Jul 262015
 
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NY Post Q&A with LB Beason: Giants’ Jon Beason on grueling comeback, new D-coordinator and JPP by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Articles on the 2015 New York Giants:

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Inside Beckham’s aftershocks from the catch that shook the world by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on OT Marshall Newhouse: Giants’ Marshall Newhouse grades out as ‘overrated’ by Jordan Rannan for NJ.com

Articles on DE Jason Pierre-Paul:

Article on DT Markus Kuhn: With JPP in doubt, this must be unconventional Kuhn’s year by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jul 232015
 
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Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Re-Sign Safety Justin Currie: The New York Giants have announced that they have re-signed rookie free agent safety Justin Currie (Western Michigan) a week after they waived him. Because of this move, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Giants.com Q&A with CB Chykie Brown: The video of a Giants.com interview with cornerback Chykie Brown is available at Giants.com.

Article on QB Eli Manning: Giants’ Eli Manning finishes 12th in ESPN QB rankings, called an ‘interception machine’ by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on WR Odell Beckham:

Article on the New York Giants Defense: What is one key stat the Giants defense is aiming to reduce? by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Article on DE Robert Ayers: Giants need this one veteran to step up in JPP’s absence by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Articles on New York Giants Linebackers:

Kevin Gilbride and Shaun O’Hara Discuss Super Bowl XLII: Shaun O’Hara and Kevin Gilbride dissect the “Helmet Catch” by Dan Salomone of Giants.com.

Jun 302015
 
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Jon Beason, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com 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: Linebackers

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: As was the case with every other area of the defense, the linebackers were a disappointment in 2014. It was expected that Jon Beason would headline and lead an improved linebacking corps. But Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered. The 2011 rookie class of linebackers – Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, and Mark Herzlich – continued to largely disappoint in their fourth season together. Jameel McClain was a decent free agent addition and led the team in tackles. Rookie 5th round draft pick Devon Kennard flashed in the second-half of the season. In the end, the Giants finished 30th in the NFL against the run and dead-last in the NFL in yards-per-rush defense.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: There were significant changes made at linebacker. The Giants said good-bye to Jacquian Williams (still unsigned) and Spencer Paysinger (signed with Dolphins) in free agency. The team signed J.T. Thomas (3-years, $10 million) from the Jaguars and Jonathan Casillas (3-years, $8 million) from the Patriots. The Giants also signed street free agent Victor Butler and rookie free agents Cole Farrand and Tony Johnson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The primary focus at linebacker in training camp is can Jon Beason stay healthy? Beason was a major shot in the arm for the entire defense when he joined the team during the 2013 season, but the injury-prone linebacker missed almost all of the 2014 season with a foot injury. Not only is Beason a good run defender, he is an intelligent, inspirational leader who is needed to help orchestrate Steve Spagnulo’s new complicated defense on the field. The complexion of the entire defense changes with Beason in or out of the lineup. The good news? Beason made it through the OTAs and mini-camp this year, something he didn’t do last year.

Assuming Beason can stay healthy, the main story lines will be who mans the two outside linebacker spots, and how well do they perform? It is assumed J.T. Thomas will start at one position. But Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas may split snaps at the other spot depending on the opponent, in-game down-and-distance situations, and who has the hot hand. Kennard’s strength is attacking the line of scrimage and rushing the passer while Casillas is better in pass coverage. The Giants seem to be higher on Thomas and Casillas than their former teams, whose coaching staffs saw them more as back-up types. It remains to be seen if the Giants made the right decision to spend $18 million over three years on both. Where Jameel McClain – a respected team leader but castoff from the Ravens – fits in remains to be seen as well.

It’s important to note that Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann says this is the most talented group of linebackers he has had with the Giants since he joined the team in 2009.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six linebackers and assuming everyone stays healthy, the six will probably be Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich. The one most vulnerable could be Herzlich. Herzlich had his best pro season in 2014 and appears to remain a Tom Coughlin favorite and decent special teams player. But he’s not the most athletic guy in the world and has only performed so-so or worse when called upon to start. That said, it’s not likely that one of the lesser known players such as Victor Butler, Uani Unga, Cole Farrand, or Troy Johnson would surpass Herzlich on the depth chart. Butler has talent, but a 4-game PED suspension hurts his cause. Farrand looks like he needs work in the weight room.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Jim Herrmann on J.T. Thomas: “He is very athletic. That is what I like about him. He will be a great addition to our (special) teams. Special teams and athletically as a linebacker he can cover. He is tough. He is going to fill that role, both in base and in sub. We can do a lot of different things with him…In our base, he is an outside linebacker and in sub, we play him some in the middle. It is a very fluid deal in sub defense, so he can play in or out.”

Herrmann on Thomas and Jonathan Casillas: “They are both very athletic guys. They are different kinds of players, but they are both very athletic and can move well. You like that. It is hard right now for me because you don’t have pads on. You will find out a lot more once the pads go on. With their body of work in the NFL, they are both tough guys who can play.”

Herrmann on Devon Kennard: “I think number one, he is more confident in himself as a player. He knows now he can play in the league. That takes you a long way. Just refining his technique and his footwork and trying to get the best of both worlds.”

Herrmann on Jameel McClain: “I think Jameel is versatile enough. He has played all three positions, so he can play in and out. He is a tough guy, which is good, so you want him in there in the run game. He is athletic enough to play in subs. It gives us a big luxury because we have a lot of guys that have played NFL snaps and to me as a coach, that is luxury to have because a lot of times you don’t have that as a linebacker coach. It is nice to have them where you can do anything.”

Herrmann on Jon Beason: “Yeah, he is a born leader. He has always been that way since the day he got into the league. Since he was at Miami, he was a leader. I think he likes that role and he wants that role. You want a guy like that.”

PREDICTIONS: I am going to go out on a limb and say Beason stays healthy and Thomas has a break-out season as a respectable three-down NFL starter. Fans will push for more playing time for Kennard but much will depend on the opponent and in-game match-ups. Casillas may be a better option at times against teams that throw the ball more to the backs and tight ends. Spagnuolo will use Kennard far more imaginatively than Perry Fewell did, having him rush the quarterback from a variety of spots. Contrary to popular belief, this unit could be one of the better ones in the NFL if Beason stays healthy and Kennard develops.

“I can’t praise Kennard enough,” said Beason. “He prepared better than any rookie I’ve ever seen, and that’s including myself. He just really wants it. He gets it. He understands it…The thing I’ve noticed the most this offseason, he’s a step or two faster. He’s quicker. He’s not afraid anymore.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring injury, Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich.

Jun 162015
 
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Owamagbe Odighizuwa, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 16, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants three-day mini-camp was held on Tuesday. Like the Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, no live contact is allowed, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis, still in walking boot), offensive tackle Will Beatty (recovering from pectoral surgery), DE Robert Ayers (sprained ankle), DE Damontre Moore (recovering from shoulder surgery), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice or fully practice.

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As expected, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, was a no-show. Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn said that he has met with Pierre-Paul a number of times this offseason. “I have been in touch with him and he came up here and we met with him for a few days,” said Nunn. “We have been in touch with him throughout… I have fed him some of the stuff as we’ve gone and progressed through and he was here and I met with him probably four or five times, maybe even six or seven times. We kind of implemented some of the stuff and how it is going to be introduced when we get to training camp. I thought he had a very good grasp of it when he left… All of my contact with JPP has been positive… He seems to be in a very good place mentally and working out and keeping in very good shape.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team offensive line remained LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, OC Weston Richburg, RG Geoff Schwartz, and RT Marshall Newhouse.
  • Brandon Mosley saw some reps at right tackle with the second team.
  • First-team defensive ends remained George Selvie and Cullen Jenkins.
  • Kerry Wynn, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and Jordan Stanton saw reps at defensive end with the second team.
  • Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn remained the first-team defensive tackles.
  • The starting linebacking corps was J.T. Thomas, Jon Beason, and Jonathan Casillas.
  • Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor remained the first-team safeties.
  • QB Eli Manning hit TE Daniel Fells for a touchdown on a seam pass, beating S Landon Collins. (Video)
  • Manning then found RB Shane Vereen for a short touchdown reception.
  • RB Andre Williams looked good catching a pass out of the backfield from QB Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • LB Uani’ Unga intercepted a tipped throw from QB Ryan Nassib.
  • WR Corey Washington made a one-handed reception on a deep throw over CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
  • CB Prince Amukamara had good coverage on a deep sideline throw to WR Geremy Davis.
  • S Justin Currie tipped a pass intended for WR Marcus Harris and S Mykkele Thompson intercepted the deflected ball.
  • QB Eli Manning hit WR Preston Parker down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
  • On the next play, CB Prince Amukamara intercepted Manning. (Video)

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: Any difference for you for what you do in OTAs versus mini-camp?

A: Not really. What you do is you have a 10-day series of objectives and you get to the camp and you revitalize your objectives. Present it as we did this morning to the players and talk about how important these three days are and what they lead up to. Set a theme whereby you jump on that again on Thursday afternoon.

Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: It looked like the defense was playing a lot better today… Are they progressing according to schedule or is there even a schedule?

A: Sure, there is a schedule. They have had a whole lot thrown at them and they have done decently with it. They worked didn’t work as good as at the end of last week and that is probably why you saw better here today.

Q: Is Odell [Beckham Jr.] just not going to do anything this week?

A: I don’t think so, but he was running around on the field out there. He seemed to be doing okay.

Q: Is it hard to get a bead on what you have here with three of your best players not participating with Odell, Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul?

A: Is that one of those rhetorical questions? Yes. I mean, I can see what we can do. At least I got to see Odell for a while, but there is no doubt. You have a lot of timing involved. You have a two-minute drill you are trying to time things up. You are trying to create some – ball gets out the quarterback hands quickly. I don’t know exactly what the issue was here today, but the offense wasn’t very good in the two minutes.

Q: Do you play it safer with Odell for the purpose of this being a June mini-camp?

A: No, whatever the medical people tell me is what we do. If he could go, he would be out there.

Q: [Defensive Line Coach Robert] Nunn was saying he has had contact with JPP and senses he is up to speed as much as he can be without being here… Do you have a sense of security…?

A: All I know is that he is not here. That is all I know. He has been here for a couple of days. He spent a couple days in the classroom. He seemed to do well with the information that was given up to that point, but since he has left, he obviously has received nothing. All I know is that he is not here.

Q: Can you comment on the Stony Brook guys?

A: They are no doubt happy to be here. They are working hard. There is an awful lot of stuff. Michael [Bamiro] has been around a little bit, so he has grasped what we are doing a little quicker. We are getting some things done with the other guy. Will [Tye] is doing okay.

Q: You had Bamiro at guard a little bit today?

A: He has been playing some guard. Either way.

Q: You have been moving the linemen around whether it is between guard or tackle?

A: Normal for this time of year. Probably for training camp, too.

Q: Is it just to see what the best fit for guys is?

A:  [It is to] make sure they well versed in playing whatever position we put them at. We are looking for versatility. We are looking for combinations.

Q: What is Devon Kennard’s status?

A: He warmed up and did some things. It is a hamstring.

Q: Having gone through the hamstring with Odell, does it change at all? Are you doing anything differently?

A: We approach it the same way, but we don’t have our head in the sand. We know the guy has an issue. I think the training room is well aware of that.

Q: Why not keep him inside? What is the thinking behind that?

A: He works with the trainers. He does some work on the side. He jumps over there and gets on the JUGS machine. Plus, why have him inside when the football is out here. He can absorb information based on the fact that he knows the play. Sees the coverage, knows what the reaction should be and benefits from the corrections. That is why he is out here.

Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEVE SPAGNUOLO…
Steve Spagnuolo addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

It has been great to be here. I can’t remember the last time we spoke. It might have been during Phase 2 or OTA’s, but it is great to get out on the field with the guys. That is when you get a true feel for what you have, where you are at and where you are going. We are in the middle of that and I look forward to continuing it. The way Coach has it structured the next three days I think will be exciting for us and hopefully when it is all said and done, we feel real good.

Q: Do you have a better handle on what your roster is and the talent on it?

A: I think better than when we began. I think I have mentioned this before; it won’t be until we get to the third day of training camp that we play real football. We can tell a certain number of things to a certain point in these practices. Certainly from the chin to the hairline if people are getting it. We say we are evaluating everybody on their ability to learn, which we can get a feel for that. Footwork you can get a feel for and hand placement and things like that defensively. I was talking about this with the D-line this morning – footwork is different when you don’t have any protection and pads on than when you are pressing up against people and doing the things you need to do when you have pads on. It is an ebb and flow. It is a 50/50, but do I have a better feel than I did two months ago, yeah. The answer to that would be yes.

Q: Have you had much contact with Jason [Pierre-Paul]?

A: Yeah. Not as much contact as I would like, but he is doing well. What is really hard when you come in new and you have a player in that situation is you want to start a rapport and a relationship, coach-player, and friendship. It makes it a little bit difficult, but we have all been through this. It is part of the league. We will just keep grinding away.

Q: How much will JPP’s absence put him behind?

A: He is going to be behind because there is a lot we are doing right now, but he had been around for a period of time. He did a little bit of the mental work, which I greatly appreciated. I thought that spoke volumes to who he is and what he is about and how important it is to him. Because it is new – terminology is big in this league on both sides of the ball. Hopefully he is up to that challenge and we can get up to speed real quick.

Q: Do you consider JPP an elite pass rusher?

A: He looks pretty elite to me. The simple answer to that would be yes. Anybody can put a highlight film together and make a play look great. If you just watch tape with JPP out there, it is evident to me that he is an elite defensive end and fits a 4-3 system, which is exciting.

Q: Would you like this to be a more aggressive Giants defense than what you have seen in previous years?

A: I am not going back or passing judgment on any years. I think we all can agree in here that if you are going to be good on defense, it needs to be aggressive. If you look around the league – I was very fortunate to be a part of one the past two years down south on I-95 [Baltimore Ravens] that is aggressive and physical. I think all good defenses in this league function that way. We would like to get to that point as well. How and when and where we will get with all that, we will see as we go. It is pretty tough to stress physical when you can’t really do physical out on the field. I think the mindset is there, but we will just see where we are at when we get to training camp.

Q: What did the experience in Baltimore do for you?

A: That could take a long time, and I say that in a positive way. Early on it was a rough period for me, but it was great that first year to just sit back and communicate with [Ravens Head Coach] John [Harbaugh] on head coaching things, work with the defense, see things from just sitting back and not being involved in a lot other then recommendations. The second year being back as a position coach, sometimes I think that is good for head coaches and coordinators to do periodically. You grow to appreciate the job a position coach has to do. Being around that system, which really is pretty different than what I had been used to with [former Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Jim Johnson, here in New York, what we took to St. Louis and New Orleans, etcetera, it was nice to get a new perspective on scheme. I am talking more about base defense than sub-defense. [Baltimore] is in what they say is a 3-4, but it is more of an under scheme. We will pick apart what we think are the meat and the good things from that and try to add them in. If you try to do too much, it won’t be any good. I thought it was very valuable. I am indebted and thankful to the people there. [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti, [Ravens General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and certainly John, who is a close friend of mine.

Q: Do you take anything from the 2007 Giants defense when guys didn’t have the light go off in regards to your system until the third game and can you apply that to this team?

A:  Definitely. It is a little bit of force-feeding right now. I do think it is important to be multiple in this league because offenses are multiple and you have to have an answer for certain things. There will come a point as we get closer to that first game when we are going to have to make a decision and say, ‘This is it.’ If we do too much, we become less as a unit. You are always weighing that out on either side of the ball in anything you do in this league, is the too much, ‘don’t let their mind clutter up their feet’ is one of the sayings. I will always go back on that. I did even the other places I went to. We will be careful of that. I think our guys are handling it right now. There is a ways to go. We are going to make those kinds of decisions as we go along the way here. That is why we are fortunate that we still have four preseason games. Thank God. I wish we had another one to figure all that out. That will be an important piece of it, especially early.

Q: Was that a lesson you learned in 2007 about installing a new defense?

A: No, we had used that a lot before. Going back to that, I will tell you this, I am not sure we had as much in then as we might have now or we did in after that. Obviously at that particular time – the one little element, I know you all remember this, my friend Michael [Strahan] wasn’t here for most of that. He was an integral part of the whole thing. [Strahan] and I have talked about that. It took a little while for him to get going, and yet when all the pieces fell together, I think we did pretty good.

Q: How much do you feel like you have grown since the last time you were a defensive coordinator?

A: The hope is, and I think I have said this before, we grow more in anything. It doesn’t matter whether it is coaching or life, we always grow more in adversity than we do in the good times. I believe that. Especially if you go through the right way and look back and use it the right way. I think sometimes I probably had too much experience. I had too much defense. You can have too much of that, too, so I am always careful of that. My hope is that I am better at this position than I was the first time. I guess we will find out.

Q: A lot of people in your position use the word ‘humbled’ … Do you think that is appropriate for you or is there another word?

A: I am probably not the right one to ask. This is how I feel about everything I have been through, especially being in this league. To me, this profession I am in and the ability to have been in is a blessing to me. I have never taken it for granted. I never thought I was anything better than just a normal person trying to work hard at a job, so I hope the ups and downs that I had been through weren’t what I needed to be humbled. That would be my hope. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know, but I do know it opens your eyes. It reveals who you are and what you are made of and the people you are around and what they mean to you and what they are able to give you through the tough times. I don’t know if humbling is the right word or not. It is an education if you use it the right way. I have spoken to people before about the past and I know this much, when you are in the middle of it, you have two choices: you can either be bitter or you can get better. I made a conscious decision in my mind to get better. I hope I have done that.

Q: How do you feel about the safeties on the roster and the progress the younger guys have made?

A: Young. There is youth and inexperience there. It doesn’t matter what system you are in, in my opinion, defensively, those two particular guys [at the safety spots] are really important. Everyone else relies on them. The quicker we can get to the other nine trusting them, the better off we will be. I am not sure we are there yet. I think it is going to be a work in progress, but we will get there. Guys can do it. That is why I wish we had another 10 OTAs. The players don’t want to hear me say that, but it would be helpful.

Q: Do you feel any better about the safety position now as compared to how you did heading into the offseason program?

A: Right now it is a challenge. Challenge is probably the best word. It is a challenge for our patience and our trust in them. Everyday it gets better, I can tell you that. I do think everyday there is a trust gained there from linebackers to corners and back to the safeties. Those are the guys that really need them. I think our other guys who, the non-safeties that rely on them, are doing a good job being patient and letting them try to work through it, rather than trying to overstate them or jump the gun and make the call, so to speak. I have asked them to do that and I think that is important. We have a long ways to go in my opinion.

Q: What can we expect from the Giants defense this year?

A: I will let you know in a couple of months. I know where you are going with it, but I am not a predication guy. I don’t make those kind of bold statements. I will say this, I believe we are getting everything out of them right now. I have no qualms with the effort and the attendance has been great. I know we are working through one issue. That part of it has been great and that is all you can ask for right now. I think I mentioned this to you before that the main focus, one of the first things I said in the meetings, was to make sure the number one goal is that we are better today than we were yesterday. I think if we live by that and able to accomplish part of that, then we will be okay.

Q: Are you starting to see the identity of the defense take place after showing them the past great Giants defenses and defenders?

A: A little bit. It is hard to see it until you are competing against somebody else. The idea there was that if they could embrace the tradition, the great tradition of New York Giants defense, then they could be proud of it. If you are proud of something, then you tend to protect it. It has been fun working through that. We showed, since we last talked, I can’t remember the timing of it all, but one day we did the 1986 NFC Championship Game. Then we have some other games. We were talking about this two days ago. I have saved some for training camp. We have some players we still need to put up there. To me, it is fun; look, we are all rallying around together as a unit learning things. I test them every once in a while to see if they remember. They don’t always remember. They are getting the point. They like it, too.

Q: Who are your best students?

A: Mark Herzlich was outstanding. I think he had typed up, ready to go the next day. I had to make sure he didn’t tell anybody else because he made it easy. He had his cheat notes and he was ready to roll. Mark was great.

Q: How much of the emphasis is on stopping the run before pressure defense?

A: It always comes before, in my opinion. Now we do have run-pressures, which I hope help. When you are talking about stopping the run, it does come back to the guys up front. It doesn’t matter what you draw up on the board, in my opinion. Guys up front have to do it first, then the second level behind them have to do it next, then when all else fails, you have to have guys in a position that those plays don’t become big plays. I totally understand what you are saying. It is not all about pressure and blitzing. That is not necessarily the answer. It is about fundamentals and playing good, strong, solid, physical football up front to stop the run. That will be a focus. Tough to do now when all you have protection-wise is a helmet.

DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ROBERT NUNN…
Robert Nunn addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen or heard from JPP?

A: Well, obviously he is not here but I have been in touch with him and he came up here and we met with him for a few days. He has got a start of what is going to be expected when he gets here in the beginning of it and we have been in touch with him throughout and that is really all I have to say about it. Obviously we’d like to have him here, but I don’t get involved in that, but he has got some of the stuff that we dished to him when he gets back.

Q: So he has a playbook and can go over it?

A: Not all of it, but I have fed him some of the stuff as we’ve gone and progressed through and he was here and I met with him probably four or five times, maybe even six or seven times. We kind of implemented some of the stuff and how it is going to be introduced when we get to training camp. I thought he had a very good grasp of it when he left and when he gets here we’ll start and that is where we’ll begin.

Q: Was that all at the beginning of the offseason program when you met with him? Or was it something recent with him coming into town?

A: Yeah, it was right near the beginning.

Q: Do you expect him to pick up sort of where he left off? At the end of the year he was playing at that JPP level.

A: Yeah, you would hope so. His numbers increased there at the end. I thought he did some good things throughout but just didn’t have the numbers to show for it, and I have said that over and over, sacks are a little overrated, but his quarterback hits and his pressures, he was doing some good things. They were counting for him in a lot of different ways and he took advantage of some opportunities there at the end and got his numbers up. His tackles had to be up there in the top of the league. I don’t know where he was, but he had to be top two or three as far as the production and as far as in the run game and his pass production there at the end. I think it is just coming in healthy and in the right frame of mind and getting ready to start, he is going to be behind but that is where we will start.

Q: Do you get the sense that he is going to come in with the right frame of mind?

A: All of my contact with JPP has been positive. It is what it is; I don’t get involved with the business side of it. He seems to be in a very good place mentally and working out and keeping in very good shape. His weight was in a good place and so we’ll see when we begin.

Q: How hard is this defense to pick up? Is that really the part that he is missing now?

A: Yeah, there are wrinkles that you have got to be here to pick up and he has got to take it from the classroom to the field, but those things, we will begin in training camp and we will make it work.

Q: Is there still ample time with training camp in your mind?

A: Yes, if he comes in with the right frame of mind and in good shape, he will be ready to go.

Q: When you are evaluating the defensive front, if it were a lesser player, it would be easy to kind of put that player out of your mind. But I would imagine when you are evaluating right now, it is the opposite; it is imagining what it will be like when he is there. Is that fair?

A: Yeah, there is some of that. When we have a player that is as talented as him, he is not out there right now but the guys that are here are doing a hell of a job. They are doing exactly what we have asked them to do. Coaches told them and I have told them that we can’t get caught up in that; we don’t have anything to do with that. Who is here is going to work and they have done a good job with that.

Q: When Steve Spagnuolo was here the first time, he had a heavy rotation of defensive ends that could sack the quarterback; he had Strahan, Tuck and Osi. Beyond JPP, what do you have and what do you like about what you have?

A: The one issue is that some of the guys are limited right now because of injury so they haven’t been out there. We haven’t been able to evaluate that yet because some of them are not out there. The ones that are out there are doing what we ask them to do and some of that stuff that you are talking about will all take care of itself once we get into training camp, once we start out there with live bullets flying and then that will settle and take care of itself as far as the rotation and how we rotate people.

Q: Where do you see Cullen Jenkins fitting in? Is he a tackle, an end or is he both?

A: I think he can help us in a lot of different [ways], it all depends. We are letting him work more at end for one reason, because of numbers, but I can see him doing some more work for us out there. At his age and stage in his career, we have to take care of him and move him around a little bit. I have been very impressed with him at this point. He got the calf last year and was off to a good start but he never was the same after the calf injury. He has come in here healthy, good frame of mind and we have moved him around a little bit and will continue the next three days to move him around a little bit. We will try to take care of him during training camp and get ready to go.

Q: What have you seen from some of the new guys?

A: Selvie is solid, he is a solid pro. He played well last year in Dallas and he has been steady. Some of the other guys, Jay Bromley has got to continue to improve with technique, Kenrick Ellis has got to continue to improve and I think they have made the effort to do that and we have to continue that.

Markus Kuhn, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Markus Kuhn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: What does Markus Kuhn need to prove to you guys?

A: He has got to continue to do what he is doing. He has given us some quality reps last year and I have been very impressed with him during the OTAs. The thing he has got to do is produce when we get in pads and that is the same way with Jay, Kenrick and that group right there. When we get in pads and, like I said earlier, when the live bullets start being fired, production is going to tell us a lot about who is going to be playing and how the rotation is going to work.

Q: Has that been the thing with him? You have seen it maybe on the practice field but it hasn’t always translated to the live bullets?

A: He needs to increase his production but we all need to do that. He is a steady hand and a very good leader in the classroom, very good leader in our room. He is a quality guy and he has got it in front of him this year, this will be a big year for him.

Q: How high is the ceiling for Johnathan Hankins?

A: He really surprised a lot of people with his pass rush. Everybody thought that he was a run stopper coming out but those sacks were legit. He had some legit numbers and a lot of quarterback hits and pressures, came up big in some key situations and I really like where Hank is. He has got to continue to improve with technique. That is where his big improvement has got to be going into training camp but I think that it is a very good situation. He has got a chance to be a solid player for a very long time in this league.

Q: Is that pass rushing ability of his something that just happens when he sees an opportunity or more when you free him up?

A: I think that people underestimate him as a pass rusher. He wasn’t a great pass rusher coming out but he has really worked on a few things that have really made him effective. When they left him one on one the guy took advantage of it. When those guards have to block him one on one, he is powerful and deceivingly quick. He has got better speed and quickness than what people thing he does.

LINEBACKERS COACH JIM HERRMANN…
Jim Herrmann addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen so far from J.T. Thomas?

A: He is very athletic. That is what I like about him. He will be a great addition to our teams. Special teams and athletically as a linebacker he can cover. He is tough. He is going to fill that role, both in base and in sub. We can do a lot of different things with him.

Q: Do you see him getting any time at the middle linebacker spot or mostly weak side?

A: In our base, he is an outside linebacker and in sub, we play him some in the middle. It is a very fluid deal in sub defense, so he can play in or out.

Q: What kind of improvement has Devon Kennard shown from his rookie year up until now?

A: I think number one, he is more confident in himself as a player. He knows now he can play in the league. That takes you a long way. Just refining his technique and his footwork and trying to get the best of both worlds.

Q: Where do you see Jameel McClain fitting in?

A: I think Jameel is versatile enough. He has played all three positions, so he can play in and out. He is a tough guy, which is good, so you want him in there in the run game. He is athletic enough to play in subs. It gives us a big luxury because we have a lot of guys that have played NFL snaps and to me as a coach, that is luxury to have because a lot of times you don’t have that as a linebacker coach. It is nice to have them where you can do anything.

Q: Is it possible that your three best guys might be Jon Beason, Jameel McClain and Devon Kennard, but they might not be the three best guys to have on the field at the same time?

A: I think to me, when you go out, you are going to put the three best people on the field. Why would you have the best guys standing next to you? Whatever the position is… Who are the best guys? Those are the guys that are going to play. That is what the players are striving to be. They are striving to be the best three linebackers, the best four linebackers. To me, that has always been true, ever since I started coaching. The best guys are going to play, especially at the linebacker position, since they are all very similar.

Q: Do you feel like the talent you have top to bottom in your group is the best you have had since you have been here?

A: That is a true statement. Nothing against those other guys. I don’t want them to feel bad. Talent-wise, yes.

Q: Because you can do so many things?

A: Yeah, they are versatile guys and what is really nice is they are veteran guys. They have played NFL snaps. You have a lot of guys who have played a lot of snaps in football, in real games. That is good to have.

Q: Without Antrel Rolle, many people are expecting Beason to be the leader of the entire defense… Do you think he is capable of doing that?

A: Yeah, he is a born leader. He has always been that way since the day he got into the league. Since he was at Miami, he was a leader. I think he likes that role and he wants that role. You want a guy like that.

Q: Are J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas similar to you?

A: They are both very athletic guys. They are different kinds of players, but they are both very athletic and can move well. You like that. It is hard right now for me because you don’t have pads on. You will find out a lot more once the pads go on. With their body of work in the NFL, they are both tough guys who can play.

CORNERBACKS COACH TIM WALTON…
Tim Walton addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How physical do the corners have to be in this defense?

A: Well, it all depends on the coverage situation but what we try to preach is we want guys to be able to tackle [and] we need guys to be able to tackle. This league is about finding matchups and they will try and go after the weak links and guys that don’t do it, so we try to preach that we are going to have all our guys solid at tackling and being physical and getting off blocks and doing all the fundamental things that come with football, we have to get that down.

Q: We know from years ago when Steve Spagnuolo was here that he has a very aggressive defense up front. Are they aggressive in the secondary, too, in a way that the corners try to attack the receivers?

A: Yeah, that is the thing. The guys like it and it is fun for them to get a chance. You know how it goes, you either apply pressure or you feel it. Steve has done a great job with a history of doing things and the guys here have embraced it, they love the system and they love what he is doing. As a coach, I try to make sure that I rely on the message and rely on the techniques and be his voice of making sure we get done on the backend what he needs to get done for the defense to be successful.

Q: It does seem that the more you attack and apply pressure, the more defensive players are happy?

A: Yeah, and now we’ve just got to be good at executing things. Whatever he calls, that is the job on the backend. You are usually dealing with four, a lot of times five or six DBs, on the field at one time, so that is a big number of guys, so we have to be on the same page and the cohesiveness and the chemistry and all that stuff is critical to our development and our success.

Q: One of the guys the last couple years has been Jayron Hosley that just seems like they are constantly trying to bring his talent out. What have you seen from Jayron?

A: He has it, he has the talent. The thing we talk about is confidence. We have to make sure the confidence is there and the consistency is there and all of those things, so that the talent is showing on a daily basis. We don’t want to be up and down with it, so that is the thing we talk about and we work on, is trying to be consistent with it and getting confidence so you can play at a level that you would like to play at on a daily basis.

Q: Was he a guy that you felt like you had to break down a little bit once you got here to kind of get him back to where he felt like he was on a level playing field?

A: Well, everybody for me started in the same boat because they are all new to me. Even the guys that had been here and had been playing a lot, it was a new situation, there were going to be some changes and some differences on how things were. That relationship was starting from the communication and what we expect and the approach we are going to take was kind of done with everybody but with him, I know he has that talent and it was more of confidence and being able to be consistent so that we know what we are getting everyday from his body of work.

Q: Do you see him as a guy who can play inside in the nickel or is he mostly an outside guy?

A: He would probably be outside right now. Who knows what he may end up doing, but right now, to get confidence, you also want to start at one spot and kind of go from there and grow with it. You don’t want to throw a ton on his plate, start with one thing, let’s do that well and we’ll progress from there.

Q: What about Prince can he still improve?

A: Oh yeah, he definitely can improve just in techniques in general. When we play press technique, that is always a constant thing because with his talent, he is going to see different guys, he is going to see smaller receivers and bigger receivers, and you have to be able to change that up based on the guys you see and be effective with it. Also just on his ability to play fast and trying to show him to be able to see formations, see tendencies, see splits and being able to let that put you in the right position and be able to play up to his maximum potential all the time. That has a lot to do with the understanding of the situations, of formation or splits and things like that, because he has played a lot of football so he understands and those are the things that can help him grow so he can play fast all the time because he has some real talent.

Q: A year ago DRC came here and the idea was he was an elite corner who would be following the best receiver. In year two, what do you sense from DRC where he is and what you guys want out of him?

A: Yeah, well, he definitely has to be that guy. The thing about it that we feel good about is hopefully we have two guys that can be that and that is the confidence and level of expectation that we have is that he definitely will be that guy and a guy that has that ability, and we need to build on a consistent basis. We also feel that Prince has the ability to do that, also, and that is where we become better as a football team where we can have that with both guys because that gives you the ability that you can handle the matchups.

SAFETIES COACH DAVID MERRITT…
David Merritt addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How is Landon Collins coming along?

A: Good. The rookie pitfalls that they all fall into, which is thinking you can come in here and that you know it all. Then you find out you don’t know much of anything and he has a situation now that he feels the pressure. He has to make the calls and get everyone lined up and he talked a good game as far as what he had to do at Alabama and I believe that. Now when you are trying to line up grown men who have wives and children at home and they need that call from you, it is a little different than lining up a freshman. The call has to be right. Right now, he is slow to go, which was expected, but he has to pick it up quickly for us to be successful.

Q: How hard is it at that position to come in as a rookie and start right away?

A: I think it is extremely hard. You are the ‘the extension of the defensive coordinator.’ Whatever call comes in, you need to be able to hear the call, accept the call and then spit it back out to your fellow teammates. For a rookie to come in and have that pressure, to be the extension of the defensive coordinator, I know we have the right one doing it, but it is extremely difficult.

Q: From what you have seen early on, do you think he is capable of doing that?

A: I do, I really do. He is starting to realize that these missed alignments and the minus plays, I have to cut those out of my game in order for the guys around me to trust me. That is what he wants to be. He wants to be a leader. Okay, we are putting him out there. I think he is going to be ready to go, definitely, for Dallas.

Q: How has Cooper Taylor come along after missing the year?

A: Cooper is coming along well. Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper’s body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him. The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor – he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us.

Q: How much has it hurt Nat Berhe not being able to get on the field?

A: That hurts tremendously because all the reps that Cooper and Landon and Mykkele [Thompson] and some of the other guys have taken, Nat would have been right in there with all the other guys. By him standing on the sideline and taking mental reps – I understand you are taking mental reps, but it is different. It is not the same as putting your body through the motions and making your body react to different movements that the receivers are stemming at you. It is going to definitely hurt him and set him back a little bit, but hopefully he can come back at training camp and be ready to fight for a starting job.

Q: How is Mykkele Thompson coming along?

A: Mykkele, I knew was a smart kid. He came here and he is a cerebral kid, that is for sure. He is going to take what I say literally and take my word for it and go out and try to execute it. Now I am starting to see that the kid actually has some football awareness, where I didn’t think he had much of it when we first started off. The [missed alignments] that started at the beginning of rookie mini-camp and OTAs have drastically gone down. Mentally, he has excelled past my expectations.

Q: Are you eager to see how he holds up physically?

A: Absolutely. Long arms. We did a drill the other day where he was having to punch a bag and escape from the blocker and to see his arms and the extension of his arms, that was good to see. I am definitely interested to see him in the pads.

Q: How has Bennett Jackson handled the moved from corner to safety?

A: It has been good. You are going from the outside where you are playing on an island and then all of sudden, you go to a back end position where you have to see the formation and play, the moving parts, and put people in the right position. Jackson, in his situation right now, there has been a learning curve for him, which has been hard for him. It has been a struggle at first, but out of all the guys, that is one kid that when he puts his foot in the ground, he can go. He can go. I am looking forward to seeing Bennett at camp with pads on because I truly believe he will hit as well.

Q: Has anyone else caught your eye here in the spring?

A: To be honest, the guys that you just named are the ones that I am focusing on. Justin Currie has done a great job, as well, our free agent. Big kid, as well. I am interested to see what he can do once the pads are on his shoulders and hopefully he will be able to be a thumper for us. Those are our crew. Those are our guys.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR TOM QUINN…
Tom Quinn addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: Have you seen enough from Dwayne Harris to get an idea of how he is going to fit for you?

A: I had really a good idea before he came in, having faced him for so many years. He has done a nice job assimilating himself and getting the returns down, so we have seen enough, we are pleased.

Q: Do you envision returning kicks and punts being his primary duty?

A: He is going to be a ‘big four’ player, so he will be on all four of the teams and he will make a very good contribution. His coverage skills are equal to his return skills, so that is the nice thing about getting this kind of player.

Q: Do you feel that you have a little deeper of a candidate pool for the return jobs?

A: Well, we always want a deep pool because you know at any time one of those guys can get hurt and we need to put someone else in, so we are always trying to develop depth.

Q: Any of the young guys in particular jumping out at you?

A: As far as coverage guys or return guys?

Q: Return guys

A: Odell has caught punts before but hasn’t done much the last couple of weeks. Edwards, an undrafted player, is starting to make some strides, but we will see once the pads come on and when we go in preseason games.

Q: What do you see from Corey Washington?

A: We just need him to get better so he can contribute on all four. Right now he is a two-team player but we would like to see him on all four so you maximize that roster space and that if he is dressed on game day.

Q: Are the two you are talking about the return games?

A: Yeah, he has primarily been on punt return and kick off return. We would like to develop some of his coverage skills on punt and kickoff.

Q: Still the middle of June, but how do you feel about your overall group?

A: I feel good about them right now. We got some new acquisitions at the linebacker spot and we got some safeties in, which are nice, and getting Bennett Jackson back has been pleasing. The young kid from Texas, Thompson, has done some good things; he is long and has real good speed, so I think he can be pretty versatile for us. Obviously Landon (Collins) has done a nice job in what he have asked him to do, so [I] am pleased with the overall group.

Q: With the change in the extra point kick, will that change the way the kickers are going to be working in training camp?

A: We have always done it. We had two games with it in the preseason last year, so we are well versed in it. We start them at the 15 and then move back from there. It is something that we are used to and it will not be a problem at all.

Q: This isn’t something the linemen seem to excited about. Do you sense that at all?

A: The field goal protection, there are some violent hits that occur. The ante will be raised with the rule and the way that it is written. Points are points, so the guys will be eager to get out there and to get points.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clips of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

  • QB Eli Manning on TE Will Tye: “I think Will, he catches the ball very well, that is always a good thing for a tight end. He seems to be running good routes. He is still getting a feel for the offense and all the ins and outs and going through what a lot of rookies go through in learning a new offense and a lot thrown at them. You see him working every day and in there and competing and making some plays, so that is good.”
  • Will Beatty on his pectoral injury: “It was a freak accident. It wasn’t, I mean I was lifting heavy, but it wasn’t my max. It was just something like, ‘What happened?’ I just don’t really know what happened. I know that I got to go into the recovery looking towards the future rather than the past.”

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TD pass to Shane Vereen. Think we'll see that a few times this year #Giants

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JUNE 12, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their tenth and final Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday. The Friday session was not open to the media, but Giants.com did report some of the following tidbits:

  • Wide receiver Preston Parker had a good practice, including making a long completion from quarterback Eli Manning down the right sideline against cornerback Trumaine McBride (video). Parker also caught a short touchdown pass on a ball that was batted around a few times.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning found tight end Jerome Cunningham “a few times for big gains.”
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib hit wide receiver Dwayne Harris a few times, including a one-handed reception by Harris. Nassib also threw two completions to wide receiver Geremy Davis during the two-minute drill (video).
  • Cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Chandler Fenner each made nice plays in pass defense.

The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on next week on June 16-18.

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Why Jason Pierre-Paul can skip Giants ‘mandatory’ minicamp and not get fined by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on LB Devon Kennard: How Giants’ Kennard battles weakness that could hurt playing time by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Jon Beason: Why Jon Beason is more important to the New York Giants than you think by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Early grind with @malessi2 he's been getting me right this offseason. #change

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Rueben Randle, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 8, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their seventh of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday.

Phase Three (Weeks 6-9) of the New York Giants voluntary nine-week offseason program started two weeks ago. During Phase Three of offseason programs, NFL teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The final three OTA practices will be held this week on June 9 and June 11-12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), wide receiver Marcus Harris (unknown), tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis), offensive tackle Will Beatty (recovering from pectoral surgery), offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (recovering from ankle surgery), DE Robert Ayers (sprained ankle), defensive end Damontre Moore (recovering from shoulder surgery), defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa (leg), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (injection), linebacker Jameel McClain (back), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice or fully practice.

“Some days are good and some aren’t,” said Schwartz of why he did not participate in team drills on Monday.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, has not been participating in the voluntary OTA workouts.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Rueben Randle, Preston Parker, and Corey Washington saw first-team reps at wide receiver. Washington had another good practice.
  • Ereck Flowers continues to see reps with first- and second-teams at left tackle. John Jerry started at right guard.
  • On first-team defensive line, Cullen Jenkins continues to work at right defensive end with George Selvie at left defensive end. Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn were the first-team defensive tackles. Kerry Wynn also received some first-team defensive end reps and had a good practice.
  • In nickel defense, Jon Beason and Devon Kennard were the linebackers with Trumaine McBride the slot corner and Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins the safeties. Mark Herzlich also saw some first-team reps in lieu of Beason.
  • Cole Farrand saw some first-team reps at linebacker along with Beason and Kennard.
  • Cornerback Prince Amakamara picked off a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Tight end Jerome Cunningham continues to impress, including catching a 20-yard pass from Manning.
  • “Running back Shane Vereen…had a busy day. He caught a short touchdown over the middle from Eli Manning during the first portion of team drills. The two later connected on a pair of completions in the final two-minute drill. ” (Giants.com)

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: You have had a bunch of time with the rookies now… How are they integrating?

A: Whenever you throw something new, it is the same as if, obviously it is the first time they have heard it. There are a bunch of installations. When you have an installation and a review, they do fine with that. Add something new and it is a little bit more difficult, so that is how you see it. They have hung in there and worked hard and they are obviously making progress. They have to.

Q: Is it hard for guys like Landon Collins and Ereck Flowers when you throw them in there with the first team? Does it make it harder for them because they are trying to catch up to the veterans?

A: I don’t think so. I think, if anything, if you put yourself in that situation, that really makes it interesting. Holy cow, here I am. They have to earn those spots. They have the opportunity right now.

Q: What can you tell about offensive line play in general without pads?

A: It is not easy. You look at every tape and try to be as technical as you can, but there are obvious restrictions for both defense and offense without the pads.

Q: How is Odell Beckham Jr. doing?

A: Seem to be better. Seems to be a little bit better today. They did more with him.

Q: Did he do anything last week?

A: He did some individual stuff, but that was it.

Q: Is he going to be okay for next week?

A: I don’t know. I only know what they tell me. They probably won’t be able to project that until we see this week.

Q: Do you still expect Jason Pierre-Paul next week?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you noticed if Prince Amukamara is out there trying to play at a faster speed?

A: I thought he was playing at a nice speed last year, too, when he was injured, so I think he is just trying to pick up from there. It started out as it normally does. He was under control. He has been enticing people to try to throw it over his head because he has broken on the underneath stuff very well.

Q: How does Kerry Wynn look to you?

A: Kerry Wynn works hard and makes plays. He is very consistent.

Q: Re: Nat Berhe?

A: We have been standing here. This would have been the ideal time for him. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get to where he can really drive, so it has been very slow.

Q: That helps Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins get reps?

A: It helps them, but it doesn’t help Berhe any, and he was here as a rookie and got to play a little bit. He also did a nice job on special teams. He has a lot of things of that nature, but this would have been ideal for him. Crying over spilled milk there.

Q: Do you ever leave an OTA day in June like this thinking big picture?

A: That is the problem with being a coach. The good things pop up and then you quickly talk about the things that weren’t so good, so you kind of get back to the balancing it off. You like to see something go well and be enhanced and when it does, you are glad about that, but then you are thinking ‘we do have to stop the run’ or something like that. You start to look at a little bit more scope, but really on a daily basis, practice to practice, as I just told everybody – coaches this morning and players this afternoon — what they should be doing right now is deciding how do they want to finish the spring and what are their goals and what impression do they want to have? What have we accomplished when we finish up the mini-camp? Hopefully that is where they all are.

Q: When you gathered them before today’s session it seemed like they had a spirited response… Did you say something in particular?

A: I just said we need to have four solid practices and a good mini-camp to wrap the spring up.

Q: You have seen the flashes from Corey Washington in the past. Have you seen more from him this spring?

A: Yeah, he has had a nice spring. He has worked hard. He has had a good attitude. He has had a smile on his face. He has done most everything we have asked him to do. I think every time he has been called upon he seems to have responded.

Q: Can you assess where Washington has come growth-wise on special teams?

A: Not on special teams yet, but I think the opportunities he has had offensively, he has taken full advantage of his year to learn, and I think he has matured a little bit. He has had a solid spring.

Q: We haven’t seen Damontre Moore or Owa Odighizuwa in the team drills. Is that them needing to catch up or something physical?

A: They are being held back. We want to get Damontre in some, but we don’t want to do anything that is going to set him back. He may get a little bit more work than he is getting, but not a lot. Owa is being held out. It is a leg.

Q: Re: Jonathan Cassillas and Jameel McClain absence from practice?

A: Cassillas just had some kind of injection where they have to hold him. McClain did something to his back the other day and it is not going to be anything major. They held him out today.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

  • QB Eli Manning on WR Corey Washington: “I think Corey has had a good camp. He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster, and I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades but just kind of adding the complete package to his game. I think that he has had a good camp and done some good things.”
  • LB Jon Beason on the new defense: “The beauty of it is we won’t be able to be dictated to. We will be able to get lined up and no matter what they do, we are going to be ready for it. That should cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses…The overall scheme (is different). We have some things that are unsound, but based on the pressure, that is the illusion. When you send eight and it looks like an all-out pressure, but really you are dropping some linemen in coverage. Some man pressures. We do it all. I would say, more so than any other scheme I have been in, we do more than anything else.”

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Jon Beason, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jon Beason on SiriusXM Radio: The audio of New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason’s interview on SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday is available at SoundCloud.com. Some points made by Beason:

  • Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnulo’s system: “It’s the most complex system I’ve been in. This is my fifth defensive coordinator. It is the most complex because we will not sit back and be dictated to by anybody…Offenses create problems by formations, moving people around, shifts and motions…Every call we can make a change…It’s a great system. We’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to be ready for whatever an offense does.”
  • Linebacker J.T. Thomas: “I think he is an exceptional player. He is savvy…I think he loves to play football…He wants to work, he wants to learn.”
  • Linebacker Devon Kennard: “I can’t praise Kennard enough. He prepares better than any rookie I’ve ever seen…The thing I’ve noticed the most this offseason is I think he is a step or two faster, he’s quicker.”
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul: “He’s working extremely hard. He’s getting the information. He will be ready to roll.”

Giants.com Q&A with LB Jonathan Casillas: A video of a recent Giants.com interview with linebacker Jonathan Casillas is available at Giants.com.

Number Changes: New York Giants safety Landon Collins has changed his jersey number from #27 to #21 in honor of late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. To accommodate Collins, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie changed his number from #21 to #41. Linebacker Ryan Jones switched from #41 to #46. A listing of all current jersey numbers is provided on the Roster and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Giants.com Feature on Linebackers: A video feature on the New York Giants linebackers is available at Giants.com.

Apr 202015
 
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Steve Spagnuolo, New Orleans Saints (January 22, 2013)

Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Defensive Players Meet With Steve Spagnuolo: The New York Giants defensive players who participated in today’s first offseason program workouts met with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the other defensive coaches, including new cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.

None of the defensive players who played under Spagnuolo with the Giants in 2007-08 remain on the current roster.

“It was great meeting the new coaches and learning about the tradition of the Giants,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara. “(They talked about) getting back to the pillars starting with the Maras and the Tisches and the players who went before us – the Jessie Armsteads, the Tom Landrys, the LT’s. All of that has been really educating.

“Learning a new defense is definitely a challenge. It is like learning a whole new language every year if that is happening. It is definitely a challenge, but it is a good challenge for all of us.”

Linebacker Jameel McClain was with the Ravens in 2013 when Spagnuolo was a defensive assistant with Baltimore.

“Everyone on the defense is going to find out about Spags,” McClain said. “There isn’t really anything I have to tell them. He is a smart man. He is an honest man. He is a fair man. That is everything that every player wants all together. That is all they need to know about him. The rest of that is that they just go out there and play and we will be great.

“I think everybody will love Spags, not just people on the team, but fans. They already know about Spags. They know what he brings to the game. Everybody will buy in and we will have a great defense off of what he brings to the game, too.”

“It’s very exciting,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “If you know anything about Spags and what he has done in this league, you know his defenses get after it. He’s already gone to the Super Bowl with this team. You are excited to play for him and get back to playing that type of defense.”

“I was always a fan of his from afar,” linebacker Jon Beason said. “Now having the opportunity to play for him is something I really look forward to it. I did have a conversation with Antonio Pierce and Jonathan Vilma (linebackers who played for Spagnuolo) and they all had good things to say about him. I am looking forward to it and just trying to do my part and make sure I live up to the hype.”

Pierce played under Spagnulo with the Giants in 2007 and 2008.

“(Pierce) said, ‘You are going to be able to run, which you love,'” Beason said. “He is going to coach you hard. He is very detailed and he is very in the trenches with his guys. He loves what he does. Anytime you have a coach that is passionate about what he does and he loves the game, you want to play hard for him. I am on board. That is what I want to do.”

Injury Update on CB Prince Amukamara: New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara commented on his rehab from the torn right biceps muscle that caused him to miss the final eight games of the 2014 NFL season.

“I would say I am about 90 percent,” Amukamara said. “I have been doing everything. I have been doing the lifts. I have been coming in for treatments, so I should be good.”

Giants.com Player Q&As: Video clips of Giants.com interviews with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Notes and Quotes: Running back Rashad Jennings on the difference between his first and second offseason programs with the Giants: “It is a night and day difference. (I am) not coming in and trying to figure out names and where the bathroom is and the little things that take some thought and energy. It is all about football and executing and making plays. I think (offensive coordinator Ben) McAdoo hit it on the head, saying, ‘Last year we installed a system, and this year we are molding ours.’ It is full speed ahead. The only thing on our minds is doing what we need to do to get into the Super Bowl.”

Giants.com video: Behind the Scenes: Shane Vereen’s first day

Apr 202015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants offseason program began today at Quest Diagnostic Training Center and will continue through late June. The voluntary offseason workout program is intended to provide training, teaching, and physical conditioning for players. Video highlights from today’s workouts are available at Giants.com.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), each team’s official, voluntary nine-week offseason program is conducted in three phases:

  • Phase One (Weeks 1-2): Activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.
  • Phase Two (Weeks 3-5): On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
  • Phase Three (Weeks 6-9): Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The Giants will hold a rookie mini-camp on May 8-9 after the 2015 NFL Draft. The OTA practices will be held May 27-29, June 1-2, and June 8-11. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

Not unexpectedly, free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise Tag tender did not participate in today’s workout. However, he did show up at the facility today according to The New York Daily News.

Quarterback Eli Manning, linebacker Jon Beason, and running back Shane Vereen addressed the media by conference call on Monday.

Quarterback Eli Manning:

Q: Last year was the first year under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, what is the next step this offense can take?

A: I think there is definitely room for improvement. We can still cut down on the turnovers. I think we need to score more points as an offense. I think the second half of the season we showed improvement from the first half, especially those last six games we were doing some good things offensively and scoring more points and [being] more efficient on third down. Anytime you are in a new offense, you want to see improvements and you want to see a progression of getting better and having a better understanding of concepts and eliminating some of the bad plays. I thought we did a good job of doing that, so we have to build off that and understand that we have to work our tails off this time of year and into training camp to make sure we are making those improvements to have a great understanding of the offense and [having] everyone playing at a high level so we can play the way we need to [in order] to win more games.

Q: Last year the 70 percent completion rate was an early season goal… Have you sat down with the coaching staff and set any similar goals?

A: That is kind of what we are doing right now. I think the turnovers from interceptions…I had 14 last year. I would like to get that in single digits. I think that is kind of a goal every year. That eight number. You would obviously like to have zero, but understanding football and funny things can happen, so one every two games (is the) mindset. Overall completion percentage, you aim for that 70 percent again. I think of that from a game to game standpoint. I want to be 70 percent for this game. It might not happen every single game, but if you can go for that by game, sometimes you might not get it, and for the season it might not be 70 percent, but each game shoot for that 70 percent.

Q: How was the mood there today coming in, especially with this year being a win or out opposition this year for you guys?

A: I thought the mood was good. Everybody was excited to be back. I recognize more faces this year than last year. Last year we had a lot of new players, on offense and defense. I thought coming in last year my first priority was to learn my teammates, which was ahead of learning the offensive playbook. This year you still have some new guys, which you always do. [There are] more familiar faces all around and you should be able to build a pretty good understanding of the offense going in and now [we] can keep learning that and get better with it.

Q: What was Victor [Cruz] able to do when you guys were down at Duke?

A: I asked Victor. I told him we were going down and I obviously wanted him to come if he wanted to and he felt it would beneficial. I didn’t want to take away from his rehab. He was able to rehab down there, but I think just getting back into the meetings and seeing the plays run and hearing the verbiage of everything. Obviously we were doing some different things those last ten games than we did the first six. Just hearing the verbiage, hearing everything again, the ins and outs of the whole offense. He was able to spot-up for some things, some light jogging. I didn’t want him to push anything or do anything that [he] would have any setbacks, but just catching passes and hearing plays called and thinking about what he has to run. We would split up at times where it was just Giants players and go over signals, go over checks and just get the mind back into football and what this new offense is for him also.

Q: Odell Beckham and you had an amazing relationship looking at the numbers, but what improvement do you feel the two of you still have to make?

A: I think there is definitely room for improvement. There are still some miss throws. There are still some – a lot of things we didn’t get the reps on the timing, so some of the timing throws because we didn’t have a whole lot of time to practice. We didn’t have an offseason. We didn’t have a training camp to practice those things. Odell was doing a great job of getting separation and winning on things, and he does have great body control and he is precise in his route running, so it makes it easier to be on the same page without a whole lot of practice. I think we can definitely get better with our timing. There were still some miscues and definitely room for improvement.

Q: Going back to the workouts at Duke… Jon Beason was talking about how it was difficult because of the new CBA rules to study the playbook and brush up on Spagnuolo’s playbook… Was this workout designed to work around the rules?

A: Yeah, because of the CBA rules it is difficult to work out with your guys. You can’t come to our facility and work out at the Giants facility and throw routes and throw a ball. This is a place where instead of trying to go to local high schools where you just don’t know what the field conditions are or what the timing is and having a chance to get into meeting rooms. It is a chance to go and have three days where you are going to have the facilities you need, the fields and the trainers. Everything you would have at the Giants facility, we can do it at Duke and get great work in. It is just a way to get a jumpstart on what we are about to get into in those OTA’s. Just get the mind back on football and receivers to catch passes and for me to be throwing routes to my guys and for me to get my mind back into the football things of calling plays, going over signals and those types of things. I think because of the rules it makes it hard to work with your guys, which I think is a little ridiculous at this level that that is the case, but those are the rules that we decided on, so we have to abide by them. This is a way for us to work and still have all the facilities that we need.

Q: How much of a comfort is it for you to have a safety valve in Shane Vereen now in the fold?

A: I’m excited to work with Shane and see how he can help out our offense. I think Rashad Jennings and Andre [Williams] did a great job last year and can do that. Shane, from what I have seen on film and from watching the Patriots, has a unique skill set that we will have to find ways to get him touches out of the backfield and move him around. I am excited to see how we will use him in different ways and how it will help us out.

Q: Has there been any progress on a contract extension and are you comfortable going into this season in the last year of your contract?

A: Yeah, I am comfortable. I have a job to do and that is to play football and that is my only concern, so I have never got too caught up with contract stuff. The way I look at it is that I have one more year and I am going to play that one more year and go from there.

Linebacker Jon Beason:

Q: Where do you stand health-wise?

A: The problem with training is it is hard to simulate pushing into another man or making a tackle. That is the toughest part about trying to get ready to gauge where you are physically, but in terms of training, I have had an outstanding offseason. I am in great shape. I am running around and changing directions. Everything feels good. I am just being smart and continuing to focus on those little muscles and not do too much and a lot is based on recovering. You hit it a little bit, recover and see how it feels the next day. I was rehabbing every day back home. I was training every day. I was able to double up some days. It has been a process, but it’s been a good one. I feel good about where we are today. Obviously, we start preparing to win a championship now, but the season starts in September.

Q: Are you cleared to do whatever is asked of you during OTA’s and the whole offseason program?

A: I didn’t do a bulk of my rehab, I am sure I will have to check in with Ronnie [Barnes] and the gang and get cleared based on what they say. I feel good, but obviously I am going to listen to them based on my limitations or what they want me or not do.

Q: Do you make any changes this year? There have been some injuries in the past… Do you do anything different to try and stay healthy throughout the season?

A: Football is a tough sport. You look at a guy like London Fletcher, a guy who never missed a game. It never happens, but he takes care of himself obviously. Injuries are by chance. Some of the best players never made it to the NFL because they got hurt in college or high school and that is just part of the deal. You go into it and you try to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s and make sure you do everything possible to make sure that you are addressing the injury, but also what are the compensation patterns, what is the muscle that something else could happen to or other body part? Everything is connected and it is tough to gauge what is next, but you feel like you knock on wood and hopefully this year everything works out because you do your due diligence and do your part and hopefully it does. That is my approach. That is how I feel. I feel when healthy, I am the best in the game, and that is my motto going into the 2015 campaign. It is no different. I am going to be healthy every game and instead of talking about every game, my focus is the opener and have practiced the whole week and go out there and play prepared as opposed to just playing for will and your mental capacity based on how long you have been in the league and just being a veteran. I am looking forward to having the mental part meet the physical preparation and going out there and being the best I can be.

Q: What kind of offseason have you had learning this new defense?

A: As much as I would like to, I wish I could. You go into the offseason and ask to keep the iPad, but unfortunately if they let you keep the iPad then they still have to wipe it clean, so in terms of what I have done on my own from a mental standpoint, you really can’t do much in terms of being with the coaches or getting the scheme. We got in today and you get a chance to kind of see [Spagnuolo’s] style, in terms of preparing for a team and going over some philosophies and core principles and some objectives that we want to get done in this offseason. [Spagnuolo] is very sharp. He is passionate about what he is doing and he is never going to limit himself to just doing one thing. You have to be able to change on the fly. Be a thinker and think outside the box and that part of it puts a lot of pressure on you now. We can’t be [at the facility] but for so long, so [we] are going to have to go home and study like a rookie. It is going to be interesting, but sometimes it is good to learn new things and new terminology and that part of it is part of the offseason and the way it is constructed now because of the new CBA.

Q: Did you have a conversation with Antonio Pierce or any of Spags’ former players to get a sense of what the role is going to be?

A: Yeah, my rookie year was that year in 2007. I was a big fan of Antonio Pierce. When I watched him it was more so what he did for his fellow teammates. The way he got them in the right defense and was able to not be dictated by the offense and that made me a big fan of Spags. Obviously [the Giants] were one of the top defenses that year and they won the whole thing. In my opinion, based on being led on a great defensive team and I was always a fan of his from afar. Now having the opportunity to play for him is something I really look forward to it. I did have a conversation with Antonio Pierce and Jonathan Vilma and they all had good things to say about him. I am looking forward to it and just trying to do my part and make sure I live up to the hype.

Q: With Antrel [Rolle] no longer with you guys… There has been talk about a leadership void. Do you have to do anything differently from a leadership perspective to get this defense up and running?

A: You harp on leadership and it is important. I think leadership boils down to want-to. People follow the guy who is really there for a purpose and a reason. If that reason is to be productive and win football games at all costs, then guys tend to follow you. For me and this team, especially losing a great player, great person and a true competitor like Antrel Rolle, I am challenging guys to lead by being on time, staying late and studying, by trying to be blameless and do their job at a high level and be consistent at it. That is the leader that I am looking to follow. All the stuff about necessarily being vocal and the ‘rah rah’ guys, at the end of the day that is not what leaders are. You lead by example first and that is what I have always done. I concern myself by always trying to be blameless, playing hard and throughout the course of my career, guys have followed that and that is what I want. All 90 guys at this point — you are a leader, come out and be that person.

Q: Last year a couple of your teammates said the chemistry didn’t come together until later in the season… Are you guys planning to do anything differently to facilitate or expedite the chemistry coming together?

A: Last year is last year. You talk about chemistry; from top to bottom we are different. Obviously a new coordinator who everyone has to adapt to and you hit your stride late because you spend that much time together throughout the course of the season and at some point, you hope a light bulb goes off and we start playing all in unison. The things that we can do differently this year are – we have to start all over again. We have to completely reset. Don’t worry about where you played or how you played in college, just buy into a system and say whatever my coach asks me to do, that is what I am going to do. I think if we do that, we will be on the same page and we will get guys at one time doing one thing right as opposed to 11 guys doing something different at one time.

Running Back Shane Vereen:

Q: What has this offseason been like for you? What went into your decision to talk to the Giants?

A: This offseason has been great. I was fortunate enough to be part of a championship team last year and since then, everything has kept moving in a forward direction. I am fortunate enough to be here and be a Giant now. I am looking forward to it. I was excited to get the news.

Q: Who do you know around there and what made that decision feel like the right one?

A: I know a couple of the guys, not too many compared to other teams in the league. There are a couple guys I worked out with out in California. We work out in the same area and now that I am in here and getting to know even more – I actually prefer not knowing that many because it will force me now to step outside my comfort zone and meet some new faces. I am looking forward to it.

Q: Have the coaches given you an idea of what your role is going to be?

A: They haven’t defined any roles yet. I am coming in just trying to work hard and make a role for myself. I am trying to improve this team in any way I can. I know it is a very talented running back group. I am just looking forward to adding my talents to an already talented crew.

Q: Are you going to the White House with the Patriots this week?

A: Yeah, I will be.

Q: Excited about that?

A: Yeah, very excited, very excited. It always has been something I have wanted to do. I can check it off my bucket list. I am looking forward to meeting the president.

Q: What was that like for you to leave New England? Did you seriously contemplate going back or was it not going to work out financially?

A: I contemplated going back because I am so close and so tight with those teammates. I had been there for four years, it is comfortable for me and it is what I have known. At the same time, I am excited to step out of that comfort zone. I am excited to experience something new with another fantastic organization. I don’t see any wrong with either decision I could have made.

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: Which NFL Draft prospects have visited with the Giants? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Mar 092015
 
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Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (February 1, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the third day of the negotiating period when teams can talk to free agents on other teams nearing completion, here is the latest news on the free agent front for the New York Giants:

  • The NFL Network is reporting that the Giants are showing “significant interest” in unrestricted free agent running back Shane Vereen (New England Patriots). The 26-year old Vereen (5’10”, 205 lbs) carried the ball 96 times for 391 yards and caught 52 passes for 447 yards in 2014.
  • According to press reports, middle linebacker Jon Beason has indeed agreed to re-structure his contract in order to create more salary-cap space for the team. Beason was about to enter the second year of a 3-year, $17 million contract that he signed with the Giants last offseason. According to NJ.com, Beason’s new deal cut his total compensation in 2015 from $5.825 million to $3.7 million, which can only be earned in full on a conditional basis such as playing time incentives.
  • Unrestricted free agent linebacker Jacquian Williams (New York Giants) tweeted that five teams have expressed an interest in his services. The Giants are not believed to be one of those teams.
  • Newsday continues to report that the Giants are interested in unrestricted free agent safeties Rahim Moore (Denver Broncos) and Ron Parker (Kansas City Chiefs).
  • The Giants reportedly made a big push to sign unrestricted free agent defensive end/linebacker Brandon Graham (Philadelphia Eagles), but the Eagles re-signed Graham to a 4-year, $26 million contract with $14 million in guaranteed money. According to The New York Daily News: “That wasn’t completely unexpected by the Giants, according to a source, and it hasn’t stopped them from making calls on some of the top free agents. But their plan is to set a price and not exceed it, and so far the final prices all have.”
  • Unrestricted free agent defensive end/linebacker Pernell McPhee (Baltimore Ravens), who the Giants has reportedly expressed interest in, agreed to a 5-year, $40 million contract ($16 million guaranteed) with the Chicago Bears.

Teams can officially sign players from other teams at 4:00PM ET on Tuesday, March 10.