Sep 142021
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 12, 2021)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants held a walk-thru practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The following injury report is an estimation provided by the team.

TE Evan Engram (calf), OG Shane Lemieux (knee), and LB Cam Brown (hamstring) did not practice.

RB Saquon Barkley (knee) was limited in practice.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Tuesday 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 Wednesday as the team travels to Maryland.

Sep 082021
 
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Nick Gates, New York Giants (August 29, 2021)

Nick Gates – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 8, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
The New York Giants practiced on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Today was the first time the Giants were mandated by the NFL to issue an official injury report.

TE Evan Engram (calf) is the only player who did not practice.

RB Saquon Barkley (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), TE Kaden Smith (knee), LT Andrew Thomas (ankle), NT Danny Shelton (neck), LB Justin Hilliard (foot), CB Adoree’ Jackson (ankle), and CB Josh Jackson (calf) were limited in practice.

GIANTS RE-SIGN NATE EBNER, OTHER ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have re-signed special teams player/safety Nate Ebner. To make room for Ebner, the team terminated the contract of wide receiver C.J. Board.

The Giants then re-signed Board to the Practice Squad, as well as signing offensive tackle Korey Cunningham to the Practice Squad. To make room for Board and Cunningham, the team terminated the Practice Squad contracts of guard Kenny Wiggins and safety Jordyn Peters.

The 6’0”, 215-pound Ebner was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In eight seasons in New England, Ebner played in 111 regular-season games with no starts. The Giants signed Ebner as an unrestricted free agent from the Patriots in March 2020. Almost exclusively a special teams player, Ebner only saw limited snaps on defense in five games, finishing with eight tackles and one pass defense.

The 26-year old, 6’6”, 311-pound Cunningham was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the New England Patriots in August 2019. The Patriots cut Cunningham in late August 2021. In three NFL seasons, Cunningham has played in 18 regular-season games, with six starts, all with the Cardinals in 2018. He has experience at both tackle positions.

The Giants also waived wide receiver Austin Mack from Injured Reserve with an injury settlement.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday 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 Giants practice again on Thursday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). The coordinators and select players will also address the media.

Aug 192021
 
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Gary Brightwell, New York Giants (August 19, 2021)

Gary Brightwell – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 19, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Thursday was the first of two days of joint training camp practices between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in Berea, Ohio. The Giants play the Browns on Sunday in the team’s second preseason game.

We’re just getting here, getting started,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “Looking forward to a couple good days of work against the Browns. Our emphasis will remain on our installs, our systems, our fundamentals. Obviously, we have a new opponent, so it’s an opportunity to see different levels of talent, new players, different schemes. A good opportunity for our team to go ahead and change it up a little bit come out here and compete.

You’re going to see a mix of a lot of things. We’re going to work some team blitz periods, a different mix of team run and play-action periods, some team two-minute periods, work a seven-on-seven. You’ll see a mix of the offensive line and defensive lines in one-on-one scenarios, see some receivers and DB’s in one-on-one type of drill periods. You’ll see the tight ends, safeties, running backs going one-on-one in pass drills. You’ll see punt and punt return emphasis today in the kicking game. Tomorrow will be kick and kick return emphasis in the kicking game, but these are all things that you can really go ahead and work with the other team and make sure you’re on the same page. You talk about the tempo of the drill, the reps of the drill. It’s something that goes all the way up to as late as last night, making sure that we’re both on the same page in terms of the health of the team, who we have available in practice, to make sure we manage the reps for everybody involved, and that we get the most out of practice, but that we’re smart with our players.”

INJURY REPORT…
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

RB Saquon Barkley (knee), WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (unknown), WR John Ross (hamstring?), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), and S Montre Hartage (unknown) did not practice on Thursday. 

