Nov 072021
 
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Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (November 7, 2021)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – LAS VEGAS RAIDERS 16…
The New York Giants’ defense led team to a 23-16 upset win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 3-6.

Statistically, the Raiders held big advantages in first downs (24-16), total net yards (403 to 245), and net yards passing (286 to 96). But the Giants out-rushed the Raiders (149 to 117) and won the all-important turnover battle (3 to 1). The Raiders were also a dreadful 1-of-6 in red zone efficiency.

The Giants’ lone offensive touchdown of the game came on their first possession as New York drove 75 yards in seven plays to take a quick 7-0 lead. Running back Devontae Booker broke off a 16-yard run on 3rd-and-1, and two plays later, quarterback Daniel Jones threw a perfect deep sideline pass to tight end Evan Engram for a 30-yard touchdown.

The lead did not last long as the Raider too scored their only offensive touchdown of the day on their first possession. Las Vegas drove 73 yards in 10 plays, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Derek Carr. The game was tied at 7-7.

After both teams exchanged punts on their respective second drives, the Raiders immediately got the ball back when Jones was strip sacked. Las Vegas recovered at the New York 30-yard line. The Raiders reached the 6-yard line but could get no further and settled for a 25-yard field goal to give themselves a 10-7 advantage.

Both team exchanged punts again. The Giants’ offense finally put together another scoring possession by moving the ball 43 yards in nine plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano to tie the game at 10-10. Unfortunately for New York, the defense yet again this year allowed the opposition to score points on their final drive before halftime. With 3:17 left on the clock, the Raiders drove 56 yards in 10 plays and kicked a 32-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds before the break.

At the half, the Raiders led 13-10.

Momentum began to switch in New York’s favor right from the start of the 3rd quarter. On 3rd-and-7 from their own 35-yard line, Carr threw a pass towards the left sideline that was picked off by safety Xavier McKinney, who returned it for a 41-yard touchdown. The Giants were quickly back up 17-13.

The Raiders scored their final points of the game on their ensuing possession, a marathon, 15-play, 85-yard, 8-minute drive that was halted at the New York 7-yard line. Las Vegas picked up five first downs on this possession, including a 4th-and-1 conversion. Place kicker Daniel Carlson kicked his second 25-yard field goal of the game (and third overall) to cut the score to 17-16.

The Giants responded with a 13-play, 62-yard possession. While it only resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Gano, the drive did take take over six minutes off of the clock and put New York back up by four points, 20-16, early in the 4th quarter.

The Raiders were able to once again drive the field on the ensuing possession, their third of the second half. Las Vegas picked up four first downs and drove 70 yards in eight plays to reach the New York 7-yard line. Carlson was sent in to kick his third 25-yard field goal of the game, but this one he missed wide left. With 9:28 left to play, New York still held a 4-point advantage.

The Giants were able to pick up two first downs before being forced to punt, pinning the Raiders at their own 12-yard line. Three plays later, McKinney picked off his second pass from Carr, this one a toe-tapping, sideline interception at midfield with 5:12 left. Fullback Eli Penny, subbing for the injured Devontae Booker who left the game with a hip injury, picked up 25 yards on three straight carries. The Giants could not pick up their third first down on this possession and settled for a 38-yard field goal to give them a full-touchdown advantage at 23-16.

The final possession of the Raiders began at their own 25-yard line with 3:21 left to play. New York’s bend-but-don’t-break defense made things interesting, allowing Las Vegas to to pick up 52 yards and four first downs, reaching the Giants 13-yard with 44 seconds left in the contest. But on 2nd-and-10, linebacker Quincy Roche beat the left tackle and sacked Carr, causing a fumble that defensive lineman Leonard Williams recovered at the 23-yard line. Jones knelt on the ball one play to bleed the clock and end the game.

Jones was under heavy pass pressure when he dropped back and finished the game 15-of-20 for 110 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Only three of his completions went to a wide receiver. He was officially hit six times, sacked twice, and fumbled once. Jones also carried the ball four times for 17 yards. No pass target had more than four catches or 38 yards. Booker carried the ball 21 times for 99 yards before leaving the game with a hip injury. Penny carried the ball five times for 35 yards.

