Aug 072015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 7, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their seventh summer training camp practice on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY JUSTIN HALLEY, WAIVE CHRIS HARPER…
The New York Giants have signed rookie free agent Justin Halley (Florida International) and waived/injured wide receiver Chris Harper.

INJURY REPORT…
Right guard Geoff Schwartz (coming off of ankle surgery), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if there was an update on McClain. “No, he will be a while,” responded Coughlin. “He has had some issues in the past and they are trying to rule out a bunch of things. I’m not going to rush a guy back in, forget that stuff. It is just like a head [injury], we aren’t going to rush anyone back in who has an injury like that.”

Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) was limited.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Today’s practice was only a jog-thru. “The purpose is we went two hard [practices] in a row and we have a hard one tomorrow, so this would be the natural down curve and we thought this was the time to go with a mental day, a learning day, rather than anything physical so we can get something done tomorrow,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With Geoff Schwartz out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Justin Pugh, center Weston Richburg, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • Landon Collins and Jeromy Miles were the starters at safety.
  • Dominique Hamilton received some reps with the first-team at defensive tackle alongside Johnathan Hankins. The first-team defensive ends were Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Robert Ayers.
  • Jordan Stanton also saw some time with the starters at right defensive end and inside as a pass rusher.
  • Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings worked with first-team today; Andre Williams worked with the second-team.
  • At one point Victor Cruz motioned into the backfield and lined up at tailback.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What was purpose of this practice?

A: The purpose is we went two hard [practices] in a row and we have a hard one tomorrow, so this would be the natural down curve and we thought this was the time to go with a mental day, a learning day, rather than anything physical so we can get something done tomorrow.

Q: You’re hurting your reputation a little bit here running games and easing down here?

A: A new, changed scientific approach.

Q: Any updates on Jameel McClain?

A: No, he will be a while.

Q: Is there something structural there? A herniated disk on McClain?

A: No, but he has had some issues in the past and they are trying to rule out a bunch of things. I’m not going to rush a guy back in, forget that stuff. It is just like a head [injury], we aren’t going to rush anyone back in who has an injury like that.

Q: Is it his neck or his back or his spine?

A: It is in that area, I think.

Q: You haven’t been asked in a while. Have you spoken to Jason Pierre-Paul yet?

A: No, but I think I will speak to him [shortly].

Q: Shortly today?

A: I have not talked to him yet, but I am anticipating talking to him perhaps before the end of the week.

Q: What makes you say that?

A: I just have a premonition. So far my premonitions, none of them have worked.

Q: What do you think that conversation will be like?

A: If and when it happens, I am concerned about knowing how he feels. Where is he? How is he coming along? I won’t even ask about the extent of the injuries but I’ll let him tell me. Why isn’t he here?

Q: Richburg and Flowers obviously feeling good enough to be out there today; I know you didn’t go hard. Do you anticipate them being out there tomorrow?

A: I hope so. They are not going to get the full green light. They are going to be restricted, but I’m thinking they will be out there.

Q: I didn’t see Odell out there at all. Was there something to that?

A: No, nothing to that.

Q: What was your reaction to Shaun O’Hara’s comments?

A: I don’t have any reaction. I am not going to comment on that.

Q: Any update on Geoff Schwartz?

A: No.

Q: Will you bring everyone to Cincinnati? Even guys who aren’t going to participate?

A: No, but they have to be ruled out of the game not to go. They may be ‘can’t work today but we’ll see’ kind of people and they will come.

Q: Do you have to prepare any differently even with the practices maybe than you would with the first preseason game because you are going out there and going against a [different] offense or defense?

A: That is the purpose. The purpose is to go and get good, hard work against someone else instead of beating on your own people.

Q: Do you think Victor is a no-go for that first game?

A: Probably, but again — ask me next week in the middle of the preparation for the game.

Q: But he will come with you?

A: Ask me next week after I get there.

OFFENSIVE LINE COACH PAT FLAHERTY…
Pat Flaherty addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: I know you really can’t control it, but the level of frustration when you look and see three projected starters on the side yesterday, how frustrating is that?

A: I don’t think it’s frustrating. I probably have my feelings go towards those guys because I think, I believe, they want to be out there and they can’t be out there for various reasons because they’re injured. My feelings of whatever I have is really for those guys that they want to be out there and get better. As a group, we need them out there to get better. There are some things as a coach that you can control, there are some things you can’t control. The one thing that I always want to stay focused on as a coach is do the best job with what we have to work with and what I can control. That’s the players out there practicing at the moment.

