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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning  needs to get it going versus the Jets – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at New York Jets, August 22, 2014

THE STORYLINE:
Well, it certainly didn’t take long for the hype surrounding this year’s ‘Snoopy Bowl’ to reach an entire other level.

Maybe it’s the anemic Giants’ offense needing a desperate jolt. Maybe it’s the Jets’ defense needing to see something from their secondary. Or, maybe it’s the fact that in a meaningless preseason game, a war of words as still broken out.

Either way, the Battle for New York feels just a little different this year.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FOUR DOWNS:
First Down
How will the revamped offensive line fare versus the Jets defense?
With Charles Brown and James Brewer, New York’s second- and third-string left tackles respectively, likely out for Friday’s game, the Giants have been forced to shuffle the deck with their offensive line. Starting left tackle Will Beatty is only expected to play 20 snaps as he continues to work his way back from a fractured leg. The starters are expected to play 30 snaps. Who plays where with the first team in Beatty’s absence?

The Giants have worked two seperate offensive line combinations during the last two days of practice, from left to right:

Justin Pugh, Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Weston Richburg, Brandon Mosley
Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, J.D. Walton, Brandon Mosley, Geoff Schwartz

Will both, either or none have success? Could one, or both, of the fronts have more success than the one the Giants had been running out? All scenarios will be worth monitoring.

Second Down
Corey Washington
Not even a 26-point deficit could stop Corey Washington from catching his third-straight game-winning touchdown. The 6-4 rookie has constantly made plays this preseason and in practice…but has done it versus third and fourth stringers. There’s a big difference between Darrell Revis/Carry Williams and Chandler Fenner/Ross Weaver.

Washington looks to have gotten a little bump during the end of this week’s practice seeing some reps with the starting offense both in the red zone, and normal offense. They aren’t much, but the Giants need to see if Washington can play versus the big boys. If he can’t, his roster chances will hurt because he (1) can’t play special teams, and (2) can’t play slot receiver. Do the Giants want to keep a roster spot for a developmental player who only has value at one position? It’s imperative Washington shows he can play versus the starters.

Third Down
Adrien Robinson
It may have been the biggest slap in the face of camp when the Giants released their unofficial depth chart featuring Adrien Robinson has the fifth-string tight end. The ‘JPP of tight ends’ didn’t do much to help his cause, dropping passes, missing blocks and doing little to warrant a jump up the depth chart.

But the last two weeks have been different. Robinson made plays versus the Indianapolis Colts, has made plays in practice and has earned the praise of coach Tom Coughlin. He should get extended reps versus some better competition. After it appeared Larry Donnell had pulled away in the tight end competition, a few poor outings and lack-of plays have suddenly brought the five-man competition back to just that. A five-man competition.

Preston Parker, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Fourth Down
Preston Parker
With Odell Beckham Jr. ailing with his non-step-back-step-back and Trindon Holliday all but out the door, there is a wide open position available as the Giants punt returner. Enter Preston Parker.

The only issue with Parker was that, prior to last week, he hadn’t shown much value on offense. The Giants would prefer not to keep a player that can only play one role so Parker as the receiver will be worth watching Friday. If he can make a few plays, he has a very good chance of making the Giants final 53-man roster.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Connor Hughes – Justin Pugh and Geoff Schwartz
Personally, I have little faith in Will Beatty at left tackle either (1) staying healthy, or (2) performing at a high level. Some people forget that last year, Beatty was arguably the Giants worst offensive lineman when he was in the game. Every Sunday it felt Beatty was beat for a sack. Then he fractured his leg. Now, he’s working his way back from arguably his worst season as a professional and an injury.

Say he gets hurt, or just doesn’t play well. Who plays left tackle? Charles Brown has shown in practice and in this preseason he can’t do it. The Giants have watched for years as James Brewer has tried to play any position so he can’t do it. Can Pugh? When the newly-designed offensive line checks into the game, I’ll have my eyes on Justin Pugh at LT and Geoff Schwartz and RT. If it works, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it called on if things go south this year.

Eric Kennedy – Eli Manning
If you read the BBI Giants-Colts preseason game review, you know I’m worried about Eli Manning. The optimists assert that Eli will be fine, that this is part of the learning curve of the new offense and offensive personnel. The pessimists will point to the fact that Eli hasn’t been right since 2012 and he shows no signs of getting out of his funk. It is not inconceivable that the best of Eli has come and gone. For a variety of reasons, I can’t see Tom Coughlin benching Eli Manning. But unless Eli turns it around, both Tom and Eli could be leaving New York together if 2014 is the third disappointing season in a row.

THE INJURY REPORT:

• LB Jon Beason (foot/out)
• WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring/out)
• WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring/out)
• TE Daniel Fells (knee/TBD)
• TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring/out)
• DT Mike Patterson (shoulder/TBD)
• CB Jayron Hosley (foot/TBD)
• CB Prince Amukamara (groin/out)
• S Cooper Taylor (foot/out)
• T Charles Brown (shoulder/TBD)
• T James Brewer (back/TBD)
• Peyton Hillis (ankle/out)

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

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin (on new extra point ball placement): “I didn’t think much of it when it was suggested. There are some ways to change that part of it if the intent is to make it more exciting. I think that certainly would be one of them. I think you have to be aware of the fact that it’s a 33-yard field goal in November when the wind’s blowing and it’s snowing here and it’s… in Miami it’s 75 degrees. It’s a little different in different parts of the country. You do have to be aware of that. I would say probably the ball will stay at the two, extra points. But if you really want to make it interesting put it at the one.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Connor Hughes – It’s time. No, really, it’s time. The Giants offense needs desperately to show something…anything…positive versus the Jets before complete insanity sets in around the facility. The new offense has looked anemic, Eli Manning flustered and little has been established in any facet of the game. This week of practice wasn’t pretty for the Giants starters, but still, Manning and his receivers get to play the Jets secondary on Friday. If they can’t establish anything against them? Yes, it’s time to panic. Judging by what I’ve seen in practice this week… Jets 21 – Giants 10.

Eric Kennedy - I’m getting a bad feeling about this season. Defensively, I think the secondary and linebackers are improved, but I’m not sure we have a pass rush. The loss of Will Hill was big too. But most of my concerns are on offense. Beckham is going to miss virtually all of the offseason work (OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, preseason). There is no way he can catch up. Will he even be a factor in 2014? They NEEDED him. I’ve seen nothing from Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan to instill confidence. We have no tight ends. With two weeks to go, the offensive line still seems unsettled. Much was made of Jerry Reese’s free agent acquisitions, but Charles Brown and John Jerry are showing why their former teams had no interest in retaining them. Even Geoff Schwartz, who was given a $17 million contract, doesn’t look particularly effective. At wide receiver, Mario Manningham and Trindon Holliday haven’t worked out.