“(Golladay and Toney) are going to focus more on the rehab with the trainers,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We’re going to keep ramping up those guys as the week goes. They’re both on different levels in terms of their individual bodies, but while we’re here we’ll use the facilities that the Browns are allowing us to use. Our trainers will be here with them, Saquon as well will be in that boat. He won’t do anything competitive against the Browns, so we’re just going to focus on these guys getting in better shape, focus on getting healthy and getting back on the field and 100 percent.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • In 1-on-1 drills, TE Evan Engram badly beat LB Jacob Phillips. TE David Njoku beat S Jabrill Peppers and then S Xavier McKinney despite tight coverage.
  • QB Daniel Jones hit TE Evan Engram for a 15-20 yard gain during 11-on-11s.
  • Shane Lemieux returned to the starting line-up at left guard during team drills. He alternated series with Kenny Wiggins at the position.
  • WR Jarvis Landry beat S Logan Ryan and CB James Bradberry on a deep out.
  • QB Daniel Jones was under pressure twice from his left side. LT Andrew Thomas gave up a pressure and there was an overload to that side on another play, almost resulting in an interception.
  • TE Cole Hikutini was receiving reps with the second-team offense, but hobbled off of the field with an injury.
  • CB Rodarius Williams broke up a pass.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a long pass to FB Eli Penny on a wheel route.
  • QB Mike Glennon’s pass intended for WR David Sills was badly overthrown and intercepted.
  • QB Daniel Jones threw three straight completions to WR Darius Slayton.
  • S Jabrill Peppers would have had one sack and two other QB hits if contact was allowed.
  • In 1-on-1 drills, OC Nick Gates, RT Matt Peart, and LT Andrew Thomas performed well.
  • CB Darnay Holmes had trouble covering WR Jarvis Landry out of the slot.
  • Outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Azeez Ojulari all flashed on the pass rush. In a real game situation, Carter may have ended up with multiple sacks.
  • On a play that would have resulted in a sack by OLB Trent Harris in normal conditions (Harris pulled up), WR Rashard Higgins caught a touchdown on a desperate pass from QB Baker Mayfield in the 2-minute drill.
  • CB Greg Newsome undercut WR Darius Slayton on a pass from QB Daniel Jones to end practice during the 2-minute drill on 3rd down. Jones was “sacked” on first down.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Thursday 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 Giants and Browns will practice together again on Friday in Berea, Ohio.

Aug 112021
 
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Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, and Adoree' Jackson, New York Giants (July 29, 2021)

Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, and Adoree’ Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 11, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their 13th full-team summer training camp practice on Wednesday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This was the only practice of the summer open to the public.

GIANTS MAKE FIVE ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed defensive linemen Willie Henry and Elijah Qualls. They have also waived defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh and linebacker Cale Garrett. The team also waived wide receiver Derrick Dillon off of Injured Reserve with an injury settlement.

The 27-year old, 6’3”, 300-pound Henry was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He has spent time with the Ravens (2016-2019), San Francisco 49ers (2020), Houston Texans (2020-2021), and Philadelphia Eagles (2021). The Eagles cut him in late July 2021. Henry has played in 18 regular-season games (14 in 2017), with three starts (all in 2017).

The 26-year old, 6’1”, 321-pound Qualls was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has spent time with the Eagles (2017-2018), Carolina Panthers (2018-2019), Baltimore Ravens (2019), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019). Qualls has only played in six regular-season games, all with the Eagles in 2017.

The Giants selected McIntosh in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After missing most of his rookie season with unpublicized medical condition, McIntosh played in 12 games as a reserve in 2019, playing 10 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 13 tackles and two sacks. In his third year with the Giants in 2020, McIntosh spent the entire season on the inactive list.

The Giants signed Garrett to a future/reserve contract in January 2021. The 6’3”, 230-pound Garrett was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans after the 2020 NFL Draft. Garrett also spent time on the Practice Squad of the Minnesota Vikings.

The 5’11”, 185-pound Dillon was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent much of the season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was cut in early December. The Giants signed Dillon to a future/reserve contract in January 2021.

