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August 17, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Four New York Giants were injured in the team’s 27-26 comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night: CB Prince Amukamara (groin), S Cooper Taylor (foot/toe), OT Charles Brown (shoulder), and DT Markus Kuhn (elbow).
Taylor sustained an injury to the sesamoid bone in his foot.
“Cooper is significant and he has an injury that will require quite a bit of time,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “That is most unfortunate for the young man…It is a foot injury again. It is one of those sesamoid deals up under the toe. It’s excessive enough that they are saying he will be out for quite some time.”
Regarding Amukamara, Coughlin said, “I believe he will (an MRI). It is a groin and whenever you have something like that with a position that of course Prince Amukamara plays you are concerned. We will see, I don’t know that it is day to day but he is sore.”
On Brown, Coughlin said, “I’m not sure exactly how much time Charles Brown will miss, but there may be some time in there. I know the normal deal here is to put them in a brace or fit them for a brace as soon as he is capable with playing without the soreness, so we will see.”
Coughlin said Kuhn hyperextended his elbow but will likely be able to play with the injury.
August 17, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript from Sunday’s media conference call with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at BigBlueInteractive.com. Some tidbits from Coughlin:
“We continue to not really have very many big plays. We had some at the end of the game. There are not enough plays being made by our starters on the offensive or defensive side of the ball…All of the sudden the preseason is flying by here, and we do have an awful lot still to accomplish.”
“I think we have to work on a lot of things. Basically we have to work on everything. Last night we didn’t run it, we certainly didn’t throw the ball with any consistency. We don’t have people who are definitely running open. Our protection does break down from time to time and we don’t react well under pressure when we do realize that there has to be a hot or sight adjustment involved in getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and trying to accomplish a positive play in the face of pressure.”
“We are not stuck with anything (on the offensive line). As I said, just because five guys trot out there doesn’t mean that’s the starting unit.”
“(The starters) better (play with a sense of urgency). It’s not written in stone about what you do with the last preseason game either (in terms of the starters not playing much).”
August 16, 2014 Tom Coughlin Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference on Saturday night is available at Giants.com.
New York Giants Post-Game Player Media Sessions: Transcripts and video clips of the post-game media Q&As on Saturday night with the following players are available at Giants.com:
August 5, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Tuesday were WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Daniel Fells (knee), TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring), DT Mike Patterson (shoulder), LB Jon Beason (PUP – foot), and CB Bennett Jackson (ankle).
RB Peyton Hillis left practice early with an ankle injury.
LT Will Beatty (headache), Eric Herman (hip), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), Spencer Paysinger (concussion), and Trumaine McBride (hip) all practiced.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin clarified that some players coming off of offseason surgery were never going to play in last weekend’s Hall of Fame preseason game.
“It was a plan that Beatty wouldn’t play in the opening game, just like it was a plan that McBride and a couple of others, Herman, wouldn’t play in this game,” said Coughlin. “(Beatty) didn’t do anything to set himself back.”
With the New York Giants reporting to camp next week, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s safeties.
2013 YEAR IN REVIEW:Things truly couldn’t have started much worse for the Giants’ safety unit in 2013. In the team’s third preseason game versus the Jets, Stevie Brown injured his knee returning an interception and was lost for the year.
Shades of C.C. Brown began to dance in the minds of fans… then Will Hill happened.
Hill returned from a four-game suspension to take over as the Giants’ starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle. Hill recorded 77 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and scored a game-winning touchdown versus the Lions. For 12 weeks, Hill flashed the play-making ability that made him one of the more coveted recruits out of high school. The safety played with reckless abandon, a never-ending motor and was constantly around the ball. As was the case versus the Redskins when Hill ripped the ball out of the hands of Pierre Garcon on fourth-and-1, preserving a Giants victory.
While the 24-year-old’s season was impressive, so was that of his safety counterpart.
Finally being allowed to play safety full time, Antrel Rolle put together his best season in a Giants’ uniform. The former first-round pick earned Pro-Bowl honors, finished with the team lead in tackles (98) and interceptions (6), recorded two sacks and forced fumble a fumble.
Behind Hill and Rolle, Ryan Mundy was solid in Perry Fewell’s signature three-safety package. The 29-year-old was a force down in the box and recorded 77 tackles, good for fifth on the team. Rookie Cooper Taylor saw limited action, mostly on special teams.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Get this one out of the way early: After captivating the hearts of fans, Will Hill’s unbelievable season won’t get an encore. For the third consecutive year, Hill faced a drug-related suspension after his urine came up positive for marijuana. While the third-year player claimed it was for ‘second-hand pot,’ the six-game suspension was the last straw in a troubled career. The Giants cut ties with Hill, having warned him over and over again he was on his last strike. Ryan Mundy also left when the Giants’ chose not to renew his one-year contract.
