Aug 062015
 
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Jameel McClain, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 6, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…

The New York Giants held their sixth summer training camp practice on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…POTENTIALLY SERIOUS INJURIES FOR McCLAIN AND BERHE
Left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor), right guard Geoff Schwartz (coming off of ankle surgery), center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

“Well, (Schwartz) obviously wasn’t doing well enough to stay out there for two days in a row,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It looks like one of those things that’s got to be managed. We hope to get him where he can practice hard a couple days a week, but we’ll have to see how that goes.”

McClain suffered a serious spinal contusion neck injury late in 2012 that caused him to miss six games in 2013. The Ravens released him at the end of that season.

“Tests on McClain, but chances are, because of the extent of the trauma, he’s going to have to sit for a while,” said Coughlin. “I wouldn’t be able to even guess on what they will do.”

“(Berhe) had some kind of a muscle tear in the calf area,” said Coughlin. “They’re treating it…I don’t have a timeframe.”

Wide receiver Preston Parker left practice early with a hamstring or quad injury to his right leg.

PRACTICE NOTES…
The Giants were in full pads again for the second day in a row. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With Ereck Flowers, Geoff Schwartz, and Weston Richburg out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Justin Pugh, left guard Adam Gettis, center Dallas Reynolds, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • With Prince Amukamara out, Chykie Brown started at corner in his place.
  • Bennett Jackson started at safety again. He returned an interception from quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a defensive touchdown.
  • Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa beat offensive tackle Emmett Cleary for a sack.
  • Running backs Shane Vereen and Andre Williams saw quite a bit of action with the first-team.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw his first interception of training camp when a deep pass to wide receiver Victor Cruz was intercepted by a leaping cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In a real game, Manning may not have gotten the pass off as defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis was bearing down on Manning for a sack. (Giants.com is also saying the ball hit the ground). (Video)
  • Left tackle Justin Pugh and fullback Henry Hynoski made good blocks on a running back Shane Vereen run that picked up good yardage.
  • Defensive end Damontre Moore gave right tackle Marshall Newhouse problems with his speed off of the edge.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell had his best practice and made a leaping catch over safety Cooper Taylor.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his three stars of practice were tight end Larry Donnell, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and safety Bennett Jackson.

Kerry Wynn … meet running back. #Giants

A video posted by Jordan Raanan (@jraanan) on

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

Q: How’s Geoff Schwartz doing?

A: Well, he obviously wasn’t doing well enough to stay out there for two days in a row. It looks like one of those things that’s got to be managed. We hope to get him where he can practice hard a couple days a week, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

Q: Tests on Jameel McClain?

A: Tests on McClain, but chances are, because of the extent of the trauma, he’s going to have to sit for a while. I wouldn’t be able to even guess on what they will do.

Q: Because of his history with that injury?

A: Yes. I’m sure that’s part of it.

Q: Did you get results on Nat Berhe’s MRI, he said he had one earlier?

A: He had some kind of a muscle tear in the calf area. They’re treating it.

Q: When you say tear it sounds kind of serious.

A: That’s all I know. I can’t tell you anymore, I don’t know what it means either.

Q: No timeframe?

A: I don’t have a timeframe.

Q: It looked like Dallas Reynolds was working with a couple units out there.

A: Yeah, he’s come back a stronger player, no doubt. We needed him to do that. He’s gotten a lot of time on the field with our issues with [Weston] Richburg. It’s good that he did.

Q: Is he upping his stock with you guys?

A: I hope so. When we look at tape, ask me again.

Q: Where do things stand with Weston Richburg and Ereck Flowers?

A: When I hear day-to-day, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. It looked like they were doing okay, especially [Ereck] Flowers. He looks like he’s really coming on—I saw him out of the corner of my eye, saw him running. He looked like he was doing okay.

Q: Missed practices at this point in training camp for him, can you get him up to speed?

A: Very difficult. Very tough. You miss time and you really have a difficult time making it up because there’s all kinds of stuff being thrown at him. The defense has got a sophisticated disguise and pressure package. He would benefit, definitely, from being out here. So he’s had his work in the spring, there’s no doubt he’ll pick it up, but it’s not good to miss practice. That’s that we’re here for.

Q: At some point are you going to move Justin Pugh back inside so he gets those guard reps, too?

A: We’ll have to share some time there, depending on how long he [Flowers] is out.

Q: We talked about the offensive line gelling and that being important. Three guys are out already, how much does that set you back and how do you speed it up if you have to?

A: Not really. You’ve got to go on the field and do your work on the field. You certainly want them all out there together every day, but that’s not the way it is.

Q: How about Prince Amukamara, we didn’t ask you about him?

A: Same kind of deal. He’s got a little groin, but because of the position he plays, how long he’ll be, I don’t know.

Q: Are you seeing Larry Donnell looking more explosive? You see him getting back to where he was before?

A: He’s coming along. He made a really nice play. I think every day he gets a little bit more mobility and he looks like he’s moving better. That’s what we’re hoping to get at. He’s also had a couple of good blocks in there.

Q: He had a pretty good season last year, but it was overshadowed by some mistakes. How hard has he worked on eliminating those?

A: He’s obviously worked hard at it. He’s also worked hard to try and hang onto the ball.

Q: You see anything different from Marcus Kuhn? Cullen Jenkins said he sees a significant difference in him.

A: He’s a big, strong kid that is moving his feet a little bit better. We need him to make a strong contribution.

Q: You said earlier on the radio that you thought Eli’s best football was ahead of him. Can you kind of expand on what you see that would lead you to say that? 34 year olds usually don’t have–

A: I base it on his offseason, his strength, the way he threw the ball in the spring, his knowledge—his continuing knowledge of the offense. And the fact that, God willing, we’ll have some production around him.

