Jul 132014
 
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Jacquian Williams (57), New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Barring injury, Jacquian Williams will be the Giants starting WILL linebacker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to training camp in just a couple weeks, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at the linebackers.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWNLinebackers

Jon Beason, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Jon Beason was solid in the middle for New York last year – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: In a year of mostly downs, the Giants’ linebackers were one of the team’s few bright spots in 2013. After acquiring Jon Beason via trade from the Carolina Panthers, the middle linebacker established himself as a force in the middle of the Giants’ defense. Beason finished with 93 tackles and an interception in 11 games. Outside Beason, Keith Rivers and Spencer Paysinger were solid in the team’s base 4-3 set while Jacquian Williams continued to establish himself as one of the better coverage linebackers in the game.

In 2012, the Giants defense was one of the worst against the run, finishing 25th in the NFL, but rebounded nicely last year. Coupled with a rebuilt interior defensive unit, the Giants rushed allowed an average of 108.9 rushing yards per game, good for 14th in the NFL.

Against some of the league’s best, the Giants played their strongest. New York held Jamaal Charles (KC) to 65 yards rushing, Matt Forte (CHI) to 67, Adrien Peterson (MIN) to 28, LeSean McCoy (PHI) to 94 in two games, Eddie Lacey (GB) to 27 and Marshawn Lynch (SEA) to 47.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Not much has changed at the linebacker position for the Giants. Beason was re-signed and Rivers was allowed to walk. The lone notable addition via free agency was that of ex-Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain. Devon Kennard was drafted in the fifth round out of USC and has earned early praise from the coaching staff.

Devon Kennard, USC Trojans (September 21, 2013)

Devon Kennard has impressed coaches – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TRAINING CAMP STORYLINES: Little disclaimer early on: not going to count the health/return of Jon Beason (broken bone/torn ligament in foot) as a ‘training camp storyline’ simply because it doesn’t involve camp. If and when he returns will be well after the team breaks on Aug. 14.

Devon Kennard is easily one of the biggest camp storylines this year. Throughout the offseason conditioning program, Giants’ coaches ranted and raved about the progress of the rookie USC linebacker. While words are often meaningless, their faith in the 23-year-old was put on display when Kennard was inserted in as starting linebacker after Beason went down in OTAs.

Injuries have stunted the growth of Jacquian Williams, but it appears he’s ready for a breakout. The former sixth-round pick is no longer a situational player as the Giants have named him their full-time starting WILL. Williams progression, and ability to stay healthy, will be worth following during the summer.

Mark Herzlich, New York Giants (August 18, 2012)

Could this season be Mark Herzlich’s last with the Giants? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ON THE BUBBLE: It looks like the premier camp battle will be between undrafted linebacker Dan Fox and formerly undrafted Mark Herzlich. In the early stages of his career, Herzlich was all but given the keys to the Giants’ MIKE linebacker position, but never capitalized and struggled mightily on defense. When Beason went down during OTAs, it was Kennard that filled in at the middle…not Herzlich. If Dan Fox can match what Herzlich can do on special teams, there’s a chance he’s given the spot on the final 53. Fox has good speed, is very intelligent and versatile.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Linebackers coach Jim Herrmann on Kennard: “His college career he played everywhere. He had like I think three different coordinators at USC. When he was there with Monte Kiffin he was a MIKE. He played in that system. So for him, he’s played all over so he’s got multiple talents and he’s a smart guy so it’s not anything new for him. And he gives us a lot of flexibility. He has some rush ability so on third down he could actually be a rush-type guy. The flexibility helps us. As you go into the season there are 46 guys out there, normally the linebackers get maybe five guys so somebody has to know dual roles and we’ve always had guys that could do that. He’ll give us that ability.”

On progression of Jacquian Williams: “This OTA and mini-camp he did a great job in our base stuff as a WILL. He’s a natural WILL in nickel, he did a great job with our WILL stuff in base. To me he made a big jump and big improvement this spring.”

