Jul 282014
 
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Chris Snee, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Remembering Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For every Big Blue Breakdown we’ve run, I’ve enjoyed taking a part in each. Having my thoughts, opinions and analysis placed next to the best of the best in the business was an honor. With that being said, I’m sitting this one out. With this being my first season covering the team, I think it’s appropriate to hand it over to the veterans.

For the last decade, Chris Snee worked to establish himself as one of the greatest New York Giants’ linemen to ever wear the ‘NY’ logo across his helmet. He exemplified what it meant to be a New York Giant. Today, our panel breaks down their favorite Chris Snee memory from their years covering the team.

QUESTION: With Chris Snee hanging up the cleats, it closes the door on one of the better careers in Giants’ history. What’s your favorite Chris Snee moment from covering the team? What will you remember him by?

Chris Snee, New York Giants (July 21, 2014)

Chris Snee with son, Cooper, following his retirement press conference – Photo by Connor Hughes

RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News

I’ve been trying to think of a specific memory I have of him — something fun or funny — but I can’t. And that’s not really an indictment of him, it sort of more of a tribute, when you think about it. He’s been described by his coach and so many others as a “lunchpail guy” who, for 10 years, just came to work, did his job and didn’t cause any trouble. In a lot of ways he was almost unnoticeable, which is the dream of offensive linemen. For a decade, you didn’t worry about the right guard spot in the Giants’ lineup. You didn’t question that Snee was going to be in there and play well. He wasn’t a guy we had to rush to after the game to get a quote, because he wasn’t going to put on some me-first show for the media. He wasn’t the center of attention. He was just a good member of the team.

Don’t misinterpret that either. He was as cooperative a player as I’ve dealt with in this era. If a reporter needed a few minutes of his time, he gave it. His answers were thoughtful, insightful, if not headline-worthy. He didn’t duck any question either — not his relationship with his father-in-law coach (which especially early couldn’t have been his favorite topic), not the terrible play of the offensive line in some years. A lot of fans might not realize that when the Giants are having a bad year or suffer a bad loss, there aren’t a lot of players willing to stand up and take the heat. Reporters often end up confronting a mostly empty locker room. But I almost always could count on Snee being out there after a bad game. As a matter of fact, if he ever did duck the media I’d bet it was after a win — when he didn’t want the appearance of taking any credit.

Anyway, his desire to be behind the scenes is probably why I can’t come up with a good story for you. But I do have good memories of him and he will be missed. Aside from being a good, fun, pleasant and cooperative guy to talk to, I will most remember him the way I bet he wants to be remembered: As part of a group of five guys who were the best offensive line I’ve covered in my now 20 years covering the NFL. That group — David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Snee and Kareem McKenzie — kind of snuck up on us. They didn’t get a lot of praise at first and there always seemed to be a lot of questions about whether the Giants needed an upgrade. They were together from 2006-10 and, despite a championship in 2007, I think it took most people until they were gone to realize how great they were. And look, I grew up in the ’80s so I know how good “The Suburbanites” were. We could debate all day which group was better. But you have to put this group in the conversation, I’d think. And Snee has to be in the conversation when talking about the best Giants offensive linemen of all time.

ART STAPLETON/The Record

Chris Snee, New York Giants (December 11, 2011)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For me it’s an easy one. 2011 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, in the bowels of Candlestick Park about 30 minutes after Lawrence Tynes booted the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. The visiting locker room at the Stick is, well, cramped, and you could only imagine the emotions following from a game like that. The crowd was around Eli Manning from the moment the media got in the room, and the Giants were in a rush to get on the plane and continue the party. And here was Chris Snee, suit on, his interviews over, luggage at his feet, just waiting for Manning to stop doing interviews.

“Elisha, let’s go already!” Snee said with a smile. This was before he donned that “I love Eli” t-shirt, of course, and only after that did I hear of how Snee and Manning were roommates as rookies, and that they always – ALWAYS – sat together on the bus and on planes to games.

In the biggest moment of the season, Snee could have gone out to the bus on his own. Instead, he waited for his quarterback.

I got the idea last summer to interview Snee and Manning together, and when Snee convinced Manning to do it, we sat in a lounge, the two of them on the couch jokingly sitting on top of one another like Eli and Peyton joke around as brothers in that SportsCenter commercial.

I was not on the beat when they came in, but I’m glad to have been on the beat these last few years. That day in San Francisco, I got to see the bond between two of the very best to play for the Giants in franchise history.

PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Sports XChange, Bleacher Report

My favorite Chris Snee moment came several years ago—I can’t remember what year it was, but I want to say it was about three years into his career.

First let me give you some background: Snee came in and initially seemed like the last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone, reporters included. It didn’t help that his offensive line mates at the time added fuel to the fire by calling him a “grumpy old man.”

Anyway, one day I had to do a sit-down interview with Snee for a story on his charity work, which he never really spoke about (I always got the impression that Snee didn’t care to talk about himself). This was back in the old stadium so for “sit downs” we had to do them in the hallway, just outside the locker room.

So I’m standing out there waiting and Snee comes out, finishing an ice cream cone. He’s walking as though someone just told him to walk the plank of a pirate ship, and he has a scowl on his face. I’m sitting there thinking I’m in for a bumpy ride, but once he reached me, he cracked a smile, shook my hand, and gave me a wonderful interview.

When we finished, I thanked him for his time. He thanked me, said he enjoyed the chat and that I “shouldn’t be a stranger” moving forward. From that day forward, regardless of what mood he might have been in, Snee and I would chat whenever the opportunity presented itself, even if it was a quick “Hello.”

Chris Snee, New York Giants (August 22, 2012)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Post script to this story. When he was voted a team captain last year—an honor that was long overdue in my opinion–I congratulated him by saying, “Congrats, Captain Chris.”

His eyes lit up and he broke out into as big of a smile as I have ever seen from him. He told me he liked the moniker. He liked it so much, in fact, that he told a couple of his teammates whose lockers were nearby that from that point forward, he wanted to be called “Captain Chris.” (I won’t repeat what the teammates said since this is a PG-13 site.)

I don’t think the nickname ever caught on with others, but out of respect, I kept calling him that, right up to the day he retired. And each time he would smile and it was just so clear to see it made him feel good.

