Jul 172017
 
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B.J. Goodson, New York Giants (August 20, 2016)

B.J. Goodson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Linebackers

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: Ever since the New York Giants moved to the 4-3 defense in 1994, the team has largely de-emphasized the acquisition of linebackers in terms of premium resources. The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the 1st round was 1984 (Carl Banks). The last three linebackers drafted in the 2nd round were Clint Sintim (2009), Kanavis McGhee (1991), and Pepper Johnson (1986). From time to time, the Giants have spent big money on linebackers in free agency, including Michael Barrow (2000), Antonio Pierce (2005), and Michael Boley (2009). Not surprisingly, the overall play of the position has declined since its golden era of the 1980s, with the last linebackers to make the Pro Bowl being Pierce (2006) and Jessie Armstead (2001). Now annually, the team’s talent level at the position is usually considered sub-par and the defensive weak spot.

In 2016, of the defense’s three levels, the linebacking corps once again took a backseat to the defensive line and secondary. But while the linebackers were not a team strength, they did play at a more respectable level than their recent predecessors. This is a polite way of saying, “Well, at least the linebackers didn’t suck!”

The surprising headliner was Jonathan Casillas, who arguably had the best season of his career. Keenan Robinson stayed healthy and added more speed to the position. And Devon Kennard finally stayed healthy for a full 16 games. Overall, there weren’t many big plays from this group, but they did a respectable job on a defensive unit that improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage allowed and 2nd in terms of points allowed.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to re-sign Kelvin Sheppard, who started 11 regular-season games at middle linebacker for the team in 2016. The Giants re-signed unrestricted free agents Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich to 1-year deals. The team also signed journeyman street free agent Curtis Grant and rookie free agent Calvin Munson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Once again, the Giants made no major player acquisitions at linebacker. The #1 story line here is tracking how well second-year player B.J. Goodson can take over at middle linebacker for Sheppard. Goodson has been praised by coaches and players for his work during the spring, but he has to demonstrate that he can not only stuff the run, but cover tight ends and running backs. The middle linebacker is usually a defensive leader on most teams and it will be a big jump for Goodson, who only played a handful of defensive snaps in 2016.

It assumed by many that Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Devon Kennard will remain the other top linebackers on the team. Can Casillas continue his career renaissance or was 2016 his high point? Can the injury-prone Robinson string together two healthy years in a row? One gets the sense that Kennard still hasn’t reached his true potential, but he must also stay healthy.

ON THE BUBBLE: Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas, Deontae Skinner, Curtis Grant, Stansly Maponga, and Calvin Munson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Bill McGovern on B.J. Goodson: “I think he, like everybody has kind of has noticed, he just seemed a little bit more comfortable being in the system another year being around it. You see him more comfortable gaining more confidence as he continues to get more and more reps in practice… He has a really good skill set. He looks like he will be good in the run, but again, without pads on right now, we’re moving around but it’s not anything that is going to be real definitive right now, but he is a guy that looks like he can tackle, we’ve seen on tape that he can tackle. He moves well. It looks like he is moving better in the pass but again you always move better once you always have a better understanding of how you fit in this scheme… the mike linebacker position is one that has got to control our defense, make some calls, make some checks, get us lined up, and let us play.”

McGovern on Keenan Robinson: “I think Keenan, in particular in our sub-package really was a positive for us in terms of coverage. He has length, he has size, and he has athleticism so he was a real positive. Hopefully, again we will continue to expand his role in that.”

McGovern on Devon Kennard: “I think (last year) it was kind of learning, again, more about DK and DK kept taking on more and more responsibility. Finding his skill set improved a little bit in that he has value rushing the passer and that he has value on first down, second down, and third down. It was one of those situations as we developed through the year we realized that he had more and more value and he has continued to work on it through the offseason and we are excited about where he is headed now.”

PREDICTIONS: This group is lucky to be sandwiched between the talent on the defensive line and defensive backs. As of July 2017, clearly there are still no headliners at this position for the Giants. That could change if Goodson or Kennard have breakout years. The key with Goodson will probably be his coverage ability. Can he become a three-down linebacker? I keep waiting for Kennard to have that breakout game. He has the smarts and physical tools. It just hasn’t happened for him yet. Casillas and Robinson had solid seasons, but they have to prove they can do that again.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring injury, the obvious ones are B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Devon Kennard. After that, it gets murky. The Giants could keep as few as six linebackers. It is doubtful they will keep eight. Herzlich keeps seeing his defensive snaps reduced, but is clearly still valued as a core special teams player. The wild card is J.T. Thomas, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury. The fact that he has not been cut seems to indicate the Giants still have plans for him or see him as insurance. I’ll say the Giants keep seven linebackers, including special teams aces Herzlich, Thomas, and Deontae Skinner. I would not be shocked to see the Giants replace one of these three after the final roster cuts.