Aside from generating three turnovers and holding the Raiders to 1-of-6 in red zone efficiency, the defense also held Las Vegas to 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) on 3rd down. Carr was only sacked once, but the hit by Roche caused the game-winning turnover.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants activated LB Elerson Smith to the 53-man roster from Injured Reserve.

The Giants also elevated WR Pharoh Cooper and LB Trent Harris to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (quad), LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle),S Nate Ebner (ankle), and LB Oshane Ximines.

TE Kaden Smith (evaluated for concussion) and RB Devontae Booker (hip) both left the game with injuries. Booker was asked about his hip after the game and he responded, “It’s great. Went back, got x-rayed on it and everything was good.”

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants did not allow a second-half touchdown for the third consecutive game.

The Giants have one of the NFL’s best records in a game prior to a regular-season bye: 22-11 (.667).

The Raiders became the seventh opponent to score against the Giants in the final 1:33 of the first half and sixth in the final 36 seconds.

QB Daniel Jones tied his career-high by completing 75% percent of his passes. Jones completed all nine of his passes in the first half, the first Giants quarterback to do so since Phil Simms in 1993.

The Giants and Indianapolis Colts are the only teams with a takeaway in every game this season.

PK Graham Gano has made 19-of-21 attempts this season.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Nov 052021
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 24, 2021)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NOVEMBER 5, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

RB Saquon Barkley and S Xavier McKinney have been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 List as it was deemed that both had falsely tested positive for COVID earlier in the week. Thirteen other members of the franchise also falsely tested positive (12 unidentified and OG/OC Matt Skura) and were previously cleared. Only Running Back Coach Burton Burns is currently being treated as COVID positive. Burns will miss Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

RB Gary Brightwell remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, but he may also be cleared as early as Saturday.

Not practicing were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), RB Gary Brightwell (COVID protocol), WR Sterling Shepard (quad), WR Dante Pettis (shoulder/placed on Injured Reserve), LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle), and S Nate Ebner (ankle).

Barkley, Shepard, Pettis, Carter, and Ebner have officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Brightwell is “questionable” for the game.

Regarding Barkley, Head Coach Joe Judge said before practice, “He’s been out of the building the last couple of days (due to the false COVID test). We haven’t had the chance to see where he’s progressed to and where he’s at physically, so they’re going to take a look at him and move him around and then we’ll see if he can progress and practice with us.”

Limited in practice were WR Kenny Golladay (knee), WR Kadarius Toney (thumb), WR John Ross (quad), and TE Kaden Smith (knee).

Golladay and Ross are “questionable” for the game while Toney and Smith are expected to play.

TE Kyle Rudolph (personal day on Thursday), OG/OC Matt Skura (cleared COVID protocol) and S Xavier McKinney (cleared COVID protocol) fully practiced. All three will play on Sunday.

ROSTER MOVES, INCLUDING DANTE PETTIS TO IR…
In addition to activating RB Saquon Barkley and S Xavier McKinney from the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Giants placed wide receiver Dante Pettis on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury that he suffered during Monday’s game.

The Giants also re-signed RB Dexter Williams to the Practice Squad and terminated the Practice Squad contract of TE Jake HausmannThe 5’11, 212-pound Williams was originally drafted in the 6th-round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. In two seasons with the Packers, Williams played in seven regular-season games with no starts. He has seven career rushing attempts for 19 yards. The Packers waived him in late August. The Giants then signed him to their Practice Squad in early September but terminated his contract three weeks later.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Saturday. The team hosts the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Oct 302021
 
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Kenny Golladay, New York Giants (September 26, 2021)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 30, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Not practicing were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), TE Kaden Smith (knee), LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle), LB Carter Coughlin (ankle), and S Nate Ebner (ankle).

Barkley, Golladay, Carter, Coughlin, and Ebner have all been officially ruled out of Monday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith is “questionable” for the game. According to The Athletic, Carter will likely be placed on Injured Reserve due to the ankle injury he suffered in practice earlier this week.

