Aug 022017
 
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Romeo Okwara and Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Romeo Okwara and Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 2, 2017 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fifth summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

INJURY REPORT – STERLING SHEPARD INJURED…
Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Running back Shane Vereen (lower body soreness), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (rest day), defensive end Devin Taylor (lower body soreness), and cornerback Valentino Blake (lower back tightness) did not practice.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (rolled ankle) was carted off the field with what originally appeared to be a serious injury. Reporters tweeted that Shepard was in obvious pain. The NFL Network is reporting that initial test results say the injury is a low-ankle sprain.

“Sterling, at this point, he looks like he has a rolled ankle,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “A basketball-type ankle, but we’ll see how he responds to treatment and go from there… He was running a hammer route, put his foot in the ground and rolled his ankle… Again, we’ll all know more when I go in and we take a look at it. At this point it just looks like he has a sprained ankle.”

Offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker (foot) was also carted off of the field.

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
First off, apologies we didn’t have time to do an interview today. I had to jet out of there at 12:40 today. We were there for the majority of practice, when they moved the team inside the facility we opted to leave, as the meat of the action was over.

Saw Mike Nugent get the kicks today, don’t read into depth chart stuff there. These guys aren’t going to kick a lot of volume at this point, they may even flip-flop each day. This will be a battle that goes to the end. Rosas’ leg is stronger.

Offense Notes:

  • Was looking at the OL as much as possible today. Ereck Flowers still struggles with his pad level. Defenders are constantly getting underneath him, causing him to lean over and bend at the waist, making his hand placement sub-par. More of the same there but he did have a couple of run blocks where his natural power and strength were on full display. That’s one thing he always has, strong punches and ability to anchor. Right guard anyone? LG Justin Pugh got in to a couple fights today. He looks to be the enforcer of this offense; he doesn’t want any of his guy taking extra hits and showed no hesitation in defending them when they did.
  • I wanted to get more looks at UDFA Jessamen Dunker. Early in practice, Dunker impressed me with both straight line and lateral movement. Definitely a plus athlete who can be where he needs to be at the right time. But body wise, he is a year away. He will be one of my practice squad predictions but he did get hurt today; we’ll see there. OT Jarron Jones is at the very beginning of a very long road when it comes to his OT progression. He won’t be a factor on the field this season, not even close. Expectedly so, he looks 2-3 steps behind every time he is out there in live action. My question is, will they use a practice squad spot on him? He will have to show a consistent work ethic and approach if he has any shot.
  • Was rough to see WR Sterling Shepard go down. I saw the whole process and at first I thought it was an Achilles, he was visibly upset and in pain. A sprained ankle can linger for months and in some cases can be worse than a fracture. Now it’s a waiting and hoping game.
  • Who is going to step up in his place? Tavarres King was with the first three WR set. He is the best short area mover of the rest. Quality route runner, can be slippery after the catch. Roger Lewis may have more raw talent but he’s still towards the beginning of his WR maturation process. I see the team trying to get more and more looks at Darius Powe. Physical pass catcher with some ability after the catch. They like the dependability of Dwayne Harris. Could this open a door for the fastest guy on the team, Kevin Snead?
  • TEs Matt LaCosse and Jerell Adams caught passes on the all-out move today, a welcoming sign for a team that didn’t get enough from that position in 2016.  Hard to ignore the every-down upside of Adams.

Defense Notes:

  • This LB core looks angry. All of them. While the group fights may be a little over the top and the coaches supposedly don’t like them, part of me likes the fact these LBs are starting them. They are hitting a little too hard but they are doing it on purpose. It’s a personality trait to a defense that you want. B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard, and Jonathan Casillas especially were instigating. This defense is VERY physical.
  • Still a little confused how this team plans on using LB Stansly Maponga. He is very strong and stout. But I don’t see him performing well in space and he can’t play DE in this scheme. I think he is a 3-4 OLB-only type but maybe NYG has a role for that kind of guy more than we think.
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson got some snaps against first-team linemen. He has great short area burst and closing speed. I think there is some more pass rush potential here than I initially thought. On the flip side, he got handled by D.J. Fluker a couple times on running plays.
  • S Eric Pinkins is interesting to me. There is a lot of talk about backup safeties and I have to think this hybrid S/LB, plus athlete is in the mix. He is a superb athlete with good size. Physical kid and he was performing very well in special team drills.
  • I haven’t seen much out of DT Corbin Bryant and with the DL being pretty crowded depth wise, he will need to stand out over the next few days if he is going to make this team.

Three Standouts:

  • OT Bobby Hart – For the second day in a row, I walked away with a positive impression on Hart. He looks more confident and quick-minded out there. Reacting more so than thinking his way through things. He wins almost all of his physical one on one battles, and his pass protection techniques look like they’ve been cleaned up.
  • DE Romeo Okwara – On a team full of physical specimens, Okwara takes the cake. He is by far the most impressive athlete on this team. He is still a little raw and too straight line dependent when it comes to movement, but the tools are there and if NYG is patient, I think he is going to be a good one. Pad level, post-engagement moves, and consistent leverage are things he needs work on but in time, they are very correctable. I am really excited about him.
  • OG D.J. Fluker – Really good day for this big man. And I mean BIG. He swallows defenders, even makes DT Damon Harrison look small. I’ll say this about Fluker, if he gets his hands on the man he needs to run block, it’s over. He won every battle I watched him on. I think RG is the perfect home for him.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Place kicker Mike Nugent was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, including kicks of 30, 32, 37, and 42 yards.
  • The Giants continue to alternate Josh Johnson and Geno Smith at the #2 quarterback spot. Today Johnson was the #2 quarterback.
  • With wide receiver Sterling Shepard out, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Dwayne Harris were spotted playing in the slot with the first-team with Tavarres King outside.
  • Wide receiver Darius Powe had his second active day in a row catching the football.
  • Cornerback Donte Deayon broke up a deep pass intended for tight end Evan Engram.
  • Quarterback Geno Smith hit wide receiver Travis Rudolph down the right sideline for a big gain.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a touchdown.
  • With Jason Pierre-Paul out, Kerry Wynn received some first-team reps at defensive end.
  • Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, and Nat Berhe were the safeties in one three-safety package.
  • Defensive end Avery Moss continues to flash on the pass rush.
  • Wide receiver Roger Lewis caught a long bomb from quarterback Geno Smith over defensive back Mykkele Thompson.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb hit wide receiver Travis Rudolph for a deep touchdown over cornerback Nigel Tribune and safety Eric Pinkins.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/892778125930770432

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The sixth training camp practice will be held on Thursday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Aug 012017
 
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Eli Manning and Paul Perkins, New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Eli Manning and Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 1, 2017 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fourth summer training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN KICKER MIKE NUGENT…
The New York Giants announced on Tuesday that they have signed place kicker Mike Nugent, who fills the roster void created when safety Jadar Johnson retired on Sunday.

The 35-year old Nugent was originally drafted in the 2nd-round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He has spent time with the Jets (2005-2008), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009), Arizona Cardinals (2009), and Cincinnati Bengals (2010-2016). Nugent was released by the Bengals in December 2016 after he had missed six extra points. He finished the season 23-of-29 (79.3 percent) on field goal attempts and is a career 80.8 percent on field goal attempts. Forty-four percent of his 2016 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

INJURY REPORT…
Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Running back Shane Vereen (lower body soreness) and defensive end Devin Taylor (lower body soreness) did not practice. Wide receiver Dwayne Harris (shoulder) left practice early.