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

The following Giants were also interviewed by ESPN Radio:

  • RB Andre Williams (Audio)
  • WR Victor Cruz (Audio)
  • DE Robert Ayers (Audio)
  • DT Johnathan Hankins (Audio)
  • S Landon Collins (Audio)

RELATED ARTICLES…

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

  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 052015
 
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Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 5, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fifth summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor), center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

“Richburg has a little tendinitis and they decided to hold him out today,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

“We’re just going day-by-day. It’s getting better,” said Flowers. “When it first happened, I wasn’t able to lift it, but now I can lift it up. So, it’s getting better, I should be practicing soon…I usually heal pretty fast and do pretty well, so I’ll definitely be out there really soon.”

“Day to day (with Flowers),” said Coughlin. “He’s much improved. Whether they let him go tomorrow or not, I don’t know. But he was much improved.”

Linebacker Jameel McClain (stinger) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) left practice early with injuries. McClain suffered a serious neck injury while with the Ravens so the injury could potentially be more serious than an average stinger.

“(McClain) got a little stinger,” said Coughlin. “So he’s got to run through all the tests.”

“Prince [Amukamara] had a little strain in the groin area during one-on-one,” said Coughlin.

PRACTICE NOTES…
For the first time this year, the Giants practiced in full pads. “It was kind of sluggish, to be honest with you,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “As it usually is the first time in full pads. Their legs are covered etc. etc. But they have to learn how to handle that, and they will.”

Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) and center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis) out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Justin Pugh, left guard Adam Gettis, center Dallas Reynolds, right guard Geoff Schwartz, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse. The Giants also worked in John Jerry at right guard and Geoff Schwartz at right tackle. The line struggled to keep a clean pocket for the quarterbacks.
  • Cullen Jenkins got some work at defensive end with the first-team along with Robert Ayers. Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn were the tackles when Jenkins was at end. Damontre Moore and Owamagbe Odighizuwa also played end with the first-team.
  • Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins nailed running back Orleans Darkwa in the backfield on one play.
  • Landon Collins and Bennett Jackson were the first-team safeties. Jeromy Miles played with the second-team and made a couple of nice plays against the run.
  • Wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris returned a punt for a touchdown after bobbling it.
  • Wide receiver Julian Talley had a good practice, even beating cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on an in-cut.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his three stars of practice were safety Landon Collins, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and safety Jeromy Miles.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the afternoon practice:

Q: What happened to Jameel McClain out there?

A: He got a little stinger. So he’s got to run through all the tests.

Q: What about Weston Richburg?

A: [Weston] Richburg has a little tendinitis and they decided to hold him out today.

Q: Tendinitis in what?

A: Knee.

Q: How about Prince?

A: Prince [Amukamara] had a little strain in the groin area during one-on-one. So, naturally, he was out.

Q: Are you expecting Ereck Flowers back pretty soon?

A: Day to day. He’s much improved. Whether they let him go tomorrow or not, I don’t know. But he was much improved.

Q: What did you think of the padded practice, seemed like there was a lot of balls that hit the ground today, maybe today more than usual?

A: Balls hit the ground? Not necessarily, no. It was kind of sluggish, to be honest with you—as it usually is the first time in full pads. Their legs are covered etc. etc. But they have to learn how to handle that, and they will.

Q: Without the benefit of seeing the film, how do you think your offensive line held up?

A: I’m sure there was some good and some bad. To be honest with you, there were better runs than there were anything else. I thought that was something, if you want to build on, that was pretty good.

Q: While you were fully padded, did you want to do some more runs?

A: Well, we had an inside run drill, which we usually do fully padded. But otherwise it was blitz pickup and everything else. Nothing in particular to make it a run practice, if that’s what you’re asking.

Q: Do you feel like Jon Beason is under any restrictions?

A: Beason? Well, we’re very aware and his snaps are controlled, and basically they’re controlled by the number of people at the position. Obviously, if [Jameel] McClain is held out for any length of time, then that would affect the rotation.

Q: But you don’t want to overwork him obviously.

A: Well, everybody has got to get ready to play, though. We keep talking about that, and you know what, we’re taking every precaution—scientific precaution. Anything that has been discovered in our game by virtue of all the things we’ve looked at, we’re doing it. So now we’ve got to go out on the field. When we’re on the field, unfortunately, some things happen. I don’t have any other explanation for you.

Q: We got screened at the end of practice, what was the game today? It looked like both teams lost because they all had to do pushups.

A: We took some receivers and DBs and challenged them to throw the football and hit the crossbar. It wasn’t pretty. They all tried to kick field goals with the ball, and throw the ball up in the air. Take the ball and zing it. It was an eye-opener, let’s put it that way. Not anywhere as competitive as the last thing we did.

Q: This seems to be an emphasis for you guys, though.

A: Compete. Find stuff to make them compete. Just compete. Just always something, in addition to the field, obviously.

Q: Your defensive tackles looked like they had a solid day. Do you think they had a good showing today?

A: I know they’re working hard and they’ve improved their technique. Our footwork seems to be better. I think both the ends and the tackles rushed the passer pretty well today. Like I said, some runs squirted through, but they certainly did okay.

Q: How much negotiating goes on between you and Marvin Lewis as you get closer to these practices with the Bengals?

A: We set this up in the spring. It’s been set. Practice schedule is set, everything is set. I’m sure there will be maybe one more phone call, but most of it has all been done.

Q: How limited or how much contact are those practices going to have?

A: Just practice.

Q: Pads?

