Jun 242015
 
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Landon Collins, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Landon Collins – © 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: Safeties

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: Like the cornerbacks, the New York Giants safeties were supposed to be an area of strength in 2014 but ended up being a big disappointment. The team decided to cut super-talented but super-idiotic Will Hill after he failed yet another drug test. And Antrel Rolle followed up arguably his best season as a safety with one of his worst. Stevie Brown returned from an ACL injury but lost his starting job to Quintin Demps who later lost it back to Brown. Obviously neither stood out. Second-year safety Cooper Taylor missed the entire season with a foot injury. Rookie 5th Nat Berhe rounder played all 16 games but was primarily used on special teams. The Giants finished 18th in the NFL in pass defense and the safeties were missing in action far too often against both the run and the pass.

Mykkele Thompson, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants gutted the position in the offseason as they made little to no effort in re-signing free agents Antrel Rolle (signed with the Bears), Stevie Brown (signed with the Texans), and Quintin Demps (still unsigned). The team also waived practice squader Thomas Gordon in May.

The only remaining safeties from 2014 are Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe. Bennett Jackson, who spent his rookie season in 2014 on Injured Reserve, was switched from corner to safety this spring. The Giants signed corner/safety ‘tweener Josh Gordy in free agency but he saw most of his spring work for the Giants at cornerback. Three of the six safeties on the roster are rookies: Landon Collins (2nd round), Mykkele Thompson (5th round), and Justin Currie (rookie free agent).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: On paper, the Giants have some interesting talent at safety in the form of one second rounder, three fifth rounders, a sixth rounder, and a rookie free agent. However these players are all young and inexperienced. Five of the six were acquired in 2014-15 from the college ranks, and the other (Taylor) was a 2013 draft pick. There is absolutely no veteran presence to speak of despite the fact that Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system is cerebral and complicated. And like most if not all systems, the safeties make the defensive calls in the secondary.

“It’s the most complex system I’ve been in,” said linebacker Jon Beason. “This is my fifth defensive coordinator. It is the most complex because we will not sit back and be dictated to by anybody…Offenses create problems by formations, moving people around, shifts and motions…Every call we (the defense) can make a change.”

So the chief story line will be how fast can the young pups grow up, and how many growing pains will there be?

“I think it is extremely hard (for a rookie to start in this defense),” said New York Giants Safeties Coach David Merritt. “(The safety is) an extension of the defensive coordinator. Whatever call comes in, you need to be able to hear the call, accept the call, and then spit it back out to your fellow teammates. For a rookie to come in and have that pressure, to be the extension of the defensive coordinator, it is extremely difficult.”

“Young,” said Spagnuolo of the safeties. “There is youth and inexperience there. It doesn’t matter what system you are in, in my opinion, defensively, (the starting safeties) are really important. Everyone else relies on them. The quicker we can get to the other nine trusting them, the better off we will be. I am not sure we are there yet. I think it is going to be a work in progress, but we will get there.

“Right now it is a challenge… It is a challenge for our patience and our trust in them. Everyday it gets better, I can tell you that… (But) we have a long ways to go in my opinion.”

Complicating matters is that Nat Berhe, who was pegged early by the coaching staff to start alongside rookie Landon Collins, missed all of the spring practices with a calf injury. Taylor, Thompson, Jackson, and Currie benefited from the additional practice snaps, but both Tom Coughlin and safeties coach David Merritt have said that Berhe’s development has been set back by the missed time.

With Collins sure to start at one spot, it is most likely that Berhe and Taylor will battle for the other starting position.

There is not a lot of time. The Giants face Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten on September 13.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will likely carry four or five safeties. Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson, and Justin Currie are most likely fighting for one or two roster spots.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: David Merritt on Landon Collins: “He has to make the calls and get everyone lined up…Now when you are trying to line up grown men who have wives and children at home and they need that call from you, it is a little different than lining up a freshman. The call has to be right. Right now, he is slow to go, which was expected, but he has to pick it up quickly for us to be successful…I really do (think Collins can do it). He is starting to realize that these missed alignments and the minus plays, I have to cut those out of my game in order for the guys around me to trust me. That is what he wants to be. He wants to be a leader. Okay, we are putting him out there. I think he is going to be ready to go, definitely, for Dallas.”

Merritt on Cooper Taylor: “Cooper is coming along well. Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper’s body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him. The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor – he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us.”