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
Another sunny day, the heat was a bit more intense. First day in full pads and it was nice to both see and hear these guys run into each other, as silly as that sounds. Felt like real football although these guys are told to not bring each other to the ground.

Offense Notes:

  • The first full contact I zeroed in on were run-game based. Half a line, 2 backs or 1 back/1 extra TE up against 2 DL and 2 LB. Defenders have a slight advantage knowing the run is coming, but the point of the drill was run blocking/filling lanes and simple assignments. Rookie UDFA Shane Smith stood out a few times against Jonathan Casillas. Delivered violent blows and knocked his man back a few steps. Impressive presence, power, and technique. Casillas got the best of the other FB competing for a spot, Jacob Huesman, on a few occasions.
  • OT Bobby Hart was impressive today, he’s come a long way with his technique and fundamentals. He has such a natural power presence coming from his lower body and his foot speed is more than good enough. Consistency in games is what needs to be seen there.
  • Ereck Flowers was bested by Olivier Vernon on a couple of occasions. The concern there is that Vernon is the kind of guy Flowers has always struggled against. Low to the ground, powerful, quick change of direction. Flowers just doesn’t look natural when he is moving laterally, the inconsistent techniques keep coming up. That said, he dominated DE Romeo Okwara more than once. When the action is in front of him and he gets his hands on, he is very effective. But there are still legit questions about his ability moving sideways.
  • D.J. Fluker was fooled badly on a stunt where rookie DE Avery Moss shot inside. Fluker was late to recognize it and he simply doesn’t recover well. So top heavy. He was tested the same way a couple plays later and was ready for it. He is another guy with a really high level of hand strength and power. When he locks on, it’s over.
  • The two rookie tackles, Adam Bisnowaty and Chad Wheeler, showed some warts that I had on them coming out of college. Bisnowaty (who also saw some snaps at RG) had a hard time sticking and anchoring to his man, while Wheeler didn’t get movement on his assignments Both are still showing their power presence isn’t ready for the NFL just yet.
  • Tight end Jerell Adams showed excellent blocking technique and power. For a long guy, he sure does get his hips low with a strong punch. He sticks to his man and recovered well after being beat a couple times. He may be the best blocker outside of Rhett Ellison. That said, his movement skills look awkward and slow when he has to change direction. Little clumsy, tripping over his feet and double catching the ball.
  • Quarterback Josh Johnson, for the 3rd practice in a row, outshine Geno Smith by a wide margin. Johnson throws such a smooth ball and it is almost always where it needs be. Smith still looks shaky in his new scheme.
  • WR Kevin Snead is a guy I keep wanting to watch. You don’t see speed like this very often, he may be one of the fastest NYG has ever had. I would love to see one of the QBs air it out downfield to him in one of these scrimmages. His issue is the hands which is a major red flag. He was dropping more punts than he was catching.

Defense Notes:

  • On the first O vs D play from scrimmage, linebacker B.J. Goodson proved what we talked about Sunday, he wants to HIT. He tossed wide receiver Sterling Shepard to the ground. Yes I do think it was on purpose. Shepard wasn’t happy about it but the scuffle was over shortly.
  • DT Robert Thomas keeps getting the 1st-team looks next to Damon Harrison. He is a guy NYG fans will like. Hyper active, spark-plug-type guy.
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson looked a little overwhelmed at times. He had a hard time breaking away from D.J. Fluker. Tough guy to go against in straight-ahead drills though.
  • LB Jonathan Casillas plays angry. He wants to be the most physical guy on the field and you have to love that. He and Goodson both have a way of sneaking underneath and through traffic to locate the ball on running plays. This LB group is fast and physical, a nice place to start.
  • CB Eli Apple and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie won most of their 1-on-1 battles today. They move with confidence and assurance.
  • Defensive tackle Damon Harrison looks more and more like a young Vince Wilfork with each day that passes. He gives this scheme a lot of versatility and because of it; there may be some 3-4 looks.

Three Standouts:

  • WR Sterling Shepard: He was getting some extra work in with Manning between sessions. Discussing when to turn his head around on certain routes. He was flawlessly fielding punts. He was getting off tight coverage with ease. And he was making catches away from his body routinely. His ball skills are among the best in the league and it looks like he is the kind of worker that wont stop trying to perfect his craft.
  • S Landon Collins: Collins was a steady presence all day but a few things stood out to me today. While the entire team was on a “TV Timeout”, Collins was on the side field working with Spags on over-the-shoulder catches. Just him. After practice, we were in the field house waiting for about 30 minutes. The rest of the guys by that time are eating lunch but Collins comes strolling in from the field to fulfill his media duties still wearing his pads. The kid is a worker. I’ll say it again, he will be the leader of this defense.
  • Rhett Ellison: I have a feeling this guy is going to be Mr. Dependable whether NYG needs a blocker on 3rd-and-2 or a pass catcher on 3rd-and-5. Ellison is as sure-handed as anyone I have seen here so far and the consistency he showed as a violent and sure blocker was nice to see. NYG could have really used a guy like this.
  • And yes…Aldrick Rosas was perfect on his FG attempts. All of which were good by 15+ yards, including his 50 yarder.

Another full pads day tomorrow, hoping to see some more secondary vs. wide receivers…as they were on the opposite end today. And tomorrow’s focus on the OL will be Weston Richburg, Justin Pugh, and John Jerry along with the interior backups.

Below is the video report and interview with fullback Shane Smith.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Place kicker Aldrick Rosas was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, including kicks from 30, 37, 42, and 50 yards out.
  • Giants continue to alternate Josh Johnson and Geno Smith at the #2 spot at quarterback. Today was Smith’s turn.
  • In 7-on-7 drills, cornerback Eli Apple knocked away an out-route pass from quarterback Eli Manning intended for wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Safety Nat Berhe defended a pass intended for tight end Evan Engram from quarterback Geno Smith. Smith then hit tight end Jerell Adams for a 20-yard gain.
  • Wide receiver Brandon Marshall caught a pass over the middle from quarterback Eli Manning. Marshall then dropped a slant pass from Manning near the goal line.
  • Wide receiver Travis Rudolph dropped a pass then made a diving reception from quarterback Josh Johnson.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Sterling Shepard over the middle.
  • Wide receiver Kevin Snead dropped 3-of-4 punt return attempts.
  • Wide receiver Darius Powe was active catching the football in the team portion of practice.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/892416445023440896

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The fifth training camp practice will be held on Wednesday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Jul 302017
 
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Jay Bromley, New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 30, 2017 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.

JADAR JOHNSON RETIRES…
The New York Giants announced on Sunday that undrafted rookie free agent safety Jadar Johnson (University of Clemson) has left training camp and decided to retire from the NFL. Johnson did not practice on Saturday as Head Coach Ben McAdoo said he was “ill.”

“After seriously weighing his options, Jadar has decided to retire from football today to pursue other interests,” said Johnson’s agent. “This was not an easy decision for him to make, but it is the right decision for him. He has new ventures that he wants to pursue and he values his health. Jadar is very grateful to the Giants’ organization for the opportunity they provided him.”