Q: But still you can’t build continuity when you have guys coming in and out. How do you comb that over, if you comb that over?

A: You try to do it with the things that those guys can do, whether it’s walk-throughs, in the meetings, trying to keep that continuity. You’re not getting 100 percent, as you mentioned, you just get the best of what you can do, whether it’s sitting in a chair and talking about things and letting them call things out in the meeting rooms. We try to keep that exercise going each and every day.

Q: Where do you stand at right tackle at this point? I saw the other day you rotated Newhouse and Schwartz..

A: We just want to make sure that we get guys working at various positions because if something else happens at a position, you want to be able to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this.’ So we’re going to let guys work at positions and see how they do and one of them was Geoff at the time. Now he’s not totally healthy right now so for him to go out there for Marshall really is not the best indication we can get at this point, but we’ll continue to work with that. So right now, Marshall Newhouse is the starting right tackle and we will have other options. I think the more competition you develop, and that’s what we’re trying to do as the New York Giant offensive line, which we’re going to also get a starting five and always have competition right nipping at their heels. I know we’ve used a term here ‘the next guy up’ but, really, what that means is you’re ready to take over because you’re pushing the starter.

Q: Prior to the injury bug starting, Justin (Pugh) and Weston (Richburg) spoke about being tougher, being like that 2008 line. Are you seeing that from them yet?

A: Yeah, I’m seeing that. You can’t—we have a saying in our offensive line room and I’ll share it with you, “We talk with our pads.” I know they are sharing that with you, I heard that before and that’s fine, but it’s not going to get done just verbally talking about it. You have to do it with pads. One thing I have seen each and every day by these guys is they are coming off the ball better with their pads. We always have to work on our leverage on our pads and if we continue to progress like that, we are going to be a good offensive line. We are talented enough. I know sometimes we question that, but we are talented enough. Whether or not we do it, I’m part of that equation as a coach.

Q: How is Brandon Mosley coming along? I see him getting worked into the mix.

A: He is out there at tackle now. We are trying to keep him in one spot. We moved him and worked a couple reps at the guard position and it is a little bit different out there at tackle in terms of the pass protection, so he is getting a feel for that with his technique, he has some work to do.

Q: Missed practices at this time of the year, what do they mean, especially for Flowers?

A: Well, it is critical, it is. It is nothing that you take lightly with a young player. The only guys that you would actually kind of, as a coach, breathe okay with is a guy that is a veteran, a guy that has played year after year after year. A young player needs every snap that he gets, so my job is when he’s not in there, in particular in our jog-throughs and walk-throughs, is he’s right beside me and he’s telling me his assignment so he’s getting mental reps. Mental reps aren’t going to get the job done, you have to get out there and physically do it. Obviously, right now he can’t physically do it, so we’re going to do whatever we can to keep getting him ready to play.

Q: Do you have a sense on when you will get Flowers and Richburg?

A: No, I don’t. I think Ronnie (Barnes) can answer that. If you ask me, I’d say my fingers were crossed for today, but that’s asking me. I have no idea. I’m just hoping that the guys get back sooner than later but when you get them back you don’t want that reoccurring. Ereck is a little different now. He wants to—he’s chomping at the bit, he’s in my ear, and I say, ‘Hey, listen, you’ve got to understand we have the best training staff in the world.’ And I said, ‘They’re going to put you out there when you’re ready so you don’t re-injure it.’ It’s no good to get out there and then go back to square one now. So he’s missing some time now but the objective is when he gets out there, he’s not looking back, he’s going straight ahead. So when that is, I really couldn’t tell you.

Q: Were you aware of the tweets by Shaun O’Hara questioning the offensive linemen?

A: I don’t have one of those accounts. I don’t even know if I can pronounce it but I can’t say. I’m not going to stand before you and say I don’t read your articles because I do when I have time, but when I come in the morning, and whatever time it is right now and whatever day it is, I haven’t done that.

Q: Did you hear about it though?

A: What are you…

Q: He’s basically questioning the toughness, saying offensive linemen shouldn’t be sitting out practice coming off a day off basically.