When he retired last week, he had to walk past a few of us to get to the podium. He was shaking the hands of reporters who were lined up on that side—I was one of them. When he got to me, I said “Thanks for being such a professional, Captain Chris.”

Boom! There was that smile again and this time, he gave me a big hug before taking the podium for what was one of the most emotional farewell pressers I have ever covered.

I’ve been on this beat since the late 1990s and one of the things I really enjoy from a human aspect is to see these guys come in as kids and leave as grown men. Those moments where you get to know the person behind the facemask are what make this job so special.

I’m very honored to have covered Chris Snee’s career and to see him go from being a quiet brawny kid out of college into a professional, a leader and above all one of the nicest men to ever don the Giants uniform.

Jul 212014
 
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Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giant (November 24, 2013)

What’s in store for Jerrel Jernigan this year? – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Another week, another edition of the Big Blue Breakdown on BigBlueInteractive.com. Today, our panel turns their attention to wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.

After failing to step foot on the field for the better part of two and a half seasons, Jernigan burst onto the scene towards the end of last year. The former third-round pick caught 19 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a 49-yard score.

But where is Jernigan now? Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted, Trindon Holiday signed, Mario Manningham re-signed and Victor Cruz is now healthy. Is there a home for Jernigan; or will he get buried on the depth chart?

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question to be debated on the Big Blue Breakdown, email Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com).

QUESTION- From Jay in Toronto: Is there anything you’ve seen from Jerrel Jernigan so far to make you think he is continuing where he left off at the end of the season, or do you think that was a fluke? What do you see his role being on the team after the Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr., do you think he can be a big contributor?

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s tough to see someone ‘flash’ or take much out of non-contact practices. To be honest, Jernigan hasn’t shown much more than Marcus Harris or Trindon Holliday.

With that being said, I’m not terribly sure last year was a fluke. Whether it was or wasn’t, I don’t see where he fits into the offense.

Jernigan plays primarily slot, a position Victor Cruz is most natural in. The Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round to be an ‘outside wide receiver’ with Rueben Randle, leaving Cruz in the middle. Where does that leave Jernigan? The bench.

In the past, the Giants haven’t been big fans of four wide receiver sets, that could change this year, but I see that as the only chance Jernigan has at getting on the field other than injury. It’s not that he can’t play, it’s just I don’t see an open spot for him.

JORDAN RAANAN/NJ.com

Jernigan’s final three games of last season was an eye opener – to the Giants, to the fans and maybe even to himself. It prompted owner John Mara to publicly provide a statement of support in his post-season State of the Giants. Jernigan proved capable of getting open and, most importantly in my mind, an ability to make tough, contested catches despite his size. It had Mara wondering what took so long for the 2011 third-round pick to get on the field, a completely reasonable question considering his performance.

No doubt, Jernigan showed that he can play at this level. He was the No. 2 scoring fantasy wide receiver over the final three weeks of the season with 19 catches, 237 yards and two touchdowns. It was an impressive three-game stretch during the first time in his career that he really received extended playing time.

In my opinion, it wasn’t a fluke. Jernigan (5-8, 189) can play. His biggest problem, however, is that his ideal position is as a slot receiver. That happens to be the spot where the Giants’ top receiver, Victor Cruz, thrives. And Cruz isn’t going anywhere.

Jernigan, even though some of his success last season came on the outside, is better suited for the slot. Once again, he’s unlikely to get that opportunity much this season as long as Cruz is healthy. That leaves him on the outside competing with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle for playing time. Advantage … first-round pick, and Randle has been ahead of Jernigan on the depth chart since the day he arrived.

So, for now, Jernigan looks like an insurance policy rather than a significant contributor. He’ll be the backup plan in case something happens to Cruz, Beckham and Randle.

EDWARD VALENTINE/Big Blue View

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (August 7, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jernigan is a big question mark for me, to be honest. I thought John Mara’s end of season comment that “I’m not sure why it took us three years to find out that Jerrel Jernigan can play,” was made out of frustration and was really unfair to both Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride. Fact is, the Giants had given Jernigan opportunities over the years, and he had continually come up short.

Jernigan has the elusiveness to be a punt returner, but can’t consistently catch the ball. He has the ability to be a kickoff returner, but fumbled that chance away last year.

As a receiver, he is a slot guy and Victor Cruz is better. If Jernigan was better than Cruz, he would have been playing. If he was better on the outside than Hakeem Nicks, Reuben Randle or Mario Manningham before he left for the San Francisco 49ers he would have been playing. Fact is, he wasn’t.

Now, as for what to expect from him this season I just don’t know. Are we going to see the guy who caught 13 passes in his first 29 NFL games, of 19 in his last three? I think we will see a guy who has figured that, yes, he can play in the NFL. Do I think he will be a star? No. It will be interesting to see if he can get open if the Giants ask him to play on the outside more, or if Ben McAdoo will find ways to pair him with Cruz on the inside. It will also be interesting to see how many snaps Jernigan plays, since he is likely the No. 4 wide receiver.

I would think the Giants would be thrilled with 35-45 catches from Jernigan in 2014.

RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News

Well first, there’s nothing we’ve really seen from Jerrel Jernigan since the end of last season that would be able to really tell us anything. The few practices the media have attended have been light practices and the Giants are obviously busy installing a new offense, so it’s hard to really analyze him. Probably the biggest tell about his status, though, is that they drafted a receiver in the first round. If they were comfortable with him as their third receiver, I’m not sure they would have done that. So the simple answer is this: Barring injury, his role is as the fourth receiver at best, behind Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Beckham.

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I don’t know if I’d label his end of the season a fluke, though. It wasn’t the one-game flash we used to see from Ramses Barden. It was an impressive, three-game stretch. I don’t know that he’ll get that type of opportunity again, but I think it showed that he can be useful and productive in the right situations. He can be a weapon, and that’s important in this pass-happy era. A fourth receiver isn’t a huge part of an offense (when everyone is healthy) but it’s another player the defense needs to worry about. He showed speed, an ability to play above his 5-8 height, and the ability to get open and do something after the catch.