“I had a conversation with him, a personal conversation,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “They released a statement, he and his agent, and we’ll leave it at that.”

BALTIMORE RAVENS SIGN LARRY DONNELL…
The Baltimore Ravens have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent Larry Donnell. The Giants had no interest in re-signing Donnell, who began the 2016 season as the starting tight end but was benched after the bye week. He started to receive more playing time again late in the season. Donnell ended up playing in 14 games with six starts, and finished the regular season with just 15 catches for 92 yards (6.1 yards per catch) and one touchdown. Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent the 2012 season on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell has regressed since his breakout 2014 season (63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns). His numbers were down in 2015 (missing half the season with a neck injury) and down again in 2016.

INJURY REPORT…
Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Running back Shane Vereen left practice early with a “lower body” injury. “He was sore and we were smart and held him,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “He could’ve gone back in, but we decided to hold him.”

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
Picture Perfect day. 80 and sunny with no humidity. Very comfortable with no breeze. Another day of “full speed” 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills where the guys got to compete. For obvious reasons, the defense holds back a tad in congested situations but for the most part, we got to see these guys fight it out.

I wanted to get some more attention on the defense today…but also got to see kicker Aldrick Rosas get four attempts in. Distance isn’t exact, but they were all roughly 30-40 yards I believe. We got to speak to him after practice as well, nice kid, very relaxed and calm. Laid back. A few interesting notes about him…he played in a National Championship Game (NAIA) for Southern Oregon in 2014. Tore his ACL in that game and even with two years left of eligibility, he turned pro. He spent the 2016 preseason with Tennessee and lost out to veteran Ryan Succop. NYG signed him in January and as of now, he is the lone kicker on the roster.

Offense Notes:

  • I still don’t have much of an opinion on the fullbacks, and I won’t until later in the week after we them bang heads with the pads on. Initially I think Jacob Huesman is a slightly better athlete with more power coming from his legs.
  • WR Kevin Snead is a guy that keeps jumping out at me. Besides Odell Beckham, he has the best burst and short area change of direction of all the WRs. At 5’10/175, he is fighting an uphill battle but the UDFA from Carson Newman offers ability that his fellow backups do not. Remember, this is a guy that was clocked sub 4.25 at the Tennessee pro day, that is Jon Ross-caliber. If he can prove to be a factor on special teams and improve underneath route running, don’t overlook his chances.
  • I put the eyeball on OT Jarron Jones today. Massive and yes, likely better built for the OT position than DT. Obviously he has a ways to go. Naturally his hands are way too wide on contact with his man and I can see there is a lot of struggle for him to avoid over-leaning and lunging. I’m curious to see if he even gets looks during preseason at OT, just doesn’t look ready but we will find out more Tuesday.
  • The TE battle is as entertaining to watch as any spot on the team. Matt LaCosse has impressed me each day with his ball skills. Such a natural receiver that can grab and turn upfield with more than enough fluidity. Can he hack in the trenches? Jerell Adams is a second-year draft pick and his upside alone is worth keeping him around. But I’ve seen him trip over his own feet a few times and there doesn’t seem to be the natural player in him. That said I think he may be further along as a blocker than everyone other than Rhett Ellison. Speaking of Ellison, I like how he moves after the catch. Strong, powerful, aggressive, low to the ground. He may factor there. Evan Engram…man he’s fast. When he opens up his stride in space he is faster than most of the WRs.
  • Another name I’ve been drawn to all three days is the UDFA RB Khalid Abdullah. Powerfully built, fast in the open field, assertive change of direction with all the balance and body control. NYG has a crowded backfield in front of him but hey, you never know when it comes to injuries. I can’t wait to see him carry the ball in preseason games.
  • QB Davis Webb got some extra 7-on-7 work with the 3rd string. He looks the part, shows excellent lower body technique. Throws a very tight ball.

Defense Notes:

  • Linebackers were my main focus early on. I’m saying this right now, B.J. Goodson is gonna be a guy we all like. He, more than anyone, is drooling at the thought of getting the pads on. In drills where these guys were working on taking on and shedding blockers, he was the only one that got off the dummy pad and physically wrapped up the coach acting as the RB. He is a quick, explosive, powerfully-built kid.
  • LB Curtis Grant has really stood out to me athletically. He and Deontae Skinner play very fast…maybe even too fast for their own good. Athletically they are very impressive and the attention Antonio Pierce gave them today will hopefully provide needed progress from a skill perspective.
  • DT Robert Thomas: He is still getting the first-team looks next to Damon Harrison. They are both high energy and play low to the ground. Stout, powerful, hard to move and they are both quick enough to penetrate. I am sticking with my prediction of him being the week 1 starter.
  • I don’t want to over step any boundaries when it comes to discussing formations…but I saw a few things the way these guys lined up today I haven’t seen before. I like the idea of different fronts that play to these guys’ strengths. This DL as a whole really is deep and versatile.
  • It looks like Owamagbe Odighizuwa is on the bottom looking up, but I could be wrong there. As a player, he seems manufactured. Good athlete, great frame but he lacks some of the twitchiness and feel that these other guys have.
  • Landon Collins looks studly so far. He made an EXCELLENT, high-level pass break up on a pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham (I believe). He can make those 5-7 yard breaks out of his backpedal as fast as anyone. Instincts are a major plus for him, arguably the most important part of playing safety.
  • LB Keenan Robinson has a more natural feel in coverage than the other LBs. He makes quick decisions and he simply just looks more comfortable whether he is moving laterally or vertically. He will have an important role within this defense despite not being one of the starters.
  • LB Mark Herzlich is Mr. Team Player and I think this NYG coaching staff wants this guy around the team in the worst way. Solid backup inside LB, excellent special teamer. Even saw him run a few routes as a TE and caught a ball on the move in the flat from Webb. If he actually offers depth on all three phases, he’s a lock to make this team.
  • LB Stansly Maponga looks a little out of place as a LB. When it comes to drills, he is often the one looking most uncomfortable and I don’t think he can factor in coverage.

Three Standouts:

  • CB Michael Hunter. Excellent day for the long, speedy cover man. Hunter played physical at the point of attack but also showed more fluidity as he mirrored some of the backup WRs. He made two outstanding reach around pass deflections. We all know these #4 and #5 CB spots are up for grabs. Yesterday Donte Deayon stood out; today it was Hunter. I think Hunter offers a ton of upside and could be a much needed backup for the outside spots.
  • CB Eli Apple. I’ve noted him a few times for his athletic prowess. Just an excellent package of size, speed, and strength. He was challenged a few times in team drills and he made a few excellent plays on the ball, two times were on deep throws to Beckham. Apple stayed in his hip pocket from start to finish.
  • QB Josh Johnson. While he has the upper hand on experience with the scheme in comparison to Geno Smith, Johnson appears to be cementing himself as the team’s top backup. He is very consistent. Throws a great ball, very accurate, excellent touch. He makes life easier for the pass catchers. He just seems much more fluid than Smith but Smith does deserve a little handicap considering he is still new to the scheme and surroundings.