A: That’s one man’s opinion from that standpoint. When you get into the inner circles and really into our organization and all the discussion we have with Coach Coughlin each and every day from head coach to assistant coach, I don’t question the toughness because I know and I understand what they’re going through. Now I don’t know what Shaun’s saying, but maybe he’s saying, ‘Hey, listen. Sometimes if you have a little bit of soreness, you have to play through it,’ but that’s different. These guys don’t have that, they have an injury and that’s why they’re not practicing. One thing in training camp that I know is in Shaun’s back of the mind because we’ve always talked about it in our room with all those guys, you have to develop the calluses on your hands, you have to develop the soreness with the pads and next is going to be a little stiffness and all those things that come with playing this game that they love to play. If they don’t love to play it, okay we’re missing the boat there somewhere. That’s what you have to be able to do —you do have to work through some hurts and some pains, you do. The injuries, that’s totally different. That’s controlled. So whatever the opinion is, mine is if they’re injured and they’re hurt, my job is to make sure they get the mental reps.

Q: (O’Hara’s) around here a lot, though. How much is he in the guys’ ears in regards to..?

A: That’s a great question. I think all those guys—first of all, whether it’s Shaun or Richie (Seubert) or Chris (Snee), they love the New York Giants. You guys have heard it before, once a Giant, always a Giant and those guys are going to do everything they can to help this organization, whether it’s with players or outside talking to the fans, whatever it is. I’m sure they’re going to—the one thing I’ve always, as a coach, told the younger guys is reach out to the veterans, watch them, absorb everything you can, see what kind of passion they have because the true veterans have been through it. The veterans are going to reach out to the retired guys possibly from that standpoint.

DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ROBERT NUNN…
Robert Nunn addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com).

Q: What kind of correspondence have you had with DE Jason Pierre-Paul?

I’ve spoken to him on the phone. I’ve texted him back and forth and mostly about things other than football. The first thing you know, it’s been talked about before, and it was a tragic thing that happened, major accident. Everybody has their beliefs on what happened, what should have happened, and make of it what they want to, but the guy went through a tough thing. It was a tough situation to be in so when I talk to him we talk more about where he is from a mental standpoint. I texted him back and forth, just to let him know that we’re here for him. Whatever he needs, we’re here for him, and his response has been, “Coach, I’m good, I want to get myself right, and I’ll be back.” That’s kind of where it stands. I don’t know any more than what you guys know from that standpoint. Most of my conversations with him have been about things other than football.

Q: Do you have any idea on when to expect Pierre-Paul?

No. Everybody is guessing. Nobody knows right now, and he texted me just this morning to tell he’s good today. I kind of keep up with him like that. Every day or every other day I’ll shoot something at him with text. Again, it’s all usually about something other than football. We talked about we miss him in meetings and busting his chops in meetings and we kind of laugh about it. That’s kind of where it goes. I don’t know any more than that.

Q: How do you balance the confidentiality established with Pierre-Paul and sharing information with the organization?

Jerry (Reese) and I talk almost daily when I talk to him. If he (Pierre-Paul) asks me not talk about it, I don’t talk about it, but we don’t really get into that. It’s not anything everyone knows, you know. I just want to know where he is from an emotional and mental standpoint, and we’ve told him, everybody in this building has told him, we’re here for him. Whatever you need, just let us know how we can help, and so that’s been the conversation, but there’s really not any more to it other than that. He shoots me a funny text every so often and I’ll shoot one back. Some of the guys have talked to him, I think, and texted him about the meetings and we have some laughs. He’s not here to defend himself when we bust his chops and so we laugh about that. It’s that kind of conversation.

Q: Do you have to prepare as if you have to move on without Pierre-Paul?

We’ve talked about it in our room as far a defensive line room and that’s kind of been how it is. We’re going on and he’ll be here when he’ll be here and those other guys have a great opportunity and we’re going from there.

Q: Are you at the point where you’re sending Pierre-Paul defensive information?

I haven’t lately. We’ve discussed a little bit of that but I haven’t been sending a lot of stuff yet. He’s got up until the accident happened. He’s got most of everything in front of him, so when the time comes, we’ll get on it, and I’ll spend day and night doing that, and getting him ready to go.

Q: Do you get the sense that Pierre-Paul misses being here?

There’s no question, yeah.

Q: Do you know the extent of Pierre-Paul’s injury and if he’ll be as effective as he once was?

