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Da'Mari Scott, New York Giants (December 22, 2019)

Da’Mari Scott – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS REDUCE ROSTER TO 80 PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have reduced their summer training camp roster to 80 players. The Giants waived the following players:

  • QB Case Cookus
  • RB Jon Hilliman
  • FB George Aston
  • LB Chris Peace
  • LB Oluwole Betiku
  • LB Dana Levine
  • CB Shakial Taylor
  • S Rashaan Gaulden

Wide receiver Da’Mari Scott has also decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19. He is the second Giant to do so, following left tackle Nate Solder.

The Giants claimed Scott off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills in July 2019. They waived him in August but Scott spent time on both the team’s Practice Squad and 53-man roster during the season. In all, Scott played in five games with two starts. He finished the year with just two catches for 22 yards. He also returned four kickoffs (27.5 yards per return) and six punts (5.3 yards per return).

The 6’0”, 205-pound Scott was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns waived him in December 2018 and he was then signed by the Bills.

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List.

The Giants also signed rookie cornerback Jarren Williams, who was waived by the Arizona Cardinals last week when they cut their roster to 80 players.

Under special COVID-19 rules, teams were allowed to delay reducing their roster from 90 to 80 until August 16. However, teams choosing to wait would have to split their squads into two halves: (1) veterans and (2) rookies/first-year players/rehabbing players/select quarterbacks.

The Giants are currently splitting the team into three workout groups for strength and conditioning. By dropping the roster to 80, the Giants can now implement full-team walk-throughs. Full-padded practices are allowed to begin on August 17.

Of the players cut, quarterback Case Cookus, linebacker Dana Levine, and linebacker Oluwole Betiku were signed by the Giants as undrafted rookie free agents after the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Giants signed running back Jon Hilliman as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. While he spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad, he was active for three games with one start, rushing the ball 30 times for 91 yards (3.0 yards per carry). He also fumbled the ball away twice in his limited opportunities.

The Giants signed fullback George Aston to the Practice Squad in late December 2019. The 6”0”, 240-pound Aston was originally signed by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Broncos cut him in August 2019.

The Giants claimed Chris Peace off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers in September 2019. He played in four games with the Giants before the team placed him on Injured Reserve with a knee injury in December. The 6’2”, 250-pound Peace was signed by the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants claimed Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos last Tuesday. The 6’0”, 181-pound Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019.

The Giants signed Rashaan Gaulden to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in December 2019. He played in the season finale and was credited with one tackle. The 6’1”, 200-pound Gaulden was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers waived Gaulden in late November 2019.

ARTICLES…

May 142020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 29, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Coming off an incredible debut season in 2018, where he earned “Offensive Rookie of the Year” honors and led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, much was expected of Saquon Barkley in 2019. However, his second pro season quickly became forgettable after he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. The injury caused him to miss three games and nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns behind an offensive line that did not block very well. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

The game that best epitomized Barkley’s frustrating season was the Week 14 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants led 17-3 at halftime, yet the team’s offensive brain trust only called for seven runs by Barkley in the second half. Three weeks later, the Giants faced the Eagles again, this time in the Meadowlands. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter tied the game at 17-17. Yet the Eagles went on to win comfortably as Barkley only touched the ball twice before the score became 34-17 in the 4th quarter. One was left with the sense that the coaching staff simply did not use Barkley to full effect.

Unbelievably, and especially when you consider the fact that Barkley missed three games and played hurt in the final 10 games, no other running back on the roster gained more than Wayne Gallman’s 110 yards. To put this in perspective, Daniel Jones rushed for 279 yards. Gallman’s stock plummeted, falling from Barkley’s primary back-up to being a healthy scratch from the game-day roster in the last five contests of the season. Gallman carried the ball only 29 times all year. Jon Hilliman only carried the ball 30 times for 91 yards. Eli Penny 15 times for 39 yards. Javorius Allen 10 times for 36 yards. In other words, all of the other backs combined only gained 276 yards, or three less than Daniel Jones (who only played 12 games).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The team decided not to re-sign unrestricted free agent Javorius Allen, but did re-sign fullback Eli Penny to a 2-year contract. Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jon Hilliman, and practice squad fullback George Aston also return.

Newcomers include Dion Lewis (signed by Giants after he was cut by Tennessee Titans), Javon Leake (undrafted rookie free agent), and Sandro Platzgummer (Austrian from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Saquon Barkley is a generational talent. His presence on the roster had to be an immense appeal to coaches like Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Burton Burns, the latter coming back to coaching at the age of 67. But as we saw with Odell Beckham, talent guarantees nothing. And it is up to Judge, Garrett, and Burns to get the very best out of Barkley. Burns is an under-the-radar addition. He’s an old-school, demanding hard-ass, but running backs love playing for him.

Judge has stated numerous times that New York’s offensive game plans will change weekly depending on the opponent, to the point where he said there may be games where the Giants almost exclusively run or pass the football. Given the fact that Barkley is a superb receiving target and that Garrett had the Cowboys throw a ton to Ezekiel Elliott, Barkley should be heavily involved in any game plan. At the same time, the pressure is on all of the new offensive coaches, including offensive line coach Marc Colombo, and the blockers up front to simply give Barkley a chance to do his his thing. Too many times, Barkey was having to avoid tacklers in the backfield. Barkley also needs to touch the football, particularly in the clutch. When he does, good things happen.

There were a couple of red flags with Barkley last year. He still dances around a bit too much instead of taking what is there. And after he got hurt, Barkley looked tentative and indeed soft at times. That changed in December as his ankle got stronger. Hopefully that was only an anomaly. Other than that, Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight.

The other story line of camp is the depth situation behind Barkley. Gallman has not developed as hoped. Penny is more of a fullback. Hilliman didn’t impress as a rookie. The Giants added Dion Lewis, a smaller, elusive journeyman who did his best work in New England.

ON THE BUBBLE: Honestly, I don’t think anyone other than Barkley is totally safe. This is an area where the Giants may be actively scanning the waiver wire before the season starts. Given Judge’s familiarity with Lewis and his versatility as a runner, receiver, and returner, Lewis also has a good shot to make the roster.

