Aug 092013
 
 August 9, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Roster Thoughts
Jason Pierre-Paul (90), Justin Tuck (91), New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Pierre-Paul and Tuck – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offseason Breakdown: New York Giants Defensive Ends

For better or worse, the mindset of the New York Giants front office, coaches, and players in recent years is that the play of the defensive line will determine the play of the overall defensive unit. When the New York Giants defensive line plays well, the defense plays well; when the defensive line doesn’t, the overall defense can look putrid.

The Giants are the team that first rolled out the 4-3 defense in the 1950s and used the 4-3 as a base defense until 1978. The team went back to its 4-3 roots in 1994. Since that time, the Giants have done a good job of stocking and restocking the defensive line position with players such as Keith Hamilton, Michael Strahan, Robert Harris, Christian Peter, Chad Bratzke, Cornelius Griffin, Kenny Holmes, Fred Robbins, Osi Umenyiora, Barry Cofield, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, and Jason Pierre-Paul.

In nine seasons under Tom Coughlin, the Giants have made the playoffs five times, and have won three NFC East division titles, two NFC championships, and two NFL championships. In those nine seasons, the Giants have finished 13th, 24th, 25th, 7th, 5th, 13th, 7th, 27th, and 31st in overall defense (yards allowed). Obviously, there has not been a lot of defensive consistency on that side of the ball. Yet, for brief and critical moments, the defense has risen up to excel and even dominate explosive offensive opponents. This is especially true of the playoff runs in 2007 and 2011. Indeed, there seems to be a direct correlation with respect to the performance of the defense (defensive line) and the team’s overall success.

Barring significant injuries to key personnel, the Giants’ offense should remain among the NFL’s best. But for the Giants to win the NFC East and win playoff games, the defense must play better. And given the mindset of this team, the greatest onus will be on a defensive line that saw a certain degree of turnover this past offseason. Gone are Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, and Rocky Bernard. Reinforcements include Mathias Kiwanuka (moved from linebacker), Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers (spent last season on IR), Johnathan Hankins, and Damontre Moore.

“We obviously have a quarterback in place who has won a couple of Super Bowls, who is in his prime,” said Giants’ President/CEO John Mara. “But he needs a little bit of help and we need to play better on defense and we need to play better up front and we think we’ve added some pieces that are going to allow us to do that.”

Much focus has been on the Giants’ pass rush. The Giants only had 33 sacks last season (22nd in the NFL). Teams like the Browns, Titans, Cardinals, and Panthers had more sacks. But more focus should be placed on the shoddy run defense. The Giants’ defense allowed 4.6 yards per rush (28th in the NFL). That means that opposing teams regularly found themselves in very manageable 2nd-down and 3rd-down situations, making it more difficult to rush the passer. Also, Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell did not appear to be able to successfully strategize against teams that got rid of the ball quickly or max-protected. In other words, the Giants’ defense was not only out-muscled, it often appeared out-smarted. That is obviously not a good combination.

“We’ve got to be more physical,” said Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn. “We’ve talked about that as a unit and, you know, there’s no way to shy away from that. We weren’t as physical as we wanted to be last year…When the pads come on, that’s where you’ve got to evaluate our toughness, the energy, the passion we’re playing with and how physical we are. I think that’s the number one thing that we’ve got to improve on is being more physical, which will in turn stop the run, which will in turn allow for us to rush the passer…We’ve got to get back to playing with an edge and playing with some nastiness…We can’t just talk.”

There are currently eight defensive ends on the 90-man preseason roster. It’s hard to see the team being able to keep more than five on the 53-man regular season roster.

“Honestly, there’s been times this season, times in my career, you look at guys we’ve got in (the defensive line) room and you just say, he shouldn’t be here,” Tuck said. “But out of all the guys we have in that defensive line room, I don’t see anybody that doesn’t have the potential, (doesn’t) have the talent, to make a team somewhere, if it’s not here.”

Jason Pierre-Paul: Pierre-Paul is regarded by most as the best defensive player on the Giants. However, he did not play as well in 2012 as he did in 2011, and more importantly, he had back surgery (microdiscetomy) in early June. His back issues obviously affected his play in 2012. There are questions on not only how soon will he be able to return to the football field, but also how effective will he be once he does return? Bad backs can be tricky. And even if healthy, Pierre-Paul will probably have missed all of training camp and the preseason.

Pierre-Paul was voted to his second Pro Bowl in 2012, but his sack numbers declined from 16.5 in 2011 to 6.5 in 2012. More troubling was that he did not register a sack during the last seven games of the season. Pierre-Paul’s overall tackle total also declined from 86 to 66.

Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size (6’5’’, 278 pounds), strength, and athleticism. An explosive and disruptive player, Pierre-Paul is fast, quick, and agile. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage. Pierre-Paul is also athletic enough to drop into coverage. As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. However, he would become a more productive pass rusher if he would improve his initial quickness off the snap. He’s often the last lineman to move and this hurts his ability to quickly pressure with an outside rush. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit. In order for him to reach the next level, Pierre-Paul must learn how to deal with double teams on a consistent basis.

“JPP’s on schedule,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He’s looking good, he’s running around a little bit. He’s going to be out on the field a little more than usual as we move along. We expect him to hopefully be back, ready to go for the (Week 1) Dallas game.”

Pierre-Paul isn’t sure when he will return. “I’m rehabbing, I don’t know when my return will be, but at the end of the day I’m going to go out there when I feel comfortable,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’ve been doing some running lately, and it feels good. Like I said, it’s basically day-by-day.”

“It’s not really the doctor’s decision (on when I return),” said Pierre-Paul. “I say it’s not the doctor’s decision anymore because it’s basically on me. It all depends on my recovery and how my back feels and if I can go out there and practice with the team but I’m going to have to get a couple practices in before, if, I decide to come back before the first game. I already know I’m going to be taking on two guys, double team, triple team maybe so, I’m not in a rush to come back and put myself in that position…And right now I’m still at that stage that I know I can’t go out there and perform. So, I’m not going to try and rush back.”

“At the end of the day, you know that your coaches and general manager and head coach want you out there, to help the team out, but, it’s all on me, like I said,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’m focused on coming back 100%, not being like 85%, you know what I’m saying? And I know I’m going to be a big factor of the defense, so I’d rather come back 100% and that’s it.”

Justin Tuck:  It may be an unfair observation, but there appears to be a direct correlation between how well Justin Tuck plays and how the Giants’ overall defense plays. Tuck had double-digit sack totals in 2007 (as a reserve), 2008 (Pro Bowl), and 2010 (Pro Bowl). He was also strong against the run in those seasons. Tuck did not play well for the bulk of 2011 (and neither did the defense), but he came on during the 6-game stretch run (as did the overall defense), resulting in an NFL Championship.

Tuck appears to be a reluctant team leader and somewhat moody. He has had two down seasons in a row, raising questions whether injuries (especially in the shoulder/neck area) have taken their toll on his game or whether his heart is still in football. Tuck started 14 games in 2012 and finished the season with only four sacks, his lowest figure since 2006.

Tuck has an excellent combination of size (6’5’’, 268 pounds), strength, and athleticism. In his prime, when healthy, Tuck was a very good two-way player who could rush the passer and stuff the run.

On the surface, Tuck appears re-energized and re-dedicated this offseason. Of course this being a contract year for Tuck should help to inspire him.

“I’ll be the first one to tell you the last couple years, I’ve had a lot of distractions that draw away from being the dominating player I’ve been, whether it be deaths in the family, newborns, me trying to do too much in the community, charity appearances, whatever,” said Tuck. “You don’t even think of it as a bad thing while you’re doing it, that you can multitask and do it all, but when I get an opportunity to step back, I know it wasn’t the best thing.”

“Justin has probably had his best offseason since I’ve been with him,” said Nunn. “In the fourth year I’ve been with him, he’s probably in the best physical shape, seems to be in a great frame of mind. The injuries were a factor last year. I think if he can keep himself clean with injuries, I am totally confident that Justin will be a big contributor for us and will be a very effective defensive lineman.”

“(Tuck) wasn’t as bad as everyone thought he was, but he wasn’t as good as he usually is so we’ve got to just keep building,” said Nunn. “He’s approached the offseason, I thought it was just outstanding how he approached the OTAs in the offseason, he’s in very, very good shape. I think he’s got to prove it when the pads come on but I think he’s prepared to have an outstanding season.”

“I’ve had two years that were not up to my caliber of play, two years that I’m nowhere pleased with,” Tuck said. “One of them we won a Super Bowl, but last year was a bad year. No one gives a damn what you did three, four, five years ago. I understand that. I’ll be the first one to tell you I have to play better than last year. I understand what I mean to this team and what me playing well can do.”

Tuck is also taking his leadership role even more seriously. “He’s checking up on everybody,” said S Stevie Brown. “He’s holding everybody accountable.”

Mathias Kiwanuka:  Since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Giants, Mathias Kiwanuka has split his time between defensive end and linebacker. He played primarily defensive end in 2006 and 2008-09, and he played primarily linebacker in 2007 and 2010-12. For the last three seasons, under Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell, Kiwanuka has played a hybrid linebacker/defensive end “joker” role – starting at linebacker but often also being rushed from a down position in obvious pass rushing situations.

Kiwanuka has had two major injuries with the Giants. In November 2007, he suffered a fractured fibula and ligament damaged in an ankle. In September 2010, a potentially career-threatening neck injury (herniated cervical disc) ended his season.

In 2012, Kiwanuka played in all 16 regular-season games, starting five, and finished with 37 tackles and three sacks. Kiwanuka’s tackle number was way down from a career-high 84 in 2011.

With the departure of Osi Umenyiora, the Giants have once again moved Kiwanuka back to his more natural defensive end position. And Kiwanuka seems thrilled with the switch. Kiwanuka combines very good size (6’5’’, 267 pounds) and overall athleticism. Nevertheless, in seven seasons, Kiwanuka has only averaged slightly over four sacks per year, with his career-high being eight in 2008. Obviously, the Giants would like him to set a new career-high in 2013.

“He was off to a great start (in 2010),” said Nunn. “He was really doing a good job and had four or five sacks there before he had the neck issue. And then when he came back we had a logjam there with Osi and Justin and JPP. And so we moved him around a lot. And he came up big down the stretch there when we made the Super Bowl run. Kiwi came up big in San Francisco, and against Atlanta, the roles we asked him to play. But I think it is going to help him and help us to have him in one position, especially with JPP being out.”

“Kiwi and Tuck, since I’ve been with them, have had their best offseason,” said Nunn. “And the OTA work that Kiwi had was outstanding; he’s off to a great start these first few days of (training camp) practice…The toughness he brings, the leadership he brings to that group in that room, I’m looking forward to that. We need some toughness in there…He’s a tough person naturally and I’m excited about it.”

“You see the physicality, he plays with an edge on him,” said Nunn. “When he’s playing confident he’s got an edge on him, which spreads into that room. You talk about toughness, (he) brings toughness to our room. We need that because last year, for whatever reason, whether it be injuries or whatever it was, we didn’t play with that edge at times. At times we did and at times we didn’t. We want to play all 16 games with a little edge and Kiwi brings that to us.”

“It’s great,” said Kiwanuka. “(Defensive end is) the position I was kind of born to play…It’s definitely easier (playing one position) because you’re not worrying about what you’re missing in the other meeting room and what’s being said and trying to track coaches down, in their off time, to get all the rest of the information…Sitting in one room, you can focus on one job and one task. I feel like it puts you in a much better competitive advantage to watch film, to study, to work on your own technique.”

Adrian Tracy: Tracy was drafted by the Giants in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but missed all of his rookie season due to a preseason elbow injury. In 2011, he was on the team’s Practice Squad. In 2012, Tracy made the 53-man roster and was active for all 16 games. He finished the season with nine tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble.

The Giants have played Tracy both at linebacker and defensive end, but he is back at defensive end in 2013. Tracy lacks size (6’2’’, 245 pounds) for an end, but he is strong for his size and very athletic for the position.

“I’m really pleased with…Adrian Tracy,” said Nunn. “He is further along right now than he has ever been in his career at this time, this point. He has got to keep moving forward…He always takes care of himself…He has got to go out there and be consistent playing the run and pass on Sundays on defense.”

“I’m a smaller guy, so I think one of my best attributes is speed and keying the ball,” said Tracy. “To get off at the snap is one of the best things that I can do. That gives me an advantage over offensive linemen. But then again, being a smaller guy, people think I’m not as stout and strong, and I think putting in the work with the strength and conditioning stuff has allowed me to prove them wrong as far as being a power rusher as well.”

“I do have strength so hopefully that can translate into me being a run stopper as well,” said Tracy. “I know I have to get off the pass rush and when it’s a run, I have to be stout at the point of attack.”

Tracy’s teammates have nicknamed him “Yosi” (for young Osi Umenyiora). “(Tracy is) playing with a lot more confidence, playing with a lot more purpose and it’s very nice to see,” said Fewell. “Osi did a nice job in training him. He was kind of his mentor, so to speak, and he has flashes of Osi in him at times.”

