Jul 142017
 
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Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (June 13, 2017)

Dalvin Tomlinson – © 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: Defensive Line

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: The New York Giants defensive line underwent a major overhaul in 2016, and the changes were perhaps THE major reason why the team’s defense improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage and 2nd in terms of points allowed. The Giants went from 24th in run defense in 2015 (121.4 yards per game, 4.4 yards per carry) to 3rd in 2016 (88.6 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry).

The key to sparking the dramatic turnaround were the high-priced, high-profile free agent additions of defensive end Olivier Vernon (5-years, $85 million) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (5-years, $46 million). These two were a major upgrade over defensive ends Robert Ayers/George Selvie and defensive tackles Markus Kuhn/Cullen Jenkins. Harrison is arguably the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the game and earned first-team All-Pro honors after making the switch from a 3-4 nose tackle with the New York Jets to a 4-3 defensive tackle. Vernon was slowed by a serious hand/wrist injury but played virtually every snap and earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) rebounded nicely from a 2015 offseason catastrophic fireworks accident that left him permanently maimed. After a slow start on the pass-rushing front, the line was rounding into peak form until a groin tear/sports hernia injury sidelined JPP for the final four regular-season games and post-season contest. Unfortunately, the dropoff was noticeable. As a unit, the line finished with 24.5 sacks in the regular season (up from 16 in 2015).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants’ biggest personnel loss in the offseason was DT Johnathan Hankins signing a 3-year, $30 million contract with the Colts. The team did re-sign DE Jason Pierre-Paul to a 4-year, $62 million deal. The Giants also re-signed exclusive rights free agent DT Robert Thomas, restricted free agent DE Kerry Wynn, and practice squader DE Jordan Williams. New additions include veteran free agents DE Devin Taylor and DT Corbin Bryant as well as rookies DT Dalvin Tomlinson (2nd round), DE Avery Moss (5th round), DE Evan Schwan (undrafted free agent), and DT Josh Banks (undrafted free agent).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: One of the most significant story lines for the team is can the Giants adequately fill the shoes of Johnathan Hankins at defensive tackle? While Damon Harrison quickly became the headliner at defensive tackle for the Giants, Hankins was an important part of the drastically-improved New York Giants run defense. Many believe Dalvin Tomlinson will automatically assume the starting position, but Tomlinson is a rookie and will face challenges from veterans Robert Thomas, Jay Bromley, and Corbin Bryant. Depth is also a cause for concern as Harrison must now be considered one of the most indispensable players on the team. Heaven help the Giants if he gets hurt.

A secondary story line will be the quest for a third defensive end who can rush the passer and spell Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, who both played far too many snaps last year. To date, holdovers Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa have not demonstrated the ability to consistently harass opposing quarterbacks. They will be pressured by newcomers Devin Taylor and Avery Moss. Then there is the curious backstory of Odighizuwa’s situation as he missed all of the spring work due to undisclosed “personal issues.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Everyone except Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Dalvin Tomlinson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Patrick Graham on the defensive line as a group: “Really the group is smart. They understand that this is their profession and they know they have to have proficiency at that. They all work hard in terms of knowing football and knowing what we want them to do.”

Patrick Graham on Dalvin Tomlinson: “I think any rookie coming into this league, they don’t know anything about this league aside from the stuff they read and see from the media and TV. I think it’s important for them to stick with what they’ve done in being a good football player up until this point. An organization in the NFL wanted them. To be humble there, listen to the players and listen to the coaches and just diligently work through the process. He’s a pretty even keel guy. He’ll be able to handle it. We will see how it plays out once the competition comes and the season comes… We wanted him for a reason. He’s a good football player and he comes from a good program.”

