GIANTS TENDER SEVEN EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS… The New York Daily News is reporting that the New York Giants have tendered seven of the eight players on their roster who were eligible to be tendered as exclusive rights free agents. The players tendered cannot sign with any team other than the Giants, thus guaranteeing their return unless the tender is revoked. The seven players are:
RB Orleans Darkwa
WR Myles White
TE Will Tye
TE Jerome Cunningham
OG Adam Gettis
S Bennett Jackson
P Brad Wing
The player not tendered was wide receiver Marcus Harris. Scouting reports on these players are available in the Scouting Reports section of the website.
VICTOR CRUZ STARTS RUNNING…
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz revealed on Thursday that he has begun running as part of his rehab process recovering from calf surgery. Cruz did not play in any preseason or regular-season games in 2015. Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2015 due to a left calf injury suffered in August that never healed and required surgery. It is the third leg injury that Cruz has suffered since signing his big 6-year contract in July 2013, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2013 and career-threatening patellar tendon surgery on his right knee in 2014.
“I’ve been making a lot of progress,” Cruz said in a BleacherReport.com video. “The calf is feeling really, really good. I’m excited about the progress, I’m excited for what’s to come… I have a long journey ahead of me. I’m pretty much starting from scratch, building my legs up from scratch, which is what I want to do. Making sure they’re stronger than they were and they stay that way. No more setbacks.”
Cruz is currently set to count $9.9 million against the team’s 2016 NFL cap, the second most by a player after quarterback Eli Manning. It has been speculated that if Cruz does not accept a pay cut, he may be released from the Giants. Cruz recently said that he believed there was an “80 percent” chance he would return to Giants.
“I really feel like it’s paying dividends. The strength in my calf is starting to come back,” said Cruz. “Everything’s starting to come around. I’m excited to go out there with my teammates again. I’m excited to see Odell and those guys, I’m excited to play again. But I know I have a long journey ahead of me. I have some significant gains to make in terms of where I’m at with my calf, and things like that. I’m excited.”
GIANTS PLACE GEOFF SCHWARTZ ON INJURED RESERVE…
As expected, the New York Giants have placed offensive guard Geoff Schwartz on season-ending Injured Reserve. Schwartz fractured his lower left leg in the team’s 20-14 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Schwartz also missed 14 games in 2014 in his first season season with the Giants due to toe and left ankle injuries that both required surgery.
GIANTS SIGN ADAM GETTIS FROM RAIDERS PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have signed offensive guard Adam Gettis from the Practice Squad of the Oakland Raiders. Gettis spent two stints on the Giants’ Practice Squad this season (September 6 – October 15 and October 21 – November 4). Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014. The Giants signed him off of the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014. Gettis lacks ideal size and power, but he is an athletic lineman with good mobility.
Victor Cruz goes in for calf surgery today. Did not play at all this season coming off major knee surgery, done in summer calf injury.
ELI MANNING ON WFAN…
The audio of Monday’s WFAN Radio interview with quarterback Eli Manning is available on CBS New York’s website.
Quarterback Eli Manning’s 321 passing yards on Sunday increased his season total to 3,021 yards. This is the 11th consecutive season Manning has thrown for more than 3,000 yards. He is one of seven quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in 11 different seasons, joining Brett Favre (18), Peyton Manning (16), Tom Brady (13), Dan Marino (13), Drew Brees (12) and John Elway (12).
Manning is the fourth quarterback to throw for 3,000 in 11 consecutive seasons, joining Favre (18 from 1992 to 2009), Peyton Manning (13 from 1998 to 2010) and Brees (12 from 2004 to 2015).
The Giants are 11-19 (.367) away from MetLife Stadium since the start of the 2012 season. From 2004-11 (Tom Coughlin’s first eight years as coach), they were 38-26 (.594) as visitors.
The Giants’ three rushing touchdowns through 11 games is their lowest total since they had two in 1996.
The Giants’ 12 sacks is their lowest 11-game total since team sacks were first tracked in 1963. Their lowest full-season total since the 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978 is 25 in 1992.
NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT… WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Larry Donnell (neck), RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (hamstring), LB Jon Beason (ankle/knee), LB J.T. Thomas (ankle), and S Craig Dahl (neck) did not practice on Wednesday.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if there was any indication that Cruz would practice this week. “None that I know of,” replied Coughlin who also said there was no timetable on Cruz’s return.
“(Donnell is) week to week, I’m sure,” said Coughlin. “Day to day, week to week, I don’t know.”