“There are times when you squint and it could be Osi out there,” said TE/FB Bear Pascoe. “Just the speed, the quickness and then the same sort of moves too.”

Damontre Moore: Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Moore has the frame (6’5’’, 250 pounds) to get bigger and stronger, which he needs to do. His 40-time isn’t great, but Moore is an athletic disruptor who plays hard and makes a lot of plays in the backfield. He has good first-step quickness, agility, and change-of-direction skills.

The scouting report on Moore is that he is a better pass rusher than run defender. He’s relentless at getting after the quarterback, but he can be handled at the point-of-attack on running plays, which is why he needs to get stronger and add some bulk. Moore tested and interviewed very poorly at the NFL Combine, and he has had some drug issues, but he reportedly has been a good soldier thus far with the Giants. He’s very quickly impressed his coaches and teammates with his ability. Moore has already been elevated to the second-team defense.

“He’s handled everything we’ve given him, both in OTAs and starting off training camp,” said Nunn. “I think he’s going to give us a lot of versatility and do some different things for us and I really see him contributing as a rookie. He’s got some growing up to do, he’s got to help us on special teams, he’s got to contribute on special teams when he’s called to do so but the guy is off to an outstanding start and we have to see what happens when the pads come on. He’s off to a pretty good start.”

“(In college), he’s always close to the quarterback, he’s always a physical player, he came in here in the OTAs and minicamp, he showed that again,” said Nunn. “He’s got some rookie in him, there’s no doubt, but it’s the good kind of rookie. He’s someone you have to tell to slow down, you never have to tell him to speed up. He’s off to an outstanding start and, like I said, I really believe the guy is going to contribute early.”

“I think the jury is still out (on Moore),” said Kiwanuka. “I think for a young guy who is physically gifted, he is very talented, he pays attention, and he’s got that drive and that power. You see him flying around the field. For a young guy like that it’s about staying in tune with the material. He’s got all the physical gifts and he’s got to stay healthy.”

“The two rookies we have on our D-Line have stood out,” Tuck said. “Moore has been explosive, he is still very raw. But you can see the talent and the potential there…the potential of Moore is off the radar right now.”

“He’s been a young man that’s gotten our attention,” said Coughlin.

Matt Broha: Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou have received more attention from fans and the media, but right now, it’s Broha who is higher on the depth chart. Broha was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Broha has a nice combination of size (6’4’’, 255 pounds) and athleticism. He plays hard and flashed during the 2012 preseason as a pass rusher.

Justin Trattou: Trattou was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He split his rookie season on the Practice Squad and 53-man roster. Trattou played in six regular season games in 2011, serving mainly on special teams. Trattou was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2012 after he suffered ankle and heel injuries in training camp. He flashed in training camp last year before he got hurt. Trattou has decent size (6’4’’, 255 pounds) and athleticism. H has good quickness but he is not an explosive edge rusher.

Adewale Ojomo: Ojomo was signed as a rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. Ojomo was the surprise of the preseason as he accrued four sacks and made the 53-man roster. He was only active for one game in 2012. Ojomo has a nice combination of size (6’4’’, 270 pounds) and athletic ability. He is a confident player who seems to have a knack for rushing the passer even though he was not productive in doing so at the collegiate level. There have been some whispers that he has been having a disappointing training camp this year.

Summary: So much at defensive end depends on the health of Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. When will JPP return and how effective will he be when he does, coming off of back surgery and missing the preseason? Tuck has been beat up the last few years and now his back has been bothering him too. Mathias Kiwanuka is a nice replacement for Osi Umenyiora. He should be a better run defender, but he has not proven yet he is in Umenyiora’s league when rushing the passer. Tracy is drawing comparisons to Umenyiora. Those are hard to believe but we shall see. The early news on Moore is exciting, but he’s still growing into his body. The other guys have talent, but there doesn’t seem to be room for any of them unless someone gets hurt or they dramatically out-play Tracy.

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Aug 042013
 
 August 4, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap
Jerry Reese, New York Giants (August 24, 2012)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

August 4, 2013 NFL Salary Cap Update: Before I list everything a quick FYI about the New York Giants’ cap number. They are not what the NFLPA Top 51 League Cap Report website says they are right now. I don’t want to repeat myself about what I wrote regarding this situation already on my Giants cap blog. You can read about it HERE.

The Giants are currently $2,656,846 under the NFL salary cap (disregard the $2,251,846 figure seen on their website). Here’s how they stand in comparison to the rest of the league (assuming their numbers are accurate, which I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t because of the simple errors that I’ve seen there this past week):

Click on a column to sort

NFL Team Cap Numbers - 8/4/2013

RANK
TEAM
CARRYOVER
TOTAL CAP SPACE
19Arizona$3,600,110.00 $5,755,040.00
15Atlanta$307,540.00 $7,683,068.00
17Baltimore$1,182,377.00 $6,904,459.00
3Buffalo$9,817,628.00 $21,810,064.00
8Carolina$3,654,825.00 $12,808,380.00
28Chicago$3,236,965.00 $1,637,767.00
5Cincinnati$8,579,575.00 $17,017,219.00
1Cleveland$14,339,575.00 $27,070,339.00
14Dallas$2,335,379.00 $8,480,326.00
11Denver$11,537,924.00 $9,287,063.00
22Detroit$466,992.00 $5,113,453.00
6Green Bay$7,010,832.00 $14,564,348.00
29Houston$2,422,689.00 $1,446,769.00
18Indianapolis$3,500,000.00 $6,163,781.00
2Jacksonville$19,563,231.00 $22,916,605.00
32Kansas City$14,079,650.00 $82,492.00
7Miami$5,380,246.00 $14,374,685.00
24Minnesota$8,004,734.00 $4,400,972.00
10New England$5,607,914.00 $10,092,269.00
21New Orleans$2,700,000.00 $5,173,260.00
27NY Giants$1,000,000.00 $2,656,846.00
13NY Jets$3,400,000.00 $8,648,580.00
20Oakland$4,504,761.00 $5,558,452.00
4Philadelphia$23,046,035.00 $19,261,143.00
23Pittsburgh$758,811.00 $4,476,513.00
26San Diego$995,893.00 $3,127,666.00
16San Francisco$859,734.00 $7,436,766.00
25Seattle$13,265,802.00 $3,352,772.00
31St. Louis$247,347.00 $139,088.00
9Tampa Bay$8,527,866.00 $11,513,471.00
12Tennessee$12,867,893.00 $9,245,356.00
30Washington$4,270,296.00 $1,338,440.00
  • Keep in mind that the Giants probably still have to make a little bit more room under the cap before the Top 51 Rule expires in a little over a month.
  • In the Giants’ case, it may not be for much; as things stand now, it may only be for about $1 million, maybe even less.
  • Someone like Steve Weatherford could be an ideal restructure, since doing so could add as much as another $738,750 in salary cap space to the Giants’ present total without doing too much damage to their long-term salary cap structure (something that the Cowboys, to give a pertinent example, have become notorious at doing lately).
  • They have until midnight New York time on Thursday, September 5th to do so (this is when the Top 51 Rule expires).
  • Teams will have to include the cap numbers of the 52nd and 53rd players on their 53-man rosters at that point.
  • By that time, clubs will have reduced their rosters to a maximum of 53 players; this will have taken place no later than by 6:00 pm New York time on August 31st.
  • After the Top 51 rule ceases to be clubs will also have to count the players on IR, the 8-man Practice Squad, the PUP list, and those players who have received Injury Settlements in training camp/preseason as the result of any injuries that prevented them from continuing to play (this is the case for Antonio Dennard & Jeremy Horne at this point).
  • Any additional Dead Money that results from players being cut in training camp will also factor into this equation.
  • A conservative guess is that this will cost teams between 2 and 3 million dollars around the league depending on their specific situations; this is why teams with less than $2 million dollars could be swimming in dangerous cap waters as September 5th approaches.
  • This is why late summer cuts, especially to middling veteran players on teams who still need to make cap room – like the Bears, Texans, Redskins, Rams, & Chiefs - should not come as a surprise towards the end of August.
  • Check out an article from overthecap.com by Jason Fitzgerald regarding the subject of late Summer cuts.

“Pay Cut or Be Cut: The Reality of August Football” – August 2, 2013

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Aug 022013
 
 August 2, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

August 2, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor JohnF

Hello muddah, hello faddah,
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Camp is at the Timex Quest Diagnostic Training Center (hopefully no medical testing kits!) now, not Camp Albany. Still, I’ve been to the Garden State before (I attended several games at Giants Stadium, and I have relatives in Bloomfield), so no big deal, right? So I figure, I’m going to Quest down and spend a day at camp!

So I pack up the usual gear…Small Giants Cooler, Duffel bag with Laptop, MiFi, notebooks, umbrella, large print edition “Art of War” (it’s hell on flies, bugs, and non Giant fans, Sun Tzu rules!), gum, old smelly towel, stale jokes, old digital camera, batteries, etc. I’m going to light up that metal detector like nobody’s business!

It has been a while, though…I should check directions. Should be easy in this age of GPS, Internet and Tom Tom’s…

2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

Wait a second….W-a-i-t a s-e-c-o-n-d…let me try another map…

Ah, THAT’s better! I’ll get a nice early start in the Honda, get my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (extra large, this is a longer trip), and ramble down the Thruway. Should be a piece of cake…

Why does this ALLWAYS happen when I get off of exit 15 instead of 16????

Ok, let me get a good seat in the stands, so I can see (I’m missing the hills back home already, sigh), and it’s time for

BITS AND BYTES COUNTDOWN EDITION

Oh, did I tell you I got an exclusive from Ralph V? Now, we all know Ralph is famous for his “doom and gloom articles” about the giants (see here), but let us look at his shot of the Giants much talked about “Countdown Clock”:

Enough of the small talk, let’s go!!

For those of you coming to camp, it’s a bit different this year. There’s a fence outside the complex; the gap in the fence is where Security checks your bags and wands you. They are actually very professional and nice, by the way. They let me know about the new game policy (won’t affect me since I don’t do game reports, so on the rare occasion I go down, I travel very light.)

Even so, it’s still feels disturbing when someone has to check you with a wand for a practice. I over heard the staff talking about all the push back they were getting over this.

I arrived later than I wanted to, so the prime spots (the two stands on my left) were full. I went over to the first stand on the right corner of the field (there are three over there, though the last one has obstructed view), facing the VIP tables on the opposite side which are outside the administration offices and kitty korner to the indoor playing field.

In effect, from my view there are three fields, and a small annex field that goes around the right side of the Timex Indoor Field. Yes, I said Timex, as they haven’t changed the huge print on that roof! So I’ll call the fields in front of me 1, 2, 3 (three being next to the VIP tables/administrative building), and the annex field continuing for about 30 yards from the end of field 1.

Enough of that! I scarf down my lunch, just in time to see the first players coming out to applause by the fans (5 minutes early, of course!) The QB’s lead the group, with Painter in the lead (oh, it’s great not to have to spell Perrilloux this year Eric…just sayin!) Cruz and Diehl were chatting as they come out.

The Oline was knocking around the sleds next the extreme right of the Timex Indoor (you could hear the banging from a distance). Mosley, Boothe, McCants and Browning were with the QB’s snapping the ball. I saw the Dline (boy they look bigger this year…not fat, just wide!). I think Michael Jasper lost his waist somewhere (or they found a living Lego player, as he was built like a box!).

Wow, who shrunk #27? Oh, that’s Stevie Brown with Jacob’s old number. Silly me!

Horn…er… Let’s try 184 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes till SB XLVIII!

The usual limbering up (wave arms, stretch, etc) on Field 3. Not so much to watch since Mitch Petrus isn’t around.

Weather Report: 86 degrees, partly cloudy, humidity 50%, wind supposedly at 10 mph (but it starts to gust a LOT later on!).

So, now everyone’s Jumping, Hopping, Skipping, then back to Leg Stretches.! I know most of the action will be on Field 3, since that’s where the camera towers are. They are sneaky, though, since they don’t bring the towers out till the last minute.

Hey, the NFL refs are here! With NFL approved shorts! Let’s check out the injured players…I see Kuhn stepping around horizontal pylons, moving pretty well for a big guy (he’s bigger this year, and yeah, he looks like Shockey’s lost brother). Must have been on the Schnitzel diet.

Hynoski is moving gingerly, but I can’t tell how well he’s walking, as he has some sort of rubber band contraption strung between his ankle. He’s not bending very well, and looks uncomfortable. T2, on the other hand, is stretching gingerly, but looks in a better mood.

184 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes till SB XLVIII

The team splits up into groups.

Field 1: LB’s are covering TE’s/RB’s.

Field 2: Dline is getting coaching; Austin looks lighter, but I still think he needs to grow the dreads back. Sampson would agree.

(Note here…I’m not anywhere near the action, so I can’t be as detailed as last year. Think of trying to report using binoculars from the stands in Albany near the Lacrosse Field all the way over to the field next to Western Avenue; but then not having that elevation, and looking either through a 10 foot chain link fence. The stands I’m on has a cover, but the cover has poles holding it up.

Also, with binoculars you have a limited field of vision, so I had a hard time seeing the action when they had 11 on 11).

