Jan 042015
 
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Articles on the 2014 New York Giants:

Article on the New York Giants 2014 Free Agent Class: NY Giants busts have new hope in 2015 by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants Upcoming Offseason: What the Giants need to do to regain form by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Along with spectacular grabs, NY Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. put passion on full display by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on TE Larry Donnell: Giants tight end Larry Donnell knows what he needs to work on this offseason by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Should the Giants use the franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB Jon Beason: Jon Beason’s contract and whether it makes sense for Giants to bring him back by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on CB Bennett Jackson: Giants draft pick Bennett Jackson on the mend from microfracture surgery by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

WR Odell Beckham Video Highlights: Video highlights from WR Odell Beckham’s rookie season are available at Giants.com.

Dec 292014
 
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Julian Talley, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Julian Talley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Sign 11 Players to Reserve/Future Contracts: The New York Giants have signed 11 players to Reserve/Future contracts. Nine of the 11 were on the team’s Practice Squad:

  • FB Nikita Whitlock
  • WR Julian Talley
  • WR Juron Criner
  • WR Chris Harper
  • OT Michael Bamiro
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Unai Unga
  • CB Josh Victorian
  • S Thomas Gordon

The team also signed CB Bennett Jackson, who was on the Practice Squad/Injured List with a knee injury and street free agent P Robert Malone.

The Giants signed Nikita Whitlock to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock, who played defensive tackle in college, was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He was cut by the Bengals in their final round of cuts and then signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. Whitlock was converted to fullback by the Bengals and he flashed in the preseason as a lead blocker with good size.

Julian Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013 and 2014. Talley spent most of the 2013 season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was signed to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He played in two games in 2013 but did not have a catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.

Juron Criner was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Criner was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him on August 26. In 13 games with the Raiders, Criner has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He is a big receiver with good overall athleticism, but he needs to develop better technique and consistency.

Chris Harper was signed to the Practice Squad in October 2014. Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team and has since spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size (6’1”, 230lbs) and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

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.

Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014, cut, and then added to the Practice Squad again in December 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades for recording 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8 sacks in 2013. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Josh Victorian was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Victorian was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, he has spent time with the Patriots (2011), Saints (2012), Steelers (2012-13), Texans (2013), and Lions (2014). He has played in 12 NFL games, four for the Steelers with one start in 2012 and eight for the Texans in 2013. Victorian has average size and lacks ideal overall athleticism, but he is a hard working, instinctive football player.

Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List in October 2014 with an undisclosed knee injury. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. He is a good hitter and tackler. Jackson was a team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.

Thomas Gordon was signed to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Gordon was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team waived him in August. Gordon lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and a decent athlete. He is a good run defender who hits and tackles well. He started 38 games at Michigan.

Robert Malone played 31 games for Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the Jets from 2010-13. He has 157 career punts for a 44.5-yard gross average and a 37.8-yard net average.

Articles on the New York Giants Special Teams:

Oct 142014
 
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Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys (December 30, 2012)

Kevin Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz and Trumaine McBride to IR; Kevin Ogletree and Chandler Fenner Signed: The Giants placed WR Victor Cruz (knee) and CB Trumaine McBride (thumb) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Tuesday.

To fill these two roster vacancies, the Giants signed veteran WR Kevin Ogletree off the street and signed CB Chandler Fenner from the team’s Practice Squad.

Ogletree was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013), and Detroit Lions (2013-14). The Lions waived Olgetree in September. In six NFL season, Olgetree has played in 62 games with four starts. He has 78 career receptions for 999 yards and six touchdowns – two of which he scored against the Giants in the 2012 opener as a Cowboy. Ogletree has decent size, athletic ability, and hands.

Fenner was originally signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but the Seattle Seahawks signed him to their Practice Squad in December 2012. He missed all of 2013 with a knee injury that landed him on Seattle’s Injured Reserve. The Giants signed Chandler Fenner in August 2014. Fenner has a nice combination of size and athleticism and he plays a physical game.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Practice Squad Moves: Aside from signing CB Chandler Fenner to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad, the team released WR Travis Harvey from the Practice Squad and placed CB Bennett Jackson (knee) on the Practice Squad/Injured list.

To fill these three vacancies, the Giants signed WR Chris Harper, LB Carlos Fields, and CB Victor Hampton to the Practice Squad.

Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team and has since spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size (6’1”, 230lbs) and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

Fields was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2014 NFL Draft. He was released from the Raiders’ Practice Squad in September. Fields is a raw player with decent size and athletic ability. He was a very instinctive player in college.

Hampton was originally signed signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Bengals waived him in August. He is a short but well-built, physical, confident corner with good agility. He lacks ideal speed. Hampton has had some off-the-field issues.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.

WR Victor Cruz and CB Trumaine McBride Undergo: The New York Giants announced that WR Victor Cruz underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee. The surgery was performed by team physician Dr. Russell Warren at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

CB Trumaine McBride also underwent surgery to repair a fractured thumb. The operation was performed by Dr. Robert Hotchkiss at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Giants on WFAN Radio: The audio of Tuesday’s WFAN interviews with the following players is available at CBS New York:

Article on S Antrel Rolle: Antrel Rolle: Can’t get Victor Cruz screams ‘out of my head’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Inside view from Victor Cruz’s trainer: ‘He’ll scrap his way back’ by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on QB Eli Manning: When Eli Manning speaks his mind, Giants listen by Tom Rock of Newsday

Aug 312014
 
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Nick Becton, San Diego Chargers (May 10, 2013)

Nick Becton – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Sign Seven Players to Practice Squad: The New York Giants signed the following 10 players to their Practice Squad on Sunday:

  • RB Michael Cox
  • WR Julian Talley
  • OT Nick Becton
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Dan Fox
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner

All except Becton were waived by the Giants on Saturday. Becton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Becton spent time on both the Chargers’ 53-man roster and Practice Squad last season, only appearing in one game. Becton has a nice combination of size (6’6”, 323 pounds), long arms, and athleticism.

In addition, the New England Patriots claimed DT Kelcy Quarles off of waivers. Quarles is a player who the Giants most likely wanted to sign to the Practice Squad.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.

Article on the New York Giants Roster Moves: Giants roster cuts: The best, worst and most surprising moves on NFL cutdown day by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on Wide Receivers Victor Cruz and Jerry Rice: Hall of Famer likes Giants’ new offense by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Aug 302014
 
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John Conner, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants made 22 roster moves on Saturday in order reduce the roster to 53 players as required by the NFL.

In addition, the Giants activated linebacker Jon Beason from the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Beason passed his physical and can now practice for the first time since injuring his foot on June 12 during an Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice. “He’s ready to practice,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “You need that kind of dynamic leadership. The guy loves the game, he loves to play it. He’ll have the biggest smile on his face come Monday when he trots out there.”

The Giants waived or terminated the contracts of the following players:

  • QB Curtis Painter
  • RB Kendall Gaskins
  • RB Michael Cox
  • FB John Conner
  • WR Julian Talley
  • TE Kellen Davis
  • OL Rogers Gaines (waived/injured)
  • OL Mark Asper
  • OL Jamaal Johnson-Webb
  • OL Adam Gress
  • DE Israel Idonije
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • DT Kelcy Quarles
  • LB Dan Fox
  • LB Terrell Manning
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner
  • S Thomas Gordon

The Giants also placed the following players on season-ending Injured Reserve, although this doesn’t preclude the team from making an injury settlement:

  • WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring)
  • WR Mario Manningham (calf)

The Giants also placed the following players on the Reserve/Suspended List for violating NFL drug policies:

  • OL Eric Herman (4-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (4-game suspension for illegal drugs)

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

“There were a lot of good, competitive positions, even going into Thursday night’s game with New England,” Coughlin said. “Many of the young guys were competing, not only for roster spots but for the practice squad. That is an important concept as well. It is in the best interest of the clubs to be able to go to their practice squad, if the need is there, for a player who has been in your meeting rooms the entire summer and fall.”

With Painter being cut, Ryan Nassib will be the only quarterback on the roster behind Eli Manning. “Ryan Nassib made big strides,” Coughlin said. “I think that his third and fourth preseason games were outstanding. You see definite improvement. You see the work that he’s put in. He’s been a very good student and he’s applied that to the field. What I really liked is he did have a poor preseason game and he came back with two good ones. That showed me, he didn’t do it by talking, he did it by working.”

Speaking of the competition at fullback between Conner and Henry Hynoski, Coughlin said, “Two very good players. Both guys can play in this league. Very, very close. Both of them are physical. They’ll knock the heck out of you. Utmost respect for John Conner, I think he’s a heck of a player and a great competitor and a good man. He doesn’t say a word, just goes and does his job. Give me all of those you can find.”