“I’ll be back in no time,” Donnell said. “I’m a country boy from Alabama, I’ll be back soon…I’m just taking it until I get motion back in it. We’re just taking it day-by-day. So no timeframe, just whenever I’m able to get all my motion back in it. I can move it. It’s just I want to be 100 percent when I’m dealing with my neck when I get back out there.”
“(Randle) won’t practice today, but we feel like he’ll move along,” said Coughlin of Randle, who is back on the injury report with his nagging hamstring injury.
“It’s a little sore still today,” Randle said. “Usually gets a little better throughout the week. So just have to see how it goes. I’ve been pushing it out for these last three weeks, so I don’t see why not play this week. (I) kind of re-aggravated it a little bit. Just trying to find a way to keep it manageable where I can play.”
RB Orleans Darkwa (back), LB Uani ‘Unga (neck), and CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) practiced on a limited basis.
“Prince is going to work, but he’s going to work individual and then have a couple of snaps as a scout team corner just to get his footwork going again,” said Coughlin before practice.
OT Will Beatty (pectoral – PUP) continued to work on an undisclosed basis. However, the Giants said DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand – roster exemption) was a FULL participant in practice.
“(Beatty is) going to work this week and then the decision is forthcoming (after the Tampa Bay game),” said Coughlin. “He’ll work a little bit with both (the offense and scout team).”
“Practice, (Pierre-Paul is) going to practice,” said Coughlin. “He’ll practice today, he’ll practice tomorrow. He’ll get a good amount of reps and we’ll take it from there…He’ll be with our defense, he’ll also get some scout team reps…He’s in outstanding physical condition…We had him in pads on Saturday morning, we had him in pads on Monday, so we’re feeling good about accelerating him along. There’s nothing unusual about it when a guy who is in his position is in the condition that he’s in and prepares himself to play — that’s what he’s done.”
“I was out there last week, but it felt even better this week, actually getting into a rotation, knowing the plays and executing my plays.” said Pierre-Paul. “I am going to play on Sunday…Maybe…It’s going to be a big adjustment…But there’s nothing that I can’t do…I’ve been able to grab and shed tackles…I know for a fact that I’m still the same JPP…If I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
MORE PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
In addition to signing tight end Matt LaCosse to the Practice Squad (see Tuesday’s update), the Giants have also signed safety Cooper Taylor to the Practice Squad. Taylor, the Giants’ 5th round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, was waived on October 20 after he had been on the active game-day roster three-of-six games.
To make room for Taylor, the Giants terminated the Practice Squad contract of offensive guard Adam Gettis.
HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
The transcript of Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.
GIANTS SIGN CB LEON McFADDEN…
The New York Giants have signed cornerback Leon McFadden off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals. The roster moves fills the vacancy on the 53-man roster created when the team waived safety Cooper Taylor on Tuesday.
McFadden was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played in all 16 games as a rookie with two starts. The Browns waived him in August 2014. Since then, he has spent time with the Jets, 49ers, and Cardinals. McFadden played in seven games with no starts for the 49ers in 2014. The 49ers waived him in September 2015. McFadden is an average-sized corner (5’10”, 190 pounds) with good quickness.
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have re-signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive guard Adam Gettis to the Practice Squad. The Giants also terminated the Practice Squad contract of offensive tackle Xavier Proctor. The other Practice Squad vacancy was created when the Giants signed cornerback Brandon McGee from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster on Sunday.
The Giants waived Cunningham from the 53-man roster on Sunday in order to make room for McGhee. Gettis was released from the Practice Squad last Thursday to make room for Proctor.
Update on Jason Pierre-Paul: He is NOT in NY/NJ today. Still expected to meet with Giants docs at some point this week, but not yet.
INJURY REPORT – AMUKAMARA RULED OUT AGAIN… WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Victor Cruz (calf), CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), CB Trumaine McBride (groin), and CB Trevin Wade (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday.
Amukamara has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), LB Uani ‘Unga (neck), and LB Jonathan Casillas (neck) practiced on a limited basis.
OT Will Beatty (pectoral) returned to practice on a limited basis, performing in individual drills, but remains on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Since he has now returned to the practice field, the Giants can keep him on that list for only three more weeks.
WR Victor Cruz was on the practice field doing light exercises with rehab coordinator. Step in right direction #Giants
INJURY REPORT – PRINCE AMUKAMARA OUT 2-4 WEEKS… WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Victor Cruz (calf), LB Jon Beason (concussion), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), and CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) did not practice on Thursday.