A: Pads.

Q: Uppers?

A: Pads one day, uppers the next—yeah.

Q: With the game officials here, did they tell you there’s going to be any extra emphasis on any part of the rules this year?

A: Well, they always stress whatever the new rules are and whatever the points of emphasis are. So, John (Parry) is prepared to speak about that as we’ve heard in the spring when the officiating crew is by. I’m sure we’ll continue to hear.

Q: Mike Sullivan thinks that Eli’s arm has looked as live as it has at any point that he’s seen. Would you agree with that assessment?

A: Yeah, it was that way in the spring, too. I think there was a lot of grinding on the part of the receivers today. Then, perhaps, the idea that in some occasions they weren’t where they were supposed to be kind of nullified some of the balls going downfield today. But, no question about his arm.

Q: With the more direct approach instead of the lob approach, could you have hit the crossbar?

A: I may have wanted to move it up.

Q: It was the crossbar not the upright?

A: It started out being the crossbar. The upright? Are you kidding? If we put a limit on it, we’d be out here all night.

Q: It looked like they were going for the upright.

A: It’s the way they were throwing the ball. I thought it was a rainbow.

Q: Cruz said last week about getting the pads on, it was going to be another step. Was this another rung in the ladder for him?

A: Yeah, I think he really got acclimated probably further than he expected, just in uppers. He went down a couple times with piles and that kind of thing. But I’m sure just handling the pads today.

Q: So nothing you saw today?

A: I didn’t see anything that way, no. Not at all.

QUARTERBACKS COACH MIKE SULLIVAN…
Mike Sullivan addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: Last summer with Eli there was an emphasis on footwork. Is there something this year that there is an emphasis on mechanically or is it still the footwork?

A: It always starts with the footwork but I think it is just really having the reads, having the concepts become second nature and having that level of comfort and confidence that the player is going to be where we want them to be. That he is going to trust his feet, as we like to say, in terms of the timing of the system and nothing beats experience. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to kind of go around that and you’ve got a true professional like Eli who really buys into doing all the little things that really makes it easier to improve.

Q: What else can be done besides reps to get that done and to get that familiarity?

A: Certainty the reps out on the field and then the things that we can teach in the classroom. There is great dialogue that we have in our meeting room and certainly a guy with his experience and his background…and there is a couple of them in terms of being able to say anything [and] ask anything.  Those quarterback meetings…Ben (McAdoo) is certainly heavily involved in those meetings and it’s like another coaching meeting, so it is a lot of fun. Between the execution on the practice field, that preparation, what we do in the meeting room and then him taking care of his body, which he has done a tremendous job, of I think that we will be ready to go.

Q: How is your comfort level with the offense and is it odd that the guy you are trying to help and teach knows more of it than you do?

A: It has been exhilarating. I just can’t say enough about working with Ben McAdoo, what a detail-oriented, great teacher, very comfortable relationship and it is exciting. There [are] so many concepts about this scheme and I think Eli has really bought in and it has been a lot of fun to work with him. We didn’t really have to break through any of those barriers as far as establishing who we are and what we are about. We have a little history together so that has made it a lot easier so it has been a lot of fun.

Q: Does he have more options now? You look around at the talent level. Are his choices greater?

A: I think there [are] a lot of players that we are counting on. You look at certainly the receivers; Victor Cruz who is coming back and looking strong, Odell Beckham and Larry Donnell and so many of the players and younger guys, the addition of Shane Vereen out of the backfield. [It is] definitely nice to have those so he has been trying to spread the ball around and work on different reads, if you will, and that is certainly [a good thing].

Q: What have you seen from Ryan Nassib so far?

A: I think Ryan is a very, very hard worker [and] very competitive. I mean he is a gym rat, excellent…you talk about knowledge of the system, that guy, he is as sharp as a tack. He is someone from a mobility standpoint, the ability to extend plays and if he has to scramble, he has that as an asset and he is getting better [with] some of the things with his release and vantage point and tightening that up and getting the ball out of his hands faster. He has been doing that, so we have been very pleased working with him and I am excited to see what he does here in the preseason.

Q: Is that the emphasis with him? Getting the ball out faster?

A: I think there is a ton of areas of emphasis and he still has to get the, “Be ready to go at a moments notice.” That is the mindset and that is the way he prepares, which is great. He is not in the mode of, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in grad school.’ He prepares as though he is going to be called upon and takes it up [notch] in that regard. I think that whether it is footwork or tightening up his release or any little, tiny thing, he is looking to improve everything, so I wouldn’t just limit it to that one area. He is looking to get better in all areas.

Q: You guys always had a veteran behind Eli during your first time here. I know this is a new look at Ryan but do you have any sense of whether if anything happened to Eli he could step in and get the job done for a little while?

A: Yeah, you know you are always hoping that your backup quarterback, if called upon, is ready to win, is ready to go ahead and do the things that are going to help you be successful, and certainly he is the backup quarterback for a reason because there are certain things he might not be able to do. [However], certainly from the standpoint of a person who would be competitive, who would be prepared, would work very hard and give everything he has, we have great confidence that he will continue to develop and be ready to go if he is called upon?

Q: How has being an offensive coordinator made you a better coach?

A: You know, it is interesting to see when you have the perspective of the entire operation: the run game, the pass game, the protections. I certainly can appreciate the responsibility and the pressure that Ben is under and having gone through that, I kind of try and find different areas and ways to make his job easier, to try to have a perspective of some of the bigger picture things, of lessons I learned and mistakes that I made, things that worked well and just to focus on what can I do, especially from the quarterback’s standpoint, to help him to be at his best so it helps the rest of the offense flow smoothly.

