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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.


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


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

Jul 172014
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Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.



Will Hill, New York Giants (October 27, 2013)

Will Hill – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.

Quintin Demps, Kansas City Chiefs (December 15, 2013)

Quintin Demps – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.”

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.

Stevie Brown, New York Giants (October 7, 2012)

Stevie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.

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.

Jul 112014
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Peter Giunta, New York Giants (November 6, 2011)

Peter Giunta – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Inside Football Q&A with Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta: The transcript of a Q&A session with RB Andre Williams is available at InsideFootball.com.

Giants.com Q&A with Safeties Coach David Merritt: The video of a Giants.com Q&A with Safeties Coach David Merritt is available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Player Q&As: Video clips of Giants.com Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • DE Mathias Kiwanuka (Video)
  • LB Devon Kennard (Video)

Article on WR Trindon Holliday: Trindon Holliday film review: Giants return specialist overrated, underrated, as expected? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on DT Kelcy Quarles: The 10 Giants you’ll know when training camp begins: Kelcy Quarles by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Article on S Cooper Taylor: 10 Giants you should know when training camp begins: Cooper Taylor by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Article on the New York Giants Return Game: Fresh legs could bring new life to Giants’ shoddy return game by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jun 062014
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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

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.

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.”

Dec 252013
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Tom Coughlin, Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Tom Coughlin and Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.

Article on New York Giants President/CEO John Mara: Predicting who will bear brunt of Giants owner’s letdown by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Line:

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Giants’ Prince Amukamara steps up by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Nov 102013
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Andre Brown, New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Andre Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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.