Sep 022017
 
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Mark Herzlich, New York Giants (November 27, 2016)

Mark Herzlich – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS REDUCE ROSTER TO 53; TRADE FOR CORNERBACK…
On Saturday, in order to meet the NFL’s 53-man roster limit, the New York Giants made 29 roster moves.

Players who were placed on Injured Reserve included:

  • LB Mark Herzlich (burner)
  • DT Josh Banks (shoulder – torn labrum requiring surgery)

Players who were cut included:

  • QB Josh Johnson
  • RB Shaun Draughn
  • RB Khalid Abdullah
  • FB Jacob Huesman
  • WR Travis Rudolph
  • WR Jerome Lane
  • WR Canaan Severin
  • WR Marquis Bundy
  • WR Ed Eagan
  • TE Will Tye
  • OT Adam Bisnowaty
  • OT Jarron Jones
  • OG/OC Jon Halapio
  • OG Matt Rotheram
  • DE Devin Taylor
  • DE Jordan Williams
  • DT Bobby Richardson
  • LB Deontae Skinner
  • LB Stansly Maponga
  • LB Curtis Grant
  • CB Donte Deayon
  • CB DaShaun Amos
  • CB Nigel Tribune
  • S Ryan Murphy
  • S Trey Robinson
  • PK Mike Nugent

The Giants also sent a conditional draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for cornerback Ross Cockrell. The 6’0”, 191-pound Cockrell was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Bills cut Cockrell in August 2015 and he then signed with the Steelers. In two seasons with the Steelers, Cockrell played in 31 regular-season games with 23 starts. He started all 16 games in 2016 and finished the year with 62 tackles and 14 pass defenses. He had two interceptions with the Steelers in 2015. Cockrell struggled with the Steelers this preseason.

“Today was a challenging day. This week was a challenging week,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “You have to hand it to the players. They really worked hard in camp. And then Thursday night really made it tough on us. It’s a tough day every time you go through it. The second year is probably harder than it was last year, considering the relationships you build with the men on the team.”

Regarding the competition between quarterbacks Geno Smith and Josh Johnson for the primary back-up job behind Eli Manning, McAdoo said,  “It was a close call. Both men earned an opportunity and can play in this league. We wish Josh the best and thanked him for everything he’s done for us.”

Aldrick Rosas beat out veteran Mike Nugent for the team’s place kicker. “We know Aldrick has a big leg, and we really liked the way he responded throughout training camp and in the preseason games,” McAdoo said. “Mike Nugent was a guy that came in and was a great teammate and was a pro. He pushed Aldrick, which made him better, and it made Aldrick better. I think at the end of the day you go with the players who’s been here (since January) and has the biggest upside.”

Five of the team’s six 2017 draft choices made the 53-man roster. Bisnowaty was waived despite being drafted in the 6th round. In addition, three rookie free agents are on the team: FB Shane Smith, OT Chad Wheeler, and LB Calvin Munson.

“Munson is a guy we were excited about from a special teams perspective,” McAdoo said. “He’s also a guy that can add depth at linebacker. We had a lot of guys nicked at the linebacker position, so he got to play a lot of football for us, which is good for him. We need to get him going on the special teams as well. It’s a credit to Munson, he’s done a nice job jumping in with both feet and really taking advantage of his meeting time and his field time.

“Wheeler probably should have been drafted in the middle rounds somewhere. He slid on the board and we were fortunate enough to get him as a free agent. He’s a talented player who has a little bit of a mean streak in him, which we like. Fundamentally, he’s coming along, and we feel he has a bright future for us.

“Shane Smith – we wanted to take the best 53 and not be concerned about which position they play. It just happens to be he’s a fullback and he really fits in well with the tight end group as far as his skill set. He can do a variety of things for us on special teams and on offense. It adds another piece to your board. You can move him around. He has some flexibility.”

Last year, in his second season, Will Tye was promoted to the starting tight end spot at midseason after the bye week. He played in all 16 regular-season games, with 10 starts, and finished the year with 48 catches for 395 yards (8.2 yards per catch) and just one touchdown. Tye was originally signed as a rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2015, he played in 13 games with seven starts, and finished the season with 42 catches for 464 yards and three touchdowns. Tye was voted to the Pro Football Writers NFL All-Rookie Team.

“Will is a guy that played a lot of football for us and played well,” McAdoo said. “That was a tough decision to make, but we feel we chose the best four (tight ends) for our football team moving forward. We’re excited to get going with those guys.”

Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has started 17 regular-season games in his six seasons with the Giants, eight of which were in 2014. Last year, Herzlich played in 14 regular-season games, missing two with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles on defense.

“We felt it was best to put Mark on IR this year and give him an opportunity to get healthy,” McAdoo said. “He’ll still be involved with the team, whether it’s in the locker room, or in the meeting rooms. Mark will still be around to help the guys.”

Veteran DE Devin Taylor, who the Giants signed in the offseason, was also cut. “We have a lot of talented players in that defensive line room, a lot of depth in the room,” said McAdoo. “Devin Taylor can play in the league – he’s played in this league and he’s started in this league. He’ll probably go somewhere else and do the same thing. We’re confident with the group of men we have in the room.”

ARTICLES…

Aug 082017
 
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Avery Moss and Kerry Wynn, New York Giants (July 28, 2017)

Avery Moss and Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 8, 2017 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their tenth summer training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

INJURY REPORT…
Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Wide receiver Tavarres King (ankle), wide receiver Kevin Snead (unknown), offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker (unknown), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (“sore”), linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion protocol), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), cornerback Mykkele Thompson (quad), and safety Ryan Murphy (unknown) did not practice.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) and  practiced on a limited basis.

Defensive end Avery Moss (shoulder) left practice early.

SY’56 PRACTICE REPORT…
Overcast with some sun shining through late, pleasant temperature. There really has been a variety of temperatures throughout training camp. The team was in full pads today and there was some more pad popping. This team is ready to play Pittsburgh.

Offense Notes:

  • I tried to put as much attention on the fullback Jacob Huesman vs. Shane Smith battle as I could. They don’t get a ton of snaps and there are still plenty of plays where a TE is lined up back there. TE Will Tye probably had the most snaps of all the TEs in the backfield. As for the two FBs, Huesman made a few nice catches on the move. He is a much more twitchy, athletic guy and if that’s what the primary focus is for the position, he is the clear winner. Smith is the mauler, as we have discussed. He caught a TD pass in the flat from Eli. He still looks like the less-natural guy with the ball in his hands but if NYG wants the bruiser and extra run support, he is their guy. If special teams comes in to play with the decision, Huesman may get the nod.
  • OG D.J. Fluker looked a little off today. The questions with him revolve around conditioning and trusting technique. He is such a mammoth of a man but at this level, without the consistent techniques when it comes to pad level, active feet, accurate arm/hand work…he needs to make sure it’s there when he gets tired, late in games.
  • OC Brett Jones plays an admirable style, but his upside is limited. Perhaps limited enough for this team to go in a different direction in favor of OL Adam Gettis. Jones is a guy that won’t get pushed back. He is so strong and always wins the leverage battle but he isn’t really a go-getter, especially in space. Can he reach athletic linebackers. Can he make up for initial positional disadvantages? Can he lock on to pass rushers? Those are my questions with him. Gettis grades out slightly higher athletically.
  • OT Adam Bisnowaty vs OT Chad Wheeler. If I had to pick one right now to move forward with, I am going with Wheeler. NYG will likely hold on to both and I’m not saying you need to pick one right now. I don’t think either will see the field in 2017. But Bisnowaty has long ways to go when it comes to footwork and upper body technique. He was beat badly a few times in pass protection, once by DE Devin Taylor. Wheeler has been impressive. Strong lower body, quality positioning, accurate hands, and he fights. Also gives a solid pop off the ball.
  • RB Khalid Abdullah was one of a few roster hopefuls returning kicks today. He still looks a little unnatural when it comes to catching the ball, a lot of body catching. He also was late to pick up a blitz up the middle at the end of practice, and ended up allowing a sack to Calvin Munson. Big collision and Abdullah got the worst of it.
  • OG John Jerry was very active today, first time I really put the eyeball on him several times. He has the potential to be an elite pass blocking guard. Light feet, long arms, accurate on the move, good blend of patience and aggression. He won every 1-on-1 battle I saw today against the likes of DE Romeo Okwara, DT Jay Bromley, and DT Dalvin Tomlinson.
  • Another day, another impressive (arguably the best of the day) catch by TE Matt LaCosse. How many plays does this kid make until you say, alright we need to give him a shot during the regular season? His eye-hand coordination and ball skills are top notch.
  • Got to see some 1st strong O vs. 2nd/3rd string defense today. WR Odell Beckham easily beat CB Valentino Blake on a quick out-route for a TD. Blake bounced back with a pass defense against TE Evan Engram on a jump ball. He is a fiery guy.
  • TE Colin Thompson has been getting + marks next to his name on my sheet for 5 straight days now. For a “blocker only” label, he has been catching literally everything. And some of these balls are a ways away from his body.
  • The backup QB battle put on the Josh Johnson cap today. He hit nicely on a couple deep throws while Geno Smith appeared to be locking on to guys and skipping out on progressions. He doesn’t like being in the pocket for long. He had a solid 2-minute drill at the end of practice though with an accurate bullet to WR Dwayne Harris in traffic.
  • QB Eli Manning to TE Evan Engram is becoming something scary to watch if you are the opposition. It legitimately looks like these two are developing chemistry over the middle. Engram made an excellent catch on an even better ball from Manning for a TD. LB B.J. Goodson has solid coverage but he didn’t locate the ball.
  • QB Davis Webb looked more comfortable in his limited 7-on-7 looks today. He made an errant throw that came from poor lower body mechanics but he knew it right away. He is on the right path I’d say. His live snaps have been very limited.