PREDICTIONS: I’m a little bit wary of piling on the previous coaching staff, but I just don’t get the impression that they were terribly imaginative in using Saquon Barkley in the passing game (there was an odd, overreliance on the wheel route). The run blocking obviously wasn’t good either. Talent? Coaching? Scheme? Probably a combination of all three. When something worked, the Giants moved away from it, and just when you thought the opponent should be hit with a heavy dose of Barkley, he was nowhere to be seen.

On paper, Garrett, Colombo, Burns, and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens are major upgrades in the coaching department. I think they will know how to use Barkley. I also expect Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Nate Solder to play much better and for Andrew Thomas and possibly Shane Lemieux or Nick Gates to make an impact. Provided he stays healthy and focused, Barkley should hit the 2,000 yard mark again. He’s clearly one of the very best players in the entire League.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny

After Barkley and Lewis, this is a bit dicey. Gallman is on the bubble. Penny is replaceable. A guy like Javon Leake could easily press for a roster spot, especially given his kick return skills. Hell, a guy like Sandro Plazgummer probably couldn’t have picked a better team to compete on. My guess is Gettleman and Judge will be actively scanning the waiver wire here. Don’t be shocked to see running back a priority area next offseason. The Giants need better insurance behind Barkley.

Dec 302019
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Monday after the team fired Head Coach Pat Shurmur and retained General Manager Dave Gettleman (video):

Opening Statement: Steve (Tisch), Dave (Gettleman) and I met with Pat Shurmur early this morning and informed him that we were going to make a change at our head coaching position. These decisions are never easy, particularly when you have someone like Pat with his character, his integrity, his work ethic. But at the end of the day, we just didn’t win enough games, and we believe that we have to move in another direction. It’s certainly not all Pat’s fault, he did a lot of good things here; in particular, his role in selecting and training Daniel Jones. It’s a difficult day when you have to do something like this. The first thing that I always think of is the effect that it has on so many good people and their families. But at the end of the day, it was a decision that we just felt like we had to make going forward. In terms of Dave, I know you’re going to ask me about that, but Steve and I decided to retain Dave and give him a chance to finish what he has started, which includes so many changes in this organization that people really don’t know about. We’ve made a lot of turnover in our scouting area, we’ve completely changed our grading system in how we grade college players, we’re deeper into analytics and technology than we’ve ever been before, and that process is ongoing. We’ve completely re-organized areas in our football operations, we’ve added a staff psychologist on a full-time basis, and we believe it would be a mistake to pull the plug on that after two years, particularly when you consider that Dave spent a good part of the first year fighting for his life. Personnel-wise, we’ve had some hits, we’ve had some misses, and we have a lot of young players who have shown some promise, but it remains to be seen whether they’re going to develop into quality NFL players or not. The point I’m trying to make is it’s not business as usual here at the Giants. We’ve made a lot of changes, changes that you don’t necessarily know about, and we felt like we needed to give it a chance to see if it’s going to succeed or not. All that being said, we need to win more games, and Dave knows that, and that’s going to be the challenge going forward. We’re going to start the coach search immediately. I’m not going to comment on specific candidates, but we will inform you as people are being interviewed. With that, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Why do you feel that you only needed to take one of the two prongs at the top between your coach and your GM, even though the call from the fans was to do a complete overhaul?
A: Well, I’m not sure that was the call from all the fans, but I understand the criticism that’s out there. But I just explained why I think we need to give Dave a chance to finish the job.

Q: Not much has gone right for this organization over the last eight years, the one playoff year, other than that–
A: I’m painfully aware of that.

Q: How much blame do you deserve for that?
A: It all starts at the top. So, yes, you can criticize me all you want, and it would be warranted because it all starts at the top. The success, the failures, and the last eight years have been pretty miserable. So, I’ll accept my share of blame for that.

Q: What specifically went into the decision to fire Pat Shurmur but retain Dave Gettleman, who built the roster that Shurmur was the coach of, especially when you credit Shurmur with helping identify Jones and develop him?
A: Like I said with Dave, I think we’ve had some hits and some misses. He implemented so many changes within our organization, we just felt like at this stage to pull the plug on all of that would not be the wise thing to do. I’m excited about what I see in the future for this team because of the young players we have, because of the changes that we’re making. With Pat, it ends up being as much a gut instinct as anything else. I just felt like we weren’t winning enough games, we weren’t winning the games that we should have won, and we just need to go in a different direction.

Q: Were there specifics in-game or philosophically with Shurmur that made you believe that he was more to blame than the guy getting the pieces and bringing in the personnel?
A: Well, it’s a collaborative effort when you have a coach and a general manager. They worked very well together, they were in sync on all the personnel decisions that we made here, but I just felt like there were so many games that I felt like we should have won, and we just didn’t get the job done.

Q: Was there a push and pull with you and Steve Tisch about this, or when you guys spoke—was it today you spoke with–
A: I speak to Steve all the time, and we’ve been in lockstep on this all along. Our relationship, contrary to what I read the other day, has never been better. We communicate on these issues, any issues regarding the team, all the time, and this has been a conversation we’ve been having for at least the last few weeks anyway.

Q: So, no one had to convince one another about the decision?
A: Absolutely not. That’s absolutely false, no.

Q: Is there a chance that whoever the next coach is would influence or factor into Dave’s role here, that the next coach would have some say over keeping Dave?
A: He’s not going to have any say over keeping Dave, but certainly I’m going to want somebody that’s going to be able to work hand-in-hand with him. Dave and Pat’s relationship has been terrific, they worked very well together, there was no personnel decision that has been made here in the last two years that Pat wasn’t fully on board with.

Q: Do you have any concern that Dave’s presence could have a negative impact on the pool of candidates?
A: I’m aware that that’s a perception that’s out there, but I don’t have that concern because I think once they meet him and get to know him, that won’t be an issue.

Q: Are you committed to maintaining the power dynamic that you’ve had with the general manager and director of personnel and–
A: I’m always willing to look at whatever’s going to improve the team, and if I felt that there was somebody coming in here as a head coach who wanted a different role and he could convince Steve and I that that would make sense for our organization, we would certainly consider that.

Q: Is Dave going to run the coaching search?
A: Dave and I will be involved in the coaching search. Steve will be involved as well.

Q: What if some of these candidates, you said that talking to Dave they won’t have a problem, but what if they do?