Q: With Tom Coughin, it always comes up every year whether the game has passed him by or if he is up with the latest things. How have you seen him evolve as a coach and keep up with the times and what is your opinion about that?

A: I think Coach Coughlin certainly has core values, he is a man of great integrity and honor and the way his style of football…the discipline, the belief in team above self that has not changed. He has in a lot of ways tried to do various thing to…whether it is the music we’ve got at stretch or just some of the various things behind the scenes that I don’t necessarily want to get into, but he has definitely been on the cutting edge and you look at just the openness of having the veteran quarterback and now with the new system and all that is going on there, I think he is always looking to evolve and grow. It stresses to us as coaches that the day you stop learning, the day you are so set in your ways, is the day that it is time to move on, so he has been very energized and it has just been a thrill for me to be back.

Q: Did you ever you think six or eight years ago that you would see a Giants practice with Tom Coughlin with music on the field and big guys catching punts?

A: It has been great and there is more to come. We have a few more things in store, so it should be a lot of fun.

Q: What about your year as a consultant. Was that sort of a year off?

A: It was an opportunity, first and foremost, to reconnect with my family and spend more time with my daughters, and I spent the time to work with Derek Carr to help get him ready for the draft, which was a lot of fun. Of course, David’s younger brother, went out to California and helped train him and work out with him and I was pleased with the progress he has made and wish him well as long as we don’t play him. I did some online work and that just gave me a chance really to take a step back and without all the pressure, to see the games it is just amazing. There is so many…when you take that vantage point, you can see some of the mistakes that are made and of course you fill the spiral notebook with ideas and it is not necessarily X’s and O’s as much as just ideas and thoughts of how you can be better prepared should you get another opportunity. I feel very fortunate to have a chance to be back and not just back but to come back home with big blue.

Q: Do you still have that book?

A: Oh, yes. My manifesto, my lessons learned and that type of thing.

Q: The goal for Eli last year was 70% completion rate, which he hasn’t really backed off when you ask him about it. Is that just something that is put out there as something to shoot for or is that an attainable goal?

A: Eli has always been very goal oriented. He has always been someone that has had high expectations for himself and I would say this, he is certainly going to do everything and has been and will continue to do everything possible to achieve those goals that are going to help us win. I think that it comes down to however many passes we need to win, that is what we are going to want to complete. However many big plays or touchdowns or adjustments in the run game or protections or whatever needs to be done, he is going to do. I don’t know if there is any set number or those certain indicators that help you win. We all know that if you protect the football, if you are able to have a certain amount of yards you are able to rush for or efficiency on third down or red zone or QB rating, those are all objectives but ultimately it just comes down to winning and I think that is all that really Eli cares about. In fact, I know that is all he cares about.

Q: How much does this offense make it reasonable to think that number can be realistically attainable?

A: I think there are components of the offense where we are looking for completions and trying to get the ball out of his hands and if there is a completion there, we are going to take it. Heck, when you’ve got a guy like Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Shane Vereen and some of these guys that can do a lot of damage…a 70-yard gain is a 70-yard gain whether the ball is in the air for 50 or one yard and we had a great run, so whatever it takes.

TIGHT ENDS COACH KEVIN M. GILBRIDE…
Kevin Gilbride addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen in Larry Donnell this year as opposed to last year?

A: He’s coming along, as far as just getting healthy again. As far as football is concerned, it’s his commitment to focusing on the techniques in blocking—that’s really improved. What we need to get him to do is really get back to where he was running routes. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s working towards it and he’s done a nice job with the workload we’ve given him.

Q: Because of the Achilles?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have a handle on what he is and what he can be?

A: I think he can be a pretty special player, but there’s a lot of improving that is going to have to take place in order for him to be that special player. The good thing is, he’s working towards it, and he’s starting to understand that he could be a pretty special guy as well.

Q: When you say special, in what way? A big time pass catcher or an overall player?

A: A big-time pass catcher, number one. I think we all saw the ability there last year. But also, not only be serviceable in the run game, but could be a very good run blocker in what we’re asking him to do.

Q: After the Washington game did his injury slow him down?

A: I think so. I think the wear and tear of the full season—it’s the first time he’s ever had to go through something like that. Even in college, he was a quarterback to start off and then became a tight end. College seasons are much shorter than the professional NFL year, so through the course of the year and the wear and tear, and the banging day in, day out that he took, did slow him down through the course of the season.

Q: What has Jerome Cunningham shown you?

A: He shows that he can be an explosive pass catcher and route running receiver from the tight end position. What’s been not necessarily surprising, but exciting, is watching him run block and watch how intense he is about it, and how he likes to finish blocks and move defenders off the ball.

Q: Larry had some great highlights but also some lowlights—dropping the ball, losing it. Is controlling his body an issue?

A: I think that’s a big, big part of it. I always reference back to the fact that he hadn’t played much football, and hadn’t played the position very long. So the more he does it, the better he’s going to be. It’s been a huge emphasis on our part—having him carry the football the proper way. Knowing how to protect himself when he has the football in his hands and he’s carrying it and running with it. There’s little things like every time he was on the sideline or came out of practice—he’s having a ball tossed to him and he’s holding it with the tip high every now and then as I’m telling the rest of the guys the plays, I’m trying to knock it out. Just little things to have him remember that it is the most important thing—to hold it properly. That’s the way you protect it the best, by focusing on it and focusing on doing it right.

Q: He got knocked head over heels a lot?