The team re-signed Stevie Brown, who looks to have slid back into his starting safety position. Quintin Demps was brought over from Kansas City and Nat Berhe was drafted in the fifth round. C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon were brought in as undrafted rookies.
TRAINING CAMP STORYLINES:The health of Stevie Brown and his ability to ‘replace’ Will Hill may be the No. 1 question heading into camp. While Brown did record a league-high eight interceptions in 2012, many were a result of being in the right place at the right time and teams wanted to test the unproven Brown. Does he have the natural athletic ability that Hill has? No. Can he be serviceable? Yes. How serviceable? No one knows.
Cooper Taylor’s progression and the overall talent of Nat Berhe will worth keeping an eye on. Taylor has added muscle in the offseason, per the coaches request, and may be a sleeper to see increased playing time in his second year. In college, Berhe played San Diego State’s ‘Aztec’ position, a hybrid mix of the linebacker and safety positions. If he develops, he may make an immediate impact, but will need to climb the depth chart first.
ON THE BUBBLE: There really isn’t any big-name player that is in jeopardy of being cut. Right now, the Giants have seven safeties on the roster and figure to keep four or five. The odd men out? Most likely C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon. Cooper Taylor may be in warm water, but the odds of Jerry Reese cutting last year’s fifth-round pick are slim-to-none.
FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: David Merritt on what makes Quintin Demps a good candidate as the team’s third safety: “His speed, his ability to actually change directions and burst. Quintin has played back in the post for most of his career. One of the things that he told me when he first arrived was, ‘Coach, I want to be down near the box.’ So when he said that I said, ‘Well you know what, I’m going to give you all of the tools to hopefully help you be successful down around the box.’ His speed, his ability to change directions and burst is one of the valuable assets that he brings to the table.
“Because he’s played back so many years as a deep safety, being back 20 yards. When you’ve been back there for that amount of years you want to get down around the action. I think he probably has seen guys being down around the action, Berry that he played with in Kansas City, Pollard, the kid that was with him in Houston so he’s see all of these guys down around the action where he’s been back just as a safety valve. Now he’s down close to the box and he’s learning the linebacker aspect of it.”
PREDICTIONS: Connor Hughes - I’m very, very concerned with Stevie Brown heading into the 2014 season. Not necessarily for his health, but simply because I’m not convinced he’s a starting-caliber player in the NFL.
What made Brown so good for the majority of the 2012 season was that he was allowed to play back in the ‘Kenny Phillips’ role. Brown would line up 15-20 yards behind the defense, wait for the deep ball and then track it down in the air. When Phillips played the position, teams stayed away from the deep pass. When Brown played it, they attacked him. The result? Eight interceptions.
If Quintin Demps can develop into a player that can play down in the box, as Merritt suggested he wants to do, then Brown can go back to playing the ‘Kenny Phillips’ role. It best suits him as he’s not an incredible player in the box. With that being said, can Demps play in the box? He’s unproven, just like every Giants’ safety not named ‘Antrel.’
I agreed entirely with the Giants decision to cut Will Hill. It was time. You can’t send that message to the locker room keeping him on the team. But looking over the roster, I just don’t see a viable replacement. The revamped and retooled cornerback position is going to have to carry the load. With their paychecks, that shouldn’t be a problem.
With that being said, there will be times Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie guesses wrong, it’s part of his game. Will there be a player behind him to catch his mistake? We’ll see.
Eric Kennedy - Losing Will Hill was a huge blow. The defense dramatically improved in 2013 once Jon Beason and Will Hill were inserted into the starting line-up. Hill looked like a future Pro Bowl free safety. He might have been the best player on the team last season. Now he’s bagging groceries. Stupid is as stupid does. Like Connor, I have my doubts about Stevie Brown. In 2012, he definitely had a nose for the football, but he also was missing in action on some big pass plays. In addition, he doesn’t hit or play the run like a big safety. I’d accept fewer interceptions if you could guarantee fewer big coverage breakdowns and better run defense.
The coaches have been talking up Quintin Demps more than his reputation in Philadelphia and Kansas City should indicate. Demps thinks he is better suited closer to the line of scrimmage and he may be right. Demps has the inside track on the third safety position in the Giants three-safety package. If he stumbles, Cooper Taylor has the physical tools to steal playing time.