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

Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS SPRING…

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS OFFENSE…

ARTICLES ON THE NEW YORK GIANTS DEFENSE…

ARTICLE ON FORMER GIANTS COACH DENNY MARCIN…

Jun 092017
 
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Geno Smith, New York Giants (May 25, 2017)

Geno Smith – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 9, 2017 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…
The Giants held their tenth and final voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Friday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. A mandatory mini-camp will be held on June 13-15.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Wide receiver Kevin Norwood (unknown), tight end Rhett Ellison (calf), cornerback Eli Apple (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (unknown), linebacker J.T. Thomas (recovering from torn ACL), and safety Mykkele Thompson (unknown) did not practice.

Wide receiver Kevin Snead appeared to injure his left hamstring during practice.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., left guard Justin Pugh, right tackle Bobby Hart, defensive end Olivier Vernon, and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa were no-shows for the voluntary OTA.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With Justin Pugh and Bobby Hart absent, the first-team offensive line consisted of left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Adam Gettis, center Weston Richburg, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Adam Bisnowaty.
  • Defensive tackle Jarron Jones was working with the offensive linemen.
  • Quarterback Geno Smith hit tight end Evan Engram in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
  • Safety Ryan Murphy came up with the first interception of practice off of a deflected pass.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb hit wide receiver Kevin Snead deep down the left sideline, but Snead appeared to injure his left hamstring on the play.
  • With Eli Apple out, Michael Hunter continued to see first-team reps at cornerback.

Giants.com has provided the following notes from the last OTA:

OTA #10:

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Feb 152017
 
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Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 18, 2016)

Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants moved to the 4-3 defense in 1994, the team has largely de-emphasized the acquisition of linebackers in terms of premium resources. The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the 1st round was 1984 (Carl Banks). The last three linebackers drafted in the 2nd round were Clint Sintim (2009), Kanavis McGhee (1991), and Pepper Johnson (1986). From time to time, the Giants have spent big money on linebackers in free agency, including Michael Barrow (2000), Antonio Pierce (2005), and Michael Boley (2009). Not surprisingly, the overall play of the position has declined since its golden era of the 1980s, with the last linebackers to make the Pro Bowl being Pierce (2006) and Jessie Armstead (2001). Now annually, the team’s talent level at the position is usually considered sub-par and the defensive weak spot.

In 2016, of the defense’s three levels, the linebacking corps once again took a backseat to the defensive line and secondary. But while the linebackers were not a team strength, they did play at a more respectable level than their recent predecessors. This is a polite way of saying, “Well, at least the linebackers didn’t suck!”

The surprising headliner was Jonathan Casillas, who arguably had the best season of his career. Keenan Robinson stayed healthy and added more speed to the position. And Devon Kennard finally stayed healthy for a full 16 games. Overall, there weren’t many big plays from this group, but they did a respectable job on a defensive unit that improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage allowed and 2nd in terms of points allowed.

THE STARTERS

Jonathan Casillas had his best season to date as a pro in 2016. Casillas played in every game, with 15 regular-season starts (72 percent of all defensive snaps), and finished the year with 96 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Casillas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New Orleans Saints after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played for the Saints (2009-11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-14), and Patriots (2014). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2015. Casillas lacks ideal size and has issues against the run at times, but he is a good athlete with fine speed and performs well in coverage. Caillas does not make many impact plays and is not much of a blitzer (6.5 career sacks).

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

Devon Kennard played in every game with nine regular-season starts, playing in 47 percent of all defensive snaps. He finished 2016 with 61 tackles, one sack, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Kennard was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. He missed playing time in 2014 (four games with hamstring and toe injuries) and 2015 (seven games with hamstring and foot injuries). Kennard is a big, strong linebacker who is a bit of a DE/LB ‘tweener. In fact, the Giants will use him at defensive end in pass rush situations. Kennard plays the run well and can get heat on the quarterback, but he is not as strong in coverage. To date, he has not put up big numbers or made many big plays. Kennard has been somewhat injury prone.

While Kelvin Sheppard started 11-of-16 regular-season games at middle linebacker in 2016, he only received 39 percent of defensive snaps. Sheppard finished the year with 50 tackles and two pass defenses. Sheppard was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in April 2013 and signed with the Dolphins in September 2014 and Giants in April 2016. Sheppard is more of a two-down linebacker who plays the run better than the pass. While he has good size, Sheppard lacks ideal overall athletic ability. Sheppard does not make many big plays.

THE RESERVES

B.J. Goodson was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played in 15 regular-season games with no starts, playing in one percent of defensive snaps. Goodson finished his rookie season with nine tackles and one forced fumble. Goodson is a big, strong, physical linebacker who plays the run better than the pass. He is a big hitter and good tackler. To become a complete player, Goodson has to improve his pass coverage. Goodson lacks ideal speed and agility.

Mark Herzlich remains primarily a reserve linebacker and special teams player who occasionally is called upon to play on defense (one percent of defensive snaps in 2016). Herzlich played in 14 regular-season games, missing two with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles on defense. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has started 17 regular-season games in his six seasons with the Giants, eight of which were in 2014. Herzlich has very good size but is a sub-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer. Herzlich is a good special teams player.

Deontae Skinner was added to and released from the Practice Squad multiple times in 2016. He also was signed to the 53-man roster in October and again in December. Skinner played in four games in 2016 and was credited with five tackles. Skinner was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Patriots (2014-2015) and Eagles (2015-2016). Skinner is a big, instinctive linebacker with decent agility but who lacks speed.

Ishaq Williams was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016 and the 53-man roster in December 2016. He did not play in any games. The Giants originally signed Williams after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2016 mini-camp. Williams had been out of football since 2013 after being implicated in an academic dishonesty scandal at Notre Dame. Williams has a nice combination of size and overall athletic ability.

INJURED RESERVE

The Giants placed J.T. Thomas on Injured Reserve in September 2016 after he suffered ligament damage to his left knee in the regular-season opener. Thomas was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in August 2013 and he was claimed off of waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants signed Thomas in March 2015. In 2015 with the Giants, Thomas played in 12 games with 11 starts, missing four games with an ankle injury. Thomas lacks ideal size, but he is a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, Thomas can play all three linebacker positions. However, he does not many impact plays and is better suited as a reserve. Thomas is a good special teams player.

Feb 112017
 
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Martin Mayhew, Detroit Lions (September 27, 2015)

Martin Mayhew – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MARTIN MAYHEW HIRED BY SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS…
According to SNY and The Daily News, the San Francisco 49ers have hired New York Giants Director of Football Operations/Special Projects Martin Mayhew to become a senior personal executive. Mayhew served as the general manager for the Lions from 2008-20015. He was fired by the Lions in November 2015. In his position with the Giants, Mayhew worked with Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams on all aspects of the salary cap, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) compliance, and player contract negotiations. He also handled special projects as assigned by General Manager Jerry Reese.

IMPORTANT DATES SECTION UPDATED…
The Important Dates section of the website has been updated.

ARTICLES…

Jan 032017
 
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Paul Perkins, New York Giants (January 1, 2017)

Paul Perkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants players return to practice on Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s playoff game against the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin.

Dec 302016
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 18, 2016)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DECEMBER 30, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) and safety Nat Berhe (concussion) have officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“Yeah, there’s a chance (Berhe will return this season),” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We’re keeping him on the active roster and if he gets cleared and is ready to go and is capable, we’ll use him.”

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (ankle), linebacker B.J. Goodson (concussion), and tight end Jerell Adams (shoulder) are “questionable” for the game.

“(Jenkins) moved around well yesterday, had a good mental day today and tomorrow’s going to be a big day for a lot of the guys as it is this time of the year for a lot of players to get out there, get that launch speed going before we jump on the train,” said McAdoo, who indicated that Jenkins may be a game-time decision.

Tight end Will Tye (illness) is “probable” for the game.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
Transcripts of media sessions with Ben McAdoo are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no press availability to the team on Saturday. The Giants play the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland on Sunday at 4:25PM ET.

Dec 262016
 
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Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 18, 2016)

Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of the media conference calls with the following players on Monday are available in The Corner Forum:

GIANTS-REDSKINS GAME MOVED TO 4:25PM…
The New Year’s Day New York Giants-Washington Redskins game in Landover, Maryland has been flexed from 1:00PM to 4:25PM.

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Select New York Giants players will address the media on Tuesday. The Giants return to practice on Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

Dec 182016
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple, New York Giants (December 18, 2016)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 17 – DETROIT LIONS 6…
The New York Giants defeated the Detroit Lions 17-6 on a rainy afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 10-4. The Giants have now won eight out of their last nine football games. The Giants have not yet clinched a playoff spot but will do so if they can win one of their last two games.

It was an unspectacular but efficient performance by the offense as the Giants accrued only 17 first downs and 300 total net yards (114 rushing, 186 passing). But New York did not turn the ball over, was 7-of-15 (47 percent) on 3rd down, and was 2-of-2 (100 percent) in the red zone.

Meanwhile, the Giants defense dominated for the second game in a row, holding the Lions to six points, 16 first downs and 324 and total net yards (56 rushing, 268 passing). The defense forced two turnovers and Detroit was 0-of-3 (0 percent) in the red zone.

The Giants had six first-half possessions. New York began the game with an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. However, the Giants offense went three-and-out on their next two possessions. After a Detroit turnover, the offense mounted an 11-play, 51-yard march that ended with a 47-yard field goal by place kicker Robbie Gould. The Giants last two possessions of the first half did not result in points.

Of Detroit’s five first-half possessions, only two gained more than 17 yards. The Lions drove 40 yards in 11 plays on their second possession to set up a 48-yard field goal. Their most serious threat came on their next drive. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hit wide receiver Golden Tate for a 67-yard passing play. But on the next snap from the Giants 11-yard line, defensive back Leon Hall forced fullback Zach Zenner to fumble after a 7-yard gain. Defensive end Olivier Vernon recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback. The Lions only gained one first down on their final two possessions of the first half.

At the break, the Giants led 10-3.

Detroit cut into that lead on their first possession of the second half by driving 45 yards in 12 plays to set up a 33-yard field goal. But those were the last points of the day for the Lions. Detroit’s final five possessions resulted in three punts, an interception by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone with just over two minutes to play, and 48 garbage-time yards after getting the ball back with 12 seconds left.

The Giants were not much more impressive offensively with four of their five possessions resulting in punts. But sandwiched in the middle of that offensive futility was an 8-play, 71 yard drive that ended with a one-handed touchdown reception by wide receiver Odell Beckham from Manning. That touchdown gave the Giants a 17-6 advantage with 5:47 to play.

The Giants did miss an opportunity to add more points when Beckham had a 4th-quarter 63-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by an illegal block penalty on safety Eric Pinkins.

Offensively, Eli Manning completed his first 11 passes, a career-high to start a game. He finished the game 20-of-28 for 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.  His top targets were Odell Beckham (6 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown), Sterling Shepard, (4 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown), and tight end Will Tye (4 catches for 25 yards). Running back Paul Perkins gained 56 yards on 11 carries and running back Rashad Jennings gaine 38 yards on 18 carries.

Defensively, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was credited with 7 tackles, 1 interception, and 3 pass defenses. Cornerback Eli Apple had 7 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, and 1 pass defense that saved a touchdown. Olivier Vernon had 5 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, half a sack, 2 quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), quarterback Ryan Nassib (elbow), defensive tackle Robert Thomas, linebacker Deontae Skinner, wide receiver Tavarres King, and offensive tackle Will Beatty.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins left the game in the second quarter with a back injury and did not return. “He took a knee to the back and he’s still being evaluated,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
At 10-4, this is the Giants’ first season with double-digit victories since 2010, when they finished 10-6. The Giants did not make the playoffs that season.

The Giants won their sixth consecutive home game, their longest such streak since they won their first six at home in 2008.

The Giants finished 7-1 at home, their best record in the 7-year history of MetLife Stadium (previous best: 6-2 in 2012) and their best home record since they were 7-1 in Giants Stadium in 2008.

The Giants are 5-1 this season when they rush for more than 100 yards.

First-year head coach Ben McAdoo is the fourth Giants coach to win at least 10 games in his debut season, joining Allie Sherman, Dan Reeves, and Jim Fassel.

QB Eli Manning is now the seventh quarterback in NFL history with at least 4,000 completions. He is also now eighth on the NFL’s all-time pass attempt list with 6,735.

ARTICLES…

Dec 152016
 
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Landon Collins, New York Giants (December 11, 2016)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DECEMBER 15, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (shoulder) did not practice on Thursday.

“I’ll be fine,” Robinson told NJ.com. “I’ll be good to go Sunday.”

Three players who are in the NFL concussion protocol – running back Shane Vereen, linebacker Mark Herzlich, and safety Nat Berhe – were limited to non-contact work.

Defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee), defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (shoulder), left guard Justin Pugh (knee), and long snapper Zak DeOssie (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo and select position coaches and players will address the media on Friday.