A: Often, when he would almost straighten his legs and at the waist. That’s something that also we’ve talked about. He’s got two options: he can lower his shoulder and run over the man—and that means you’re bending your legs, bending your knees or you can jump over him. It’s one of the two. No matter what you do, you have to protect the football. The tip of the football can never be here [down]—it’s not protected, it’s not secure, it’s not strong. It has to be high.

Q: How big of a surprise was Daniel Fells last year? He seemed to be an extra guy but he made a lot of big receptions.

A: He did, he made a lot of good plays. Again, I wouldn’t say it was a surprise because you know what you’re getting with Daniel. You know he’s going to be a consistent player, a consistent person, and a great leader in that room—being a veteran and having those guys to help them come along. Daniel makes the plays that are there to be made and then he impressed you every now and then by making one that you don’t necessarily think he can make.

Q: Do you expect to have good matchups with your tight ends because of all the weapons you have in the receiving corps and running backs? Do you expect Donnell to have more favorable matchups?

A: Rather than have like a dime playing him, they have to worry about Shane [Vereen]. We’ll see how it plays out, you never really know how you’re going to get attacked by the defense. You prepare for all the different scenarios and you prepare based on what you see on film from the defense. That certainly could a scenario where because of all the weapons on the outside with Shane Vereen out of the backfield, with Rashad Jennings, that potentially you could get a good matchup at the tight end position. That’s something that as coaches we study very, very hard to prepare for, but then through the course of the game, they can always switch up the matchups based on who they’re being hurt by.

Q: It seems like this time last year Larry moved up out of the pack because of the work he had done in the offseason, is that fair?

A: Not necessarily, no. Last training camp we were working hard to figure out who was going to be the best player and what they can do. We’ve talked about that with you and I and this group. Each guy has a certain skillset, and we’re going to try and find the things that they can do and put them in the football game to execute those things. If you can do something that’s going to bring in value to our team, you’re going to get in the game to do it.

Q: In terms of him specifically, he seemed like a good offseason guy for you. A guy who took coaching well and advanced quickly as a result of that. So he misses May and June, what does that do for his development?

A: Well, where it hurt his development was physically, not mentally. He did a great job of being very locked in, in the meetings and on the practice field when he was with us and wasn’t rehabbing. He did a tremendous job of making sure he was locked into the play and getting mental reps.

Q: If he gets back to where he was, is he going to be the guy who takes the majority of the snaps like last year?

A: You would love to have even more guys. The more guys, the better, because the wear and the tear through the course of the season isn’t as heavy—it’s not as heavy of a workload for each guy. The more you can have, the better off you’re going to be.

Q: Has Jerome done enough to play himself into a role yet?

A: Right now the evaluation process is going on with everybody.  I think he’s done some very good things, and he’s done some things where he can improve. He certainly warrants a shot, as far as getting playing time in the preseason and then you see where it goes from there.

Q: You mentioned the advancements Larry is making as a blocker, what specifically do you see in what he’s doing now better?

A: As far as the technique is concerned? Not dropping his inside knee when he’s working with the offensive tackle. Trying to keep his elbows tight. Those are all very important things and really it comes from having confidence. When your hands go outside, it’s because you think the guy is going to go around you. When you trust yourself to get your elbow tight and punch your hands inside, that means you’re trusting what you see and that’s a very important thing. It’s an area he still needs to improve on, but he’s getting there. He’s getting there and he’s working with it. He’s making mistakes and learning from them rather than just reverting back to what he was doing before.

Q: There was a play when he was split outside on a run play, in terms of downfield blocking in the run game, is that something he’s still working on?

A: It’s something that we’ll ask him to do certainly. It’ll be a part of our package. That’s one thing that you always work on, but that’s not the major focus. The major focus is the in-line blocking that we need him to improve on. And he is, he’s getting there, he’s just not there yet.

Q: To have Mike Sullivan back, how excited is he and how excited are you to have him back?

A: I think he’s very excited to be back. You’d have to ask him as far as any specifics. But I can comment on what itit is to have him back. I think the comradery and the synergy that you have as an offensive staff is incredibly important. Having him back is a big part of that. Getting him back in the fold and he really got back in the fold pretty quickly and got to know the guys that he hadn’t known before. Re-established relationships and working relationships with guys he had before, so it’s been a nice addition.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The sixth training camp practice will be held on Thursday from 2:30-4:30PM. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only five remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 022015
 
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Shane Vereen, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third summer training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN TWO…
The Giants have signed second-year wide receiver Derrick Johnson (Maine) and rookie defensive end Brad Bars (Penn State). Johnson has spent time with the Patriots.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (soreness in surgically-repaired ankle) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

“(Schwartz) was sore, so they held him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No. It wasn’t planned. I’d like to have him practice. But the trainers just said we’d be better off holding him. Maybe he can go tomorrow.”

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson received first-team reps at safety along with Landon Collins. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe practiced at safety with the second-team.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a touchdown.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell made a sliding catch on a pass from Manning.
  • Wide receiver James Jones made a diving sideline catch on a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his four stars of practice were linebacker Devon Kennard, safety Bennett Jackson, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and linebacker Jon Beason.
  • NJ.com agrees that linebacker Devon Kennard was a standout and also singled out tight end Daniel Fells, safety Bennett Jackson, left tackle Ereck Flowers,

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
Jerry Reese addressed the media on Sunday (video is available at Giants.com):

Reese: Welcome to training camp. Our coaches are working hard, our players are working hard. We’re excited about the 2015 season. There’s a lot of competition at several positions that we like. We look forward to the challenge of this season. I’m open for questions.

Q: Have you had any contact with Jason Pierre-Paul?