My prediction is that 31-year old Antrel Rolle hasn’t peaked and will have an even better season in 2014. He’s the unquestioned leader of the strongest part of the defense. I expect that to motivate him, as well the fact that he’s entering the final year of his current contract. And I expect the talent at cornerback to allow him to take more chances to make plays on the football. He hasn’t returned a pick for a touchdown yet as a Giant (four times with Cardinals), but I believe he will do that twice in 2014.
FINAL DEPTH CHART Connor Hughes - Antrel Rolle/Stevie Brown start. Quintin Demps third safety. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe reserve. C.J. Barnett, and Thomas Gordon cut.
Eric Kennedy - Antrel Rolle/Stevie Brown start. Quintin Demps third safety. Cooper Taylor reserve. Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett, and Thomas Gordon cut. My biggest problem is figuring out how the Giants get from 54 to 53. My gut says Nat Berhe makes the team, but I can’t see how the Giants can carry 11 defensive backs in addition to nine defensive linemen, six wide receivers, and five running backs/fullback. Something has to give. I’m guessing they try to sneak Berhe onto the Practice Squad. C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon have some talent too.
The news broke and slowly but surely it made its way down the grapevine. Tweeted out by the team’s official account, the New York Giants had parted ways with safety Will Hill following his third failed drug test.
The move was met by both praise and criticism. For Cooper Taylor, it was a chance.
“You see an opportunity,” Taylor said. “The NFL, it’s a competition. It’s between me and everyone else other than Antrel (Rolle) and Stevie (Brown). Everybody else is fighting for their jobs to get on this roster.”
Following Hill’s release, Taylor was the immediate beneficiary. Last year’s fifth-round pick got an immediate jump up the depth chart. After taking nearly all reps with the third team, Taylor assumed Hill’s role opposite Quintin Demps with the 2’s.
Taylor says he’s faster than he was last year, bigger too. Following the culmination of last season, coaches advised Taylor to put on muscle, wanting him to be more of a “physical presence.” After playing 2013 at 226 pounds, he’s up to 232. The Richmond alum spent the majority of the offseason in the weight room.
Cooper Taylor looks to have replaced Will Hill on second team. #NYG#Giants#BBI
At 6-4, 232-pounds, Taylor represents one of the ‘bigger’ safeties in the NFL, drawing comparisons to Seattle Seahawks big man Kam Chancellor. In his mind, Taylor believes his height give him an advantage guarding some of the league’s top tight ends.
“I’m not one of the smaller guys, I’m taller,” Taylor said. “I’m able to jump a little bit better with the guys that are 6-6, 6-7, those tight end guys that are running down the field.
“Being a little bit taller, bigger, than the normal size safety lets me be the type of defensive back to get matched up with those guys regularly.”
Hill’s release isn’t the first time Taylor has been given an opportunity because of an absence. Last year, Stevie Brown was lost for the season following an ACL tear, but Taylor was unable to capitalize after dealing with his own injury issues.
Taylor tweaked his hamstring early on and was hampered by the injury throughout the year, never capitalizing on his potential. The safety never showed what he could do on the field, partially because he was very rarely on it.
When asked about the difference for Taylor between year two from year one, defensive captain Antrel Rolle said bluntly, “Cooper didn’t play much last year.”
“I think being healthy is just the key especially at this level,” Taylor said. “If you’re playing out there hurt it’s hard to compete. It’s definitely something being healthy, and understanding the playbook, has helped out.”
The Giants hope Taylor can fill the role Hill once occupied. He has the size to match up with tight ends down the field, while also representing a physical presence in the box. If New York elects to go with a three-safety package, Taylor could be extremely useful in a Deon Grant-type position.
“He’s a much bigger human being right now,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He’s worked hard in the offseason. He’s stronger, he’s bigger and he’s in his second go-around. He has an excellent opportunity to contribute in a lot of ways.”
New York Giants Place S Cooper Taylor on Injured Reserve, Sign OG Eric Herman from Practice Squad: The Giants placed S Cooper Taylor (hamstring) on season-ending Injured Reserve on Wednesday. To fill Taylor’s roster spot, the Giants signed OG Eric Herman from the Practice Squad.
New York Giants Sign CB Travis Howard to Practice Squad: To fill the vacancy created with the promotion of OG Eric Herman to the 53- man roster, the Giants signed CB Travis Howard to the Practice Squad.
December 25, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Wednesday were WR Victor Cruz (knee/concussion), TE Adrien Robinson (knee), OG Brandon Mosley (hand), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), CB Trumaine McBride (groin), and CB Terrell Thomas (knee).
RB Andre Brown (concussion), RB Peyton Hillis (concussion), OG David Diehl (knee), and DT Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad) were limited in practice.
New York Giants Win Third Game in a Row, Beat Oakland Raiders 24-20: The New York Giants defeated the Oakland Raiders 24-20 on Sunday afternoon at a windy MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the victory, the Giants have improved their record to 3-6; it is New York’s third win in a row after starting the season 0-6.
Offensive and special teams miscues by the Giants kept the game closer than it probably should have been. WR Jerrel Jernigan fumbled away the opening kickoff. The ball was recovered by the Raiders at the Giants’ 27-yard line and returned to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, QB Terrell Pryor of the Raiders scored from one yard out and the Oakland was up quickly 7-0.
The Giants went three-and-out on their first offensive possession. The Raiders crossed midfield but were pushed back a holding penalty. Four plays later, on 4th-and-15, DE Damontre Moore blocked Oakland’s punt. S Cooper Taylor recovered the loose ball at the the Raiders’ 21-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. The game was tied at 7-7.
Oakland picked up first down on their third possession, but then punted. On New York’s second possession, the Giants also picked up one first down, but were pushed back by an 11-yard sack. On 3rd-and-20, RB Peyton Hillis fumbled the ball away after a short pass from QB Eli Manning on a screen play. The ball was recovered by the Raiders at the Giants’ 21-yard line. New York’s defense held and forced a 33-yard field goal. Raiders 10 – Giants 7.
New York’s offense continued to struggle on their third possession as the Giants only picked up one first down and then punted. On the Giants’ first three offensive possessions, the Giants only gained two first downs and 20 yards, with two punts and one fumble. After the Raiders went three-and-out, the offense finally got its act together, driving 90 yards in 11 plays. The drive culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Manning to WR Rueben Randle. Giants 14 – Raiders 10.
On the ensuing Raiders’ possession, Oakland picked up a couple of first downs but was forced to punt, the ball being downed at the Giants’ 3-yard line with less than five minutes to go in the half. The Giants moved the ball to their own 37-yard line. But on 1st-and-10 with 1:28 left before intermission, Manning’s pass intended for WR Victor Cruz was intercepted by CB Tracy Porter at the Giants’ 43-yard line and returned for a touchdown.
At the half, the Raiders led 17-14.
The Raiders extended their lead to 20-14 with their best offensive drive of the game on their opening possession of the third quarter. The Raiders march 74 yards in 14 plays and had the ball 1st-and-goal at the Giants’ 1-yard line. But New York’s defense held and forced a 23-yard field goal. That would be Oakland’s last points of the game.
The Giants’ offense went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half. A bad punt by P Steve Weatherford traveled only 27 yards and gave the Raiders the ball at the Giants’ 48-yard line. (Weatherford had a rough day punting, averaging only 30 yards per punt). After picking up a first down, the Raiders faced a 3rd-and-9 from the Giants’ 33-yard line. CB Terrell Thomas picked off Pryor at the 30-yard line and returned the interception 65 yards to the Oakland 5-yard line. Two plays later, RB Andre Brown scored from one yard out and the Giants regained the lead 21-20.
The Raiders went three-and-out and punted the ball away as the third quarter expired. The Giants’ offense then drove 70 yards in 13 plays, but were not able to punch the ball in after facing 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line. New York settled for a 23-yard field goal by PK Josh Brown and a 24-20 advantage.
The Raiders and Giants then exchanged three-and-outs. Weatherford’s punt was partially blocked and only travelled seven yards with less than five minutes to play in the game. Oakland picked up one first down, but on third-and-10, Pryor was sacked by DE Mathias Kiwanuka, who stripped the football loose. DT Cullen Jenkins recovered with 3:21 left in the game. The Giants successfully ran out the clock with Andre Brown carrying the load.
Offensively, Manning finished the game 12-of-22 for 140 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading receivers were WR Hakeem Nicks (four catches for 49 yards), Randle (three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown), and Cruz (three catches for 37 yards). Andre Brown carried the ball 30 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, S Antrel Rolle led the team with 12 tackles, one sack, and one tackle for a loss. LB Keith Rivers had eight tackles, one sack, and one tackle for a loss. Defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason-Pierre-Paul each had sacks as well. Thomas picked off one pass and Jenkins recovered a fumble that Kiwanuka forced.
Video highlights are available at NFL.com. The video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game locker room speech is available at Giants.com.
Injury Report: DE Jason Pierre-Paul left the game with a shoulder injury (stinger) but returned. X-rays were negative.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.
Player Post-Game Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:
New York Giants Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were QB Ryan Nassib, RB Brandon Jacobs (hamstring/knee), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), OC Dallas Reynolds, DT Markus Kuhn, CB Corey Webster (groin/ankle), and CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring).