Even if all was right with Eli Manning, I’m not sure Eli has the offensive line or the weapons. Five bad drafts (2008-12) have gutted this team. But beyond all of that, if 2007-11 Eli is gone for good, the Giants would be better off thinking about when to transition to Nassib in what may ultimately be another bad season in a bad division.

Jets 33 – Giants 3.

Aug 202014
 
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Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning; New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

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

AUGUST 20, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS PRACTICE REPORT…
With the Giants getting set to play the New York Jets on Friday, Wednesday’s practice – the final before the game – was a ‘shell’ light practice. Players wore gym shorts and jerseys with little-to-no contact between them.

It’s normally pretty tough to take anything of relevance out of these light practices, especially now that the Giants have ‘game planned’ for the Jets. A decent portion of practice was dedicated to the ‘cards’ which included Ryan Nassib lining up at wide receiver in the Jets “Wild Cat” formation.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
The uninjured Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) remains out. He caught balls form a jugs machine, jogged a little and spent time on the bikes. Prince Amukamara (groin), Jayron Hosley (foot), Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Trindon Holliday (hamstring), James Brewer (back), Charles Brown (shoulder), Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), and Jon Beason (foot) were all out, too.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants did a different variation of their special teams drills, running through all the teams back-to-back-to-back. First, the punt team would punt, then the whistle would blow and kickoff would run on, then the whistle would blow and another team would come on. It was interesting because the first team and second team rotated as well.

  • The Giants ran a neat play that they successfully did in a game a couple years back. The offense started onto the field, then Coughlin yelled go and the field goal unit had to run on the field and kick the ball before time ran out. This drill was executed successfully.
  • Zack Bowman and Charles James II were again your starting gunners.
  • With the injuries, Jerrel Jernigan is getting some work as a kick returner behind Preston Parker and Quintin Demps.
  • Punt return rotation was as follows: Rueben Randle - Preston Parker - Marcus Harris.

WHATS UP WITH THE INJURED PLAYERS?…
Just a note on what some of the injured players were doing. Peyton Hillis seems pretty close to returning. He was running and moving on the back field pretty aggressively. Beckham Jr. was not. He caught passes for the jugs machine, lightly jogged and spent some time on the bike.

Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
The majority of this drill featured the ‘cards’ again. What this means is – on rotation – either the offense or defense is the ‘Jets’ offense or defense. They hold up a card, run the play and the opposite team has to try to beat it.

  • Could be something, could be nothing, but there was a little change to the starting receiving group when Eli Manning led the team to the line for the first time.  There was Rueben Randle outside and Victor Cruz in the slot, but Marcus Harris was on the opposite side of the field..not Jerrel Jernigan.
  • The Giants went with a goal line, four receiver look. Corey Washington checked into the game split wide and caught a fade-route touchdown from Eli Manning. Washington got a few reps with the first team today.
  • It looks as if Adrien Robinson is starting to work his way up the depth chart as he also got some work with the starters. Speaking after practice, Tom Coughlin said he “certainly” has done things to instill more faith in the coaches.

HURRY-UP DRILL…
As is the case every practice, the Giants first team-related drill features the offense going after the defense in a hurry-up formation. Teams rotate in and out, but the ones get some good work.

  • We had a good Marcus Harris sighting as the receiver caught two passes in front of Walter Thurmond III. He hasn’t been talked about as much as in the beginning of camp, but his play hasn’t dropped off. The second-year pro still catches everything in his zip code.
  • Ryan Nassib has gotten a lot of flak this offseason, and while his accuracy has suffered at times, he puts some impressive zip on the ball. He really can wing it. The issue is he tries to wing it too much.
  • The Andre Williams catching experiment continues to be a work in progress. He dropped an easy one in the flat today. He is at least trying to catch everything with his hands.
  • If want to know how Eli Manning’s camp has gone, the following play sums it up perfectly. After bringing his team into the red zone, Eli Manning threw an interception against the second-team defense. Jay Bromley jumped up at the line and picked off Manning’s pass. The 310-pound rookie began running the ball back before Perry Fewell told him to stop.

THE CARDS…
You really can’t take much of anything out of this drill, but here are a few highlights.

  • Curtis Painter (playing Geno Smith) threw an interception to Nat Berhe. By my count, that’s the second interception for Berhe this camp. He’s now working with the second unit in Cooper Taylor’s absence.
  • It was not the best practice for Eli Manning. Going against the scout team defense, he had to throw away a pass when no one was open and was then intercepted by Zack Bowman on a very ugly throw.
  • As noted above, Adrien Robinson has been making some plays lately. He made a nice catch down the seam from Ryan Nassib.
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 22, 2013)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants ended practice again today with a two-minute drill to simulate the end of the game. Essentially, the Giants offense needs to march down the field and score. Today, it was second-team offense versus the second-team defense with 1:12 put on the clock.

1st and 10 (1:12)
Ryan Nassib goes to Corey Washington on a deep in, pass is dropped.

2nd and 10 (1:07)
Ryan Nassib throws a deep in to Julian Talley, completion for a first down.

1st and 10 (:48)
Ryan Nassib goes to Corey Washington, pass is dropped.

2nd and 10 (:45)
Ryan Nassib steps up in the pocket and finds Preston Parker on the sideline (looked like comeback route) who then steps out of bounds. This play earned praise from Tom Coughlin.

1st and 10 (:27)
Ryan Nassib goes deep to Preston Parker, but over shoots him.

2nd and 10 (:20)
Ryan Nassib goes deep to Corey Washington but the pass is over his head. Nassib jumped in the air after this one because Washington was open and behind the defense. Coulda/shoulda been a touchdown.

3rd and 10 (:16)
Ryan Nassib completes a pass to Corey Washington on a curl route. Timeout.

4th and 2 (:10)
Josh Brown misses a 45-yard field goal as time expires.

Tom Coughlin took the Giants to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City following practice. The team will not practice tomorrow and will play the Jets Friday evening.

Aug 202014
 
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Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs (August 24, 2013)

Geoff Schwartz was the Giants big signing in 2014 – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants backup left tackles Charles Brown and James Brewer nursing injuries, the team has been rolling the dice on several different offensive line combinations.

After all, if anything happened to left tackle Will Beatty, quarterback Eli Manning’s blind site probably shouldn’t be protected by Mark Asper.

This week at practice saw Justin Pugh get reps at left tackle and Brandon Mosley at right. Weston Richburg lined up at left guard and right. Then, there was Geoff Schwartz who, for first the first time all camp, slid over to the right tackle position during Wednesday afternoon’s practice.

Schwartz – the Giants free-agent acquisition from Kansas City who signed a four-year, $16.8 million contract this offseason – had been working entirely at left guard during camp.

“It doesn’t matter to me, I’m comfortable at a lot of different positions,” Schwartz said. “Luckily I have that versatility.

“I started 11 games at right tackle in my career and played pretty much an entire game there last year. I played right tackle at college and I was drafted as a right tackle.”

Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Schwartz said his transition to guard came almost by accident. In his first season with the Carolina Panthers, struggles across the offensive line led to a shakeup up front. A positional coach turned to a rookie Schwartz and told him to move over one spot. He’s been at guard ever since.