Merritt on Nat Berhe: “(Him missing spring practices) hurts tremendously because all the reps that Cooper (Taylor) and Landon (Collins) and Mykkele (Thompson) and some of the other guys have taken, Nat would have been right in there with all the other guys. By him standing on the sideline and taking mental reps – I understand you are taking mental reps, but it is different. It is not the same as putting your body through the motions and making your body react to different movements that the receivers are stemming at you. It is going to definitely hurt him and set him back a little bit, but hopefully he can come back at training camp and be ready to fight for a starting job.”

Merritt on Mykkele Thompson: “Mykkele, I knew was a smart kid. He came here and he is a cerebral kid, that is for sure. He is going to take what I say literally and take my word for it and go out and try to execute it. Now I am starting to see that the kid actually has some football awareness, where I didn’t think he had much of it when we first started off. The (missed alignments) that started at the beginning of rookie mini-camp and OTAs have drastically gone down. Mentally, he has excelled past my expectations…Long arms. We did a drill the other day where he was having to punch a bag and escape from the blocker and to see his arms and the extension of his arms, that was good to see. I am definitely interested to see him in the pads.”

Merritt on Bennett Jackson: “(His conversion to safety) has been good. You are going from the outside where you are playing on an island and then all of sudden, you go to a back end position where you have to see the formation and play, the moving parts, and put people in the right position. Jackson, in his situation right now, there has been a learning curve for him, which has been hard for him. It has been a struggle at first, but out of all the guys, that is one kid that when he puts his foot in the ground, he can go. He can go. I am looking forward to seeing Bennett at camp with pads on because I truly believe he will hit as well.”

Merritt on Justin Currie:  “Justin Currie has done a great job, as well, our free agent. Big kid, as well. I am interested to see what he can do once the pads are on his shoulders and hopefully he will be able to be a thumper for us.”

PREDICTIONS: There will be growing pains. The young safeties will make mental mistakes that will lead to big plays and touchdowns. How bad this inexperience will hurt the Giants in terms of lost games in 2015 remains to be seen. But it’s the nature of the game that old players will eventually be replaced by young ones. Some of those young players will wither while others blossom. In his last interaction with the press, Tom Coughlin seemed generally pleased by the progress of the two rookie draft picks. “We have a good feel for the rookies, we really do. Thompson (has) been doing well and starting to come along and that was a key thing,” said Coughlin. “Collins has done a good job, has gotten better and has really done a good job of starting to direct back there, and I think the coaches are excited about him going forward.”

I believe the players who are currently on the roster will develop into fine players. What I don’t know – and no one really does – is how fast that process will take. The overall effectiveness of the entire defense and the fate of the team’s playoff chances may depend on how quickly Collins, Taylor, and Berhe become assets rather than liabilities. Based on coaching comments, one thing is clear – the team is looking for someone to take charge at safety as a vocal leader.

“You need to have one leader back there, and that’s what I’m still looking for,” said Merritt. “It’s elusive. I’m searching for it. If it’s Landon, great. If it’s Cooper, great. If it’s Nat, great. If it’s Mykkele, great. But I need to have a leader come up and emerge out of this mini-camp and emerge out of training camp…(We’ve had) very slow leadership as far as making calls and controlling the defense. The guys right now are very slow at making those checks.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: The Giants will keep four or five safeties. I think they will keep five: Landon Collins, Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, Mykkele Thompson, and Bennett Jackson. Jackson not only provides special teams value but he can play corner too. Justin Currie is intriguing but his best shot is probably the Practice Squad.

Jun 092015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Have Not Approached Eli Manning About New Contract: According to The New York Daily News, the New York Giants have not yet approached quarterback Eli Manning about a new contract. The 34-year old Manning is entering the final year of his current six-year deal and is set to count $19.75 million against the team’s 2015 salary cap.

“No discussions yet,” Manning told The Daily News. “I don’t know if there will be or not.”

Manning was asked by the paper if he thinks the Giants are making him prove he deserves a new deal.

“Sure. I think you’re always proving yourself in this league,” replied Manning. “It’s always kind of what have you done lately and you got to prove that you can still play at a high level.”

In March, the Pittsburgh Steelers gave fellow 2004 NFL Draft alum Ben Roethlisberger a 5-year, $99 million contract with almost $61 million in guaranteed money. Manning’s last contract extension in 2010 was a six-year, $97.5 million deal with $35 million in guaranteed money.

Despite the Giants disappointing 6-10 record in 2014, Manning is coming off one of his best seasons, having completed a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). The expectations for him are even higher in his second season in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offensive-based system.