On UDFA Dan Fox: “To me he’s another guy, one of the young guys who’s got a lot of intelligence. He can play multiple roles. He actually played all three spots this spring, MIKE, SAM, WILL, he plays in our sub. Any time you’ve got a smart guy like that who football just comes natural to him, that gives him a chance. He’s got to make the team on special teams, obviously, that will be his biggest deal when he comes back. For me, as a position coach, being able to say, ‘Hey look, he has multiple roles on defense, he can play a lot of positions,’ that helps his chances. To me, that’s what you want.”

PREDICTIONS:
Connor Hughes - I believe this linebacking unit may be the best (when healthy) that the Giants have had in quite some time. Jameel McClain is a force against the run, intelligent, savvy and a vocal leader. Jacquian Williams (when healthy) has proven he has the raw and natural athletic ability that few at his position possess. Beason (again, when healthy) showed last year he’s an every down linebacker in the NFL and arguably the best in the middle the Giants have had since Antonio Pierce.

Despite all the above, the one player that most intrigues me is the one no one has seen in pads yet: Devon Kennard. The amount of praise Kennard has been given from the coaching staff is noticeable. Everyone from Tom Coughlin, to Perry Fewell, to Jim Herrmann has raved about the rookie. The fact the coaching staff already seems to have locked him in as a starter if McClain is forced to the middle with Beason out is telling. To get Kennard on the field – in pads – against the speed and talent level of the NFL will be a true tell if the Giants snagged a steal in the draft.

Eric Kennedy - Maybe it’s more wishful thinking than a realistic scenario, but I expect Jon Beason to be back by the opener. But obviously, the Giants need him back soon and they need him close to 100 percent. The way he impacted the overall defense with his presence last season was a pretty serious indictment on the Giants’ organization on their de-emphasis of the linebacker spot. If Beason is OK, the good news for the Giants is they now have two confident, cerebral leaders at the position in Beason and Jameel McClain. I’m curious to see McClain on the field. The Ravens said nice things about McClain, but they didn’t make a big effort to keep him. I wasn’t overly impressed in the limited 2013 film I’ve seen of McClain. But he was coming off of a serious neck injury so he may do better a couple of years removed from the injury.

Jacquian Williams has excellent tools but he has to stay healthy and play more physically than he has in the past against the run to prove he is an every-down linebacker. I actually like Spencer Paysinger more than most; at the very least, he is a very good special teams player.

STARTING UNIT WEEK 1?

Stevie Brown and Jon Beason, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Will Jon Beason be available for Week 1? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Connor Hughes - I’m sticking with the fact I don’t believe Beason will be ready versus the Lions. WILL – Jacquian Williams; MIKE – Jameel McClain; SAM – Devon Kennard.

Eric Kennedy – My gut says Beason will do everything he can to be out there on opening day. Starters will be Jameel McClain, Jon Beason, and Jacquian Williams.

WHO MAKES THE TEAM?
Connor Hughes – Jacquian Williams, Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard, Jon Beason, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger. Dan Fox (PS).

Eric Kennedy – Jacquian Williams, Jameel McClain, Jon Beason, Spencer Paysinger, Devon Kennard, and Dan Fox.

Jun 172014
 
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Robert Ayers, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

No Surgery for Jon Beason: The New York Giants announced on Tuesday that middle linebacker Jon Beason will not have surgery to repair the ligament tear and small fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot. Instead, Beason’s foot will be immobilized for six weeks (three weeks in a cast and three in a walking boot) as the first step in his rehabilitation.

Beason was examined by a foot and ankle specialist in North Carolina on Monday.

“My visit with (the specialist) went as well as it could have yesterday,” said Beason. “I’m happy that it was determined that I will be able to recover without surgery. My plan is to work as hard as I can during my rehab so I can be fully recovered around the start of the regular season opener on Monday night in Detroit.”

“I am (optimistic),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Any time that the decision is made with regard to no surgery, the idea that it will scar in itself, it’s good, it’s good news.”

Coughlin was asked if Beason would be ready for the start of the 2014 NFL season. “I have no way of knowing that. We would hope that, but we’ll see. He certainly will be weight-bearing for really a lot of time. And he’ll be in great shape, he’s one of those.”

