Jun 302015
 
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Jon Beason, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Jon Beason – © 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: Linebackers

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: As was the case with every other area of the defense, the linebackers were a disappointment in 2014. It was expected that Jon Beason would headline and lead an improved linebacking corps. But Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered. The 2011 rookie class of linebackers – Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, and Mark Herzlich – continued to largely disappoint in their fourth season together. Jameel McClain was a decent free agent addition and led the team in tackles. Rookie 5th round draft pick Devon Kennard flashed in the second-half of the season. In the end, the Giants finished 30th in the NFL against the run and dead-last in the NFL in yards-per-rush defense.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: There were significant changes made at linebacker. The Giants said good-bye to Jacquian Williams (still unsigned) and Spencer Paysinger (signed with Dolphins) in free agency. The team signed J.T. Thomas (3-years, $10 million) from the Jaguars and Jonathan Casillas (3-years, $8 million) from the Patriots. The Giants also signed street free agent Victor Butler and rookie free agents Cole Farrand and Tony Johnson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The primary focus at linebacker in training camp is can Jon Beason stay healthy? Beason was a major shot in the arm for the entire defense when he joined the team during the 2013 season, but the injury-prone linebacker missed almost all of the 2014 season with a foot injury. Not only is Beason a good run defender, he is an intelligent, inspirational leader who is needed to help orchestrate Steve Spagnulo’s new complicated defense on the field. The complexion of the entire defense changes with Beason in or out of the lineup. The good news? Beason made it through the OTAs and mini-camp this year, something he didn’t do last year.

Assuming Beason can stay healthy, the main story lines will be who mans the two outside linebacker spots, and how well do they perform? It is assumed J.T. Thomas will start at one position. But Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas may split snaps at the other spot depending on the opponent, in-game down-and-distance situations, and who has the hot hand. Kennard’s strength is attacking the line of scrimage and rushing the passer while Casillas is better in pass coverage. The Giants seem to be higher on Thomas and Casillas than their former teams, whose coaching staffs saw them more as back-up types. It remains to be seen if the Giants made the right decision to spend $18 million over three years on both. Where Jameel McClain – a respected team leader but castoff from the Ravens – fits in remains to be seen as well.

It’s important to note that Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann says this is the most talented group of linebackers he has had with the Giants since he joined the team in 2009.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six linebackers and assuming everyone stays healthy, the six will probably be Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich. The one most vulnerable could be Herzlich. Herzlich had his best pro season in 2014 and appears to remain a Tom Coughlin favorite and decent special teams player. But he’s not the most athletic guy in the world and has only performed so-so or worse when called upon to start. That said, it’s not likely that one of the lesser known players such as Victor Butler, Uani Unga, Cole Farrand, or Troy Johnson would surpass Herzlich on the depth chart. Butler has talent, but a 4-game PED suspension hurts his cause. Farrand looks like he needs work in the weight room.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Jim Herrmann on J.T. Thomas: “He is very athletic. That is what I like about him. He will be a great addition to our (special) teams. Special teams and athletically as a linebacker he can cover. He is tough. He is going to fill that role, both in base and in sub. We can do a lot of different things with him…In our base, he is an outside linebacker and in sub, we play him some in the middle. It is a very fluid deal in sub defense, so he can play in or out.”

Herrmann on Thomas and Jonathan Casillas: “They are both very athletic guys. They are different kinds of players, but they are both very athletic and can move well. You like that. It is hard right now for me because you don’t have pads on. You will find out a lot more once the pads go on. With their body of work in the NFL, they are both tough guys who can play.”

Herrmann on Devon Kennard: “I think number one, he is more confident in himself as a player. He knows now he can play in the league. That takes you a long way. Just refining his technique and his footwork and trying to get the best of both worlds.”

Herrmann on Jameel McClain: “I think Jameel is versatile enough. He has played all three positions, so he can play in and out. He is a tough guy, which is good, so you want him in there in the run game. He is athletic enough to play in subs. It gives us a big luxury because we have a lot of guys that have played NFL snaps and to me as a coach, that is luxury to have because a lot of times you don’t have that as a linebacker coach. It is nice to have them where you can do anything.”