So maybe the Giants will occasionally work him into the slot, either to spell Cruz or to let Cruz do more on the outside. Maybe he’s just a change-of-pace guy for certain plays, depending on how he fits into Ben McAdoo’s scheme. Maybe he’s mostly on the field in spread formations (which would be a help so they don’t always have to spread with extra running backs or tight ends). But I think they’ll find a use for him. He probably won’t consistently be the six-catch, 80-yard guy he was at the end of last season, but he could be good for a catch or two per game, he could be a valuable replacement when necessary, and might even have a few big plays in him as the year goes along.

PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Bleacher Report, Sports Xchange

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (December 29, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I’m probably going to be in the minority, but I don’t believe Jernigan is a lock to make the 53-man roster. I think he’s limited to filling two roles on this team, that as a slot receiver and as a return specialist.

Since the fourth and fifth receiver (like the fourth and fifth cornerback, safety, linebacker, etc.) usually needs to be able to contribute something on special teams, I think that Jernigan might be facing an uphill battle to stick if he can’t show that he’s able to do both roles.

I wrote about Jernigan possibly competing as a kickoff receiver for Bleacher Report last week. One thing I’ll add here is he’s had opportunities in each season he’s been in the league to emerge as a return specialist and that’s yet to happen, most likely due to ball security issues.

All it seems to take for head coach Tom Coughlin and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn to replace a return specialist is one strike. When a return specialist has a nine percent fumble rate in his career, that’s not a good stat.

I do not think that both Trindon Holliday, who in case you’re wondering, has an eight percent career fumble rate as a return specialist, and Jernigan are both going to make this roster.

Holliday looked very good during the spring, but we need to temper our enthusiasm because as we all know, there are no pads allowed during the spring.

One other thing that we need to bear in mind is that in Ben McAdoo’s offense, Rueben Randle could very well be the other receiver we see working from the slot (besides Victor Cruz, who’s among the best in the NFL right now working from the slot). I think they like to try to create size mismatches in the slot, and so we’ll see if anything comes out of the talk of Randle seeing more snaps from the slot.

So to answer the last part of the question, no, I don’t see Jernigan being a “big contributor” if he makes this team. I think your “big three” will be Rueben Randle, Cruz and Odell Beckham.

Jul 142014
 
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Chris Snee (76) and David Baas (64), New York Giants (September 30, 2012)

Can Chris Snee (76, left) be counted on this season? – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Another week, another edition of the Big Blue Breakdown. As has been the case for the last month, BigBlueInteractive.com brings together some of the Giants’ best beat writers in one place to answer fan questions regarding the team.

Thus far, BBI’s panel has broken down the Giants’ tight end situation, the health of Stevie Brown, training camp storylines and more. Today, they turn their attention to guard Chris Snee.

Remember, if you’d like to have your question answered by our panel, simply email it to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) and it could be featured next week.

From Dave in East Windsor: I know it’s still early, but I can’t help but get uneasy thinking of the health of guard Chris Snee. If he can’t go during the regular season for injury reasons, who do you believe steps up in his place? Will not having Snee in the lineup bring the same kind of offensive line failures as we saw last year?

Chris Snee and Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Snee was on the sideline for much of the Giants’ offseason workouts – © USA TODAY Sports Images

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

When your team’s offensive guard is coming off an injury-riddled season, surgery-filled offseason and then can’t make it through the contact-free portion of the offseason conditioning program without being sidelined…you have every right to worry.

Throughout his tenure with the Giants, Chris Snee has been the ultimate example of everything the team could want in a player. He’s been great within the community, stayed out of trouble and was a staple on the Giants’ offensive line for a decade. But in sports there is one undefeated: Father Time.

Snee’s body isn’t the same and his play has reflected it. He’s beat up, worn down and no where near the player he was when the Giants selected him in the second round out of Boston College. Did the Giants hope he could return in some form this year? Yes. Did they know there was a chance he couldn’t? Yes to that, too.

Should you be uneasy about the health of Chris Snee? Yes. Should you be worried about a possible backup plan? No. To be honest, some of the guys waiting in the wings may be more help to the team than a healthy Snee this year anyway. John Jerry, while nursing an injury of his own, is considered a solid lineman that was in dire need of a scenery change. Brandon Mosley has impressed coaches this offseason. Weston Richburg was drafted in the second round. All three can fill in for Snee if he can’t go and potentially provide an upgrade in performance.

Will not having Snee in the lineup bring the same issues as last year? No, because Snee wasn’t in the lineup in the first place. After the Giants lost to the Carolina Panthers, Snee removed himself from the game and never stepped foot on the field again. The struggles last year were a result of lack-of-depth, an issue the Giants hope to have solidified this offseason.

Snee will be given every opportunity to return to the right side of the Giants’ offensive line during training camp and he’s earned that right, I just don’t think his body will take him there. It’s been a great run for Snee, but I think this is the end of the road.

ED VALENTINE/Big Blue View

You are absolutely correct to have an uneasy feeling about Snee. This is a topic I addressed on Sunday at Big Blue View and we will delve into it again here.

James Brewer, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

James Brewer struggled as Snee’s replacement last season – © USA TODAY Sports Images

If Snee can’t go, or if he is in and out of the lineup, the Giants are in much better shape this season than last to handle his absence. Last season they tried a fading David Diehl and an under-whelming James Brewer. Neither really held up very well.

This season the Giants have more offensive line depth. John Jerry is a starting-caliber NFL guard, and has started every game the past two seasons. Brandon Mosley continues to develop, and looks like a guy who might be an NFL-caliber lineman. Second-round pick Weston Richburg has been working at both guard and center. In all honesty, all three are probably better options than Brewer. If you are wondering, Brewer has been working at left tackle behind Charles Brown while Will Beatty rehabs.

So, sure, you have to worry about Snee. The Giants, though, are much better prepared to handle his absence this time around.

CONOR ORR/The Star-Ledger

Brandon Mosley, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Brandon Mosley may be the answer at guard if Snee can’t go – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Chris Snee looked awfully trim to me during OTA’s, even to the point where I thought he might be more than 10 pounds underneath his goal weight. If his hips don’t keep him down, it seems the elbow might, which adds to the difficulty of gaining good weight and lifting. If he’s not able to go, I think Pat Flaherty obviously recommends a competition between Brandon Mosley and Weston Richburg for that starting spot.

Mosley has been impressive in camp so far and, after RE-watching some of his snaps against Detroit and Seattle, I can see why the Giants spent a fourth-round pick on him. He makes adjustments naturally and is light on his feet for a 315-pound guard/tackle. He was injured during his rookie year so he’s really in his second season. No sense in rushing Richburg if he’s still developing.