New York Giants Mini-Camp – Day 1: The first day of the New York Giants mandatory, 3-day mini-camp is in the books. The team will also practice on Wednesday and Thursday before breaking until summer training camp on July 21.

For more on today’s practice, see:

Video highlights are also available from Giants.com.

June 17, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Tuesday were RB Peyton Hillis (undisclosed muscle injury), WR Mario Manningham (knee), RG Chris Snee (hip/elbow), LT Will Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee), LB Jon Beason (foot), and CB Trumaine McBride (hip). WR Odell Beckham (hamstring) and RB David Wilson (neck) only participated in individual drills. DT Markus Kuhn and TE Daniel Fells were not feeling well and left practice early.

  • McBride revealed on Tuesday that he had hip surgery in January. He said his rehab is going well and he expects to be cleared for practice at summer training camp.
  • Coughlin on Snee: “His elbow is bothering him so we’re kind of taking it step by step on that. He had surgery on his elbow (in the offseason)…Well, I think it’s started to bother him. He did all of the separate days and pretty much all of the OTAs and then the elbow started to bother him so we kind of shut it down…The plan with him is to see if we can get the elbow right so that he feels comfortable and confident…We won’t be in a rush (to have him return to practice this week). He’s played enough, we can get him healthy and get him right back to where he was. We know what we have.”
  • Coughlin on Beckham: “He did all of the individual and then we kind of backed him down a little bit. He was able to go, whether he could hit that top speed was another question. Why take a chance on it right now?”
  • Will Beatty on whether he will be able to practice during training camp: “No doubt in my mind. I’m optimistic….I’m progressing. I’m not 100 percent today…The goal is to be fully ready when I get back out there, so I’m not going out there (in mini-camp) and making it worse. Trying to go out there too early could set you back, but going out there too late could also hurt the team. So it’s finding that perfect ground.”

June 17, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Tuesday are available at Giants.com.

June 17, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Tuesday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on Wide Receiver Trindon Holliday: Giants thrilled to have pint-sized Holliday on their side by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Mathias Kiwanuka: Giants: Mathias Kiwanuka not happy with paycut, thinks more needs to be done to protect player rights by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the New York Giants Linebackers:

Jun 052014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Odell Beckham – Photo by Connor Hughes

New York Giants Complete Sixth OTA Practice: The New York Giants held their sixth of 10 Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices on Thursday. No live contact is allowed in OTA practices, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) was at Thursday’s OTA practice. See New York Giants OTA Practice #6: Quick Hits and Tidbits.

Additional brief summaries were provided by:

Photos from the practice are also available from Giants.com.

New York Giants OTA practices:

  • June 9-10
  • June 12-13

The offseason program will culminate on June 17-19 with a mandatory, full-team mini-camp.

June 5, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing at Thursday’s Organized Team Activity (OTA) workout were WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Mario Manningham (knee), RG Chris Snee (hip/elbow), LT Will Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee), and CB Trumaine McBride (unknown).

“(Beckham) has a little sore hamstring so they held him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He may be longer than (one day). I don’t know. You’re talking about a skilled athlete with a little twinge, so he may be longer than that.”

Coughlin said Snee was scheduled to be off today for precautionary reasons.

RB David Wilson (neck), as reported, continues to sit out of contact drills. Coughlin said that Wednesday’s follow-up exam on Wednesday was positive.

“No question about it,” Coughlin said. “Four-and-a-half months out, looking forward to August. Progress has been made, so it’s not a negative report at all in our opinion. It’s probably right where it should be. The fact that he’s, you’ve got to remember, this guy from day one, right after the surgery, I mean within two weeks, he didn’t act like there was anything wrong. He has, from time to time, wanted to do more and we can’t let him do more. I think he understands it.”

Jerrel Jernigan missed practice due to a death in the family.

CB Victor Hampton Will Workout for New York Giants: According to WIST.com, undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Victor Hampton (South Carolina) will try out for the New York Giants on Tuesday.

June 5, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Thursday are available at Giants.com.