The Giants won their sixth consecutive game following a regular-season bye.
The Giants trailed at halftime, 17-14. This was their first victory in a game in which they trailed at the half since September 16, 2012 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants had lost their last 10 games when trailing at the half, including six this season.
The Giants committed only one penalty for five yards.
The game featured the Giants’ first blocked punt for a touchdown since 1988. The touchdown was also the Giants’ first non-offensive touchdown this season.
RB Andre Brown started at running back, the sixth player to start at that position this season. Brown’s 30 carries and 115 yards were both single-game career highs.
QB Eli Manning has thrown three interceptions for touchdowns this season. Manning has thrown 16 interceptions this season, one more than he had for all of 2012.
The Giants’ defense had four sacks for the second game in a row.
New York Giants Re-Structure Contracts of Chris Snee and Steve Weatherford: As first anticipated by BBI cap analyst Optimus-NY, the Giants re-structured the contracts of OG Chris Snee and P Steve Weatherford on Wednesday.
Snee’s 2013 base salary of $6.7 million was reduced to $4.2 million. However, his 2014 base salary will increase from $6.95 million to $7.2 million.
Weatherford’s 2013 base salary of $1.825 was reduced to $925,000 with the rest converted into a bonus.
The moves created approximately $1.925 million in cap space.
New York Giants Pick Team Captains: QB Eli Manning, DE Justin Tuck, S Antrel Rolle, OG Chris Snee, and LS Zak DeOssie were voted team captains by their teammates for the 2013 NFL season. It is the sixth consecutive season Manning has been elected a captain, the fourth time for Tuck, and the third for DeOssie.
“These guys were all elected by the players,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Am I happy they were selected? Yes, I am because I think the number one thing is always ‘team’ and people have to lead by example, first, and ‘well done is better than well said.’ Yet, through the course of the long and difficult, challenging season, you’re going to see an opportunity for people to show what they’re made of in good and bad and that’s where leadership comes from. Adversity, remember, makes you stronger, according to John Wooden.”
“They have demonstrated over the years, honestly, not just this fall, a true, true interest and concern in the well-being of our team, not their own individual thing. I think there’s tremendous growth in each individual. You watch and listen to Antrel, and I think that you know that his heart and mind is in, and has been in for quite some time, the right place. I just think they’re guys that work in different ways and have demonstrated exceptional leadership and have done more than their part. You open the door to the offensive line room and there’s one guy sitting behind that machine every time you peek in there and it’s 76 (Snee).
“You know where Eli stands. I think Tuck has come back this fall and really he’s not been very verbal, but he’s demonstrated and shown good example, and I think that’s really what the challenge was for Justin based on a year ago. And Zak has been steady and he has been, as a captain, is this his third year already, he has been very forthright and never leaves a stone unturned in terms of what he thinks with regard to his effort on special teams or his contributions in the meeting room.”
Injury Update: Not practicing on Thursday were OC David Baas (knee), OT David Diehl (thumb), and TE Adrien Robinson (foot).
FB Henry Hynoski (knee), WR Victor Cruz (heel), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back), and DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) were limited in practice.
CB Jayron Hosley (ankle) fully practiced.
Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of Thursday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:
Injury Update – Jason Pierre-Paul Activated Off of the PUP: Not practicing on Monday were WR Victor Cruz (heel), WR Louis Murphy (leg), OC David Baas (knee), OT David Diehl (thumb), CB Jayron Hosley (ankle), and DT Markus Kuhn (PUP – knee).
Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Cruz, who is no longer using crutches and the walking boot. “From my understanding, he is getting better but it’s certainly not tomorrow morning (that he will practice),” said Coughlin.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back) was activated off of the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list and he practiced on a limited basis (individual drills) on Monday.
“Get him going,” said Coughlin. “Get him out there. Get him running around. He’s just going to do individual for now, but it won’t be long.”
“I’ve been working hard for the past couple of months since I’ve gotten my surgery,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’m taking it day-by-day and that’s all I can do. I’m not trying to rush. A back is a serious thing, a back surgery is a serious thing and you can’t try to come back too early, you’ll mess it up even more.”
“I don’t have that pain that I had before I had the surgery,” said Pierre-Paul. “That pain is all gone. At times it can get sore but that’s a regular thing; it’s not uncommon, so I feel good about it.”
“I’m not playing in any preseason games and I don’t even know about Dallas,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’m just trying to get better and test (the back) out, see how it is, taking on double teams and all of that. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
S Antrel Rolle (ankle) and FB Henry Hynoski (knee) practiced on a limited basis. “(Rolle) managed fine,” said Coughlin. “He’s one of those guys that you’re not going to keep him down for long.”
DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), who has been out for two weeks, also practiced on a limited basis (individual drills). When Coughlin was asked if Moore was close to returning to team drills, Coughlin responded, “I hope so. My God…He came out and he was excited to be out here.”
CB Corey Webster (knee/groin), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring), and WR Ramses Barden (knee) returned to practice.
Giants May Be Re-Shuffling Offensive Line Again: At practice on Monday, the first-team offensive line had Will Beatty at left tackle, James Brewer at left guard, Kevin Boothe at center, Chris Snee at right guard, and Justin Pugh at right tackle. In a nutshell, Boothe was moved from left guard, Brewer was promoted to the starting line-up, and reserve OC Jim Cordle was sent to the bench.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Monday are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.
Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:
Aside from the 6-game run to finish the 2011 season, and a game here or there, the New York Giants’ defense has been brutally bad the last two seasons. The statistics don’t lie. In 2012, the Giants finished 31st in total defense. The defense allowed 6,134 yards, or 383.4 yards a game, both the highest figures in franchise history. The defense also gave up 6,022 yards in the 2011. These are the only two seasons in which the Giants allowed 6,000 yards in their history.
In 2012, the New York Giants allowed 60 passes of 20 or more yards (the NFL’s fourth-highest total), 29 passes of at least 30 yards (led the NFL), and 13 passes of 40 or more yards (second in the league).
The Giants have invested a lot of resources in terms of draft picks, free agent acquisitions, and salary cap space in the secondary. But the returns have not been good. The Giants were 29th in pass defense in 2011 and 28th in pass defense in 2012. Now to be fair, good pass defense encompasses all three levels of the defense: pass rush, linebacker coverage, and defensive back coverage. But there is no denying the New York Giants secondary has not performed up to expectations. Over-hyped and inconsistent players, questionable coaching, injuries, or a combination may be to blame, but quarterbacks on other teams have looked forward to throwing against this secondary.
Do the Giants have the players to improve their pass coverage? Can the coaching staff put these players in best position to succeed? The defense first needs to stop the run to get opposing offenses into more predictable passing situations. But to be blunt, the secondary has not done a good job of covering people. It’s scary to think just how much worse the pass defense would have been had it not been for New York’s 21 interceptions last season (more than a third of them from bargain-basement surprise safety Stevie Brown).
There are currently eight safeties on the Giants’ training camp roster. At most, the Giants will keep five on the 53-man roster. Former 1st-rounder Kenny Phillips signed a relatively cheap deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. While it’s clear the Giants were worried about the long-term health viability of his reconstructed knee, his departure is also a cause for concern. The Giants need to find an adequate replacement.
Antrel Rolle: Rolle was originally drafted as a cornerback in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. After three inconsistent seasons at corner, the Cardinals moved him to free safety in 2008, where he excelled. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move.
Rolle has never missed a game with the Giants. For the second season in a row, he finished with 96 tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He also had five pass defenses in 2012 (four in 2011). One of the better coverage safeties in the game, Rolle has good speed and range. Due to his experience as a cornerback, unlike most safeties, Rolle can play man coverage and has often been called upon to play the slot corner position. That said, Rolle hasn’t made a lot of plays on the football with the Giants (a total of five interceptions and 13 pass defenses in three seasons). Somewhat of a mouthy malcontent when he came to New York, Rolle has become one of the leaders of the defense.
“What’s helping ’Trel now is understanding the Giants’ way, the Giants’ system,’’ said DE Justin Tuck. “He wasn’t accustomed to that when he came in. He was more accustomed to (University of) Miami, things of that nature. Now I think he’s a lot smarter with some of the things he says in the media and some of the things he says in the locker room, and I think he’s gonna be a huge part of our leadership and success of the football team.’’
Rolle’s biggest problem? By far, he’s the highest paid defensive player on the team with $7 million in salary (and a $9.25 million overall cap hit) in both 2013 and 2014. In the latter year, only Eli Manning is currently scheduled to take up more cap space.
The Giants are hoping that they can play Rolle more at free safety this year. Injuries to other players have forced him to play both strong safety and nickel back.
“I truly believe that Antrel needs to get back to playing with great depth and vision off the quarterback,” said Safeties Coach David Merritt. “Because he’s not going to be down in that nickel role. I say that right now, but you know how that’s gone the past two years when he’s been forced down there with injuries. Hopefully Antrel can do what we paid him to come here to do, which is to play safety and be a playmaker back there for us.”