I don’t think Snee is necessarily the key to a successful offensive line. Maybe in years past, when he was a graduate-level scholar in Kevin Gilride’s offense, things would be different. But this is a new offense with new veterans (J.D. Walton, Geoff Schwartz) who can fill that void.

The real question mark, in my opinion, is Will Beatty. If the Giants don’t have a left tackle, there needs to be some serious re-arranging with more than a few players working outside their comfort zones

ART STAPLETON/ THE RECORD

If the Giants made the same mistakes with depth up front offensively as they did last season, that would be the definition of insanity.

John Jerry, Miami Dolphins (November 17, 2013)

Is John Jerry the answer if Chris Snee can’t go?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

Chris Snee’s heart is into making a return. We can’t say for sure whether Snee will be able to go until there’s some contact in camp. While I’m not ready to say Snee is done, his absence in the spring could turn out to be a blessing for Brandon Mosley.

I’m not buying the conspiracy theory some have floated regarding Snee and how the Giants have expected him to retire all along, and they’re just going through the motions. That’s ridiculous. So the big question: is Mosley the heir apparent to Snee at right guard? He’ll get the chance this summer to show he can handle the job. I also wouldn’t rule out Weston Richburg as an option at RG, especially if J.D. Walton impresses at C. And even though his presence this spring has been a mystery, John Jerry has also been rumored to be in the building. We’ll see if he’s healthy enough to make a run at pushing the young guys off that spot.

Jul 082014
 
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Will Beatty, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Can William Beatty return to form in 2014? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to this year’s New York Giants: There are an awful lot of questions surrounding the team.

From Ben McAdoo’s new offense, to the secondary, to the revamped offensive line and Eli, the list goes on-and-on. Today, the Big Blue Breakdown asks our panel what storyline they are most looking forward to unfolding come July 21 when players are scheduled to report to the New York Giants training camp.

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question for our panel to discus on the next Big Blue Breakdown, please email to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com).

From Justin in Newark- What’s the storyline that you are most looking forward to unfolding in training camp and why? Is it the progression of Ben McAdoo’s new offense? The new pieces on defense? Or something else? Also, what’s your prediction for how it will pan out?

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

David Wilson, New York Giants (September 16, 2012)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of questions surrounding the Giants as the team prepares for training camp. I’m intrigued by the new offense and certainly to see how the secondary gels, but more than anything else I want to what David Wilson can do in this new offense and with a new offensive line.

Don’t get me wrong, of all the questions that will be answered or play out, Wilson’s status or role is no where near the top of the list, but personally I see this guy as the ultimate sleeper on the team. His attitude is second to none, he’s dying to get back on the field and I think having Rashad Jennings there to spell him is exactly what he needs to be the best back he can be.

Wilson’s frame (5-9, 205) don’t make him an ideal candidate as an “every-down-back,” but just picture this: Powerful Rashad Jennings/Andre Williams wear down a defense for two-to-three quarters. With the defenders huffing, Wilson comes in to spell the two with fresh legs and his 4.38 40-yard dash time. Wilson is the only player on the team that has the ability to take any carry the distance…couple that with a defense that’s already tired?

Saying that, I don’t believe the Giants will only insert Wilson into the lineup come the third and fourth quarters, but rather his reps will increase as the games go on. This was a tactic used by the Giants when the team had Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Deal with the 6-5, 260-pound Jacobs for three quarters, then worry about a shifty Bradshaw in the fourth. I could see this situation working out near identical with the three on the team now.

ART STAPLETON/ The Record

Damontre Moore, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There will be a lot of focus on the McAdoo offense and the health of the offensive line, Will Beatty and Chris Snee in particular, and for good reason. Those are a given. I’ll go back to what once was the Giants’ bread and butter: the defensive line.

I want to see Damontre Moore show he has taken that next step. I want to see if Robert Ayers is another body or if his analytic performance from 2013 translates on the field. Can Jay Bromley challenge Markus Kuhn? Will Mathias Kiwanuka turn his aggravation related to his pay cut into motivation for a bounce back year? Oh yeah, there’s the most important piece of the defensive puzzle: Jason Pierre-Paul. It’s too easy to say the Giants won’t depend on the pass rush as they have in the past.

If you look beyond the offensive chances that Jerry Reese and the FO has again taken with Beatty and Snee, the defensive line will end up being the difference in the NFC East. The fact we don’t know how it will work out makes this the most intriguing story line: there are no guarantees until the pads come on and the games begin, so it will be fun to watch.

JORDAN RAANAN/NJ.com

The one storyline that really pops out to me is how Eli Manning will fit into the new offense. This is really the No. 1 most important factor for the Giants in 2013. Everything else is secondary.

The defense won’t be great, but it also would take a lot to happen for them to be terrible. So the fate of the 2014 Giants rests on the offense (which ranked an abysmal 28th last year), and their quarterback in particular.

How will Eli take to the faster-paced, quick-throw offense? How will he bounce back from the 27-interception season? How will his surgically-repaired ankle hold up? How well will he work with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr.? Will he get on the same page as Rueben Randle? Does he have instant chemistry with any of these tight ends?

Everything concerning the Giants’ success this season centers around their quarterback. The reality is this team is going nowhere without Eli playing well. They need him to play well. So, without a doubt, the top training camp storyline is Elisha Nelson Manning, especially with the unproven and so far shaky Ryan Nassib as his backup.

I’ll be watching Eli closely. Very closely.

PATTI TRAINA/Sports XChange, Bleacher Report, Inside Football

I think there are many storylines set to unfold this summer at training camp — probably more than I can remember in recent history. Of course, when a team is coming off a 7-9 season and turns over a large portion of its personnel, both players and coaches, that’s to be expected.

Eli Manning (10) and David Wilson (22), New York Giants (August 7, 2013)

Eli Manning and David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Obviously, the biggest storyline is going to be the new offense and if it lives up to the offseason hype. At the end of the minicamp, both head coach Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo said that they weren’t quite there yet, but then again I don’t think anyone expected the offense to be functioning like a well-piled machine after just 12 practices.

