training there and to his upper body and his strengthening and maintenance in those types of things. I like the look in his eye right now.”

“I think he is gaining confidence in what we have asked him to do fundamentally in the system and in the communication that happens in the meeting rooms and is carried on to the field,” continued McAdoo. “He is on the same page with his receivers, his tight ends and his backs. He is working well with the center and the o-line. I think being in the second year of the system helps.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Barring something unusual, the two quarterbacks will be Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib. Ricky Stanzi is a camp arm.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Mike Sullivan on Eli Manning: “(He) is a lot more comfortable, perhaps, and certainly healthy and we have had a chance to get rolling, but I agree he is definitely throwing the ball well and it is exciting.”

Sullivan on Ryan Nassib: “He is a guy who is a very hard worker. He is a grinder and he is a gym rat and is someone who is very conscientious. He came from a similar type system in college, so he didn’t really have to unlearn, if you will, as much. I am very impressed with his work ethic, his competitiveness and how intelligent he is. He has been really trying to focus on the little things that can get his release a little faster. He is very conscientious about that, “Hey, I can just keep the ball a little bit higher.” He understands the reasoning and timing behind things in terms of not wanting to be too slow with his feet or having an elongated release and just a very bright and competitive player. In the meeting room, he is someone that Eli relies upon. I got the sense early on that those two guys really respect each other and you look at a guy like Ryan and I am excited to see how he is going to perform in these games in the preseason, and he is just a really competitive kid.”

PREDICTIONS: To date, 2011 was clearly Manning’s best pro season. Fans forget that team was 32nd in rushing and 27th in defense. Manning practically single-handily willed that team to a 9-7 regular-season record. It was a league MVP-type performance with six 4th-quarter comeback victories (and two more in the post-season).

Provided Manning stays healthy, Eli will be in serious contention for his first league MVP award. Once again, he will carry his team to the playoffs.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib.

Jul 212015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants training camp schedule was officially released on Monday. Only nine practices will be open to the public at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey due to MetLife Stadium events and the two joint practices held with the Cincinnati Bengals in mid-August. The open practice sessions are July 31 and August 1, 2, 3, 6 16, 19, 20, and 25.

Practice sessions usually last approximately two hours (i.e., 2:30-4:30PM), but the schedule is subject to change and fans should check with Giants.com for the latest updates.

  • Friday, July 31: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Saturday, August 1: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Sunday, August 2: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Tuesday, August 4: CAMP CLOSED; no practice
  • Wednesday, August 5: CAMP CLOSED; MetLife Stadium Event
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Friday, August 7: CAMP CLOSED
  • Saturday, August 8: CAMP CLOSED; MetLife Stadium Event
  • Sunday, August 9: CAMP CLOSED; no practice
  • Monday, August 10: CAMP CLOSED; Travel to Cincinnati
  • Tuesday, August 11: 3:00 p.m. – Joint practice with Bengals in Cincinnati
  • Wednesday, August 12: 3:00 p.m. – Joint practice with Bengals in Cincinnati
  • Thursday, August 13: CAMP CLOSED; jog-thru in Cincinnati
  • Friday, August 14: Giants at Bengals, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 15: CAMP CLOSED; no practice
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 p.m. – Practice
  • Monday, August 17: CAMP CLOSED
  • Tuesday, August 18: CAMP CLOSED; no practice
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 p.m. – Practice
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 p.m. – Practice
  • Friday, August 21: CAMP CLOSED
  • Saturday, August 22: Giants vs. Jaguars, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 23: CAMP CLOSED
  • Monday, August 24: CAMP CLOSED; no practice
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 p.m. – Practice
  • Wednesday, August 26: CAMP CLOSED; MetLife Stadium Event
  • Thursday, August 27: CAMP CLOSED; end of training camp

The New York Giants have provided the following guidelines for training camp:

Admission: There is no admission charge for watching training camp workouts.

Fan Guidelines: Practice sessions will be open to the public throughout training camp (July 31-Aug. 25). Limited seating is provided alongside the practice fields. Restroom facilities, concession stands and a free kids’ activity area will also be available.