The bad news on the injury front is that Amukamara could miss a month with a pectoral injury. He has already been ruled out of Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. “They’re saying two-to-four (weeks),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He has a partial tear of the pec, and it occurred in the (49ers) game. It’s most unfortunate, he’s made a lot of plays this Fall but we’ll continue on and we will get him back.”
“(The pectoral muscle is) still attached,” said Amukamara. “It gives me a chance to rehab it and we’ll do another MRI in a couple weeks to see if progress has been made and we’ll go from there.”
Beckham did not practice, but he did do some running. “We’ll see (if Beckham can practice later this week),” said Coughlin. “Today he can’t go. He’s day-to-day, but today he can’t go.”
“Day-by-day thing, with the game being Monday, so won’t really be able to tell until Monday,” said Beckham.
WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DE George Selvie (calf), and CB Trumaine McBride (groin) practiced on a limited basis.
“I’m fine,” said Randle. “Today I tried to test (the hamstring) a little bit so it felt pretty good. It’s a little sore now, but it’s getting better, so as long as I’m progressing, I’m pretty positive about it…Just trying to rehab it as much as possible, strengthen back up, and see how it feels Monday night…I don’t see myself sitting out this game. It’s enough time for me to heal up enough to play, so we’ll see how it goes.”
LG Justin Pugh (ankle) fully practiced.
Another procedure done today on NYG TE Daniel Fells' foot, though docs remain optimistic they're getting his MRSA infection under control.
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed offensive tackle Xavier Proctor and cornerback Brandon McGee to the team’s Practice Squad. To make room for these two players, the Giants terminated the Practice Squad contracts of tight end Dominique Jones and offensive guard Adam Gettis.
Originally a defensive tackle, Proctor signed with the Orlando Predators of the AFL out of college in 2013. He signed with the Detroit Lions in August 2013 and spent the year on the team’s Practice Squad. The Lions moved him to offensive tackle in 2014 but waived him in September 2014.
McGee was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He played in 15 games in 2013 and two games in 2014 with no starts, accruing 18 tackles. He missed most of 2014 with a foot injury. In 2015, the Rams waived him in September, signed him to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster, and then waived him in October. McGee combines decent size with very good speed and quickness.
Jones was signed by the Giants to the Practice Squad on October 7 after spending time with the Broncos and Ravens in 2015. The Giants signed Gettis off of the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014.
In addition to previously-reported wide receivers Terrell Pryor, T.J. Graham, and A.J. Jenkins, the following players worked out for the Giants on Wednesday:
QB Bryn Renner
WR Devin Gardner
WR Antwan Goodley
WR Mike Williams
LB Philip Wheeler
CB Brandon McGee
CB Garry Peters
CB Greg Reid
CB Dax Swanson
As reported, the Giants signed McGee to the Practice Squad.
HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
The transcript of Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.
New York Giants Claim DT Louis Nix and CB Asa Jackson: The New York Giants have claimed defensive tackle Louis Nix (Houston Texans) and cornerback Asa Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) off of waivers. To make room for these two players, the Giants released defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis and waived cornerback Mike Harris.
Nix was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Texans. He has been plagued with injuries, having knee surgery in 2013 at Notre Dame, knee surgery in Summer 2014 with the Texans, and then a wrist issue that landed him on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with the Texans. He never played in a regular-season game with Houston. Nix is a strong, mammoth nose tackle-type lineman who can take on the double-team and hold the point-of-attack when healthy. Although Nix is a good athlete for his size, he is more of a run defender than pass rusher. Nix’s professionalism and work ethic were questioned in Houston.
Jackson was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Ravens. In three seasons, Jackson has played in 14 regular-season games. All six of his starts came in 2014 when he accrued 28 tackles and three pass defenses. Jackson has been suspended twice by the NFL (in 2012 and 2013) for a total of 12 games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), in this case Adderall. Jackson lacks ideal size but he is a smooth athlete with very good quickness. He struggled at times at corner in Baltimore. Jackson is a dangerous punt and kickoff returner, but he has had fumbling issues.
The Giants signed Ellis as an unrestricted free agent from the Jets in March 2015. The Giants signed Harris off of the Practice Squad of the Detroit Lions in October 2014. He ended up playing in five games with one start for the Giants last season.