I think there might be a few hiccups along the way, especially as they finish installing everything, but I’m very optimistic and exited to see how it all comes together and I’m particularly interested to see how Eli Manning functions in McAdoo’s system, which is significantly different from the system Manning has spent his entire pro career running.

Moving to the defense, I’m very interested to see how the revamped secondary works out. One of the stats I’m going to try to keep up with is if there’s an increase of coverage sacks this year as I think that was part of the plan in going after a high-profiled cornerback such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. I have a feeling there might very well be an increase.

There are three position battles I’m looking forward to seeing and those are backup middle linebacker, tight end and fullback.

At backup middle linebacker, I like what I’ve seen of Dan Fox so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants end up carrying an extra linebacker until Jon Beason is ready to return (I don’t think Beason will be ready for opening night, by the way).

Devon Kennard has also impressed and I think he could prove to be an absolute steal if he builds on his solid spring. I want to see both Kennard and Fox with pads on and I also want to see how they measure up on special teams before I can definitely say of an extra linebacker will be kept.

At tight end, I think it’s anyone’s game right now. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they add a tight end before the start of the season, maybe someone who’s cut by another team. Two teams I’d keep an eye on in that regard are Arizona and Detroit.

Fullback might not have as big of a role in this offense, at least from what we’ve seen so far and what the players have told us about there being more single back sets in this offense than there were in the previous system. Still, I’m fairly sure they will carry one fullback and right now it’s any man’s game.

John Conner, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

We’ve seen both John Conner and Henry Hynoski work with the starters, which is a good sign that right now both are even in this race. I think once the pads on and they can block and hit, that’s going to separate a winner in this race.

Last thing, I’m very curious to see is how many quarterbacks they end up keeping. I’m sure

that they would like to keep two, but as the coaches have said, the execution from Ryan Nassib needs to be better.

With that said, I’m curious to see just how many reps Nassib gets because remember, this is a new offense and I would think that maybe Eli Manning and the starters probably could benefit from a little more work this preseason to iron out any remaining wrinkles before opening day.

I know the feeling is he will get many chances to work on improving his accuracy, but I’m curious to see if maybe Eli Manning and the starters maybe get a little more work in each preseason game what with the new offense.

Jun 302014
 
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Stevie Brown (27), Antrel Rolle (26), New York Giants (August 4, 2013)

Can Stevie Brown (left) fill the void left by Will Hill? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Big Blue Breakdown enters into week No. 3 as today our panel takes a look at safety Stevie Brown.

HEALTHY AND MOTIVATED, STEVIE BROWN READY TO MAKE IMPACT ON GIANTS

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question to be put into consideration for the next BBB, simply email it to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com).

QUESTION (From James in Morristown): With addition, after addition after addition made to the Giants’ secondary, the return of Stevie Brown has flown a bit under the radar. Do you believe the Giants’ safety can return to the form he displayed in 2012 when he hauled in a league-high eight interceptions? How important is it that he appears healthy and ready to go?

CONNOR HUGHES/ Big Blue Interactive

Stevie Brown, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Stevie Brown injured his knee in the third preseason game of 2013 – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s really tough to gauge exactly what should be expected from a player returning from a serious knee injury, especially the season directly after. While most players return the next year after they are injured, it usually takes two full seasosn to see the ‘old’ version of the player back on the field. With that being said, the fact Brown was injured in the preseason certainly favors him returning to form.

But that ‘form’ is what is in question. Before joining the Giants, Brown played a combined 23 games for the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts… he never recorded a single interception. Brown then burst onto the scene for the Giants with eight, tying for a league-lead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for Brown, think he’s a player with a great attitude who does everything the right way…but I’m not sold just yet. In 2012, Brown filled in quite often for an injured Kenny Phillips. When Phillips was with the Giants, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell adjusted his scheme to let Phillips roam 15-20 yards beyond the defense tracking down deep balls. When Phillips was injured, Brown took his place.

Brown’s eight interceptions were impressive, but more of a result of offensive coordinators testing him. Quarterbacks  forced some his way, Brown made them pay.

Theoretically, the Giants’ ‘best case scenario’ would have been a safety tandem of Antrel Rolle and Will Hill with Brown roaming deep. With Hill gone, can Brown become a complete safety? Can he play in the box?

The fact Brown is healthy is big, very big, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as it’s not Charles or Rod Woodson stepping back on the field. I hope Brown proves he’s a top-tier safety in the NFL, I just don’t know exactly who Brown is yet..healthy or not.

JORDAN RAANAN/NJ.com

Having Brown back is huge for the Giants now that Will Hill has been exiled to unemployment. Brown gives them a starting-caliber safety to play alongside Antrel Rolle, if he returns to previous form.

Stevie Brown, New York Giants (May 29, 2014)

Stevie Brown – Photo by Connor Hughes

But that’s a big if. It often takes until the second season off injury for most players (Adrian Peterson not included) to really get back. Brown is only nine months removed from surgery and was still slightly limited at OTAs and minicamp.

Even when Brown is at full strength, Hill is the better, more complete, player. Hill did it all last season, and was the perfect complement to Rolle with his impressive range. To expect Brown, off a serious knee injury, to provide similar sideline-to-sideline coverage is unrealistic. To expect him to have that good a year is wishful thinking.

And then there is the question of whether Brown really was that good in the first place. He had a nice 2012 season with the Giants, no doubt. But that was his fourth team in three years in the NFL. In four professional seasons, Brown has 12 career starts. He’s far from a given even if he’s healthy.

Considering the Giants situation, they’re hoping Brown is back. They’re praying he was for real. I have my doubts.

ART STAPLETON/The Record

The best development out of the spring for the Giants is without question the health of Stevie Brown. The fact he’s where he is must be considered a huge positive step, but cautiously it remains just the first one. Toss in Will Hill’s release and Brown’s pairing with Antrel Rolle could emerge as a potential strength on a transitioning team in search of them rather than what would be a weakness without him.

Go back to Brown’s interception against the Jets last August and prior to that, when he fell to the turf with that ACL injury: he was locked in as a starter and Will Hill was an afterthought because of his pending suspension, relegated to working with the third and fourth string in training camp. Brown broke out in 2012 and in some ways I believe some still view his performance was a fluke. We’re not talking about Brown returning to an All-Pro level, because despite those interceptions, there were clearly some flaws in his game (coverage especially).