June 5, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Thursday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on the New York Giants Secondary:

Article on Former Giants Safety Will Hill: Will Hill: More trouble for ex-Giants safety with claims he trashed rental home by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Apr 222014
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (April 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz – Photo by Connor Hughes

Day Two of the New York Giants Offseason Program: Tuesday was day two of the New York Giants nine-week offseason workout program. The Giants are currently in “phase one” of the program (April 21 – May 4) with activities limited to voluntary strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation.

BigBlueInteractive.com will soon publish a number of feature articles based on today’s content, but here are some brief highlights:

  • Guard Chris Snee wasted no time before cracking the first joke of the day. When the 32-year-old was asked about all of the new faces, he responded, “I requested a team photo” in order familiarize himself with the team. Snee said the new offense is “different” from what he’s used to. Snee said he has been given no indication that he will be held back as he recovers from offseason hip and elbow surgery. Snee said has no limitations and is 100 percent.
  • Safety Antrel Rolle said he “loved” what has been done with the secondary this offseason and the goal during this portion of the offseason program is to build chemistry. When asked about cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Rolle said he feels that Rodgers-Cromartie, in his seventh year, has matured, and is a huge addition to the defense. With defensive end Justin Tuck in Oakland, Rolle was asked if he will take on any additional leadership roles: “I’m just go out there and play ball. I just know how to be Antrel…I think there should be 53 leaders on this team.”
  • Will Hill, who reportedly will be suspended by the NFL for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing or abusive substances, was was not made available to the media. Several players offered their support to the troubled safety.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers said one of the main reasons that he decided to come to New York was the tradition and opportunity. Also, his late father, who passed away last year, said he used to wish Ayers would play for the New York Giants. Ayers also said that he plans on playing a bunch of different positions as it is what the management and coaches want. “They ask everyone to do everything….I look forward to doing whatever they ask me to do.”
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul caught the attention of everyone when he alerted the media that he now weighed in at 270 pounds, down from the 285 pounds he played at last season. If you remember, Head Coach Tom Coughlin has made several comments in the past about Pierre-Paul being overweight. “I feel good at that weight,” said Pierre-Paul. After rehabbing his shoulder over the offseason, Pierre-Paul said he’s 100 percent right now and expects no limitations. Also, when asked if his role will change with Tuck in Oakland, Pierre-Paul said, “Not at all.” Pierre-Paul said he “didn’t get the memo” on Will Hill. Pierre-Paul said if Hill misses time, losing Hill would be a blow, but the defense would be “alright.”
  • Quarterback Eli Manning talked to the media in a walking boot. He said the surgery on his ankle went well and things are progressing very quickly. Manning told the media that with this being his first surgery, he’s being smart with it. Manning said when he started his training and running for the season he could tell something wasn’t right. He went for some additional MRI’s and developed a plan to see what was the best way to approach the injury. After consideration, he and the doctors felt surgery was best bet rather than waiting. “This will ensure I’m back at 100 percent for training camp,” said Manning. Prior to his informal workouts at Duke University, Manning had gotten a cortisone shot. He felt that once that wore off the injury and pain would return.
  • Left tackle Will Beatty said that the doctors have all given him positive reports and he’s “out here moving around.” Beatty said that he is hanging on every word from the doctors and doing whatever they say. He said that because the team has not gone full-contact, he hasn’t tested himself in that regard. Beatty said he plans on being 100 percent by the start of the season but was more non-committal about being ready for the start of training camp. Beatty talked about new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, saying he’s very “Energetic” and has “a lot of positive things to add to the team.” Beatty said that McAdoo came in the first day and told the team, “Our goal is to be a top-four offense, have an elite top-four QB, make it to the Super Bowl.”
  • Right tackle Justin Pugh talked to the media and said the new offense is similar to the one he ran in Syracuse and “I’m very comfortable in it.” He said, “It’s up-tempo and we’re going to be moving the ball.” Coughlin had told Pugh that he wanted him heavier, so he gained 10 pounds, he’s up to 315. “I’m stronger than ever,” said Pugh.
  • Cornerback Walter Thurmond III may have brought some of Richard Sherman’s personality with him to New York. The corner said he views himself as “the best slot corner in the league” and said the Giants secondary can be as good, if not better, than Seattle’s “Legion of Boom.”Thurmond says he looks forward to matching up with the Redskins now that they have Desean Jackson. He also said the difference between New York and Seattle: “Guys are a bit older here.” Thurmond got a solid laugh out of the media when asked the similarities between cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Richard Sherman saying, “They’re a little different,” before bursting into laughter.
  • Wide receiver Rueben Randle has a very, very soft voice, and it was a little tough to make out everything he was saying. What he did say is that his original plan was to attend Duke University with fellow wide receivers Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz, but “something came up.” From listening to Victor Cruz talk later in the day it seemed to be a family issue. He contacted Eli Manning to inform him once he became aware he could not participate in those workouts. Randle also went on to say that he is “ready” to step up as the starter. As far as the offense, Randle does not see much difference aside from the terminology.
  • Linebacker Jon Beason seems very comfortable with the New York media. He stated that he does feel that this is his defense as it “comes with the territory of being the signal caller and mike linebacker.” Beason said that he did his research before representing himself as his own agent in free agency. He said one of the reasons he wanted to be his own agent was he wanted to be “directly involved” and not “a little kid playing telephone.” There were other teams interested in Jon Beason’s services, but the Giants contacted Beason at 3:52 on Tuesday, only minutes before free agency began.
  • Quarterback Josh Freeman talked to the media for an extended period of time. He said he feels great coming in and last year, “Didn’t turn out how I had hoped.” He said he can’t pinpoint what has caused his career to go downhill since being considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league. “A couple things just didn’t go my way.” One of the things that drew Freeman to New York was the history and tradition, but also to learn things from Eli Manning.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz said he enjoys the new offense. It’s a “high-powered offense” and “high octane.” Also, Cruz said the offense in similar with the type of routes and compared it to Green Bay’s offense. Cruz was asked if he could tell at Duke University if Eli was impacted by his ankle injury. He said he could not and “it may have been something he was battling internally.”Cruz said he has taken on a stronger leadership role, including grabbing some of the younger guys, taking them off to the side, and “letting them know how valuable they are to this team and the receiving corp.” Cruz went on to say that the new offense is based less off of body language.
  • Running back David Wilson was excited and as animated as ever. In January, Wilson underwent a surgical procedure to fuse vertebrae to repair a herniated disc in his neck. Wilson said he expects to be cleared for Organized Team Activities (OTAs) but admitted it will come down to the doctors. Wilson said he feels great, and all that is holding him back “is a picture” (MRI) allowing him to resume his football career. Wilson was asked if he sees himself as a No. 1 back and he said he does, but in today’s NFL the feature back doesn’t exist. “Way the game is played today, it’s not gonna be one guy,” said Wilson.
  • Running back Rashaad Jennings said that he thinks the backfield has a lot of talent and potential. He said all are trying to “mesh into the system” and they will “spend a lot of extra time as a unit.”

An “all-access” video of Monday’s activities is available at Giants.com.

New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips from Tuesday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on Today’s Offseason Program Media Day: Player interviews: 10 things we learned by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Eli Manning, Giants envision their offense being similar to the Packers by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on QB Eli Manning: QB Eli Manning: I’ll be ready for camp by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on RB David Wilson: David Wilson ‘expects to’ be cleared for OTA’s next month by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Article on CB Walter Thurmond: Walter Thurmond: Giants secondary can be better than Seahawks ‘Legion of Boom’ by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Mar 172014
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos (December 22, 2013)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: According to multiple press reports, the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent (UFA) cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver Broncos). ESPN is reporting that the contract is 5-year, $39 million deal that includes $15 million in guaranteed money. The NFL Network reports that it is a 5-year $39-million contract with $14 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus and $16 million over two years.

Rodgers-Cromartie is regarded as one of the most physically-talented cornerbacks in the NFL. The Giants have really strengthened their secondary in free agency this offseason by re-signing unrestricted free agents safety Stevie Brown and cornerback Trumaine McBride, and signing unrestricted free agents cornerback Walter Thurmond (Seattle Seahawks) and safety Quintin Demps (Kansas City Chiefs).

Because of this move, we have updated the New York Giants Free Agent Signings (with scouting report), New York Giants 2014 Free Agency Scorecard, and Roster sections of the website.

New York Giants Re-Sign Spencer Paysinger: According to multiple press reports, the New York Giants have re-signed restricted free agent (RFA) linebacker Spencer Paysinger. Paysinger signed his 1-year, $1.431 million tender.

Because of this move, we have updated the New York Giants Free Agent Signings (with scouting report), New York Giants 2014 Free Agency Scorecard, and Roster sections of the website.

Anthony Spencer Visits New York Giants, But Leaves Without Contract: According to The New York Daily News, unrestricted free agent defensive end/linebacker Anthony Spencer met with the New York Giants on Monday but left without a contract.

Kevin Boothe Visiting the Oakland Raiders: FOXSports is reporting that unrestricted free agent offensive guard Kevin Boothe (New York Giants) is visiting the Oakland Raiders today.

NFL Network Interview with LB Jameel McClain: The video of today’s NFL Network interview with linebacker Jameel McClain is available at Giants.com.

Mar 142014
 
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Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (December 8, 2013)

Hakeem Nicks – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Hakeem Nicks Signs with Indianapolis Colts: Unrestricted free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants) has signed with the Indianapolis Colts. The deal is reportedly a 1-year, $3.5 million contract plus another $2 million in incentives.

Because of this move, we have updated the New York Giants Free Agent Losses (with scouting report), New York Giants 2014 Free Agency Scorecard, and Roster sections of the website.

Jameel McClain Signing Official: The New York Giants officially confirmed that they have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jameel McClain. The deal is reportedly a 2-year, $4.1 million contract and includes a $600,000 signing bonus.

McClain was released by the Baltimore Ravens in late February.

“It was a mixture of surprise and disappointment,” McClain said. “You learn with more time in this league that it’s a business and sometimes they make business decisions that most people don’t understand. It just was one of those things that was like, ‘Dust yourself off and try again.’”

“(Signing with the Giants is) an opportunity,” McClain said. “I believe in opportunity and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Now I get a chance to re-create myself. I get a chance to re-create my own identity without being placed with any label. No disrespect to anything that I’ve been through or anybody anywhere else, but when you get into this position you have to choose the best for your family, the best for your career, the best for your longevity. This was one of those circumstances for me where I could come here and create myself and compete and be the player that I want to be or the player that I can be.

“I love this organization. I love the tradition here. The players are amazing. I had the opportunity to talk to a few. Being close to home is very important. I’m a family man, I have a lot of nieces and nephews that I need to be next to. It’s a great opportunity for me, in all honesty.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of a golden nugget. I’m all the way there. Every time that I get a little itch, God always slaps me in the back of the head and says, ‘Jameel, you’ve got a long way to go.’ I signed a little deal and then after that I got hurt, that was God slapping me on the back on the head. Once I came back from that injury then I get cut, so that’s God slapping me on the back of the head again, just saying, ‘Your job is to be the underdog.’ For the world to see that the underdog can make it possible, that’s my destination, that’s going to be my journey. I know it and I accept it.”

McClain will now have to adjust from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3.

“I really think people do make too much of it,” said McClain. “Football is football. Maybe it’s not so much for me because I believe I’m so versatile a player. I’ve played every position. None of that really scares me at all. It all just seems so familiar.”

McClain missed the Ravens’ post-season Super Bowl run in 2012 because he was on Injured Reserve with a spinal cord contusion.

“I missed that, so I really don’t have a ring,” said McClain. “I feel I have a chance to win one with his organization. Winning is everything. If you’re in this game, you should only be playing to win and to compete. Without that, what are we left with? A bunch of numbers on the board? It really doesn’t mean anything. I play this game to win, I play this game for respect and this organization does that at the highest level. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

A video interview with Jameel McClain is available at Giants.com.

Shelley Smith Signs with Dolphins: Unrestricted free agent offensive guard Shelley Smith (St. Louis Rams) has signed a 2-year, $5.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. Smith visited the Giants on Wednesday.