Limited in practice were WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (ankle), TE Evan Engram (calf), and NT Danny Shelton (pectoral).

Shepard and Toney are officially “questionable” for the game while Engram and Shelton are expected to play.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Saturday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Chiefs in Kansas City on Monday night.

Oct 142021
 
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Devontae Booker and Mike Glennon, New York Giants (October 10, 2021)

Devontae Booker and Mike Glennon – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 14, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Not practicing were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), and CB Rodarius Williams (knee).

Williams was placed on Injured Reserve later in the day. He is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Limited in practice were QB Daniel Jones (concussion/non-contact), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (ankle), OT Andrew Thomas (foot), OG Ben Bredeson (hand), OG/OC Matt Skura (knee), LB Justin Hilliard (ankle), S Logan Ryan (hip), S Jabrill Peppers (hamstring), and S Nate Ebner (quad). 

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice again on Friday (11:30AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Oct 102021
 
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Mike Glennon, New York Giants (October 10, 2021)

Mike Glennon – © USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS COWBOYS 44 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
The New York Giants were soundly defeated by the Dallas Cowboys 44-20 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. With the loss, the Giants fall to 1-4 on the season.

Already missing wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, as well as left tackle Andrew Thomas and left guard Ben Bredeson, the Giants were quickly handicapped further in this game by losing quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion) in the 2nd quarter and running back Saquon Barkley (ankle sprain) in the 1st quarter. In addition, WR Kenny Golladay hyperextended his knee in the 1st quarter and was forced to leave the game at the half.

Dallas out-gained the Giants in first downs (26 to 20), total net yards (515 to 367), net yards rushing (201 to 73), net yards passing (324 to 294), and time of possession (32:12 to 27:48). The Cowboys converted on 8-of-14 3rd-down conversion attempts (57 percent).

The Cowboys received the ball to start the game, picked up one first down, but then turned the ball over when linebacker Lorenzo Carter picked off a 4th-and-2 pass intended for running back Ezekiel Elliott near midfield. The Giants were able to pick up one first down and reach the Dallas 36-yard line, but the possession ended with a 54-yard field goal miss by place kicker Graham Gano. The miss enabled Dallas to begin their second drive at their own 44-yard line. They moved the ball 44 yards in 10 plays, but were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal. Cowboys led 3-0.

Barkley was hurt on New York’s ensuing drive, their second possession of the game, and did not return. The Giants promptly went three-and-out. The Cowboys returned the punt 17 yards to the New York 49-yard line. It took them eight plays to reach the New York 5-yard line. But on 2nd-and-goal, Dallas fumbled the ball away on an aborted snap with linebacker Reggie Ragland recovering. The Giants had dodged a bullet, albeit only temporarily. The Giants went three-and-out again on their third possession and the Cowboys quickly went up 10-0, needing only four plays to travel 65 yards with Prescott throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

The Giants responded with their first scoring drive of the game. The Giants gained 42 yards in seven plays to set up a successful 51-yard field goal by Gano. After Dallas went three-and-out, momentum continued to grow as New York put together a 12-play, 88-yard possession that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown by running back Devontae Booker on 4th-and-goal. However, on the preceding play, Jones was knocked out of the game with a concussion after a bad helmet-to-helmet hit.

Worse for the Giants, despite the game being tied 10-10 with 2:51 left before halftime, for the fifth game in a row, the New York defense collapsed right before halftime. Dallas drove 75 yards in eight plays to take a 17-10 halftime advantage when Prescott threw a 24-yard touchdown to wide receiver Amari Cooper with 36 seconds left.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and immediately cut Dallas’ lead to 17-13 after a 7-play, 42-yard drive resulted in another 51-yard field goal by Gano. However, momentum quickly swung back to the Cowboys with a 10-play, 75 yard drive that ended with Prescott’s third touchdown pass of the game, this one a 4-yarder to Elliott. Dallas was now up 24-13 midway through the 3rd quarter.