184 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes till SB XLVIII

Field 1: Ok, the Defense is going into “circle drills”. Think of a diamond….on each corner of the diamond, you have a different drill. The defensive players rotate, so they are exposed to each drill.

Drill 1. Coach tosses ball to player who’s back pedaling.
Drill 2. Coach fumbles ball, player picks it up, runs with it and hands it to another coach.
Drill 3. Player blitzes dummy that looks like a QB, then picks up fumble.
Drill 4. Player fights off blocker, to fill hole in line.

Field 2: The QB’s are doing pitch and catch (QB’s to Receivers). The TE’s are in another group, where they practice technique blocks (influence blocks on other TE’s who pretend to be Dline guys); for example, blocking under a Dlineman shoulder to “influence” him to go in the direction you want, as he thinks he’s penetrating, but it’s not where he should be.

The Olinemen are doing crab walks across horizontal pylons.

Field 1: Now the QB’s are practicing play action fakes, using the RB’s..they either hand off or play action and throw. The TE’s and RB’s practice trying to catch passes head level or somewhat higher…you have to use your hands, no body catches!

Field 3: Olinemen now are practicing staying low through their blocks, using a metal bar cage that allows them to block through, but not raise their backs. DB’s in another group are back pedaling and breaking to a ball thrown by the coaches. The safeties are in another group…they are following the ball as the coach moves it side to side, working on their footwork. The LB’s are hitting a blocking dummy.

Field 1: More pitch and catch between QB’s and RB’s/TE’s.

Field 3 (Annex): The DL is hitting the blocking sled.

Field 1: The Oline is working on blocking DL twisting (two O Linemen with plastic shields are blocking 2 O Linemen who pretend to twist rush).
Field 1: The Safeties are working on inside coverage technique (WR doing a post or curl in). The LB’s are working on outside coverage (WR doing a flag, or curl to sideline).

Field 3: All the defensive players are gathered. It’s “O” vs “D”, with defensive players simulating offensive players by wearing red or yellow caps against the rest of the defense playing their normal positions. Looks like drop-back coverage and man to man drills.

Field 2: RB’s and TE’s hit the blocking dummy. More Oline practice against twist blitzes by the defense, or hitting LB’s in the hole.

Field 1: Way off to the corner, Weatherford, DeOssie and Brown are practicing snaps for FG’s or Punts.

Field 2: Just Dline and Oline now, coach is playing QB. They are doing a lot of pushing and grunting.

184 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes till SB XLVIII

Everyone goes to Field 3 (by the VIP’s).

Field 3: 11 vs 11, Offense vs Defense.

We start off with run only plays.

Eli hands off to Wilson up middle (x2).
Eli in shotgun shovel passes to Wilson.
Carr hands off to Torain (middle).
Carr hands off to Scott, OT Left through a nice hole.
Carr hands off to Wilson OT Right.
Carr hands off to Torain OT Right.

The NFL Refs become obvious, looking down the line for off sides. I scan left to the sideline, and see Nicks chatting with Corey Webster…both are not practicing, though both are smiling.

184 days, 7 hours, 28 minutes till SB XLVIII

Ok, I can’t see anything for a while. The players are lining up on Field 1 up and down, blocking my view. I think they are going through plays, as I see yellow and red caps.

Field 2: more snap practice with Brown, Weatherford and DeOssie.

Field 3: (way to the right) The DL/LB’s/Safeties are working together on drop back coverage. Now they break out the red and yellow caps, so it’s defensive “O” vs “D”, 11 on 11.

I look at the water station and Nicks and Snee (also not practicing). Snee has a large wrap on one leg (no, I’m not telling you which one). Nearby, Reese and John Mara are talking, but I don’t see Pat Hanlon (sigh, I wanted to do a style report!!!).

184 days, 7 hours, 18 minutes till SB XLVIII

Everyone to Field 3: 11 on 11, O vs D.
Eli pass to Wilson no gain up middle.
Nassib pass to Randle in the Left Flat (I notice Tuck is doing a lot of standing up and rushing).
Eli pass to Pascoe, nice touch pass over defender. Pascoe has good hands today!
Carr pass to Wilson, middle screen.
Eli handoff to Scott, OT Left stuffed.
Nassib pass to Barden, who does a nifty slide over the middle to catch a wormer.
Painter hands off to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib throws ball away under pressure.
Nassib to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib shows some nice touch on a pass to Carlos in L Flat.

KO’s (hmmm, didn’t see Punt returns, which is unusual in a TC practice). Brown is kicking across Field 2 to Field 3.

Wilson and Randle (up left sideline) with nice returns. Cox does a return, but gets shoved to ground (one of the harder hits today). Jernigan slithers up the right sideline for a return.

Brown then does FG’s on Field 2, starting at the 5, and working back (he hit all of them, though a couple tended to his left). One looked near 50 yds, just making it over the upright (with the NFL refs holding their hands up, good!!!).

Field 2: Oline is banging on Dline (or is it visa versa?)

Field 1: The crowd perks up as we see some long passing.

Eli with a nice bomb to Randle up the L Sideline.
Eli with a L Flat pass to Scott, then throws the next one away after pressure.
Eli tries a long middle seam pass to Myers, but a group of DB’s knock it down.
Carr tries a L Flat pass, almost picked off by J. Williams, who does pushups.
Carr launches a long pass up middle to Barden, but McBride with a nice knockaway.
Carr tries a L Flat, but Scott gets caught up in the “wash” and the ball falls to the ground.
Nassib nearly gets picked off by Charlie James in L Flat.
Nassib tries to hit Kevin Hardy, but a NICE cover by Laron Scott, who knocks the ball away.

Ugh.. the stands are shaking…it’s not those meddling kids behind me, in the playground is it? Nope..the “Hawk” makes its appearance. It’s gusting badly now, and it’s hard to see through the binoculars.

184 days, 6 hours, 53 minutes till SB XLVIII

Eli tries a long pass up the middle to Talley, but Prince will have none of it.
Eli then hands off OT Right to Andre Brown.
Nassib flips a pass to Wilson in the L Flat…then Wilson “flickers” up the L Sideline for a big gain. It’s hard to see this guy when he starts multiple cuts!

Eli hands off to Wilson OT Right, nice gain up the R Sideline.
Eli then throws the ball away, nobody’s open (but he does not see nobody, I guess…).
Carr with a pass to Scott in the Right Flat, no gain.
Carr passes to Scott up the middle.
Painter hands off to Torain, OT Right.
Nassib tries to pass to Scott, but Curry smells him out (can’t be too hard this late into practice) and stuffs the play, no catch.
Nassib tries to pass to Jernigan in the R Flat, but Caldwell (I think) skies over him to deflect the pass. This might make camp highlights.
Nassib (he’s getting a lot of work, eh?) passes to Cox up the middle.
Nassib tries a pass up the middle, but Bosworth with a nice defensive knock down of the pass!
Nassib with his best pass of the day, a pass to Talley in the R Sideline, lofting it over Mertile, who had no chance despite tight coverage.

Ok, time for 2 Minute Drill!!!

Eli’s back, and goes for Bear in the middle flat (and hits him!)
Eli to Randle in the middle flat.
Eli to Scott Right sideline.
Eli to Barden, who gets the pass in the right flat.
Time Out!
Eli to Bear in the Left Flat.

We start the drill again with Carr.

Carr to Barden, R Flat.
Carr to Kris Adams, L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan, L Flat.

(ugh, Hawk is back..the stands are really shaking!)

Carr, throws ball away with pressure.
McBride knocks down a Carr pass in the L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan who comesback in the R Flat.

184 days, 6 hours, 33 minutes till SB XLVIII

Hey, do I hear the Spinners?

Hey, y’all prepare yourself
For the Rubberband man
You never heard a sound
Like the rubberband man
You’re bound to lose control
When the Rubberband starts to jam

Yep, the rubber band stretch is out, end of practice. After the stretches, the team goes to a big group, then splits into smaller groups, who have their yell/chant, then break up.

Eli looked good today, Nassib is interesting, but he’s hesitating a bit…you can see him holding the ball for a split second or so when he has it by his head. Hopefully, this is just processing the speed of the game, and his delivery will be more natural.

No real impressions from the rookies, but I’ll leave that to the first pre-season game. The way practice is now, you really don’t get the hard hitting that pads used to inspire.

What you didn’t see after practice:

Bear working out with Keith Rivers, working on footwork.

J. Williams doing some extra work with Sam Madison (who was wearing shades, Red shorts AND a Red top…stylish!).

Myers, Childers and Sabino doing some football “pepper” next to the Timex Indoor.

Tuck kick a football like a soccer ball, (to his kid?).

Sam Madison coming to the fence (for autographs and chat), to a small group of fans. They were doing the usual “hey Sam, you were the best Dolphin player ever!”. Sam laughed and said Marino was.

Sam’s cool, I hope they hire him as full time coach.

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

This session of camp is over, it’s time to move on. The sun declines in the west, casting shadows that hint of fall, even though it’s still summer. I pack up the binoculars, put away the notebook where I scratched my notes. Camp isn’t over…but I have to go.

I’ve talked many times about football camp. For some of us, it brings back memories of our own time when you could smell the grass from the stains on your uniform, leather pads heavy with sweat, salt pills and wind sprints. Others remember a cool drink, sitting on the grass next to a tree and peering through binoculars, trying to pick out your favorite player, or getting that precious autograph or kind word from an athlete.

Every sport has its time. Baseball has spring training, and the promise of summer. Football has training camp, where its season starts, and you know fall is coming. Every player thinks he will make the team, or start. Every one holds on to hope; the promising rookie, the grizzled veteran, the coaching staff with their long hours away from their families. Every camp has surprises and disappointments, injuries to players, and players coming back from injuries.

Camp is where championships start, or where they might be lost. Every player is a story, and camp is a symphony of stories, common themes with endless variety under the master conductor, the head coach.

For fans…for us…camp is what we make of it. As fans, we can share a common experience, at camp, at the stadium, at home with friends and family. There’s something special that happens when people have a common cause, a common interest, and share a common history.

I’m back at my Honda Accord, time to turn the key and travel north, to home. Home, where the old ghosts are, ghosts of camp past. The Quest, in time, will spawn it’s own stories, it’s own ghosts. Stories never die, as long as there are fans around to tell those tales to other fans, young and old.

I switch on the radio, scan for a tune to match my mood. I hear snatches of a Springsteen song, fading in and out…

(well, it IS Jersey…)

We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin’ up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there’s so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take…

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin’ a fool’s joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it’s a ride, ride, ride, and there ain’t much cover…

Now on out here on this road
Out on this road tonight
I close my eyes and feel so many friends around me
In the early evening light
And the miles we have come
And the battles won and lost
Are just so many roads travelled
So many rivers crossed
And I ask God for the strength
And faith in one another

‘Cause it’s a good night for a ride
Cross this river to the other side

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Jul 282013
 
 July 28, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
Rueben Randle, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

July 28, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor UberAlias

Note: If you want to cut through the intro and get to the meat of this 2013 New York Giants training camp report, skip down to Practice Observations.

So I’m on my way to the practice wondering of the weather is going to hold up when sure enough it starts to rain. They have been predicting thunderstorms and if they the team decides to head indoors practice won’t be open to the public. But the rain is not coming down hard so I decide to keep going.

When I get to the facility a half hour prior to the start of practice I am surprised to see groups of people in blue walking from the stadium lots to the center. This is odd I thought, until I realize the lots at the practice field have already filled up and overflowing into the stadium parking. In the practices I attended in 2011 and yesterday this was never required. To further my surprise, I see there is a huge line to get in wrapping itself half way around the lot at the center. In my other experiences here there is nowhere near this sort of crowd and you can just walk right in. The rain was still coming down and I was thinking to myself, this may not be happening today, and even if it does, there is no way I’m getting a seat with a view in the bleachers. That’s autograph day on a weekend for you, I guess.

I knew if I was patient I could eventually get a spot on the bleachers once people started leaving their seats to get a spot in the area they do autographs, but that could take a while and the masses of people by the fence was four or five deep already, and I’m not particularly tall, so I needed a strategy, and fast. I knew they didn’t permit people to stand in front of the bleachers, so I figured if I could get myself on the edge of that area I might be able to get some limited portion of that view, just not all of it, and not straight on. Not bad – it worked, to an extent.

So as practice was starting, they were having some challenges keeping people away from the fence in front of the bleachers. There were just too many people and not enough spots with a view. There was one man pushing a boy of, maybe 14, who was in a wheel chair with a big cast on his leg. He was in this area trying to get his boy a spot where he could see. I thought for sure they would find him a spot and asked the man and he said they told him to move because they were blocking the views from the bleachers. I could not believe it. They should have offered to let him come to the other side of the fence, or have some kind of handicapped accommodations, but apparently they didn’t and the security guys weren’t going to cut this man and his boy any slack. Not cool. In the end, they seemed to give up yelling at people to move away from in front of the bleachers and started letting kids sit there and only asked them to sit. I think eventually this man got a spot near the fence and it worked out, but this was all not well managed.

Anyway, onto the practice.