New York Giants Practice Squad Signings: The Giants have signed the following six players to their 10-man Practice Squad:
WR Julian Talley
OG Adam Gettis
OT Emmett Cleary
DE Brad Bears
LB Cole Farrand
S C.J. Conway
All six of these players were with the Giants this summer in training camp and the preseason. They were all waived on Saturday.
Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.
The New York Giants made 22 roster moves on Saturday in order reduce the roster to 53 players as required by the NFL.
The Giants waived or terminated the contracts of the following players:
QB Ricky Stanzi
RB Kenneth Harper
FB Henry Hynoski
WR James Jones
WR Corey Washington (waived/injured)
WR Julian Talley
TE Adrien Robinson
OT Emmett Cleary
OT Sean Donnelly
OG Adam Gettis
DE Brad Bars
DT Dominique Hamilton
LB Jameel McClain
LB Ashlee Palmer
LB Cole Farrand
CB Chykie Brown
CB Chandler Fenner
S Jeromy Miles
S C.J. Conway
PK Chris Boswell
The Giants placed the following players on season-ending Injured Reserve:
S Nat Berhe (calf)
OC Brett Jones (knee)
“(Cut down days are) all the same, because inevitably there are guys, I don’t give a damn who you are, you become attached to them,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “They’re part of your landscape. To have some of these guys that have been here, and been through some of the really good times, to have them go, it’s not easy. Because you have something you shared. You shared it, and it was great. And it’ll be there for a lifetime. Especially as gracious as some of these young men are and the things that they say. I mean they’re in here almost in tears, and you’re sitting there thinking that this is just going to be one of those hard days. All of a sudden, they start touching the emotional part of it, and it’s not easy.”
The Giants have 16 players on their 53-man roster (30.2 percent) who were not here or did not play a game for the team in 2014.
“It’s what you see throughout the league,” Coughlin said. “I think that sometimes, to be honest with you, that number and that percentage is a good thing. Because you do need the constant (roster turnover). It happens naturally, but it’s a constant as you try and improve. You wouldn’t think that a team who won six games would stay where they are. Well, they’re not. You have to try another direction.”
Three lesser-known players who surprised included tight end Jerome Cunningham, linebacker Unai’ Unga, and fullback Nikita Whitlock.
“Without a doubt, they flashed,” Coughlin said. “They flashed and they followed through. It’s not all the finished product by any means, but they are young and they do play hard. There hasn’t been many big plays the whole (preseason), but Cunningham has made a couple of them, outstanding catches. Geremy Davis has made plays. He’s a special teamer. He’s out there on the practice field every day. He’s out there. Be out there on the practice field. Maybe we can make some progress if you’re out there. It’s hard to make progress when you’re not.”
“What’d (Whitlock) make, two or three tackles on special teams the other night,” said Coughlin. “That’s the thing. He’s a four-core special teamer (playing on the punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return teams). He’s had them all, and knows full well why he’s here.”
“You definitely do see the potential (in Unga),” Coughlin said. “He can run, he’s physical, he’s got some skill. He’s got a deep skill level. He’s got a lot to learn about the position.”
Hynoski has been the starting fullback for the Giants for the last four seasons. McClain started 14 games for the Giants at middle linebacker in 2014. Robinson was was a former draft pick (2012 4th round).
“Everybody loves Henry,” Coughlin said. “Henry is a very positive young man. He’s upbeat. He always has and always will do whatever you want him to do. He’s had a couple of years where he’s had some injury issues. But by in large, he’s out there every day. You get to appreciate those kind of guys.”
“Another one that was tough (was McClain),” Coughlin said. “He’s obviously a recent addition here. But he’s always been a very upbeat and positive guy, and always looking for the bright side of everything. He is verbal, and is loud. But you come to realize that he’s doing it for a reason. He is positive about the impression he makes on people. He’ll take charge of the huddle for you, there’s no doubt about that.”
Notes and Quotes: With the release of punter Steve Weatherford and and fullback Henry Hynoski, the Giants have just seven players remaining from the 2011 Super Bowl XLVI championship team: QB Eli Manning, WR Victor Cruz, OT Will Beatty, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Mark Herzlich, CB Prince Amukamara, and LS Zak DeOssie.
Coughlin on new punter Brad Wing: “Left-footed, hang, distance, and location. Impressive grades coming out (of LSU). Punted for a season and had the kind of things that we would like to be able to do in terms of directional punting and all that stuff.”
The Giants say Wing will also be the holder for Josh Brown’s field goal and extra point attempts.