Matters got worse when quarterback Mike Glennon’s first pass of the ensuing drive was intercepted and returned to the Cowboys’ 41-yard line. Dallas gained 39 yards in eight plays to set up a 38-yard field goal that gave them a 27-13 advantage near the end of the 3rd quarter. The Giants did respond with a 10-play, 73-yard drive, but came up with no points when Glennon’s 4th-and-goal pass at the 2-yard line fell incomplete with 12:22 left to play.

The Cowboys went up by three touchdowns on their ensuing possession, driving an embarrassing 98 yards in nine plays, and Elliott scoring from 13 yards out to take a 34-13 lead. Glennon and New York responded with yet another long drive (11 plays, 75 yards), this one ending with a touchdown pass to Booker on 4th-and-goal. Cowboys 34 – Giants 20.

Dallas recovered the ensuing onsides kick with 3:16 left to play. They gained 33 yards in eight plays to set up a 31-yard field goal. The final humiliation occurred when cornerback Anthony Brown intercepted Glennon with a minute and a half remaining and returned the pick 45 yards for a touchdown.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants elevated OT Korey Cunningham to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were S Jabrill Peppers (hamstring), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), OG Ben Bredeson (hand), CB Sam Beal, and CB Josh Jackson.

On Saturday, the Giants announced that OC Jonotthan Harrison, who was on the Practice Squad, has suffered an Achilles’ injury. According to press reports, Harrison got hurt during Thursday’s practice and that he may need season-ending surgery.

QB Daniel Jones (concussion), RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), and CB Rodarius Williams (knee) all left the game with injuries and did not return. According to press reports, Barkley’s injury is believed to be a low-ankle sprain. Golladay said he hyperextended his knee in the 1st quarter.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants have lost eight of their last nine games to the Cowboys.

Dallas gained 515 total yards, the highest total allowed by the Giants since New Orleans gained 608 yards in a 52-49 victory on November 1, 2015 and is tied for the ninth-highest total ever given up by the Giants.

The Giants’ offense did not allow a sack for the second straight game.

WR Kadarius Toney’s 189 receiving yards is a Giants rookie record, breaking the mark of 185 yards set by Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. Philadelphia on December 28, 2014. It was also the highest total by a Giants receiver since Beckham had 222 yards against Baltimore on December 16, 2016.

Toney was ejected from the game with 6:06 remaining after punching safety Damontae Kazee.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Aug 072021
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 29, 2021)

New York Giants Training Camp – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 7, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their 10th full-team summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.

We’ll continue on our normal progression,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “Today will be a lot like yesterday, a lot more team emphasis, getting the guys on the field, hearing the calls, executing and playing football. We’re lucky we have a full officials crew here from the NFL today, so that’s always good reinforcement back to our players, good communication with our players and make sure we eliminate penalties. That’s always a focus of ours. Tomorrow’s a players’ day off, so in terms of the rest of the day, we’re going to make sure we have a good day on the field. We’ll talk to the team briefly afterwards, get them off their feet, get them some much needed rest and then get them back here on Monday ready to work.”

GIANTS SIGN S CHRIS JOHNSON…
The New York Giants have signed safety Chris Johnson. The 25-year old, 6’3”, 200-pound Johnson was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Texans (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), and New Orleans Saints (2019-2020). Johnson has not yet played in a regular-season NFL game.

INJURY REPORT – LEVINE TOILOLO PLACED ON IR…
WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (unknown), RB Gary Brightwell (unknown), LB Lorenzo Carter (calf), LB Azeez Ojulari (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), LB Trent Harris (unknown), and WR Austin Mack (hamstring) did not practice on Saturday.

DL Dexter Lawrence (unknown) was limited.

As expected, the Giants have placed TE Levine Toilolo (torn Achilles’ tendon) on Injured Reserve, ending his season.