Herrmann on Jon Beason: “Yeah, he is a born leader. He has always been that way since the day he got into the league. Since he was at Miami, he was a leader. I think he likes that role and he wants that role. You want a guy like that.”

PREDICTIONS: I am going to go out on a limb and say Beason stays healthy and Thomas has a break-out season as a respectable three-down NFL starter. Fans will push for more playing time for Kennard but much will depend on the opponent and in-game match-ups. Casillas may be a better option at times against teams that throw the ball more to the backs and tight ends. Spagnuolo will use Kennard far more imaginatively than Perry Fewell did, having him rush the quarterback from a variety of spots. Contrary to popular belief, this unit could be one of the better ones in the NFL if Beason stays healthy and Kennard develops.

“I can’t praise Kennard enough,” said Beason. “He prepared better than any rookie I’ve ever seen, and that’s including myself. He just really wants it. He gets it. He understands it…The thing I’ve noticed the most this offseason, he’s a step or two faster. He’s quicker. He’s not afraid anymore.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring injury, Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich.

Jun 122015
 
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Preston Parker, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 12, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their tenth and final Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday. The Friday session was not open to the media, but Giants.com did report some of the following tidbits:

  • Wide receiver Preston Parker had a good practice, including making a long completion from quarterback Eli Manning down the right sideline against cornerback Trumaine McBride (video). Parker also caught a short touchdown pass on a ball that was batted around a few times.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning found tight end Jerome Cunningham “a few times for big gains.”
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib hit wide receiver Dwayne Harris a few times, including a one-handed reception by Harris. Nassib also threw two completions to wide receiver Geremy Davis during the two-minute drill (video).
  • Cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Chandler Fenner each made nice plays in pass defense.

The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on next week on June 16-18.

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Why Jason Pierre-Paul can skip Giants ‘mandatory’ minicamp and not get fined by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on LB Devon Kennard: How Giants’ Kennard battles weakness that could hurt playing time by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Jon Beason: Why Jon Beason is more important to the New York Giants than you think by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Early grind with @malessi2 he's been getting me right this offseason. #change

A video posted by Jason Pierre-Paul (@iamjasonpierrepaul) on

Jun 112015
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 11, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their ninth of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Thursday. The Thursday session was not open to the media, but Giants.com did report some of the following tidbits:

  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes in the 11-on-11 team drills, the first to wide receiver Preston Parker and the second to wide receiver Rueben Randle.
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a touchdown pass to tight end Adrien Robinson.
  • Wideout Rueben Randle was a frequent target in practice.
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington made a shoestring catch and caught a few other passes.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted a Manning pass intended for Randle in the end zone and returned the pick to the opposite end zone. (Video)
  • Cornerback Jayron Hosley broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Geremy Davis.
  • Cornerback Chykie Brown “forced a few incompletions.”
  • Place kicker Josh Brown was perfect in his field goal attempts despite windy conditions.

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 OTA practice will be held on June 12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

Article on FB Henry Hynoski: Former Pitt fullback Hynoski keeps striving to be better by Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Article on WR Dwayne Harris: Giants’ return man Dwayne Harris experiencing learning curve at receiver in new offense by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DT Kenrick Ellis: Giants’ nose tackle Kenrick Ellis hopes to capitalize on opportunity he missed with Jets by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DT Jay Bromley: Candid Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley reflects on lost rookie season, how he’s improved by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on LB Devon Kennard: Giants’ Devon Kennard set to make waves by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on Former Giants Running Back David Wilson: Ex-Giants RB David Wilson moves on from NFL and now dreams about reaching the Olympics by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Giants Town Hall Meeting Video Recap: A video recap of the New York Giants “Town Hall Meeting” is available at Giants.com.

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.”

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Apr 192015
 
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Stevie Brown, New York Giants (December 30, 2012)

Stevie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Stevie Brown Says He Will Make Decision Soon: According to ESPN, New York Giants unrestricted free agent safety Stevie Brown has received contract offers from five or six NFL teams and will make a decision soon as to which team to sign with. The teams reportedly include the Giants, Cowboys, Falcons, Raiders, and Titans.