Article on QB Eli Manning: How Eli Manning borrowed from baseball to develop arm ‘with pop’ by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Giants.com Feature on Wide Receivers: A video feature on the New York Giants wide receivers is available at Giants.com.

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Giants CB Amukamara’s goal: stay healthy this year by The Associated Press

Article on Safety Cooper Taylor: For Giants’ oft-injured, mystery safety, ‘The time is now’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jun 082015
 
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Rueben Randle, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 8, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their seventh of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday.

Phase Three (Weeks 6-9) of the New York Giants voluntary nine-week offseason program started two weeks ago. During Phase Three of offseason programs, NFL teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The final three OTA practices will be held this week on June 9 and June 11-12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), wide receiver Marcus Harris (unknown), tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis), offensive tackle Will Beatty (recovering from pectoral surgery), offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (recovering from ankle surgery), DE Robert Ayers (sprained ankle), defensive end Damontre Moore (recovering from shoulder surgery), defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa (leg), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (injection), linebacker Jameel McClain (back), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice or fully practice.

“Some days are good and some aren’t,” said Schwartz of why he did not participate in team drills on Monday.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, has not been participating in the voluntary OTA workouts.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Rueben Randle, Preston Parker, and Corey Washington saw first-team reps at wide receiver. Washington had another good practice.
  • Ereck Flowers continues to see reps with first- and second-teams at left tackle. John Jerry started at right guard.
  • On first-team defensive line, Cullen Jenkins continues to work at right defensive end with George Selvie at left defensive end. Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn were the first-team defensive tackles. Kerry Wynn also received some first-team defensive end reps and had a good practice.
  • In nickel defense, Jon Beason and Devon Kennard were the linebackers with Trumaine McBride the slot corner and Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins the safeties. Mark Herzlich also saw some first-team reps in lieu of Beason.
  • Cole Farrand saw some first-team reps at linebacker along with Beason and Kennard.
  • Cornerback Prince Amakamara picked off a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Tight end Jerome Cunningham continues to impress, including catching a 20-yard pass from Manning.
  • “Running back Shane Vereen…had a busy day. He caught a short touchdown over the middle from Eli Manning during the first portion of team drills. The two later connected on a pair of completions in the final two-minute drill. ” (Giants.com)

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

Q: You have had a bunch of time with the rookies now… How are they integrating?

A: Whenever you throw something new, it is the same as if, obviously it is the first time they have heard it. There are a bunch of installations. When you have an installation and a review, they do fine with that. Add something new and it is a little bit more difficult, so that is how you see it. They have hung in there and worked hard and they are obviously making progress. They have to.

Q: Is it hard for guys like Landon Collins and Ereck Flowers when you throw them in there with the first team? Does it make it harder for them because they are trying to catch up to the veterans?

A: I don’t think so. I think, if anything, if you put yourself in that situation, that really makes it interesting. Holy cow, here I am. They have to earn those spots. They have the opportunity right now.

Q: What can you tell about offensive line play in general without pads?

A: It is not easy. You look at every tape and try to be as technical as you can, but there are obvious restrictions for both defense and offense without the pads.

Q: How is Odell Beckham Jr. doing?

A: Seem to be better. Seems to be a little bit better today. They did more with him.

Q: Did he do anything last week?

A: He did some individual stuff, but that was it.

Q: Is he going to be okay for next week?

A: I don’t know. I only know what they tell me. They probably won’t be able to project that until we see this week.

Q: Do you still expect Jason Pierre-Paul next week?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you noticed if Prince Amukamara is out there trying to play at a faster speed?

A: I thought he was playing at a nice speed last year, too, when he was injured, so I think he is just trying to pick up from there. It started out as it normally does. He was under control. He has been enticing people to try to throw it over his head because he has broken on the underneath stuff very well.

Q: How does Kerry Wynn look to you?

A: Kerry Wynn works hard and makes plays. He is very consistent.

Q: Re: Nat Berhe?

A: We have been standing here. This would have been the ideal time for him. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get to where he can really drive, so it has been very slow.

Q: That helps Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins get reps?

A: It helps them, but it doesn’t help Berhe any, and he was here as a rookie and got to play a little bit. He also did a nice job on special teams. He has a lot of things of that nature, but this would have been ideal for him. Crying over spilled milk there.

Q: Do you ever leave an OTA day in June like this thinking big picture?