A: Guys, I’m not going to say much. I don’t have anything really to report about that situation. I am going to say this, I wish Jason [Pierre-Paul] nothing but the best. This is a traumatic situation—it was an accident. Plenty of people have opinions about it. My heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life is life-changing for him. I hope and pray for the best for him, that’s what I can say about that. Other than that, I’m not going to say anything else about what Jason’s situation is, except I hope for the best and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m going to say about the Jason situation.

Q: Can you say whether you hope he’ll be back?

A: I’m not going to say anything else about the Jason situation guys. There’s plenty of people [who] already talked about it, and everybody’s got an opinion about it. You can still form your own opinion about it, but that’s my opinion about it.

Q: Do you think your defense still has the ability to be solid?

A: I think we’ll be really good defensively. I think we’re going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play and play at a high level at that position. I do think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year. I’m excited to see them out there playing.

Q: Some of your defensive ends were saying that Jason was the star and the name. Do you think a defense needs somebody else to step up and become a star? Can the rest of the guys get it done without that?

A: It’s a great opportunity for us, that’s what the National Football League is about. When you have an injury, somebody can step out of the shadows and do something great. It’s a great opportunity for some more guys at that position to step out of the shadows and do that. There’s some guys that have been around for a while—Damontre Moore is a guy that sticks out in my mind, Kerry Wynn. We’ve got some other guys, we drafted Owa [Odighizuwa]. There’s some more guys at that position that we like and think can help shore up that position for us.

Q: How do plan going forward? There’s that situation that’s lingering out there. How do you plan as the general manager with JPP, whether you’ll have him or maybe you don’t. How do you look at that?

A: I’m not talking about the JPP thing, guys, I’m not talking about it.

Q: I mean for your roster, though.

A: We’ll keep all of our options open with respect to the roster.

Q: Were you relieved to see Victor and Odell pass that physical and get out there?

A: Yeah, I’m just happy to see Victor [Cruz] out there. It’s a long way back, he had a big injury. I still don’t think he’s 100 percent back but I think he’s close. We’ll continue to take him slow. To see those two guys out there together, it’s exciting for us and exciting for our fans. We think they can be a good tandem out there together.

Q: John Mara said the other day that there’s enough here for this team to contend for a playoff spot. Is it fair to say that’s your belief?

A: We always have high expectations here, and that will never change. We always have high expectations and we expect our coaches to perform high, John Mara expects me to perform high. We expect our coaches to perform high, we expect our players to perform high. Our expectation is always high here. Again, we want to go out there and compete for the division and get a chance to get in the tournament.

Q: Does it faze you at all that at the end of last season John Mara said this is a win-or-else year for a lot of people?

A: It’s every year– that happens every year. Regardless, in the National Football League, every year is a win-or-else season in the National Football League, that never changes either.

Q: After three years of missing the playoffs, do you feel more pressure to see this roster perform?

A: No, the pressure is always there, the pressure is always the same—it’s the National Football League, guys. Every year is a different year regardless if you win or you don’t make the playoffs. It’s a pressure-fueled profession and it’s a high-performance business and we relish the challenge.

Q: I know you don’t like to talk about contracts but with that said, with Eli going into his final year, how do you think he’s going to respond to the pressure? I have to think that weighs on his mind.

A: You’re right, I’m not going to talk about a contract. Eli is here and he’s working hard like the rest of the players. He’s excited about the offense. It’s his second year in this offense and he’s got some healthy guys around him again. Our offensive line, we worked on that some. We think the sky is the limit. I think Eli should have a big year.

Q: Is that something that you would expect to get done before the season though?

A: I’m not talking about the contract, he’s under contract.

Q: Speaking of the offensive line, how do you feel about that unit going in? Do you feel you have enough there?

A: Yeah. We’re going to get Will Beatty back at some point, hopefully maybe in October, I’m not sure what exactly the timeline is. He’s working hard trying to get back. We drafted Ereck Flowers, obviously. He’s working hard out there at left tackle. We got a couple young veterans that we’ve drafted lately and a couple older guys that we have in our offensive line. There’s some guys behind them, as well, competing for some positions. I think we’ll have enough to get us through and play well up front.

Q: Do you still keep your options open, though, in case someone comes available?

A: Absolutely, we always keep our options available. Every day we look at the wire. We’re always looking for trade possibilities, we’re always trying to upgrade our roster.

Q: I know you looked at Jake Long twice, is he a possibility or is that knee not okay?

A: Yeah, we’re going to keep our options open with respect to him as well.

Q: You brought in a new receiver, a veteran guy, what do you like about him and what do you think he is?

A: Obviously we had an injury early on and he [James Jones] was a short-list guy for us and really makes sense. He’s been in that system before and he was very productive last year for Oakland. He knows the system, he jumped in really quickly here and hit the ground running. So that’ll create some competition. There’s three, four, five spots at the receiver position.

Q: What did you see in Jeromy Miles? He’s another guy you signed recently. Did you feel you needed a veteran in that room?

A: We just needed some more depth. We’re always trying to upgrade the back end of the roster. He was still out there. We thought he’s been with Spags, he knows him a little bit from being over at Baltimore. We thought we’d bring him in and let him compete for a roster spot. Guy has played some and started a couple of games in his career. He’s been more of a special teamer but he’s started some games.

Q: You always want your rookies to come in and play and contribute. You’ve got a first and second round pick that are lining up with the starters. You need them to be good players right away, don’t you?

A: Well, we hope so. I’ll always say this, your first three picks—you expect those guys to come in and be contributors right away and what you get after that [first three rounds] is a little bit of a bonus. Our first three guys, we expect those guys to come in and be strong contributors right away. Again, I’ll always say this, you might get a couple of starters and it looks like we could possibly get a couple starters out of our first couple of picks.