Autographs: A different position group of Giants players will sign autographs for fans each day following practice. In addition, select Giants legends will sign autographs during each practice. A full schedule will be released on Giants.com.

Kids’ Zone: Families will love the Big Blue Kids’ Zone at camp, with games and inflatables for kids of all ages.  The first 100 kids who visit the Big Blue Kids’ Zone at every practice will also receive a Giants’ Back to School Supply Pack. The Big Blue Kids’ Zone will be open as soon as gates open until the end of practice.

Fan Parking: Parking is free and is located in Lot K on the grounds of the MetLife Sports Complex. The lot will open to the public one hour before the scheduled start time of practice and the gates will open 30 minutes before practice begins. The parking lot will close one hour following the conclusion of practice. All fans attending practice will be subject to security screening before entering the seating area.

25th Anniversary Giveaway: The first 1,000 fans who attend practice on Thursday, Aug. 6 and Thursday, Aug. 20 will receive a 25th Anniversary pennant, courtesy of Party City, celebrating the Giants’ 1990 championship season.

Rain Policy: In the event of inclement weather (including rain, thunderstorms and extreme heat), practices will be moved indoors and will be closed to the public. Please check Giants.com prior to every practice for up-to-the-minute changes in the daily practice schedule.

Jul 202015
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Running Back Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: 2014 was a major transition year for the New York Giants at the running back position. The two backs most-associated with the team’s recent Super Bowl seasons – Brandon Jacobs (2005-11, 2013) and Ahmad Bradshaw (2007-12) – were both completely out of the picture. Heading into training camp, it was anticipated that free agent acquisition Rashad Jennings, 2012 first-round draft pick David Wilson, and 2014 fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams would form the core of the new running attack. However, Wilson’s NFL career prematurely ended when he re-aggravated a neck injury he originally suffered in the 2013 season. He was forced to retire from the NFL in training camp. It was a major blow for the Giants as not only was Wilson particularly well-suited for Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, but he was one of the few home-run hitters on the team and a dynamic kickoff returner.

Without Wilson, the Giants were largely a between-the-tackles and off-tackle team that was unable to consistently threaten the perimeter of the defense. With a group of blockers on the line and at tight end who were not very physical and often struggled to move defenders off of the line of scrimmage, the running backs did not have much room to operate. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that Jennings was limited to nine starts due to knee and ankle injuries. Reserves Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox also ended up on Injured Reserve in November. The Giants were forced to scramble by picking up Orleans Darkwa and Chris Ogbonnaya.

At fullback, Henry Hynoski beat out John Conner in training camp and the preseason. However, the fullback position was de-emphasized in McAdoo’s system in favor of multiple tight end sets. Nikita Whitlock was signed to the Practice Squad in December.

In the end, the Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt and 23rd in the NFL with 100.2 rushing yards per game. New York was tied for 12th in rushing touchdowns with 13. For a team that was 10th in the NFL in rushing attempts, these figures simply were not good enough.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants cut David Wilson and Peyton Hillis in February, Michael Cox in April, and Chris Ogbonnaya in May. The Giants signed unrestricted free agent Shane Vereen from the New England Patriots in March. After the draft, the team signed rookie free agents Akeem Hunt and Kenneth Harper.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Provided everyone stays healthy, the Giants appear to have a nice triumvirate in Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams. The main focus, of course, will be if the team can dramatically improve its ground game productivity. It’s been a common misperception by national media and fans that the Giants have been a running back-based offense. Nothing could be farther from the truth as the Giants have ranked 32nd (Super Bowl team), 14th, 29th, and 23rd in yards per game since 2010. Obviously much of the success or failure of the running game will depend on the blocking of the offensive line and tight ends. But the primary unknown is how good can Jennings, Vereen, and Williams really be? Is this a middle-of-pack, average group of runners or something more than that?

Not enough attention has been focused on comments made late in the season by Andre Williams who made it clear he felt some of the team’s running game issues were the fault of the coaching staff.