A: If they do, they do. We’re going to try to get the best candidates in here that we can, and we’re going to try to convince them why this is a good job opportunity for them. We’ve got a terrific young quarterback, we’ve got a young roster, we’re in the best cap space shape we’ve been in in many years. There’s a lot to this organization that I think would attract a lot of different candidates.

Q: Your past two coaching hires obviously haven’t worked out. Before that, a long time since you brought in Tom (Coughlin). What do you say to the questions about whether you guys are in tune with what it takes in the modern NFL to bring in a successful coach, given the last few hires?
A: That’s fair criticism. We’ve failed twice in a row now, and you have to keep working at it, try to find the right guy, that’s all. I’m not convinced that either of the past two coaches couldn’t have been successful over a longer period of time, but there comes a point in time when your patience runs out, your gut tells you that you need to make a change, and that’s what happened this time.

Q: You had specific criteria the last two coaching searches about who you were looking for, what you saw as the next head coach. Has that criteria changed a bit? If I recall, over the last two searches, you did not bring in any college head coaches, or anyone without any coaching experience in the NFL. Will that expand when you’re looking at new candidates?

A: There well could be college candidates here. I’m really looking for leadership, that’s the big thing going forward. Somebody who can come in and take control of this roster, help build a culture that is going to lead to winning. Somebody who is going to help us with our football re-organization during the process we’re undergoing right now. We’re looking for all those qualities from the next candidate.

Q: When you look at Dave’s stay here as GM, how do you balance, if you do, his successes with analytics and things behind the scenes that you outlined with the significant misses in free agency, if not a miss overall on a player, perhaps overpaying for others?
A: Well, we could have differences in opinion whether those were hits or misses. There definitely have been some misses, no question about it. I think that can happen to anybody. There were reasons for some of those personnel decisions. He does know that the batting average has got to increase going forward though.

Q: What’s your message to the fans in terms of how long this process will take before you see a winning team on the field?
A: Well, I’d like to think that we can start winning next year. It’s been too many years since we’ve had a winning team on the field. Nobody feels that more than Steve and myself. It’s not easy to sit in your stadium and watch fans from the other team, you know, and that’s happened too often this year. So, believe me, we live this every day, we feel it as much if not more so than the fans do, and we’re committed to try and get this thing right.

Q: You mentioned the fans from other teams cheering in your building. It was very pronounced this year. Have you ever been through an entire season where that consistently happened, with the Packers, to the Cowboys, to the Eagles?

A:  Probably not, it’s probably the worst. I think that’s more of the norm in the NFL now, when your team is not winning, your fans sell their tickets, and often times it’s the fans of the opposing team that come in. We had that situation when we were in Tampa, when we were in Washington, we had large contingents of fans down there. But listen, we haven’t been winning, the fans are getting fed up with that, and so they sell their tickets. I get that.

Q: You just mentioned that Dave knows his batting average in free agency and that personnel needs to improve. Worst case scenario, what if it doesn’t? Do you run the risk of hiring a head coach and potentially having to fire a GM a short time after and kind of throwing that power structure out of whack?
A: Yes, we do run that risk.

Q: How much did you weigh that these last couple of days?

A: Weigh what exactly?

Q: The risk?
A: That’s certainly something we are aware of, but I happen to believe in Dave. I happen to believe in the changes that he’s making here, and I think those are going to pay off.

Q: You said that you needed to see progress at the end of training camp when we talked to you. Do you need to see wins next year for Dave’s sake?
A: I’m not going to quantify the number of wins I need to see. We need to be able to put a better product on the field, that’s all.

Q: What role did Eli Manning’s early benching play into Pat Shurmur’s firing and the fact that you guys signed off on it. I’m curious how that process went?
A: It had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. How that process went, if I recall, Dave called me on Sunday evening after the Buffalo game. He said he had spoken to Pat and Pat wants to play Daniel. My only question was, do you think Daniel is ready? If you think he is ready, then whatever Pat wants to do. He’s the head coach, he makes those decisions.

Q: How important will it be that the next head coach has a background in developing young quarterbacks?
A: It either has to be that or it has to be his coordinator or his quarterback coach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the head coach, I’m not ruling out defensive coaches here.

Q: You talk about wanting to find a coach with leadership. How hard is it to find somebody who is a leader but at the same time is not too totalitarian?
A: Obviously, it is pretty hard. Those people are out there. I’ve always believed that the toughest decision that Steve and I ever have to make in this business is finding the right guy to stand up here in front of the team and lead them and develop a winning program going forward. That’s what we are going to put all of our efforts into now, trying to find that guy. It’s obviously not an easy thing to do.

Q: What made now the right time of the season versus say during the nine-game losing streak? The Redskins and the Panthers were obviously getting a head start on their coaching search?
A: You can argue we could have done it earlier. I wanted to give him the chance, I held out hope, quite frankly, for quite some time hoping things would turn around. They just didn’t, so it just was a decision we felt we had to make.

Q: If that’s the case, if you guys had won yesterday, would that have made this decision tougher?
A: Probably not. It probably would have been the same decision.

Q: Is it fair to say you think the roster is better than what the record has been?
A: I think we could have won more games, yes. You’re playing a rookie quarterback, you’re playing all those rookies on the back end on defense. You are going to have some problems, but again at the end of the day we just didn’t win enough games.

Q: Considering the state of the roster, you guys are still in a rebuild. How reasonable is it to expect this team to be a significant winner next year, a playoff team?
A: I think we’ve got the answer at quarterback. I think we have a lot of good young players. We just need them to take it to the next level and hopefully the next coach will help them do that. None of them will be rookies anymore and again we have a very good cap situation and we’re picking fourth in the draft. We should be better next year.

Q: After the spending in 2016, I do recall you saying that that is not how you want to conduct business moving forward. You mentioned the cap space, how do you walk that line?
A: It’s a tough line to walk. In 2016, it paid off in that first year and then afterwards, not so much. The key is still the draft. You have to make good draft picks. You have to supplement that with making wise decisions in free agency. You can’t think that you are going to fix all your problems in free agency. It just doesn’t work.

Q: You said the last two coaches, you didn’t get right. What is your confidence level going into this search?
A: I think there are some very attractive candidates who will have interest in this job. I believe we will get it right this time.

Q: Are you bringing anybody in from the outside to advise? Ernie (Accorsi) is obviously a name that comes to mind?
A: No, I don’t think so.