I don’t really know any more than what’s been printed. I told him that we’ll just tie one hand behind his back because he’s that kind of player. We joke about it a little bit like that, but I don’t know. I don’t know anything more than you guys know as far as the extent of the injury.

Q: Were you expecting Pierre-Paul to have a big year?

Oh yeah. He’s been an outstanding player. When he’s been healthy, he’s been as good as there is in the league and so we were all looking forward to that. Hey, it was a crazy thing that happened, but it happened. It was an accident, a horrible accident, life-changing experience, and so we’re going to move on from there and make the best of it.

Q: How do you plan moving forward? Do you have to plan as if Pierre-Paul is not going to be here?

Right now that’s what we’re doing as far as a group and everyone. We’re all pulling for him in that room. Everyone in there is very close and stays in touch with each other, and so we’re all pulling for him to be back, but right now we’ve got a job to do and that’s what we’re doing.

Q: How do you see filling that right defensive end spot?

The situation right now, as far as the defensive ends, we’ve got a group of defensive ends that have come in here with the right frame of mind, and I really feel good about the rotation. Right, left, starter, non-starter, we’ve got a good group, and we’re going to keep building every day and stacking successes. Young guys come in and are doing what we ask them to do, and I like where we are. Preseason games will tell us where we stack up as far as against other offenses, but I like where we are going into this practice here Saturday, and going to Cincinnati next week and we’ll see where we stand.

Q: Do you have to tweak the defense because of the absence of Pierre-Paul?

No, not necessarily. Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) has his package and we’re putting it in and we’re putting it in as best we can. We’re going to continue to tweak it and adjust it just like we would if he was here, he’s not here. No we haven’t changed very much.

Q: Have any of the defensive ends jumped out at you?

In certain areas they’ve all jumped out. I really like where Robert Ayers has come in from a mental standpoint. Kerry Wynn, when he got his opportunity, he made the most of it as far as production. Kerry Wynn, when the pads come on, he’s a different player than when the pads are not on, and I’ve coached players like that.

Q: Does Wynn become a different player when the pads are on because of his strength?

Yeah. He’s a strong, young player and they all do some things that the other ones don’t. Owa (Odighizuwa), you know we have to get him in better condition but he’s showed some good things. He’s a strong kid that wants to do what you ask him to do. Damontre (Moore) has come in and done some good things. They all have something that they can do that maybe somebody else doesn’t do. The group of defensive ends, I like where they are. George Selvie is a professional, hard-working, every day he shows up, does what you ask him to do, and that bleeds through that entire room.

Q: Did (Jonathan) Hankins show you enough as a pass-rusher last year?

Oh yeah. He kind of started showing up a year ago, when we would get in one-on-one pass rush, he was doing some good things, and he got his opportunity and took advantage of it. If he’s producing, he’s definitely going to be in there. He’s definitely going to have that opportunity to get in there in some rush situations.

Re: playing Hankins on third down passing situations versus lining up with four defensive ends

A lot of that will be controlled by down and distance. If it’s a truly long yardage situation, then Jonathan probably won’t be in there just because of what you can see. He’ll be in there, he’ll have some opportunities.

Q: Why have the defensive ends been moving inside? Is it because it’s early or do you want to see what guys can do in those spots?

Both, it’s early and you know we can get some of those other guys some opportunities. We’ll continue to tweak that and look at it and give everybody a shot.

Q: Have you seen any early indication that you’ll be better against the run?

It’s hard to tell until you get in real games. When real bullets are fired you is when find out. I know we challenged them, we’ve challenged them to come in here, and we have to be able to stop the run better than we did last year. I like where we are, Hankins has come in here in a great frame of mind, and I can’t say enough positive things about where he is. Markus Kuhn has come in and is ready to give himself a shot. Jay Bromley, the one thing I love about coaching Jay is when you give him something to work on, he works on it every day. He tries to correct it as you talk to him each day, each practice, and Kenrick Ellis, they’ve got their opportunity in front of them, so we’ll see when the real bullets fire.

Q: What is it that you see in Kuhn that is giving him an opportunity?

He’s got himself in that position. Markus didn’t have a lot of production last year but he still did some things that caused production. There are a lot of those times that the defensive tackles, there’s hidden productivity, now there’s also some times he has to make some plays that he should have made. That’s the thing that we talked about in the off-season, he and I did, and it’s some things that you have to improve on. He’s gotten himself ready to have that opportunity going into preseason.