“We were dabbling a lot between schemes, whether we were outside zone, whether we were a zone team or a power team, what fit our personnel the best,” Williams said. “As we continue to learn the offense and learn what we’re good at, we’re bound to get better…I just don’t know if we knew when and where we were supposed to do what.”

Hopefully, with a full first season together under their belt, Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo have decided what scheme the team should employ and stick with. The clarity should dramatically facilitate better execution and results.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will keep three or four halfbacks and one fullback. Henry Hynoski is heavily favored to retain his fullback roster spot over Nikita Whitlock. Orleans Darkwa has a good shot to make the team if the team keeps four running backs, but won’t make it if they keep three. The best shot for Akeem Hunt and Kenneth Harper is the Practice Squad.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Craig Johnson on Shane Vereen: “He is a very smart player. I kind of figured that was the way he was and the way he played before seeing him on tape. He really picked up our system well, has done a good job of understanding, and has a really good rapport going on with Eli right now, so I really like where he is at and I think he has done a good job. He ended up the spring like I had liked him to.”

Johnson on Rashad Jennings: “Rashad Jennings, who obviously had a very good year for us a year ago. He again has continued to develop, he is a great leader, very versatile, can play all the downs and does a good job. I really like what I saw from him this spring and he felt good, is fit and is running around, so I think he brings a lot to the table also.”

Johnson on Andre Williams: “Andre Williams played a lot of football for us last year, was our leading rusher, had a really good offseason and has worked diligently. A lot of people asked about, what about catching the ball. When he came to us out of Boston College, he didn’t have a catch his last year of playing in college and he has worked diligently at working on his hands and continues to improve dramatically in that area. He can run very well and can block.”

Johnson on Orleans Darkwa: “Orleans Darkwa, who played for us a lot last year, played a lot of teams and has done a good job. He picks up the offense, very smart, very smart player, has very good speed, is good on the edge runs and has done a good job inside. I put him in there in the two-minute situation today and we didn’t miss a beat in the two-minute, so I thought he did a really good job.”

Johnson on the fullbacks: “(We also) have two good fullbacks: Henry Hynoski, who has played for us for quite a while and continues to thrive in his role and brings a lot to the table for us, and then we have Nikita Whitlock, a player that has played some on offense and defense for various teams. (He) is a very strong player, very low to the ground, has good hands and he has really expressed himself well.”

PREDICTIONS: Vereen is going to have a major impact on the offense as a receiver out of the backfield. Ben McAdoo’s West Coast system is heavily dependent on a running back who can catch the ball. Rashad Jennings can do it too, but he missed half the season last year. Plus, Vereen is simply a better receiving target. The Giants are already thrilled with what they see from him.

“(Vereen) can be a quarterback’s best friend in a way in the passing game,” McAdoo said during the June mini-camp. “Similar to the way tight ends can be. He has great body language coming out of the backfield. He usually does not fool (Eli Manning) and they seem to be on the same page.”

With opposing defense’s concentrating on Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle, Vereen should feast on the soft under-coverage. Indeed, Vereen may be the best running back outlet that Manning has had since Tiki Barber. Many fans forget that Barber caught over 100 passes and almost 1,000 yards from Manning in 2005-2006, including many well-executed screens. Vereen’s receiving skills are so good that we’ll even see the Giants split him out wide. Vereen may also be used as a runner more than many expect. He gives the Giants more outside quickness.

A lot of fans don’t think Andre Williams is very good. I’m not one of them. He was far too productive in college and flashed too much late in the season for me not to still be excited about his potential. I don’t think he was scapegoating but being being honest about the coaches not sticking with one scheme last year. I also think he realizes that he needs to develop better patience as a runner in McAdoo’s offense.

“I’m always about accelerating,” said Williams late last season. “In college and in high school, that’s what I watched a lot of other backs do. They got from 0 to 60 as quick as possible and it caught people off guard. But it’s a little different in this scheme. It’s all about timing and being in the right place for things to open up the way they should. That’s what I’m working on right now.”