But in reality, Brown and Rolle can be as effective as Rolle and Hill, and the Giants need that kind of play from their safeties to solidify a secondary whose greatest strength – at least on paper – will be in its ability to cover. Brown and Rolle can roam if Amukamara, DRC and Thurmond do their jobs at CB.

With all the uncertainty involved with the rehab of injuries for Will Beatty, Chris Snee and Mario Manningham, not to mention Jon Beason’s foot, the presence of Brown is just as important and maybe more so than any of them. Brown’s absence would leave a gaping hole that the Giants would have an even harder time filing a year later.

CONOR ORR/The Star-Ledger

I think it’s completely reasonable to expect Stevie Brown to be on a pitch count this summer. He started jogging toward the end of last season and could cut and sprint by the Super Bowl, but the first year following an ACL tear is always the toughest. Just ask Terrell Thomas. Brown was lucky that his happened when it did, which allowed him a full season under team supervision to rehab, but it’s still less than a year removed from the injury.

Brown is extremely important to what the Giants are trying to do on defense this season. The three safety look will be in heavy rotation to make up for the loss of Will Hill. That’s why they will be careful with Brown and will space out his workload during training camp and in the preseason. Behind him are a pair of safeties, Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor, who aren’t likely ready for that much responsibility.

PATRICIA TRAINA/Inside Football, Bleacher Report, Sports Exchange

Stevie Brown appears to have made amazing progress in his return from ACL surgery. I’ll admit that I was surprised to see him do as much as he did this spring given the nature of his injury. I thought he might be limited until training camp.

With that said, it’s important that he not try to overdo things as that’s how you can reinjure yourself. I think the training staff is going to closely monitor Brown’s progress and put him on a “pitch count” for the summer so that he doesn’t overdo it.

Can Brown return to his 2012 form? The optimist in me says, “Yes,” but the realist in me says that’s a tough question to answer right now considering the spring practices were run at half speed.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that you’re never quite the same once you’ve had surgery, so I don’t quite know how to answer that question right now. I would need to see how he does when the practice tempo cranks up and we see how he responds to that.

Regarding the importance of him being ready to go, I think that can be said of all players. If Brown passes the litmus test, that would be huge because it would allow Perry Fewell to run the three-safety set that he so enjoys using.

If Brown suffers a setback, then they’re left with just Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps as their veterans with any significant experience, which means the three-safety set probably gets put on the back burner (unless Cooper Taylor has a strong showing).

So yes, it’s definitely important for Brown to be on the field, and for that to happen, I suspect they’ll be managing his reps very carefully because they are counting on him this year.

ED VALENTINE/Big Blue View

For the Giants’ secondary to be as good as advertised, the answer to this question has to be yes. The Giants absolutely need Brown to play full-time and to play well, in 2014. That doesn’t mean we have any clue how healthy Brown will be, or how well he will play.

Stevie Brown, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

Stevie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Fact is, we really don’t know how good Brown is. He had a nice run in 2012, with those eight interceptions in just 11 starts. He was, however, also part of a defense that surrendered 13 plays of 40 yards or more through the air, second-worst in the league. How much of that was on Brown? We don’t know, but the primary job of the safety is to prevent the big play. The Giants did not do that well in 2012.

There is also the fact that Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts after single seasons during which he never really received an opportunity.

The question really shouldn’t be will Brown return to his 2012 form? Aside from his health, the question really is what kind of player Brown actually is.The Giants will find out. For their sake, Brown’s 2012 performance better not have been a mirage.

Jun 232014
 
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Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Is Ryan Nassib ready to be the Giants’ No. 2? Our panel weighs in.  – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Big Blue Interactive is dedicated to being your No. 1 source for Giants’ news on the web. If it involves Big Blue, we’ve got you covered. What better way to do that than bring some of the Giants’ best beat writers together for a panel discussion each week. Thus, we give you, the Big Blue Breakdown.

Last week, our panel took a look at the Giants tight end situation. This week, it’s Ryan Nassib. We also went to the waiver wire and acquired a new voice. We’re pleased to have the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz join the discussion.

Have something you want discussed? Email your open-ended question to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) and it could be featured on the next Big Blue Breakdown.

QUESTION (from Jessica in East Hampton): The Giants appear to be doing everything they can to let Ryan Nassib take the No. 2 quarterback position behind Eli Manning, but the second-year pro struggled throughout OTAs. What’s your opinion on Nassib? Do you believe he can be the team’s No. 2, or should the Giants look for another option?

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

The entire ‘Ryan Nassib’ concept to me is interesting. Initially when the Giants’ traded up for the Syracuse alum, I assumed it wasn’t to be the quarterback of the future, but trade bait. Here was a player who had quite the rep entering the draft, but happened to fall. The idea of drafting a player, developing him for a year or two and then trading him away for a higher pick than you selected him isn’t unheard of. Matt Schaub anyone?

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Ryan Nassib – Photo by Connor Hughes

But since trading in his orange and navy for blue and white, Nassib really hasn’t shown much at all. He wasn’t given too many chances during the preseason last year, being hidden away and forced into “mental reps.” This season, the Giants appear to be making up for it. From OTAs to mini-camp, Nassib has been given every chance to grab hold of the No. 2 position, but in my eyes just hasn’t impressed.

I know, it’s OTAs. I know, no one has pads on. I know, the defense is almost always ahead of the offense at this point. But it’s not the fact Nassib isn’t firing bombs over Antrel Rolle’s head that is concerning to me, it’s the little things. He looks very flustered in the pocket. When the play breaks down, he panics. When simply working with wideouts, he doesn’t have much touch. Could it all change? Yes. But if something happens to Eli Manning this year… and Ryan Nassib goes in…

ART STAPLETON/ Daily Record

I’m not buying the assertion that Nassib is struggling based on three OTA practices open to the media. I have heard nothing yet from the Giants that they have given up on the second-year pro, and if anything, their moves of releasing Josh Freeman and Rusty Smith spoke more of their confidence that he was making strides. Obviously Eli’s recovery from ankle surgery played a part in that, but don’t overlook their commitment to Nassib to step up and take this role.