A: That is the problem with being a coach. The good things pop up and then you quickly talk about the things that weren’t so good, so you kind of get back to the balancing it off. You like to see something go well and be enhanced and when it does, you are glad about that, but then you are thinking ‘we do have to stop the run’ or something like that. You start to look at a little bit more scope, but really on a daily basis, practice to practice, as I just told everybody – coaches this morning and players this afternoon — what they should be doing right now is deciding how do they want to finish the spring and what are their goals and what impression do they want to have? What have we accomplished when we finish up the mini-camp? Hopefully that is where they all are.

Q: When you gathered them before today’s session it seemed like they had a spirited response… Did you say something in particular?

A: I just said we need to have four solid practices and a good mini-camp to wrap the spring up.

Q: You have seen the flashes from Corey Washington in the past. Have you seen more from him this spring?

A: Yeah, he has had a nice spring. He has worked hard. He has had a good attitude. He has had a smile on his face. He has done most everything we have asked him to do. I think every time he has been called upon he seems to have responded.

Q: Can you assess where Washington has come growth-wise on special teams?

A: Not on special teams yet, but I think the opportunities he has had offensively, he has taken full advantage of his year to learn, and I think he has matured a little bit. He has had a solid spring.

Q: We haven’t seen Damontre Moore or Owa Odighizuwa in the team drills. Is that them needing to catch up or something physical?

A: They are being held back. We want to get Damontre in some, but we don’t want to do anything that is going to set him back. He may get a little bit more work than he is getting, but not a lot. Owa is being held out. It is a leg.

Q: Re: Jonathan Cassillas and Jameel McClain absence from practice?

A: Cassillas just had some kind of injection where they have to hold him. McClain did something to his back the other day and it is not going to be anything major. They held him out today.

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

  • QB Eli Manning on WR Corey Washington: “I think Corey has had a good camp. He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster, and 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. I think that he has had a good camp and done some good things.”
  • LB Jon Beason on the new defense: “The beauty of it is we won’t be able to be dictated to. We will be able to get lined up and no matter what they do, we are going to be ready for it. That should cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses…The overall scheme (is different). We have some things that are unsound, but based on the pressure, that is the illusion. When you send eight and it looks like an all-out pressure, but really you are dropping some linemen in coverage. Some man pressures. We do it all. I would say, more so than any other scheme I have been in, we do more than anything else.”

RELATED ARTICLES…

Jun 052015
 
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New York Giants Waive Linebacker Ryan Jones: The New York Giants have waived/injured linebacker Ryan Jones with an undisclosed injury. The Giants signed Jones in April 2015. Jones was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2014 NFL Draft, but he was waived/injured less than a month later with a foot injury. Jones had been earning reps with the second-team defense at strongside linebacker.

Because of this move, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

SI.com Q&A with RB Shane Vereen: The transcript of a Sports Illustrated interview with running back Shane Vereen is available at SI.com.

Giants.com Q&A with TE Jerome Cunningham: The video of a Giants.com interview with tight end Jerome Cunningham is available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Feature on Tight Ends: A video feature on the New York Giants tight ends is available at Giants.com.

Article on the New York Giants Cornerbacks: Health of starting cornerbacks is paramount for Giants by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on S Cooper Taylor: Cooper Taylor could bolster safety shortage by Arthur Stapleton of The Bergen Record

 

Jun 012015
 
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JUNE 1, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their fourth of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday.

Phase Three (Weeks 6-9) of the New York Giants voluntary nine-week offseason program started last week. During Phase Three of offseason programs, NFL teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The final six OTA practices will be held June 2, June 4, June 8-9, and June 11-12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

Tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis), DE Robert Ayers (sprained ankle), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz (knee) did not practice but worked on the side.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (sore hamstring, not the same one as last year) was limited.

“It’s always frustrating when you have to miss what you love doing,” Beckham said. “Just not practicing today was enough for me. But it’s part of the game. The good thing is that it’s just precautionary.”

Linebacker Devon Kennard (ankle) returned to practice.

Linebacker Jon Beason missed the voluntary practice due to a cancelled flight.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, has not been participating in the voluntary OTA workouts.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The starting offensive line currently remains LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, OC Weston Richburg, RG Geoff Schwartz, and RT Marshall Newhouse.
  • George Selvie, Kerry Wynn, and Cullen Jenkins rotated at defensive end on the first-team unit.
  • Jameel McClain practiced with the first team at middle linebacker with J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas playing outside. Devon Kennard also saw first-team reps in lieu of Casillas.
  • Jerome Cunningham and Adrien Robinson saw first-team reps at tight end. Cunningham looked sharp catching the football. (Giants.com video)
  • WR Rueben Randle caught two touchdown passes from QB Eli Manning.
  • Others who flashed catching the ball were WR Corey Washington, TE Will Tye, and RB Orleans Darkwa (Giants.com)
  • With Odell Beckham out of team drills, wideouts Preston Parker, Washington, Marcus Harris, and Dwayne Harris saw extra work in his spot.
  • P Steve Weatherford practiced despite being in an early-morning car accident.

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

Q: Re: Larry Donnell?

A: He has tendinitis, so they put him in a boot.

Q: Is this something that happened last week?

A: It is ongoing. He had a little bit of that in college.

Q: Where is the tendonitis?

A: It is his Achilles.

Q: Re: Odell Beckham Jr.?

A: Odell is sore. Precautionary.

Q: Hamstring?

A: Yeah, not the same side.

Q: Re: Jon Beason’s absence?

A: His flight was cancelled this morning from Charlotte. He will be here this afternoon.

Q: You brought in an offensive lineman (Jake Long) last week… What was the thinking behind that?

A: Just a visit. It was a good visit. He ate well. He had a nice time visiting with us.

Q: Re: Joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals?

A: At one time, we did it a lot. I just think going out and having a couple practices against somebody else, [there will be] a little more intensity, especially going into that first game. Maybe have your ones take a few more reps than they normally would because of the way the game will be played. It will really benefit our team.

Q: Jerome Cunningham looked like he took advantage of his playing time today?

A: Yeah, he made a couple plays today. He has gotten plenty of playing time. Hopefully he will continue to benefit from it.

Q: How is the offensive line looking as you configure it?

A: It is obvious you throw an awful lot at them – the young guys are doing okay. Progress is being made and this is what [OTA’s] are all about. Throwing them in there and letting them go. See how they do.

Q: Can you gauge where this offense is a year later?

A: We are way ahead in terms of that. The familiarity as the different installations go and the familiarity by the players, at least the guys that have been here, so what we are talking about here is obvious. There is an awful lot of information being thrown at them. They seem to being handling it well. Some of the new guys have done well with it. I haven’t seen a lot of issues with that. It is natural. They have heard it. They have played it. They have been involved with adjustments. As we do more and more adjusting, they are picking that up as well.

Q: What do you like about adding Shane Vereen on the field and in the running backs room?

A: He is a solid, solid young man. A very positive young man who’s happy to be here and looks forward to contributing. When we brought him in we thought here is a guy that catches the ball out of the backfield and would be another obvious weapon that would have to be defended as well as some of the other people we have here.

Q: What were your immediate thoughts when you heard of Steve Weatheford’s accident?

A: Thank goodness that he is okay. That was a scary, scary thing.

Q: Did you say anything to the players about that?

A: No, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, we were well into meetings when I found out about it. I am sure they all know about it by now.

Q: Does that put life into perspective? He goes from the birth of his baby girl to possibly losing his life?

A: Difficult thing to talk about. That is the first thing that popped into my mind as well. He rushed to get back here. Obviously the weather caused a different set of plans. Then there was another set of plans when he was in Washington. He is close to finally arriving here and he runs into the water.

Q: He could have stayed home for a few days after his wife just had the baby?

A: He has been home quite a while. They anticipated, so he was anxious. We shared the fact that it was a difficult thing under those circumstances to leave your wife and newborn, but he wanted to get back here and he wanted to get back on the field with his teammates. He was saying all along when the baby was born he would be on a plane the next day.

Q: How is Robert Ayers Jr. doing?

A: His ankle is swollen. He is still limping a little bit. Sprained ankle. Lateral ankle sprain. Quite a bit of swelling.

Q: Is Cooper Taylor getting an extensive look at safety because Nat Berhe isn’t available or do you see something?

A: Those that are here are going to get a good look. There are not that many guys working right now and they all are getting a lot of reps. We are looking for Nat to get back in there and help balance it out.

Q: Re: Cooper Taylor?

A: He flashed a few times today and I was glad to see that. Big, strong man. If we can keep him healthy and he can stay out there.

Q: Has Damontre Moore caught up?

A: I don’t think he is all the way caught up, but I was impressed. I was in the training room watching them exercise that shoulder and he has done well with that. I think he is starting to grasp – going back over, he has individual meeting times. He is catching up.