Q: Is Ernie (Accorsi) going to be a part of the process again?
A: No, I don’t think so. I talk to him all the time, but he’s not going to be a part of the process.

STEVE TISCH ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch addressed the media on Monday after the team fired Head Coach Pat Shurmur and retained General Manager Dave Gettleman (video):

Q: As John (Mara) just said, there’s been some talk before this that there might be some friction between you two on what direction you saw this team going. Was there any of that?
A: There was no friction. John and I have been partners going on 15 years. As you know, the Giants, the ownership is unique. It’s the only team with two equal partners. We’ve been talking as partners for 15 years. We talked about these issues starting weeks ago, today, and we will going forward. Everything you and I read about friction, differences of opinion, I didn’t say it, John didn’t say it. I read it, but it’s not true.

Q: Did you feel like you had the very honest conversation that you needed to have?
A: I’ve got to say, I would characterize every conversation that I’ve had with John as honest, straightforward. I feel very comfortable expressing my opinion on a whole bunch of matters, and I know John feels very comfortable expressing his opinion. It’s a partnership and as I just mentioned, it’s the only true partnership between owners in the NFL. At times, it’s challenging, but the bottom line is it’s been hugely rewarding for both families and I think for the organization.

Q: Did you have to be talked into or persuaded to keep Dave (Gettleman) or was that just part of the process?
A: No. It was part of a process. At the risk of repeating myself, John and I have a very, very, good dialogue constantly. When I’m not here in the building, we speak three or four times a week, home games, away games, we’re constantly speaking, sitting with each other. So, to say that there’s any issues with our communication is a total mischaracterization.

Q: What are you looking for, what qualities do you want in your next head coach?
A: Leadership, an ability to put together a great staff, an ability to really work with the players, the rookies. I think it’s really important that the next head coach has to have a point of view, a very strong point of view, and he will be supported by ownership.

Q: How hard is it to balance being patient with letting the process play out?
A: I think patience is a virtue, I’m not the first person to say that. But at times I think patience can be tested. But I think if I stay very focused, I sort of have the same…I see the same goal line that John Mara sees. Sometimes, the path to that goal line may be a little different, but we see the same goal line, we cross it, and it’s been a very, very, functional relationship. It’s been hugely functional.

Q: What was the deciding factor in keeping Dave Gettleman? What was the deciding factor in the conversation that made you believe he should stay?
A: The deciding factor was, when John and I started talking about this literally weeks and weeks ago, assets, liabilities, good news, bad news, and at the end of the day we decided that we were going to jointly make a decision to keep Dave, to work with Dave going forward into the next season. As John mentioned just now, we have tremendous cap space. I can’t stand here today and say our next head coach is Paul Schwartz (laughter), but I think the search is going to be fruitful and I think we’re going to find a terrific number of candidates and the right decision will be made.

Q: When you look at the last eight years, and the failures that have gone on here and the failures of the last two coaching hires, what do you say to fans who question your ability and John’s ability to lead this organization back to success?
A: I say to the fans I totally understand your frustration, your concern, I read your emails, I get it. But, John and I make decisions that sometimes may not be popular, may not be supported by the fans, but we’re the ones making the decisions, we live by them. It’s been a very frustrating four years, certainly the record indicates that, those numbers don’t lie. Going forward, John and I want to make sure that those numbers change in the next season dramatically.

Q: Why do you think you guys will get it right this time?
A: Because I’m an optimist and I think we know what qualities, what kind of character we want in the next head coach. We’re very focused on that. There’s going to be a real priority to make sure the next head coach has strong leadership abilities and a very impressive track record.

Q: What’s your desire to be more involved? John is the day-to-day guy here, he hasn’t had a lot of success over the last eight years. What’s your desire to be more involved, if it is at all, in the day-to-day operations?
A: I am involved. I would like to be more involved, I will become more involved. So, going forward in 2020, the day after tomorrow. We have a great dialogue with each other. As I mentioned, it’s a very, very, functional, working relationship. Partnerships are hard, professional ones and domestic ones, but I feel we have a very good one and we always, with some differences of opinions expressed and communicated, we get to the same point.

Q: Does that mean you physically want to be here more? Is that what you mean?
A: Yes, I will be here more physically. But, the opportunities that John and I spend with each other in the same building, or the same stadium, or the same locker room will increase.

COACHING SEARCH NEWS…
According to media reports, the New York Giants have requested to interview the following head coaching candidates:

  • Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy
  • New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Josh McDaniels

The 50-year old Bieniemy has served as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator since 2018. Before that he was the running backs coach for the Chiefs (2013-2017), Minnesota Vikings (2006-2010), UCLA (2003-2005), and University of Colorado (2001-2002). He also served as offensive coordinator at the University of Colorado (2011-2012).

The 43-year old McDaniels was interviewed by the Giants for their head coaching vacancy two years ago when the team decided to hire Pat Shurmur instead. McDaniels is best known for serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during two stints with the Patriots (2005-2008 and 2012-2019). In between, he was head coach of the Denver Broncos (2009-2010) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach of the St. Louis Rams (2011). McDaniels served in a variety of roles with the Patriots from 2001-2004 before becoming offensive coordinator.

There is also rampant media speculation that the Giants will interview Baylor University Head Coach Matt Rhule, who was an offensive line assistant with the Giants under Tom Coughlin in 2012. Rhule has served as head coach at Baylor for three years (2017-2019). Before that, he was head coach at Temple University (2013-2016).

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN 13 PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have announced that they have signed the following 13 players:

Reserve/future signings:

  • RB Jon Hilliman
  • FB George Aston
  • WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • OC Tanner Volson
  • OT Nate Wozniak
  • DE Kevin Wilkins
  • CB Derrick Baity
  • LS Drew Scott
  • P Sean Smith

Except for Scott and Smith, all of these players finished the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Smith spend a couple of stints on the Practice Squad as well. Scott has spent time with the Raiders and Cowboys.

The Giants also announced that they have re-signed the following players who were set to become exclusive rights free agents:

  • OG Chad Slade
  • OT Eric Smith
  • LB Devante Downs

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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
General Manager Dave Gettleman will address the media on Tuesday at 11:00AM.

Oct 162019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 10, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 16, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion) was the only player not to practice on Wednesday.

Running back Wayne Gallman (concussion), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion), and defensive lineman Olsen Pierre (concussion) were all limited in practice, wearing non-contact jerseys.

Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) fully practiced.

Cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring) returned to practice for the first time since training camp. Beal has now officially been moved from Injured Reserve to the Reserve/Designated-to-Return List. Beal is eligible to return to the 53-man roster on October 28th, after the team’s eighth game of the season. He must be activated by November 6th or the Giants will have to keep him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season.

“(I am) excited,” said Beal. “You’re always anxious. Just a little anxious, because you haven’t been out there in a while. You just want to see how you’re moving, see how it really feels. But I felt great… I actually didn’t think it was going to be this long, to be honest. I haven’t really dealt with a hamstring before. So, I’m thinking ‘Okay, maybe just like a little cramp or something. I’ll deal with it.’ But it wouldn’t go away. So, you just have to deal with it as it comes.”

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE…
The New York Giants have re-signed running back Jon Hilliman to the Practice Squad. The Giants originally signed Hilliman as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The team signed him to the Practice Squad in September 2019 and promoted him to the 53-man roster later that month. Hilliman played in three regular-season games with the Giants with one start, carrying the ball 30 times for 91 yards and catching three passes for one yard. He also fumbled twice. The Giants cut him last Friday.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday 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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday, with the team’s coordinators also addressing the media.

Oct 112019
 
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Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (October 10, 2019)

Pat Shurmur – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney and signed running back Javorius “Buck” Allen. To make room for these two, the team waived running backs Jon Hilliman and Austin Walter.

Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Tennessee Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). The Giants signed him in May 2018 after he was cut by the Titans. He surprisingly won the team’s back-up quarterback job in 2018.

The 28-year old, 6’0”, 218-pound Allen was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After four seasons with the Ravens, Allen signed with the Saints in May 2019. The Saints placed him on Injured Reserve with an undisclosed injury in late July and waived him in August. With the Ravens, Allen played in 54 regular-season games with six starts, carrying the ball 340 times for 1,249 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns. He also caught 129 passes for 814 yards and six touchdowns.

The Giants originally signed Hilliman as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The team signed him to the Practice Squad in September 2019 and promoted him to the 53-man roster later that month. Hilliman played in three regular-season games with the Giants with one start, carrying the ball 30 times for 91 yards and catching three passes for one yard. He also fumbled twice.

The 5’8”, 190-pound Walter was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The 49ers cut him in late August 2019 and the Giants then signed him to their Practice Squad. The Giants added him to the 53-man roster before the game on Friday.

FRIDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Friday to discuss the team’s 35-14 loss to the New England Patriots:

Q: Looking back at the 4th and 2 punt, now that you’ve had a chance to re-watch the film and look at the situation, what was the thought process?

A: Two scores, we had found a way to get them stopped on a few occasions, so I thought we were just going to punt the ball, get them stopped and continue to play. That was the thought at the time.

Q: I know you said that you don’t take anything out of a moral victory, but over the long-term, do you think that the way the team played against the Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, do you think that is something that you can build on as a positive moving forward?

A: Relative to winning and losing, certainly there are no moral victories. I think playing hard and coaching hard, that’s part of our job description. I think we didn’t make enough plays, we made too many mistakes to win a football game. That’s what I take from it. I’ve never doubted, since we started the year, that these guys would play hard. They did, and we made enough plays early in the game to make it 14-14, and into the third quarter, I guess it was 21-14 for quite a while, but when you get to that point, I think what’s important for us to realize is that we’ve got to start making the plays necessary to win it.

Q: A few of the guys in the locker room afterwards were very adamant about feeling like, despite the end result last night, they felt like you guys were a good team. What do you feel like in terms of when you get your whole compliment of players back, where do you think this puts you guys moving forward?

A: We’re 2-4 and we’re certainly going to welcome anyone back that can get healthy to play against Arizona. Everybody talked about the players that were injured and weren’t able to be with us last night, so yeah, I’m looking forward to getting everybody back. It’s a good thing when you’ve got a lot of healthy scratches when you put your 46-man together, so we’re looking forward to that. I think we’ll get through this weekend, and we’re already started, but put all our effort into beating Arizona.

Q: Can you talk about the defense? At this point last year, I think you had something like six sacks, and you’re well over that total after six games—can you talk about the job the pass rush and that defensive front have done thus far?

A: Well, we’ve made improvements. I think that was a big topic of conversation through training camp, how we were going to create pass rush. I think, if anything, we’ve shown flashes of being a good football team, and then I still think we’re inconsistent in a lot of areas, but we’re starting to create some rush. I knew going into it that Markus Golden had that ability. It was a matter of record that he had been very disruptive the year before his injury, and he’s back and playing really hard. I knew Lorenzo Carter would be better from a year ago. Not to mention the other guys we’ve added, X-Man (Oshane Ximines) and so on. Then, I think at times we’re getting pretty decent push on the inside. We’ve got to do it consistently, but it’s improved.

Q: When you evaluate every throw that your quarterback makes–the good ones, the bad ones, certainly the interceptions—and study and get the reason for them, after you do that, with a guy like Daniel (Jones), do you look at it and say, “I understand that he’s a rookie, he hasn’t seen this before,” or is an interception an interception no matter if a 15-year veteran throws it or a rookie throws it?

A: I think, regardless of whether you’re in your first year in the league or you’ve been doing it for a very long time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. I think it’s fair to say that some of the things that Daniel’s going through, he’s going through for the first time. Part of his charm is he’s willing to try and fit it in there. I think he’s very accurate and he’s got good velocity on his throws, so he’s got confidence to get the ball in there, and he did that last night. Those were not the most ideal conditions to be throwing the ball at times, and I thought he made some really good throws. On the flip side of that, there were some things that happened on the interceptions that need to get corrected. That’s part of it, for all quarterbacks, and it’s a fine line between being aggressive and putting the ball in harm’s way. I think each play and each time he goes through it, he’ll learn something from it.

Q: Any other injuries outside of Olsen Pierre come out of last night’s game?

A: No, nothing of note. Just the general stuff. But no, nothing of note. That’s pretty much the one that we’ll just have to see. He’s in the concussion protocol at this point.

Q: Do you expect Saquon Barkley to return against the Cardinals?

A: We’ll see, we’ll see. He’s made good progress. He was out there running around today, so we’ll just have to see what the week brings.