The 28-year old says the biggest adjustment he had to make was going from facing defensive tackles, to defensive ends. When at tackle, Schwartz doesn’t have the advantage of having a player to both his right and left.

“You have those speed rushers that you don’t have at guard,” Schwartz said. “You are more on an island and really have to focus in on pass rushers because you don’t have the help you have guard.”

With Beatty still rehabbing from a fractured leg suffered in the final game of the regular season, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Beatty will be limited to 20 snaps in the team’s preseason matchup with the New York Jets on Friday. All other starters will play close to 30. That leaves 10 snaps where the new-look offensive line may get some playing time together.

No matter who lines up in front of Manning, Schwartz knows it is imperative the team establish some form of offense versus the Jets. In New York’s last two games, the offense has struggled immensely moving the football and establishing any kind of rhythm. Manning has completed 1-of-9 passes for six yards in the two outings.

“We gotta score points,” Schwartz said. “We need to end drives with touchdowns and we need to show all the progress we’ve made on our offense. This is the week to do it and there really is no other way to put it. We need to get it done this week.”

Aug 192014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 19, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS PRACTICE REPORT…
For a full-pads cards/game plan practice that saw the starters match-up against each other just once, Tuesday was an eventful one in East Rutherford.

The “not-injured” Odell Beckham Jr. sat out practice. With both Charles Brown and James Brewer nursing injuries, the offensive line had a few new looks.

There were more picks, a little trash talk and a water bath for Eli Manning.

On to the report…

Jon Beason, New York Giants (August 18, 2014)

Jon Beason – Photo by Connor Hughes

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
The same players were injured and not at practice: Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Charles Brown (shoulder), James Brewer (back), Jon Beason (foot), Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot) and Prince Amukamara (groin). Odell Beckham Jr. (non-injured hamstring) sat out, too. Ross Weaver (ankle) returned. Trindon Holliday (hamstring), who practiced limited yesterday, was out again today.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
As is the case with a cards practice, there really isn’t too much to take out of anything. But, you can observe some different formations.

  • With Holliday and Beckham sidelined, the Giants worked the following as punt returners: Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz and Preston Parker. This list just gets shorter and shorter each day.
  • The first-team gunners were Charles James II and Zack Bowman.  The second-team featured Trumaine McBride and Bennett Jackson.
  • It was Brandon McManus‘ turn to kick today and he went 3-of-4. What once looked like a real competition now appears anything but. Coughlin was asked if it would be tough to make the kicker choice and his response said it all: “I hope so.”

HURRY-UP DRILL…
After practice, Coughlin said about 50 percent of the day was ‘carded’ or ‘game planned.’ Here’s essentially what that means: the offense and defense line up (rarely ones vs. ones) and one of the groups will have a card with a play design that their upcoming opponent runs, the other will just run their normal play. So, if the Giants offense is up first, the defense will run a ‘Jets’ play while the offense will run their normal play. Then, reverse. The offense will run a ‘Jets’ play and the defense their real one. It’s tough to take anything out of these practices for that reason.

  • A little bit of trickery from the Giants with an end-around to Victor Cruz to start this portion of practice. Also, Manning and the offense looked much better and seemed to abandon going deep for underneath stuff. Yesterday, Manning started practice 3-for-10. Today, he began 5-of-6 with the incompletion being a drop by Andre Williams.
  • The Giants initially marched out their starting offensive line (Will Beatty LT, Geoff Schwartz LG, J.D. Walton C, Brandon Mosley RG, Justin Pugh RT) but then changed it completely a few plays in. Pugh played left tackle, Schwartz and Walton stayed at left guard and center, Weston Richburg played right guard and Mosley right tackle.

ONE-ON-ONE…
Always one of the more competitive and fun to watch aspects of practice is whenever the receivers and defensive backs go one-on-one in a goal line fade drill.

  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looked really sharp in his two reps. He intercepted one throw for Victor Cruz on lock-down coverage. Then, he had a bat down which was a near interception.
  • Touchdown for Marcus Harris. Go this one on film:

THE CARDS…
While the majority of practice was cards, the 11-on-11 portion was noticeably so. It was tough to really take anything out of anything, but here’s a few things that stuck out:

  • Damontre Moore had a huge day and was all over the place. Seems like he’s starting to get a bit of an edge to him, too. He was jawing with Will Beatty a bit in between plays.
  • There was a deep pass down the sideline to Julian Talley, but Zack Bowman intercepted the pass.  Walter Thurmond III and Devon Kennard had interceptions as well off Eli Manning.
  • Not the best practice for Will Beatty as he was beaten for a sack by Emmanuel Dieke. It is not usually a positive sign when the third-string defensive end is beating your franchise left tackle.
  • Ryan Nassib connected on a deep pass to Julian Talley down the right sideline. Talley with a juggling catch.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The only time the Giants starting offense matched up with the starting defense was at the very end of practice. The coaches put 1:16 on the play clock and challenged the offense to drive down the field. Since this was the only time the ones went at it, I kept a play-by-play breakdown of what happened.

1st and 10
Eli Manning completes curl route to Jerrel Jernigan for seven yards.

2nd and 3
Eli Manning completes drag-curl to Victor Cruz for first down.

1st and 10
Eli Manning completes screen pass to Rashad Jennings, no gain.

2nd and 10
Eli Manning pass to Jerrel Jernigan incomplete/dropped. Trumaine McBride punched it out.

3rd and 10 (:27 seconds left)
Eli Manning pass complete on deep in to Julian Talley for first down.

1st and 10 (:21)
Eli Manning pass incomplete to Julian Talley.

2nd and 10 (:16)
Eli Manning pass incomplete to Julian Talley (Pass defensed by Walter Thurmond III).

3rd and 10 (:11)
Eli Manning pass complete on out route to Jerrel Jernigan.

4th and 2 (:06)
Brandon McManus kicks game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl of practices.

Last week, Eli Manning dumped a bucket of water on top of J.D. Walton’s head at the end of practice. Today, Walton got Manning back by doing the same.

The Giants will practice for the final time this week on Wednesday at 12:00 noon. Tom Coughlin will speak to the media after and some players following that.

Aug 192014
 
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Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 27 – Indianapolis Colts 26

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed ‘Four Downs,’ which took a look at the top four questions surrounding the Giants heading into the game. Now that the game has been played and the film reviewed, it’s time to break it down.

First Down
Victor Cruz
There was a Victor Cruz sighting on a long pass down the sideline…then the receiver fumbled the ball. Getting the former Pro Bowler involved still seems to be an issue for the Giants although Manning did target Cruz a few times Saturday, missing him once open over the middle. Another throw in his direction ended with an interception that was called back due to penalty.

Second Down
Damontre Moore versus the starters
In the Giants ‘NASCAR’ variation, the team has elected to go with Robert Ayers as the defensive tackle, not Damontre Moore. You can’t really fault the decision as Ayers had several pressures on the quarterback from the defensive tackle spot, but still, Moore has proven time and time again he needs the promotion. He’s a man among boys against the twos.