Q: How important is the health of Jon Beason to this defense overall?

A: [Jon] Beason, it’s a big year for him. I hope he can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, I think he gives us a lot of pop in there. He gives us that leadership that you want out of that middle linebacker position. So far, so good. He’s been running around and playing with a high motor, he’s a high motor player. If he can stay healthy, that will be tremendous for us.

Q: Health has obviously been a huge issue for you guys over the last couple of years. I know you look at everything in the offseason, have you found anything at all that you think ‘if we change this, we’ll get better luck on the injury front’?

A: Well, we’ve tried different things. We readjusted the schedule, we adjusted some things in the weight room, we’re trying to have more room for down time; it’s an opportunity for guys to recover. But I think it’s just been some bad luck. When guys break bones or tear muscles off the bone or something like that, it’s just unfortunate. Bad things happen sometimes in the National Football League, and hopefully this is our year to stay healthy.

Q: What is your confidence in the roster right now in comparison to what you’ve had in recent years. How do you feel in general about the roster?

A: I like the roster. I like our roster. I think it’s a good roster and, obviously, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve got to get out there and prove it. Like I said earlier, it’s a high-performance business and you’ve got to go out there and perform. I think our players are hungry, they’re excited about the season, the expectation is high and I think they’re up for the challenge.

Q: Is it unusual to have so many new starters? I mean you have five new starters basically in the positions on the offensive line, new starters at safety, a new starter at weakside linebacker. Is that unusual? Does that make you nervous a little bit?

A: No, I don’t think it’s unusual. You always like to have some continuity but you see teams all the time turn their roster over. Again, Seattle, I think maybe the year they won the Super Bowl or the year before, they turned their roster over pretty quickly and had a lot of new starters there. So it happens around the National Football League. It’s just the way it is. Your young players have to play these days. You can’t bring guys in and expect them to sit for a couple of years. You have to bring them in and they have to be contributors early. We like where we are right now in respect to the roster.

Q: You signed Dwayne Harris and gave the indication he can also play receiver, but with the guys you have, is there enough room for him?

A: That’s a lot of competition. If he wants to be a contributor at the receiver spots, he’s got to compete and earn that spot. We do think he’s talented as a receiver as well, but there’s a lot of competition at that position and we love it. We love the competition at that position. At any position, we like competition.

Q: You mentioned that there are several groups of competition that you’re looking forward to. Which ones in specific really stick out to you?

A: I think there’s competition all over. Obviously there is some competition at the safety position, I think our offensive line has some competition, the receiver, the tight end position. I think our defensive ends, that group of five that I talked about, that we feel like can play, are going to be competing for the starting job and a lot of playing time there. Even in our defensive tackle position. I think we have—the running back position has competition. I think there’s competition all over the roster.

Q: How concerned are you at the depth of offensive tackle?

A: I think we have depth there. Again, we are going to get Will Beatty back but we have, you know (Justin) Pugh is playing guard but he can easily go out there and play tackle. He’s been a starter out there for two years. If we have to move him back out there at some point, we are not afraid to do that. I think we have enough and, again, we are going to get Will back.

Q: Do you think overall the offense will be explosive? Do you expect it to be explosive?

A: I hope so. You just think about last year, if you have Odell (Beckham Jr.) for 16 games and you have Victor Cruz for the entire season, you would think you could probably squeeze out a few more wins if you have those explosive-type players playing for the full season. Hopefully those guys, the offensive line, Eli (Manning)’s playing well, continue to grow from this offense, the tight end, Larry Donnell, stepped up in a big way last year and there are some more guys competing at that position. So I expect our offense to score points. If you don’t score 28 points in this league, it’s hard to win. Those 14-10 games, there are not a lot of those games left around the National Football League in light of how the rules favor the offense mostly, how the rules are made now. So you have to score points. You have to take advantage of that, of the rules.

Q: Jerry, you were very optimistic with Cruz from the very beginning when we talked to you. When you see him out here the last couple of days, are you even a little taken aback by how far he’s come?

A: Well, again, it was a big injury and if anybody can come back—the guy is a terrific athlete, number one, and if anybody can come back and has that determination. The guy comes from UMass and develops into a star, so he knows what it’s like to be coming in undrafted so he knows what it’s like to come from some depth to get to where he is. So he has the willpower, the fortitude to come back from something like that and he’s come along way. I still think you won’t see the real Victor Cruz until he gets into some real games and starts to let his quickness take over and his instincts take over.

Q: Just to go back on something you just said, there was a mantra in this league for decades that a defense wins championships. Do you think that’s changed?

A: Well, I still think you need to have a solid defense, but the rules now favor the offense. In my opinion, the rules favor the offense mostly and you have to score points because if you don’t score points—if you’re playing from behind all the time, it’s hard to win football games. You’ve got to get out and score points. We hope our offense can do that.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge Odell faces trying to follow up on last season?

A: I think Odell just has to be himself. I don’t think there’s any challenge. Obviously, he’s gifted. I think he just has to let the game come to him and not try to force things because he’s going to make plays. I don’t think he should press and try an ‘I have to do everything’ kind of situation for him. He’s driven, he loves football. I don’t think he’s going to have any issues. I think he’ll perform high again.

Q: Compared to other sports, football has been a little slow when it comes to using analytics, evaluating players and that kind of thing. What role do you think they should have?

A: Analytics? Everybody is trying to implement the analytics part of evaluating players but, again, here with us, we evaluate guys with our eyes. Our scouts go out and we look at them and we evaluate them with our eyes and with our experiences for different positions on your football team. Analytics play a role, we try to look at it, but the number one thing we use here is our eyes. Our eyes tell the story. Believe what you see.