INJURY REPORT…
TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (“workload maintenance”), WR John Ross (hamstring?), WR Austin Mack (hamstring), RB Saquon Barkley (“workload maintenance”), RB Gary Brightwell (unknown), OC Jonotthan Harrison (unknown), LB Lorenzo Carter (calf), LB Ifeadi Odenigbo (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), CB Sam Beal (unknown), CB Jarren Williams (unknown), and S Chris Milton (unknown) did not practice on Wednesday.

S Jabrill Peppers (dehydration) left practice early, but Head Coach Joe Judge said he was fine. OC Brett Heggie (unknown) also left early and did not return.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • RB Devontae Booker fumbled on his first carry of team drills. He was booed and replaced by RB Corey Clement.
  • RB Alfred Morris was stuffed at the line twice behind the back-up offensive line.
  • When Kenny Wiggins came out briefly with an injury, he was replaced by Kyle Murphy at left guard.
  • TE Evan Engram dropped a pass over the middle in 7-on-7 drills and was booed.
  • QB Daniel Jones was 5-of-5 when directing passes at WR Sterling Shepard.
  • QB Daniel Jones hit TE Cole Hikutini for a touchdown in the red zone.
  • PK Ryan Santoso nailed two 50+ yard field goals, but missed one from about 58 yards.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday 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 New York Giants practice Thursday afternoon (1:00-2:15 PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Jul 282021
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (June 10, 2021)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 28, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their first full-team summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.

“There’s a ramp-up period, so we really won’t be in pads until next Tuesday,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before the first practice. “So it’ll be helmets and shorts for the next couple of days, we’ll go into shells Friday and Saturday, shells the following Monday and then we’ll be in pads. We’ll be in pads as much as we can be, even when it’s not a live contact day. Just get used to wearing the equipment, moving around, getting our players used to being out there.”

GIANTS CUT KELVIN BENJAMIN…
The Giants have cut Kelvin Benjamin, who the team was converting from wide receiver to tight end. The Giants signed Benjamin as a tryout player during the team’s rookie mini-camp in May 2021. The 6’5”, 245-pound Benjamin was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. As a wide receiver, Benjamin has spent time with the Panthers (2014-2017), Buffalo Bills (2017-2018), and Kansas City Chiefs (2018).

INJURY REPORT…
The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:

  • Reserve/COVID-19 List: LB Blake Martinez, S Joshua Kalu, and TE Rysen John
  • Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), RT Matt Peart (back), OC Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle)
  • Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Reggie Ragland (hamstring) and LB Ryan Anderson (back)
  • Injured Reserve: RB Taquan Mizzell (hamstring)

RB Sandro Platzgummer, who was on the NFL List with a hamstring injury, passed his physical and practiced.

TE Rysen John was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List today.

WR Kadarius Toney, who came off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List yesterday, worked with trainers on the sideline, but did not practice. “He’s going to ramp up with our trainers,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We’ll see where he is physically before we kind of bring him back completely.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Devontae Booker and Corey Clement received the bulk of the work at running back.
  • QB Daniel Jones had some trouble connecting with his targets in red zone drills. He did connect with WR Darius Slayton on two red zone touchdowns as well as one each to WR Sterling Shepard and WR David Sills.
  • WRs Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay made some nice catches.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a touchdown pass to WR C.J. Board.
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson, DB Julian Love, and S Logan Ryan were active defending passes. CB Madre Harper picked off a pass. S Xavier McKinney also broke up an end zone pass intended for WR Kenny Golladay.
  • WR John Ross impressed on special teams with his speed (both returning and in coverage).
  • QB Daniel Jones and WR Kenny Golladay stayed after practice to work on end zone fade routes under the guidance of Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday 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 New York Giants practice Thursday morning (9:30-11:30AM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media.