Third Down
How does Ryan Nassib handle the demotion?
There was one of two ways Ryan Nassib could have handled the third-team reps he received leading up to the Giants match-up with the Colts. He took it the good way. The really, really good way. Nassib completed 11-of-15 passes for 158 yards including a game-winning touchdown. He now appears to be back with the second team again.

Fourth Down
Is Will Beatty healed?
As expected, Will Beatty did not play long, but he started the game and held up pretty well. He made no glaring mistakes. “I felt good out there,” said Beatty after the game. “I felt like I had an average performance, but I don’t want to be average. I want to be extraordinary.”

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Eric Kennedy

Five offensive players did not play, including WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), TE Daniel Fells (knee), and TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring).

For three quarters, the first- and second-team units of the Giants were dreadful. The Giants had nine offensive possessions and all nine resulted in punts. The Giants did not pick up a single first down on seven of the nine offensive possessions that went three-and-out. These seven possessions netted 14 yards. On the other two possessions, the Giants gained 53 yards, but 15 of these yards were by penalty. In the first half, the Giants had 48 total net yards in 26 offensive plays (1.8 yards per play), had five first downs (three due to penalty), and were 2-of-12 throwing the football for seven net yards. Unbelievably, it could have been worse in that the Giants had two turnovers erased due to defensive penalties called against the Colts.

The Colts seemed to be playing at a higher level of intensity and urgency. In summary, the out-competed and out-executed the Giants. The Giants could not get their running game going until late. There seemed to be a more conscious effort to throw the football farther down the field in this contest, but the problem was the pass protection was shoddy and Eli was under duress on many throws.

“I think we have to work on a lot of things,” said Tom Coughlin. “Basically we have to work on everything… We didn’t run it, we certainly didn’t throw the ball with any consistency. We don’t have people who are definitely running open. Our protection does break down from time to time and we don’t react well under pressure when we do realize that there has to be a hot or sight adjustment involved in getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and trying to accomplish a positive play in the face of pressure.”

A mixture of second-, and third-, and fourth-teamers rallied the Giants in the 4th quarter with three straight long touchdown drives: 11 plays for 80 yards, 11 plays for 92 yards, and 9 plays for 86 yards. While the positives from these three possessions should not be ignored (and will be discussed below), the game’s results should not and cannot detract from the fact that the starting offensive unit still looks – to use John Mara’s word – “broken.” Is it talent? Is it scheme? Is new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo over his head? Is it the learning curve for the new offensive system? Is it a combination of all of these factors? Whatever the reasons, it’s not good. The Giants only have three weeks to dramatically turn this around or they are in store for a very bad season.

QUARTERBACKS - by Eric Kennedy

A week after finishing the game against the Steelers 0-for-2, in four possessions against the Colts, Eli Manning finished the game 1-of-7 for six yards. The initial, somewhat positive 6-of-7 performance in the Hall of Fame Game has faded. In three games, Eli has yet to complete a pass over 10 yards. The $100 million quarterback has ceased making plays.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

To be fair to Eli, his pass protection against the Colts was not good. He was pressured and sometimes hit on every throw in his first two series. But what is alarming is that Eli seems to expect the poor pass protection and seems gun shy out there. He’s not stepping into throws when he knows (or expects) he is going to get hit. The better part of valor in a meaningless preseason game? Perhaps, but Eli played afraid last season and he’s playing afraid again this preseason. He’s rushing throws in instances where old Eli Manning would have casually side-stepped the rush. If that continues, the Giants have no chance. When Eli plays gun shy like he did in 2013, his passes are inaccurate and often carelessly thrown. Five of his seven throws that counted against the Colts were simply bad passes where the intended receiver had no shot to make the play (two passes to Cruz, one to Randle, one deep shot to Jernigan, and one to Donnell). Another pass intended for Cruz was a poor decision as Cruz was well covered and the throw was easily picked off (this interception was wiped out by a penalty away from the play).

Compare Eli with Andrew Luck. Luck had better pass protection, but Andrew also dumped the ball quickly off when pressured or calmly moved away from pressure and made the play. Even when under duress, Luck threw the ball accurately. Eli did not. And he is not extending drives like he used to by making great throws under pressure.

Of course the hope by all true-blue Giants fans is that Eli’s problems are simply the result of learning a drastically different offensive system with many new offensive components that have yet to gel. Many assert – and not without good reason – that offensive pass protection is not there yet, he and his targets are not comfortable with offensive packages that were all finally installed this past week, and the team has yet do demonstrate consistent productivity in the running game.

But if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must also consider the worst-case scenario: that at a young 33-years old, Eli may simply not be a good quarterback anymore. He did not play as well in 2012 as he did in 2011. In 2013, he had his worst season as a full-time starter, looking rattled and making dumb mistakes that bad quarterbacks often make. So far, 2014 looks like a continuation of his bad play in 2013. In past seasons, Eli has had poor running games and inconsistent pass protection (yes, despite the reputation of previous offensive lines). That didn’t matter. Eli overcame and made the players around him better. That did not happen in 2013 and it is not happening now. If you had no idea who the quarterback was on the field and just watched his play, you would say, “Man, that quarterback isn’t very good. He looks rattled.”

Eli Manning has lost his mojo and it remains questionable about whether he can get back. Sometimes quarterbacks get hit too many times and just lose it. That happened to Neil Lomax. It might be happening to Eli Manning. Eli is set to count $20 million against the salary cap in 2015. Once unthinkable options will have to be considered if Eli doesn’t became a franchise-level quarterback again.

Curtis Painter, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Curtis Painter – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Curtis Painter had two drives in the first half and was 1-of-5 for seven yards before the break. The Giants went three-and-out on his first three possessions of the second half as he went 1-of-4 for three yards. His last drive – the one that began the NYG comeback at the beginning of the 4th quarter – was obviously his best. Though he was aided by a defensive penalty on a 3rd-down sack, Painter completed 4-of-6 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Aside from Andrew Luck, the best quarterback on the field on Sunday was Ryan Nassib. Trailing by 12 points with 8:24 to play, Nassib led the Giants on two long touchdown drives, completing 11-of-15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Nassib was in control of the offense, he didn’t panic despite some shoddy pass protection (especially on the last drive), and he made clutch throws when his team needed it most. If Eli continues to struggle in 2014, the selection of Nassib in the 2013 NFL Draft may have more meaning in 2015 and beyond.

RUNNING BACKS - by Eric Kennedy

Like the passing game, the running game struggled until the fourth quarter. Rashad Jennings (7 carries for 17 yards, 2.4 yards per carry) and Andre Williams (8 carries for 19 yards, 2.4 yards per carry) were kept in check. Kendall Gaskins (4 carries for 6 yards, 1.5 yards per carry and a “long” of 2 yards) was a complete non factor. The best of the bunch was Michael Cox, who carried the ball seven times for 32 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and scored a touchdown. Andre Williams did do better against the blitz this week, but both Gaskins and Cox were still a bit shaky.