PREDICTIONS: Dalvin Tomlinson is one of the few defensive tackles who realistically could come in and adequately replace Johnathan Hankins as a rookie. He not only has the physical tools, but he is a super-smart guy who played on the big stage at Alabama. Nevertheless, keep an eye on Robert Thomas, who may split snaps with him. Competition for roster spots will be fierce as the Giants added a couple of former veteran starters late in free agency (Devin Taylor and Corbin Bryant). The Giants can’t keep all of these guys and linemen who can play in this league are going to be released. Another player to keep tabs on is Avery Moss. The coaches and players have said nice things about him and the Giants are still looking for that third pass rusher.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Devin Taylor, Robert Thomas, and Corbin Bryant. (The Giants hate to part ways with draft picks so it would not be shocking to see Owa Odighizuwa and Jay Bromley make it over late FA additions Taylor and Bryant. I would also not count out Kerry Wynn).

Jun 202017
 
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Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (June 13, 2017)

Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS SPRING…

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS OFFENSE…

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS DEFENSE…

ARTICLE ON FORMER GIANTS COACH DENNY MARCIN…

Jun 152017
 
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Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (June 13, 2017)

Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 15, 2017 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The third and final day of the New York Giants mandatory 3-day mini-camp was held on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Thursday’s practice was more of a walk-thru. The veterans are now off until summer training camp begins in late July.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Wide receiver wide receiver Kevin Snead (hamstring), tight end Rhett Ellison (calf), left guard Justin Pugh (back), right guard D.J. Fluker (unknown), linebacker J.T. Thomas (recovering from torn ACL), cornerback Eli Apple (illness), cornerback/safety Mykkele Thompson (unknown), and safety Darian Thompson (illness) did not practice.

“D.J. got nicked yesterday and he is sore, but he bounced back today,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa has been excused from the mandatory mini-camp for “personal reasons.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Thursday’s practice was more of a walk-thru affair.
  • With Ereck Flowers limited and Justin Pugh still out, the first-team offensive line was left tackle Chad Wheeler, left guard Adam Gettis, center Weston Richburg, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Bobby Hart. Adam Bisnowaty also worked in at right guard for Jerry.

GIANTS SIGN EVAN ENGRAM…
The New York Giants announced on Thursday that they have signed their first-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, tight end Evan Engram. All six of the Giants’ 2017 draft picks are now signed.

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…

May 072017
 
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Travis Rudolph, Florida State Seminoles (September 5, 2016)

Travis Rudolph – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP STARTS ON FRIDAY…
The New York Giants will hold a 3-day rookie mini-camp starting on Friday, May 12th. Head Coach Ben McAdoo, team coordinators, and select players will be available to the media on Friday.

Those players in attendance will include the Giants’ six draft picks, signed undrafted rookie free agents, players who were signed to reserve/future contracts in the offseason, and rookie and veteran street free agent tryout players.

REPORT – GIANTS ADD ANOTHER ROOKIE FREE AGENT…
NJ.com is reporting that the New York Giants have signed undrafted rookie free agent cornerback DaShaun Amos.

JERRY REESE ON ESPN RADIO
The audio of Tuesday’s ESPN Radio interview with New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese is available at ESPN.com.

ARTICLES…

Apr 242017
 
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (December 22, 2016)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GIANTS PICKING UP OPTION ON ODELL BECKHAM, JR…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants will pick up the fifth-year option on wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.’s rookie contract. That means that Beckham will not become a free agent until after the 2018 NFL season. Beckham will earn $1,839,027 in salary in 2017 ($3,311,063 overall cap hit, including prorated signing bonus), but will now see his salary spike to about $8,000,000 in 2018.

Beckham is one of the game’s best players and had another stellar season in his third year, starting all 16 regular-season games and finishing with 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his first three seasons, Beckham has accrued 288 catches for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns in 43 regular-season games. Beckham’s accolades already include Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year” (2014), second-team All-Pro (2015, 2016), and Pro Bowl (2014, 2015, 2016). All of this despite constant double teams by opposing defenses.

ARTICLES…

Apr 202017
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (August 27, 2016)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE’S PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Reese: Good afternoon. It is draft time again. The scouts are very excited about their game day. Marc Ross and Chris Mara and all of our scouts, Kevin Abrams, all those guys are in our draft room trying to finalize our draft board and get ready for the big day. So I am ready for any questions that you guys might have.

Q: Who have you decided on?

A: We decided that we are going to take our pick at 23.

Q: Has what you have done in free agency given you some flexibility with what you can do in the draft?

A: Well, you always take that into consideration with what you have on your roster right now, but going into the draft, like I say every year, we just go in there trying to pick the best players available when we are on the clock and we will continue to use that pattern.

Q: I don’t think you have ever traded in the first round. Is there a reason for that and what is your philosophy?

A: If we have an opportunity to trade in the first round, we will do that. But right now, we will just kind of let the board fall like it does and if we feel like we want to move up to get somebody, then we will move. It costs to move up, though. If you are going to move up, then you are going to give up a lot of draft picks to move up. Even if you move up just a couple of spots, you have to give up some draft picks to do that and we like taking our picks, but if there is somebody up there that we love and we think we can move up to get, then we will keep those options open.

Q: Do you still feel like you need some help on the offensive line, whether that is early or late in the draft?

A: We feel like we can use help anywhere, at any position. We just want to create a lot of competition at every position going into the training camp, so we are going to try and upgrade at every position like we always do and offensive line is definitely a spot that we would like to upgrade as well.

Q: When you go back and look at where things stood at the combine to now, has there been that much movement as far as guys surprising you?

A: Our scouts are on top of all of these guys. At the combine, a lot of people are just now learning about these guys, but our scouts already know these people, so we don’t have a lot of surprises. Every now and then you have a couple surprises, a guy could jump up quickly out of nowhere and you have to do some extra work on him, but for the most part we don’t have a lot of surprises going into the draft.

Q: How much do you weigh what they did in college versus this three to four month process?

A: Yeah, we try to put it all together. We look at what the players do on the field. We grade the players on the field. The gymnastics stuff that they do during the combine is part of the equation, but we look at these guys as football players first and we just go on our experience as scouts and try to look at the player more than what the gymnastic numbers say. But that is part of the equation as well.

Q: D.J. Fluker is a guy who came in with 1st round pedigree. Is he someone that you think still has that potential?

A: Well, we hope so. D.J. is going to come in and battle for a position just like everyone else on the squad and hopefully the change of address and just a new scene for him will re-energize him and I know he wants to prove that he is still a number one type talent and we are looking forward to giving him the opportunity.

Q: Do you see him as better at guard or tackle?

A: Yeah, coming out, we thought he could play both. We thought that he had some versatility. We thought he could play tackle, we thought he could play guard. I think he is going to get an opportunity. I am not the coach, Coach McAdoo will make the decision of where he plays, but we think he has some versatility to play guard or tackle.

Q: At the end of last season, you spoke about considering a position change for Ereck Flowers. At this point, do you see him as the left tackle?

A: Again, it is spring and it is a long time before we play. In the spring we will experiment with different lineups and situations with our offensive line, so it is a long way to go. That is to be determined later by Ben and the coaching staff, but we will tinker with a lot of things in the spring.

Q: Despite always looking for the best available player, when you look at last season, there clearly has to be some areas that you need more help.

A: Of course. You are always trying to tie best player available with what our needs are.

Q: Do you ever do that?

A: We do it a lot. Sometimes it falls that way as this is the best player available and also ties into value and need as well. We try to tie them both together, but we are not going to reach for guys just because we think it is a need position for us.

Q: Does that tie into the cost of moving up?

A: Yeah, all of it ties into the cost of moving up.

Q: You have been in a lot of drafts. Last year there were two guys that you liked a lot that teams traded up in front of you to get. Does that make you more aggressive this year so that that won’t happen again?

A: We liked all the players that got picked in front of us last year. You are saying there were two guys, but there were a lot of guys we liked in front of us. So are you going to move up every time just because you like somebody? You pick where you are for a reason. We are at 23. We had a decent season, so we are picking farther back in the draft. If you don’t play well, then you pick up front. But again, if there is someone up there that we love, that we have to have and we are dying for and we are willing to give up our draft picks to move up to get him, then we are open to doing that.

Q: Does it get muddy when you are looking at guys who are potential late 1st round and early second round picks?

A: You never know. You never know how the players are going to come off of the board. You look at this draft and you have five or six blue chip players and then you have the second level of your first round guys and you never know how they are going to come off. Some people may see them a little different than how we like them. When you are picking later in the draft, you just kind of have to sit and wait and let somebody just start to fall and you are like, ‘Let’s move up and get this guy if we really love him that much.’ But again, if you do that, then you are going to give up draft picks and we don’t like to do that.

Q: Do you have 23 names in your first row?

A: We have 32 names in the first row. That is why we call them rows. They are not all first round picks, but they are in the first row.

Q: How many players have a draftable grade on your board?

A: I am not going to talk about how many players have draftable grades, guys.

Q: Do you consider the depth chart as one of the tools in your decision-making?

A: We are just picking the best players available. We have players on our board, we have all of our players on our team currently on the board as well to see how they fit, but we are just trying to pick the best player available when we are on the clock.

Q: With Johnathan Hankins going to the Colts, how do you rate defensive tackle in terms of depth and potential need?

A: We think that, obviously, Snacks is a good player there. We have Bromley, we have Robert (Thomas), so we have a couple more guys that we expect to step up and help fill that void and obviously we will continue to look at free agency and we will look in the draft to see if we can add some depth to that position too.

Q: Were you surprised that Hankins left?

A: No, I am never surprised about anything during free agency. Money talks and we are happy for Hank. We are big Hank fans around here and we wish him well.

Q: In 2007, your draft led to a Super Bowl title. Do you look at this year’s crop and this draft in general as something that can be a key component in building a championship team this year?

A: We hope so. We hope that the kids that we draft in this draft will help supplement the needs that we have on the roster and hopefully we can get some players in here out of this draft that can help us get over the top.

Q: You said at the end of the year that Eli was on the back nine of his career. How did you go about looking at quarterbacks this year? Was it any different from the past?

A: Not really. We evaluate everybody the same every year, regardless of what we are looking for and what we think we need and where we think the depth should come from. We are giving everybody a fair assessment as we go through all the players and we grade everyone the same, whether you are from a big school, a small school, if you are short or if you are tall, it doesn’t matter. We give everyone the same degree of consideration.

Q: Did you find yourself looking more at quarterbacks this year?

A: Myself personally? I probably looked at more quarterbacks this time then I did at other times, but there are only so many guys that you can look at. You can ask Marc Ross about anybody from any school and he can tell you in two seconds because he sees all the players and evaluates all of them. Obviously it is hard for me to evaluate every single player.

Q: When you are looking for the successor for Eli, is Geno (Smith) a candidate?

A: Well, Geno is on the roster and is going to have a fair share to compete just like everyone else. He is excited about being here and we are excited to have him and he is going to come in and compete just like everybody else, so we will see where that goes.

Q: Have you decided if you are going to exercise the fifth-year option on Odell?

A: We are going to discuss that when the time gets closer. We will keep all of our options open with respect to that.

Q: You had some critical comments about him at the end of the season. How do you think he has responded to that?

A: You guys called it critical. I don’t think it was critical. I think some of you guys framed it as critical, but I didn’t see it that way.

Q: Critiqued maybe. How do you think he responded to the general message?

A: Again, I think he is a guy that hears what we are saying and like John (Mara) said, ‘We are not worried about Odell.’ He is a young kid, he is growing up every day and we think that he is going to continue being a tremendous football player and a tremendous representative of our organization here.

Q: At the owners meeting, Ben McAdoo said that Geno compares favorably to the quarterbacks in this class. Does that change what you guys might do next week at quarterback?

A: No.

Q: How do you personally evaluate this team’s draft performance over the last three or four years?

A: It is not my job to do that. You guys can do that. We go in every year and do our best to draft the best players available and try to develop the kids that we get on the roster, so if you win, it is a good draft and if you don’t win, then it is a bad draft. You guys can evaluate that. I am not here to talk about how we are evaluating what the drafts are.

Q: If you take a quarterback next week, I am sure that you hope he doesn’t play soon, but how do you weigh taking a pick higher in the draft that is going to be a developmental guy?

A: Again, you just take the best player available and however he fits on roster – if you take a quarterback high, if you take him in the seventh round, wherever you take him, you hope that everything falls right for them. If they have to play, you hope it is the right time for them to play. But if you are worrying about when is he going to play, when is he not going play, you might miss out on the right player. You just have to take the best player available.

Q: Isn’t quarterback different though?

A: Yeah, but again, everyone has to get picked somewhere. Last year Prescott got picked and people didn’t regard him highly and he played tremendous. He was at the right place at the right time, got the right opportunity and he did a very nice job for them.

Q: Would you rule out drafting a first round quarterback?

A: We will keep all of our options open.

Q: If you draft a quarterback this year, do you think they will need two or three years to sit and develop behind Eli?

A: Again, who knows what will happen. If you draft a quarterback in the first or second round, if Eli gets hurt and we don’t have a quarterback that is ready to go and you have a quarterback on the roster, you have to get them ready to play. That is the coaches’ job to do that, it is our job to have somebody waiting in the wings to play, so you just never know. We think that Eli has some good years left to play for us and we are trying to put good people around him as well and hopefully the offense can pick up the pace more than last year.

Q: Do you agree with the consensus that the quarterbacks in this class all could use time to sit and develop?

A: That is what you say every year. It is hard to bring guys right out of college, and to play up here is such a different game and the college game is a lot different now, so it is hard for guys to just jump in and play up here right away. But we have seen guys do it, but I think you have to limit what they do and you can’t give them everything at the beginning.

Q: As you personally look at this draft of quarterbacks, where is your determining factor on if a certain player can be your guy for the future?

A: Well, again, we look at what their skillset is and we look at what we like to do and see how many guys have that skillset and what part of the draft can they be possible picks for us if we decide to pick one.

Q: What is Ben’s involvement in the draft process?

A: Just like always, all of our coaches are part of the process and everyone has an opinion on who we take, so he is a big part of it, like every coach has been here.

Q: But you have the final decision?

A: It is our decision. If it doesn’t work out, then it is my decision.

Q: Have you ever looked back at a draft pick and admitted to no one but yourself that you made a mistake?

A: Plenty of times. You don’t get all of them right. I don’t think anyone is batting 1.000 picking players. But yeah, plenty of times.

Q: How do you factor age into drafting players?

A: That is not a big issue for us. If a guy is 24 or 25, that is still super young.

Q: How has the role of the tight end changed since this team picked one in the first round with Shockey?

A: I think it is whatever your offensive coordinator is, what your head coach’s philosophy is, and I think that is what determines what your tight end role is. You look at different teams and tight ends are a big part of what they do and you look at us and we haven’t been a two tight end kind of offense under Ben. But we do feel like a tight end could come in and help us. We brought (Rhett) Ellison in to be part of that equation of helping the run game, and I think he is a very capable receiving as well, so there are some good tight ends in the draft, we believe. I like a lot of different positions, but it just depends on what the offensive coordinator thinks and how much he wants to use a tight end.

Q: Have you not used that aspect of Ben’s offense because of the personnel here?

A: You can ask Ben about that. I think that the best coaches make an adjustment to really what your personnel is and I think that is part of being a coach. You don’t always have the perfect pieces to what you want and you have to make the adjustment and I think the best coaches do that.

Q: What is the challenge in evaluating players that are multi-dimensional? Guys like Jabrill Peppers and Christian McCaffery.

A: Well, it is not the challenge, I think that when you get a player that has a skillset like McCaffery and maybe Peppers, these guys do a lot of different things for their team and you can save yourself a roster spot more than anything else. If you get a guy like that, then maybe you don’t have to go out and get a return specialist or…obviously both those guys would be tremendous on special teams, so they can do a lot of things. But to their defense a little bit, I think they get hurt a little bit because they play so many different positions and people say, ‘Well, what does this guy do?’ I think that maybe devalues them a little bit. But we like guys with a lot of versatility and those are two good players.

Q: The mock drafts say that the Giants have to take an offensive lineman at 23. To that, you would say?

A: I would say that we are going to pick the best player available.

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 INSIDER WITH RB PAUL PERKINS…
The video of a Giants Insider Q&A with running back Paul Perkins is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Mar 202017
 
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Geno Smith, New York Jets (October 17, 2016)

Geno Smith – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GIANTS SIGN GENO SMITH, VALENTINO BLAKE, AND MARK HERZLICH…
The New York Giants have officially announced that they have signed unrestricted free agents quarterback Geno Smith (New York Jets) and cornerback Valentino Blake (Tennessee Titans). The team has also officially re-signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Mark Herzlich. Smith reportedly signed a 1-year, $2 million contract.

“Geno has a great, positive attitude, and he’s looking forward to learning and competing in our QB room,” said General Manager Jerry Reese.

“I think the opportunity to learn from (quarterbacks) coach (Frank) Cignetti, coach (Ben) McAdoo, and to be alongside Eli (Manning) and learn from him, a two-time Super Bowl champion and, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Smith said. “I think it will work out tremendously for me. And it’s also an opportunity to be on a real good team, a winning team, get healthy – it’s just a perfect scenario for me. I couldn’t have written it up any better myself.

“I want to carry my notepad around and whatever I see Eli doing, whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or off the field, I want to write it down. Because he’s a guy you can model yourself after. If you learn from a guy like that, we can all do a lot better.”

Smith tore the ACL in his right knee in October 2016. “Right now, it’s doing great,” he said. “We’re being cautious. But I’m at that stage where I’m feeling healthy enough that I can push it. But I have to be smart about it and not do anything that will cause me setbacks.

“I have tons of good football ahead. The key is just staying healthy. If I can just stay healthy, the future is pretty bright. But I just look forward to this year and having an opportunity to get healthy and learn and become a better quarterback.”

The 26-year old Smith was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Smith has started 30 regular-seasons games, with 29 of those starts coming in 2013-2014. He lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in August 2015 after his jaw was broken by a teammate. Smith started one game in 2016 but tore the ACL in his right knee in that game. Smith has completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 5,962 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. Smith has good size and is a good athlete with a strong arm. He has struggled with his accuracy and mental aspects of the game. Smith needs to protect the ball better (36 interceptions, 7 fumbles). He also has had some off-the-field immaturity issues.

The 26-year old Blake was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-2015), and and Tennessee Titans (2016). In five seasons, Blake has played in 78 regular-season games with 18 starts (16 of which came with the Steelers in 2015 when he was credited with 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions). Blake is a short but well-built corner with very good speed. He has experience in playing the nickel slot position, but he is not regarded as a good cover corner. Blake is a good gunner on special teams (38 career special teams tackles), but he has had lapses of on-field judgement.

Herzlich remains primarily a reserve linebacker and special teams player who occasionally is called upon to play on defense (one percent of defensive snaps in 2016). Herzlich played in 14 regular-season games, missing two with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles on defense. 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. Herzlich has very good size but is a sub-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer. Herzlich is a good special teams player.

For a listing of all of the team’s free agent activity, see the New York Giants 2017 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

COTY SENSABAUGH SIGNS WITH STEELERS…
The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed unrestricted free agent cornerback Coty Sensabaugh from the New York Giants to a 2-year contract. Sensabaugh was signed by the Giants in October 2016 after he was waived by the Los Angeles Rams. He played in 10 regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with 15 tackles. Sensabaugh was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Rams signed him to a 3-year, $15 million contract in March 2016. Sensabaugh has played in 72 regular-season games with 29 starts. Sensabaugh is an average-sized corner whose strength is playing the slot nickel corner spot.

Sensabaugh is the third Giants free agent to leave the team this offseason, joining place kicker Robbie Gould (San Francisco 49ers) and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (Oakland Raiders).

KEENAN ROBINSON VISITS THE BUFFALO BILLS…
ESPN is reporting that unrestricted free agent linebacker Keenan Robinson (New York Giants) has visited the Buffalo Bills. Robinson also visited the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

Robinson officially only started 6-of-16 regular-season games, but he was second in playing time on the team among all linebackers (71 percent of all defensive snaps). Robinson finished 2016 with 83 tackles and seven pass defenses. Robinson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, where he missed time in 2012 (four games with right pectoral tear), 2013 (entire season with left pectoral tear), 2014 (three games with a knee injury), and 2015 (four games with a shoulder injury). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016. Robinson has decent size and is a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, he can play inside and outside linebacker. Robinson is more of a run-and-hit linebacker than stout run defender at the point-of-attack. Robinson is solid in pass coverage. He only has 1.5 career sacks and has been injury prone. Robinson does not make many impact plays.

GIANTS.COM PLAYER INTERVIEWS…
Video clips of exclusive Giants.com interviews with the following players are available at Giants.com:

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Mar 172017
 
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John Jerry, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

John Jerry – © USA TODAY Sports Images

OFFICIAL: NEW DEALS FOR JASON PIERRE-PAUL, JOHN JERRY, AND JOSH JOHNSON…
The New York Giants officially announced on Friday that they have re-signed unrestricted free agents defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, offensive guard John Jerry, and quarterback Josh Johnson. According to press reports, the contracts were:

  • Jason Pierre-Paul: 4-years, $62-66 million with $40 million guaranteed
  • John Jerry: 3-years, $10 million with $4.25 million guaranteed
  • Josh Johnson: 2-years, financial terms unknown

JASON PIERRE-PAUL:

Pierre-Paul was designated the team’s Franchise Player on February 28th, counting $16.934 million against the 2017 salary cap.

“We’re happy to get a long-term deal with Jason,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “Not only is he one of our best players, he is one of our leaders.”

“This is where I wanted to be,” Pierre-Paul said. “I couldn’t imagine me being anywhere else. I’m back for four years and I’m ready to get after it.

“It means a lot to me, because I started here, and obviously I want to finish here. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, especially in my (draft) class. I’m the only one left in my class here. It means a lot. We won a Super Bowl here, and I’m looking forward to putting a fifth trophy in the case.

“When I came in I learned from (Justin) Tuck, Osi (Umenyiora), Eli (Manning), Mathias Kiwanuka – all those guys taught me a lot, and I learned so much from them. I used it to try to be the best and try to figure out myself – and I did. I bettered myself, and I’m a pro.

“We’re going to create history. We made it to the playoffs, but unfortunately I wasn’t there to play. But I’m looking to get back to the playoffs this year with that great defensive line that we have, and the great defense that coach Spags (coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is going to put out there.”

Pierre-Paul started 12 games in 2016, but missed the remainder of the season with groin and sports hernia injuries that required surgery.

“I was just getting ready, I was just getting my groove back,” Pierre-Paul said. “I was figuring out how everybody was blocking me. Things happen for a reason. I guess it was God’s plan not to finish the season. But I was on a roll. It’s all in the past, and hopefully we’ll get to the playoffs again this year and I’ll actually be in there to contribute.”

Pierre-Paul believes he will be even better as he continues to adjust to his disfigured hand.

“I’ll be way better,” said Pierre-Paul. “Last year, I was still making adjustments. But as time goes on, it’s part of me and I’m going to use it. Every day, I’m learning something new with it.

“I’m happy to be here, I’m blessed to be here. It can’t be any better. I’m a Giant for life right now.”

JOHN JERRY:

“John doesn’t say much, but he’s a dependable, tough, hard worker,” General Manager Jerry Reese said. “John is a veteran who leads by his work ethic every day.”

“No doubt about it, this is where I wanted to be the whole time,” Jerry said. “I didn’t care for going anywhere else. This is home for me. Everything about the organization is first class. It’s player-friendly. I like my coaches. I have a camaraderie with my teammates. I’ve built a lot of strong bonds, not just on the field, but off the field with those guys. It’s very important to me to keep that going.

“We’re (the offensive line) a close group. I train with Weston (Richburg) in the offseason, and text the other guys a lot. It’s just a lot of fun to come to work every day and see those familiar faces.”

Mar 172017
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (October 16, 2016)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FOUR-YEAR DEAL FOR JASON-PIERRE-PAUL…
According to press reports, the New York Giants and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul have agreed to a four-year, $62 million contract that includes a $20 million signing bonus. Pierre-Paul was designated the team’s Franchise Player on February 28th, counting $16.934 million against the 2017 salary cap.

Pierre-Paul started 12 games in 2016, but missed the remainder of the season with groin and sports hernia injuries that required surgery. He finished the year with 53 tackles, seven sacks, eight pass defenses, and three forced fumbles.

Pierre-Paul was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. After not missing a game in his first three years with the Giants, Pierre-Paul has not completed a full season in three of the last four years, including 2013 (herniated disc and shoulder injuries) and 2015 (fireworks accident that permanently maimed his right hand).

Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism. When healthy and focused, Pierre-Paul can be an explosive, disruptive difference-maker against both the run and the pass. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (42 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender, both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit.

GIANTS SIGN TWO QUARTERBACKS…
According to press reports, the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent quarterbacks Geno Smith (New York Jets) and Josh Johnson (New York Giants). Smith, who is coming off of a serious knee injury, will first have to pass a physical before he is signed. Johnson is reported to have signed a two-year deal.

The 26-year old Smith was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Smith has started 30 regular-seasons games, with 29 of those starts coming in 2013-2014. He lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in August 2015 after his jaw was broken by a teammate. Smith started one game in 2016 but tore the ACL in his right knee in that game. Smith has completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 5,962 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. Smith has good size and is a good athlete with a strong arm. He has struggled with his accuracy and mental aspects of the game. Smith needs to protect the ball better (36 interceptions, 7 fumbles). He also has had some off-the-field immaturity issues.

Johnson was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The well-traveled Johnson has spent time with the Buccaneers (2008–2011), 49ers (2012), Sacramento Mountain Lions (2012), Browns (2012), Bengals (2013), 49ers (2014), Bengals (2015), Jets (2015), Colts (2015), Bills (2015), Ravens (2016), and Giants (2016). The Giants signed Johnson in early September 2016 after he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens. He became the team’s #2 quarterback after Ryan Nassib was placed on Injured Reserve in December.

Johnson has played in 29 regular-season games with five starts – the last coming with Buccaneers in 2011. He has completed 96-of-177 passes (54.2 percent) for 1,042 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. In the 2016 preseason for the Ravens, Johnson completed 41-of-57 passes (71.9 percent) for 365 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Johnson is a mobile quarterback with good size.

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Mar 092017
 
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Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN ORLEANS DARKWA…
Newsday is reporting that the New York Giants have re-signed free agent running back Orleans Darkwa to a one-year contract. Darkwa was eligible to be a restricted free agent but the Giants chose not to tender him at the $1.797 million original-round level. This in effect made him an unrestricted free agent and allowed the Giants to re-sign him for a cheaper amount.

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. In 2015 with the Giants, Darkwa carried the ball 36 times for 153 yards and one touchdown.

NEW YORK GIANTS INTERESTED IN RHETT ELLISON…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants are interested in unrestricted free agent fullback/tight end/H-Back Rhett Ellison (Minnesota Vikings).

The 28-year old Ellison was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Vikings. In five NFL seasons, Ellison has played in 73 regular-season games with 41 starts. He has 51 career receptions for 515 yards and three touchdowns. Ellison suffered a serious patellar tendon injury in Week 17 of 2015. He returned in 2016, but only caught nine passes for 57 yards. Ellison has good size (6’5”, 250 pounds) and is a good blocker. Lacking speed and quickness, he is not much of a threat as a receiver. Ellison is a good special teams player.

REPORT – GIANTS AND JASON-PIERRE-PAUL NOT CLOSE ON NEW DEAL…
ESPN is reporting that the New York Giants and franchise-player defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul are not close on a new, long-term deal. Pierre-Paul’s franchise tender is currently taking up $16.934 million of the 2017 salary cap.

TERRELL MCCLAIN SIGNS WITH WASHINGTON REDSKINS…
Unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Terrell McClain (Dallas Cowboys) has signed a 4-year, $21 million contract with the Washington Redskins. The New York Giants were reported to have some interest in McClain.

BRANDON MARSHALL ON ESPN RADIO
The audio of Thursday’s ESPN Radio interview of New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall is available at ESPN.com.

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