“All young players, they have a tendency to really get in a hurry, but I think that he is getting more patient as he continues to go,” said Johnson of Williams late last year. “What he is going through, the process of right now, getting more carries and so on, is timing and rhythm with the offensive line. That’s the bottom line. They block in a certain rhythm and a certain pace, he runs at a certain rhythm and a certain pace. Everybody’s trying to mesh that together to make sure we have an effective running game.”

“I tell him,” Jennings said of Williams, “you don’t necessarily want to be quick to the hole, you want to be quick through the hole.”

I really like Jennings as a runner and receiver, but I think Williams is going to push for major playing time. He’s a punishing, physical runner who once he has a feel for the scheme is going to give a physicality to the offense that it desperately needs similar to what Alfred Morris brings to the Redskins.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Jennings, Vereen, Williams, and Hynoski. The team would like to keep Darkwa too, but roster spots are short.

Jul 162015
 
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Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Wide Receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

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

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. Cruz and Beckham only played in two games together in 2014 before Cruz was lost for the season. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying. Marcus Harris impressed in training camp but missed the season with a hip injury. The Giants signed veteran Kevin Olgree in October, but he did not see much action. Julian Talley, Juron Criner, and Chris Harper were practice squad players.

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

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants released Kevin Ogletree in May after re-signing him in February and waived Marcus Harris in July. The team chose not to re-sign Jerrel Jernigan in free agency. The Giants signed Dwayne Harris from the Dallas Cowboys and drafted Geremy Davis in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. They also signed Ben Edwards, who was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014 after graduating from the University of Richmond, but sat out the year recovering from an ACL knee injury.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The two main stories are obviously going to be Beckham and Cruz. Can Beckham make the same impact or better in 2015 or will he regress? How will he handle the attention both on and off the field? How much of an impact will he make on the win-loss record? Beckham was once again nagged by a hamstring issue that caused him to miss most of the spring practices.

The other main story is Cruz. The Giants have repeatedly said that they are optimistic about his return to form, but there are no guarantees that may never be the same player again. If he isn’t the same player, it will be a big hit to the team as Cruz was one of the few impact players on the Giants. Cruz may also not be long for the Giants given his high price tag. But if Cruz does return to form, he and Beckham and Randle could form possibly the best receiving corps in football and help carry the team to the playoffs. So much of the team’s success depends on Beckham and Cruz. It will be interesting to see how much work Cruz gets at training camp and in the preseason. He appears to have made tremendous progress in his rehabilitation.

Randle also will also be under the spotlight. Although he had his best season to date in 2014, he was still inconsistent and was benched twice for disciplinary reasons. But he also exploded in the last two games, catching 12 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown. Plus it’s a contract year for Randle. If he plays like he did in the final two games, that will be a big asset for the Giants.

Corey Washington also made a lot of noise in the spring practices. “He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster,” QB Eli Manning said. “I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades but just kind of adding the complete package to his game.”

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six wide receivers. Barring injury or unforeseen events, Beckham, Cruz, Randle, and special teams extraordinaire Dwayne Harris are the sure bets. That leaves two spots for Parker, Washington, Davis, Edwards, Criner, Talley, and Harper.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Sean Ryan on Odell Beckham: “A lot of different things (make him tick). Certainly going against a great challenge makes him tick. Last year, we would do a thing where every Friday I would give him a listing of the rookie receivers because it was a heck of class of rookie receivers. How many catches and yards and touchdowns they had, and certainly Week 5 he was down at zero and the other guys were up there. I think he thrives on challenges. You go out to Seattle and it is him versus Richard Sherman. I think that is what makes that guy tick. He is a true competitor…I think we were as creative last year as I have ever been and as we have ever been with any player, and certainly a rookie. This guy lined up in the slot, as the number one strong, the number one weak, in the backfield; we would motion him into the backfield, from the backfield. (Opponents) can plan for him, but the first thing is they have to find him.”