The defense is always ahead of the offense in OTAs and mini-camp – does anyone remember the Brandon Bing highlight reel? While this defense is running the same familiar playbook, the offense is continuing to install on the fly. That’s why assessing Nassib based on a few practices is short-sighted. Has he looked great? No. But neither has Eli, truth be told. I think Nassib looks more comfortable with his surroundings so far and his body language has been good, from what I’ve seen. Does he need to ramp things up? Absolutely. I’m not ready to say he’s a bust because Charles James has jumped a few routes on him in what amounts to passing drills as the Giants continue to put this offense on the field – with no running game yet, I might add.

Should the Giants have drafted Nassib in the fourth round last year? Would they have been better served addressing another position? At this point, because of the way things fell apart in 2013, you’d say yes. But this offense remains a work-in-progress, as does Nassib. Can he be the No. 2? Unless he is a disaster in the preseason, Nassib will be Eli’s backup. And if he’s playing in 2014, then the Giants have bigger problems than his perceived struggles.

PAT TRAINA/ Inside Football, Bleacher Report & Sports XChange

I think it’s too soon to state whether Nassib can be the No. 2 quarterback because right now, we’ve seen them work in shorts and shells. Let’s see how Nassib does with a live defense in front of him. Things we’ll need to see include if he’s making the right reads, how he’s handling pressure and if he’s running the offense efficiently.

Regarding how he’s looked in the spring workouts, quite honestly other than maybe Victor Cruz, no one has really jumped out as far as being consistent just yet. Remember, everyone’s learning the new system so there’s probably a bit more thinking going n rather than just doing.

While it’s true that Nassib has thrown few interceptions this spring (at least when the media’s been in attendance), I don’t believe all of those picks have been his fault – of the two he threw in the last OTA we had access to, I think maybe one was his fault.

I think it is a positive sign that Nassib has earned more snaps this spring – that to me shows that he is grasping the concepts in the classroom. However, as I’ve said before, grasping the concepts and executing them are two very different things. Until the speed of the on-field activity increases, I think it’s probably a good idea to reserve judgment regarding whether Nassib has a good chance of emerging as Eli Manning’s backup.

PAUL SCHWARTZ/ New York Post

The whole Ryan Nassib situation was messy from the start, as the Giants traded up to get him in the fourth round in 2013 and GM Jerry Reese immediately said he hoped Nassib never took a snap. We get it, no one wants anything to happen to Eli Manning and the No. 2 quarterback on the Giants is one of those “meaningless’’ positions, as Eli has never missed anything and the backup quarterback doesn’t do a thing except hold the clipboard. Of course, if the backup is ever needed he instantly goes from the least significant to the most important player on the roster.

Ryan Nassib (9), Eli Manning (10), Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (May 29, 2014)

Ryan Nassib, Eli Manning, and Ben McAdoo – Photo by Connor Hughes

There’s no doubt Tom Coughlin wants to keep only two quarterbacks and that he and the front office want the depth chart to be Manning and then Nassib. They will force-feed Nassib to get him the reps he needs to make an impression and only if he proves unworthy will Curtis Painter enter into the discussion. If the Giants want to keep a bonus player on the roster – say, return specialist Trindon Holliday – they need to save a spot by keeping only two quarterbacks.

Can Nassib play? So far, not so good but it’s too soon to make that determination. There’s been no evidence that he’s a real NFL quarterback. His arm looks fine but nothing special. His command of the offense looks okay but nothing special. His decision-making looks to be adequate and it’s probably asking too much for it to be any better than that. At this point, it would be a real leap of faith to state the Giants should be confident Nassib can emerge as a legit No. 2 behind Manning. Nassib will be given every opportunity to claim the job, as cutting a fourth-round pick in his second season doesn’t look good for anyone associated with the draft choice.

Figure to see plenty of Nassib this summer. It’s a good year for the Giants to have five preseason games, as they will feature plenty of Nassib and his trial under fire will be on display for all to see.

JORDAN RAANAN/ NJ.com

The Giants appear to be doing everything they can to let Ryan Nassib take the No. 2 quarterback position behind Eli Manning, but the second-year pro struggled throughout OTAs. What’s your opinion on Nassib? Do you believe he can be the team’s No. 2, or should the Giants look for another option?

I came into this offseason with basically no preconceived opinion on Nassib. I wasn’t covering the team during training camp last season and the few moments Nassib threw passes during practices in November and December weren’t nearly enough to make any sort of evaluation (although I wasn’t impressed then either). So I gave him the benefit of the doubt that being inactive for all 16 games was one of those Tom Coughlin specials where rookies sometimes get buried because he can’t trust them.

But after watching Nassib in OTAs and minicamp, I couldn’t be any less impressed. He didn’t throw the ball particularly well (lots of wobblers), didn’t throw with much accuracy (there were 5-yard passes into the ground and 10-yard passes overthrown by 10 yards), and didn’t seem to be very comfortable in the pocket, even when the pass rushers weren’t allowed to hit him. Nassib didn’t look good at all in my eyes.

I know it’s a new offense and there is a learning curve. Eli Manning has that same learning curve though, and he looked exponentially better than Nassib. This clearly leaves me with serious doubts that Nassib should be the Giants’ backup quarterback. But, at the same time, they want him to be their backup and will give him every chance possible. And they should. No way the Giants’ should give up on their 2013 fourth-round pick before ever seeing him in real game action. You have to give quarterbacks a chance in the NFL. Sometimes, it takes several years before they get it. Nassib may be one of those guys.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t have my doubts. Nick Foles never looked like Nassib did this spring when I was covering the Eagles the past few years, and he was learning a new offense each of his first two years as well. Nassib looked bad this offseason. To describe his performance as shaky would be generous.

ED VALENTINE/ Big Blue View

The Giants are undoubtedly giving Nassib every opportunity to take the backup job. During OTAs and mini-camp he took the majority of second- and third-team reps, with Curtis Painter hardly seeing any action.

The question with Nassib is simply whether or not he can execute. He appears to be able to line up the offense and to recognize where the ball needs to go — he has simply been inaccurate and had difficulty delivering the ball there. If he is having trouble delivering the ball while practicing is shorts and a t-shirt with no press coverage I can’t be terribly optimistic that he will look better in the preseason games. The Giants have to hope he can, because otherwise he becomes a wasted draft pick and the Giants have wasted two seasons trying to develop him.