“A person with knowledge of the negotiations” told NJ.com that the Giants are considered one of the favorites to sign Brown. NJ.com reports that there has been a standing offer on the table for Brown from the Giants for quite some time, but Brown has been looking for a better deal.

Brown played in all 16 regular-season games for the Giants in 2014. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks to Quintin Demps, 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.

The only true safeties currently on the Giants roster are Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, and Thomas Gordon. The Giants may also shift cornerbacks Josh Gordy, Chykie Brown, and Bennett Jackson to safety.

Giants.com Videos on Linebacker Devon Kennard: The following videos on linebacker Devon Kennard are available at Giants.com:

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Article on General Manager Jerry Reese: Trade down? Not likely with Giants and general manager Jerry Reese by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Mar 022015
 
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New York Giants Helmets (August 10, 2013)

© USA TODAY Sports Images

Today is Deadline to Designate Franchise and Transition Players: The time frame in which teams can designate Franchise or Transition from February 16 to March 2 ends today at 4:00PM ET. It has been widely reported and speculated that the New York Giants will designate defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as their Franchise Player. Teams can begin negotiation with other teams’ free agents on March 7 and begin signing other players on March 10.

Giants.com Interview with LB Devon Kennard: A video of a Giants.com interview with LB Devon Kennard is available at Giants.com.

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Feb 172015
 
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Kevin Ogletree, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Kevin Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FOX Sports is reporting that the New York Giants have re-signed wide receiver Kevin Ogletree to a 1-year contract. Ogletree was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next month.

Ogletree was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013), and Detroit Lions (2013-14). The Lions waived Olgetree in September last year and the Giants then signed him in October.

He played in seven games with the Giants, but only caught five passes for 50 yards. In six NFL season, Olgetree has played in 69 games with four starts. He has 83 career receptions for 1,049 yards and six touchdowns – two of which he scored against the Giants in the 2012 opener as a Cowboy. Ogletree has decent size, athletic ability, and hands.

For a complete listing of New York Giants free agents, see the 2015 Free Agent Scorecard.

Giants.com Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

Feb 172015
 
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Jameel McClain and Jon Beason, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jameel McClain and Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants shifted from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense in 1994, there have been some glimpses of outstanding linebacker play from players such as Michael Brooks, Jessie Armstead, Michael Barrow, and Antonio Pierce. But outside of Armstead, New York simply hasn’t been able to draft any long-term impact players at the position. Instead fans have been subjected to a long list busts or journeymen who have included Ben Talley, Scott Galyon, Doug Colman, Pete Monty, Ryan Phillips, O.J. Childress, Dhani Jones, Brandon Short, Quincy Monk, Wesley Mallard, Nick Greisen, Reggie Torbor, Gerris Wilkinson, Zak DeOssie (who was not drafted as a long snapper), Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, Jacquian Williams, and Greg Jones. If that list wasn’t so painful, it would be comical. Because the Giants have drafted so poorly at this position, they have repeatedly had to address the linebacker spot in free agency, or in the case of Jon Beason, by trade. While they have had more success there, these older players haven’t remained on the team very long.

Before the season, it was hoped that the linebacking position would be reasonably improved. Jon Beason was a major positive in-season addition to the team in 2013 and it was believed with a full offseason, his impact would increase even more so. The Giants added Jameel McClain in free agency and the coaching staff was talking up the improvements Jacquian Williams had made. But linebacker remained a weakness for the Giants in 2014 and was a significant factor in the team’s near dead-last rankings in overall defense and against the run. Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered and was placed on Injured Reserve after playing in only four games. Williams, who also ended the season on IR with a concussion, simply has not developed, along with fellow 2011 rookie class members Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich. All three of those players have been here four years and the Giants have very little to show for it. Jameel McClain was the best of the bunch, but he most likely looked better than he really was simply by being compared to poorer quality teammates.