Sources telling me the Giants and Seahawks have discussed a potential Kam Chancellor trade. Tho the sides do remain far apart on a deal.
2014 YEAR IN REVIEW:The overall play of the New York Giants offensive line improved in 2014 from its dreadful performance in 2013 but the unit was still sub par. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Pass protection was better as the Giants gave up 30 sacks on the season, which was 9th-best in the NFL. But that figure is a bit misleading given the offense’s new emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly (West Coast Offense) and quarterback Eli Manning’s long-established tendency to get rid of the ball quickly and not take the sack (which he probably actually should do more often when under duress).
The improvement that did take place not only had to do with the individual components playing better, but the Giants had greater cohesion up front due to far fewer injuries. In 2013, the Giants used seven different starting offensive line combinations, the second-highest total in the NFL that season. In 2014, the same players started all 16 games at left tackle (Will Beatty), center (J.D. Walton), and right guard (John Jerry). Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and Justin Pugh started 14 games at right tackle.
That all said, it is widely-recognized that the offensive line was once again a sore spot in 2014. Chris Snee retired before training camp. The Giants counted on high-priced free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz to be a major building block, but Schwartz only played in two games due to injuries. Beatty had a decent year, but Walton and Jerry really struggled at times. Pugh regressed after a strong rookie season and Richburg experienced the expected growing pains, especially since he was playing out of position. Overall, the line was more finesse than power, which usually is not good for any offense, but especially so for one predicated on balance and the ability to run the football.
Another issue was the overall poor depth situation. James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Eric Herman, Dallas Reynolds, and Adam Snyder were complete non factors and did not push the weaker links on the line. Adam Gettis was signed late in the season from the Steelers practice squad and ex-Eagle Michael Bamiro was signed to the Giants practice squad.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants released center J.D. Walton in March. Tackle James Brewer signed with the Jets in free agency and the Giants have made no effort to re-sign guard Adam Snyder. The Giants signed CFL All-Star center Brett Jones and street free agent tackle Emmett Cleary early in the offseason and then signed unrestricted free agent tackle Marshall Newhouse from the Bengals.The Giants drafted tackle Ereck Flowers in the first round and guard Bobby Hart in the seventh round. The team also signed rookie free agent tackle Sean Donnelly.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The Giants will enter training camp with no 2014 starter remaining at the same position. Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in an offseason weight-lifting accident and will probably miss at least half of the regular season. Because of that, the Giants are starting Ereck Flowers at left tackle at least one year sooner than they anticipated (post-draft comments by Giants officials made it clear that they saw Flowers as Beatty’s eventual replacement). Flowers had been penciled in at right tackle but now Marshall Newhouse – a player benched by the Packers and Bengals – gets first crack at the position. Weston Richburg moves to his more natural position of center. Justin Pugh has shifted from right tackle to left guard. Geoff Schwartz moves from left guard to his more natural right guard position.
The Giants have now invested two first-round draft picks (Pugh and Flowers), two second-round draft picks (Beatty and Richburg), and a high-priced free agent (Schwartz) on the offensive line. Even though Beatty is out, much improvement is expected. On paper, the Giants look strong inside (Pugh-Richburg-Schwartz) with significant question marks at tackle (Flowers and Newhouse). Flowers should eventually excel, but growing pains should be expected. Newhouse’s track record during the last few years has not been good and he appears to be the obvious weak link. The Giants may be forced to move Schwartz to right tackle and start John Jerry at right guard if Newhouse can’t handle the position. The situation should improve when Beatty returns mid-season, but long-term, Beatty may have sealed his fate with the team, especially if Flowers shows steady improvement at left tackle.
Another area of focus is the depth situation and if one of the younger players could possibly surprise and push for a starting job. Brandon Mosley apparently had a good spring as he received some first-team reps during OTAs. The Giants have some very big, young tackles including Michael Bamiro (6’8”, 340lbs), Emmett Cleary (6’7”, 324lbs), and Sean Donnelly (6’7”, 333lbs). The team drafted guard Bobby Hart (6’4”, 334lbs). Brett Jones was a CFL All-Star who is now adjusting to the NFL game.
Overall, the Giants need the line to become a much more physical and intimidating presence. Flowers has a reputation as a bad ass and should help. Pugh and Richburg worked hard in the offseason to get bigger and stronger. The Giants need Schwartz to rebound from a serious ankle injury and be a tough veteran inside.