Q: On a quick glance, it looked like Dalvin Tomlinson had one of his better games thus far this year. Can you talk about his effort and what you saw from him?

A: Yeah, Dalvin has been pretty steady all year. Pretty consistent in how he’s played. He doesn’t have, maybe as much flash as some of the other guys, but he’s very consistent and does his job extremely well.

Q: How do you harness a young quarterback’s aggressiveness? Or do you feel like you even need to?

A: Harness it? No, I don’t know about that. I think what you try to do is present him with the quick pictures, good clean progressions, and teach him what you want. I think you just try to use his strengths to the best of his ability. I just mentioned it, I think there is a time when there is a fine line between making an aggressive throw and putting the ball in harm’s way. Each interception last night was a little bit different on how it played out. I think that’s part of what’s going to make Dan a really good player. This has been a great month for him in terms of learning how to play in this league. Each week we talk about how the defense we’re playing is better than the one before. Certainly, the last two defenses were top five in the league. Prior to that, we played two teams where we were playing good defenses as well. He learned a great deal from this last month.

Q: Do you think the couple of days off that he’s going to get this weekend to kind of reset and get a breather is going to help him?

A: I don’t know that. I think everybody, we have to keep working through the weekend, but I’m giving everybody a chance. Organically, that’s what happens after the Thursday game, you get a little extra time to get some rest. That’s what I’m going to encourage the players to do.

Q: I just meant because it’s probably been quite a whirlwind for him ever since that day you named him the starter. This is kind of his first chance to look around and catch his breath.

A: Maybe so. That’s probably, when you talk to him, maybe a good question for him. I think for all rookies it’s a little bit of a whirlwind the whole year. I’m sure it won’t be any different for him.

Q: You obviously mentioned the schedule and a little extra time. You go from a short week in which you guys were kind of up against it as a coaching staff to prepare for a game to now, you have a little bit extra time. Do you use that extra time any differently this week? Whether it’s tweaks, looking at things differently – how do you approach the extra time?

A: No. Well, today is like a Monday in our world, and we treated it as such in terms of bringing the players in— I call it settling all debts. We have to make the corrections and move forward. Then, of course, they’ll get the couple of days here. We’ll get an extra day of practice, which will be good, this week. Then we’ll get at it. This is obviously, because of the compressed Thursday night week and then a little bit of length here, the biggest thing is to be able to get the players rested so that we come back and train and are ready to go.

Q: Are you okay with the way Golden Tate handled those last two or three yards before he reached the endzone?

A: That was a heck of a play on his part, and I think sometimes those things play out that way. I’m happy that he got himself in the endzone. That’s what’s most important to me.

Q: With Sterling Shepard moving forward, how concerned are you guys about his long-term health with the two concussions in such a short period of time?

A: Health is always on the front burner for us in terms of short-term and long-term. So, that’s why we are going to proceed like we are and just see where it takes us. He’s a very competitive guy, and sometimes you can’t predict when these types of injuries happen. Listen, we’ve got a lot of really smart people that are going to advise us on when it’s best to put him on the field. When he’s ready to play, he’ll play. Then we’ll try to do everything in our power to make sure he plays safely and has a good, long career.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Saturday and Sunday. They return to practice on Monday.

Sep 272019
 
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Jon Hilliman, New York Giants (August 16, 2019)

Jon Hilliman – © USA TODAY Sports

JON HILLIMAN SIGNED TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
On Thursday, the New York Giants signed running back Jonathan Hilliman to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad. To make room for Hilliman, the team placed wide receiver Russell Shepard (foot) on Injured Reserve.

The Giants originally signed Hilliman as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. This year, Shepard played in all three games, catching three passes for 25 yards. Shepard was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Eagles (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2016), and Carolina Panthers (2017). The Giants signed Shepard in May 2018 after he was cut by the Panthers. He ended up playing in 12 games in 2018, with no starts, catching 12 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), and linebacker Tae Davis (concussion) did not practice on Friday. All three players have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

Wide receiver Bennie Fowler (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis, but he he is expected to play on Sunday.

Wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion), defensive end Olsen Pierre (knee), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (elbow) fully practiced. All three players are expected to play.

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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The Giants play the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Sep 012019
 
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Cody Core, Cincinnati Bengals (December 23, 2018)

Cody Core – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK SIGN MAKE SIX CHANGES TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
On Sunday, the New York Giants made six changes to the 53-man roster. The additions were claiming wide receiver Cody Core (Cincinnati Bengals) and offensive tackle Eric Smith (New York Jets) off of waivers. In addition, the Giants signed tight end Eric Tomlinson, who was cut by the Jets, after he cleared waivers.

To make room for these three, the Giants placed cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring/groin) on Injured Reserve and waived wide receiver Alonzo Russell and offensive tackle Brian Mihalik. Beal is eligible to return to the 53-man roster in six weeks to practice and in eight weeks to play.

The 25-year old, 6’3”, 205-pound Core was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Bengals. In three seasons, he has played in 35 regular-season games with seven starts, accumulating 30 catches for 360 yards and one touchdown. Core is a very good special teams player.

The 23-year old, 6’4”, 308-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Miami Dolphins after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Dolphins waived him in September 2018 and he then spent time on the Practice Squads of the New England Patriots and New York Jets in 2018. Smith has never played in a regular-season NFL game.

The 27-year old, 6’6”, 263-pound Tomlinson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Eagles cut him before the season started and he was then signed to the Practice Squad of the Houston Texans. In November 2016, the Jets signed him to their 53-man roster. In three seasons with the Jets, Tomlinson has played in 36 regular-season games with 30 starts. He has 16 career receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown.

The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. The Giants placed Beal on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

The Giants signed Russell after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2018 rookie mini-camp and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. He was added to the 53-man roster before the last game of the season. The 6’3”, 206-pound Russell was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Bengals’ Practice Squad. The Bengals waived him in September 2017 and he was signed to the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in November 2017. Russell has not caught a pass in a regular-season game.

The Giants signed Mihalik to the Practice Squad in September 2018 and to the 53-man roster in October 2018. The 6’9”, 315-pound Mihalik was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. A collegiate defensive end converted to offensive tackle, Mihalik has spent time with the Eagles (2015), Pittsburgh Steelers (2016), and Detroit Lions (2016-2017). Mihalik played in 15 games with two starts for the Lions in 2017.

NEW YORK SIGN EIGHT PLAYERS TO THE PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have officially signed the following eight players to their 10-man Practice Squad:

  • RB Jonathan Hilliman
  • WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • TE C.J. Conrad
  • OL Evan Brown
  • NT Chris Slayton
  • DE Freedom Akinmoladun
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa
  • LB Jake Carlock

All eight of the players were waived by the Giants on Saturday. The Giants have two more spots open on the Practice Squad.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Monday.

Aug 312019
 
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Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants (August 16 2019)

Kyle Lauletta – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS REDUCE ROSTER TO 53 PLAYERS…
On Saturday, in order to meet the NFL’s 53-man roster limit, the New York Giants made the following 36 roster moves:

Placed on the Reserve/Suspended List:

  • WR Golden Tate

Placed on Injured Reserve:

  • RB Rod Smith (adductor)
  • WR Brittan Golden (calf)
  • TE Scott Simonson (ankle)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Jonathan Anderson (knee)

Waived or contracts terminated:

  • QB Kyle Lauletta (2018 4th-round draft pick)
  • RB Jon Hilliman
  • WR T.J. Jones
  • WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • WR Alex Wesley (waived/injured – foot/ankle)
  • TE C.J. Conrad
  • TE Jake Powell
  • OC James O’Hagan
  • OC/OG Evan Brown
  • OG Malcolm Bunche
  • OT Paul Adams
  • OT Chad Wheeler (waived/injured – back)
  • OT Victor Salako (waived/injured – shoulder)
  • NT John Jenkins
  • NT Chris Slayton (2019 7th-round draft pick)
  • DE Jake Ceresna
  • DE Freedom Akinmoladun
  • LB Avery Moss (2017 5th-round draft pick)
  • LB Jake Carlock
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa
  • LB Terrence Fede
  • LB Keion Adams (waived/injured – knee)
  • LB Joey Alfieri
  • CB Henre’ Toliver (waived/injured – ankle)
  • CB Ronald Zamort (waived/injured – ankle)
  • CB Terrell Sinkfield, Jr.
  • S Kenny Ladler (waived/injured – hamstring)
  • S Tenny Adewusi
  • LS Taybor Pepper
  • P Johnny Townsend

Safety Kamrin Moore, who did not count against the roster, was waived off the commissioner’s exempt list.

“We are in the second year of building the kind of team we all want,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur in the team’s press release. “The process never stops. The communication between (General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) and I and our coaches and Dave’s staff is really good. The group of 90 that was with us through the spring and summer bought into what we are building here and created the kind of competition that makes for tough decisions.

“For the players who were released today, we thank them for their effort and commitment, and we told them to stay ready because you never know when your next opportunity will come, either here or somewhere else.

“I said it last week, it’s a credit to Kyle (Lauletta) the way he came in here every day and worked to get better and competed after we drafted Daniel. Not every guy would respond that way, and Kyle improved as a result. So there was a lot to consider in that decision, but ultimately we decided to go with (Alex) Tanney.”

The Giants can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squad on Sunday.

For an overview of the existing team, see the Depth Chart section of the website.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Sunday and return to practice on Monday.

Jun 172019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 30, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

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: Running Backs

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: The great debate during the 2018 offseason was about whether the New York Giants should draft a quarterback with the #2 overall pick or Saquon Barkley. General Manager Dave Gettleman chose the less popular option and selected Barkley. While the final determination of whether this was the right move or not cannot be determined for some time, Barkley became one of the NFL’s very best players in just his rookie season. Despite not carrying the ball more than 18 times per game in the first half of the season and running behind a subpar offensive line, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. And he didn’t fumble once. Barkley was voted to the Pro Bowl and named “Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”, “FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year”, “Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year”, and “Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.”

It was expected that ex-Panther Jonathan Stewart would be a significant contributor, but he only played in three games with six carries before ending up on Injured Reserve with a foot injury. Wayne Gallman became the team’s #2 running back, yet he only had 51 carries and 14 receptions on the year. The only other back to touch the football was fullback Elijhaa Penny, who carried the football only seven times and caught only eight passes. Third-year player Paul Perkins missed the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. In a nutshell, it was virtually a one-man show with Barkley.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to bring back Jonathan Stewart and he retired from the NFL. The team signed Rod Smith from the Cowboys in free agency and signed undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Hilliman after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Just how good can Saquon Barkley become? Will he let early success go to his head and fade? Or will he stay grounded and humble and seek to elevate his entire team? Jeremy Shockey and Odell Beckham were two of the most impressive rookies the Giants have ever had, but their careers with the team ended with a whimper. Aside from staying healthy, the challenge for Barkley is to prove to be a difference-maker for a team that has not won a playoff game in seven seasons. A good omen is that despite a questionable supporting cast, the more Barkley touched the football in 2018, the better the team performed (four of the team’s five wins came during the second-half of the season). Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Barkley could rush for over 2,000 yards in one season.

Oddly, the Giants basically only carried two halfbacks on the roster last year. And also oddly, the second back (Wayne Gallman) barely touched the ball. Yet, Barkley only carried the ball 16.3 times per game (catching the ball 5.7 times per game). One would assume Pat Shurmur would like to see more touches for the running back unit as a whole. But does that mean more touches for Barkley? Or does the team play it safe and try to spread out the workload to the #2 and #3 halfbacks? Will there be a #3 halfback this year? Wayne Gallman has the inside track on the #2 job, but he has to control his fumbling (five in limited carries in 2017 and 2018).

ON THE BUBBLE: No one is really safe other than Barkley. If the Giants keep a fullback on the roster, Elijhaa Penny probably makes it unless the Giants see someone better on the waiver wire. The other four backs – Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, Rod Smith, and Jonathan Hillman – are fighting for one or two spots. (And again, never rule out the waiver wire).

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Paul Perkins: “I think he is doing a good job. He is just getting back into it. There are a lot of running backs, so he is sharing reps, but the things that he has done out there, it looks like he has good body control and he handles the ball well. I have been pleased with his route running and the few carries he has had; it appears he has good vision.”

Shurmur on Rod Smith: “I think he is a pro. He came in and he has learned our offense pretty quickly. There is less and less mistakes in each practice setting. He does a good job with the ball in his hands. He is a big presence and we all know a lot of what he does is on special teams.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Saquon Barkley’s snap count: “I think Coach Johnson does a really good of keeping those guys fresh throughout the game. Selfishly as a coordinator and probably all the Giants fans, you want him in there every single play because you don’t ever want him to miss out on an opportunity. I think there is a happy medium to make sure he’s fresh throughout and don’t just kill him. We’ve got to keep that in mind as we put together our game plans.”

Shula on Paul Perkins: “I remember him coming out of college and I really liked him coming out of college. Last year obviously he got hurt, he spent the whole year on IR. Now he’s getting a lot of reps. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things, he can pass protect, he can run the football obviously, he’s pretty good out of the backfield. We want to have him continue getting better at all those things. You guys saw last year we don’t dress a lot of backs so the guys that are dressing have to be able to do all those things. We want them to be able to be productive on first and second down but also on third down and that would involve pass protection and catching the football.”

Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson on Wayne Gallman: “I thought he was playing at a real high level in December… He gave us a lot of explosiveness.”

Johnson on Paul Perkins: “He’s back to the Perkins I saw when he first got here.”

PREDICTIONS: Stating the obvious, this is Saquon Barkley’s team now. He’s a truly special talent. The Giants must keep him healthy and prevent too much wear-and-tear. Thus, I think even his touches in training camp will be limited and I don’t expect to see much of him in the preseason. If he stays healthy, I do expect him to challenge Tiki Barber’s franchise-record, single-season total of 1,860 yards set in 2005. He should also have over 100 receptions. And while a running back can have more of an impact on the win-loss record than a wide receiver, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders had great individual seasons on terrible teams. In other words, Barkley can elevate his team’s play, but he will need help.

I can’t see the Giants carrying more than four backs. One will be Barkley. According to reports, the quarterbacks threw a lot to fullback Elijhaa Penny during Spring workouts. A decent blocker, Penny will likely make the team unless someone more intriguing becomes available on the waiver wire. So how many other halfbacks do the Giants carry (one or two) and who? Paul Perkins finished his rookie season strong and actually started the last playoff game the Giants played in. But he regressed terribly his sophomore season. Perkins will need to rebound in order to make it. Gallman flashes as a runner and receiver, but he must protect the ball better or he could be vulnerable. Gallman and Perkins seem to be directly competing with each other for one spot. Rod Smith’s best chance is if the coaches want to keep a short yardage back to reduce wear-and-tear on Barkley. His special team ability also helps. Jonathan Hilliman is a powerful runner who appears to be directly competing with Smith in terms of the style he brings to the table.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Elijhaa Penny, Wayne Gallman, and Rod Smith

Apr 282019
 
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Corey Ballentine, Washburn University (January 26, 2019)

Corey Ballentine – © USA TODAY Sports

COREY BALLENTINE SHOT…
Cornerback Corey Ballentine, who the New York Giants drafted in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Washburn University on Saturday, was shot early Sunday morning in Topeka, Kansas. Ballentine is said to be recovering from non-life threatening injuries. But Ballentine’s former Washburn University teammate and friend, Dwane Simmons, was killed. The police are still searching for the shooter.

The Giants have issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information. We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS…
Although not officially announced, various sources are claiming the New York Giants have signed the following undrafted rookie free agents. Please note that sometimes it is claimed that a player has been “signed” when in actuality the player was only invited to participate at an upcoming rookie mini-camp.

RB Jonathan Hilliman, 5’11”, 216lbs, 4.50, Rutgers University (Video)
A transfer from Boston College, Hilliman is a big, strong, physical running back. He is not a dynamic runner, but steady and productive. Hillman can catch the ball out of the backfield.

WR Reggie White, Jr., 6’2”, 208lbs, 4.45, Monmouth University (Video)
White combines good size, speed, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. He has to prove he can separate from NFL-caliber defensive backs. He has a good catch radius but he must improve his route running skills.

WR Alex Wesley, 6’0”, 190lbs, 4.45, University of Northern Colorado (Video)
Wesley is an average-sized receiver with good speed, quickness, and overall athletic ability. He was a productive receiver at a lower level of competition. Wesley makes plays down the field and can be dangerous with the ball after the catch.

TE C.J. Conrad, 6’5”, 248lbs, 4.70, University of Kentucky (Video)
Conrad was a four-year starter in college. Versatile, he has played in-line, H-Back, and even some fullback. Strong, high-effort blocker who lacks the overall athleticism to be much of a factor in the passing game.

OC James O’Hagan, 6’2”, 300lbs, 5.31, SUNY Buffalo
O’Hagan was a three-year starter at a lower level of competition. He lacks ideal size but is strong and quick. O’Hagan is a high-effort player.

OT Paul Adams, 6’6”, 317lbs, 5.21, University of Missouri
Adams was a three-year starter and two-time team captain in college. He is a big right tackle with long arms and good power. Adams is a high-effort, relentless player with average athleticism. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker.

DE/LB Jeremiah Harris, 6’3”, 255lbs, 4.83, Eastern Michigan University
Harris played defensive end in college but could project to linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme. He had a productive senior season in college with 98 tackles, 14 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, and 10 pass break-ups.

DE/LB Breckyn Hager, 6’3”, 255lbs, 4.87, University of Texas (Video)
Hager played in a variety of defensive line positions in college but could project to linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme. He flashed as a disruptor and pass rusher early in his college career, but faded later and struggled in run defense. Hager has some character concerns, but is tough and intense.

LB Josiah Tauaefa, 6’1”, 232lbs, 4.83, University of Texas-San Antonio (Video)
Tauaefa is a junior entry and a three-year starter in college. Inside linebacker with good strength. He lacks ideal size and overall athletic ability. Tauaefa is a high-effort player who is better moving forward than in reverse.

CB/S Jake Carlock, 6’3”, 225lbs, Long Island University-Post
An instinctive play-maker at a low level of competition, Carlock played in a variety of roles in college including cornerback and linebacker, but most likely projects to safety given his size. He can also long snap.

S Jacob Thieneman, 6’0”, 205lbs, 4.57, Purdue University (Video)
Thieneman lacks ideal athleticism and size, but he is a smart, instinctive player.

S Mark McLaurin, 6’1”, 212lbs, 4.77, Mississippi State University (Video)
McLaurin looks the part and has good size. But he is a limited athlete who does not play a physical game. He needs to improve his play against the run and tackle better. McLaurin lacks speed and range in coverage.