Practice Observations:

My initial views were limited to only what was right in front of me, but what I could see was right in front of me permitting me to make some physical observations of players, mostly on the defensive side. Here are some of those impressions (most of them we already know):

Mathias Kiwanuka is no longer that slender kid he was when he first came in. Maybe he’s bulked up a bit with his return to the trenches, but he looks bigger and thicker than I recall.

Kevin Boothe is a big boy. We all know his lower half, but he’s got big powerful looking arms and upper body bulk to go with it.

Prince Amukamara looks big enough to play safety.

Aaron Curry is huge. He’s not one of those athletic narrow-waist broad-shoulder types, he’s thick and powerfully built.

Ryan Mundy has good size and looks like a Kenny Phillips clone physically.

Michael Jasper looks absolutely massive. (Is there an adjective to describe bigger than massive?) He makes every other big guy look small.

If anyone has any ideas of Cooper Taylor playing LB, you can forget it. Maybe that 3rd safety role, but there is no way he can be taking on blockers and playing the run play in play out. He’s got the weight because he is tall, but he’s narrow and built nothing like a LB. We can check back in a few years if he fills out, but for now, he’s all safety and specials.

In team drills I got some good views of the defense. They seemed to be working a lot of turnover drills. First where they would practice stripping the ball from behind the runner. Most of them would strip it out and then pick it up off the ground, but Kiwi, with his long arms, would simply reach around and take the ball from the guy’s hands. They were later doing work with the secondary playing your man but then breaking off to make a play on the ball in the air. They did a lot of work on playing your man and focusing on keeping proper positioning.

Soon after they worked on specials. Josh Brown has a boot. I did not know much about him and was wondering if he was a strong leg type, but he looked it to me today. The one thing I didn’t like about Tynes was too may kicks returned or not enough height on his kicks. I am wondering if this was one of the factors in deciding to make a change.

When it came to the passing portion Hakeem Nicks made a sweet catch on a deep ball early on and that was it for him. We’ve seen the reports from TC and I guess we will have to see how that plays out. As bad a sign as it is, early on, these types of tweaks are very common because you are not used to working and they aren’t going to push anything with him. Tyler Sash seemed to injure himself at the end and they were looking at his lower half. My guess at the time was that it was a cramp and I believe that is what TC ultimately reported. There was one other injury I saw where one of the young WRs (Editor’s Note: Kris Adams) looked like he jammed a finger trying to catch a ball. They were working on him and he seemed in pain.

If you were to ask me the one thing that stood out to me most today I would say it would have to be the tight ends. Both Adrien Robinson and Brandon Myers had strong practices. Myers looks on the small side to me where as Robinson is big and powerfully built, but both can catch. Robinson in one of his catches caught a TD on a fake field goal, but had others. Myers in particular looks like one of those guys sure handed guys who knows how to find the holes in coverage. I came away very impressed and if we can ever find a way to solidify the line to a point where we aren’t always having to rely on TEs chipping on guys as they release, these tight ends could end up playing a very big role in the passing game.

What else?

I reported this yesterday and will repeat again today. Rookie QB Ryan Nassib is getting a lot of reps. He is getting at least as many as Carr, possibly more. If I did not know any better I would might actually think they were going to give him a legitimate chance to compete for the back-up job. That said, he has a ways to go. He throws a good ball, but the timing is not there, as expected, and I think there are a lot of throws he needs work on. He seems to work well off of play action.

Some final notes:

Eli had a great looking TD to Cruz on the first play of red (cough cough green) zone.

The back up defensive linemen were stuffing the running plays (hard to tell with no pads though).

LBs Paysinger and Curry blitzed through the middle for what would have been as sack in 11 on 11s.

Damontre Moore looked fast off the ball.

Ever other player was wearing blue shorts except Frank Okam. He was quite silly looking in his grey work out pants. Couldn’t somebody have found the guy a pair of blue shorts to wear?

Sean OHara walked by the fence a few times and received well deserved cheers of appreciation from the crowds.

As a group, the LBs seemed to have a good day. I’ll reserve judgment until the pads come on and we see some action in the preseason, but I am starting to think it would not be surprising to see this shape up to be a relatively solid group.

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Jul 272013
 
 July 27, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

July 27, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor UberAlias

My apologies for lack of details in this 2013 New York Giants training camp report – I took my six year old, so needless to say, I was often distracted. To make things worse, much of the team stuff was done on the far field so was very hard to see. But here are a few observations.

Just before practice started some idiot walked in wearing an Eagles Jersey and drew lots of boos and shouts from the crowd.

What was closest to me was the offense, so most of my observations were on that side of the ball. As we know, the first few days will be no pads.

The first drop came early – Bear Pascoe had a drop in warm-up, LOL.

When they ran drills passing, Hakeem and Victor were with the first group, obviously. Next was Randle and Murphy. Not much to say about Cruz and Nicks –we know what they are, and if anyone is worried about any lost time, don’t. You can see what they are talking about with Randle. Even during the season he looked off to me a year ago – especially his timing. It’s hard to comment on the timing from today, but he just looks crisper and more polished than a year ago. Murphy had a drop and may have had another later on (was hard to see if it was a drop or uncatchable as they were at the far field at the time) but I saw him make up for it with a good catch a bit later.

There wasn’t much I noticed beyond the first four except they had Barden in the very last group, even after camp fodder guys. I will say this of him, they guy is huge. It is a shame he never mastered the little things the team wanted in him because seeing up close you can see how easy throwing to such a big target makes on a QB. He caught the ball well today.

David Wilson can fly. And I don’t mean just running straight, I mean he zips around with a quickness that is just a different level. No one moves out there like he does. I wish I could have paid more attention to the RB rotation, but was distracted often. It did seem as though Wilson may be first one in ahead of Brown. I am still forming opinions on Michael Cox. He looks to have good size and enough speed. My initial impression was fairly favorable.

I was a little surprised at the number of reps for Ryan Nassib. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but it did seem like he was getting a bit more than I would have expected. I wonder if they are not serious about giving him a shot to compete for the back up job in hopes of freeing a roster spot. I thought he looked pretty good and decent zip.

Specials were done on the far field and very hard for me to see. I say Wilson take punts and KR. I saw Hosley return a punt and looked very quick.

That is mostly it. Unfortunately there was very little on the defensive side I could see well enough to comment on as they worked on the far field. This was also the case for team drills. The one thing I can add there was some info I heard about Will Hill that has not been reported. As I understand, the issue with him was that he missed his drug test. I guess you have a certain amount of time from when the league reaches out to you to respond and get tested. He was away in Georgia and for whatever reason (don’t know if he didn’t get the message, or got it but something else happened), but whatever the reason, he did not take his test. The league has places all over the country so even in Georgia they could have given him a test, but he either didn’t check messages, screwed something up and missed it, or flat out skipped it. But he didn’t take the test. This is what I heard, so take it for what it’s worth. If true, not smart for a guy with such potential, and such history.

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Jul 262013
 
 July 26, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Roster Thoughts
Corey Webster, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Corey Webster – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offseason Breakdown: New York Giants Cornerbacks

In the first few paragraphs of part one, we discussed how poorly the Giants’ secondary has played in the past two years within the confines of the equally-disappointing overall defensive performance. We then broke down the safety prospects currently on the roster. In this article, we will focus on the cornerbacks.

There are currently 10 cornerbacks on the training camp roster. The Giants are likely to keep five or possibly six at most on the 53-man roster.

Corey Webster: The Giants need Webster to rebound from a disappointing 2012 season. Webster, who accepted a pay cut in the offseason, also needs to rebound well for personal financial reasons. He is entering the final year of his current contract (he has a voidable year in 2014). There is a good chance this is Corey’s last season with the Giants.

Webster’s career has been a bit of a roller coaster. He seemed like a bust the first two years of his career until he came on late during the 2007 Super Bowl run. Since then, he’s had some outstanding seasons and a couple of sub par ones, including 2012. In his worst moments from last season, sometimes he got cleanly burned, sometimes he was in position to make a play but did not. Webster did not miss a game despite a nagging hamstring injury that plagued him much of the season and breaking his hand in September. Webster finished 2012 with 58 tackles, 13 pass defenses (most on the team), and four interceptions (second most on the team).

Webster has a nice combination of size (6’0”, 200 pounds) and athleticism. While not a blazer, he is smooth and fluid with good quickness and speed. Webster can play both man and zone coverage although he seems more comfortable in man. He is a confident and instinctive player. Webster is not terribly aggressive or physical against the run. Was 2012 an aberration for the 31-year old Webster, or the beginning of the downside of his career?

“We had a lot of errors all across the field and that’s everywhere – coaches, players, and the whole strategy,” said Webster. “So we have to use that film to try and get better. It’s always hard to use film when you lose to get better, but there’s always a silver lining. We’re doing just that. We’re correcting those mistakes, those communication errors, and those misplays so we can eliminate them now and not go into the season trying to eliminate them.”

“Corey will be better,” said Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta. “He’s been working very hard to come back and be a better player, become more like he was more at the end of the 2011 season when we had that run and he was very consistent in his performance. And that’s what we’re looking for, for Corey to be a consistent performer for us this year.”

“When he broke his hand, it hurt him with his press technique because he wasn’t able to put his hand on the receiver so he tried to compensate,” said Giunta. “He battled through injuries because he knew we needed him on the field for all 16 games.”

“We put him on the opponent’s best receiver most of the time (in 2011),” said Giunta. “Hopefully this year he will be able to stay at the left corner spot and provide us with the consistency that we are looking for.”

“I do know that (Corey is) coming back with a purpose and so it will be fun to see him come back in the fall,” said Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell.

Prince Amukamara: Amukamara was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, but his initial season was a virtual wash due to him suffering a broken foot that required surgery very early in training camp. Amukamara missed most of camp, all of the preseason, and nine regular-season games because of the injury. When he did return in November, he did not appear mentally or physically comfortable on the playing field and was burned on several occasions.

2012 did not start off well either when Amukamara suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason and missed the first two games of the regular season. He also missed a game and was limited in two others in December with a hamstring injury. But when Amukamara played, he was a very steady performer and arguably the team’s best corner. He ended up playing in 13 games, with 11 starts, and finished with 53 tackles, seven pass defenses, and one interception.

Amukamara is a well-built (6’0”, 207 pounds), aggressive, and physical corner. He has good speed and quickness. He has the tools, but what is his upside? The most important thing for him is to stay healthy.

“He’s had a very good offseason program,” said Giunta.” He’s done a great job in the strength program getting himself into the kind of shape he needs to be in and in improving his durability. He’s been here for every OTA and has made every practice. He hasn’t missed any time at all. If he continues to show that kind of devotion, he’ll continue to get better and better as a player. We want him to become a productive performer for us. We want him to make big plays and big hits and big plays for us. He has that ability to do that.”

“He understands the system well now and can go out there and execute it,” continued Giunta. “He feels so much more comfortable because he’s able to do it with his teammates now. He’s not on the sideline watching. He feels like he’s truly a part of it. Last year for him was basically his rookie season, so to have that and to build on that, to be able to come into training camp this year, he’s a different guy who’s much more confident.”

“I’d say the more I play the more confidence I get,” said Amukamara. “Now, during this offseason, just having Terrell (Thomas) just next to me and learning how much knowledge he has, that just took my game to a whole other level. He’s like a player-coach and every time he’s critiquing me on my technique or my back-pedal, just telling me, ‘You need to understand the defense. You don’t need to just worry about you’re doing, but know what the nickel is doing. That’s first-year stuff. You know what you’re doing now. Now you’re in your third year, so now know what the safety is doing and know what the nickel is doing and it will make you play a lot better and a lot faster.’”

“I think he’s still a little wet behind the ears as far as his mentality, how he attacks his daily job,’’ said Thomas. “Me and Corey have been working on him with that, letting him know just doing your job is not enough, we need more out of you. I think he’ll get it. Sometimes it takes some people a little longer than others…With Prince he’s just happy doing his job and we’re trying to get him that we need more. ‘Yeah, you had a good game, nobody caught the ball on you, but you had no pass breakups, you had no interceptions, no big plays, that’s the next step.’ He stays healthy this year, he can be very productive for us.’’

To his credit, Amukamara has high personal goals heading into 2013.

“I really want to be the number one corner on this team and I feel like right now Corey is and my goal is to always just try to beat him out and I think as soon as I establish myself as the number one corner, then hopefully just become the number one corner in the whole league,” said Amukamara. “ I know that’s going to take work, but guys that came out of my draft class are doing great: Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, and those are the guys I kind of compare myself to and I’m just trying to exceed all of them.”

Jayron Hosley:  The Giants drafted Hosley in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Hosley played in 12 games with six starts, and finished the season with 40 tackles, five pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. He did miss four games with hamstring, shoulder, and quadriceps injuries. The Giants seem to really like Hosley’s game, but he had an injury-prone, inconsistent, and sometimes rough rookie season, being thrust into the nickel back role perhaps sooner than he was ready.

Hosley lacks ideal stature (5’10’’, 178 pounds), but he is athletic with good speed and quickness. Hosley has good ball skills as he reacts well to the football and can make play on the ball in the air. In college, Hosley did have drug issues. If he keeps his nose clean and remains focused on football, Hosley should improve with improved technique and increased playing time. But he also needs to stay healthy. He got dinged a lot as a rookie, causing him to miss valuable practice and playing time.