Jun 092021
 
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Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (May 27, 2021)

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 9, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day mandatory mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. No live contact is permitted during the mini-camp, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing were RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Cam Brown (unknown), LB Ryan Anderson (unknown), and RB Taquan Mizzell (unknown).

WR John Ross (unknown) and CB Aaron Robinson (unknown) were limited, being kept out of team drills.

TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart left midway through practice with a trainer.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Multiple media sources said that WR Kadarius Toney had a strong practice, even beating CB James Bradberry in one drill. He demonstrated good quickness in and out of his breaks and made a number of sideline catches. Toney was also active returning punts.
  • WR David Sills saw some work with the first team.
  • Starting at inside linebacker alongside Blake Martinez was Tae Crowder.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1402407595474706433

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:

Feb 052021
 
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Riley Dixon and Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Riley Dixon and Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

It is exceptionally rare for a special teams coach to become an NFL head coach. So when John Mara hired Joe Judge as the next head coach of the New York Giants, it shocked many in the media and fanbase. However, Judge quickly won over many with his fiery inaugural press conference and the composition of his coaching staff. That initial luster began to dim after an 0-5 start, culminating with a Dallas Cowboys come-from-behind victory.

Judge and the Giants began turning it around in mid-October. Their first victory came against Washington, and was followed by two very close, heart-breaking losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers in games where the Giants also held 4th-quarter leads. Then came the high-point of the season, a 4-game winning streak against Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Seattle. The Giants were 5-7 and remarkably still very much alive for the division title. Judge began receiving praise from all quarters.

The emotional high of soundly defeating the Seahawks was immediately dampened by a 3-game losing streak against clearly better teams. At 5-10, the Giants needed to beat the Cowboys and pray that the Eagles would upset Washington. The Giants accomplished the former, but the Eagles laid down like dogs against Washington and the 6-10 Giants missed the playoffs.

Through all of this, the irony is that the New York Giants special teams did not improve under Judge. To be fair, the special teams unit under Thomas McGaughey had actually been the strength of the team in recent years. Judge smartly decided to retain McGaughey. The team was also left scrambling when 2018 Pro Bowl/All-Pro place kicker Aldrick Rosas was cut in July after a hit-and-run arrest. The Giants decided to sign 32-year old Graham Gano who had missed 2019 with a knee injury. Unexpectedly, Gano ended up having one of the greatest seasons in franchise history as a kicker.

Overall, the Giants special teams played decently during the first half of the season, and there was a feeling that Judge, McGaughey, and the special teams unit were improving and building to a stronger second half. The reverse occurred. Against the Bengals, the Giants allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 29-yard punt return that almost cost them the game, and a fake punt conversion for a 1st down. Seattle blocked a Riley Dixon punt for a safety and Gano missed his first extra point of the season. Against Arizona, Dion Lewis fumbled away a kickoff return that set up a touchdown. Judge decided to run an odd fake field goal attempt against the Browns that failed miserably when the score was still 0-0. The Ravens hurt the Giants with both punt and kickoff returns.

Statistically, the Giants finished:

  • Field Goal Percentage: 3rd (up from 30th in 2019)
  • Kickoff Returns: 16th (down from 10th in 2019)
  • Punt Returns: 6th (down from 3rd in 2019)
  • Kickoff Coverage: 16th (down from 1st in 2019)
  • Punting: 26th (down from 23rd in 2019)
  • Punt Coverage: 21st (down from 6th in 2019)

As you can see, other than field goal percentage, the Giants were down in every other special teams category. The team was significantly worse in kickoff and punt coverage. The Giants never really replaced Cody Core, their extraordinary punt/kick coverage specialist who tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

The star of the entire unit was clearly Gano. He only missed one field goal all season and was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards.