If Nassib proves he can’t do the job, the question then is whether or not there is a better option available than Curtis Painter. Guys like Kevin Kolb, Rex Grossman and Seneca Wallace are available — but are those guys really appealing options? Maybe the Packers will cut Scott Tolzien, who played against the Giants last season. Again, though, is he better than Painter?

If Nassib can’t step up, Painter would seem likely to end up with the job by default.

Jun 162014
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For the first time this season, we introduce the Big Blue Breakdown. Throughout the course of the year, BBI’s Connor Hughes will be joined by Art Stapleton, Jordan Raanan, Patricia Traina and others tackling the hottest topics surrounding the New York Giants.

BBI is dedicated to giving you the best coverage of the Giants on the web. What better way to do that than bringing some of the team’s best beat writers together in one spot? With OTAs officially wrapped up, we asked the round table how they felt the Giants stand at the tight end position.

Have something you want discussed? Email your open-ended question to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) and it could be featured on the next Big Blue Breakdown.

QUESTION: While hyped quite a bit as a “position of need,” the Giants have done very little to address the tight end position. With a new offensive coordinator that appears to like to feature the position, do you believe the Giants made the correct decision not drafting or signing a tight end? Why?

CONNOR HUGHES/ Big Blue Interactive

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The tight end position in the Giants’ offense is the great unknown. Since Jim Fassel was shown the door so many years ago, the TE for Big Blue has been little more than a safety valve for quarterback Eli Manning. There was no need for a Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Grahahm or even Jeremy Shockey, just someone who could block, had average hands and could get to position ‘A’ on field.

With new coordinator Ben McAdoo calling plays for the first time, it’s still up in the air to this point on how the Giants plan to use the tight end. Will it be a focal point of the offense? Will it be a blocker? If the goal is to utilize the position, I hardly feel confident in those presently on the roster.

Adrien Robinson has flashed, Larry Donnell too, but neither strike “fear” into the heart of a defender. Could Robinson develop? Sure. Could he end of getting injured again? Sure. Personally, I was and still am a fan of bringing Jermichael Finley in for at least a visit. After all, what do you have to lose?

ART STAPLETON/The Record

The tight end situation is a bit more complicated than just projecting the depth chart for 2014 and feeling good about where the Giants are at the position. The bottom line: tight end will not be what sinks this offense in 2014.

If two of the group including Robinson, Donnell, Davis, Fells or yes, Grimble, can be serviceable, the rebuilding done elsewhere on the offense (OL, WR with Beckham Jr., RB) should make up the slack. If not, they’ll mix and match with TEs to get the job done. I truly believe they would have upgraded TE with a draft pick – perhaps the second round – if things had played out differently.

When assessing center and TE, though, it’s pretty clear center is of greater importance – so instead of going with, say, Jace Amaro or Troy Niklas in that spot, they went with Weston Richburg, to whom I believe they are committed for the future. Once the Giants got into the fourth round and beyond, they’d decided to stick with the fourth-round pick that has already been in the building (Adrien Robinson) instead of drafting someone for the sake of having a new face. Under these circumstances, I think the Giants have done the right thing at tight end.

There are no quick fixes that have presented themselves at the position. We know the issues surrounding Jermichael Finley and Dustin Keller. Just look at the $ Finley will get from his insurance policy if he never plays again and realize he’ll likely be looking for more than a minimum-type deal. TE remains a position of need, but the impact has been overrated compared to upgrades that were needed elsewhere.

PATRICIA TRAINA/ Inside Football & Bleacher Report

Xavier Grimble, USC Trojans (September 21, 2013)

Xavier Grimble – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Obviously, time will tell if the decision to pass on a tight end was the right one to make, but I can certainly understand their thought process.

Let me start first with the veteran free agent part. Other than Dennis Pitta (Ravens) and Jimmy Graham (Saints), both of whom were never realistic possibilities in free agency, who from the 2014 group of veteran free agents was really worth a look?

As for the tight ends already on the roster, particularly Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, the Giants know what they have in both of those guys, having seen them in practices. Yes, Robinson hasn’t shown much, but I’ll point out that last summer in camp, he was making progress to the point where he was supposed to have a big role in that final preseason game which of course had to be scrapped when he suffered the foot injury. Donnell? People forget that he missed all of last spring due to a broken foot, a factor that he recently told me put him way behind the curve.

Yes there is the classroom work, but as Tom Coughlin has said in the past (many times), you have to go out and practice what you’re learning in the classroom. So now you have two young tight ends with impressive physical tools and who now have a chance to learn a new offense from scratch. Both say they have a better understanding of what needs to be done as far as the little things (watching film, taking better care of their bodies, etc.) and who are HEALTHY.

In some ways, it’s like having rookies on the squad, except Donnell and Robinson have gone through NFL seasons and have a better idea of what to expect at this level.

Last point (apologies for the lengthy response, by the way). I researched just how frequently the tight ends have been used in the Packers’ offense over the last two seasons, using data from Pro Football Reference.

Last year, the Packers tight ends combined for 57 out of the 366 passes completed or 15.5%. In 2012, they combined for 76 receptions out of the 374 pass completions or 20.3 percent.

These stats suggest that the Packers tight ends haven’t been as predominantly featured in the passing game as some might believe. I suspect that with the Giants, McAdoo is going to place a heavier emphasis on getting the ball to the receivers in the passing game.

Obviously, injuries can alter those plans, but as I noted before the draft whenever I was asked about the possibility of them drafting tight end Eric Ebron, the last time the Giants had a tight end lead the team in receptions was Jeremy Shockey in 2006, when he had three more receptions (66) than Plaxico Burress (63) did.

By the way, that season, despite being the team leader in receptions, Shockey finished with 623 yards and was second in receiving touchdowns with seven (behind team leader Plaxico Burress who finished with 63 catches for 988 yards and 10 touchdowns.

JORDAN RAANAN/ NJ.com 

If it were me, I’d have done anything possible to try and get a dynamic receiving tight end on this roster. Who cares if they can block? Does anyone care that Jimmy Graham can’t block? With the way the rules are nowadays, linebackers and safeties have no chance against big, athletic TEs. They are bigger weapons than ever. Three TEs finished in the Top 10 in TD receptions last season. Six finished with over 70 receptions. This Giants offense needs that type of weapon. They don’t have anything close right now. Maybe next year.