The only true bright spot on the horizon is Devon Kennard, a defensive end-linebacker tweener who flashed with his ability as a line-of-scrimmage player and pass rusher. However, it remains to be seen if he really can fit in as a true 4-3 linebacker who can cover tight ends and backs.

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“For a rookie, (Kennard is) very mature,” said Perry Fewell in December. “He’s very serious about his work and his business. He has a very professional attitude every single day in the classroom and on the field about his work and how he can improve for a rookie. We always talk about the rookie wall or what have you. It doesn’t seem to faze him. We’re giving him more in the classroom and he’s able to take it on the field. He loves to talk football and he loves to visualize what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. He takes the critiquing not personally, but he takes it as a learning experience and for a rookie, that’s very mature.

“It’s kind of tough (to determine his ideal position). He’s a powerful man that can play at defensive end and rush and do that type of thing. He’s also skillful enough to play a linebacker position. He’s not as fleet-footed as you would like for him to be and so we put that in the term of a tweener. I think after the season and over the next training period, if he works on his burst and his explosion, that he can be an ideal linebacker. We call him a SAM linebacker. That would be his ideal position and he can also transition and put his hand on the dirt and rush, but I think linebacker would be his natural position.”

THE PLAYERS

Jon Beason’s 2014 NFL season was basically wiped out due to a ligament tear and fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot during an OTA practice on June 12. He aggravated the injury in Week 2 against Arizona, missed the next three games, and aggravated the injury again in Week 7 against Dallas. After that, the doctors decided he needed season-ending surgery and Beason was placed on Injured Reserve in October. In the end, he only played and started in four games and finished the season with 11 tackles. Beason was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Panthers. He is a three-time Pro Bowler (2008-2010). Beason missed most of the 2011 season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn right ACL, an injury that required microfracture knee surgery. The Giants acquired Beason in a trade with the Panthers in October 2013. He played in 12 games with the Giants in 2013, starting his last 11 at middle linebacker. In those 12 games, he finished with 93 tackles and one interception. Beason lacks ideal size, but he is a decent athlete with very good intangibles. He is smart, instinctive, energetic, and productive, and brought leadership and gravitas to a linebacking corps in 2013 sorely needing all of those qualities. Beason is a better run defender than in coverage, where he sometimes struggles against better athletes in space. Beason is a good hitter and tackler. He obviously has been a very fragile, injury-prone player in recent years.

Jameel McClain, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jameel McClain played in all 16 games in 2014 with 14 starts, primarily at middle linebacker. He finished the season as the team’s leading tackler with 116, and also had 2.5 sacks, three pass defenses, and one forced fumble. McClain was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games. A serious neck injury (spinal contusion) suffered late in 2012 caused him to miss the first six games of the 2013 season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Ravens released him in February 2014 and the Giants signed him in March. A defensive end in college, McClain has good size and he is versatile, being able to play both inside and outside linebacker. He is an aggressive, hard-working, tough, physical player who is solid against the run and a decent blitzer. McClain lacks ideal overall athleticism, quickness, and speed. He is not as strong in pass coverage. McClain is a good leader.

A fifth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Devon Kennard was a pleasant surprise. Kennard missed three games in September with a hamstring injury and the season-finale with a toe injury, but he played in 12 games, starting six. He finished the season with 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one pass defense, and two forced fumbles. A bit of a ‘tweener who lacks ideal speed and quickness for linebacker, Kennard has collegiate experience playing both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. He played at outside linebacker in the 4-3 for the Giants. Kennard has good size and strength for linebacker. He is a stout player against the run and flashes as a blitzer. He is not as good in pass coverage. Kennard is a very smart player, but he has been injury prone at both the college and pro level.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (July 22, 2013)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jacquian Williams started the first nine game of the season, but suffered a serious concussion in early November and was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014. He finished the season with 78 tackles and three pass defenses. Williams was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. His 2012 season was sabotaged by a PCL knee injury that caused him to miss six games. Williams lacks size, but he is extremely athletic. He is more of a run-and-chase run defender and coverage linebacker than physical presence due to his lack of size and overall physicality. While Williams gets in on a lot of tackles, he rarely makes big plays in any phase of the game.