KICKERS

The Giants signed Graham Gano in August 2020. Gano had a superlative season for the Giants in 2020, converting on 31-of-32 field goal attempts (96.9 percent – second highest in team history) and 21-of-23 extra point attempts (91.3 percent). He was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards out (single-season franchise record), with a long of 55 yards. Gano converted on 30 consecutive field goals, which also was a franchise record. Thirty of his 73 kickoffs (41 percent) resulted in touchbacks. Gano spent most of his NFL career with the Washington Redskins (2009-2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-2019). However, he missed the last four games of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season with a knee injury. The Panthers released him in late July 2020. Gano made the Pro Bowl in 2017.

Punter Riley Dixon saw his gross (44.8 yards per punt) and net (38.8 net yards per punt) fall in 2020, with 28 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line and one blocked. The 6’5”, 226-pound Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick.

Ryan Santoso spent 2020 on the Giants’ Practice Squad after the team signed him in early September. Santoso was originally signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Montreal Alouettes (2019, 2020), and Tennessee Titans (2019). Santoso has only played in three NFL games, solely as a kickoff specialist.

LONG SNAPPERS

The Giants signed long snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

The Giants signed long snapper Carson Tinker in early September 2020. He spent the year on the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’0”, 237-pound Tinker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 69 regular-season games for the Jaguars from 2013-2018. The Jaguars cut him in March 2019 and he did not play that year.

RETURNERS

The Giants did not return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The leading punt returner was Jabrill Peppers, who only returned 15 punts all season, but who averaged a very respectable 12.5 yards per return and came close to breaking a couple. His long return was 20 yards. On the flip side, some of his decision-making on when and when not to field a punt was questionable.

Dion Lewis did not impress on his 24 kickoff returns, fumbling three (two of which he lost). He averaged 22.4 yards per return with a long return of 48 yards. Corey Ballentine also returned nine kickoffs before he was cut.

LEADING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS SNAP COUNT PERCENTAGE

  • S Nate Ebner: 74.27%
  • LB Cam Brown: 70.87%
  • FB Eli Penny: 59.47%
  • LB Devante Downs: 57.77%
  • LB David Mayo: 46.36%
  • S/CB Julian Love: 42.96%
  • CB Corey Ballentine: 34.47%
  • TE Levine Toilolo: 34.22%
  • DL Dexter Lawrence: 33.74%
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 33.50%

Nate Ebner had a quiet year despite playing 3/4ths off all special team snaps. The Giants signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020 to a 1-year, $2 million contract strictly to be a special teams stud. The leading special teams tacklers were David Mayo (8), Eli Penny (7), Cam Brown (6), and Devante Downs (6).

Feb 032021
 
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James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants pass defense improved from 28th in 2019 to 17th in 2020. This 11 spot jump is quite the accomplishment given the year-long swirling personnel changes at linebacker and defensive back. The Giants were tied for 4th for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed with 22 and tied for 12th in yards per passing attempt with 6.2. New York was also 2nd in red zone scoring defense. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham and his defensive assistants deserve a lot of credit for getting both units to play at a respectable level despite significant personnel issues.

Tied in with the pass defense is the pass rush. Remarkably, despite no viable outside edge rushers, the Giants somehow finished tied for 12th in sacks with 40. Much of that had to be schemed, including blitzes from defensive backs. On the down side, the Giants only picked off 11 passes on the year, with only one player (CB James Bradberry) intercepting more than one pass.

Only three of the team’s five primary defensive back positions were set throughout the year. Free agent acquisition James Bradberry was arguably the team’s best player, locking down one corner spot. He did miss one game due to COVID-19. Rookie Darnay Holmes won the nickel slot position, but missed four games due to injury. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers missed one game due to injury, but was also a fixture in the defensive backfield, often being utilized as a hybrid linebacker.

The other two spots were revolving doors. At corner opposite of Bradberry, Corey Ballentine (Weeks 1-2), Isaac Yiadom (Weeks 3-4), Ryan Lewis (5-7), Yiadom again (Weeks 8-16), and Julian Love (Week 17) all started. At free safety, Love started the first two weeks, followed by Logan Ryan for the bulk of the season, until rookie Xavier McKinney started in the final weeks.