“I think what happened with him, every time he started to make progress, he’d be injured and would be out 2-3 weeks, and wasn’t able to practice or compete and play in games,” said Giunta. “That’ sets you back, especially as a rookie. So take the Jets game, every time he starts to make progress, he gets hurt. Carolina game, he has a really good game making plays, and then he gets hurt. That’s unfortunate for him, so he has to learn to take care of his body better, get himself in shape and do the kind of things that he needs to do to become a more durable player because he has the talent to be a good football player at this level.”

“He’s learning,” said Giunta. “He’s becoming a better technician, playing inside and playing outside, so he’s developing those skills to play both the nickel and corner spot, and he got experience doing both last year. There’s a lot playing the nickel spot…it’s hard that way when you lose that time. You need experience to play that spot. The more experience you get, the better you’ll get. He can play any of the corner spots we need him to, so that’s huge.”

Terrell Thomas: Thomas was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2012 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee for the third time in seven years. The first tear occurred in college and the second tear happened during the 2011 preseason. The injuries obviously put his football career in doubt.

Before suffering the second injury in the 2011 preseason, Thomas looked primed for perhaps his best season. Thomas was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2009 and 2010, Thomas was a very solid starting corner who made a lot of big plays but also occasionally gave up a few. In the 31 games he started during that time frame, Thomas accrued 186 tackles, 34 pass defenses, and 10 interceptions.

Thomas is a big (6’0”, 191 pound), physical corner who matches up well with bigger receivers. Pre-injury, while not a blazer, he was a good athlete with fine speed and quickness for his size. Thomas is very good in run support and a good blitzer.

The big question is obvious. Even if Thomas can stay on the field, how much ability has he lost from the back-to-back ACL tears? It is doubtful he can regain his old form, but can he come close?

“I don’t think (Thomas is) an unknown for us,” said Fewell. “We do have plans, but I don’t think he’s an unknown because he’s been with us, he’s been in our program. We understand what his skill set was. Now when he comes back what will his skill set be?”

“He’s making progress,” said Giunta. “Terrell is making good progress…We’re going to do what the offense did with Domenik Hixon, try to bring him along slowly. Give him a certain number of reps each practice to get him from the practices to the first preseason game. We’re going to try and manage him well and just give him a very limited role to start.”

“I’m able to do everything,” Thomas said in June. “It’s more just about getting comfortable and trusting myself without hesitating, without thinking, and just reacting, and I’m almost there. Physically, I haven’t swelled up in the last four months and I’ve been progressing every week. Each week I get better and faster and stronger, so it’s just a progression. I have to be realistic with myself knowing that I had two ACLs in one year and it’s a long journey. But I’ll be back and I’m going to shock a lot of people.”

“I will be ready for training camp without limitation,” Thomas said. “The amount of work I do (in training camp), I don’t know…I’m already cleared for training camp. I got three months (before the season begins) to keep getting stronger and healthy and rehab.”

“Right now, to be honest with you I feel great,” said Thomas on his website in July. “The last (few) weeks, my confidence is getting better and better. I am not 100%; I would say I am 85% to 90%. The only thing missing is real field work; going against my teammates, the grind of practice, and seeing how my knee handles all that.”

“I am excited about camp starting this week,” Thomas said. “I feel like a big question mark on defense and I love it. That makes me feel like a rookie again, nobody knows what to expect from me other than that I was a good player. Just like when I was coming into the league as a good player coming out of college, so I love that feeling. I feel like I am the X factor for the defense, I think I can be a big key for our defense this year as far as my physical play combined with my knowledge, communication, and leadership skills.”

Earlier in the offseason, General Manager Jerry Reese raised the possibility of moving Thomas to safety. That’s still a possibility but it appears the Giants and Thomas want to see if he can still play at corner. The problem is the cornerback position puts a lot of stress on the knees.

“All that safety talk, that was just based on my knee, how I come back,” Thomas said. “In that safety role, it’s kind of like the nickel. When we had the three-safety look, it’s pretty much nickel, it’s just a bigger nickel position. So I already know that position. That’s a position I played my first and second year at the nickel spot so it wouldn’t be a hard transition. I played a little safety in 2010. We had a package where I would go into the post. I had an interception, a couple tackles as well.”

“(Playing corner) it’s more being on an island,” Thomas said. “Your knee is in a more unstable situation. You have to react to the receiver. Safety is more you’re dictating. So I think that’s why Jerry Reese said that. But I already knew I’d switch to safety later in my career just because of my body type, the way I play. So I’m not scared at all. If they tell me I’m going to play kicker, I’ll play kicker.”

“(Moving Thomas to safety is) always a consideration,” said Fewell. “We’d like to find out, obviously, what his skill set is like when he comes back and how comfortable he feels in his movements.”

Aaron Ross: Ross signed with the Giants in March 2013 after he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2012, Ross played in 14 games with nine starts for the Jaguars. He finished the year with 46 tackles and three pass defenses.

Ross was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Giants. In five seasons with the Giants, Ross started 41 regular-season games, including 15 starts in 2011, when he finished with career highs in tackles (60), pass defenses (12), and interceptions (four). Ross missed a lot of time in 2009 (hamstring) and 2010 (plantar fascia tear) with injuries.

Ross combines good size (6’0”, 197 pounds) and athleticism. He is fluid and smooth in coverage, but lacks ideal speed and quickness. There seems to be a few games every season where Ross struggles in coverage. He can be aggressive and physical in run support.

One thing is definitely clear – Ross is thrilled to be back with the Giants. And the Giants seem glad to have him back as well.

“I missed the guys, I missed the coaches, I missed the organization and it seems like everybody else missed me just as well so it seems like a mutual thing,” said Ross. “It brings a smile to my face when I came in knowing that it wasn’t just me that was missing the Giants. It was vice-versa…I am happy to be home where I feel like I belong.”

“He has done a great job at the nickel spot for us,” said Giunta. “He did a great job in the Super Bowl run playing right corner. He can play right, left, nickel. His flexibility is huge for us. We are so excited to have him back.”

“He (has) picked up where he left off,” said Giunta. “He looks really focused. His quickness is better than it was when he left. Being away for a while…It showed him how much he missed this place and missed the guys he was with and the way we run the operation here at the Giants. It’s been a breath of fresh air having him back because he really appreciates what we have here and some of the guys take it for granted, but he hasn’t and it comes across to the other guys. Hey, this is important. You guys don’t know how lucky you have it here.”

Like Webster, Ross suggests that coaches and players have needed to work together to prevent mental errors that lead to big plays.

“Where we struggle is where we make mental busts, but I think we’re doing a better job in getting the fundamentals down, learning the defense in and out and taking it rep by rep instead of moving too fast to learn the defense,” said Ross. “I think the coaches sat down this whole offseason and seen that on film. They’re doing a great job in really breaking down the defense in and out, making sure the safeties know exactly what the corners are doing and the corners know what the safeties are doing.”

Ross also thinks he can help in the leadership department.

“I feel like I’m already taking some of the younger guys under my wing and just teaching them the little things that they may not know like myself,” said Ross. “R.W. (McQuarters) and Sam (Madison) did a great job with me and Corey and Terrell Thomas just taking us in and showing us the ropes.”

Trumaine McBride: McBride was an under-the-radar signing for the Giants in January 2013. McBride was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in September 2009. Since then, he has spent time with the Cardinals, Saints, and Jaguars. Nine of McBride’s 10 NFL starts came as a rookie. He has played in 48 NFL games but only one last season with the Jaguars. McBride lacks ideal size (5’9’’, 185 pounds), but he is very quick and the Giants appear to like what they’ve seen out of him.

“We’re counting on (Webster, Amukamara, Hosley, Thomas, Ross) plus Trumaine McBride has done a tremendous job in the OTAs so far and we’re looking forward to seeing him compete in training camp,” said Giunta. “He’s a veteran. He’s played in the league and played at Chicago and has a lot of experience and a lot of quickness.”

Terrence Frederick: Frederick spent most of 2012 on the Giants’ Practice Squad but was added to the 53-man roster in December and played in two games. Frederick was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers waived him in August. Frederick lacks ideal size (5’10’’, 187 pounds) and speed, but he is an aggressive, instinctive player who has experience playing in the slot.

Laron Scott: Scott spent 2012 on the Giants’ Practice Squad. He was signed by the Giants in August 2012 after being waived by the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had signed Scott as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. Scott lacks ideal size for a corner (5’9’’, 184 pounds). He can return kicks and punts and had a 67-yard kickoff return for the Saints in their first preseason game.

Charles James: James was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. James lacks ideal size (5’9’’, 179 pounds) and speed, but he is a quick, tough, instinctive corner who makes plays on the football. He has experience as a punt returner.

“Very quick athlete,” Giunta said of James. “Very good change of direction. Very good ball skills, like his toughness.”

Junior Mertile: The Giants signed Mertile in May 2013 after he impressed at the rookie mini-camp as tryout player. Mertile has good size (6’1’’, 197 pounds) and excellent speed.

Summary: Giunta says the top five guys are Webster, Amukamara, Hosley, Thomas, and Ross. The Giants need Webster to bounce back, Amukamara to stay healthy and take that next step, and Hosley to stay healthy and develop. If not, then the Giants are going to have issues at corner. Thomas is the wild card. It’s probably not realistic to expect him to be able to play at a high level again, but if he does, that will help tremendously. The return of Ross may be a bigger deal than most fans realize. McBride, Frederick, Scott, James, and Mertile are the longshots. But Giunta did have good things to say about McBride and James.

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Jul 212013
 
 July 21, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Roster Thoughts
Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (October 14, 2012)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offseason Breakdown: New York Giants Safeties

Aside from the 6-game run to finish the 2011 season, and a game here or there, the New York Giants’ defense has been brutally bad the last two seasons. The statistics don’t lie. In 2012, the Giants finished 31st in total defense. The defense allowed 6,134 yards, or 383.4 yards a game, both the highest figures in franchise history. The defense also gave up 6,022 yards in the 2011. These are the only two seasons in which the Giants allowed 6,000 yards in their history.

In 2012, the New York Giants allowed 60 passes of 20 or more yards (the NFL’s fourth-highest total), 29 passes of at least 30 yards (led the NFL), and 13 passes of 40 or more yards (second in the league).

The Giants have invested a lot of resources in terms of draft picks, free agent acquisitions, and salary cap space in the secondary. But the returns have not been good. The Giants were 29th in pass defense in 2011 and 28th in pass defense in 2012. Now to be fair, good pass defense encompasses all three levels of the defense: pass rush, linebacker coverage, and defensive back coverage. But there is no denying the New York Giants secondary has not performed up to expectations. Over-hyped and inconsistent players, questionable coaching, injuries, or a combination may be to blame, but quarterbacks on other teams have looked forward to throwing against this secondary.

Do the Giants have the players to improve their pass coverage? Can the coaching staff put these players in best position to succeed? The defense first needs to stop the run to get opposing offenses into more predictable passing situations. But to be blunt, the secondary has not done a good job of covering people. It’s scary to think just how much worse the pass defense would have been had it not been for New York’s 21 interceptions last season (more than a third of them from bargain-basement surprise safety Stevie Brown).

There are currently eight safeties on the Giants’ training camp roster. At most, the Giants will keep five on the 53-man roster. Former 1st-rounder Kenny Phillips signed a relatively cheap deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. While it’s clear the Giants were worried about the long-term health viability of his reconstructed knee, his departure is also a cause for concern. The Giants need to find an adequate replacement.

Antrel Rolle: Rolle was originally drafted as a cornerback in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. After three inconsistent seasons at corner, the Cardinals moved him to free safety in 2008, where he excelled. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move.

Rolle has never missed a game with the Giants. For the second season in a row, he finished with 96 tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He also had five pass defenses in 2012 (four in 2011). One of the better coverage safeties in the game, Rolle has good speed and range. Due to his experience as a cornerback, unlike most safeties, Rolle can play man coverage and has often been called upon to play the slot corner position. That said, Rolle hasn’t made a lot of plays on the football with the Giants (a total of five interceptions and 13 pass defenses in three seasons). Somewhat of a mouthy malcontent when he came to New York, Rolle has become one of the leaders of the defense.

“What’s helping ’Trel now is understanding the Giants’ way, the Giants’ system,’’ said DE Justin Tuck. “He wasn’t accustomed to that when he came in. He was more accustomed to (University of) Miami, things of that nature. Now I think he’s a lot smarter with some of the things he says in the media and some of the things he says in the locker room, and I think he’s gonna be a huge part of our leadership and success of the football team.’’

Rolle’s biggest problem? By far, he’s the highest paid defensive player on the team with $7 million in salary (and a $9.25 million overall cap hit) in both 2013 and 2014. In the latter year, only Eli Manning is currently scheduled to take up more cap space.

The Giants are hoping that they can play Rolle more at free safety this year. Injuries to other players have forced him to play both strong safety and nickel back.