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

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Coughlin on WR Preston Parker, who made the team: “Preston’s been around a little bit. Preston also has the punt return/kickoff return ability. Right now that’s very critical for us, because Odell Beckham was going to be the punt returner.”

Coughlin on keeping Kerry Wynn over Israel Idonije at defensive end: “We had tremendous respect for Izzy (Idonije) because of the quality of man he is. He came in here and whatever we asked him to do, he did. He battled, he competed. The other night he played a lot of nice snaps. At this point in time, the idea of developing the young player was first and foremost on your minds as we put the roster together…I like the fact that (Wynn) has very good size and he runs well. He flashed in the preseason and he is a young prospect that works hard, studies hard. We think he has a lot of upside.”

“They’re great stories and that’s what this thing is all about,” Coughlin said. “Your needs are much deeper than seven picks in the draft or sometimes you’re not in position to help yourself in free agency because of the cap, so this is still the source. And when a young guy comes along and they look like they’ve got a high end, you’re excited about it. Especially when they work hard, they study hard, it’s important to them and they have great desire. You can see it on some of these kids’ faces that this means so much to them, and quite frankly it re-energizes me.

“Even on a day like this where I have to let people go, when I see what the game means to certain players and when I see that, then I think there’s hope, to be honest with you. I do. Not just hope here, hope for everybody in this world because we’re not going through the motions. They love it. They love what they’re doing, they love the game. That’s how it all starts. For the normal young person that comes along and plays this game, it started with the love of the game. You compete, it’s about competitors. It’s still about competitors and people who are determined to be the best that they can be at what they do. That’s what reinforces me.”

After noon on Sunday, the Giants can sign 10 players to their Practice Squad, if they are not claimed off of waivers first.

“The practice squad is not taken lightly,” Coughlin said. “There are a lot of things that go into making choices and one of the things that’s really important, that has to be stressed, this summer is that we’ve got it to 10. And that’s a very important thing, the fact that we can have 10 practice squad guys means a lot in terms of your ability to prepare. Because as you go through the season and you have the various nicks that occur during the course of it and players can’t practice, at least you can continue to service your first groups with your practice squad players. That helps tremendously because the drain always comes.

“If a two becomes a one, then who services the other side of the ball? That’s a major concern for us at this level, because you have to continue to improve. People don’t realize that, it is about improvement and it’s not just about games, it’s about improving and your chance to improve on the practice field is so important.”

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Embarking on a New Path by Bill Pennington of The New York Times

NY Post Q&A with WR Victor Cruz: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Victor Cruz by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Aug 012014
 
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Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (October 26, 2013)

Bennett Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s the good news. Then there’s the bad.

The good? Bennett Jackson’s ankle, the one that got tangled up with wide receiver Corey Washington’s foot in yesterday’s practice, isn’t broken. The bad?

“It’s a significant ankle sprain,” Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said.

The injury will almost certainly keep Jackson out for Sunday’s preseason contest with the Buffalo Bills. But just how much longer until Jackson can return is up in the air. Since being drafted in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft, Jackson has been thrown into arguably New York’s most competitive position battle. Missing time isn’t exactly ideal.

Barring injury, while starters Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond III have their 53-man roster spots reserved, any available spot behind the big three is up for grabs.

Zack Bowman, Trumaine McBride, Charles James II, Jayron Hosley, Ross Weaver and Jackson are all competing for two-to-three potential spots. The longer Jackson sits out, the more time it gives others to step up.

In Friday’s practice, the first Jackson missed because of his injury, both McBride and James intercepted passes. James filled in for Jackson on special teams.

After practice, the Giants announced the signing of corner Chandler Fenner. Fenner, a third-year pro, spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Jul 262014
 
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Bennett Jackson and Charles James

Bennett Jackson and Charles James – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s a relatively common – and expected – occurrence at Giants’ training camp. Bennett Jackson, New York’s sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame, has questions, and he’s looking for the answers.

Be it a coverage assignment, technique or read conundrum, different things pop up at different times. When they do, Jackson knows exactly who to go to.

“I usually ask something to Charles James,” Jackson said.

Wait, Charles James II? The Giants’ second-year corner who went undrafted last year and made the team as a long shot?

“He usually has a pretty good understanding of everything and he’s quick to answer,” Jackson said.