Q: What is different about Kuhn this year?

Foot quickness, I think he’s continuously worked on that, and his agility inside and his balance. He seems to be further along than he’s ever been with the foot speed and the quickness. Markus is another one, you give him something to work on, and he’ll work on it over and over. He’s a lot of fun to coach.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The eighth training camp practice will be held on Saturday from 2:30-4:30PM but it is not open to the public. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only four remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Jul 162015
 
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Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Wide Receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: Perhaps the two biggest story lines of the 2014 season for the New York Giants were at the wide receiver position. First came the devastating knee injury to Victor Cruz in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 5. Cruz was lost for the final 11 games of the season and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to his pre-injury form.

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. Cruz and Beckham only played in two games together in 2014 before Cruz was lost for the season. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying. Marcus Harris impressed in training camp but missed the season with a hip injury. The Giants signed veteran Kevin Olgree in October, but he did not see much action. Julian Talley, Juron Criner, and Chris Harper were practice squad players.

In the end, it was Beckham and not much else at the crucial wide receiver spot. Other teams knew that too and still could not stop Beckham.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants released Kevin Ogletree in May after re-signing him in February and waived Marcus Harris in July. The team chose not to re-sign Jerrel Jernigan in free agency. The Giants signed Dwayne Harris from the Dallas Cowboys and drafted Geremy Davis in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. They also signed Ben Edwards, who was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014 after graduating from the University of Richmond, but sat out the year recovering from an ACL knee injury.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The two main stories are obviously going to be Beckham and Cruz. Can Beckham make the same impact or better in 2015 or will he regress? How will he handle the attention both on and off the field? How much of an impact will he make on the win-loss record? Beckham was once again nagged by a hamstring issue that caused him to miss most of the spring practices.

The other main story is Cruz. The Giants have repeatedly said that they are optimistic about his return to form, but there are no guarantees that may never be the same player again. If he isn’t the same player, it will be a big hit to the team as Cruz was one of the few impact players on the Giants. Cruz may also not be long for the Giants given his high price tag. But if Cruz does return to form, he and Beckham and Randle could form possibly the best receiving corps in football and help carry the team to the playoffs. So much of the team’s success depends on Beckham and Cruz. It will be interesting to see how much work Cruz gets at training camp and in the preseason. He appears to have made tremendous progress in his rehabilitation.

Randle also will also be under the spotlight. Although he had his best season to date in 2014, he was still inconsistent and was benched twice for disciplinary reasons. But he also exploded in the last two games, catching 12 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown. Plus it’s a contract year for Randle. If he plays like he did in the final two games, that will be a big asset for the Giants.

Corey Washington also made a lot of noise in the spring practices. “He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster,” QB Eli Manning said. “I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades but just kind of adding the complete package to his game.”

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six wide receivers. Barring injury or unforeseen events, Beckham, Cruz, Randle, and special teams extraordinaire Dwayne Harris are the sure bets. That leaves two spots for Parker, Washington, Davis, Edwards, Criner, Talley, and Harper.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Sean Ryan on Odell Beckham: “A lot of different things (make him tick). Certainly going against a great challenge makes him tick. Last year, we would do a thing where every Friday I would give him a listing of the rookie receivers because it was a heck of class of rookie receivers. How many catches and yards and touchdowns they had, and certainly Week 5 he was down at zero and the other guys were up there. I think he thrives on challenges. You go out to Seattle and it is him versus Richard Sherman. I think that is what makes that guy tick. He is a true competitor…I think we were as creative last year as I have ever been and as we have ever been with any player, and certainly a rookie. This guy lined up in the slot, as the number one strong, the number one weak, in the backfield; we would motion him into the backfield, from the backfield. (Opponents) can plan for him, but the first thing is they have to find him.”

Ryan on Rueben Randle: “I thought Rube did a nice job. He is another guy that he is a really intelligent football player. The game makes sense to him, and things happen for him. He processes stuff really quickly and I think the more tape he watches and the more practice snaps he gets, the quicker that stuff happens for him and the quicker reactions he makes and I would say that is really what has shown up to me. The more football he plays, the better he gets. He sees things very quickly.”