“I truly believe that Antrel needs to get back to playing with great depth and vision off the quarterback,” said Safeties Coach David Merritt. “Because he’s not going to be down in that nickel role. I say that right now, but you know how that’s gone the past two years when he’s been forced down there with injuries. Hopefully Antrel can do what we paid him to come here to do, which is to play safety and be a playmaker back there for us.”

“We always shoot for (me concentrating on safety) each and every year,” said Rolle. “We always shoot for me to play the safety role and stay at the safety role but it’s never happened, unfortunately. At one point in time I would get frustrated…It’s a part of growing up, a part of being professional and most important a part of just being a team player and doing whatever you have to do in order for this team to be successful.’’

“With him wearing 15 different hats on the field and he’s able to make plays from all 15 spots, just imagine what he can do if he’s able to concentrate on one,” said Stevie Brown. “There’s no limit to what he can do.”

Perry Fewell is obviously counting on Rolle to be the leaders of the secondary. “He’s got to be the glue that keeps us together,” said Fewell.

“At safety I have to be a little more disciplined playing the position being that I’m the last guy in the line of defense so I just transfer my mind to understand my role and understand where my help is going to be and where I need to be the protector and where you can take those little slight chances and gambles,” said Rolle.

“My defensive mantra is just to be more consistent,” said Rolle. “To be more consistent and have more dog in us on a daily basis, on an every down basis. There were times out there, I felt, that as a defensive unit we went out there and we played exceptional, we played like the Super Bowl caliber team that we were. Then there were times we went out there and played like the 9-7 team that we were. As a defensive unit you can’t have the ups and downs because we all know that defense wins the game. We all know that. With the quarterback that we have, with the offense we have, they are always going to put points on the board. We expect that. So we just have to make sure we limit (the other team’s scoring).”

Stevie Brown: Brown came out of nowhere and had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. Brown played in all 16 games, started 11, and finished with 76 tackles, 11 pass defenses, eight interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him the following year and he signed with the Colts. The Colts declined to tender him in 2012 and he then signed with the Giants.

Brown has excellent size and strength for a safety. He’s got pretty good speed for his size, but he lacks overall quickness and agility that you see in smaller safeties. In 2012, the ball just seemed to find its way into Brown’s hands. Sometimes it was a lucky bounce or bad throw, but to his credit, Brown also made aggressive plays on the football. The million dollar question is was 2012 a fluke? Right now, Brown is penciled in as the starting strong safety.

“I look at it as my spot,” said Brown. “It’s my spot to keep.”

Brown needs to become more consistent and avoid mental breakdowns that lead to big plays by the opposing team. As a big, physical safety, he should also be a bigger factor in run defense than he was in 2012.

“Stevie and I have been hanging out a lot more just outside of football, talking and communicating, whether it’s going to watch a basketball game or a movie,” said Rolle. “I’m just trying to get a feel for what kind of guy he is and he’s trying to get a feel for what kind of guy I am because at the end of the day, we’re going to be married back there, free safety and strong safety. We have to make this marriage last.”

“His study and his ability to take coaching, he was a sponge last year,” said Merritt of Brown. “His film study and understanding that the post safety plays at a certain depth and the post safety has to be able play between a certain parts of the field.  I am very impressed with Stevie and I truly believe that he can continue making those types of plays for us.”

Ryan Mundy: Mundy was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March 2013. Mundy was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Steelers.  After spending his rookie season on Pittsburgh’s Practice Squad, Mundy hasn’t missed a game in the last four seasons, and has started five times.

Mundy was an under-the-radar signing by the Giants. The word on him coming out of Pittsburgh is that he a very physical safety who hits hard and plays well on special teams, but who also struggled at times against the pass.

That said, David Merritt has talked about Mundy with great enthusiasm. Merritt says that Mundy is the leading candidate for the third safety position that Deon Grant played so well for the Giants in 2010-11. ”Ryan Mundy, that’s a guy who I’m impressed with,” said Merritt. “With his ability and his smarts, he would be the third (safety).”

Merritt also likes Mundy’s leadership. “If the season at all starts to dip and players start to slack, I’m gonna lean on him,” said Merritt of Mundy.

“I think I’m a physical player,” said Mundy. “I like to get in the box and mix it up with the bigger guys, knock around a running back, the tight ends, fullbacks.”

Mundy says being with the Steelers has prepared him well. “I know how to work, I know how to practice, I know how to focus in meetings,” said Mundy.

“Mundy’s definitely a professional, definitely a student of the game also. He wants to learn,” said Rolle. “He’s another guy who asks a lot of questions because he’s not so familiar with this defense…I think he plays the safety position extremely well…I’m happy to have him here.”

Will Hill: Hill was a top-ranked athlete coming out of high school in New Jersey, but off-the-field issues at the University of Florida caused him to go undrafted and unsigned as a junior entry in 2011. The Giants invited him to the May 2012 rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and signed him after that camp ended. Hill not only made the 53-man roster last season, but he became an important reserve, despite being suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. Hill played in 12 games and finished 2012 with 38 tackles, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble.

Hill has average size for the position, but he is a very good athlete with fine speed and quickness. He is a physical player and tackles well. He also is a very good special teams player. Physically, Hill looks and plays like an NFL starter. The questions with him are mental. Can he stay focused on football? Can he keep his nose clean? That is looking more unlikely as it was announced on July 20 that Hill has been suspended by the NFL for four regular-season games again, this time for apparently using illegal drugs. Hill’s future with the Giants and the NFL is now very much in doubt.

“Will is an excellent talent,” said Merritt. “He’s athletic. He’s fast. He will strike you. Will brings a lot to the table. Hopefully he steps up. He is able to produce and we can put him in special roles that will help us out.”

Cooper Taylor: Taylor was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants.  Taylor is a huge safety with very good timed-speed, agility, and overall athleticism for his size.

“He has played strong and free safety, and we are playing him as the WILL (weakside) linebacker in sub defense,” said Merritt. “Runs a 4.4. He is just a big man and very smart. Right now (his head) is spinning because he is playing multiple positions.”

“I think what he’s going to bring to it is a lot of special teams play hopefully, a lot of production for us on special teams,” said Merritt. “If he has to go in the game right now, he would be the fourth safety because Ryan Mundy is doing pretty well. But this kid is going to be good for us. I think he’s at that point right now where he’s overloaded because he’s trying to play safety and linebacker which is a lot, so it’s a little overwhelming for him but he has the metal capacity to where he can actually learn it and produce.”

Taylor says there are key differences when playing the weakside linebacker in the sub-defense and safety roles. “There’s definitely some differences in terms of the drops,” said Taylor. “Playing from top–down rather than bottom-up in terms of the safeties trying to read the quarterback; and coming from the topside where the WILL is doing something a little different reading route combinations and getting underneath routes. So it’s definitely two different learning processes. But it’s good. The coaches teach us to do stuff well, so it’s been a good learning curve so far.”

“More than anything, he’s shown that he’s a guy who’s eager to learn,” said Rolle. “He wants to learn. He’s a guy who’s very intrigued by this defense. He wants to understand this defense without making mistakes. And everyone is going to make a mistake. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a 15-year veteran. You’re going to make mistakes in this league. He is a guy who’s athletic and big. He moves around extremely well. So we’re definitely going to look for him to come in on certain kind of packages and just be a playmaker for us wherever they put him.”

“To be able to get a young man like that who also has the mental capacity and is very smart, that’s the type of guy we had a couple of years ago in Craig Dahl,” said Merritt. “(Dahl) was able to line up the defense, which is what Cooper Taylor is doing already. He can line up the defense. He understands rotations. It is James Butler all over again as well, yet he is a better athlete than those guys were.”

Tyler Sash:  Sash saw his playing time significantly decrease in 2012. First, he was suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. In early December, he suffered a hamstring and despite being able to return to practice, Sash did not play in the last four games of the season. Sash played in just seven games and finished with only eight tackles.

Sash was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, he played in every game and finished the regular season with 17 tackles and one forced fumble on defense. He also was one of team’s better special teams players. Sash is more of a strong safety-type who plays better closer to the line. He has good size, but lacks ideal speed and agility.

David Caldwell: The Giants signed Caldwell to a Reserve/Future deal in January 2013. Caldwell was originally signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. In 2011, he played in 16 games with 13 starts and accrued 67 tackles and four pass defenses. The Colts waived him in August 2012.

Caldwell lacks ideal height but he is well-built and a good athlete. He’s a smart player and a reliable tackler. Caldwell did not make many plays on the football when starting for the Colts.

Alonzo Tweedy: Tweedy was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. Tweedy was a part-time starter in a linebacker/safety role at Virginia Tech. He has a nice size/speed combination, but was primarily known more for his excellent special teams play in college.

Summary: Until Will Hill’s suspension, the early favorites to make the 53-man roster were Rolle, Brown, Mundy, Hill, and Taylor. Rolle will obviously start at one safety spot, but one wonders if he will become a cap casualty in 2014. It’s hard to see Brown duplicating his turnover production again, but it may be more important for him to simply become a more consistent, reliable player on a down-to-down basis against the pass and the run. Mundy seemed like a ho-hum signing in March, but Merritt has been raving about him. Still, Steelers fans were underwhelmed. Hill and Taylor both have excellent physical tools. Taylor is extremely smart, but Hill’s second drug suspension raises serious questions about his future with the team. Hill’s troubles may have opened the door for Sash, Caldwell, or Tweedy, three players who are going to have to fight and scratch to make the team.

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Jul 152013
 
 July 15, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Roster Thoughts
Bear Pascoe, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Bear Pascoe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offseason Breakdown: New York Giants Tight Ends

If a tight end can’t block, he won’t play for the New York Giants. It’s that simple. In the Giants’ system, blocking is as critical, if not more important, than pass receiving. The traditional down tight end (hand in the dirt, lined up next to the offensive tackle) is often called upon to block not only linebackers, but defensive ends as well. The problem is that quality two-way tight ends are hard to find. With the proliferation of spread offenses in college, the two-way tight end is disappearing at many schools. There are 32 NFL teams and a very limited supply of quality prospects coming out in the NFL Draft. One-dimensional, pass-receiving, H-Back types (motion tight ends who often do not line up in a down position) are more plentiful, but the Giants’ offense does not tend to feature these types of players.

The good news is the Giants have 71-year old Mike Pope, arguably the best tight ends coach in the NFL. He’s been with the Giants seemingly forever (1984-1991, 2000-present) under head coaches Bill Parcells, Ray Handley, Jim Fassel, and Tom Coughlin. Pope has a history of developing players with good size and just enough athletic ability into solid, two-way tight ends.

The tight end position has been a bit of turnstile for the Giants since Jeremy Shockey (2002-2007) was traded to the Saints in July 2008. Since then, the primary tight end on the Giants has changed from Kevin Boss (2008-2010) to Jake Ballard (2011) to Martellus Bennett (2012) and now to Brandon Myers (2013).

Including Myers, there are six tight ends on the Giants’ current training camp roster. Historically, the team tends to keep three tight ends on the 53-man roster.

Brandon Myers: Myers was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the Oakland Raiders in March 2013. He was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Raiders. Myers had a breakout season for the Raiders in 2012, catching 79 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns. His 16 regular-season starts in 2012 were more than all of the starts he had combined his first three years in the NFL. His 79 catches also dwarfed the 32 he had from 2009-2011.

Myers lacks the size that the Giants usually look for in their primary tight end. He’s only listed at 6’3’’, 256 pounds. The Giants usually like their tight ends an inch or two taller and 15-20 pounds heavier. He’s also not very fast or quick for the position – the Raiders used him more as a short- to intermediate-receiver. But Myers seems to be a smart, heady player with just enough athleticism, a feel for getting open, and good hands. His blocking was reportedly subpar in Oakland last year. A painful shoulder injury (sprained AC joint) could have been a factor. Still his lack of size and strength is worrisome in the blocking department.

“We think he’ll be a great piece to our offense and I think (Eli Manning) will have a relationship with him really quickly,” said General Manager Jerry Reese.

“He is a good receiver,” said Pope. “I think at the Raiders he was more of an intermediate receiver. And now our passing game does allow the tight end to get more vertically down the field – flag routes – double seam routes – post routes – that kind of thing. And he appears to have the skills to get those balls. He has a little bit of a jet that can accelerate and go get a ball that is a little deeper. You may not think he is going to reach it, but he has that little bit. So we are very interested to see him in pads.”

“I’m with a great organization, a proven team with a proven quarterback, in an offense that if you’re a tight end and you can get open, you’ll get a lot of opportunities to catch the ball,” said Myers.

“Obviously, my blocking (in Oakland) wasn’t up to par,” said Myers. “But we kind of went over some things, (Pope’s) technique that he could teach me to help me out, so I think it will be a good fit.”

Coughlin doesn’t appear concerned about his blocking. “He’s a well-rounded tight end,” said Coughlin. “He’s a blocker in the running game as well. We’re looking forward to that.”