Charles James, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Can Charles James crack the Giants final 53-man roster? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The budding friendship has blossomed since the Giants reported for training camp on Monday. Despite the fact both James II and Jackson are competing for potentially one available roster spot, the two have hit it off. James II knows he can text Jackson at any point in time. Jackson knows he can go to James II with any question that pops in his head.

While it’s not rare to have a rookie look to another player on the roster for help, the fact James II is supplying the answers may come a bit as a surprise. After going undrafted out of Charleston Southern last year, the 5-9, 179-pound James made the Giants’ roster last season.

The corner flashed on special teams in the preseason, made a few impact defensive plays and the Giants’ placed him on their practice squad as a reward. When injuries attacked New York’s secondary, it was James II who had his phone ring with the call up.

James II looks at Jackson and sees his own reflection from a year ago. There’s a wide-eyed rookie, brimming with potential, but needing someone to guide him to reach it.

“I know how it is to be a rookie,” James II said.“He’s trying to catch up with the entire process of being in the NFL. He just left Notre Dame, basically he was the man there, now he’s coming into a process where it’s moving faster.

“This is the NFL where those receivers are going to come faster. Those breaks are going to come quicker and he has to catch up in the playbook right away. I told him some of the things that I did to help me progress last year.”

While James II is helping Jackson, at the same time he’s helping himself. When Jackson has a question, James II can’t look back with a deer-in-the-headlights look. He challenges himself to make sure he can answer whatever Jackson throws his way. As soon as James II sees Jackson jogging of the field and headed his way, he knows it’s test time.

“He’ll come up to me and be like, ‘Hey Charles, what do I do in this coverage,’” James II said. “I’ll respond like, you do this, this and that. He’ll be like, ‘Oh, Ok.’ So it like refreshes my mind and it refreshes his. I’m just trying to be that helping hand.”

James II views himself as a “big brother” figure for Jackson, something Jackson may need more than anything right now.

Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (September 21, 2014)

Bennett Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Not only is he a rookie, but Jackson also has limited experience at the cornerback position. Throughout his entire playing career, Jackson was a receiver. It wasn’t until his sophomore season at Notre Dame that he was approached about a position change.

When Jackson was a freshman, he didn’t see much time at wide receiver, but he played in every special teams’ package. He loved to hit people. This was his chance to do so.

Coaches loved the physicality Jackson displayed and saw the lack of bodies at the cornerback position. Next thing Jackson knew, he was in a new film room.

“I ended up doing a lot better than I expected,” Jackson said. “I actually ended up having a lot more fun.”

His initial struggles came from the transition of constantly running forward, to moving fluidly backwards. Route recognition was easy, after all, it wasn’t long ago Jackson was the one running them.

The doubt that once clogged his memory worked its way out. Towards the end of his sophomore season, Jackson was fully comfortable at his new position. While he missed scoring touchdowns and catching passes, Jackson admitted hauling in an interception gets him much more “hyped.”

It may take some time before the coaches feel fully comfortable putting Jackson on the field in the secondary as there are still many parts of his game that need to be refined. But there’s no hesitation in putting him with the special teams and letting him do what once brought him so much joy:

Hit people.

When asked his goal and what he’d like to accomplish on special teams this year, an ear-to-ear smile stretched across Jackson’s face.

“Be a beast,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Jul 242014
 
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Preston Parker, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) Updates: In case you missed it, original-content articles from BBI today:

July 24, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: LB Jon Beason (foot – PUP) and WR Odell Beckham (hamstring) did not practice. “Let’s face it, I don’t want it to be like it was in the spring,” Coughlin said of Beckham, who missed most of the spring offseason program with the same hamstring issue. “We need to get the guy back out here and get him on the field.”

July 24, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video from Thursday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.

July 24, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of Thursday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

5 takeaways from Giants player interviews by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

New York Giants Practice Reports:

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin focus on Giants getting a quick start by Tom Rock of Newsday

Articles on the New York Giants Offense:

Article on QB Eli Manning: Facing long-term decisions, Jerry Reese hopes Eli Manning returns to form by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Ends:

Article on CB Bennett Jackson: Bennett Jackson happy to be back in home state by Stephen Edelson of APP.com

Jul 182014
 
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Trindon Holliday, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Trindon Holliday – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning next week, BigBlueInteractive.com concludes our break down of each of the team’s positional groups. We finish by looking at this year’s special teams.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Special Teams

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: For the most part, the specials of the New York Giants in 2013 were quite poor. The exception was PK Josh Brown who made 23-of-26 field goals (88.5 percent) with a long of 52 yards. In addition, half of Brown’s kickoffs (35-of-70) resulted in touchbacks. P Steve Weatherford was inconsistent. He started off poorly but improved as the season wore on. In 2013, Weatherford, averaged 46.9 yards per punt with a net average of 38.2. The usually reliable long-snapper Zak DeOssie had a poor snap against the Eagles that resulted in a touchdown.