In addition, below is the video link to our surface level notes, interview with kicker Aldrick Rosas, and clips from practice! We were missing a mic, so we had to pass the one back and forth…sorry for the crackling.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Place kicker Aldrick Rosas went 3-for-4 on his field goal attempts (reporters said he went 4-for-4 but an official said he missed his last kick, which was from 45 yards out).
  • Quarterback Josh Johnson was the second-team quarterback on Sunday. He and Geno Smith appear to alternating each day at the #2 spot.
  • In 7-on-7 drills, wide receiver Roger Lewis beat cornerback Michael Hunter deep down the left sideline.
  • Quarterback Geno Smith badly overshot tight end Matt LaCosse, who had beaten linebacker Deontae Skinner.
  • Wide receiver Tavarres King made a sliding catch in front of cornerback Eli Apple. Quarterback Eli Manning then just missed King deep, who was well-covered by Apple.
  • Wide receiver Travis Rudolph saw some reps with the second-team in the slot position.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and tight end Evan Engram all scored in red-zone drills.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple knocked down a deep post pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Apple then had blanket coverage on wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. deep, who Manning overthrew.
  • Safety Landon Collins knocked away quarterback Eli Manning passes intended for tight end Evan Engram and wide Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Cornerback Michael Hunter deflected a quarterback Geno Smith pass that safety Nat Berhe picked off.
  • Defensive back Mykkele Thompson broke up a quarterback Davis Webb deep pass to wide receiver Kevin Norwood.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb threw a pass to linebacker/tight end Mark Herzlich.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Sunday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The fourth training camp practice will be held on Tuesday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Jul 292017
 
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Davis Webb, Geno Smith, and Josh Johnson; New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Davis Webb, Geno Smith, and Josh Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 29, 2017 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.

INJURY REPORT…
Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Safety Jadar Johnson (illness) did not practice.

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
Much more action today to discuss AND we got to talk one on one with DT Dalvin Tomlinson. Fun day with overcast skies and the temperature was MUCH cooler. Even had some gusts wind thrown in. We saw some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11…somewhat close to live/full speed.

Offense Notes:

  • Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is just a freak of nature. Not only is he massive (tall/long/thick)…but I am surprised to see how well he moves. When he opens up his stride, he can really get behind a defense. He toyed with cornerback Eli Apple, got physical with him at the point-of-attack then was able to turn it up a gear and get downfield. If this guy is healthy, he could be an absolute monster in this offense and role.
  • Quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Geno Smith are splitting reps with 2nd/3rd string it looks like. Open competition. Johnson is more accurate and consistent, although when Geno lines everything up and can find his target, he looks very impressive. The key there is confidence and ability to make quick reads. Both were a little shaky in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11…if I had to give a win to one of them it would be Johnson.
  • Can’t say much about the offensive line today, as they still aren’t in pads. Right guard D.J. Fluker is a GREAT guy to listen to. He is fired up about being on a winning team and he said no organization is like the New York Giants when it comes to their passion for winning, for what that’s worth. He really lumbers out there; I think he is certainly destined for right guard play and likely a backup. Good guy to have around. Left guard Justin Pugh looked very stout and powerful in their hand drills.
  • The tight end competition is very up in the air. A bunch of guys are rotating in and out with the 1st team. Ben McAdoo says its one of the toughest positions to play because of the variety of assignments, starting positions…etc. Matt LaCosse made a couple of nice grabs up and away from his body on the full move. He is very slight-framed compared to the rest of these guys, but his ball skills are noteworthy. Jerell Adams is an impressive specimen but he is a little shaky as a mover/athletically. Rhett Ellison doesn’t stand out but I don’t expect him to until the pads are on. His game is physicality.
  • I put a lot of attention on quarterback Davis Webb. I made simple + or – signs next to his name for positive or negative throws. He was flip flopping all day. No big deal yet…just noticed there isn’t a natural high level of accuracy just yet…he was errant on a few easy ones. Many completions were guys having to turn back for the ball or leap up. He did connect with wide receiver Travis Rudolph on a great timing route up the seam. He has plenty of zip, he is the best athlete within the group, and when he has everything lined up he looks high-level-caliber.
  • Don’t have much on the running backs yet. Wayne Gallman has a noticeably different style and level of patience to making his cuts than the rest of them. He is explosive and fast, but in drills where patience and cuts upfield were the focus, he didn’t show it. Khalid Abdullah, however, does. He was very impressive in these drills but equally unimpressive in blitz pickup drills. That is the quickest way to the doghouse for a running back besides fumbling.

Defense Notes:

  • Overall, VERY competitive group. Especially the defensive backs. They took so much pride in beating the offense in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. Very intense group that likes to get after it as a whole.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple was pretty back and forth, but he struggled when matched up against wide receivers Brandon Marshall or Odell Beckham, Jr. Tools-rich, but still unsure about the development. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins made an excellent INT going up for it against wide receiver Sterling Shepard, but was beat prior to that in a similar situation against Marshall. It was interesting to see how pumped the defense got when he came down with the INT.
  • Robert Thomas and Damon Harrison lining up next to each other at defensive tackle. Talk about a beefy duo. Don’t sleep on them as pass rushers though, they can really move and push the pocket.
  • Didn’t get to see pretty much anything else from the defensive line, they were on the other side of the complex for almost the entire time.
  • I tried to watch middle linebacker B.J. Goodson against the pass, he wasn’t challenged much though. He does look explosive and quick though. He undercut some of the interior offensive line on running plays very well.
  • The backup defensive backs saw a lot of rotating…those spots are very up in the air I think. Nobody is standing out just yet, but they like to compete.

Three Standouts:

  • Cornerback Donte Deayon. A player his size (5’9/163) is going to have a hard time making a roster in the NFL, but he is certainly making his case. He moves quicker and faster than everyone. He is a fiery competitor, maybe the most so when it comes to the defensive backs. He adds return value, he held up in coverage. I have a feeling about him so far.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham. We know he is a star. We know he is an amazing talent. But the amount of time he spends on the smallest aspects to his game is nice to see. During down time, he was working with Sterling Shepard and how to read a cornerback when coming off the line to get in to his route. Prior to that, he had a coach throw him about 15-20 balls where Beckham was stationary with his back to the ball…he just looked up in the air and waited for the ball to enter his line of vision. Then he went to make that difficult over the shoulder catch…and yes he caught every one.
  • Offensive lineman Brett Jones. Are we overlooking this guy as a possible backup inside? Arguably the top option if any of the three starters go down? He gets looks inside and out and he just seems to do everything right, in an exaggerated way. I love his build. He is a powerful, mean blocker and I am really looking forward to seeing him go live when the pads go on. There might be something there with him.

If I had to guess, I think the guys will be getting after it a little more tomorrow considering they are off on Monday.

GIDIEFOR’S PRACTICE REPORT…
Well obviously Sy’56 is the class between the two of us and I will be supplementing his observations to you guys during camp and serving in a support role.

These observations roughly follow the clips in the camp video linked below, and these clips follow Sy and my chat about today and Sy’s interview of Dalvin Tomlinson:

  • The first clip shows that the defensive line and offensive line players are doing a different set of warm ups on opposite sides of the field. This is a new view for me as opposed to prior camps I’ve attended where the players were all doing the same warm ups.
  • There was no active player on the bikes today – and one player was held out, safety Jadar Johnson, because he was ill according to Coach McAdoo. Take what you will about the new training staff – maybe it’s a fluke and still needs some more data to evaluate, but the Giants were relatively healthy last year and throughout the off season. They come into camp in very good health overall and with no steady stream of players headed to the sidelines.
  • Today’s practice was much more of a full practice than yesterday. The second practice clip shows a catch, run and hit sequence that was run at the beginning of practice.
  • While this was happening centerfield – on the right side of the field in the third clip sequence there was a group practicing coming out low from under a bar and hitting upward into a small square pad on a player target.
  • The next set of clips goes back and forth between a sequence of timing reps on one side of the field and the low to high practice that went from one on one to, two on two, to a larger formation.
  • I have a clip in there that follows Coach McAdoo for a couple of minutes. It seems to me that he blends more in with the surroundings than we have been used to in the past. Coach ribbed me after practice for filming him.
  • The next two clips are of Devon Kennard, who parked himself in front of me and he stands out as a really solid big dude. He participated in a special teams change of direction drill that was run for several minutes.
  • Sy had me look over to the right and there was Odell Beckham, Jr. taking over the shoulder catch practice. Odell really stood out on the field today, making a number of catches that showed off his incredible game speed.
  • Then the fullbacks came to the side line and I couldn’t help but notice that these guys are not very big – Rhett Ellison and Will Tye are huge in comparison to these two.
  • There’s clips of Davis Webb under center for a few reps, then some clips that show a bunch of offensive lineman and featuring Adam Gettis and Adam Bisnowaty standing next to each other. Biz dwarfs Gettis.
  • Then there are clips of 11-on-11’s first with Eli Manning – that include a nice fake and a strike to Odell. Then Geno Smith behind center. Smith seems to be the least accurate QB out there.
  • Then I have a clip of Ellison and Tye, and then Paul Perkins dwarfed by John Jerry.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • In 7-on-7 drills, wide receiver Brandon Marshall made a nice catch against cornerback Janoris Jenkins on an underthrown ball from quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Tight end Evan Engram made a nice catch on a pass thrown behind him.
  • Cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted a deep pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
  • Geno Smith was the second-team quarterback.
  • Mykkele Thompson received reps at cornerback.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. on a deep pass over the middle for a touchdown. Beckham made a number of nice grabs on the day, including a diving sideline reception against cornerback Eli Apple.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple broke up two quarterback Eli Manning passes into the end zone, the first to wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and the second to wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
  • Wide receiver Jerome Lane made a nice diving catch of a low pass from quarterback Geno Smith.
  • Defensive end Avery Moss flashed on his first pass rush attempt.
  • Quarterback Geno Smith completed a rollout pass to tight end Matt LaCosse.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/891387867460587521

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Saturday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The third training camp practice will be held on Sunday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Jul 282017
 
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Robert Thomas, New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Robert Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 28, 2017 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.

INJURY REPORT…
Linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) has been officially placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. He joins running back Shaun Draughn (ankle).

“We are playing it smart with (Thomas),” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We’ll see how it goes. He is making progress. He is not where we want him to be yet. Hopefully it is not anything that takes too long.”

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison (soreness) did not practice. “We are starting slow with Snacks,” said McAdoo. “He came in in good shape. He was a little bit sore, but we are starting slow with him.”

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
Pretty uneventful practice today, even according to Coach McAdoo. A lot of attention was put towards special teams and their formations, responsibilities…etc. In terms of Offense/Defense, there isn’t too much to report just yet but it is a good opportunity to compare size and movement of guys, as they are physically next to each other in the same conditions. Hot and humid today, but not unbearable.

  • The first thing that jumps out is the sheer size of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He looks like a dad playing with his sons when standing next to the rest of the WR group. Tall and strong from head to toe.
  • D.J. Fluker in there at 2nd-team right guard. Moves the same he did in my evaluation of him last year with San Diego. His game is power though, and we won’t see the impact there until next week.
  • Eli Manning and the pitch count that has been discussed…it isn’t anything new. He’s been on a pitch count of sorts since McAdoo’s been here.
  • Landon Collins is the leader of this defense. Always the one running to the next station or drill in front of everyone. Doing the dirty work special teams drills with all of the rooks and roster hopefuls. Very interactive with those guys.
  • Damon Harrison was on the bike today. McAdoo said he was “sore”…if I heard that right. No injury, just taking it slow. Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas were running with the first string for what its worth…which isn’t much. Speaking of Thomas, I am overly impressed with his foot speed when it comes to the frame he works with. He looks very stout, powerful, quick. If I had to say now, I think this team is looking at him as Harrison’s primary backup with Bromley (the biggest of them all) being the starter next to Harrison. Very impressed with the specimen Corbin Bryant is.
  • The team offense drills seem to have a very basic, fundamental approach to it with the running game being the focus. Running games and blocking schemes tie in together via timing, and I think that was today’s purpose. Get these backs to take the ball and diagnose where these guys are to make their cuts.

Rookie Report:

  • Evan Engram, as fully expected, really stands out as the smallest but most athletic tight end on the field. He can change direction and burst as fast as the WRs, no question. He was moved around in the limited team offensive snaps. He lined up in the slot, in the backfield, and with his hand in the dirt. I expect him to be all over the place.
  • Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson appears to be in the mix among the other veterans in regard to the depth chart. I can notice his step-behind status when it comes to hand and foot placement. That is always expected…the technique details are far greater in the league than in college…and you could see the difference between him and Corbin Bryant/Robert Thomas when it came to hand accuracy and power.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb…not much on him today. During the short team period, he received very few snaps. 2nd/3rd string snaps were obviously given to Josh Johnson and Geno Smith, respectively. All of the QBs were NOT throwing during team sessions…very little interaction between them and the pass catchers today.
  • Running back Wayne Gallman is noticeably thinner, leaner than the rest of the backs. He got some looks with the 3rd offense, nothing was done at full speed and I expect it to be that way until next week. We’ll see though.
  • Defensive end Avery Moss looks very athletic, much more agile and quick footed than what I have down from his college scouting reports. These guys don’t have pads on so it’s not really notable, but I am curious to see if he is a guy that simply loses some movement ability when having to diagnose blockers and plays. That would give me the impression his upside is even higher, as he was moving quicker through the bags than all of the defensive ends.
  • Adam Bisnowaty was getting 2nd team reps at left tackle. We know this, but his frame is very slight. He doesn’t have the look of an NFL OT just yet. On the right side was Chad Wheeler. His frame looks great and easily capable of adding weight. Athletic ability won’t be an issue for him either, but basing my evaluation on his college tapes from 2016, he isn’t ready quite yet either. But I do like having these two young guys in the wings…2017 offensive tackles will be about Ereck Flowers/Bobby Hart/possibly D.J. Fluker. If they don’t perform, we’ll see what these two guys have to offer. Really looking forward to seeing them in pads next week.
  • Notable UDFAs: Wide receiver Travis Rudolph is just a smooth, quick, efficient mover. He gets in to his route as fast as anyone. He doesn’t have long speed but most of the NFL prefers quickness as much as speed…so I think he has an opportunity here because he is so well advanced elsewhere when it comes to the WR skill set. Offensive guard Jessamen Dunker is an impressive looking athlete. With the instability along the depth of the OL, his upside is going to be a draw to coaches. He was discussed by Ben McAdoo, Marc Ross, and Jerry Reese post draft.

3 Random Standouts:

  • Tight end Matt LaCosse. As a specimen, LaCosse looks legit and the few times he got out in to intermediate crossing routes, he moved much better than I was expecting. Great foot speed and straight line burst. Tight end is a crowded position all of the sudden, and he will be fighting uphill, but I think he can make a case for himself.
  • Linebacker B.J. Goodson is another general on the field next to Collins. He is max effort, all the time. He is taking his opportunity very seriously and you can tell by the attention he puts on the fine details of lateral movement, movement through traffic, and coverage. He does not look tight hipped at all but we wont know for sure until the pads are on.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple…I wrote down on three separate occasions that he was notably moving better than everyone in the position group. He really is a physical gem and you can see why he was a high draft pick. He oozes potential. Can he maintain that athletic prowess in game situations where movements are adjustments, not planned?

Overall a good day for a football diehard, but boring for the traditional fan. I don’t think we are gonna see things tick up until next week.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first practice was very light, almost a jog-thru.
  • As expected, the first-team skill position players were quarterback Eli Manning, running back Paul Perkins, tight end Rhett Ellison, and wide receivers Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard.
  • Josh Johnson was the second-team quarterback.
  • First-team defense included ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon; tackles Robert Thomas and Jay Bromley; linebackers Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas; cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple; and safeties Landon Collins and Darian Thompson.

NEW YORK GIANTS TEAM PRESIDENT/CEO JOHN MARA…
The transcript of John Mara’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The second training camp practice will be held on Saturday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Jul 252017
 
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Olivier Vernon, New York Giants (December 18, 2016)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports Images

BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) Podcast of July 24, 2017: BBI’s Mike Siegel chats with BBI’s SY’56 and Eric Kennedy about the team’s talent at each of the defensive position groups and special teams before training camp begins later this month.

SY’56 has been scouting players since 2006 and has developed his own grading system. His work has landed him a position with Ourlads.com. He spends 20-25 hours per week on scouting players throughout the year.

Eric Kennedy, aka Eric from BBI, is the Editor-in-Chief of BBI. For more than 20 years he has led discussions, reported news, and written provocative and piercing analysis about New York Giants issues.

Mike Siegel, aka gidiefor, has been a poster on BBI since 2004.  He is an attorney and avid Giants fan, and for 17 years was an interpreter for the NYC Park System where he lectured extensively and published numerous articles and publications.   

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS (INCLUDING PODCASTS) HERE

Jul 212017
 
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Brad Wing, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Brad Wing – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) 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: Special Teams

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: The Giants place-kicking situation was upended midway through 2016 when super-steady Josh Brown – who had made over 91 percent of his field goal attempts since joining the Giants in 2013 – was unceremoniously cut due to significant off-the-field issues. The Giants replaced him with long-time Chicago Bear Robbie Gould who was a perfect 10-of-10 on field goal attempts in 10 regular-season games.

Punter Brad Wing had a strong season in 2016, averaging 46.2 yards per punt (40.9 yard net). He had 28 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. Wing was also named “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” twice.

In his second year with the Giants, Dwayne Harris suffered through a frustrating, injury-plagued season. While he played in all 16 regular-season games, Harris was hampered by a variety of nagging injuries all season. His special teams return numbers plummeted with his punt return average falling from 10.0 yards to 5.9 yards and his kickoff return average falling from 28.7 yards to 24.2 yards. He also did not score a year after becoming the first Giants player in 60 years to return a kickoff and punt for a touchdown in the same season in 2015. Harris did remain a force on punt coverage and he was voted to his first Pro Bowl. With Harris ailing, Bobby Rainey (six punt and eight kickoff returns) and Odell Beckham, Jr. (10 punt returns) shared return duties.

Overall, the Giants finished 2016 7th in kickoff return average (23.8 yards per return) and 29th in punt return average (6.1 yards per return). On the flip side, the Giants were 23rd in covering kickoffs (22.8 yards per return) and 19th in covering punts (8.9 yards per return). The Giants neither scored nor allowed touchdowns on returns, but the Giants did return a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Robbie Gould signed a 2-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March. Place kicker Aldrick Rosas was signed by the Giants to a reserve/future contract in January 2017. Rosas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 NFL Draft, but he did not make the team.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: On special teams, the story clearly is the unknown and unproven 22-year old Aldrick Rosas. Currently, Rosas is facing no competition for the job. Games and seasons often come down to field goal kicks. Indeed, Rosas may be THE most important player to follow in the preseason.

A secondary story line is whether or not Dwayne Harris can rebound from a disappointing and injury-plagued 2016 season. Harris is due to make $2.475 million salary in 2017 and $3.225 million in 2018 and 2019. He needs to justify those high salary figures.

ON THE BUBBLE: Even though he is currently facing no veteran competition, clearly Aldrick Rosas is on the hot seat. A discarded veteran kicker could be added at any time.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Tom Quinn on Aldrick Rosas: “Aldrick has done well. He’s really progressed from when we first put hands on him and started working with him. He’s gotten better every day, so that’s really been encouraging. He’s been consistent. Big guys we try to tighten them up a little bit and he’s done really well. Very coachable. Very strong leg, and he’s had good accuracy this spring.”

Quinn on Brad Wing: “He’s got a tremendous work ethic… I think as his confidence grows and you could see the true ability come out, and he’s got a lot of ability. He’s very talented.”

Quinn on Dwayne Harris: “Yes (we view him as our primary returner). We’ve always needed two or three guys since I’ve been here to be able to handle those roles. You have Dwayne, you have Odell. Kickoff returns, he was fine. On punt returns, he took a step back, which we don’t like. We’ve talked about it and addressed the things we want to improve on… When you get beaten down so much like he does because he plays some tough positions and throws his body around and is relentless, every time you return it, you’re going to take hits. He got hurt early and never really rebounded from it. It was a tough year, but he had a heck of a year as a coverage man. First year, we saw what we wanted returner wise. Second year, we saw coverage, so hopefully this year we can throw it all together.”

PREDICTIONS: It’s impossible to make an informed prediction on Aldrick Rosas because he is such an unknown commodity. He has the tools and the Giants obviously like what they have seen in the spring from him. But you cannot replicate real-game pressure. It is those pressure kicks and consistency that define a place kicker. If he falters in the preseason, look for the Giants to quickly add a veteran to the mix.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Brad Wing and Dwayne Harris are givens. Right now, it is Aldrick Rosas’ job to lose.

Jul 192017
 
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Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) 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: Defensive Backs

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: The biggest reasons for the New York Giants defense’s dramatic improvement in 2016 was the improved play of the (1) defensive line and (2) defensive backs. The Giants defense went from dead last in 2015 to tenth in yardage allowed and second in scoring allowed in 2016. And while the team’s 23rd-ranked pass defense (251.1 yards per game) does not sound impressive, the unit played at a far higher level than that, as indicated by three defensive backs earning All-Pro honors.

The secondary became a team strength because the Giants signed Janoris Jenkins in free agency, drafted Eli Apple in the first round, and watched second-year safety Landon Collins develop into an impact player at his more natural strong safety position. An inconsistent player in St. Louis, Jenkins became one of the best corners in the NFL in 2016, teaming with Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) to form perhaps the NFL’s best trio of corners. While Apple had his growing pains, he performed well enough to shut down a number of opponents and allow the coaches to move DRC to the slot corner position. Meanwhile, Collins led the Giants in tackles, was second on the team in interceptions, and third on the team in sacks. The weak spot in the secondary was free safety as promising rookie Darian Thompson and Mykkele Thompson were lost early to injuries, Nat Berhe battled concussions, and undrafted rookie Andrew Adams started the bulk of the season. While Adams didn’t embarrass himself, he did not make many plays either. Late in the season, Leon Hall – who was shifted from corner to safety – took over the position.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to re-sign CB/S Leon Hall and CB Trevin Wade. The Steelers signed CB Coty Sensabaugh. The Giants signed unrestricted free agents CB Valentino Blake and S Duke Ihenacho and re-signed practice squad players CB Michael Hunter, CB Donte Deayon, and S Ryan Murphy. The Giants surprisingly did not draft a defensive back in a DB-strong draft. But the team did sign undrafted rookie free agents CB DaShaun Amos, CB Nigel Tribune, S Jadar Johnson, and S Trey Robinson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: At cornerback, while fan focus will be on the depth situation after the top three cornerbacks, the main story line will be determining Eli Apple’s upside. He had a solid but not great rookie season. If he can elevate his game to a different level in 2017, then the Giants defense will be very tough. The Giants do need to determine their #4 and possibly #5 corners. Injuries happen. When Rodgers-Cromartie left the playoff game, the Packers picked on his replacement. With Leon Hall, Trevin Wade, and Coty Sensabaugh gone, someone else will have to step forward.

At safety, can Landon Collins duplicate or even build upon his 2016 All-Pro season? Much attention will be focused on who starts at free safety opposite of Collins. Darian Thompson is coming off a serious lisfranc injury. Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson have not been able to stay healthy. “Veteran” journeymen Duke Ihenacho, Eric Pinkins, and Ryan Murphy will battle Andrew Adams and the two rookie free agents (Jadar Johnson and Trey Robinson). There are a lot of bodies, but also a lot of questions.

ON THE BUBBLE: Everyone except for Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and probably Darian Thompson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Cornerbacks Coach Tim Walton on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: “Work ethic. He’s an athletic guy, he’s smart so he understands the game. He has enough ability that wherever he works at, he could be successful at it. He’s a very intelligent guy, he’s quick, he’s long, he has experience and he still moves well. Ten years in the league and you can’t tell that by his movement. He rarely misses practice, he practices all the time… He tries to lead the young guys, and tries to direct them on things, because he has a wealth of experience. They listen to him and look up to him, so that’s good.”

Safeties Coach David Merritt on Darian Thompson: “He looks good. The fact that he’s coming off a leg injury. The one day he complained that it was sore, two weeks ago. Since then, he looks good. He’s transitioning. I see him actually bursting and coming in and out of his transition. He’s doing a good job. There is still some ways to go and hopefully training camp we will be able to really test that foot. Right now, he’s going through all the individual drills. I’m happy and excited.”

Merritt on the competition at free safety: “I’m going to be honest with you, you can sit here right now and say yes (Darian Thompson is the favorite to win the job), but I can’t sit here and take away from what Andrew Adams has done. I think they’re all competing for a starting job. That second safety has been elusive for us. To have two guys that can actually step in there and actually hold down the position. Hopefully we will find that solid piece this year but we need four good guys. If we can get four good guys, it’s going to be great… Darian is a very cerebral guy. He is very smart and he understands the calls as well as Landon (Collins). To have two smart guys back there and to be able to feed off of one another, it’s going to be a good mixture between Darian, Andrew and Landon of course. Darian is a very smart guy and that’s what we knew about him coming out of college. He had the mental capacity to learn Spags’ defense and do things we’re asking him to do. It’ll be pretty exciting for sure.”

Merritt on Landon Collins’ ceiling: “Right now, if I was rating him 1 to 10 as far as where he is, right now Landon is at a 7. I think he can get up to playing at an 8 ½, 9 consistently. You’re talking always in the running for (Defensive Play of the Year) and constantly making Pro Bowls, things like that. Last year was such a big jump for the kid and I’m proud of him. That was last year. Antrel Rolle after he came off his big season the next year and didn’t do as well. I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t get caught in any type of trap. I understand right now that he was the best coming out of high school and the best coming out of college. Now, he’s here every year and there is going to be a new crop of guys coming in. The safeties around the league are humble. You have to make sure you’re humble. Keep your body in shape, keep your mind strong and understand constantly learning the game of football and studying your opponents.”

PREDICTIONS: This is arguably the most-talented group of defensive backs accumulated at one time in team history. Most of the question marks here surround health and depth. The Giants top three corners are as good as anyone in the NFL. Two are already playing at an All-Pro level. Look for Eli Apple to elevate his game and make this unit even stronger. As long as his foot is OK, Darian Thompson should start at free safety and give the Giants a very formidable (and intelligent) secondary. Special teams will be a big factor in determining the back-up corners and safeties.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Michael Hunter, Mykkele Thompson, Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, and Jadar Johnson. (Thompson can play both safety and cornerback, which helps his cause. Beat writers think special teams ace Eric Pinkins has a good shot – keep an eye on him. Donte Deayon is a favorite of Steve Spagnuolo).

Jul 172017
 
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B.J. Goodson, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) 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: Linebackers

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: Ever since the New York Giants moved to the 4-3 defense in 1994, the team has largely de-emphasized the acquisition of linebackers in terms of premium resources. The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the 1st round was 1984 (Carl Banks). The last three linebackers drafted in the 2nd round were Clint Sintim (2009), Kanavis McGhee (1991), and Pepper Johnson (1986). From time to time, the Giants have spent big money on linebackers in free agency, including Michael Barrow (2000), Antonio Pierce (2005), and Michael Boley (2009). Not surprisingly, the overall play of the position has declined since its golden era of the 1980s, with the last linebackers to make the Pro Bowl being Pierce (2006) and Jessie Armstead (2001). Now annually, the team’s talent level at the position is usually considered sub-par and the defensive weak spot.

In 2016, of the defense’s three levels, the linebacking corps once again took a backseat to the defensive line and secondary. But while the linebackers were not a team strength, they did play at a more respectable level than their recent predecessors. This is a polite way of saying, “Well, at least the linebackers didn’t suck!”

The surprising headliner was Jonathan Casillas, who arguably had the best season of his career. Keenan Robinson stayed healthy and added more speed to the position. And Devon Kennard finally stayed healthy for a full 16 games. Overall, there weren’t many big plays from this group, but they did a respectable job on a defensive unit that improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage allowed and 2nd in terms of points allowed.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to re-sign Kelvin Sheppard, who started 11 regular-season games at middle linebacker for the team in 2016. The Giants re-signed unrestricted free agents Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich to 1-year deals. The team also signed journeyman street free agent Curtis Grant and rookie free agent Calvin Munson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Once again, the Giants made no major player acquisitions at linebacker. The #1 story line here is tracking how well second-year player B.J. Goodson can take over at middle linebacker for Sheppard. Goodson has been praised by coaches and players for his work during the spring, but he has to demonstrate that he can not only stuff the run, but cover tight ends and running backs. The middle linebacker is usually a defensive leader on most teams and it will be a big jump for Goodson, who only played a handful of defensive snaps in 2016.

It assumed by many that Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Devon Kennard will remain the other top linebackers on the team. Can Casillas continue his career renaissance or was 2016 his high point? Can the injury-prone Robinson string together two healthy years in a row? One gets the sense that Kennard still hasn’t reached his true potential, but he must also stay healthy.

ON THE BUBBLE: Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas, Deontae Skinner, Curtis Grant, Stansly Maponga, and Calvin Munson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Bill McGovern on B.J. Goodson: “I think he, like everybody has kind of has noticed, he just seemed a little bit more comfortable being in the system another year being around it. You see him more comfortable gaining more confidence as he continues to get more and more reps in practice… He has a really good skill set. He looks like he will be good in the run, but again, without pads on right now, we’re moving around but it’s not anything that is going to be real definitive right now, but he is a guy that looks like he can tackle, we’ve seen on tape that he can tackle. He moves well. It looks like he is moving better in the pass but again you always move better once you always have a better understanding of how you fit in this scheme… the mike linebacker position is one that has got to control our defense, make some calls, make some checks, get us lined up, and let us play.”

McGovern on Keenan Robinson: “I think Keenan, in particular in our sub-package really was a positive for us in terms of coverage. He has length, he has size, and he has athleticism so he was a real positive. Hopefully, again we will continue to expand his role in that.”

McGovern on Devon Kennard: “I think (last year) it was kind of learning, again, more about DK and DK kept taking on more and more responsibility. Finding his skill set improved a little bit in that he has value rushing the passer and that he has value on first down, second down, and third down. It was one of those situations as we developed through the year we realized that he had more and more value and he has continued to work on it through the offseason and we are excited about where he is headed now.”

PREDICTIONS: This group is lucky to be sandwiched between the talent on the defensive line and defensive backs. As of July 2017, clearly there are still no headliners at this position for the Giants. That could change if Goodson or Kennard have breakout years. The key with Goodson will probably be his coverage ability. Can he become a three-down linebacker? I keep waiting for Kennard to have that breakout game. He has the smarts and physical tools. It just hasn’t happened for him yet. Casillas and Robinson had solid seasons, but they have to prove they can do that again.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring injury, the obvious ones are B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Devon Kennard. After that, it gets murky. The Giants could keep as few as six linebackers. It is doubtful they will keep eight. Herzlich keeps seeing his defensive snaps reduced, but is clearly still valued as a core special teams player. The wild card is J.T. Thomas, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury. The fact that he has not been cut seems to indicate the Giants still have plans for him or see him as insurance. I’ll say the Giants keep seven linebackers, including special teams aces Herzlich, Thomas, and Deontae Skinner. I would not be shocked to see the Giants replace one of these three after the final roster cuts.

Jul 142017
 
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Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (June 13, 2017)

Dalvin Tomlinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) 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: Defensive Line

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: The New York Giants defensive line underwent a major overhaul in 2016, and the changes were perhaps THE major reason why the team’s defense improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage and 2nd in terms of points allowed. The Giants went from 24th in run defense in 2015 (121.4 yards per game, 4.4 yards per carry) to 3rd in 2016 (88.6 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry).

The key to sparking the dramatic turnaround were the high-priced, high-profile free agent additions of defensive end Olivier Vernon (5-years, $85 million) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (5-years, $46 million). These two were a major upgrade over defensive ends Robert Ayers/George Selvie and defensive tackles Markus Kuhn/Cullen Jenkins. Harrison is arguably the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the game and earned first-team All-Pro honors after making the switch from a 3-4 nose tackle with the New York Jets to a 4-3 defensive tackle. Vernon was slowed by a serious hand/wrist injury but played virtually every snap and earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) rebounded nicely from a 2015 offseason catastrophic fireworks accident that left him permanently maimed. After a slow start on the pass-rushing front, the line was rounding into peak form until a groin tear/sports hernia injury sidelined JPP for the final four regular-season games and post-season contest. Unfortunately, the dropoff was noticeable. As a unit, the line finished with 24.5 sacks in the regular season (up from 16 in 2015).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants’ biggest personnel loss in the offseason was DT Johnathan Hankins signing a 3-year, $30 million contract with the Colts. The team did re-sign DE Jason Pierre-Paul to a 4-year, $62 million deal. The Giants also re-signed exclusive rights free agent DT Robert Thomas, restricted free agent DE Kerry Wynn, and practice squader DE Jordan Williams. New additions include veteran free agents DE Devin Taylor and DT Corbin Bryant as well as rookies DT Dalvin Tomlinson (2nd round), DE Avery Moss (5th round), DE Evan Schwan (undrafted free agent), and DT Josh Banks (undrafted free agent).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: One of the most significant story lines for the team is can the Giants adequately fill the shoes of Johnathan Hankins at defensive tackle? While Damon Harrison quickly became the headliner at defensive tackle for the Giants, Hankins was an important part of the drastically-improved New York Giants run defense. Many believe Dalvin Tomlinson will automatically assume the starting position, but Tomlinson is a rookie and will face challenges from veterans Robert Thomas, Jay Bromley, and Corbin Bryant. Depth is also a cause for concern as Harrison must now be considered one of the most indispensable players on the team. Heaven help the Giants if he gets hurt.

A secondary story line will be the quest for a third defensive end who can rush the passer and spell Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, who both played far too many snaps last year. To date, holdovers Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa have not demonstrated the ability to consistently harass opposing quarterbacks. They will be pressured by newcomers Devin Taylor and Avery Moss. Then there is the curious backstory of Odighizuwa’s situation as he missed all of the spring work due to undisclosed “personal issues.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Everyone except Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Dalvin Tomlinson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Patrick Graham on the defensive line as a group: “Really the group is smart. They understand that this is their profession and they know they have to have proficiency at that. They all work hard in terms of knowing football and knowing what we want them to do.”

Patrick Graham on Dalvin Tomlinson: “I think any rookie coming into this league, they don’t know anything about this league aside from the stuff they read and see from the media and TV. I think it’s important for them to stick with what they’ve done in being a good football player up until this point. An organization in the NFL wanted them. To be humble there, listen to the players and listen to the coaches and just diligently work through the process. He’s a pretty even keel guy. He’ll be able to handle it. We will see how it plays out once the competition comes and the season comes… We wanted him for a reason. He’s a good football player and he comes from a good program.”

PREDICTIONS: Dalvin Tomlinson is one of the few defensive tackles who realistically could come in and adequately replace Johnathan Hankins as a rookie. He not only has the physical tools, but he is a super-smart guy who played on the big stage at Alabama. Nevertheless, keep an eye on Robert Thomas, who may split snaps with him. Competition for roster spots will be fierce as the Giants added a couple of former veteran starters late in free agency (Devin Taylor and Corbin Bryant). The Giants can’t keep all of these guys and linemen who can play in this league are going to be released. Another player to keep tabs on is Avery Moss. The coaches and players have said nice things about him and the Giants are still looking for that third pass rusher.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Devin Taylor, Robert Thomas, and Corbin Bryant. (The Giants hate to part ways with draft picks so it would not be shocking to see Owa Odighizuwa and Jay Bromley make it over late FA additions Taylor and Bryant. I would also not count out Kerry Wynn).