Graham and Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson were hampered by a number of early personnel hits. 2019 1st-round cornerback Deandre Baker was cut after his legal troubles in Florida surfaced. That was a major blow to the team as Baker was being penciled in to start opposite of Bradberry. 2018 3rd-round pick Sam Beal then surprisingly decided to sit out the season due to COVID-19. Rookie 2nd-round pick Xavier McKinney broke his foot before the season started and wasn’t available until almost December.

The primary play-makers were Bradberry, Peppers, and Ryan. Despite many teams not throwing in his direction, Bradberry led the team with interceptions (3) and pass defenses (18). He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. Peppers was third on the team in tackles (91) and second in pass defenses (11). He picked off one pass, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, and led defensive backs with 2.5 sacks. Ryan was second on the team in tackles (94) and third in pass defenses (9). He picked off one pass, forced three fumbles, and recovered two. He also had one sack.

Bradberry was the stud of the group. Peppers improved as the year progressed with the coaching staff seemingly having a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses. He remained an inconsistent player however. Ryan quickly became a team leader and his tremendous versatility was desperately needed at safety and corner. That said, he missed plays against the run and pass at times.

It was an up and down year for the rookie Holmes. He did help to settle the secondary and his absence was noticed during the four games he missed due to injury. But his five penalties in coverage always seemed to come at the most inopportune times and he didn’t make many plays on the football (contrary to his collegiate reputation). The other corner spot was a a bit of a mess. Ballentine simply couldn’t handle the job and was eventually cut. Yiadom and Lewis were up-and-down, with Lewis missing most of the season due to injury. Love was a bit of an enigma. His playing time varied wildly on a game-to-game basis. He started the season at safety and finished at corner.

THE CORE GROUP

The Giants signed James Bradberry as an unrestricted free agent from the Carolina Panthers in March 2020. He had a major impact on the defense, arguably being the unit’s best player, and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Bradberry started 15 games, missing one game due to COVID-19, and finished the year with 54 tackles, 18 pass defenses, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He played in 94 percent of all defensive snaps. The 6’1”, 212-pound Bradberry was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Panthers. Bradberry is a big corner (6’1”, 212 pounds) with good speed and agility. He plays a physical game both against the run and pressing opposing corners off of the line. Outstanding in coverage, Bradberry can erase even top receivers.

The play of Jabrill Peppers improved markedly as the 2020 season progressed as he seemed to become more comfortable with the team’s new defensive schemes and the coaches learned better how to use him. At times, he was a real difference maker on the field. However, there was still some annoying inconsistency in his play, particularly in coverage. Peppers played in 15 games with 14 starts (84 percent of all defensive snaps), missing one game with an ankle injury. He finished the season with 91 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, 11 pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Peppers also served as the team’s primary punt returner, returning 15 punts for 187 yards (12.5 yards per punt). Peppers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham deal in March 2019. He started 11 games for the Giants in 2019 before being placed on Injured Reserve with a transverse process fracture in his back. Peppers combines good size (5’11”, 215 pounds) and overall athleticism. Still a better athlete than football player, Peppers flashes signs of being an impact safety, but he must become a more consistent player, especially against the pass. He does his best work when moving forward and attacking the line of scrimmage.

The Giants signed Logan Ryan in late August 2020. He ended up being a very important, jack-of-all-trades defensive back who was used at both safety and corner. Ryan also quickly became a team leader and solid presence in the locker room. In all, Ryan played in all 16 games with 15 starts (96 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 94 tackles, one sack, nine pass defenses, one interception, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. The 5’11”, 195-pound Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019), playing 109 regular-season games with 85 starts. Ryan has spent most of his career at corner, but now prefers to play safety. While Ryan has history of being an instinctive, play-maker, he also still misses too many tackles and can be exposed in coverage at times.