Bear Pascoe: The Giants picked up Pascoe in 2009 after the 49ers cut him as a rookie. Pascoe is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of player whose strength is his overall versatility. Pascoe plays tight end, H-Back, and even some fullback for the Giants. In fact, he filled in at fullback for the bulk of the 2010 season when Madison Hedgecock was placed on Injured Reserve. And Pascoe may have to do so again in 2013 with Henry Hynoski’s knee injury casting doubt on his availability.

Pascoe does not really stand out as a blocker or receiver, and needs to improve his productivity and consistency in both areas. But Pascoe is big (6’5”, 283 pounds), solid, and dependable. Pascoe finished the 2012 with only four catches for 35 yards and one touchdown. In four seasons with the Giants, he has 26 catches for 252 yards and one score.

“We’re very confident that Bear, no matter what role we place him in, he does an outstanding job,” said Coughlin. “Bear has had opportunities to play in that slot, B tight end, Y tight end, and he’s always done a nice job.”

“This is kind of what I do. This is my role,” Pascoe said. “The more I can do, the better it is for the team. It’s one of the reason I’ve been here for five years, is I have versatility.”

“(Pascoe) has had to do that for us whenever the fullback has been hurt,” said Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride. “It hasn’t been Henry (Hynoski) but it was Madison Hedgecock before. And so he has done a great job with that. It is not an easy thing. He is not a natural fullback but he is one of those guys that just whatever you ask him to do, he goes out and does it with as much courage and determination as anybody. As a result of that he plays above – sometimes – what your expectations might be. We asked him to do a very difficult role – he does it very well.”

Pope thinks having Pascoe playing fullback may make the Giants’ offense less predictable. “Bear has played a good bit of fullback for us,” said Pope. “Actually he played about 160 snaps at fullback last season. So he is aware of the assignments. There are still some finite things that he can get better at there. But it gives us a great deal of flexibility because when Hynoski is in the game they pretty well know that there are some limitations as to where he will line up. He is pretty much a backfield player. When we can put Bear in with one of these other guys, now we can do a lot more things as far as open formations – a little more difficult for the defense to predict where they can’t just key on one of the those guys and say the ball is going there. So that helps us.”

Adrien Robinson: 2012 was mainly a redshirt year for Adrien Robinson, who the Giants drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Robinson made the 53-man roster, but was only activated for two games. He did not catch a single pass. Robinson combines good size with excellent athleticism. He has very good speed and agility for a big tight end. However, he is a very raw player who will need a lot of coaching up. He was not targeted much in college (only 29 receptions in four years), but he displayed an ability to get down the field, adjust to the football, and make the difficult catch. Robinson has the physical ability to be a good blocker.

Because Robinson’s college has trimesters, he missed Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices his rookie season. “I think going through OTAs this year, seeing how slowly the coaches install the plays and understanding how everything feeds off each other, I realize that I did miss a lot last year by coming in so late and trying to jumpstart everything,” Robinson said. “I’ve been here since the (offseason) program started, and it’s a new year. I’m just trying to work my way up.”

“I think the biggest improvement I’ve made is in my understanding of the offense and knowing the plays, my assignments, where to line up, and how to read the defenses,” said Robinson. “Last year, I didn’t get many game reps, so I had to watch a lot, which helped, but it’s not the same as lining up on the field.”

“The biggest thing I want to show the coaches is that I fully understand the offense,” said Robinson. “I understand everything that’s going on, and I want to earn their trust. Once they are confident that you know what you’re doing, you’ll get on the field.”

“Adrien Robinson appears to have gone into the Land of the Believers and yes he has been making some good progress,” said Pope. “He is understanding assignment-wise. But the plays are still not the lines on the page that we give them for instruction. So he is doing a lot of the assignment things correctly. Now we have to get him to adjust to the way the defense is playing on each particular play and to make the best decisions based on how the defense is playing. But he is running well and he has his weight down some. The quarterback is starting to find him. He is hard to miss – he is the tallest tree in the forest out there. So he is a good target. But we are more than mildly pleased with the progress that he has made from an assignment standpoint.”

“Adrien was in that group of guys who came in, didn’t really know much about working with an offensive tackle on a double team block or how do you read coverages, what happens if they blitz here, what do I do?” said Pope in June. “It has taken him some time to learn and feel a little more comfortable. His speed and athletic skills did not surface as quickly as we hoped because he was thinking his way through every single play which slowed him down. Now he’s developing some confidence and he knows a little bit more about what he is doing. These last three or four weeks have been the very best weeks of his Giant career.”

“Wish we could have gotten him in some games more last year, but it just didn’t work out for us to get him in some games,” said Reese. “But we really think – the guy is 280 pounds, he ran a 4.57 (40-yard dash) at his Pro Day, and we think he can really develop into a terrific blocker. In practice, he flashed some things that were really like some ‘Wow’ things in practice. So we’re expecting him to make a jump this season and get in and get going and give us some contributions as our big blocking tight end. And he can catch the ball really nice. So we expect to bring him along, and hopefully he’ll contribute for us.”

Larry Donnell: Donnell went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent 2012 on the Giants’ Practice Squad. Donnell has excellent size (6’6”, 270 pounds) and is a good athlete. However, he is raw and needs a lot of coaching. Unfortunately, Donnell missed most of the spring work with a right foot or ankle injury that forced him to wear a walking boot.

Jamie Childers: The Giants signed Jamie Childers to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2013. Childers was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the St. Louis Rams after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Rams waived him in August. Childers needs a lot of technique work not only because of his small school background but because he played both quarterback and tight end in college. Lacking bulk (6’5”, 250 pounds), Childers is built more like an H-Back than true tight end. He’s athletic and has good hands. He probably will never be more than a finesse blocker. According to press reports, Childers did flash as a receiver in spring workouts.

Chase Clement: Clement was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2013 NFL Draft. In college, Clement converted to tight from defensive end. He has good size (6’6”, 262 pounds) and strength and could develop as a blocking-type tight end with better technique. He was not used much as a receiver in college with only 14 career receptions in four seasons. Clement isn’t overly fast.

“When I first looked at (Clement) I had visions of Jake Ballard,” said Pope. “Just because he was a good blocker on the goal line. (LSU) seldom ever threw him the ball. But when the ball was snapped he had kind of that tough-guy mentality – old school. But he really had a motor…He is not going to be an all-world receiver way down the field as far as being explosive and flexible, but he has pretty good football savvy…I think there is something to work with there.”

Summary: Brandon Myers is clearly the #1 guy heading into training camp and will likely be the Giants’ primary tight end, though due to his size, it would be easy to see the Giants using him some at H-Back too. Myers could be the type of receiver who Manning quickly develops chemistry with. But Myers needs to block better than he did last year in Oakland. Pascoe is a limited athlete and his attention will be split between fullback, H-Back, and tight end. The real question is how fast can Adrien Robinson develop? He has the size to be a good blocker and the athletic abiity to be a good receiver. Can he put it all together, and if so, how quickly? Don’t completely discount Donnell (two-way tools), Childers (receiver), and Clement (blocker) either, but their best shot is probably the Practice Squad unless someone gets hurt.

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Jul 082013
 
 July 8, 2013  Posted by  Articles, History

Graphic images courtesy of Bill Schaefer, artist, and Tim Brulia, historian, of the Gridiron Uniform Database.

Becoming Big Blue – A History of the New York Giants Uniforms

by Larry Schmitt for BigBlueInteractive.com

1925 – 1936: Basic Beginnings

A fact obscured by history is that the New York Football Giants were anything but the “Big Blue” Giants we root for today. Red was the team’s primary color for the majority of their first 31 years in the NFL, including their entire residence at The Polo Grounds.

When the Giants took the field in Providence to face the Steamrollers, they wore an outfit that looked nothing like the modern uniform system worn by football players today. Most teams in 1925 looked very similar with unadorned brown leather helmets and baggy, tan or beige pants that included hip pads high above the waist. The only distinguishing elements between opponents in this era were the team colors displayed on the jerseys and socks. The Giants wore red bodied jerseys that featured royal blue shoulders and a broad blue band around the body. White block numbers were only on the back of the jersey. The socks were red with the blue band trimmed by white stripes. Midway through the season the helmets changed to white. This uniform set would be the Giants primary look (save for some minor modifications) for the majority of their first eight seasons, including their first NFL Championship in 1927.

A new pair of jerseys were introduced in 1928. One was solid blue, the other solid red. Both featured oval leather patches covering the player’s ribs. The patches on the blue jerseys were plain brown leather, the patches on the red jersey were blue.

Hap Moran (22), New York Giants (October 19, 1930)

The Giants added numbers to the front of the jerseys in 1929.

Through these years the Giants rotated helmet styles, often in mid season. The plain brown helmets and white helmets gave way to a red shelled helmet in 1929 that featured a blue crest and blue cross pattern over the crown. The blue banded red jersey returned in 1930 with a white number half in and half out of the band. This was supplemented in 1932 by a similar one that had a small white number centered in the band and trimmed with white stripes. A new helmet was introduced, which featured a blue shell with eight red stripes covering the crown (sometimes called “spider stripes”).

The Giants won their second NFL Championship in 1934, the season they made their first significant uniform overhaul. The new white helmets featured a blue crest and rear base. The red jerseys had a blue collar with white vertical stripes running the length of the sleeves. The side panels were royal blue, and the small white block numbers had a royal blue outline. The pants no longer had the high hip pads, but did have black stripes down the back of the legs (a feature common to many teams of this era). The red socks had blue and white stripes lower down the calf.

Chicago Cardinals at New York Giants (October 27, 1935)

The Giants first white jersey appeared during the 1935 season as an alternate.

After defeating the powerful 13-0 Chicago Bears in the frozen Polo Grounds in the NFL’s second-ever Championship Game, the 1935 Giants supplemented the red jersey with a white one. It was basically a negative of the red version: a white body with red sleeve stripes, blue side panels and red-trimmed blue block numbers. In 1936, this was the Giants full-time jersey, but the new pants, colorful for that season, were royal blue with white and red stripes down the back of the legs, and the socks were white with red and blue stripes.

1937 – 1952: Honing in on an Identity

Following 11 seasons of experimentation and discovery, the Giants began to find what would become their signature look. The helmet was a royal blue shell with a red “Michigan Wing” pattern. The primary jersey was solid red with plain white block numbers. The pants were beige and the socks were solid red. This is what the Giants wore in 1938 when they became the first NFL team to win two Championship Games, defeating the Green Bay Packers in the Polo Grounds, and Center/Linebacker Mel Hein won the NFL’s first MVP Award. A blue alternate jersey and socks were worn occasionally, usually when the Giants opposed a team that also wore red like the Chicago Cardinals or Washington Redskins. This uniform set remained mostly unchanged through the next 15 years, save for a set of grey pants joining the rotation (initially worn with the blue jerseys before becoming full-time), and evolutions in helmet technology.

Blue and red jerseys, along with tan and grey pants, alternated throughout the 1940′s.

In 1948 the “Michigan Wing” was replaced with the Giants final leather helmet. This model featured a more robust base to protect the player for impacts to the side of the head. The base was red, the crown blue with a red cross-pattern. Charley Conerly wore this uniform when he set a rookie record that would last for 50 years: most touchdown passes in a season with 22.

The majority of the NFL changed over to hard, plastic-shelled helmets in 1950. Immediately the Giants found another major component of their appearance: a solid blue shell (navy blue for many decades) with a single, red stripe down the center.

1953 – 1960: The Classic Era

Television began to have an impact on how teams presented themselves on the field so viewership following on black-and-white screens could easily tell the teams apart. More teams instituted the use of a second jersey in their rotation that was white. To accommodate their fans at home, the Giants inverted their primary jersey: red numbers on white with solid red socks. Although the alternate blue jersey would still appear a few times each season, the Giants were primarily a white-at-home team from 1953 through 1956 (including all home games in 1954).

In 1954 the Giants added “Northwestern Stripes” to the sleeves and in 1956 “TV Numbers” to the sleeves and red numbers flanking the red stripe on the back of the helmets. The Giants defeated the Chicago Bears in Yankee Stadium wearing these uniforms, and halfback Frank Gifford was the NFL’s MVP.

The NFL mandated all teams equip their uniform ensemble with two jerseys in 1957: one a primary color and the second white. The Giants took this opportunity to augment their uniforms with more classic features.

Frank Gifford (16), New York Giants (November 29, 1959)

The Giants were the first team to prominently display player numbers on the front of the helmet in 1957.

The helmets now featured bold, white player numbers both in front and back, and the grey pants had three thin separated stripes, red – blue – red, down the side. This was also the season the Giants became “Big Blue.” The Giants (like most NFL teams) wore their primary color jerseys at home full-time over the next 10 seasons, including two famous games with Yankee Stadium as their back drop in 1958 that created their now iconic look: Pat Summerall booting his 49-yard in the snow against the rival Cleveland Browns to force a playoff to decide the Eastern Conference Champion. Two weeks later the Giants heroically bowed to Johnny Unitas’ Baltimore Colts in the NFL’s first sudden-death Championship Game.