In his fourth season with the Giants, Mark Herzlich had his most productive season, playing in 15 games with eight starts at outside linebacker. He finished the season with 52 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Herzlich was regarded as one of the better collegiate linebackers in the country before missing the 2009 season with bone cancer, which led to him having a titanium rod inserted into his left femur. Herzlich has very good size but is a sup-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer.

Spencer Paysinger, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Spencer Paysinger – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Spencer Paysinger saw his playing time dramatically decrease in 2014. He played in 15 games with one start, but only had 15 tackles. The year before in 2013, Paysinger started 10 games and finished with 74 tackles. Paysinger was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Paysinger is a decent athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger. He doesn’t make many plays.

Terrell Manning was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with an ankle injury after playing in only one game with the Giants in Week 13. He was with the Giants in training camp before being waived on August 30. The Giants re-signed him off of the Bengals’ Practice Squad in late November 2014. Manning was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Manning has spent time with the Packers (2012-13), Chargers (2013), Vikings (2014), Dolphins (2014), Bears (2014), and Bengals (2014). In three seasons, Manning has played in 10 NFL games with no starts. Manning lacks ideal overall athleticism and size, but he is an instinctive, aggressive, physical player who hits and tackles well.

The Giants signed James Davidson to the Practice Squad in September 2014 and the 53-man roster in December 2014. Davidson was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but waived in August. Davidson was an undersized collegiate defensive end who projects to linebacker at the pro level. Whether he has the overall athleticism and instincts for the position remains to be seen. Obviously, he is a project.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013 and was not drafted. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Dec 242014
 
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No Giants Voted to Pro Bowl: The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl teams were announced on Tuesday. No Giants were elected to this year’s Pro Bowl team by coaches, players, and fans (each with one-third of the vote). Wide receiver Odell Beckham was named a first-alternate and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was named a fourth-alternate.

December 24, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: LB Devon Kennard (toe) did not practice on Wednesday.

RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), RB Andre Williams (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (knee), and DE/LB Paul Hazel were limited.

December 24, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday’s press conference are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.

December 24, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of media sessions on Wednesday with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

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

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Injured Giants receiver Victor Cruz has ‘no doubt’ he will return to form in 2015 by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: The biggest surprise youngster to enter Giants’ 2015 plans by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Devon Kennard: How Devon Kennard’s father helped him become an NFL pro by Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post

Article on P Steve Weatherford: After killing of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, NY Giants’ Steve Weatherford visits NYPD to say thanks by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the Upcoming Giants-Eagles Game: Why finale vs. Eagles is anything but meaningless for Giants by Kevin Kernan of The New York Post

Dec 232014
 
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Practice Squad Moves: The Washington Redskins have signed offensive guard Rishaw Johnson off of the Giants’ Practice Squad. The Giants had signed Johnson to their Practice Squad on December 2.

To fill the vacancy created by the departure of Johnson, the Giants signed linebacker Uani (Devin) Unga to the Practice Squad. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

December 23, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts of media conference calls on Monday with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com:

Giants on WFAN Radio: The audio of WFAN Radio interviews with the following players is available at CBS New York:

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin’s not coaching like a guy who’s close to the end by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Giants’ offense on a roll by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Tom Coughlin likes Odell Beckham Jr.’s edge, but warns rookie not to go too far with celebration by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the Giants-Rams Game: Giants vs. St. Louis Rams brawl: A picture-by-picture breakdown of what happened by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Sights and Sounds from Giants-Rams Game: A sights and sounds video from the Giants-Rams game is available at Giants.com.

Notes: This season, QB Eli Manning has played eight games with a quarterback rating of at least 100, equaling the career high he set in 2009. That is the fifth-highest total in the NFL this year, behind Ben Roethlisberger (10), Aaron Rodgers (10), Peyton Manning (9), and Tony Romo (9). In 2013, Manning had just one game with a rating of at least 100.0 (102.3 in the opener in Dallas).

Manning has thrown for over 3,800 yards for the sixth consecutive season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning is one of just five quarterbacks in history to accomplish that feat.