The Giants drafted Darnay Holmes in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Serving as the team’s primary slot corner, he played in 12 games, with five starts, missing four games due to injuries (neck and knee). Holmes finished the season with 30 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, one interception, and one fumble recovery. He played in 41 percent of all defensive snaps. Holmes lacks ideal height, but he is well-built with good speed and quickness. He is overly aggressive at times, as indicated by his five penalties in coverage. While Holmes had a solid rookie season in coverage, he needs to make more plays on the ball. Holmes can also return punts and kickoffs, but did not do so in 2020.

THE UNFORTUNATE INJURY

The Giants placed Xavier McKinney on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that required surgery. The team activated him off of IR in late November 2020. McKinney ended up playing in six games with four starts (19 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 25 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception, and one pass defense. The Giants drafted McKinney in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The 6’0”, 201-pound McKinney is versatile performer, who is capable of playing multiple positions. He is a good athlete with fine instincts for the position, but he needs to become a more consistent tackler. Most of his rookie season was a wash due to his broken foot.

IN-AND-OUT OF THE STARTING LINE-UP

The Giants traded a 7th-round pick to the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yiadom in early September 2020. Yiadom eventually won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry, playing in all 16 games with 10 starts (58 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 46 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, and one forced fumble. The 6’1”, 190-pound Yiadom was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Broncos. In two years with Denver, Yiadom played in 29-regular season games with nine starts. Yiadom has good size and plays a physical game. However, after some decent performances, his play really deteriorated down the stretch, and he was benched for Julian Love in the regular-season finale. Yiadom also did not make many plays on the football.

Julian Love spent most of 2020 playing safety but was shifted to cornerback late in the year, starting two of the final three games at the position (one in the slot). He also saw his playing time dramatically fluctuate on a per-game basis. In all, Love played in all 16 games with six starts (66 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 64 tackles, three pass defenses, and one interception. A collegiate corner, the Giants drafted Love in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft and moved him to safety. He played in 15 games with five starts as a rookie. A bit of a cornerback/safety tweener, Love lacks ideal physicality for safety and ideal speed/quickness for cornerback. But he is a versatile performer who played well at the corner spot late in 2020. Love needs to improve his tackling and make more plays on the football.

The Giants placed Ryan Lewis on Injured Reserve in early November 2020 with a hamstring injury. Before that, he had played in five games for the Giants, starting three (25 percent of defensive snaps). Lewis finished the year with 13 tackles and one pass defense. Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). The Giants signed Lewis to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and to the 53-man roster two weeks later. Lewis has played in 25 NFL regular-season games with nine starts. Lewis had a mixed performance in his three consecutive starts in October, playing well at times and struggling in one game.

The Giants placed Adrian Colbert on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in early November 2020 and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He ended up playing in six games with two starts (10 percent of all defensive snaps) and finished the year with 13 tackles. The 6’2”, 205-pound Colbert was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Colbert has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Kansas City Chiefs (2020). The Giants claimed Colbert off of waivers from the Chiefs in early September 2020. He has played in 33 regular-season games with 19 starts, accruing 74 tackles and eight pass defenses. Colbert has also played cornerback and is a good gunner on special teams. He had mixed reviews in his two starts in 2020.

The Giants drafted Corey Ballentine in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Ballentine played in 13 games with two starts, receiving 27 percent of all defensive snaps. He finished with 26 tackles and two pass defenses, often struggling in coverage. Ballentine won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry to start the 2020 season, but was benched after just two games. He played in seven more games, returning 10 kickoffs, before the Giants waived him in November. He spent the rest of the season with the New York Jets.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed Nate Ebner as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020. Almost exclusively a special teams player, Ebner only saw limited snaps on defense in five games, finishing with eight tackles and one pass defense. The 6’0”, 215-pound Ebner was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons in New England, Ebner has played in 111 regular-season games with no starts.