1961 – 1965: Continuing Refinements

Following on the heels of a growing trend, the Giants introduced their first helmet logo in 1961, the lowercase “ny”. For most of their existence, the Football Giants official logo was a Giants sized football player towering over the Manhattan skyline, while they borrowed the varying uppercase, interlocking “NY” logos of the baseball Giants and Yankees for the players and coaches sideline overcoats. Now they had one of their own. The Giants would win the NFL Eastern Division the first three seasons with this new logo, as Y.A. Tittle set team and NFL records that would last over 20 years. The pants also had a new stripe pattern, two slightly broader red stripes.

Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry, New York Giants (1958)

Vince Lombardi wearing the Yankees “NY” and Tom Landry wearing the Baseball Giants “NY” in 1958.

In 1962 the pants stripes changed again, three contiguous red-blue-red stripes. The “Northwestern Stripes” were removed from the white jerseys in 1964.

Red remained the prominent accent color on the Giants white uniforms through the 1965 season.

1966 – 1974: Red Takes a Back Seat

The Giants made some significant changes in 1966. The home uniform did not change much. The helmet and blue jersey did not change, but the pants were now white with a reversed blue-red-blue stripe pattern. The away uniform featuredwhite jerseys with blue numbers, the sleeves had a broad blue-red-blue stripe pattern that matched the pants. White socks with that same stripe pattern were worn through 1967, when this was the Giants uniform of choice for home games.

Minor changes for the 1968 season included solid blue socks worn with the white jersey, and the helmet numbers changed to a thinner but much larger font (to the point where the players’ numbers were almost as prominent as the “ny” logo). Along with the rest of the league, the Giants wore “NFL 50” shield patches on their jersey shoulders the shoulders of their jerseys for the 1969 season.

Fred Dryer, New York Giants (December 21, 1969)

Large helmet numbers, white pants, and the “NFL 50″ shield patch were part of the Giants look in 1969.

In the early 1970’s many NFL teams had two jersey sets of jerseys. One was durene, for cold weather games and the other mesh. Often there were differences between the two. For the Giants, the noticeable difference was the sleeve stripes. The durene jersey was unchanged, 3/4 length sleeves with broad stripes, until it was eventually phased out after the 1972 season. The mesh jersey had thinner blue-red-blue stripes at the bottom of the short sleeve and was a permanent away jersey through 1974.

1975 -1979: Stripes and Logos

The Giants appeared to experience a bit of an identity crisis during the mid to late ‘70’s. To say the uniforms were a drastic departure from the norm is an understatement.

In an attempt to appear more modern, the classic “ny” was replaced with a double-line, uppercase “NY”. White stripes bracketed the helmet’s red center stripe, and the player’s numbers were removed from the front of the helmet.

Doug Kotar, San Diego Chargers at New York Giants (November 1, 1975)

The uniform overhaul of 1975 was a radical departure from the Giants traditional look.

The blue jersey had a five-stripe pattern, two broad white stripes flanked by three thin red stripes, and the white numbers had red trim. The pants had an extra-wide blue stripe that was bordered by two red stripes. The blue socks had a matching stripe pattern as the sleeves for most of the season, until they were replaced late in the season by a white sock with a somewhat inverted blue-red-blue-red-blue pattern.

The white jerseys were a negative version of the blue, and were the Giants first set of blue pants in 40 years. The white socks worn with the blue pants had a set of stripes that matched the sleeves stripes.

Phil Simms, New York Giants (October 14, 1979)

The Giants uniforms of the late ’70′s featured an abundance of stripes.

The “NY” helmet logo was short lived. In 1976, when the team first stepped onto the field at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, they had another new logo, the italicized and underlined “GIANTS”. It was somewhat reminiscent of the simpler “ny” of the Yankee Stadium era, though the rest of the uniform was not. Some refinements and changes occurred with the socks during the next four seasons. Stripe patterns inverted, white socks were interchanged with red ones (worn with the blue pants only), before blue was settled on permanently in 1977. In 1979 the blue pants were gone and the socks were adorned with an 11-stripe white-red-white pattern.

1980 – 1999: Revision and Stability

Simplicity returned in 1980 as the New York Giants uniforms reflected their early 1970’s look but still retained a modern feel. The white stripes were removed from the helmets and the socks were once again solid blue. The blue jerseys had red-white-red piping along their V-necks and sleeve cuffs. The white pants returned to their familiar blue-red-blue pattern. The blue jerseys had a blue-red-blue pattern. This basic uniform, save for minor number font changes and ceremonial patches, would go unchanged for 20 years. The Giants worn white-at-home for the entire 1980 season, before settling on blue for good, and would wear those blue jerseys as they won Super Bowls XXI and XXV following the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

Mark Bavaro, New York Giants (September 21, 1986)

The Giants first full-season memorial patch was the “Spider 43″ worn during the championship year of1986.

Variations occurred that served as memorials – black shoulder stripe was sewn onto the jerseys in 1983 in honor of late RB Coach Bob Ledbetter, and the “Spider 43” patches worn during Lawrence Taylor’s MVP 1986 season (with a white background on the blue jersey and a blue background on the white jersey), or anniversaries – the Super Bowl XXV patch, the “NFL 75” patch in 1994, and the Giants “75th Silver Anniversary” patch in 1999.

The entire NFL wore throwback uniforms in 1994. The Giants chose replicas of their 1962 season, and they were mostly authentically replicated. White pants were used with the blue jerseys instead of the traditional grey, changed at the last moment at the league’s behest.

2000 – 2013: Echoes of the Past

 Similar in theme to the previous uniform overhaul, the Giants looked to the past while still maintaining a current feel. A mostly traditional “ny” logo returned to the helmet (it was slightly larger and bolder than the original), as well as the player numbers (now block style matching the jerseys). The matte, navy blue shell was now a metallic royal blue.

The blue jerseys were free of all striping and the numbers were solid white. Given the trend of constantly shortening sleeves, the “TV numbers” moved up to the shoulders. The pants were grey but kept the blue-red-blue stripe pattern. The white jerseys had red numbers again, but now featured blue trim. Solid red socks were worn with the white jersey through 2001, when the Giants added a white “GBY” patch for the late George Young. The Giants wore an “80th Anniversary” patch on the blue jerseys for the 2004 season, and also the new alternate red jersey they would wear once each season the next four years.

Jessie Armstead, New York Giants (September 30, 2001)

The Giants have featured a classic-but-modern look since 2000.

New retro white jerseys were introduced for the 2005 season. Plain red block numbers were accompanied with “Northwestern Stripes” on the sleeves. Two memorial patches were worn to honor the passing of owners Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch. The grey pants worn with the white jerseys also had the thin, separated red-blue-red stripes last worn in 1960. These are the uniforms the Giants wore when they twice upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI following the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

These pants received a full-time road designation and were also worn with the blue jersey during away games beginning in 2009, before they became the Giants sole pants in 2012. An alternate set of white pants, with an inverted blue-grey-red-grey-blue stripe pattern, will be worn on occasion with the blue jerseys beginning in 2013.

(To see the Giants uniform history in greater detail, please see the Giants page at the Gridiron Uniform Database.)

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Jul 082013
 
 July 8, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap
Jerry Reese, New York Giants (May 11, 2012)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

July 8, 2013 NFL Salary Cap Update: Here are the NFL salary cap space rankings for all 32 teams in the league as of Monday morning, July 8, 2013. The New York Giants are $3,308,682 under the NFL salary cap as of this date:

Click on column to sort

CAP SPACE RANK
TEAM
PREVIOUS YEAR CARRYOVER
TOTAL CAP SPACE
10Arizona$3,600,110.00 $10,640,331.00
20Atlanta$307,540.00 $6,299,287.00
21Baltimore$1,182,377.00 $6,049,823.00
5Buffalo$9,817,628.00 $18,665,064.00
12Carolina$3,654,825.00 $9,716,115.00
30Chicago$3,236,965.00 $1,637,767.00
4Cincinnati$8,579,575.00 $19,967,981.00
1Cleveland$14,339,575.00 $31,739,610.00
15Dallas$2,335,379.00 $8,124,208.00
9Denver$11,537,924.00 $10,697,563.00
29Detroit$466,992.00 $1,894,653.00
8Green Bay$7,010,832.00 $16,327,631.00
28Houston$2,422,689.00 $2,808,949.00
18Indianapolis$3,500,000.00 $6,935,290.00
2Jacksonville$19,563,231.00 $23,035,816.00
25Kansas City$14,079,650.00 $3,562,128.00
7Miami$5,380,246.00 $17,635,103.00
17Minnesota$8,004,734.00 $7,011,654.00
14New England$5,607,914.00 $9,215,519.00
22New Orleans$2,700,000.00 $5,173,260.00
26NY Giants$1,000,000.00 $3,308,682.00
11NY Jets$3,400,000.00 $9,964,235.00
16Oakland$4,504,761.00 $7,628,004.00
3Philadelphia$23,046,035.00 $22,466,188.00
23Pittsburgh$758,811.00 $4,403,813.00
27San Diego$995,893.00 $3,127,666.00
19San Francisco$859,734.00 $6,423,721.00
24Seattle$13,265,802.00 $3,712,328.00
32St. Louis$247,347.00 $214,088.00
6Tampa Bay$8,527,866.00 $18,278,471.00
13Tennessee$12,867,893.00 $9,245,356.00
31Washington$4,270,296.00 $1,413,440.00

What can we look forward to between now and the start of training camp?

There are 18 days left until the start of training camp on July 26th, and there are exactly 59 days left until the Top 51 rule expires on Thursday, September 5th at 12:00 am New York time.

The Giants are reportedly thisclose to signing Victor Cruz before the start of training camp. The odds are that both sides will officially come to terms at the last minute on July 24th or 25th, so that Cruz’s agent (Tom Condon, also the agent for Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning) can get as much as he possibly can out of the Giants before the team  is allowed to fine Cruz $30,000 per day for missing training camp if he doesn’t report on time on July 26th. They’ll likely get it done by then, rendering the possibility of fines moot. Cruz is patiently playing this as expected so far, as are the Giants.

The Giants will also need to sign their remaining two unsigned draft picks (1st rounder Justin Pugh, and 4th rounder Ryan Nassib). Approximately 87% of the draft picks in the league have signed contracts as of June 30th, 8 days ago according to this tweet by Ralph Vacchiano:

Here are the contract figures for most of these players from overthecap.com.

These two rookie deals should be finalized before the start of training camp, with Pugh’s deal being the only one of the two to have an effect on the team’s salary cap now since we’re still in the Top 51 phase of salary cap accounting. Both will eventually count against the Giants’ cap though once the Top 51 rule expires on September 5th since Nassib is a shoe-in to make the team, pending an act of God, or a season-ending injury during the preseason thereby causing his salary to split.

I would also expect to see a move made by the club with respect to clearing more space under the salary cap before the Cruz signing is announced. I’d expect to see a restructure done to either punter Steve Weatherford’s contract (which ends after the 2016 season) and/or Eli Manning’s contract at some point within the next three weeks. This would allow more space for the Cruz signing and to give the Giants the added cap space that they need in order to cover regular season expenses. If Eli’s deal is restructured now, then you can bet your bottom dollar that his contract – which ends after the 2015 season – will be extended in 2014 in order to make more room for Cruz and Nicks, and in anticipation of JPP’s unrestricted free agency in 2016.

To keep informed of the latest salary cap news as it impacts the Giants, follow my Giants salary cap blog (nygcapcentral.com), or me on Twitter (@NYGCapCentral) as the offseason continues, and we head into training camp and the preseason. It is likely that we will see  more cap moves made, not only by the Giants, but the entire league. Some clubs that are approximately $5 million or less under the cap now still need to clear up more room in order to sign some of their remaining first round picks and prepare for additional regular season operational expenses starting on September 5th. These regular season operational expenses include the following:

  • 52nd and 53rd players on the 53-man roster
  • the Practice Squad
  • players on Injured Reserve
  • the PUP list
  • additional Dead money incurred in training camp as the result of cuts
  • grievances & injury settlements
  • extra money (“fudge money”) needed in case of emergencies during the regular season

Check out this YouTube video by Jason Fitzgerald from overthecap.com which gives an excellent synopsis of how the salary cap works, particularly this section (starting at the 33:06 mark to the 34:42 mark) which describes what I just mentioned above with respect to how the salary cap rules change once the Top 51 rule ceases:

We will also likely see the remaining free agents of note, like fullback Vonta Leach and defensive end John Abraham, sign with teams that have cap room to spare. Check out the following lists of remaining free agents:

You can keep an eye on the Salary Cap as it continues to change here (NFLPA Top 51 League Cap Report). We’re going to see more moves made to the Giants’ roster, as noted above (the signings of Pugh, Nassib; new deal for Cruz; & the very likely restructures for Eli and/or Weatherford). Here are the cap numbers for almost every player on the Giants’ roster as of this time, courtesy of overthecap.com:

The fact that Tom Condon is the agent for Victor Cruz and Eli Manning (as well Tom Coughlin incidentally) is an important factor to keep in consideration as contract negotiations take place and are then put in effect through the supposedly soon-to-be-made announcement with regard to Cruz’s new deal, and the probable contract restructuring of Eli’s contract that would be needed to help make more room for Cruz, and give the Giants the cap-breathing room they’ll need once the Top 51 Rule ceases on September 5th, heading into the regular season.

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