“We always shoot for (me concentrating on safety) each and every year,” said Rolle. “We always shoot for me to play the safety role and stay at the safety role but it’s never happened, unfortunately. At one point in time I would get frustrated…It’s a part of growing up, a part of being professional and most important a part of just being a team player and doing whatever you have to do in order for this team to be successful.’’
“With him wearing 15 different hats on the field and he’s able to make plays from all 15 spots, just imagine what he can do if he’s able to concentrate on one,” said Stevie Brown. “There’s no limit to what he can do.”
Perry Fewell is obviously counting on Rolle to be the leaders of the secondary. “He’s got to be the glue that keeps us together,” said Fewell.
“At safety I have to be a little more disciplined playing the position being that I’m the last guy in the line of defense so I just transfer my mind to understand my role and understand where my help is going to be and where I need to be the protector and where you can take those little slight chances and gambles,” said Rolle.
“My defensive mantra is just to be more consistent,” said Rolle. “To be more consistent and have more dog in us on a daily basis, on an every down basis. There were times out there, I felt, that as a defensive unit we went out there and we played exceptional, we played like the Super Bowl caliber team that we were. Then there were times we went out there and played like the 9-7 team that we were. As a defensive unit you can’t have the ups and downs because we all know that defense wins the game. We all know that. With the quarterback that we have, with the offense we have, they are always going to put points on the board. We expect that. So we just have to make sure we limit (the other team’s scoring).”
Stevie Brown: Brown came out of nowhere and had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. Brown played in all 16 games, started 11, and finished with 76 tackles, 11 pass defenses, eight interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him the following year and he signed with the Colts. The Colts declined to tender him in 2012 and he then signed with the Giants.
Brown has excellent size and strength for a safety. He’s got pretty good speed for his size, but he lacks overall quickness and agility that you see in smaller safeties. In 2012, the ball just seemed to find its way into Brown’s hands. Sometimes it was a lucky bounce or bad throw, but to his credit, Brown also made aggressive plays on the football. The million dollar question is was 2012 a fluke? Right now, Brown is penciled in as the starting strong safety.
“I look at it as my spot,” said Brown. “It’s my spot to keep.”
Brown needs to become more consistent and avoid mental breakdowns that lead to big plays by the opposing team. As a big, physical safety, he should also be a bigger factor in run defense than he was in 2012.
“Stevie and I have been hanging out a lot more just outside of football, talking and communicating, whether it’s going to watch a basketball game or a movie,” said Rolle. “I’m just trying to get a feel for what kind of guy he is and he’s trying to get a feel for what kind of guy I am because at the end of the day, we’re going to be married back there, free safety and strong safety. We have to make this marriage last.”
“His study and his ability to take coaching, he was a sponge last year,” said Merritt of Brown. “His film study and understanding that the post safety plays at a certain depth and the post safety has to be able play between a certain parts of the field. I am very impressed with Stevie and I truly believe that he can continue making those types of plays for us.”
Ryan Mundy: Mundy was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March 2013. Mundy was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Steelers. After spending his rookie season on Pittsburgh’s Practice Squad, Mundy hasn’t missed a game in the last four seasons, and has started five times.
Mundy was an under-the-radar signing by the Giants. The word on him coming out of Pittsburgh is that he a very physical safety who hits hard and plays well on special teams, but who also struggled at times against the pass.
That said, David Merritt has talked about Mundy with great enthusiasm. Merritt says that Mundy is the leading candidate for the third safety position that Deon Grant played so well for the Giants in 2010-11. “Ryan Mundy, that’s a guy who I’m impressed with,” said Merritt. “With his ability and his smarts, he would be the third (safety).”
Merritt also likes Mundy’s leadership. “If the season at all starts to dip and players start to slack, I’m gonna lean on him,” said Merritt of Mundy.
“I think I’m a physical player,” said Mundy. “I like to get in the box and mix it up with the bigger guys, knock around a running back, the tight ends, fullbacks.”
Mundy says being with the Steelers has prepared him well. “I know how to work, I know how to practice, I know how to focus in meetings,” said Mundy.
“Mundy’s definitely a professional, definitely a student of the game also. He wants to learn,” said Rolle. “He’s another guy who asks a lot of questions because he’s not so familiar with this defense…I think he plays the safety position extremely well…I’m happy to have him here.”
Will Hill: Hill was a top-ranked athlete coming out of high school in New Jersey, but off-the-field issues at the University of Florida caused him to go undrafted and unsigned as a junior entry in 2011. The Giants invited him to the May 2012 rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and signed him after that camp ended. Hill not only made the 53-man roster last season, but he became an important reserve, despite being suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. Hill played in 12 games and finished 2012 with 38 tackles, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble.