Punt coverage was terrible. The Giants were 3rd-worst in the NFL in opposing punt return average (13.6 yards per return) and allowed three punts to be returned for touchdowns.

Kickoff coverage was better as the Giants were 9th-best in the NFL, allowing an average of 21.8 yards per return.

The Giants return game was not good. The Giants were 26th in the NFL in punt returns, averaging only 7.2 yards per return. WR Rueben Randle was the primary punt returner, averaging 8.2 yards per return with a long of 32 yards.

The Giants were 27th in the NFL in kickoff returns, averaging only 21.2 yards per return. The Giants tried a number of players with similar results, including RB Michael Cox (21.8 yards per return) and WR Jerrel JerniganRB David Wilson (24.7) had a bit more success on his limited number of returns.

In sum, the return yardage differential between the Giants and their opponents was too great, making it tougher for the Giants offense and defense and easier for the oppositions’ offense and defense. The Giants also gave up four special teams touchdowns.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The primary punter, kicker, and long snapper all return though it appears that Josh Brown will face a bit of a challenge from strong-legged place kicker Brandon McManus.

On paper, it appears the Giants dramatically improved their stable of returners with the additions of Trindon Holliday, Quintin Demps, and Odell Beckham, Jr.

Holliday has averaged over 27 yards per kickoff return and 9 yards per punt return in his career, including a total of six return touchdowns the last two seasons (three kickoff, three punt). Demps has also averaged over 27 yards per kick return and has two career kickoff return touchdowns. Beckham was a dynamic kickoff and punt returner at LSU.

Who will form the cover teams and blockers on returns remains to be seen. Newcomers CB Zack Bowman (ex-Chicago Bears) and CB Bennett Jackson (Notre Dame) have strong special teams reputations.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Trindon Holliday is a home-run threat every time he touches the football as his six career return touchdowns in the last two seasons indicate, including two returns for touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. However, he has major fumbling issues (10 lost in the last two seasons). Can the Giants improve his ball security?

David Wilson, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Will David Wilson, if he is medically cleared (neck), be allowed to compete in the kickoff return game? Just two years ago, he set a team record with 1,533 kickoff return yards, averaging 26.9 yards per return. Same question regarding Odell Beckham…will the Giants seriously allow him to compete as a punt returner?

Based on comments from the coaches, Brandon McManus is more than an extra leg so his competition with Josh Brown will be more interesting than usual.

It’s not sexy, but the Giants have to find players who can do a better job of blocking for the returners and covering opposing returners. They need some headhunters out there.

ON THE BUBBLE: Trindon Holliday if he doesn’t fix his fumbling issues or show more than he has to date at wide receiver. There will only be one roster spot for Josh Brown vs. Brandon McManus. Brown is the reliable, experienced veteran, but he’s 35. McManus has the big leg but is a big unknown.

Tom Quinn, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 29, 2012)

Tom Quinn and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Tom Quinn on the gunners:  “(Zack) Bowman, (Bennett) Jackson, we’re really excited about those two. Charles James continues to do well so it will be exciting to see those guys run down and cover punts.”

Quinn on Trindon Holliday: “His speed’s an asset, that’s for sure. He’s a strong guy for his size, ball security obviously will be his biggest focus once we start putting pads on and start knocking him around a little bit.”

Quinn on Brandon McManus: “I really like McManus, I liked him coming out. He went to Indy for last training camp and preseason and I thought he was really a good kicker coming out of Temple. He’s kicked in the northeast at a high level, he did all three so I think he’s got a real big upside once it all starts clicking for him.”

Quinn on Quintin Demps: “Demps, we’re real excited to have him. He’s been consistent in this league and explosive. He’s a legitimate number one kickoff returner for us. He runs with good size and he has a real good understanding of the schemes. He’s been great with all teams. A real leader, coming in likely to start and he’ll be able to contribute on special teams.”