The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:

  • Reserve/COVID-19 List: TE Rysen John
  • Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle)
  • Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Ryan Anderson (back)
  • Reserve/Injured: TE Levine Toilolo (torn Achilles’ tendon), WR Derrick Dillon (unknown) and RB Mike Weber (hip flexor)

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • RG Will Hernandez was flagged for a false start on the first play of practice and was replaced by Nate Solder for a play.
  • Jonotthan Harrison received some first-team snaps at center with Nick Gates playing guard.
  • In 11-on-11, full-team goal-line drills, RB Devontae Booker ran for a touchdown (Booker scored on another TD run later in practice). QB Daniel Jones then found WR C.J. Board for a touchdown with CB Rodarius Williams and S Logan Ryan in coverage. Board continues to impress.
  • WR Alex Bachman caught touchdown passes from QB Mike Glennon.
  • PK Ryan Santoso hit two field goals from 50+ range, but missed a 50+ range field goal late in practice.
  • Second-team offensive line struggled in pass protection, with DL David Moa and LB Cam Brown constantly pressuring QB Mike Glennon.
  • QB Daniel Jones threw a perfect pass to WR John Ross over the middle of the defense, beating CB James Bradberry. Ross turned on the jets and scored a long touchdown.
  • LB Ifeadi Odenigbo got to QB Daniel Jones on one pass rush.
  • CB Darnay Holmes made a diving interception of a pass from QB Mike Glennon. Holmes later broke up a short throw to WR Alex Bachman.
  • TE Kaden Smith and OG Kenny Wiggins were flagged with false starts. They were replaced by TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart and OL Jake Burton.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a perfect fade pass to WR David Sills for a touchdown.
  • DL Leonard Williams was very disruptive throughout practice, in the backfield on both running and passing plays.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1424076625671454722

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Saturday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Sunday and return to practice on Monday.

Mar 292021
 
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Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 28, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

Teams were officially able to begin negotiating with free agents from other teams on March 15. So although it seems as if free agency has been going on for quite some time, we’re only still at the 2-week mark since it began. More signings will continue through the spring and summer, especially as players are cut. That said, the initial free agency rush is over and we can start to make some snap opinions on what the New York Giants have and have not accomplished.

The “need” level I reference was addressed in my March 12th Free Agency Preview for the team.

QUARTERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Medium): For at least one more season, Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starter. The expectation was that the team would re-sign Colt McCoy. However, the Giants surprisingly went in another direction by signing the well-traveled Mike Glennon as Jones’ back-up. Glennon is much bigger (half a foot taller) than McCoy with a much stronger arm. Both complete around 61 percent of their passes and both have started roughly the same number of NFL games. There were media whispers too that McCoy wanted more money than the Giants were willing to pay. On the surface, this appears to be a wash, although the coaches said McCoy was a very good influence on Jones in the meeting rooms. (Mike Glennon YouTube Highlights)

RUNNING BACKS (Previous Need Level – High to Desperate): Some chided my prediction that all three running backs behind Saquon Barkley may not return in 2021, but that appears in fact to be the case. As of this moment, Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis remain unsigned. So much of the team’s upcoming success will depend on how well Barkley returns from a major knee injury and whether he can stay healthy for a full season. It’s quite telling that the very first player the Giants signed in free agency was the relatively-unknown Devontae Booker to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Fan reaction was immediately negative. But it appears the coaching staff simply wanted a veteran back who was a more reliable blocker and receiver than Gallman. Depth behind Barkley still remains shaky as the only other halfbacks on the roster are NFL cast-offs Taquan Mizzell and Jordan Chunn. The Giants also added another fullback/special teams player in Cullen Gillaspia to compete with Eli Penny. (Devontae Booker YouTube Highlights)