Q: Is Cullen Jenkins playing defensive end something you guys would do or are you doing that because you are short?

A: He is flopping around largely because of the [number of ends], but it is something that could happen.

Q: Are you alright with the offensive line you have now or are you going to add something?

A: We’ll see what happens. We’ll see how we finish the spring here and so on and so forth.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

Feb 232015
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Before the season, many had anticipated that the secondary might not only be the strength of the defense, but the strength of the entire team. The Giants had parted ways with long-time contributors such as Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas and had reinforced the unit with free agents Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie (DRC), Walter Thurmond, Quintin Demps, and Zack Bowman. The team also re-signed Trumaine McBride and Stevie Brown. As for those already under contract, Prince Amukamara appeared primed for his best season, Antrel Rolle was coming off his best season, and Will Hill appeared to be a budding star.

But these high expectations soon began to turn to dust. Will Hill failed yet another drug test and was cut in early June. Jayron Hosley also failed a drug test and was suspended for the first month of the season; when he returned, guys signed off the street quickly passed him on the depth chart. Cooper Taylor looked sharp in the preseason but broke his foot in August and was lost for the year. Injuries then struck hard at corner once the regular season began. Nickel corner Walter Thurmond was placed on Injured Reserve after only two games, followed by  Trumaine McBride and Prince Amukamara. The loss of Amukamara – who indeed was having his best season – was particularly a hard pill to swallow. Without two of their top three corners, more pressure was placed on DRC, who was also dealing with a litany of injury issues to the point where he could not play a full game. A year after playing his best season, Rolle may have played his worst, failing to make many impact plays. And Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps were both disappointing at the other safety spot, both losing the starting job to the other at different points of the season. Stevie Brown’s 2012 season – where he led the team with eight interceptions – appears to have been a mirage.

The Giants were quickly left to scramble and made in-season roster moves including signing Chykie Brown, Mike Harris, and Chandler Fenner. Chykie Brown and Harris performed reasonably well given the circumstances, but overall, the secondary failed to fulfill their preseason boasts as one of the best units in the NFL. The Giants finished 18th in the NFL in pass defense.

THE CORNERBACKS

Although Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played in all 16 games, hamstring, back, side, and shoulder injuries limited practice and game snaps for much of the season and impacted his play on the field. Nevertheless, Rodgers-Cromartie remained the team’s most physically-talented defensive back and he often shut down his opponent. Rodgers-Cromartie finished the season with 38 tackles, two interceptions, and 12 pass defenses. Rodgers-Cromartie was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and signed with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Rodgers-Cromartie combines superb size and overall athletic ability, including speed, size, and leaping ability. When motivated and focused, Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better cover corners in the NFL. But he needs to be more consistent, and he s not a very physical player as a hitter or tackler.

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Prince Amukamara was having his best season before being placed on Injured Reserve in November 2014 with a torn biceps muscle. Amukamara started eight games and finished the season with 45 tackles, three interceptions, and 11 pass defenses. Amukamara was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, but his initial season was a virtual wash due to a broken foot that required surgery. Amukamara also battled a high ankle sprain and hamstring injuries in 2012. Amukamara is a well-built corner with good overall athleticism and speed. He usually does a good job of keeping his opponent quiet during a game and he finally started making more plays on the football in 2014. Amukamara flashes in run defense with his hitting and tackling.

Walter Thurmond III was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery after playing in only two games. Thurmond was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. He missed much of the 2011 and 2012 seasons recovering from a broken leg (fibula), playing in only eight regular-season games. In November 2013, he was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. That year he played in 12 regular-season games, with three starts, and finished with 33 tackles, six pass defenses, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. The Giants signed Thurmond as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Thurmond combines decent size with good speed and quickness. Smooth in coverage, Thurmond is considered one of the better slot corners/nickel backs in the NFL. Thurmond obviously has off-the-field concerns.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Trumaine McBride was placed on Injured Reserve in October 2014 after thumb surgery. He finished the 2014 season 21 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 pass defense, and 2 forced fumbles in six games with one start. McBride was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in September 2009. He has also spent time with the Cardinals, Saints, and Jaguars. The Giants signed McBride to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2013. That season, McBride played in 15 games with 10 starts, and he finished the season with 37 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. McBride lacks ideal size and speed, but he plays with good quickness and instincts.