PREDICTIONS:

Eric Kennedy – I may go down in flames with this prediction but I think Trindon Holliday finds a home with the Giants both a less mistake-prone kickoff/punt returner and factor on offense as a role player. I think the Josh Brown vs. Brandon McManus battle could be very telling in terms of where this team actually thinks it is as viable Super Bowl competitor. If they believe they are rebuilding, the choice may be McManus.

Connor Hughes - It’s hard to think of a unit that was worse than the Giants’ offensive line last year, but the special teams sure give them a run for their money. Truly, things couldn’t have gotten much worse for Tom Quinn’s squad and there is only up to go from here. I’m very, very high on the addition of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps. While Demps may not have the touchdown returns, if he’s able to get the Giants the ball on the 30-35 yard line regularly it’ll pay huge dividends. Holliday, meanwhile, is the little spark plug the Giants have never really had on special teams.

During their prime, Willie Ponder and Domenik Hixon each were explosive, but none can match what Holliday can do when he’s ‘on.’ The ex-Bronco and Texan is electric and will take at least one to the house this year. If he can hold on to the ball…he may turn out to be one of the bigger acquisitions the Giants made this offseason.

The Giants’ coverage unit should also see improvements this year. Zack Bowman has excelled in the role throughout his career and Bennett Jackson had similar success in college. Barring injuries, I’m expecting to see vast improvements from the special teams.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy – Trindon Holliday (kickoff and punt returner), Josh Brown (place kicker), Steve Weatherford (punter), Zak DeOssie (long snapper)

Connor Hughes – Quintin Demps (kickoff returner), Trindon Holliday (punt returner), Josh Brown (place kicker), Steve Weatherford (punter), Zak DeOssie (long snapper)

Jul 152014
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning next week, BigBlueInteractive.com continues to break down each of the team’s positional groups until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s cornerbacks.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Cornerbacks

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: The one steady constant at cornerback in 2013 was Prince Amukamara at right corner. In his third year with the Giants, and his second as a full-time starter, Amukamara developed into the team’s best corner. Amukamara started all 16 games and finished the year with 85 tackles, 14 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles. Things did not go as planned at left corner. Corey Webster had issues with his hip, groin, and ankle. He only started two games before the Giants finally gave up on him and placed him on Injured Reserve in December. His primary back-up, Aaron Ross, only started two games before being placed on Injured Reserve in October with a back injury. Jayron Hosley was next in line but he suffered a significant hamstring in jury in Week 4 that sidelined him for the next five games and nagged him much of the rest of the season. Hosley played in 11 games with one start, finishing the season with just 9 tackles and 2 pass defenses. The player who benefited the most from these injuries was Trumaine McBride. McBride was an under-the-radar street free agent signing who ended up playing in 15 games with 10 starts. He finished 2013 with 37 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Terrell Thomas, coming off back-to-back ACL tears in 2011 and 2012, was primarily used as the nickel slot corner. Though limited all year in practice, he played in all 16 games with seven starts and finished the season with 67 tackles, 1 sack, 7 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. Charles James was a rookie free agent who played in 12 games, almost exclusively on special teams.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Massive changes occurred at cornerback in the offseason. The only ones returning are Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, and Charles James. The Giants have also decided to invite 2013 Practice Squad players Ross Weaver and Travis Howard to training camp.

Gone are former stalwarts Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas. 2013 Practice Squaders Junior Mertile and Chaz Powell were also waived after initially being re-signed in January.

The major new additions are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (from Denver, 5-years, $35 million), Walter Thurmond III (from Seattle, 1-year, $3 million), and Zack Bowman (from Chicago, 1-year, $730,000). The Giants also drafted Bennett Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: How good is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC)? Some believe he is capable of being one of the NFL’s elite corners, others say he is overrated. The Giants are expecting (and paying) him to be core impact player. If DRC plays as well as hoped, teams that avoided Prince Amukamara in 2013 will now come after him in 2014. How will he respond? Is he capable of making more plays in the football (only 1 interception per year in three seasons). Is Walter Thurmond as good as advertised as a slot corner? If DRC, Amukamara, and Thurmond live up to the hype, along the expected strong play of the safeties, the major overall storyline is the shifting of the strength of the defense from the front-end to the back-end.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will definitely carry five, and quite possibly six cornerbacks. Barring injury, Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara, and Thurmond are locks. Another under-the-radar signing, Zack Bowman, who looked very sharp in the OTAs. Trumaine McBride had hip surgery in January and missed all of the offseason work. He may be on shakier ground than many realize. Continued injury (injury plagued in both 2012 and 2013) and drug issues (upcoming 4-game suspension) have really hurt Jayron Hosley’s chances to make the team. Charles James and Bennett Jackson have talent but will have to fight tooth-and-nail to make the team. Both are helped by their special teams ability however.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Peter Giunta on the Giants depth at cornerback:  “We’ve got 10 quality corners right now in the program…Bringing in two guys that started in the Super Bowl obviously helps…We have great depth at that position, the deepest I’ve ever had in my years in the league.

Giunta on DRC and Amukamara: “Yes (they can both cover another team’s top receiver). They both have the skill set and both have done it in their careers, gone out and played on the best guy. They’ll battle, they’ll compete and we’ll be able to have an advantage I think playing those guy.”

Giunta on Rodgers-Cromartie: “He’s got that other gear. He can run as fast as he needs to run to get up on top of a receiver, catch up to a receiver. He’s got that gear that’s incredible. He’s such a smooth athlete. His length is so good and his ball skills are fantastic. He’s got that great skill set where he’s got the speed to recover if he does beat, he’s got the quickness to recover. He’s got the length to reach out and knock balls away that other corners wouldn’t be able to get to and he’s got great hands to make plays on the ball in the air. He’s got what you’re looking for in a corner.”

Giunta on Amukamara: “He improved, he understands well, he communicates well, his instincts, his awareness are really developing. You can really see it in (OTAs) now, he’s on top of all of the stuff. Now he’s starting to gamble a bit and take some chances, which you like to see because you’re taking calculated guesses and risking, ‘Hey, I’m going to go make a play.’ That’s what you want. He’s developed that confidence in himself and the defense, he knows what’s coming.”

Giunta on Thurmond: “He does a great job of studying, he has a great awareness of what people are trying to do to him. He plays with great leverage, understands his drops as an underneath defender. He’s able to get there, get breaks off the quarterback. He’s got great vision and to play inside like that you have to have great vision of everything that’s going on around you, it happens so much quicker. Corner you’re using the sideline to help you but in (the slot) you have so much space, especially covering guys. He’s done a great job. He’s got great quickness and he’s a great (technician). You’ll see that when we’re able to put our hands on people in training camp.”

PREDICTIONS:

Zack Bowman, Chicago Bears (October 10, 2013)

Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Kennedy – On paper, this is the deepest unit on the team strongest group of corners the Giants have had in my lifetime. Of course, the proof is in the pudding. Moreover, each year, we have seen mental breakdowns in Perry Fewell’s secondary, often followed by a mid-season “dumbing down” in order to reduce blown coverages. Will that same issue rear its ugly head again in 2014 or will the Giants’ secondary carry this defense from the get-go?

Predictions? DRC and Thurmond become fan favorites with their play. Bowman becomes a more important addition than fans currently realize. I think Charles James is underrated but stuck behind the quality guys in front of him.

Connor Hughes - I am incredibly optimistic about the Giants’ cornerbacks heading into this season. More so this year than any year I can remember in recent memory. In the past, veterans on the last leg of their careers, bargain-bought free agents and low-end draft picks occupied the Giants’ secondary as the vaunted defensive line pressured the quarterback. As teams countered with quick-passes to reveal holes in the secondary, the Giants have countered by putting more money into the cornerback position.

I believe Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara can form one of the top three cornerback tandems in the NFL. I love the return of Trumaine McBride and the potential of Charles James. More than anything else, I can’t wait to see what Walter Thurmond III has to offer.

The first time Thurmond talked to the media, he told them he was the best slot corner in the league. He comes from a secondary the Giants’ believe they can collectively be as good and has an attitude to be the best. Of every acquisition the Giants made, the biggest I truly believe will be Thurmond.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman, Charles James, Bennett Jackson.

Jayron Hosley misses the first four games due to the drug suspension and could still be brought back depending on injuries. My longshot prediction is Bennett Jackson making it over Trumaine McBride, who was re-signed to a 2-year, $2.875 million contract this offseason. I think Jackson’s special teams play and overall potential keeps him on the roster.

Connor Hughes – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (RCB), Prince Amukamara (LCB), Walter Thurmond III (nickel), Trumaine McBride (dime), Zack Bowman (reserve), Charles James (reserve).