WIDE RECEIVERS - by Eric Kennedy

Technically, Victor Cruz still does not have a catch this preseason. Officially, Cruz was targeted twice in this game and came away with no catches. But Cruz did catch a 51-yard pass from Manning in the 1st quarter. The problem was that Cruz fumbled the ball away to the Colts. A defensive holding penalty wiped out the play. But at least Cruz flashed. Rueben Randle – the Giants starting split end or X-receiver – has been nearly invisible for three straight games. That does not bode well for the Giants offense.

After a very strong finish to the 2013 season, Jerrel Jernigan seems to have reverted to his old unimpressive ways. Though Eli Manning has looked to him early in often in all three preseason games, Jernigan once again looks like a smallish receiver with limited ball skills who isn’t flashing after the catch. He had a chance on a deep ball, but the pass sailed through his hands.

The best receivers for the Giants on Saturday night were Marcus Harris (4 catches for 41 yards), Preston Parker (3 catches for 53 yards), and Corey Washington (3 catches for 20 yards and a touchdown). Two of Harris’ catches came in clutch situations (3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-2 on Nassib’s first touchdown drive). Washington caught his third game-winning touchdown pass in three games. He also drew a 15-yard pass interference penalty right before the score.

Travis Harvey had two catches for 36 yards; his 27-yard reception down to the 2-yard line was huge. Julian Talley had one catch for seven yards, but it was a big one on 3rd-and-7 on the first TD drive. Mario Manningham (one target, no catches) is playing himself off of the team.

TIGHT ENDS - by Eric Kennedy

If Adrien Robinson saves his career and becomes a legitimate NFL tight end, we’ll point back to this game as the catalyst. Robinson made two huge catches on New York’s game-winning drive, none bigger than his 26-yard grab on 4th-and-16. He immediately followed that up with a 33-yard catch down to the Colts’ 19-yard. The problem? Robinson did this against Colts’ scrubs. Kellen Davis made a heck of a leaping catch from Curtis Painter on his 3-yard touchdown reception. His blocking was so-so. He got pushed back on one outside run and the play was disrupted.

Larry Donnell was targeted once but the throw was off the mark. His blocking was up and down. He missed a block on a Jennings run from a stand-up position. He later couldn’t control the edge on another outside run from the down position. But there were other plays where he made nice blocks from the down position.

OFFENSIVE LINE - by Eric Kennedy

There were no egregious breakdowns in the running game – the line simply didn’t get that much of a push and the Colts did a nice job of filling gaps. The bigger problem was pass protection. LG Geoff Schwartz gave up a couple of early pass pressures that led to incomplete passes. He failed to pick up a stunt on one play and a blitz on another. Justin Pugh was cleanly beaten by a blitzing linebacker for a sack. On the play were Eli was picked off, Brandon Mosley was bull-rushed back into the pocket. Mosley later had issues on a stunt.

Among the starters the best news was that Will Beatty – in his first game action since breaking his leg – didn’t look bad. Interestingly, Weston Richburg also saw some time at right guard with the starters.

Late in the first half, before he left the game with a shoulder injury, Charles Brown gave up one pressure, as did James Brewer. Brewer was also flagged with a false start.

In the second half, the Giants ran a number of offensive line combinations, even changing up with the scrubs with the game on the line. Give Tom Coughlin credit for still evaluating talent in a meaningless preseason game when other coaches may have tried to stack the odds more in their favor.

The first line combination was James Brewer (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), Dallas Reynolds (OC), Brandon Mosley (RG), and Rogers Gaines (RT). Later Richburg and Reynolds flip-flopped with John Jerry also coming in for Mosley. Brewer got beat to the inside on one pressure and later a sack when he got shoved back into Nassib (the sack was wiped out due to a penalty). John Jerry is a frustrating player. He looks the part and at times does a very nice job in pass protection and with run blocks. But he falls off of too many of his run blocks. Weston Richburg and Rogers Gaines seemed to be the most consistent two of the reserves.

Later in the 4th quarter, Eric Herman played left guard. He was a bit shaky in pass protection. Jerry also gave up a pressure late in the game. The final OL combination – on the game winning drive – was practically a sieve. This had Mark Asper (LT) Eric Herman (LG), Weston Richburg (OC), John Sullen (RG), and Adam Gress (RT). Gress was a disaster. He was flagged twice (false start and personal foul) and gave up two pressures. Asper and Sullen were both beat on an 8-yard sack.

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Connor Hughes

DT Mike Patterson (shoulder), LB Jon Beason (foot), and CB Jayron Hosley (foot) did not play. Patterson entered training camp as the nominal starter, but Johnathan Hankins has played pretty well and Patterson may have now gone from starter to on the roster bubble due to his long absence.

When looking at the box score and scoreboard, it’s easy to get an impression about how the Giants defensive unit played. When re-watching the game, that perception completely changes. There are things you simply can’t defend and a lot of that was done by Indianapolis quarterback Andre Luck. The Giants defensive line put constant pressure on Luck, but Luck responded by moving around, extending plays and releasing the ball quickly to receivers.

Were those receivers running wide open in the Giants defense? Sometimes, a little, most times, no. Luck thread the needle, fit the ball into the smallest of holes and showed why he may be the face of the NFL in a few years.

Also, there was a lot of talk on Hakeem Nicks torching the Giants defense. I didn’t see it. Of his catches, two were made against Trumaine McBride and one against Jacquian Williams. I’d expect Nicks to beat both. On his long catch-and-run on a missed tackle from Walter Thurmond III, Thurmond went for a strip and as a result missed the tackle. Nicks looked better than he did last year, but it wasn’t really anything crazy.

DEFENSIVE LINE - by Connor Hughes

Jason Pierre-Paul has spent this offseason and training camp talking…and talking…and talking. So, with the former All-Pro getting some increased reps Saturday, I kept my eye on him every time he stepped foot on the field, specifically when he rushed the passer. The result? Variety isn’t really in Pierre-Paul’s tool box. On nine of his 10 rushes, Pierre-Paul went with a direct bull rush. A few times he got the Colts right tackle off balance, most of the times it was useless. There was one rush where Pierre-Paul gave a little shoulder-shimmy, but then made contact with a bull rush again.

I saw one play where the vintage Pierre-Paul came out. He had an unbelievable jump off the line on a running play and came into the backfield to make a near tackle on Trent Richardson, but was tackled to the ground by an offensive lineman. Can’t fault Pierre-Paul on that one.

It was one of our four downs and I still think it needs to happen extensively versus the Jets. The Giants know what they have in Mathias Kiwanuka, they don’t yet versus starters with Damontre Moore. Kiwanuka, who has had a very good camp and preseason, continued that versus the Colts, but Moore simply abused the second team offensive line. He made plays on the run, put constant pressure on the quarterback and was all over the field. He’s proven worthy of a promotion to see what he can do versus the starters. There’s a big, big difference between a team’s backup left tackle and their starter.