Ryan on Rueben Randle: “I thought Rube did a nice job. He is another guy that he is a really intelligent football player. The game makes sense to him, and things happen for him. He processes stuff really quickly and I think the more tape he watches and the more practice snaps he gets, the quicker that stuff happens for him and the quicker reactions he makes and I would say that is really what has shown up to me. The more football he plays, the better he gets. He sees things very quickly.”

Ryan on Corey Washington and Preston Parker: “I thought Corey Washington had an excellent spring. I thought he had an excellent spring in the classroom and in the meetings. His attitude was outstanding. He worked. He got better and we will compile all the catches, but he is right up there. I am not sure if he didn’t lead the pack in catches and productivity for the spring. He certainly stood out to me. I thought Preston made some great strides, in particular playing in the slot. He is seeing things a little bit better. He is seeing defenses, reacting to blitzes better, so I thought Preston did a great job. I think those two guys really stuck out to me.”

PREDICTIONS: Why have the Giants struggled so much since 2011? Because they haven’t had enough top NFL talent. Super Bowl-caliber teams need strong overall rosters but they also need impact players. It’s no accident that there has been a noticeable lack of NYG presence on “Top 100″, All-Star, and Pro Bowl lists. Two guys who can be impact players are Beckham and Cruz. And for the Giants to have any realistic shot at the Super Bowl, these two – along with Eli Manning – must carry the offense similar to what Manning, Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks did in the 2011 regular-season.

Beckham seems “Lawrence Taylor”-like to me. If he can do for the offense what LT did for the defense in the 1980’s, this is going to be a fun. I just hope the limelight doesn’t go to his head because that and injury appear the only things that can derail him.

As for Cruz, in a weird way, the injury may end up positively impacting his career. Since peaking in 2011-12, Cruz wasn’t playing up to the same level before the injury. The contract and limelight may have gotten to his head. Now Cruz will have to fight to prove the doubters wrong. He’s no longer the media darling. Beckham is. If his body doesn’t fail him, Cruz could rebound in a very big way. In the clutch, Eli trusts him. I think Cruz will be ready for opening night.

The Giants are in a catch-22 situation with Randle. If he has a big year, it’s hard to see him wanting to re-sign with the Giants next offseason unless the team decides to part ways with Cruz. On the other hand, if he remains inconsistent, the team may not want to keep him. Regardless, it’s a big year for him financially, and because of that, I expect him to play well.

“This is a big year for me, and I’m looking forward to being the player I know I can be,” said Randle. “I get it now. I know what’s expected of me, and now I’m just going to go out there and prove it every day. That’s my main focus.”

My ultimate prediction is that this trio will combine with Eli Manning to get the team back into the playoffs in 2015. Beckham, Cruz, and Randle have a higher upside than Cruz, Nicks, and Mario Manningham.

One final note. It seems as if the Giants may have an offensive role in mind for Harris too. They may move him around a bit like they do with Beckham to take advantage of his elusiveness with the ball in his hands after the catch.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Beckham, Cruz, Randle, Harris, Davis, and Washington. The tough call here is on Preston Parker. He could push Davis or Washington.

Jul 132015
 
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Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Tight End Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Tight Ends

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

Few predicted correctly that Donnell would win the starting job followed by Fells as the #2 tight end and Robinson as the #3 tight end. Cunningham was also signed to the Practice Squad.

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

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants signed undrafted rookie free agents Matt LaCosse and Will Tye after the 2015 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The main focus will be on Larry Donnell and whether or not he can take another major leap forward in his development. He jumped from a career 3-catch target to the NFL’s 9th-leading receiving tight end in one season. But Donnell needs to improve his consistency, blocking, and ball security. The good news is he knows that and has been working hard to improve his overall game. A potential fly in the ointment is that Donnell missed most of the spring work with Achilles tendinitis.

Assuming Donnell gets and stays healthy, the other story line is which tight ends will round out the unit. Fells is the steady but unspectacular leader of the group. Cunningham really flashed as a receiver during spring practices. Robinson also made some noise in the spring and LaCosse and Tye appear to have more talent than your typical rookie free agents.