ON THE BUBBLE:The Giants will probably carry nine offensive linemen. Beatty will probably start the season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List and not count against the 53-man roster limit. Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, and Schwartz are the locks. Newhouse and Jerry are on shaky ground, but one will likely start and the other will likely provide veteran depth. The other nine offensive linemen will probably be fighting for three spots. Those linemen include Mosley, Bamiro, Cleary, Donnelly, Hart, Jones, Dallas Reynolds, Eric Herman, and Adam Gettis. Troy Kropog is also currently on a PUP List.
FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Pat Flaherty on Weston Richburg: “Right now the progress is good, it really is. He learned an awful lot last year but I knew that he was going to be a player for a very long time and I know I’m using that, but I believe it because he likes the game of football. He really has embraced the center position because you are the voice of everybody to start out and the quarterback may change things, but you are telling everyone what to do. I think that Weston has a little bit of bossman in him and he likes that.”
Flaherty on Michael Bamiro: “I’ll tell you he is the Kevin Garnett of the football players, that guy is huge. He is a good worker, he really is. He has some position versatility from being a tackle to a guard and we worked out with him. We have to really find out a little more about him when we get on pads, but I like his attitude.”
Flaherty on Justin Pugh: “I think that he likes playing and I love guys who like playing. I think any position that you put him at, he would play it. He would like to be a guy that is settled in one position. Most guys are that way. I think you probably get that feeling from him more than anything. He would only get better at the tackle position for us. Is he a better guard than tackle? He is going to be a good football player…Justin has very good feet, he is a very good athlete, has tremendous lower body strength and when you get closer to the ball at the guard position, you are going to be blocking bigger people, so I think that is going to be an advantage for us. He will be able to block those people.”
Flaherty on Geoff Schwartz: “Geoff wants to do it and he has worked awful hard to get back from his injury and he just needs to have the good luck charm on his side for once. Once he is able to do that, here is a guy that can be in the next half dozen years and have a tremendous finish to his career.”
PREDICTIONS: While there will be growing pains with Ereck Flowers, 4/5ths of the Giants offensive line could be set for a few years provided there are no more injuries and Schwartz recovers well from his ankle injury. Flowers will bring much-needed toughness and physicality to the line. Richburg seems primed to develop into a good one at center and the Giants seem to think Pugh will excel at left guard. In fact, these three players could not only be solid, but very good.
“We like (Flowers) as a future left tackle of the New York Giants. I am very comfortable with him being out there right now,” said Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo during the mini-camp.
“(Pugh) is a football-smart guy,” said McAdoo. “He is a hard worker. He brings a nice level of physicality that we like. Some grit to the position right there. It is probably a position that doesn’t get as much glamor as a tackle, but when you are on the left side, it is important position to protect the backside of the quarterback away from his vision. The left guard position is especially important because a lot goes on there on the inside. When one becomes two and two becomes three and when zero becomes one and all the movement happens, you have to make quick decisions and we feel Justin can do that.”
“Weston is a natural center,” said McAdoo. “I am excited for him. I am excited for the offense. I think he brings some energy to the position and to the offense. He’s a guy who likes to have control of things and likes to have his hand on the football. He works very hard at it. I like Weston.”
The obvious question mark is Newhouse at right tackle. He could be the Achilles’ heel for the entire line. Given his struggles in the league the last few years, it’s hard to imagine him being the answer. If he has problems early, the Giants may have to pull the plug and scramble to fill the position. While fans knock John Jerry, he may be an important piece of the short-term puzzle. The pie-in-the-sky hope is that someone like Mosley or Bamiro presses for starting time.
“Marshall has played a little bit of everywhere,” said McAdoo. “I was with him in the past when he first got into the league. He has played just about every position. I believe he even snapped the ball at one point. He is a smart guy. He gets the game. He is very nimble-footed. We need to get some pads on and get out there and get a look at him with the defense moving and be physical. He has done it before and he has done it at a high level before and he will have an opportunity to be a major contributor this year.”
FINAL DEPTH CHART: Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, Schwartz, Newhouse, Jerry, Mosley, Hart, and Jones.
The overall play of the New York Giants offensive line improved in 2014 from its dreadful performance in 2013 but the unit was still sub par. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Pass protection was better as the Giants gave up 30 sacks on the season, which was 9th-best in the NFL. But that figure is a bit misleading given the offense’s new emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly (West Coast Offense) and quarterback Eli Manning’s long-established tendency to get rid of the ball quickly not take the sack, which he probably actually should do more often when under duress.