Defense Notes:

  • LB Calvin Munson got some second-team action today with LB Mark Herzlich being out. He has looked fast and aggressive when moving downhill, but he doesn’t look like a factor in coverage. But I’m not sure he understands the overall lateral speed of the game yet, his angles have been very off. For a guy that isn’t big, he brings some pop when filling the lanes. If this team goes with six LBs, he has a decent shot.
  • LB Stansly Maponga is another LB that has a shot if this team goes with six LBs. He is a 3-4 OLB-type who does his best work rushing the passer or taking on tackles in the trenches. Remember, NYG has been looking for this kind of player. A guy that can almost use at the stand up pass rusher but can fulfill some OLB roles. I don’t see the necessary twitchiness but he is getting a lot of looks in practice in different roles. He is a heavy handed, physical guy.
  • The question on S Eric Pinkins and his value to the team is, can he cover athletic tight ends and running backs? He is tall, fast, and strong. We know that….but can he plant his foot in the ground and shadow quality route runners? That’s the question with him, he is stiff-hipped. He may have had the hit of the day on WR Travis Rudolph over the middle.
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Damon Harrison with a really nice combo stunt in live team drills, the play would have resulted in a Harrison sack. Those two have been very solid. It looked to me that OT Bobby Hart would have been the culprit.
  • DE Avery Moss beat OT Ereck Flowers with a simple speed rush that would have resulted in a sack.
  • DE Jordan Williams hasn’t gotten a lot of talk from me but he gets moved around a lot and despite being undersized for inside play, he has held his own. He has some pass rush potential in there. He beat both Adam Gettis and Brett Jones today for likely sacks.
  • CBs Nigel Tribune and DaShaun Amos had a few up-and-down plays. Both can locate the ball well but both were badly fooled on double routes. I think those guys are vying for practice squad spots at best. Amos with the slight edge.

Three Standouts:

  • CB Janoris Jenkins: I said this last week, but I like to see a guy who completely ignores his own size limitations. Jenkins plays big, physical, and aggressive. He intercepted two passes in traffic today, one of which I still don’t know how he came down with. He is a competitor who does an excellent job keeping his hands off his man but sticks to them like glue.
  • RB Paul Perkins: With the extra attention in the backfield today, Perkins got my attention a few times. It is very hard to really gauge the RBs in practice because you can’t see them try to break tackles, as that is where the live action ends. It is just a very limited look. However Perkins made a few reads today to find open cutback lanes that would have resulted in huge gains. I loved this kid out of UCLA and I am excited to see him work. He has upper tier balance, agility, and short area burst. It’s a great trio of traits for a RB to have.
  • WR Dwayne Harris: He looked very explosive with the ball in his hands yesterday during return driils. Powerfully built and nice top-end speed. Today he made a few really nice catches where he had to really reach for the ball away from his body. He is the dependable guy you want to see spell one of the main guys when needed.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • In 7-on-7 drills, LB Deontae Skinner broke up a QB Geno Smith pass intended for RB Wayne Gallman.
  • RB Khalid Abdullah made a nice over-the-shoulder catch along the sideline.
  • WR Keeon Johnson made a deep leaping reception on a pass from QB Josh Johnson. Johnson later connected with Johnson again on a deep pass against CB DaShaun Amos.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, QB Eli Manning hit TE Evan Engram deep against CB Eli Apple.
  • QB Eli Manning threw a TD pass over the middle to WR Roger Lewis against CB Eli Apple. But then Apple covered Odell Beckham, Jr. in the green zone to force an incompletion from Manning.
  • QB Eli Manning hit WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and TE Matt LaCosse on back-to-back long completions. LaCosse beat LB Jonathan Casillas.
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson penetrated into the backfield to stuff a RB Paul Perkins carry.
  • PK Mike Nugent went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards.
  • First-team offensive line had issues against third-team defense in team drills.
  • WR Travis Rudolph saw reps at slot receiver plus as a punt and kickoff returner.
  • CB Valentino Blake broke up a QB Eli Manning pass intended for TE Evan Engram.
  • WR Darius Powe made a diving touchdown catch against CB Janoris Jenkins on a pass from QB Geno Smith. Jenkins then successfully covered Powe on a jump ball into the end zone that he almost intercepted.
  • FB Shane Smith caught a touchdown pass out of the backfield from QB Eli Manning against LB Jonathan Casillas.
  • QB Josh Johnson found WR Travis Rudolph for a touchdown against CB DaShaun Amos.
  • In the 2-minute drill, QB Eli Manning hit TE Evan Engram for a touchdown on a seam route against FS Darian Thompson. WR Brandon Marshall then beat CB Janoris Jenkins for a 2-point conversion.
  • QB Geno Smith made a long completion to WR Dwayne Harris against CB Michael Hunter. Harris then made what initially looked to be leaping touchdown reception over Hunter on a pass from Smith, but Harris could not hold onto the ball.
  • DE Evan Schwan flashed in the 2-minute drill against the third-team offense.
  • QB Davis Webb connected with TE Colin Thompson deep down right side. Webb then connected with WR Kevin Norwood for a touchdown against CB Nigel Tribune.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’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:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The eleventh training camp practice will be held on Wednesday, starting at 10:55AM. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

Jul 272017
 
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Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (June 13, 2017)

Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP BEGINS…
New York Giants players reported to summer training camp on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The first practice will be held at 11:40AM on Friday and will be one of eleven practices open to the public, weather permitting. The training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

All 90 New York Giants players, including defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, reported to camp. Odighizuwa missed all of the team’s spring work due to unspecified “personal issues.”

SHAUN DRAUGHN TO PUP, J.T. THOMAS BEING EVALUATED…
New York Giants running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List at the start of training camp. Meanwhile, linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) is still being evaluated.

“J.T. is taking a physical right now,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He’s going to be here, you know, right now, he’s going to be here. But, we have to make some decisions on how he comes out of the physical.”

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
The transcript of Jerry Reese’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’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:

ARTICLES…

Jul 052017
 
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Paul Perkins, New York Giants (October 3, 2016)

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) 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: Running Backs

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW:  Two years ago – in 2015 – the Giants running backs finished 18th in rushing with 100.6 yards per game and averaging 4.0 yards per rush. The Giants rushed for only five touchdowns. The leading rushers on the team that year were Rashad Jennings (863 yards, three touchdowns), Shane Vereen (260 yards, zero touchdowns), Andre Williams (257 yards, one touchdown), and Orleans Darkwa (153 yards one touchdown). In addition, Vereen proved a significant weapon in the passing game with 59 catches for 494 yards and four touchdowns. Jennings also contributed with 29 catches for 296 yards and one touchdown.

Despite the mediocre rushing numbers, there was optimism entering the 2016 season. Half of Jennings’ 2015 yardage (432 yards) came in the last four games of the season. The ground game – led by Jennings – seemed to peaking behind a young and improving offensive line that would remain intact coming into 2016. In addition, replacing the disappointing Andre Williams with 5th rounder Paul Perkins appeared to an upgrade. Vereen was coming off of his best pro season and expected to continue to serve a duo-purpose threat. And the Giants signed veteran hybrid fullback/tight end Will Johnson to mount a significant challenge to fullback Nikita Whitlock.

The 2016 results were a major disappointment. The Giants ground game not only worsened, but it fell to 29th with a paltry 88.2 yards per game and averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Giants rushed for only six touchdowns. And pass receptions by running backs fell from 92 catches for 828 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 to 83 catches for 622 yards and one touchdown in 2016.

Why the drop? Inconsistent blocking by the offensive line and tight ends was a factor. The improvement by the line – under new offensive like coach Mike Solari – never occurred. There was not a strong blocking tight end on the team. In addition, both fullbacks were lost to injury for the season before it began and the team carried no fullbacks on the roster. As such, the Giants “bread-and-butter” running play was out of the shotgun formation.

But truth be told, it also became painfully clear that while a good guy and a strong locker room presence, Jennings was no more than an aging, backup-at-best halfback who rarely created yardage on his own either by elusiveness or breaking tackles. Starting 12-of-16 regular-season games, Jennings only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Vereen missed the bulk of the season with a triceps injury that he also re-injured, and his absence in the passing game was very noticeable. Bobby Rainey replaced him but only had 20 receptions. Orleans Darkwa started two games but only received 30 carries and got hurt again. The only real bright spot was Perkins, but he was not a significant factor until December, gaining 271 of his 456 rushing yards in his last four regular-season games.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants cut Rashad Jennings in February and chose to not re-sign unrestricted free agent Bobby Rainey. It’s telling that both remain unemployed football players. While the Giants did not tender the injury-prone Orleans Darkwa as a restricted free agent, they did somewhat surprisingly re-sign him in March as an unrestricted free agent. The Giants also re-signed RB/FB ‘tweener Jacob Huesman, who the team originally added to the Practice Squad in December 2016.

The new faces include veteran free agent Shaun Draughn, 4th-round draft pick Wayne Gallman, and undrafted rookie free agents Khalid Abdullah and Shane Smith.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Head Coach Ben McAdoo somewhat surprisingly labeled Paul Perkins the starter early in the offseason. It’s his job to lose. But that does not mean there aren’t questions about his pro-level skill-set and durability. Perkins must prove he is a legit NFL starting-caliber running back. Provided he can stay healthy, Shane Vereen should regain the #2 job as the team’s primary 3rd down back. Shaun Draughn – who has a similar skill set to Vereen – was most likely signed as insurance in case the injury-prone Vereen gets hurt again. 2017 may be more of a redshirt year for Wayne Gallman unless he impresses early or someone gets hurt. The wild card is Orleans Darkwa. The coaches seem to like him, but he has not been able to stay healthy.

One of the big question marks will be whether or not McAdoo wants to carry a fullback this year. Unlike last season, the Giants are far more talented at the tight end position and it may be a number’s game in whether or not the team wants to carry an additional tight end or a fullback. Rookie free agent Shane Smith has the look of a traditional fullback while ‘tweener Jacob Huesman is actually a former quarterback.

“Anytime you have a big fullback type in the backfield it adds an element of physicality that is tough to replace when you don’t have it,” McAdoo said in March. “It just didn’t work out last year. It’s not by design… I hear that I don’t want to have a fullback on the roster, and that’s news to me. I think you want the best team you can put out there, but that position has to have special-teams value. I don’t think you just want someone on your roster who plays seven plays a game. They’re not going to play a ton of plays, but the plays they do play are impactful-type plays in the ballgame. But they need to have some value special teams-wise.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Barring injury (with this group, that is more than a passing concern), the locks would appear to be Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, and Wayne Gallman. Everyone else is on the bubble and fighting for a job.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Craig Johnson on Paul Perkins: “He was an effective runner last year. You have to be able to catch the ball. He did a good job in that and you have to be able to block people because they’re going to try you out. I thought that he probably improved the most in that situation. Guys were testing him out to get to the quarterback and he held up very good in protection… (As a runner) he really can cut sharp. He puts his foot in the ground and bursts through the hole. I like that. It helps both in the run and in the pass protection. That really helps his versatility.”

Johnson on Wayne Gallman: “Coming from college, he was a very productive runner. Stats don’t lie. So far what I’ve seen in practice is that he has been effectively able to run the ball in the runs he’s been given. The pass protection, he’s coming along in. He’s certainly made a big improvement in the last week or so. He’s been able to catch the ball effectively. Again, as a young back, he’s trying to figure it all out. The game is a little too fast for him, like they are for every back right now when they’re young. The game starts to slow down and he’s starting to get it. I’ve seen a couple bursts. I think he will continue to get it in the future.”

PREDICTIONS: Other than Shane Vereen as 3rd-down back, this is largely an unproven group. It remains an open question whether or not the Giants have a running back on the roster that will concern opposing defenses. Paul Perkins has to demonstrate that he has the skill set and durability to be a 1,000-yard NFL rusher. As a draft prospect, Wayne Gallman was largely considered a solid, well-rounded back who didn’t excel in any one area. Vereen and Darkwa have proven to be injury-prone players. On paper, at best, this looks like a middle-of-the-pack group. Hopefully, the blocking up front by the line, tight ends, and maybe fullback improves this year. If not, offensively the Giants will remain a finesse passing team.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman, Shaun Draughn (no fullback)

Feb 072017
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (November 14, 2016)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants running backs finished the 2015 season 18th in rushing with 100.6 yards per game and averaging 4.0 yards per rush. The Giants rushed for only five touchdowns. The leading rushers on the team that year were Rashad Jennings (863 yards, three touchdowns), Shane Vereen (260 yards, zero touchdowns), Andre Williams (257 yards, one touchdown), and Orleans Darkwa (153 yards one touchdown). In addition, Vereen proved a significant weapon in the passing game with 59 catches for 494 yards and four touchdowns. Jennings also contributed with 29 catches for 296 yards and one touchdown.

Despite the mediocre rushing numbers, there was optimism entering the 2016 season. Half of Jennings’ 2015 yardage (432 yards) came in the last four games of the season. The ground game – led by Jennings – seemed to peaking behind a young and improving offensive line that would remain intact coming into 2016. In addition, replacing the disappointing Andre Williams with 5th rounder Paul Perkins appeared to an upgrade. Vereen was coming off of his best pro season and expected to continue to serve a duo-purpose threat. And the Giants signed veteran hybrid fullback/tight end Will Johnson to mount a significant challenge to fullback Nikita Whitlock.

In reality, the 2016 results were a kick to the nuts. The Giants ground game not only worsened, but it fell to 29th with a paltry 88.2 yards per game and averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Giants rushed for only six touchdowns. And pass receptions by running backs fell from 92 catches for 828 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 to 83 catches for 622 yards and one touchdown in 2016.

Why the drop? Inconsistent blocking by the offensive line and tight ends was a factor. The improvement by the line – under new offensive like coach Mike Solari – never occurred. There was not a strong blocking tight end on the team. In addition, both fullbacks were lost to injury for the season before it began and the team carried no fullbacks on the roster. As such, the Giants “bread-and-butter” running play was out of the shotgun formation.

But truth be told, it also became painfully clear that while a good guy and a strong locker room presence, Jennings was no more than an aging, backup-at-best halfback who rarely created yardage on his own either by elusiveness or breaking tackles. Starting 12-of-16 regular-season games, Jennings only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Vereen missed the bulk of the season with a triceps injury that he also re-injured, and his absence in the passing game was very noticeable. Bobby Rainey replaced him but only had 20 receptions. Orleans Darkwa started two games but only received 30 carries and got hurt again. The only real bright spot was Perkins, but he was not a significant factor until December, gaining 271 of his 456 rushing yards in his last four regular-season games.

Yeah, the blocking was a factor, but this was also a very mediocre-at-best group of running backs.

THE STARTER

Rashad Jennings saw his production drop dramatically in 2016 after having his most productive year in the NFL in 2015. Jennings’ rushing yards (from 863 to 593) and yards per carry (from 4.4 to 3.3) fell precipitously with only three rushing touchdowns in each season. Jennings did catch six more passes (from 29 to 35) but his yards per catch dropped nearly in half (from 10.2 to 5.7). Jennings was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Jennings missed five games with the Giants in 2014 due to knee and ankle problems. He started all 16 games in 2015, but missed three games in 2016 with a thumb injury. Jennings has good size, but he does not run with much vision, quickness, or power. Jennings does not create much yardage on his own either through elusiveness or tackle-breaking ability. He is a solid pass blocker and has good hands as a receiver. Jennings is a hard worker and a good presence in the locker room. He has had issues staying healthy throughout his career.

THE RESERVES

Paul Perkins was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Perkins played in 14 regular-season games with one start (regular-season finale). He also started the playoff game. Perkins finished the regular season with 112 carries for 456 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and 15 catches for 162 yards (10.8 yards per catch). Perkins lacks ideal size and speed but he has good vision, quick feet, and cutting ability. Perkins is a tough runner who plays bigger than his size, but he is not a powerful runner. He catches the ball well.

The Giants signed Bobby Rainey as an unrestricted free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April 2016.  He played in 15 games with no starts and finished the season with 17 carries for 63 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and 20 catches for 153 yards (7.6 yards per catch). Rainey also returned six punts (6.5 yards per return) and eight kickoffs (25.5 yards per return). Rainey was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2012), Cleveland Browns (2013), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2015). Rainey lacks size, but he is a well-built runner with good quickness. He lacks power and has had issues with ball security with 13 career fumbles. Rainey catches the ball well and has experience as a punt and kickoff returner.

Orleans Darkwa was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2016 with a lower leg injury. Darkwa played in 10 games with two starts for the Giants in 2016. He carries the ball 30 times for 111 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 12 yards. Darkwa was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in four games in September before being waived in October and signed to the team’s Practice Squad. The Giants signed him off of Miami’s Practice Squad in November 2014. Darkwa has average size and overall athletic ability, but he is a very physical, instinctive between-the-tackles runner. He lacks elusiveness and the ability to create on his own. Darkwa has good hands despite having only 10 career receptions.

The Giants signed George Winn to the 53-man roster in late December 2016. Winn was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Texans (2013), New England Patriots (2013), Oakland Raiders (2013), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013), Dallas Cowboys (2013), and Detroit Lions (2014–2016). The Giants signed him to their Practice Squad in November 2016 and cut him in mid-December. Winn has played in 19 regular-season games with no starts, accruing just 74 yards on 23 carries (3.2 yards per carry). Winn is a hard-nosed, between-the-tackles runner. Good special teams player.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Jacob Huesman was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2016. Huesman is a former quarterback who the Giants are converting to running back. He was not drafted in 2016, and not signed after the draft despite working out for the Steelers and Titans. Huesman had a brief stint with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. He has good size for a running back and was productive in college running with the football as a quarterback.

INJURED RESERVE

Shane Vereen was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) in September 2016 with a triceps injury that required surgery, activated back off of IR in December, and then placed on IR again that same month after re-injuring his triceps and needing surgery again. Vereen was originally selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2015. In 2015, serving as the team’s third-down back and playing in all 16 games with no starts, Vereen had his most productive year in the NFL as a pass receiver. He caught a career-high 59 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns. It was the most receptions by a Giants running back in a single season since Tiki Barber. Vereen also carried the ball 61 times for 260 yards (4.3 yards per carry). However, Vereen played in just five games in 2016 and finished the season with 33 rushes for 158 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 11 catches for 94 yards. Vereen lacks ideal size and power, but he is an elusive back with good vision and quickness. Vereen is one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL as he runs good routes and has good hands. He is also solid in pass protection. Vereen has proven to be somewhat injury prone.

The Giants placed Will Johnson on Injured Reserve in early September 2016 with a burner that he suffered in the first preseason game. The Giants signed Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in April 2016. Johnson was not drafted and signed with the Steelers in 2012. In four seasons with the Steelers, Johnson only missed one regular-season game, and started 20 contests. He has 31 career receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson is versatile with the ability to play H-Back, tight end, and fullback. He is a good lead blocker who can also catch the football. Johnson is a solid special teams player.

The Giants waived/injured Nikita Whitlock in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a mid-foot sprain (Lisfranc) that required surgery. He was then suspended in September 2016 for 10 games by the NFL for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Whitlock was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but was cut and signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November 2014 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. The Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock surprisingly beat out fullback Henry Hynoski in training camp in 2015 and ended up playing in 14 games with five starts until he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2015 with a knee injury. He had no touches as a rusher or receiver. Whitlock has good size for a fullback and is a physical player, but he needs to become a more consistent lead blocker. A collegiate defensive tackle, Whitlock also received a limited number of snaps at defensive tackle in pass rush situations for the Giants in 2015. He finished the season with six tackles and a sack. Although Whitlock is extremely small for a defensive tackle, he gave opposing interior linemen fits at times with his quick pass rush moves. Whitlock is a good special teams player.

Jan 122017
 
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Michael Bowie, Cleveland Browns (August 13, 2015)

Michael Bowie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GIANTS SIGN 12 PLAYERS TO RESERVE/FUTURE CONTRACTS…
The New York Giants have signed the following players to reserve/future contracts for 2017:

  • QB Keith Wenning
  • RB Jacob Huesman
  • WR Darius Powe
  • WR Kevin Norwood
  • OT Michael Bowie
  • OT Jon Halapio
  • OG Adam Gettis
  • DE Stansly Maponga
  • DE Jordan Williams
  • CB Michael Hunter
  • CB Donte Deayon
  • S Ryan Murphy

All except Bowie were either on the team’s Practice Squad or Practice Squad/Injured Reserve (Deayon) at the end of the season.

Bowie was originally drafted in the Seattle Seahawks in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in nine games with eight starts as a rookie. Bowie was waived in August 2014 and claimed by the Cleveland Browns. Bowie had shoulder issues in Cleveland and did not play in a regular-season game. The Browns placed him on the reserve/retired list in August 2016 and cut him in September. Bowie is a versatile lineman who has played both tackle and guard. He has very good size.

BBI WEBSITE UPDATES…
We have updated the following sections of the website:

ARTICLES…

Jan 092017
 
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Landon Collins and Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (January 8, 2017)

Landon Collins and Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
The transcript of Jerry Reese’s press conference on Monday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Monday 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:

GIANTS SIGNING PLAYERS TO RESERVE/FUTURE CONTRACTS…
According to NJ.com, the New York Giants have signed the following players to reserve/future contracts for 2017:

  • QB Keith Wenning
  • RB Jacob Huesman
  • WR Darius Powe
  • OT Jon Halapio
  • DE Stansly Maponga
  • DE Jordan Williams
  • CB Michael Hunter
  • CB Donte Deayon
  • S Ryan Murphy

These nine players were either on the team’s Practice Squad or Practice Squad/Injured Reserve (Deayon) at the end of the season.

NOTES…
The Giants did not score at least 20 points in any of their last six games (including five in the regular season), their longest such streak since September 22-October 26, 1980. They did not reach the 30-point mark in any of their 17 games.

The Giants are 0-18 in postseason games in which they allow more than 21 points.

QB Eli Manning played in his 12th career postseason game, the second-highest total in Giants history. LB Lawrence Taylor played in 15 playoff games.

ARTICLES…

Dec 272016
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (November 20, 2016)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

POSSIBLE FIRST-ROUND GIANTS PLAYOFF OPPONENTS…
As the 5th seed in the NFC, the New York Giants will play one of the following teams in the first-round of the playoffs:

  • Seattle Seahawks: The Giants play at Seattle if the Seahawks lose to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, regardless of whatever else happens.
  • Green Bay Packers: The Giants play at Green Bay with a Green Bay win or tie AND a Seattle win or tie.
  • Detroit Lions: The Giants play at Detroit with a Detroit win AND an Atlanta win or tie AND a Seattle win.
  • Atlanta Falcons: The Giants play at Atlanta with an Atlanta loss AND a Seattle win AND a Detroit win.

JASON PIERRE-PAUL MIGHT RETURN SOON?…
ESPN.com is reporting that defensive end Jason Pierre Paul, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia and his groin (core muscle) earlier this month, might return for the January 7th or 8th playoff game. There appears to be more confidence that he would be ready for the next playoff game if the Giants were fortunate enough to get past the first round. Pierre-Paul injured his groin in the team’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 4th.

PRACTICE SQUAD TRANSACTIONS…
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed running back Russell Hansbrough off of the New York Giants Practice Squad. Safety Christian Bryant was also signed off of the Practice Squad by the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants signed quarterback Keith Wenning, running back Jacob Huesman, and safety Ryan Murphy to the Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Hansbrough to the Practice Squad in December 2016. Hansbrough was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buccaneers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Hansbrough spent time on both Tampa Bay’s Practice Squad and 53-man roster before being cut in late November.

Bryant was signed to the Practice Squad in late November. Bryant was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Rams waived him in September 2016. He then spent time on both the Practice Squad and active roster of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals waived him in November. Bryant has played in 11 regular-season games with no starts.

Wenning was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He has spent time with both the Ravens (2014-2015) and Cincinnati Bengals (2015). Wenning has decent size and a good arm with a quick release. He is not terribly mobile. Wenning is smart, hard-working, and tough.

Huesman is a former quarterback who the Giants are converting to running back. He was not drafted in 2016, and not signed after the draft despite working out for the Steelers and Titans. Huesman had a brief stint with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. He has good size for a running back and was productive in college running with the football as a quarterback.

Murphy was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks waived him in their final round of cuts in September 2015. He spent time on the Practice Squad of the Denver Broncos in both 2015 and 2016. Murphy has a nice combination of size and athletic ability.

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:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants return to practice on Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.