Hill has average size for the position, but he is a very good athlete with fine speed and quickness. He is a physical player and tackles well. He also is a very good special teams player. Physically, Hill looks and plays like an NFL starter. The questions with him are mental. Can he stay focused on football? Can he keep his nose clean? That is looking more unlikely as it was announced on July 20 that Hill has been suspended by the NFL for four regular-season games again, this time for apparently using illegal drugs. Hill’s future with the Giants and the NFL is now very much in doubt.
“Will is an excellent talent,” said Merritt. “He’s athletic. He’s fast. He will strike you. Will brings a lot to the table. Hopefully he steps up. He is able to produce and we can put him in special roles that will help us out.”
Cooper Taylor: Taylor was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Taylor is a huge safety with very good timed-speed, agility, and overall athleticism for his size.
“He has played strong and free safety, and we are playing him as the WILL (weakside) linebacker in sub defense,” said Merritt. “Runs a 4.4. He is just a big man and very smart. Right now (his head) is spinning because he is playing multiple positions.”
“I think what he’s going to bring to it is a lot of special teams play hopefully, a lot of production for us on special teams,” said Merritt. “If he has to go in the game right now, he would be the fourth safety because Ryan Mundy is doing pretty well. But this kid is going to be good for us. I think he’s at that point right now where he’s overloaded because he’s trying to play safety and linebacker which is a lot, so it’s a little overwhelming for him but he has the metal capacity to where he can actually learn it and produce.”
Taylor says there are key differences when playing the weakside linebacker in the sub-defense and safety roles. “There’s definitely some differences in terms of the drops,” said Taylor. “Playing from top–down rather than bottom-up in terms of the safeties trying to read the quarterback; and coming from the topside where the WILL is doing something a little different reading route combinations and getting underneath routes. So it’s definitely two different learning processes. But it’s good. The coaches teach us to do stuff well, so it’s been a good learning curve so far.”
“More than anything, he’s shown that he’s a guy who’s eager to learn,” said Rolle. “He wants to learn. He’s a guy who’s very intrigued by this defense. He wants to understand this defense without making mistakes. And everyone is going to make a mistake. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a 15-year veteran. You’re going to make mistakes in this league. He is a guy who’s athletic and big. He moves around extremely well. So we’re definitely going to look for him to come in on certain kind of packages and just be a playmaker for us wherever they put him.”
“To be able to get a young man like that who also has the mental capacity and is very smart, that’s the type of guy we had a couple of years ago in Craig Dahl,” said Merritt. “(Dahl) was able to line up the defense, which is what Cooper Taylor is doing already. He can line up the defense. He understands rotations. It is James Butler all over again as well, yet he is a better athlete than those guys were.”
Tyler Sash: Sash saw his playing time significantly decrease in 2012. First, he was suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. In early December, he suffered a hamstring and despite being able to return to practice, Sash did not play in the last four games of the season. Sash played in just seven games and finished with only eight tackles.
Sash was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, he played in every game and finished the regular season with 17 tackles and one forced fumble on defense. He also was one of team’s better special teams players. Sash is more of a strong safety-type who plays better closer to the line. He has good size, but lacks ideal speed and agility.
David Caldwell: The Giants signed Caldwell to a Reserve/Future deal in January 2013. Caldwell was originally signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. In 2011, he played in 16 games with 13 starts and accrued 67 tackles and four pass defenses. The Colts waived him in August 2012.
Caldwell lacks ideal height but he is well-built and a good athlete. He’s a smart player and a reliable tackler. Caldwell did not make many plays on the football when starting for the Colts.
Alonzo Tweedy: Tweedy was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. Tweedy was a part-time starter in a linebacker/safety role at Virginia Tech. He has a nice size/speed combination, but was primarily known more for his excellent special teams play in college.
Summary: Until Will Hill’s suspension, the early favorites to make the 53-man roster were Rolle, Brown, Mundy, Hill, and Taylor. Rolle will obviously start at one safety spot, but one wonders if he will become a cap casualty in 2014. It’s hard to see Brown duplicating his turnover production again, but it may be more important for him to simply become a more consistent, reliable player on a down-to-down basis against the pass and the run. Mundy seemed like a ho-hum signing in March, but Merritt has been raving about him. Still, Steelers fans were underwhelmed. Hill and Taylor both have excellent physical tools. Taylor is extremely smart, but Hill’s second drug suspension raises serious questions about his future with the team. Hill’s troubles may have opened the door for Sash, Caldwell, or Tweedy, three players who are going to have to fight and scratch to make the team.