Ryan on Corey Washington and Preston Parker: “I thought Corey Washington had an excellent spring. I thought he had an excellent spring in the classroom and in the meetings. His attitude was outstanding. He worked. He got better and we will compile all the catches, but he is right up there. I am not sure if he didn’t lead the pack in catches and productivity for the spring. He certainly stood out to me. I thought Preston made some great strides, in particular playing in the slot. He is seeing things a little bit better. He is seeing defenses, reacting to blitzes better, so I thought Preston did a great job. I think those two guys really stuck out to me.”

PREDICTIONS: Why have the Giants struggled so much since 2011? Because they haven’t had enough top NFL talent. Super Bowl-caliber teams need strong overall rosters but they also need impact players. It’s no accident that there has been a noticeable lack of NYG presence on “Top 100”, All-Star, and Pro Bowl lists. Two guys who can be impact players are Beckham and Cruz. And for the Giants to have any realistic shot at the Super Bowl, these two – along with Eli Manning – must carry the offense similar to what Manning, Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks did in the 2011 regular-season.

Beckham seems “Lawrence Taylor”-like to me. If he can do for the offense what LT did for the defense in the 1980’s, this is going to be a fun. I just hope the limelight doesn’t go to his head because that and injury appear the only things that can derail him.

As for Cruz, in a weird way, the injury may end up positively impacting his career. Since peaking in 2011-12, Cruz wasn’t playing up to the same level before the injury. The contract and limelight may have gotten to his head. Now Cruz will have to fight to prove the doubters wrong. He’s no longer the media darling. Beckham is. If his body doesn’t fail him, Cruz could rebound in a very big way. In the clutch, Eli trusts him. I think Cruz will be ready for opening night.

The Giants are in a catch-22 situation with Randle. If he has a big year, it’s hard to see him wanting to re-sign with the Giants next offseason unless the team decides to part ways with Cruz. On the other hand, if he remains inconsistent, the team may not want to keep him. Regardless, it’s a big year for him financially, and because of that, I expect him to play well.

“This is a big year for me, and I’m looking forward to being the player I know I can be,” said Randle. “I get it now. I know what’s expected of me, and now I’m just going to go out there and prove it every day. That’s my main focus.”

My ultimate prediction is that this trio will combine with Eli Manning to get the team back into the playoffs in 2015. Beckham, Cruz, and Randle have a higher upside than Cruz, Nicks, and Mario Manningham.

One final note. It seems as if the Giants may have an offensive role in mind for Harris too. They may move him around a bit like they do with Beckham to take advantage of his elusiveness with the ball in his hands after the catch.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Beckham, Cruz, Randle, Harris, Davis, and Washington. The tough call here is on Preston Parker. He could push Davis or Washington.

Jan 272015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Perhaps the two biggest story lines of the 2014 season for the New York Giants were at the wide receiver position. First came the devastating knee injury to Victor Cruz in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 5. Cruz was lost for the final 11 games of the season and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to his pre-injury form.

“It is a significant injury that he has,” said General Manager Jerry Reese after the season. “You never know how he is going to come back from that. We are hoping that he is definitely going to come back and be the Victor Cruz that we know. You never know with the significant injury he had. We are hopeful that he will come back and be the Victor Cruz that we like, but you never know.”

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. The irony is that Cruz and Beckham only played one game together in 2014, and that was the game Cruz got injured. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games, and playing with significant hamstring tears. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season. Right or wrong, his performance may also have saved Tom Coughlin’s job as one wonders what the Giants’ record would have been without him.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying.

In the end, it was Beckham and not much else at the crucial wide receiver spot. Other teams knew that too and still could not stop Beckham.