The Giants signed Madre Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. He was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. The Giants activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021, but he did not play in the season finale. Harper ended up playing in just three percent of all defensive snaps and was credited with five tackles and one fumble recovery. The 6’1”, 196-pound Harper was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

Montre Hartage alternated between the Giants’ Practice Squad and the 53-man roster a number of times in 2020. He only played in two games (two percent of all defensive snaps) and was not credited with a single tackle or pass defense. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants claimed Hartage off of waivers from the Dolphins in April 2020. Hartage has played in six NFL games.

The Giants signed Jarren Williams in early August 2020 after he was waived by the Arizona Cardinals. He spent most of the year on the Practice Squad, but did play in two games exclusively on special teams. The 5’10”, 187-pound Williams was signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Giants signed Quincy Wilson to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 6’2”, 193-pound Wilson was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He has spent time with Colts (2017-2019) and New York Jets (2020). Wilson has played in 32 regular-season games with 11 starts, accruing 59 tackles, 8 pass defenses, and 2 interceptions.

The Giants placed Brandon Williams on Injured Reserve in late September 2020 with a groin injury and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in early November. The team cut him a month later. In all, Williams played in six games, exclusively on special teams. Williams was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants signed him in late August 2020.

The Giants originally signed Sean Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent all of 2018 and parts of 2019 on the team’s 53-man roster. He began 2020 on the team’s Practice Squad, but was activated for three games, playing almost exclusively on special teams. The Carolina Panthers signed him off of the Giants’ Practice Squad in October.

The Giants selected Chris Williamson in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad until he was cut in December.

COVID-19 OPT-OUT

Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. Beal has had a rough start to his pro career. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. He missed all of his rookie season when he was placed on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Giants placed Beal on Injured Reserve again in September 2019 with hamstring and groin injuries, but added him to the 53-man roster in early November. Beal missed the last game with another shoulder issue. In all, Beal played in six games with three starts, receiving 26 percent of defensive snaps, and accruing 26 tackles and one pass defense. Beal combines good size (6’1”, 177 pounds) and overall athleticism. Stating the obvious, Beal needs to stay healthy. But he flashes the ability to be a solid coverman when he does play.

Jan 042021
 
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Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 2021 OPPONENTS SET…
The New York Giants’ 2021 opponents have been mostly set:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Rams

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Chicago Bears

The NFL will reportedly add a 17th regular-season game. If so, the Giants are expected to play a team from the AFC East. If the match-up is determined by division ranking, it will be the Miami Dolphins.

The league’s 2021 schedule will be announced in the spring.

NEW YORK GIANTS TO PICK 11TH IN 2021 NFL DRAFT…
The New York Giants now hold the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

GIANTS RE-SIGN 15 PLAYERS…
The Giants have re-signed two exclusive rights free agents and 13 players to reserve/future contracts.

The two exclusive rights free agents are OT Jackson Barton and CB Madre Harper. Barton spent the entire year on the 53-man roster, but was only active for one game. Harper played in nine games for the Giants this year.

The 13 reserve/future players are:

  • QB Clayton Thorson
  • QB Alex Tanney
  • RB Taquan Mizzell
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • TE Rysen John
  • OG Chad Slade
  • OG Kenny Wiggins
  • DT David Moa
  • LB Trent Harris
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • CB Quincy Wilson
  • S Montre Hartage
  • LS Carson Tinker

All 13 of these players finished the year on the team’s Practice Squad.

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:

Dec 182020
 
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Darnay Holmes, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Darnay Holmes – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 18, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
CB Darnay Holmes (knee) did not practice on Friday. He has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), TE Evan Engram (calf), TE Kaden Smith (knee), and OG Kevin Zeitler (shoulder) were limited in practice. Jones, Engram, and Smith are officially “questionable” for the game. Zeitler is expected to play.

Running back Devonta Freeman, who has missed five games since being placed on Injured Reserve last month with an ankle injury, returned to practice on Friday. He is now eligible to be added to the active roster at any time.

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…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.