The improvement that did take place not only had to do with the individual components playing better, but the Giants had greater cohesion up front due to far fewer injuries. In 2013, the Giants used seven different starting offensive line combinations, the second-highest total in the NFL that season. In 2014, the same players started all 16 games at left tackle (Will Beatty), center (J.D. Walton), and right guard (John Jerry). Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and Justin Pugh started 14 games at right tackle. In 2013, not only were the Giants continually shifting players around due to an inordinate number of injuries to starters, but they were sometimes relying on third-stringers as backups were also getting injured.
That all said, it is widely-recognized that the offensive line was once again a sore spot in 2014. The Giants counted on high-priced free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz to be a major building block, but Schwartz only played in two games due to injuries. Chris Snee, who the Giants never really counted on, retired before training camp. Overall, the line is more finesse than power, which usually is not good for any offense, but especially so for one predicated on balance and the ability to run the football.
Another issue is the poor overall depth situation. For years now, the Giants have not had quality up-and-coming reserves waiting in the wings in case the starters faltered or got hurt. Questionable free agent decisions and shoddy drafting have been the primary culprits. Most of the offensive linemen drafted in recent years have not developed, including Mitch Petrus, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, and Eric Herman.
Will Beatty started all 16 games at left tackle. He rebounded from a terribly inconsistent 2013 and a fractured tibia that he suffered in the regular-season finale at the end of that year to have a mostly positive performance in 2014. Since Beatty was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Giants, Beatty has had issues staying healthy, including a broken foot in 2010, a detached retina in 2011, a back injury that caused him to miss offseason work in 2012, and the broken leg in 2013. Beatty is a big lineman with long arms and a very good athlete. When on top of his game, Beatty can mirror and slide with the best pass rushers, and is athletic enough to pull and engage defenders at the second level in the run game. However, Beatty is more of a finesse player. He does not play with a lot of strength and power and he is not a very physical or aggressive blocker. Beatty still has consistency issues.
The Giants drafted Weston Richburg, a 4-year starter at center in college, in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of his practice reps with the Giants came at guard in training camp and when Geoff Schwartz suffered a preseason toe injury, Richburg became the starter at left guard. He started 15 games at the position, being benched for one game in November. Richburg had an inconsistent year as a rookie as both a run and pass blocker. Richburg is a good athlete with decent size, but he needs to get bigger and stronger. He is not a mauling type of lineman, but he plays with good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. He is smart, tough, and aggressive. His best position is most likely center though he is obviously versatile enough to play guard.
J.D. Walton started all 16 games at center for the Giants in 2014, but his play was sub par. Walton was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He started 32 regular-season games in 2010 and 20011 and the first four games of 2012 until he missed the rest of the season with a severe left ankle injury that required surgery. Walton had a setback on the ankle during the following offseason and underwent a second surgery in June 2013. He missed all of training camp and the preseason and was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Broncos waived him in December 2013 and Walton was then claimed off of waivers by the Redskins. The Giants signed him in March 2014. Walton has average size and athletic ability for a center. He does not generate much movement in his run blocks and can be physically overpowered by bigger, stronger linemen. Walton is a better pass protector but he is vulnerable to powerful or quicker linemen in that area as well. The strength of Walton’s game is his intelligence, scrappiness, and effort. The Giants were comfortable with him making all of the offensive line calls.
John Jerry started all 16 games at right guard for the Giants in 2014. He was a wildly inconsistent player who alternated far too much between solid and poor play. Jerry was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins where he started 45 games in his first four seasons in the NFL. The Giants signed Jerry as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Jerry looks the part with very good size and long arms, and he flashes both as a run and pass blocker. But he simply is not consistently reliable, technique-oriented, and physical enough blocking for both the run and the pass. Simply put, Jerry needs to work harder at keeping his opponent from making the play. He also seemed to struggle at times mentally with recognizing stunts and blitzes in pass protection.
In his second season with the Giants after being drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Justin Pugh regressed a bit and had an inconsistent season at right tackle. Sporting a brace on his left elbow, Pugh struggled in the first half of the season and then missed two games with a quadriceps injury in November. He played much better in the final four games in December. In 2013, Pugh started all 16 games at right tackle and was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team for his performance. Pugh doesn’t look the part as he lacks ideal size and has short arms for a tackle. But he is a good athlete who plays with fine strength, technique, and leverage. Pugh is smart, aggressive, and tenacious. Though not a mauler, he can get movement on his run blocks and he has the agility to do well in pass protection, though he needs to become more consistent in that area. He can pull and block defenders at the second level. Versatile, the Giants think he can play both tackle spots, guard, and possibly even center.
THE INJURED STARTER
In his first season with the Giants, Geoff Schwartz suffered through an injury-plagued season that saw him play in two games at right tackle because of serious toe and ankle injuries that both required surgery. He missed both the first 10 and last four games of the season, ending up on Injured Reserve in December. Schwartz was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He has spent time with the Panthers (2008-10), Vikings (2012), and Chiefs (2013). He signed with the Giants as a free agent in March 2014. Schwartz has excellent size and can maul people as a run blocker. He is very solid in pass protection. Schwartz is versatile – he is able to play guard or right tackle.
James Brewer simply has not developed as a player since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. A year after playing in all 16 games with eight starts, Brewer only played in two games in November before being placed on injured reserve in December with a concussion. Brewer has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He can play both tackle and guard spots. However, he has not proven to be a very tough or physical lineman.
Adam Snyder was signed by the Giants in September 2014. He played in four games with one start at left guard in Week 12 before leaving that game with the knee issue that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve in December. Snyder was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. During his career, he’s played eight seasons with the 49ers (2005-11, 2013) and one with the Arizona Cardinals (2012). Snyder is extremely versatile, having starting experience at all five offensive line positions. He has started 88 regular-season games in 10 NFL seasons. However, despite having very good size, Snyder was considered the weak link of the starting units in San Francisco and Arizona in recent years.
Brandon Mosley has not developed since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He missed his entire rookie season with an ankle injury. Mosley was active for 22 games the last two seasons, including nine in 2014. His only start came late in the 2013 season. Mosley has good size and athletic ability. He is also versatile, having experience at both guard and tackle. But on a weak offensive line, he has not been able to gain any serious playing time.
Dallas Reynolds was active as a reserve linemen in 15 games in 2014, but he did not start. Reynolds was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Eagles’ Practice Squad from 2009-11. In 2012, Reynolds played in 16 regular-season games with 14 starts. The Eagles waived him August 2013 and he was signed by the Giants in October of that year. A limited athlete with good size, Reynolds is smart and tries hard. He has experience at both center and guard, but he has struggled when called upon to play.
Eric Herman added to the 53-man roster in December 2014 from the Practice Squad, where he spent the bulk of the season. He was also suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Herman was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He spent most of his rookie season on the Practice Squad until being also added to the roster in December 2013. Herman is a big, strong mauler who struggled with quickness and speed at the collegiate level. Herman needs to develop as a pass blocker in order to make it in the NFL.
Adam Gettis was signed to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014 and he was signed the Steelers’ Practice Squad in October. Gettis lacks ideal size, but he is athletic.
Rogers Gaines was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in August 2014. Gaines was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Ravens waived him in August 2013. The Bears signed him to their Practice Squad in September 2013. The Giants claimed Rogers Gaines off of waivers from the Chicago Bears in May 2014. Gaines has excellent size and long arms. He is a good athlete for his size. He improved throughout the 2014 preseason at right tackle for the Giants.
Troy Kropog was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a foot injury that he suffered in training camp. Kropog was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2012 and he then spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Vikings (2012-13) and Redskins (2013). The Giants signed Kropog to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Kropog has a decent combination of size and athleticism, and he is a hard worker. Versatile, he can play both tackle and guard. But it hasn’t come together for Kropog at the NFL level and he has never started a regular-season game.
Michael Bamiro was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Bamiro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on the Eagles’ Practice Squad before being waived in August 2014. Bamiro is a very raw player with an intriguing combiation of size (6’8”, 340 pounds) and overall athleticism.
Giants Place Jacquian Williams and James Brewer on Injured Reserve: The New York Giants placed linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion) and offensive tackle James Brewer (concussion) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Williams has missed the last five games and Brewer the last two games with their injuries.
To fill those vacant roster spots, the Giants signed defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton from the team’s Practice Squad and offensive lineman Adam Gettis from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Practice Squad.
Hamilton originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him and he was on NFL practice squads in 2012 (Redskins) and 2013 (Redskins and Chiefs). The Chiefs waived him in August 2014 and the Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in September. He spent a few days on the 53-man roster in early December but has not played in a game this year.
Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014 and he was signed the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in October. Gettis lacks ideal size, but he is athletic.
The Giants also signed safety Thomas Gordon to the Practice Squad. Gordon was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team waived him at the end of August.