Q: Is the analytics more for you guys to confirm what you’re seeing with your eyes? Is that an accurate way…

A: Well, you can say that. It’s just part of the puzzle. I think that can be part of the puzzle, it can confirm some things for you, I guess, in some ways. But at the end of the day, what you see is what you have to believe.

Q: Some of the defensive players have been talking about how Spags has been stressing the history of the Giants’ defenses. How does bringing Spags back make that connection to the defenses of the past and why is that important for them?

A: He did a terrific job when he was here the last time, but Spags, he can motivate these guys and tell them what they have to do, but the players have to get out there and perform. So it’s up to the players. I think we have a terrific coaching staff on both sides of the ball. They are working their behinds off and I appreciate the work they put in. I think our entire football team would be motivated to perform at a high level and compete. We open up September 13 against Dallas and I think we will put a terrific football team out there and play well.

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

Q: Did Geoff Schwartz practice today?

A: No, he was sore so they held him.

Q: Was it ankle/leg/foot?

A: Yes.

Q: Was it something that was planned?

A: We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No, we’d like to have him practice. Trainers just said they’d be better off holding him, maybe he can go tomorrow.

Q: You practiced Cruz and Beckham three straight days, do you have any plan for those guys?

A: It is the plan, you’re seeing it. They only take a certain number of reps. They work their way up into things. You’re seeing it.

Q: First day in uppers, did it sort of go the way you wanted?

A: Some of the plays are not exactly what you would like because they end up getting in some poor positions sometimes. But otherwise, I’m hoping that we came out of it good. They have to learn how to handle the pads and learn how to practice together with the pads on. It has to start somewhere.

Q: What have you seen from Cruz thus far?

A: He seems to be doing well. There’s no complaints and he’s gone through some things that I think he’s maybe challenged himself and came out the other end. So far, so good.

Q: Did you find any new punt returners out there at the end?

A: Yeah, we did. Some of them, their sternums held up well. Did you hear the sound of the hits? But they caught it, four straight defensive linemen caught the ball. We may have found a tight end or something.

Q: How’s Flowers doing so far? Do you like his attitude?

A: I love his attitude, his attitude is great. He just goes to work, he doesn’t say much. He’s got to go through it again. Lots of things to learn, lots of things happen fast. He’s out there, he competes.

Q: How’s his singing?

A: You know what, he did pretty good today. He got it over with, I think, at least one time. They may make him do it again.

Q: How is Bennett Jackson handling his transition?

A: Seems to be doing okay. There’s a guy coming off an injury, too, but nobody talks about him much. He’s been out there and done a pretty good job.

Q: What’s the biggest thing for that transition from corner to safety?

A: There’s a lot to learn. Safeties have a lot of information to spit out in a short amount of time. It’s a totally different position from corner, so he’s got a lot of things to learn but so far he’s done pretty well.

Q: I saw him out there with the first team. Was that something that was earned?

A: Guys are going to rotate, guys are going to rotate. Should be going on at other positions as well.

Q: Did you back off of Rashad Jennings a little bit today? Was he limited?

A: No, he was fine, he was in there. Got a few guys who can run through there, which is nice. They all got work.

Q: Prince and DRC, are they pretty sharp in your mind at this point?

A: They’re getting there. I would say there has not been a lot of just plain opportunities for them to flat out defend. DRC made a nice play yesterday on the ball up in the air with Beckham. Everybody has a long way to go. It’s early on, but we’re working on it.

Q: I don’t know how much you can say about Derrick Johnson?

A: He’s just over here for the first time trying to help out and trying to learn some assignments so we can get him in there.

Q: Why did you want to bring in another wide receiver?

A: Why did we want to bring in a receiver? Because we’re trying to see guys that are coming back and limiting their snaps, so we need some people to be able to put out there.

Q:That’s what I thought.

A: Then why did you ask?

Q: I need you to say it.

A: Why? Don’t quote me on it.

Q: With your defensive ends, who do you really see as ready to step up without Jason Pierre-Paul here?

A: Well, they’re going to have to. Damontre [Moore] has done a pretty good job in the early going. Robert Ayers. The young guy, Owa [Odighizuwa], he missed a lot of the spring. He’s a guy that we’re going to end up counting on, too.

Q: How much does it help having Jon Beason out here?

A: A lot. Refocuses everybody. He’s got great energy. Very positive guy, good leadership.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The fourth training camp practice will be held on Monday from 2:30-4:30PM. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only six remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
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:

  • Offseason Spotlight: Devon Kennard’s workout (Video)
  • Offseason Lifestyle: Devon Kennard (Video)

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.

Article on WR Odell Beckham: The crazy life of Odell Beckham Jr.: How the Giants rookie is handling sudden stardom by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and the 2015 NFL Draft: How the Giants’ No. 9 pick could give them leverage in contract talks with Jason Pierre-Paul by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB Jon Beason and the Middle Linebacker Position: Decision time: What will Giants do with linebacker Jon Beason? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Their Own Free Agents: Here’s how Giants should handle their top five potential free agents by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants and Recent NFL Cuts: Notable NFL cuts that could make sense for Giants by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Possible Offseason Roster Improvements: Which positions can the Giants fill in free agency or the draft? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: What should Giants do if wide receiver Kevin White or Amari Cooper is available at No. 9? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the Salary Cap: Giants’ spending lags on defensive side by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on Former New York Giant DT Jay Alford: Ex-Giant Jay Alford calls Steve Spagnuolo the ‘best defensive coordinator’ he ever played with by  Maria Guardado for NJ.com

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: