Jun 082015
 
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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.”

RELATED ARTICLES…

Jun 032015
 
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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.

Mar 052015
 
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Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Latest New York Giants Free Agent Rumors: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on other teams on March 7 and begin signing players on other teams on March 10. Here are the latest New York Giants free agent rumors:

  • According to a BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) source, the Giants hope to have a new, long-term deal with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul by Monday, but there are significant differences over guaranteed money.
  • According to a BBI source, the Giants and linebacker Jon Beason have agreed to a contract re-structuring that will create more cap space for the team.
  • According to a BBI source, the Giants intend to invite unrestricted free agent safeties Devin McCourty (Patriots) and Rahim Moore (Broncos) to visit.
  • According to a BBI source, the Giants rumored interest in unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is smoke.
  • The New York Daily News is reporting that while there have been talks between the Giants and unrestricted free agent safety Antrel Rolle, the discussions have not been productive and Rolle may receive much higher contract offers from other teams on the open market. NJ.com believes Rolle will sign with another team. Rolle is denying he and the Giants have talked about a new contract.

  • The Daily News is reporting that the Giants and unrestricted free agent cornerback Walter Thurmond have talked about a new contract, but he will likely test the open market. NJ.com believes Thurmond will sign with another team.
  • The Daily News is reporting that the Giants would like to re-sign unrestricted free agent safety Stevie Brown but a source told the paper that his chance to return is “50-50″. NJ.com believes Brown will re-sign with the Giants.
  • NJ.com and The Daily News are reporting that unrestricted free agent linebacker Jacquian Williams will hit the free agent market. NJ.com says it is unlikely that the Giants will re-sign him.
  • The Daily News is reporting that the Giants are not interested in re-signing unrestricted free agent wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan. NJ.com believes Jernigan will not be re-signed.
  • The Daily News is reporting that there have been talks between the Giants and unrestricted free agent tight end Daniel Fells but nothing substantial. NJ.com believes Fells will not be re-signed.
  • The Daily News says there were talks about bringing back unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Mike Patterson before defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins accepted a pay cut. Now it is unclear if the Giants want Patterson back. NJ.com believes Patterson will not be re-signed.
  • The Daily News reports there have been talks between the Giants and unrestricted free agent linebacker Spencer Paysinger, but Paysinger is expected to hit the open market. NJ.com believes the Giants will re-sign Paysinger.
  • The Daily News is reporting that the Giants have been in talks with unrestricted free agent cornerback Chykie Brown and Brown could be re-signed soon. On the other hand, NJ.com believes Brown will not be re-signed.

NJ.com also believes the Giants will re-sign unrestricted free agents linebacker Mark Herzlich, fullback Henry Hynoski, and guard John Jerry. NJ.com does not believe the Giants will re-sign unrestricted free agents cornerback Zack Bowman, tackle James Brewer, safety Quintin Demps, running back Chris Ogbonnaya, and guard Adam Snyder.

Article on the New York Giants and Free Agency: If Rolle bolts, these 4 safeties could help Giants secondary by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Mar 042015
 
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Jon Beason, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

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

New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason said on SiriusXM Radio today that he and the Giants are currently in contact about a re-structured contract that would reduce Beason’s 2015 salary cap number. Beason is in the second year of a 3-year, $17 million contract that he signed with the Giants last offseason. He is currently scheduled to receive $3.6 million in base salary, a $2.2 million roster bonus, and a $100,00 workout bonus. Counting his prorated signing bonus, Beason’s total 2015 cap number is $6,691,666.

Beason’s 2014 NFL season was basically wiped out due to a ligament tear and fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot during an OTA practice on June 12. He aggravated the injury in Week 2 against Arizona, missed the next three games, and aggravated the injury again in Week 7 against Dallas. After that, the doctors decided he needed season-ending surgery and Beason was placed on Injured Reserve in October. In the end, he only played and started in four games and finished the season with 11 tackles.

If the Giants cut Beason before June 1st, the team would “save” $2,858,332 against the cap with a hefty $3,833,334 in dead money.

“I want to be a Giant,” said Beason, who represents himself in contract negotitions. “They took a chance on me when other people may have thought that I was done. You want to go out and hold up your end of the bargain. When healthy I still feel I’m the best in the business and no one can keep up with me.

“We’ve been back and forth trying to come to terms. They’re doing the best they can to try to be fair under the situation and as a so-called agent I’m doing the best I can to make sure I get the opportunity to earn some of that money back. What you hate is that you get penalized for what happened in 2014 when it’s no longer in anyone’s control. But if you do go out and you play well and you make the Pro Bowl, the guys win the Super Bowl, you make the playoffs, to take less money than what you were scheduled to earn is tough because you no longer have that opportunity to hit that benchmark. That’s the nature of the game.

“I’ve had the benefit of doing my own contract and you see how the business works. Unfortunately when you are making more than the league minimum you are susceptible to taking a pay cut due to injury. A lot of that has to do with the leverage that the teams have. What I’ve learned is that you can’t take it personally when the team is going to come after you to get money back based on an injury because the other 31 teams seem like they’re on the same page. ‘Hey, we’ll low-ball you worse if you decide not to take the pay cut.’… It’s an unfortunate part of the business, but at the same time staying in the game and continuing to play is ultimately what you want. And they know that.

“As you get older in the league you realize unfortunately it’s not so much about family or bleeding Carolina blue and black or (Giants) blue and red. They want you to have that perception of what this game is. It’s truly a business and if you can’t produce at a high level often, whether it’s through injury when you can’t or you are just not playing well, there is going to be some change. When you see that so often, guys continue to move on and you’ve stayed because you’ve been a good player, you start to understand that. When you get late in your career you do the best you can to continue to do all the things that help teams win in terms of playing at a high level, but also bringing guys along and leading and trying to get that ring.”

Articles on the New York Giants and Free Agency:

Mar 022015
 
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New York Giants Helmets (August 10, 2013)

© USA TODAY Sports Images

Today is Deadline to Designate Franchise and Transition Players: The time frame in which teams can designate Franchise or Transition from February 16 to March 2 ends today at 4:00PM ET. It has been widely reported and speculated that the New York Giants will designate defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as their Franchise Player. Teams can begin negotiation with other teams’ free agents on March 7 and begin signing other players on March 10.

Giants.com Interview with LB Devon Kennard: A video of a Giants.com interview with LB Devon Kennard is available at Giants.com.

Article on WR Odell Beckham: The crazy life of Odell Beckham Jr.: How the Giants rookie is handling sudden stardom by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and the 2015 NFL Draft: How the Giants’ No. 9 pick could give them leverage in contract talks with Jason Pierre-Paul by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB Jon Beason and the Middle Linebacker Position: Decision time: What will Giants do with linebacker Jon Beason? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Their Own Free Agents: Here’s how Giants should handle their top five potential free agents by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants and Recent NFL Cuts: Notable NFL cuts that could make sense for Giants by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Possible Offseason Roster Improvements: Which positions can the Giants fill in free agency or the draft? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: What should Giants do if wide receiver Kevin White or Amari Cooper is available at No. 9? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the Salary Cap: Giants’ spending lags on defensive side by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on Former New York Giant DT Jay Alford: Ex-Giant Jay Alford calls Steve Spagnuolo the ‘best defensive coordinator’ he ever played with by  Maria Guardado for NJ.com

Feb 172015
 
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Jameel McClain and Jon Beason, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jameel McClain and Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants shifted from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense in 1994, there have been some glimpses of outstanding linebacker play from players such as Michael Brooks, Jessie Armstead, Michael Barrow, and Antonio Pierce. But outside of Armstead, New York simply hasn’t been able to draft any long-term impact players at the position. Instead fans have been subjected to a long list busts or journeymen who have included Ben Talley, Scott Galyon, Doug Colman, Pete Monty, Ryan Phillips, O.J. Childress, Dhani Jones, Brandon Short, Quincy Monk, Wesley Mallard, Nick Greisen, Reggie Torbor, Gerris Wilkinson, Zak DeOssie (who was not drafted as a long snapper), Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, Jacquian Williams, and Greg Jones. If that list wasn’t so painful, it would be comical. Because the Giants have drafted so poorly at this position, they have repeatedly had to address the linebacker spot in free agency, or in the case of Jon Beason, by trade. While they have had more success there, these older players haven’t remained on the team very long.

Before the season, it was hoped that the linebacking position would be reasonably improved. Jon Beason was a major positive in-season addition to the team in 2013 and it was believed with a full offseason, his impact would increase even more so. The Giants added Jameel McClain in free agency and the coaching staff was talking up the improvements Jacquian Williams had made. But linebacker remained a weakness for the Giants in 2014 and was a significant factor in the team’s near dead-last rankings in overall defense and against the run. Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered and was placed on Injured Reserve after playing in only four games. Williams, who also ended the season on IR with a concussion, simply has not developed, along with fellow 2011 rookie class members Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich. All three of those players have been here four years and the Giants have very little to show for it. Jameel McClain was the best of the bunch, but he most likely looked better than he really was simply by being compared to poorer quality teammates.

The only true bright spot on the horizon is Devon Kennard, a defensive end-linebacker tweener who flashed with his ability as a line-of-scrimmage player and pass rusher. However, it remains to be seen if he really can fit in as a true 4-3 linebacker who can cover tight ends and backs.

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“For a rookie, (Kennard is) very mature,” said Perry Fewell in December. “He’s very serious about his work and his business. He has a very professional attitude every single day in the classroom and on the field about his work and how he can improve for a rookie. We always talk about the rookie wall or what have you. It doesn’t seem to faze him. We’re giving him more in the classroom and he’s able to take it on the field. He loves to talk football and he loves to visualize what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. He takes the critiquing not personally, but he takes it as a learning experience and for a rookie, that’s very mature.

“It’s kind of tough (to determine his ideal position). He’s a powerful man that can play at defensive end and rush and do that type of thing. He’s also skillful enough to play a linebacker position. He’s not as fleet-footed as you would like for him to be and so we put that in the term of a tweener. I think after the season and over the next training period, if he works on his burst and his explosion, that he can be an ideal linebacker. We call him a SAM linebacker. That would be his ideal position and he can also transition and put his hand on the dirt and rush, but I think linebacker would be his natural position.”

THE PLAYERS

Jon Beason’s 2014 NFL season was basically wiped out due to a ligament tear and fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot during an OTA practice on June 12. He aggravated the injury in Week 2 against Arizona, missed the next three games, and aggravated the injury again in Week 7 against Dallas. After that, the doctors decided he needed season-ending surgery and Beason was placed on Injured Reserve in October. In the end, he only played and started in four games and finished the season with 11 tackles. Beason was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Panthers. He is a three-time Pro Bowler (2008-2010). Beason missed most of the 2011 season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn right ACL, an injury that required microfracture knee surgery. The Giants acquired Beason in a trade with the Panthers in October 2013. He played in 12 games with the Giants in 2013, starting his last 11 at middle linebacker. In those 12 games, he finished with 93 tackles and one interception. Beason lacks ideal size, but he is a decent athlete with very good intangibles. He is smart, instinctive, energetic, and productive, and brought leadership and gravitas to a linebacking corps in 2013 sorely needing all of those qualities. Beason is a better run defender than in coverage, where he sometimes struggles against better athletes in space. Beason is a good hitter and tackler. He obviously has been a very fragile, injury-prone player in recent years.

Jameel McClain, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jameel McClain played in all 16 games in 2014 with 14 starts, primarily at middle linebacker. He finished the season as the team’s leading tackler with 116, and also had 2.5 sacks, three pass defenses, and one forced fumble. McClain was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games. A serious neck injury (spinal contusion) suffered late in 2012 caused him to miss the first six games of the 2013 season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Ravens released him in February 2014 and the Giants signed him in March. A defensive end in college, McClain has good size and he is versatile, being able to play both inside and outside linebacker. He is an aggressive, hard-working, tough, physical player who is solid against the run and a decent blitzer. McClain lacks ideal overall athleticism, quickness, and speed. He is not as strong in pass coverage. McClain is a good leader.

A fifth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Devon Kennard was a pleasant surprise. Kennard missed three games in September with a hamstring injury and the season-finale with a toe injury, but he played in 12 games, starting six. He finished the season with 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one pass defense, and two forced fumbles. A bit of a ‘tweener who lacks ideal speed and quickness for linebacker, Kennard has collegiate experience playing both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. He played at outside linebacker in the 4-3 for the Giants. Kennard has good size and strength for linebacker. He is a stout player against the run and flashes as a blitzer. He is not as good in pass coverage. Kennard is a very smart player, but he has been injury prone at both the college and pro level.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (July 22, 2013)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jacquian Williams started the first nine game of the season, but suffered a serious concussion in early November and was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014. He finished the season with 78 tackles and three pass defenses. Williams was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. His 2012 season was sabotaged by a PCL knee injury that caused him to miss six games. Williams lacks size, but he is extremely athletic. He is more of a run-and-chase run defender and coverage linebacker than physical presence due to his lack of size and overall physicality. While Williams gets in on a lot of tackles, he rarely makes big plays in any phase of the game.

In his fourth season with the Giants, Mark Herzlich had his most productive season, playing in 15 games with eight starts at outside linebacker. He finished the season with 52 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Herzlich was regarded as one of the better collegiate linebackers in the country before missing the 2009 season with bone cancer, which led to him having a titanium rod inserted into his left femur. Herzlich has very good size but is a sup-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer.

Spencer Paysinger, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Spencer Paysinger – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Spencer Paysinger saw his playing time dramatically decrease in 2014. He played in 15 games with one start, but only had 15 tackles. The year before in 2013, Paysinger started 10 games and finished with 74 tackles. Paysinger was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Paysinger is a decent athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger. He doesn’t make many plays.

Terrell Manning was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with an ankle injury after playing in only one game with the Giants in Week 13. He was with the Giants in training camp before being waived on August 30. The Giants re-signed him off of the Bengals’ Practice Squad in late November 2014. Manning was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Manning has spent time with the Packers (2012-13), Chargers (2013), Vikings (2014), Dolphins (2014), Bears (2014), and Bengals (2014). In three seasons, Manning has played in 10 NFL games with no starts. Manning lacks ideal overall athleticism and size, but he is an instinctive, aggressive, physical player who hits and tackles well.

The Giants signed James Davidson to the Practice Squad in September 2014 and the 53-man roster in December 2014. Davidson was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but waived in August. Davidson was an undersized collegiate defensive end who projects to linebacker at the pro level. Whether he has the overall athleticism and instincts for the position remains to be seen. Obviously, he is a project.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013 and was not drafted. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Jan 302015
 
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The father of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Archie Manning, told the press on Thursday that he believes his son would retire before playing for another professional football team. One of Archie’s other sons, Peyton Manning, plays for the Denver Broncos after a long career with the Indianapolis Colts.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“Peyton’s enjoyed his three years with the Broncos but he always envisioned himself playing for one team. So I’m glad when he did have to change, he made a good choice,” said Archie Manning. “But Eli, I think if the Giants traded Eli, he would retire. He loves his team. He loves the New York Giants…Eli wants to (finish his career with the Giants). I hope he can. Eli doesn’t worry about it too much. That is kind of the Giants decision.”

The Giants traded for Manning in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 34-year old Manning has played 11 seasons and won two Super Bowl MVP’s with the team. He is entering the final year of his current contract. Manning is scheduled to count $19.75 million against the 2015 salary cap unless the Giants extend his contract.

Statistically-speaking, Manning had one of his best seasons in 2014. Manning finished the year with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career and in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

And Manning did all of this with a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and West Coast Offense-based system.

“I thought going to the West Coast was great for Eli at this point of his career. Really great,” Archie Manning said. “But I didn’t know it was going to involve mechanics and footwork and all that stuff. It was a transition, but he made it and he got more comfortable. Maybe he got comfortable when Odell (Beckham Jr.) started playing.”

(Giants fans are discussing this topic in The Corner Forum).

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Article on Former Giant OT/OG David Diehl: David Diehl’s lasting impact on the Giants by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

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