The Giants claimed Chykie Brown off of waivers from the Baltimore Ravens in November 2014. He ended up playing in eight games with four starts and finished the season with 31 tackles and two pass defenses for the Giants. Brown was originally drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In four seasons with the Ravens, Brown played in 46 regular-season games with two starts. Brown has decent size and athletic ability. While he struggled in Baltimore, Brown held his own for the Giants in the final month of the season.

The Giants signed Mike Harris off of the Practice Squad of the Detroit Lions in October 2014. He ended up playing in five games with one start, mainly at slot/nickel corner where he performed at a reasonable level. Harris finished the season with 21 tackles, one interception, and two pass defenses. Harris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In two seasons with Jacksonville, Harris played in 31 games with eight starts. Harris was waived by the Jaguars in August 2014 before signing with the Lions in October. Harris has decent size and athleticism. He is a good tackler and special teams player.

Zack Bowman, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Zack Bowman played in all 16 games with five starts but saw his playing time decrease as the season progressed despite all of the injuries that hit the secondary. He finished the year with 24 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass defenses. Bowman was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Bears. In six seasons with the Bears, Bowman played in 73 regular-season games with 23 starts. The Giants signed Bowman as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Bowman is a big, physical corner who can make plays on the football. He lacks ideal speed and quickness and can be beat deep. Bowman is a good special teams player.

Chandler Fenner was signed to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in October 2014. He played in 11 games, mainly on special teams, and finished the season with seven tackles. 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.

Jayron Hosley has not developed since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He not only received a 4-game suspension for drug use at the start of the season, but he was quickly by-passed on the depth chart by guys signed off of the street when injuries hit the secondary hard. Hosley ended up playing in just six games with two starts. He finished the season with eight tackles and one pass defense. Hosley lacks ideal stature, but he is athletic with good speed and quickness. However, despite his athletic ability, Hosley’s play against the pass actually seems to have deteriorated since being drafted. He has also been very injury prone, missing significant time in both 2012 and 2013.

Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List in October 2014 with cartilage damage knee injury that required microfracture surgery. 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.

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.

Travis Howard was waived/injured and placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014. Howard was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent some time on the Practice Squad of the Patriots that season before the Giants signed him to their Practice Squad in December 2013. Howard is a physical corner with good ball skills. He has good size and long arms, but lacks ideal speed and quickness. Howard is a good hitter, but he needs to become a more consistent and reliable tackler.

Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE SAFETIES

Despite starting all 16 games, Antrel Rolle did not have the same impact on the playing field that he did in 2013. Rolle finished the season with 87 tackles, three interceptions, nine pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Rolle was steady but did not make many big plays. 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. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move. 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. He is a good tackler and run defender. Rolle has become one of the key leaders of the defense. He also has been very durable, never missing a game in his five seasons with the Giants. Rolle has been voted to the Pro Bowl twice (2009 and 2010) and named All-Pro twice (2010 and 2013). He also played in the 2013 Pro Bowl as a second-alternate.

Stevie Brown played in all 16 games. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks, then regained it for the last five weeks of the season. Brown finished with 38 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders released him in September 2011 and he then spent time with the Panthers and Colts. The Giants signed him in April 2012. Brown had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. He was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2013 after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the preseason. Brown has superb size for a safety, but lacks quickness and range. Despite his size, he does not stand out as a run defender and tackler. Against the pass, Brown lacks range and quickness, and is prone to making mental mistakes. Contrary to 2012, he rarely made plays on the football in 2014.

Quintin Demps, New York Giants (September 25, 2014)

Quintin Demps – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quintin Demps begain the season as the Giants’ third safety, was promoted to the starting job for half the season, then lost it again the final month of the season. Demps finished the year with 57 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Demps was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has spent time with the Eagles (2008-09), Houston Texans (2010-12), and Chiefs (2013). The Giants signed Demps in March 2014. Demps has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. He’s a frustratingly inconsistent player who flashes play-making ability but also makes too many mistakes in coverage. He does not stand out against the run either.

Nat Berhe, a 5th round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, played in all 16 games. Although he was mainly relegated to special teams, he did see some time on defense and finished the season with 10 tackles. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is a smart, aggressive competitor who plays hard all of the time. In college, Berhe made a ton of tackles against the run, but was not as active in pass defense.

Cooper Taylor was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a semasoid bone issue in his foot that required surgery. Cooper was impressing with his play during training camp and the preseason. Cooper was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. A heart condition caused him to slip in the draft. Taylor has an excellent combination of size and athleticism. Taylor missed six games in 2013 with shoulder and hamstring injuries. He played in 10 games that year, serving almost exclusively on special teams.

Thomas Gordon was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. The team waived Gordon in August, but re-signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014. 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.

Aug 262014
 
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Marcus Harris, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Marcus Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants made 15 roster moves on Tuesday in order to each the NFL roster limit of 75 players.

The Giants placed safety Cooper Taylor (foot) and wide receiver Marcus Harris (hip) on season-ending Injured Reserve. Taylor is expected to undergo surgery to repair the sesamoid bone in his foot. Harris will undergo surgery to repair the labrum in his hip. (Oddly, Harris’ injury had previously been described as a shoulder injury).

The Giants waived/injured linebacker Justin Anderson (hamstring) and defensive end Emmanuel Dieke (knee).

Lastly, the Giants waived the following 11 players:

  • WR Travis Harvey
  • TE Xavier Grimble (injury settlement)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham
  • OG John Sullen
  • DT Everett Dawkins
  • LB Spencer Adkins
  • CB Charles James
  • CB Ross Weaver
  • S C.J. Barnett
  • S Kyle Sebetic
  • PK Brandon McManus

(UPDATE: In a late move, the Giants have reportedly traded Brandon McManus to the Denver Broncos for a conditional draft pick, reportedly conditional 7th round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft).

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

The final cuts to the 53-man roster must be made by 4:00PM on Saturday, August 30th, the day after the Giants-Patriots preseason finale.

Aug 202014
 
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Cooper Taylor (30), New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Cooper Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Things were going well for Cooper Taylor.

The New York Giants second-year safety, and fifth-round selection in last year’s draft, had added muscle in the offseason, was seeing looks with the second-team defense and making plays all across the field. Taylor earned praise for his physicality, awareness and improvement. He looked ready to make an impact on the defense.

The came a foot injury against the Indianapolis Colts, the tests that confirmed a sesamoid fracture in his left foot and the news he’d need surgery. Giants coach Tom Coughlin confirmed Wednesday after practice Taylor would have surgery and that season-ending injured reserve is now a ‘possibility.’

“Yeah, he’s going to need surgery,” Coughlin said.

According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, surgery for Taylor would require a near full season of recovery. This would make a trip to injured reserve a logical choice. By the time the safety would be healthy enough to take the field, let alone be able to get himself into football shape, it would be far too late to make an impact this season.

So where now do the Giants now stand? Rookie Nat Berhe has earned praise from the coaching staff and has been nicknamed ‘The Missile’ while veteran Quintin Demps has the ability to play either safety position.

Theoretically, placing Taylor on injured reserve may make the most logical choice for the Giants. While the team is littered with question marks across the roster, the secondary is not one of them. The Giants coaching staff was going to be put in a tough situation with a difficult ‘numbers’ game come cut-down day. The Giants had five safeties (Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Berhe, Demps, Taylor) that all deserved spots on the roster and just as many cornerbacks. If Taylor is placed on injured reserve, a roster spot instantly opens up.

The extra spot may allow the Giants to keep both rookie Bennett Jackson and second-year pro Charles James II.

There has been no official decision yet from the team yet on what to do with Taylor. A placement on injured reserve, or IR with designation to return, may not be made for a few days. The Giants do have their first cut-down day (from 90 players to 75) on Tuesday.

Aug 172014
 
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Cooper Taylor (30), New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Cooper Taylor returning a blocked punt for a TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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:

NY Post Q&A with LB Jameel McClain: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Jameel McClain by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on the Giants-Colts Game: Giants: 10 positives to take from victory over the Colts includes the improving linebackers by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Wide Receivers:

Article on DE Israel Idonije: No Longer an Impact Player, a Giant Finds a Way to Deliver a Kaboom by Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times

Article on LB Jacquian Williams: Soft-spoken Giants LB Williams ready for loud year on field by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on CB Walter Thurmond: Giants cornerback Walter Thurmond III is a filmmaker by Tom Rock of Newsday

Aug 052014
 
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Craig Johnson, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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.”

August 5, 2014 New York Giants Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s press conferences with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:

August 5, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Tuesday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

7 takeaways from Media Hour by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

New York Giants Practice Reports:

Article on New York Giants Running Backs:

Article on WR Corey Washington: Giants WR Washington playing for family by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Articles on New York Giants Defensive Backs:

Article on the New York Giants Use of Tablets: Tablets on NFL sidelines get positive reviews from Giants by Tom Rock of Newsday