ON THE BUBBLE: Ideally, the Giants would probably like to carry four tight ends, but three is more likely. Barry injury, the only sure bet is Donnell. Fells, Robinson, Cunningham, LaCosse and Tye are probably fighting for two roster spots.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Kevin M. Gilbride on Adrien Robinson: “Adrien has made tremendous progress this spring. He’s the one who has made the most progress as far as his understanding and grasping of how to get his job done. He could always tells you what his assignment was, but he didn’t necessarily know how to go about doing it. Or he had been taught how to do it, and then moved onto something else, taught how to do that, and then lost what he had learned. He’s made a lot of progress and it’s showed up more this spring than it ever has before. And I’m not talking about making catches because he could always make catches or get open on a particular route. We’re talking about how to execute when he is working with a tackle on the front side of a zone scheme and when to come off on the backer and the angle to take and where to place his hands and how he should pressure his hands and things like that. He’s made the most progress in that area. It’s good to see because we need him to come around.”

Gilbride on Jerome Cunningham: “What stands out is his effort. He is going to give great effort, no matter what. Whether he knew what he was doing or not, he was going to be going 100 miles per hour, whether he knew what block he was supposed to make or not. He was going to be doing it as well as he could. That gives them a chance. It gives every person who plays this game a chance to be successful, or at least to be noticed as far as staying on the squad in some capacity, which certainly he did. He has carried it over throughout the season and then now through the spring where he has made some good strides.”

Gilbride on Larry Donnell: “It is technique and confidence (with his blocking). Having him miss this offseason was not good for him in that regard. He is going to have to come into training camp and pick up where these other guys have left off in the improvements we have made in that area. We focused on certain things this offseason in the run game. It really started to show towards the end of the spring, which we were happy about. Happy to see. Still have a ways to go overall, but much improved. We were happy with where it went. We just want him to be a part of it.”

Gilbride on Will Tye: “Talented kid. He has very, very soft hands. He can run straight-line very well and for as tall as he plays – because he doesn’t play with great bent knees all the time – he can get in and out of breaks very smooth. What he needs to improve is his quick-twitch and his true effort at the snap to the end of the whistle…It’s not instinctual for him to play fast…He’s got a ways to go as far as learning the offense…He has made too many mental mistakes, but that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually get it. We’ve thrown a lot at all of them.”

Gilbride on LaCosse: “Different skillset. He’s a linear guy, a long-legged guy who can get down the field. Very, very bright. Talk about Will (Tye) making too many mistakes, Matt didn’t make many mistakes, which is impressive. We had him in a role where we moved him around all the time as far as motioning and shifts.”

PREDICTIONS: I like this group of tight ends more than most. If Donnell’s Achilles tendinitis isn’t a problem, I truly think he has the ability to develop into one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL. He looked like a budding star in his Week 4, three-touchdown performance against the Washington Redskins. Donnell can do it. He has an excellent combination of size (6’6”, 265 pounds), athletic ability, and hands. I love the way he adjusts to the football for a big man. He’s a match-up problem for linebackers. So is Jerome Cunningham, but for different reasons. Cunningham is smaller (6’3”, 250 pounds), but even faster and more athletic. He can be a match-up problem for safeties. There were whispers about him being pretty darn good as a Practice Squad player last year and his performance in the spring was impressive.

What the group seems to be lacking is someone who excels at blocking. Fells is the most consistent and reliable. But he may be pressed by Robinson, provided Robinson finally “gets it” in his fourth year.

I also have a feeling that the Giants are going to like what they see in LaCosse and Tye.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Donnell remains the starter, but Cunningham is going to press for serious playing time as more of an H-Back type tight end. Ben McAdoo will find a role for him in his TE-centric offense. The difficult decision here for me is Robinson versus Fells. I think Robinson will do enough in camp to convince the Giants to keep their 3-year investment. But if Robinson continues to falter, Fells retains his job and provides leadership. While the Practice Squad may be the most realistic option for both LaCosse and Tye, if one excels at blocking, he has a shot at the 53-man roster.