WIDE RECEIVERS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): The Giants have significantly upgraded this position with the addition of one player to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million contract. Kenny Golladay is not only a true #1 receiver, but he fills a desperate need that this team had for a physical receiver with size. His presence also allows Darius Slayton to become the #2 and Sterling Shepard the slot receiver, roles that both are far better suited for. From Golladay’s style of play to the team’s extended wooing period to satisfy personality issues, this signing is highly reminiscent of the Giants’ signing of Plaxico Burress in 2005. And Golladay is quite capable of having a Plaxico-type impact on this team. In addition, before the Giants signed Golladay, they signed the 9th overall player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, John Ross. While Ross did not live up to expectations in Cincinnati, he brings true deep speed to a team that desperately needs it. It would not be shocking to see Ross get cut, but it also would not be shocking for him to press for a starting job opposite of Golladay. In addition to wanting to prove doubters wrong, Ross will rejoin his old college receiving teammate, Dante Pettis, on what had been an explosive University of Washington receiving corps. Overall, the make-up of this unit is far different now than it was just two weeks ago. (John Ross YouTube Highlights)

TIGHT ENDS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Right or wrong, the front office and coaching staff appear willing to continue to hope Evan Engram develops into the player hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. But the team decided to team him with a mentor. Kyle Rudolph has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the past 10 years. While not an explosive player, he can catch and block. Just as importantly, he is reliable, something Engram is not. The downside is that Rudolph turns 32 in November and is coming off a foot injury (The Athletic is reporting it is a Lisfranc injury) that required surgery AFTER the Giants signed him. Much depends on how well he recovers. On paper, if he is healthy, this looks like a major addition both in terms of helping out Daniel Jones and the offensive line. (Kyle Rudolph YouTube Highlights)

OFFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Medium): This is one area where it is debatable if the team has improved in free agency. The Giants were able to force Nate Solder to take a big pay cut to remain with the team. He will now compete against Matt Peart for the starting tackle spot opposite of Andrew Thomas. The Giants somewhat surprisingly simply cut Kevin Zeitler without approaching him about a pay cut. To fill that void, they signed right guard Zach Fulton, who had an inconsistent stay with the Houston Texans. Fulton will compete with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux for a starting spot. Fulton does not feel like an upgrade over Zeitler. Where the team probably did get better is at back-up center with the signing of Jonotthan Harrison back in January. He is a better player than Spencer Pulley. Look for the team to continue to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Low to High Depending on Tomlinson): Undoubtedly, the biggest loss the team suffered in free agency was losing nose tackle Davlin Tomlinson to the Minnesota Vikings for what appeared to be a reasonable 2-year, $22 million contract. The Giants re-signed back-up nose tackle Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million deal in anticipation of the loss. Johnson will now have to start at nose tackle or the team will be forced to move Dexter Lawrence from end, or sign a veteran or draft a player. Moving Lawrence seems like an obvious option, but that would have a domino effect in that B.J. Hill would probably then become the new starter at end opposite of Leonard Williams. Thus, what had been a somewhat shaky depth situation becomes even more dubious. The team was extremely fortunate in 2020 that no one got hurt up front. The only back-ups on the roster right now are R.J. McIntosh, David Moa, and Breeland Speaks, the latter signed by the Giants in January. Speaking of Williams, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a 3-year, $63 million deal. There will be tremendous pressure on him to live up to that contract.

(Late Note: The Giants signed 6’2”, 335-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton today. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shelton was cut by the Detroit Lions and will help fill the void created by the departure of Tomlinson).

LINEBACKERS (Previous Need Level – High): On paper, the Giants lost one free agent (Kyler Fackrell) and signed three (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson). All three newcomers were relatively inexpensive, 1-year deals. Ragland will likely compete with Tae Crowder for the inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. He has started 38 regular-season games in the NFL and is a former 2nd-round pick so he has a good shot to win that job. Anderson is another former 2nd-round pick who was stuck behind a plethora of outstanding outside linebackers in Washington. He is known more as an overachiever who saw most of his playing time on special teams, but he could surprise as his competition will be Lorenzo Carter (coming off of a torn Achilles), Oshane Ximines (coming off of shoulder surgery), and last year’s rookies (Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos). What about Odenigbo? Good question. He was the first defensive player the Giants signed in free agency. He played exclusively on the defensive line in Minnesota, primarily at end, but also shifting inside in pass-rush packages. However, his lack of size (6’3”, 258 pounds) strongly suggests he will be used like “linebacker” Jabaal Sheard was used by the Giants last year, that is, an edge rusher in 4-man pass rush packages. The Giants could also push him inside like the Vikings did in obvious passing situations in 4-man fronts. It is doubtful that he should be considered a true outside linebacker because he simply does not have experience dropping into coverage. Because of that, one could actually argue he should be included in the defensive line review. Also, the Giants did re-sign inside linebacker Devonta Downs, who started at inside linebacker for the Giants in 2020 until Tae Crowder beat him out. He will have to fight just to make the team however.

CORNERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Like the wide receiving position, the make-up of this position completely changed with the addition of one free agent, adding Adoree’ Jackson to a 3-year, $39 million contract after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. Opinions on his play vary, but Jackson is clearly a major upgrade over everyone else on the team’s roster with the exception of Pro Bowler James Bradberry. The former 1st rounder is a physical and aggressive press corner who plays with a lot of confidence. Depth is still a concern, but on paper, the Giants now look like they have one of the better secondaries in the NFL as long as Darnay Holmes continues to develop at slot corner.

SAFETIES (Previous Need Level – Low): While Adrian Colbert and Nate Ebner remain unsigned, the Giants still look to be in decent shape at this position with Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love – the latter two who can also play corner. Depth will be added later in free agency or the draft.

KICKERS/LONG SNAPPER (Previous Need Level – Low to Average Depending on Kreiter): When the Giants re-signed long snapper Casey Kreiter, this position was largely settled other than camp bodies. The only real question is are the Giants looking to upgrade at punter at some point.

SUMMARY: In my March 12th article, I argued this roster was a train wreck. Two weeks later, with the addition of 11 free agents and counting, it feels vastly different. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality. Keeping Leonard Williams was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson were two of the best, if not the very best, players available at desperate need positions.  If healthy, Kyle Rudolph could be a major addition as a security blanket for both Daniel Jones and the offensive line. Golladay and Jackson will start. Rudolph will be a quasi-starter. John Ross (1st rounder), Reggie Ragland (2nd rounder), Ryan Anderson (2nd rounder), and Zach Fulton might start. Devontae Booker is now the primary back-up behind Saquon Barkely, Ifeadi Odenigbo will add to the pass rush.

The risk? The money. While most of the deals were relatively cheap, the team did dole out $174 million on three players – Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, and Adoree’ Jackson. If they are wrong about any of these three, the team will be paying for it for years. We’ve seen that before and it’s one of the major reasons why the Giants have been mired in the basement of the NFL for a decade. One could also argue that the team should have allocated its resources a bit differently in order to keep Dalvin Tomlinson, extending his contract even last year.

Mar 152021
 
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Austin Johnson, New York Giants (October 4, 2020)

Austin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORT – GIANTS RE-SIGN AUSTIN JOHNSON…
The Athletic is reporting that the New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million contract that is fully guaranteed and includes an additional $500,000 in incentives.

The Giants signed Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Titans in March 2020. He played in all 16 games, with no starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps), and was credited with 18 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, one quarterback hit, one pass defense, and one forced fumble.

The 6’4”, 314-pound Johnson was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Titans. In four seasons in Tennessee, Johnson played in 58 regular-season games with 13 starts, compiling 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five pass defenses.

REPORT – GIANTS SIGN DEVONTAE BOOKER…
ESPN is reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent running back Devontae Booker (Las Vegas Raiders) to a 2-year contract that could be worth as much as $6 million. The 28-year old, 5’11”, 219-pound Booker was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He signed with the Raiders in May 2020. In five seasons, Booker has played in 77 regular-season games with seven starts, rushing the ball 382 times for 1,526 yards (4 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. He also caught 122 passes for 956 yards and one touchdown.

KEVIN ZEITLER SIGNS WITH THE BALTIMORE RAVENS…
Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, who the Giants cut last week in a salary cap move, has signed a 3-year, $22 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, including $16 million in guaranteed money. Until his contract was terminated, Zeitler was scheduled to earn $12 million in base salary and count $14.5 million against the 2021 salary cap with the Giants. The move saved the Giants $12 million in cap space, although it cost $2.5 million in dead money.