I really liked what I saw from Johnathan Hankins providing pressure up the middle on a few plays. Also, something interesting I don’t recall seeing last week, in the Giants ‘NASCAR’ package, Cullen Jenkins dropped into coverage.

Jay Bromley had a pretty good showing with the second team as he’s had a very nice camp and preseason, too. I saw a few times where he created pressure up the middle.

LINEBACKERS - by Connor Hughes

Be it coaches, teammates, fans or media, the hype surrounding Devon Kennard is nearly impossible to miss. Kennard made a very nice play on his sack where he displayed something you can’t coach: speed. As quarterback Chandler Harnish rolled out, Kennard read the play to make sure the ball wasn’t going to be thrown over his head. As it looked like Harnish may tuck it down an run, Kennard burst forward and got to the quarterback in no time at all. I rarely fall for ‘hype,’ but this kid just looks good.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There was one ‘rookie mistake’ I saw from Kennard. On a Trent Richardson run, the back gave a little move as if he was going to cut outside, Kennard committed that way and Richardson then took it up the middle. It should have been a one-to-two yard gain, instead Richardson picked up seven. The move froze Kennard.

I liked what I saw from Spencer Paysinger, too. There was an extra gear I didn’t know he had when he burst to the quarterback on one play; he made a couple nice plays against the run, too. The biggest issue with Paysinger is that I don’t think he can do anything to upseat Jacquian Williams. Williams continues to have a very nice preseason and led the team in tackles Saturday.

DEFENSIVE BACKSby Connor Hughes

The more that I watch Walter Thurmond III play, the more I am fascinated by his game. He’s physical despite not being one of the ‘bigger’ guys and has brought that tenacity that made Seattle’s secondary so good. The first play I took notice of him was on Hakeem Nicks’ first catch. On a drag, Thurmond closed incredibly quick, wrapped Nicks up and then immediately went for the strip. While he still made the tackle, with help from Amukamara, the downside of going for the strip was shown later when he missed a tackle and allowed Nicks to pick up a first down.

The other play that really jumped out at me from Thurmond was on a run play. The corner came down in the box, just steps away from the defensive end and waited as the ball was snapped. Once he saw the handoff go to Richardson, he burst in and made the tackle for no gain.

There was also a little ‘bad’ with Thurmond on the two touchdowns he gave up. On the first, credit a perfectly-thrown ball by Luck. Thurmond had good coverage and help from Antrel Rolle was coming over. Just as Thurmond let up as Rolle closed, Luck threaded the needle for the score. On the second touchdown, Thurmond tried to press and was simply beat off the line.

Speaking of Rolle, it’s so nice to see someone play with the tackling fundamentals he does. It would be easy, and defensive backs do it regularly, to just throw a shoulder in there and go for the “big play.” Rolle doesn’t do that. He wraps up on every…single…play.

Hopefully Prince Amukamara, who left the game with a groin injury, isn’t seriously injured because he has been playing with a new-found physicality this year. He put a big hit on Nicks on his first reception.

If Cooper Taylor (sesamoid bone foot fracture) hadn’t gotten hurt, I’m not sure how much longer Quintin Demps could have held him off from getting reps with the first-team three-safety package. When Taylor was in the game, he was constantly around the ball. He showed speed closing gaps, was solid against the run and was really having a good game before the injury. Another player who continues to flash is Nat Berhe. I saw the rookie come flying in again to make the tackle and apply a ‘boom’ factor.

SPECIAL TEAMSby Connor Hughes

The Giants spent a bit of money this season hoping to put a jolt into their return game. Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday were signed in free agency and Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted in the first round. Well, two of those three haven’t played and as a result Preston Parker has stepped up.

Parker has looked pretty good as a punt returner and is beginning to show some life as a receiver. If he can add duo value, he’s got a good chance at making the team.

As much as super-legged Brandon McManus intrigues, I don’t see anyway he makes the Giants 53-man roster. It was Josh Brown’s spot to lose, and he’s done nothing to lose it.

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, August 16 , 2014)
Aug 182014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 25, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

AUGUST 18, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS PRACTICE REPORT…
If there was ever any wonder about the state of the New York Giants heading into the 2014 season, Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin summed it all up in two harmlessly-informative, self-posed questions.

“Who’s going to be the play makers? Who are they?”

Is it Odell Beckham Jr.? The receiver who has yet to take reps in an 11-on-11 drill. Rueben Randle? Who has caught one pass in three preseason games. Is it Victor Cruz? Who’s, well, catchless?

Is it Jerrel Jernigan? Last year’s end-of-season hero?

“He’s had days when he’s done very well and he’s had days when he hasn’t,” Coughlin said.

The regular season, the time when the games count, starts in three weeks.

On to the practice report…

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (August 18, 2014)

Prince Amukamara – Photo by Connor Hughes

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
The Giants got back some familiar faces today in Mike Patterson (shoulder) and Daniel Fells (knee); both appeared to practice fully. Trindon Holliday (hamstring) was in pads and limited, catching punts. Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) caught punts and was in on a couple seven-on-seven drills. Prince Amukamara (groin) missed practice, although he did stretch and warm up with the team in pads.

Then, there were the following that missed practice entirely: Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), Jayron Hosley (foot), Ross Weaver (ankle), Kellen Davis (Achilles strain), Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Charles Brown (shoulder) and James Brewer (back). Coughlin made reference after practice that both Davis and Brewer should not miss much time. Of course, Jon Beason (foot) remains on the PUP.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
A few familiar faces made a return to the special teams portion of practice which featured mostly punt and punt return today.

  • Josh Brown kicked today, he went a perfect 4-for-4.
  • The returners were as follows but not in this order: Rueben Randle, Preston Parker, Trindon Holliday, Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr.

INDIVIDUALS…
There was actually some different things to break down in the individual portion of practice, more so than had been shown in recent days. There was a neat drill from the defensive line, Andre Williams getting handsy and some lineup adjustments.

  • Ryan Nassib is back with the second unit taking all of the snaps. He didn’t look great today, but no one really did. Also, no change at right guard. At this point, it’s still Brandon Mosley starting there.
  • Before practice, Jon Beason said he was going to be very aggressive in his workout today with trainers. He worked on some pass coverage drills and also pursuit drills. I watched him a bit here and he looked very good. No limp in between reps and had some good explosion off his plant.

  • It still isn’t pretty, but it’s not nearly as ugly as it used to be. Andre Williams continues to work on catching with his hands and it looks like it’s starting to become more natural. In the beginning, the ball was straight beating him up. Now, it’s just a little push-and-shove.
  • Pretty cool drill run by the defensive linemen. A few bags were lined up on the ground and all had to high-step over them sideways. Once they got past the last bag, the coach fired a pass at them. If they dropped it, the drop-ee had to do pushups. Only one I saw drop a pass was Damontre Moore, but my eyes were bouncing around today.
Jon Beason, New York Giants (August 18, 2014)

Jon Beason – Photo by Connor Hughes

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
I’ve had a few people tweet me and call me a ‘Negative Nancy’ and I’ve had others say I’m too critical. So, to help display what the Giants quarterbacks and passing game have been doing in camp thus far, I kept completion stats.

  • Mario Manningham, Marcus Harris, Adrien Robinson and Corey Washington all got some first team reps as the Giants had a pretty steady flow of different receivers in-and-out of practice today.
  • Replacing Cooper Taylor was Nat Berhe. Also, replacing Prince Amukamara was Walter Thurmond III in two-corner sets. When a nickel corner was brought in, Trumaine McBride went outside and Thurmond in to guard the slot.
  • I’ll throw it out there, I’d be utterly shocked if Mario Manningham makes the team. He has zero burst anymore and Manning went deep to him multiple times, all incompletions. At one point, Manning went deep to Manningham guarded by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Rodgers-Cromartie was at a steady jog behind before bursting when he had to in order to come away with a near interception.
  • Something was up with Quintin Demps today as the safety was hitting anything that moved. He absolutely lit UP Michael Cox on a running play. I think he also hit Kendall Gaskins.
  • Something to monitor: Weston Richburg got some first-team reps today, but he wasn’t subbing out Brandon Mosley. The rookie came in for free-agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz. It wasn’t to spell Schwartz, either. When Richburg came in, Schwartz worked with the second unit.
  • Completion stats: Manning – 2/9 (one completion was a screen). Nassib - 1/4 (completion a screen). Painter 1/1.

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
A little more life from the Giants here when the defensive line was removed. Manning made a few nice throws underneath and deep once, while Nassib looked pretty good, too.

  • Eli Manning connected with Rueben Randle on a deep play down the left sideline. Randle beat Trumaine McBride and made a leaping catch.
  • There was a Corey Washington sighting as the rookie caught one deep down the field from Curtis Painter.
  • The first reps of the day for Odell Beckham Jr. were in this drill and they were also his last. Beckham injured/didn’t injure/who knows on a drag route and didn’t return.
Corey Washington and Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Corey Washington and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN…
While none of the passes were down the field, Eli Manning looked much better during this drill, nearly all of his passes were underneath. That is the way of the West Coast offense.

  • Ryan Nassib went to Corey Washington on a deep in. He beat Charles James II.
  • That Devon Kennard guy continues to shine. He popped Andre Williams again pretty good. On a stretch play, Kennard knocked Williams over with his shoulder pad.
  • There was another Marcus Harris sighting, too. Ryan Nassib went to the second-year pro deep down the seam.
  • Longest touchdown of the day came when Curtis Painter hit Julian Talley for a 50+-yard touchdown. Talley beat Bennett Jackson down the sideline.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
This may have been the ugliest set of plays I have ever seen throughout this entire training camp saga. A third-team offense versus third-team defense two-minute drill with 1:24 left on the clock. There was a sack, false start and interception before the offense turned the ball over on a dropped pass by Travis Harvey.

The Giants have an early practice tomorrow beginning at 12:00 noon. Players will be made available to the media later in the afternoon.

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

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nat Berhe – Photo by Connor Hughes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theoretically, Berhe should now slide in next to Demps.

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

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

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

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

So where does Berhe fit into the equation?

“I like to bring the boom,” he said.

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

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

“I throw strikes,” DeOssie said.

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

A NATURAL ABILITY

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

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

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

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LOST LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A CHAMPIONSHIP SHARED

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

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

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

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

A FAMILY MAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 152014
 
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Baltimore Colts at New York Giants, NFL Championship Game Program (December 28, 1958)

Baltimore Colts at New York Giants, NFL Championship Game Program (December 28, 1958)

New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, August 16 , 2014

THE STORYLINE:
Well, the Giants starting offense couldn’t have looked much worse than they did against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Aside from Rashad Jennings’ 73-yard touchdown run, the offense ran a total of 12 plays for a netted three yards. Victor Cruz spoke this week at training camp and said the offense is now entirely installed. It’s time to see some progress and what Ben McAdoo’s scheme can do.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (October 21, 2012)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FOUR DOWNS:
First Down
Victor Cruz
When Victor Cruz burst onto the scene in his second year, he was considered one of the more dangerous receivers after the catch. The West Coast Offense is designed around receivers making plays after they catch the ball. It would appear to fit Cruz’s skill set perfectly. In the Giants first two preseason games, Cruz hasn’t caught a pass. It’s time to get the receiver the ball and see what he can do in this offense.

Second Down
Damontre Moore versus the starters
The one common factor throughout the first two preseason games is that Damontre Moore has shown it’s time he play against a higher level of competition. Beating up on second and third team offensive linemen is one thing. Beating up on the starters? That’s something entirely different. Moore has shown that he deserves playing time with the ones and to show what he can do against a team’s best big men, not their second and third teamers.

Third Down
How does Ryan Nassib handle the demotion?
The Giants have down everything they can to let Ryan Nassib take the No. 2 quarterback spot being Eli Manning. Ryan Nassib has done everything he can to make the Giants look another direction. After two preseason games, the Giants pulled the plug on the Nassib experiment and gave all second-team reps to Curtis Painter. Can Nassib make a case to get his backup job back?

Fourth Down
Is Will Beatty healed?
Saturday will mark the first time this season Will Beatty steps foot on the field. Speaking to the media on Thursday, Beatty was ecstatic about the opportunity to play for the first time since fracturing his leg versus the Redskins in the final game of the season. The fact he’ll get to face Robert Mathis will be a huge tall-tale sign of how healthy Beatty is.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Connor Hughes — RB Andre Williams
I love everything that I’ve seen from Andre Williams when he runs with the football. The Boston College alum has the size speed and power to be something special out of the backfield. I hate everything that I’ve seen from Andre Williams when he attempts  block for the quarterback. Versus the Steelers last week, Williams whiffed terribly on two attempted blocks. That needs to improve or his playing time come September will be very, very limited.

Eric Kennedy — LT Will Beatty
Will Beatty is the most important question mark on the offensive line. If he plays well in 2014, the line will probably be alright and could actually develop into a strength. If he does not, then the Giants will likely struggle on offense. Given this is Beatty’s first real action since severely fracturing his leg in the 2013 regular-season finale, I don’t expect him to look particularly sharp against the Colts on Saturday. Physically, he’s still not there both in terms of his recovery and overall football stamina. But this is an important step on the road back. I’ll be thrilled if he doesn’t look too rusty, very concerned if he looks terrible. It will also be interesting to see how much he can play. Tom Coughlin already said he won’t play as much as the rest of the starters. The more he plays, the better. He needs to get into game shape.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Peyton Hillis (foot-ankle/out)
  • FB John Conner (concussion/tbd)
  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring/out)
  • WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring/out)
  • TE Daniel Fells (knee/out)
  • TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring/out)
  • DT Mike Patterson (shoulder/out)
  • LB Jon Beason (foot/out)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (unknown/out)
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE COACHES MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin: “I would like to stop the run. I don’t want anyone to run the ball on our first defense. We have kept people out of the end zone. Again, the offense contributed to the scoring the other night. We would like to be a little bit more consistent and have a little bit better tempo on the offensive side of the ball. I would like to see if the opportunity is there that something positive happen with the return game, be it punt return, kickoff return or whatever it might be. Some type of an opportunity to evaluate that aspect of it.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Connor Hughes — Between training camp and the Giants preseason games, I have had seen such little promise from the offense. Trust me, I’ve tried to look for positives and at times it is impossible to find any. At the end of the day, I just don’t believe — without Odell Beckham Jr. — the Giants have enough playmakers to make this offense work. Be it in practice, or in games, the offense just looks bad. Saturday is another chance for the team to show something—anything— that makes me think differently because right now, I don’t see how this team wins six games this year. Colts 24 – Giants 13.

Eric Kennedy — I’m going to piggyback on what Conner is saying. I’m not sure the Giants have enough weapons at receiver/tight end for this offense to take off in 2014. Not counting the time he missed in OTA’s, Odell Beckham has missed one month of practice. That’s huge and horrible setback for the Giants and the passing game. That time cannot be made up. Victor Cruz has yet to show he is a good fit for the West Coast Offense. Rueben Randle isn’t demonstrating that he can be consistently relied on. The fact that Cruz, Randle, and Beckham haven’t caught a pass in the first two preseason games is a red flag. The team – AGAIN – probably has the worst contingent of tight ends in the entire NFL. For the Giants to compete in the NFC East this season, completely contrary to recent seasons, the defense and running game may have to carry the Giants. And Eli will have to be far, far more conservative in order to protect the football. As for Painter-Nassib, I don’t buy the notion that Painter has moved ahead of Nassib. I see this more as a coach’s ploy to motivate. But if Painter does beat out Nassib, good grief Jerry Reese. Colts 20 – Giants 13.

Aug 142014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 14, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants took the practice fields at Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the final time in this year’s 2014 training camp.

But they’ll be back on Monday do everything the same. The only difference? It’s now closed to the public.

Thursday’s practice was a light one for the Giants as tomorrow the team will travel to Indianapolis for its game versus the Colts. There were some cards, mostly one-on-one drills and a two-minute portion as well with the second team offense.

On to the report…

Peyton Hillis, New York Giants (December 1, 2013)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Daniel Fells (knee) and Trindon Holliday (hamstring) all missed practice. Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) continues to do more as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. Mike Patterson (shoulder) was back, too, and John Conner (concussion) did individuals.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants practiced their kickoff and kick return today. With this particular drill, I tried to focus on the exact order of both the returners and their up-man. When I say up-man, I mean the player that lines up directly in front of the kick returners and acts as a lead blocker. It’s organized below as follows : Returner/Up-man.

  • The rotation worked as follows: Quintin Demps/Marcus Harris, Preston Parker/Michael Cox, Michael Cox/Marcus Harris, and Marcus Harris/Andre Williams.
  • It was Brandon McManus’ day to kick and kick he did. Aside from going 4-for-4, McManus’ final kick was a beauty from at least 60 yards. He cleared the cross bars by at least 10 yards.

INDIVIDUALS…
There isn’t too much that you can take out of these lighter practices as it’s basically a glorified walk through. There’s little contact, the overall length is shorter and there’s not much to break down. Most of the observations are just that, observations.

  • It truly is time to sound the alarms with Ryan Nassib. Again today Curtis Painter was with the second team and Tom Coughlin sounded after practice like that’s where it’ll stay. It’s a telltale sign of how Nassib has played this summer.
  • Will Beatty was out there in all drills for the Giants which goes hand-in-hand with the fact he’ll start on Saturday.
  • Kellen Davis has been getting a lot of looks at tight end. He and Larry Donnell were working with the first team quite a bit. Again, the Giants are running a lot of multiple tight end sets.
Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants ran through a bit of a hurry-up/two-minute drill as they usually do to start practice. Not much happened as the offense continues to look stagnant. It’s honestly frustrating at times to try to pick a positive out of something where there is so little. The entire training camp can be summed up in five words: The offense doesn’t look good. Simply put, the team doesn’t have enough playmakers on the field.

  • For the entire first drill with the entire first team, Adrien Robinson was out there at tight end. The Giants even moved him split wide at one point. Andre Williams was also out there as a running back.
  • Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz down the seam on a double move. Cruz shook free Walter Thurmond III and made the grab.
  • Zack Bowman had a nice bat down on a pass to Kellen Davis. Davis was open on a curl, the ball was delivered and Bowman just punched it out.
  • Something that certainly won’t make Giants’ fans happy: a big miscommunication between Rueben Randle and Manning. Manning dropped back to pass, Randle ran a streak, Manning threw a curl and Bowman undercut the route for a pick-six. All jokes aside, it was identical to the interception Bowman had against the Giants last year. Same side of the field, too.
  • Charles James II nearly intercepted Ryan Nassib. James had good coverage and undercut a throw intended for Julian Talley.
  • You may need to re-read this once, but Eli Manning ran for a touchdown. Manning pump-faked to open up a huge crease in the middle of the field. He then jogged into the endzone.
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 22, 2013)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN/CARD DRILL…
This was a little bit of both the card drill and eleven-on-eleven. Explaining the card drill for those that don’t know: The offense holds up a card with a play, the defense holds up a card with a play and then both go and run said plays at 3/4 speed.

  • Eli Manning looked for Marcus Harris on an out route but Cooper Taylor had really good coverage. Near interception for the second-year safety.
  • For the second practice in a row, Ryan Nassib dropped a shot gun snap. Snap was good, no pressure, Nassib just dropped it.
  • In a weird formation, the Giants split fullback Henry Hynoski out wide left as a receiver. Hynoski was the lone player to that side of the field. First time I’ve seen that all camp.
  • Touchdown pass from Nassib to Jerome Cunningham on a flag route in the red zone.
  • There was one interception today, but a few were dropped. Damontre Moore nearly had one as he lept in the air on a low pass from Manning. He had both of his hands on it but dropped the ball.
  • It wasn’t pretty, but Odell Beckham Jr. came down with a tipped pass for a touchdown in the red zone. Nassib was the quarterback as the ball bounced off a few defenders hands before making its way to Beckham.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants have ended practice like this a few times this week. Every day, a different team takes its turn and today it was the second teamers. The ball is set up at one end of the field and two minutes are put on the clock. The offense then has to march down the field against the defense and score. With Curtis Painter at quarterback, the Giants offense scored a touchdown on the final play. Painter threw a perfect pass to Preston Parker past a diving defender. Parker then walked into the end zone.

The Giants will be off on Friday as they travel to Indianapolis. The next scheduled practice is Monday, Aug. 18.