THE HEADLINERS

Despite missing virtually all of training camp, the entire preseason, and the first four games of the regular season with hamstring tears, Odell Beckham, Jr. had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history in 2014. Beckham finished the season with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, all franchise rookie records. He also set a franchise record and NFL rookie record averaging 108.8 yards per game. Beckham set NFL records for most catches and yards in the first 12 games to start a career and tied an NFL record for with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. He was voted first-alternate to the Pro Bowl and played in the game. He was also voted Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year.” Beckham was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. While Beckham lacks classic size, his long arms, big hands, and jumping ability give him a very good catch radius. Beckham is a tremendous athlete with excellent speed, quickness, and agility. Explosive. For such a young player, he can already play multiple positions and runs good routes. Beckham is very quick out of his breaks, adjusts exceptionally well to the football, and regularly makes the circus catch. He is dangerous with the football in his hand after the catch. Competitive, smart, and hard working. Beckham also was a very dangerous return man in college. He averaged 8.1 yards per punt return with the Giants in 2014.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (October 12, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014 and it remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability. Cruz finished the 2014 season with 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in six starts. Signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, the rags-to-riches Victor Cruz story is well known, culminating with his impact season in 2011, first Pro Bowl in 2012, and big offseason contract in 2013. In 2011-2012, he compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. However, in 2013 Cruz had his least productive season since becoming a starter in 2011. He also missed the last two games of the 2013 season with concussion and knee injuries – the left knee requiring arthroscopic surgery. Cruz has ordinary size and timed speed. However, he has very good quickness and plays faster than he times. Cruz reads coverages well, runs good routes, and has a good understanding of how to get open against both zone and man coverage. Cruz has good hands and is capable of making the circus catch, though he sometimes will drop the easy reception. He is elusive after the catch and usually isn’t caught from behind. Cruz is a hard worker. He can play outside, but has really developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers.

THE OTHERS

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Rueben Randle, a 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, remains an inconsistent performer. But he had his best season in 2014, catching 71 passes for 938 yards and three touchdowns. He played in all 16 games with 13 starts with his two best games coming at the end of the season. Randle was benched for the first quarter of two games for disciplinary reasons. Randle has a nice combination of size and athletic ability, and he has flashed play-making skills as a vertical receiver. While Randle is not a burner, he is fluid and smooth with good foot quickness and acceleration for a big receiver. He needs to improve his ability to read defenses and improve his route-running. Randle adjusts well to the football in the air and has good hands. Most of all, he needs to become a more consistently reliable performer so his quarterback can trust him. Randle can also return punts, averaging 7.8 yards per return in 2012-13.

Preston Parker, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

An afterthought by many when the Giants signed him to a reserve/future contract in January 2014, Preston Parker became the team’s primary slot receiver after Victor Cruz was lost for the season. Parker played in all 16 games with seven starts. He finished 2014 with 36 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns. Parker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2010 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers waived him in September 2012. He was with the Saints in training camp in 2013 but he did not play that season. While Parker lacks ideal size and speed, he is a decent athlete with good quickness and hands. Parker needs to be a more consistent performer. He returned both punts (6.6 yard average) and kickoffs (24.2 yard average) for the Giants in 2014.

The Giants signed Kevin Ogletree in October 2014. He played in seven games, but only caught five passes for 50 yards. 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 69 games with four starts. He has 83 career receptions for 1,049 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.

Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants claimed Corey Washington off of waivers from the Arizona Cardinals in May 2014. He was a preseason standout for the Giants, catching 10 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns. While he played in 14 games in 2014, he seldom saw the field and finished the year with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Washington originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Washington played at Division-II Newberry College. Washington combines excellent size, overall athleticism, and speed. However, given his small-school background, he is very raw and needs a lot of development.

Jerrel Jernigan was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with a mid-foot sprain. He played in two games and finished the season with only one catch for six yards. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, Jernigan had a coming out party late in the 2013 season. In his first two years with the Giants, Jernigan played in 17 games and had a grand total of three catches for 22 yards. Through Week 14 of 2013, Jernigan had “amassed” 10 catches for 92 yards. Then in Weeks 15-17, Jernigan exploded with 19 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns in addition to carrying the ball twice for 57 yards and a touchdown. However, Jernigan did not really flash during the 2014 training camp or preseason. Jernigan lacks size, but he is a quick, fluid athlete with good speed. He is better suited to the slot position than outside. Jernigan also returns kickoffs, averaging 23.4 yards per return in his first three seasons on 21 returns.

Marcus Harris was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a hip injury that required surgery on his labrum. Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent time on Detroit’s Practice Squad in 2011, but the Lions waived him in July 2012. The Titans signed him in August 2012 but waived him a few weeks later. Before the NFL season started in 2013, Harris played in the Arena League caught 94 passes for 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Giants signed Harris as a street free agent in August 2013 and he spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Harris has a decent size-speed combination. He flashed with the Giants during training camp and the preseason in 2014, even earning time with the first-team offense, before being played on Injured Reserve.

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 and 2014 seasons on the team’s Practice Squad, although he did play in two games each season. He does not yet have an NFL 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 but 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 and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

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 Surgery: 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