Giants.com Interview with S Stevie Brown: A video of a Giants.com interview with safety Stevie Brown is available at Giants.com.

Mar 132014
 
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Jameel McClain, Baltimore Ravens (December 29, 2013)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Agree to Terms with Jameel McClain: The New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent linebacker Jameel McClain, who was waived in February by the Baltimore Ravens in a salary cap-related move. The contract is expected to be signed formally on Friday. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

BBI scouting report on McClain:

The Giants signed McClain in March 2014. McClain was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games with 54 of those starts coming in the last four seasons. A serious neck injury (spinal contusion) suffered late in 2012 caused him to miss the first six games of the 2013 season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Ravens released him in February 2014. A defensive end in college, McClain has good size and he is versatile – he has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker. He is an aggressive, hard-working, tough, physical player who is solid against the run. McClain lack ideal overall athleticism and isn’t as strong in pass coverage. McClain was a well-respected team leader in Baltimore. Good special teams player.

Because of this move, we have updated the TransactionsNew York Giants Free Agent Signings (with scouting report), and New York Giants 2014 Free Agency Scorecard sections of the website.

Mar 092014
 
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Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans (September 15, 2013)

Alterraun Verner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NJ.com – New York Giants Interested in Signing Top Cornerback: According to NJ.com, multiple sources say the New York Giants are seriously interested in signing a top-tier cornerback in free agency to pair with CB Prince Amukamara. Per previous reports, the Giants pursued CB Sam Shields, who re-signed with the Green Bay Packers, and are still pursuing CB Alterraun Verner (Tennessee Titans).

New York Daily News – New York Giants Not Pursuing Top Offensive Linemen: According to The New York Daily News, “several agents for some of the top offensive linemen on the market were privately wondering why they hadn’t heard from the Giants.” The Daily News is reporting that prices for offensive linemen are more expensive than anticipated and the talent is not overly impressive. The paper speculates that the Giants may be waiting to pick up linemen in the second-tier free agent market or focus on the offensive line-rich 2014 NFL Draft.

NJ.com -New York Giants Still Interested in Jameel McClain: According to NJ.com, the New York Giants are still interested in unrestricted free agent linebacker Jameel McClain, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens last month in a salary cap-related move. McClain visited the Giants last Thursday and has also drawn interest from the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings.

Hakeem Nicks Talks About Possible Free Agent Destinations: Unrestricted free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants) told ESPN on Sunday that he is still thinking primarily of signing a long-term contract. He also mentioned some of the teams that he is interested in possibly signing with:

Ideally this is what I want: I want to go to a team where I’m the missing link. There are a number of teams that I have my eye on once I hit the market. I know if I went to a place like Indianapolis I would be dangerous with a quarterback like Andrew Luck. I can see myself catching passes from Cam Newton or even Philip Rivers. Players have already started to reach out to me from other teams saying they would love for me to come join them. I just want to make it clear that I want a long-term deal and I want to be happy. I’m excited about talking to teams and making it work.

Newsday – Chris Snee Pay Cut Will Happen, But Not Soon: Newsday is reporting that the New York Giants and right guard Chris Snee will agree to a salary restructure/pay cut this offseason. But since the Giants do not need immediate salary cap relief, the new contract will probably be signed later in the offseason. Snee is set to make $6.75 million in salary in 2014 (the final year of his contract) and will count $11.75 million against the team’s 2014 salary cap unless the Giants and Snee agree to a pay cut.

Mar 062014
 
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Kevin Gilbride Defends Himself: Kevin Gilbride, who retired as offensive coordinator of the New York Giants in January, spoke publicly on Thursday night at the PKD Foundation benefit in Manhattan. Some speculate that Gilbride only retired because he knew he would be fired. On the contrary, Gilbride said he told his wife before the 2013 season began he would retire unless he was offered a head coaching job in 2014.

Kevin Gilbride, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

Kevin Gilbride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“If I wanted to stay coaching I would have stayed with the Giants,” said Gilbride.

Gilbride is blamed by many for the demise of the Giants’ offense, which fell from 14th to 28th. Head Coach Tom Coughlin has said that Gilbride would not have been forced out, but team President/CEO John Mara and General Manager Jerry Reesse have said that it was time for a change on offense.

“I’m kind of surprised to hear (Jerry Reese) say that,” Gilbride said. “No one had figured that offense out for 24 years. To think that they figured it out this year would be pretty ludicrous. I think it was pretty obvious what the problems were. We had a confluence of injuries, we were very weak on the offensive line. We had some guys who struggled. We started six different offensive tailbacks, three different fullbacks, three different right guards, four different centers…You’re not going to have anything (with that). You can say it’s the offense, but it’s pretty clear what the problem was.”

“I certainly have expressed (roster talent) concerns for a number of years,” Gilbride said. “It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was going to happen.”

In a shot at Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, another issue according to Gilbride was that the Giants only had  “one guy playing” at wide receiver (Victor Cruz). Gilbride thought John Mara’s comments about it taking so long for Jerrel Jernigan to be a factor on game day were a “cheap shot”.

“I didn’t understand it,” said Gilbride. “Because (Jernigan) had chances as a kick returner and he’d played before and hadn’t played well. I think it’s a great tribute to (Wide Receivers Coach Kevin M. Gibride) and (Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan) that developed him and that he got on the field.”

When asked about the Giants’ prospects in 2014, Gilbride responded, “They have to get some players. If the players come back, if (Chris) Snee comes back healthy and (David) Baas comes back healthy. The running back situation is a little scary – they have to get somebody there. But if they can get somebody there and if (Kevin) Boothe comes back the inside three will be stable. I know they’re going to look for a tight end. There are a lot of holes that need to be filled.”

“If they shore up some of the supporting cast, I think they’ll be fine,” said Gilbride. “Last year we went into the year with some question marks at some spots and sure enough those question marks were all answered in a negative fashion. Between that and the confluence of injuries, it just wasn’t going to happen.”

LB Jameel McClain Visits Giants, But Leaves Without Contract: Linebacker Jameel McClain, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens last month is a salary-cap related move, visited the New York Giants on Thursday but left without a contract. He had visited with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with the Minnesota Vikings next.

New York Giants Interested in Center Evan Dietrich-Smith?: FOXSports1 is reporting that the New York Giants may be interested in pursuing soon-to-be unrestricted free agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Green Bay Packers) if the Packers do not re-sign him and center David Baas is released.

Jon Beason Representing Himself in Contract Talks: Soon-to-be unrestricted free agent linebacker Jon Beason recently fired his agent and will be representing himself in his contract talks.

Starting on Saturday, March 8, NFL teams are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents on other teams. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00PM ET on March 11. Because Beason will be representing himself, teams will not be able to contact him until March 11. So the Giants will have three more days to negotiate exclusively with Beason.

Articles on the New York Giants and 2014 NFL Free Agency:

Giants.com Inside the Film Room: Video breakdowns of the following Giants players are available at Giants.com:

  • Running Back Andre Brown (Video)
  • Running Back Peyton Hillis (Video)
Mar 052014
 
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Jameel McClain, Baltimore Ravens (December 29, 2013)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

LB Jameel McClain to Visit New York Giants: Linebacker Jameel McClain, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens in February, says he is scheduled to visit with the New York Giants. McLain just completed a visit with the Buffalo Bills.

“(The meeting with the Bills) is the first visit and then I go to the Giants,” said McClain. “I’ve got more (visits) scheduled, but I tell my agent to tell me the day before. I don’t want to be wrapping my mind around too many ideas. I’m more like a get the information and go guy.”

In six seasons with the Ravens, the 28-year old McClain has started 55 regular-season games. Fifty-four of those starts came within the last four seasons. He has experience playing both at inside and outside linebacker. McClain is 6’1” and 245 pounds and played his college football at Syracuse. He was considered a solid starter, special teams player, and leader in Baltimore but was set to make $3.2 million in the last year of his contract before the Ravens cut him.

Articles on the New York Giants and 2014 NFL Free Agency: