Aug 242014
 
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Weston Richburg, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Weston Richburg – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There was little hesitation from Weston Richburg. Actually, there was none at all. He spit out his answer before the question was done being asked.

Are you where you want to be in your develop….

“Oh, no,” Richburg said.

Initially, there was some confusion. This was, after all, the Giants new starting left guard. The team’s pro-ready second-round pick who was expected to compete for a starting position before being thrust into one due to injury. How could he not be where he wanted to be?

But the puzzled look on those staring back at Richburg quickly changed. No, he’s not where he wants to be right now, and there’s a simple reason for that.

“If you are content with how you are playing, I think you’re cheating yourself,” Richburg continued. “I always want to get better. “

With the injury to Geoff Schwartz, Richburg will have to progress a bit quicker than originally anticipated.

Versus the New York Jets on Friday, Schwartz, who signed a four-year contract with the Giants this offseason, suffered a dislocated toe in the second quarter. Schwartz will have his foot examined by foot specialist Dr. Rob Anderson early in the week to determine the severity of the injury.

Schwartz could be out months, Schwartz could be out the season. Either way, Richburg has gone from fighting for a starting position to holding one. For as long as Schwartz is on the sideline, Richburg will be in the huddle.

“As an offensive lineman, you have to be ready for something like that,” Richburg said. “We don’t rotate as much as some other positions do, so you have to be ready for any kind of injury or anything like that happens. I was ready for whatever came at me.”

Through training camp, the versatile Richburg has been juggling the task of not only learning his first NFL playbook, but three separate positions. The 23-year old has seen time at left guard, right guard and center during practices and the preseason.

Richburg has acknowledged he feels his game is making strides as he gets more comfortable with Ben McAdoo’s scheme and used to facing pro-level defensive lineman, but there’s one part of his game he feels he’s doing the best.

It’s not run blocking or pass blocking, nor is it any specific pancake block. It’s simple, really, Richburg loves the fact he’s able to forget.

“If I make a mistake, I’m able to clap it off and then go on to the next play,” Richburg said. “I think that’s something that sometimes can hurt players. It carries on play by play.

“I think I’m doing a good job of forgetting about it and just playing fast and continuing.”

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 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 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.

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

Israel Idonije – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so are the Giants.

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

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

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

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

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

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