Feb 092015
 
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Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants transitioned to the 4-3 defense from the 3-4 in 1994, the defensive line has been the heart of a New York Giants defense that had made eight playoff appearances in 21 seasons, and has helped the team reach three NFL Championship games, winning two. Yet with the free agent losses of defensive end Justin Tuck and defensive tackle Linval Joseph before the season, and a free agent spending spree at cornerback, the Giants entered training camp with the expectation by some that the defensive backfield might surpass the defensive line as the strength of the team. In the end, injuries sabotaged the secondary and the defensive line did indeed regress.

The Giants finished 29th in defense in terms of yards allowed and 22nd in points allowed. The Giants were 30th against the run in terms of total yards allowed and 32nd in terms of yards-per-rush allowed (4.9). New York was 18th against the pass. The good news was they finished 4th in the NFL in terms of sacks with 47. But after Perry Fewell’s defense gave up over 6,000 yards for the third time in four seasons (the only times in history of the franchise that has occurred), he was fired in January.

The best players up front were clearly defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. But Pierre-Paul started the season off slowly and didn’t really impact games the way he should until the Giants were already out of playoff contention. Hankins had a breakout year in his sophomore season. But it wasn’t enough.

Mathias Kiwanuka started 11 games at left defensive end, but did not play well and finished the season on Injured Reserve. Free agent acquisition Robert Ayers flashed as a pass rusher at both defensive tackle and end, but was inconsistent against the run and also finished the season on IR. The coaching staff did not appear to trust Damontre Moore, who did not start a game. By year’s end, he was surprisingly passed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Kerry Wynn.

At tackle, Cullen Jenkins was bothered by a nagging calf issue and was barely noticeable. Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn were easily blocked and rarely made any plays. Jay Bromley saw more action down the stretch, but his rookie season was a wash.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE ENDS

In his fifth NFL season, Jason Pierre-Paul had his second-best season, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season. Pierre-Paul was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. 2012 and 2013 were down seasons for him with a total of only 8.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of that season. Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism. When healthy and focused, Pierre-Paul can be an explosive, disruptive difference-maker. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (28 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. He could improve his initial quickness off the snap. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit. He can be vulnerable to misdirection such as on read-option plays. To become a truly great player, Pierre-Paul needs to be consistently great on a game-to-game basis and not disappear in some contests.

Mathias Kiwanuka started the first 11 games of the season, but he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with a knee injury that troubled him much of the year. Kiwanuka had a disappointing season, finishing with only 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Kiwanuka has shifted between defensive end and linebacker ever since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He primarily played linebacker for the Giants in 2007 and 2010-12, and defensive end in 2006, 2008-09, and 2013-14. Kiwanuka combines good size and overall athleticism, but he never really developed as expected and now may be slowing down. Kiwanuka has never been a consistent pass rusher and his play against the run deteriorated in 2014.

Robert Ayers, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Ayers proved to be one of the team’s best pass rushers as key rotational player who could play both end and defensive tackle in pass rush situations. Before he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle, in 12 games with one start, Ayers accrued 22 tackles, five sacks, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Ayers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL by the Broncos. In five seasons with the Broncos, Ayers played in 72 regular-season games with 27 starts. He signed with the Giants as a free agent in April 2014. Ayers has good size for a defensive end and his quickness and overall athleticism presents problems for guards and centers when he lines up at tackle in pass rush situations. He is an average run defender at best and would earn more playing time if he could improve in this area.

More was hoped for and expected from Damontre Moore in 2014. Moore played in all 16 games but he had no starts and finished the year with 32 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two pass defenses. Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Moore lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he flashes as a pass rusher. His biggest issues are his sub-par play against the run and mental mistakes, the latter two causing him to be by-passed on the depth chart.

Kerry Wynn, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

An undrafted rookie free agent signed after the 2014 NFL Draft, Kerry Wynn was a pleasant surprise. Not only did he make the 53-man roster but he received significant playing time in the final month of the season and finished the year with 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defense, and one interception. Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He appears to be a smart, heady player who performed well against the run. He did not really stick out as a pass rusher and will need to improve in this area.

Paul Hazel was signed to the Practice Squad and then 53-man roster in December 2014. Hazel was originally signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He was claimed by the Browns after the Jaguars waived him and he played in 13 games in 2013 for Cleveland. The Texans then claimed Hazel off of waivers from the Browns in March 2014, but he did not make the team. Hazel is a tall, thin pass rusher who has spent time at linebacker.

Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014, cut, and then added to the Practice Squad again in December 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Johnathan Hankins became a full-time starter in 2014, a year after he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and playing in 11 games as a reserve. Hankins started all 16 games and finished the year with 51 tackles, seven sacks, three pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Hankins has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He is a stout run defender. Hankins surprised with his ability to rush the passer both in terms of his power and agility. Hankins has the ability to become one of the NFL’s better defensive tackles.

In 2014, Cullen Jenkins was troubled by a calf injury, missed four games, and had a sub-par season, finishing with only 16 tackles and one sack in 12 games with 11 starts. Jenkins was originally signed by Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but spent time in NFL Europe and then re-signed with the Packers in 2004. Jenkins played with the Packers (2004-10) until he signed with the Eagles (2011-12). He was signed by the Giants in March 2013 after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins lacks ideal size and is on the downside of his career. In his prime, he was a solid two-way defensive tackle who could play the run and rush the passer. Versatile, he has experience as a defensive tackle and defensive end in the 4-3, and as a defensive end in the 3-4.

Mike Patterson played all 16 games in 2014, starting eight, but he only finished the season with 27 tackles and no sacks or other big plays. Patterson was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by Philadelphia, where in eight seasons he played in 115 regular-season games with 99 starts. Patterson underwent brain surgery in January 2012 to repair an arteriovenous malformation. He played in just five games in 2012 before being placed on the reserve/non-football illness list with pneumonia. Patterson was signed by the Giants in April 2013 after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Patterson lacks ideal size. He is a non-factor on the pass rush and his run defense deteriorated in 2014.

Markus Kuhn, New York Giants (December 7, 2014)

Markus Kuhn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In his third season with the Giants, Markus Kuhn saw his most playing time, playing in 14 games with one start. He finished the season with 19 tackles and one sack. Kuhn was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Giants. He suffered a torn ACL knee injury that season and began the following season on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List before being activated to the 53-man roster in November. Kuhn was born in Germany and was only a one-year starter in college. Kuhn has good size and he is a hard worker, but he does not really stand out as either a run defender or pass rusher.

The Giants drafted Jay Bromley in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. While active for eight games, he did not see a lot of snaps and only finished the season with five tackles and no sacks. Bromley combines decent size and strength with good athletic ability. Bromley is more of a 3-technique disruptor than 1-technique run stuffer. He needs to improve his play against the run.

Dominique Hamilton spent most of the season on the Practice Squad but was signed to the 53-man roster twice in December 2014. Hamilton originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him and he was on NFL practice squads in 2012 (Redskins) and 2013 (Redskins and Chiefs). The Chiefs waived him in August 2014 and the Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in September. Hamilton looks the part with excellent size and long arms. He’s not overly quick or agile. Hamilton is a better run defender than pass rusher.

Dec 292014
 
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Julian Talley, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Julian Talley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Sign 11 Players to Reserve/Future Contracts: The New York Giants have signed 11 players to Reserve/Future contracts. Nine of the 11 were on the team’s Practice Squad:

  • FB Nikita Whitlock
  • WR Julian Talley
  • WR Juron Criner
  • WR Chris Harper
  • OT Michael Bamiro
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Unai Unga
  • CB Josh Victorian
  • S Thomas Gordon

The team also signed CB Bennett Jackson, who was on the Practice Squad/Injured List with a knee injury and street free agent P Robert Malone.

The Giants signed Nikita Whitlock to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock, who played defensive tackle in college, was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He was cut by the Bengals in their final round of cuts and then signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. Whitlock was converted to fullback by the Bengals and he flashed in the preseason as a lead blocker with good size.

Julian Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013 and 2014. Talley spent most of the 2013 season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was signed to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He played in two games in 2013 but did not have a catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.

Juron Criner was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Criner was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him on August 26. In 13 games with the Raiders, Criner has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He is a big receiver with good overall athleticism, but he needs to develop better technique and consistency.

Chris Harper was signed to the Practice Squad in October 2014. Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team and has since spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size (6’1”, 230lbs) and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

Michael Bamiro was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Bamiro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on the Eagles’ Practice Squad before being waived in August 2014. Bamiro is a very raw player with an intriguing combiation of size (6’8”, 340 pounds) and overall athleticism.

Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014, cut, and then added to the Practice Squad again in December 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades for recording 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8 sacks in 2013. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Josh Victorian was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Victorian was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, he has spent time with the Patriots (2011), Saints (2012), Steelers (2012-13), Texans (2013), and Lions (2014). He has played in 12 NFL games, four for the Steelers with one start in 2012 and eight for the Texans in 2013. Victorian has average size and lacks ideal overall athleticism, but he is a hard working, instinctive football player.

Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List in October 2014 with an undisclosed knee injury. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. He is a good hitter and tackler. Jackson was a team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.

Thomas Gordon was signed to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Gordon was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team waived him in August. Gordon lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and a decent athlete. He is a good run defender who hits and tackles well. He started 38 games at Michigan.

Robert Malone played 31 games for Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the Jets from 2010-13. He has 157 career punts for a 44.5-yard gross average and a 37.8-yard net average.

Articles on the New York Giants Special Teams:

Sep 162014
 
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Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Place Jerrel Jernigan and Walter Thurmond on IR: The New York Giants have officially placed WR Jerrel Jernigan (mid-foot sprain) and CB Walter Thurmond (torn pectoral muscle) on season-ending Injured Reserve. Thurmond underwent successful surgery on his chest on Tuesday. Jernigan will not need surgery but will wear a protective boot and rehabilitate the foot.

To fill those two vacant roster spots, the Giants signed WR Julian Talley and LB Dan Fox from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

There still really is no official word on how long LB Jon Beason will be out. The Giants announced that Beason aggravated the previous foot injury that sidelined him for all of training camp and the preseason. Beason may visit foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, NC later this week. Dr. Anderson examined Beason’s foot when he suffered the original injury in June.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Giants Sign Two to the Practice Squad, Cut Another: With WR Julian Talley and LB Dan Fox being promoted to the 53-man roster, the Giants have filled their Practice Squad vacancies by signing WR Travis Harvey and WR L’Damian Washington.

The Giants signed Travis Harvey as a street free agent in April 2014. Harvey was originally signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Titans waived him in July and he did not play football in 2013. The Giants cut him on August 26.

Washington is a very tall (6-4), thin (200 pounds), fast receiver who was signed as a rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. He was waived on August 2 and awarded the next day to the San Francisco 49ers, who released him on August 30.

The Giants also terminated the Practice Squad contract of DE Jordan Stanton.

The Giants still have one opening on their 10-man Practice Squad.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.

Safety Antrel Rolle on WFAN: The audio of Tuesday’s WFAN interview with S Antrel Rolle is available at CBS NewYork

Article on DE Mathias Kiwanuka: Giants film review: Fazing out of Mathias Kiwanuka has begun? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Sights and Sounds from Giants-Cardinals Game: A sights and sounds video from the Giants-Cardinals game is available at Giants.com.

Aug 312014
 
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Nick Becton, San Diego Chargers (May 10, 2013)

Nick Becton – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Sign Seven Players to Practice Squad: The New York Giants signed the following 10 players to their Practice Squad on Sunday:

  • RB Michael Cox
  • WR Julian Talley
  • OT Nick Becton
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Dan Fox
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner

All except Becton were waived by the Giants on Saturday. Becton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Becton spent time on both the Chargers’ 53-man roster and Practice Squad last season, only appearing in one game. Becton has a nice combination of size (6’6”, 323 pounds), long arms, and athleticism.

In addition, the New England Patriots claimed DT Kelcy Quarles off of waivers. Quarles is a player who the Giants most likely wanted to sign to the Practice Squad.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions and Roster sections of the website.

Article on the New York Giants Roster Moves: Giants roster cuts: The best, worst and most surprising moves on NFL cutdown day by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on Wide Receivers Victor Cruz and Jerry Rice: Hall of Famer likes Giants’ new offense by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Aug 302014
 
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John Conner, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants made 22 roster moves on Saturday in order reduce the roster to 53 players as required by the NFL.

In addition, the Giants activated linebacker Jon Beason from the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. Beason passed his physical and can now practice for the first time since injuring his foot on June 12 during an Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice. “He’s ready to practice,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “You need that kind of dynamic leadership. The guy loves the game, he loves to play it. He’ll have the biggest smile on his face come Monday when he trots out there.”

The Giants waived or terminated the contracts of the following players:

  • QB Curtis Painter
  • RB Kendall Gaskins
  • RB Michael Cox
  • FB John Conner
  • WR Julian Talley
  • TE Kellen Davis
  • OL Rogers Gaines (waived/injured)
  • OL Mark Asper
  • OL Jamaal Johnson-Webb
  • OL Adam Gress
  • DE Israel Idonije
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • DT Kelcy Quarles
  • LB Dan Fox
  • LB Terrell Manning
  • CB Bennett Jackson
  • CB Chandler Fenner
  • S Thomas Gordon

The Giants also placed the following players on season-ending Injured Reserve, although this doesn’t preclude the team from making an injury settlement:

  • WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring)
  • WR Mario Manningham (calf)

The Giants also placed the following players on the Reserve/Suspended List for violating NFL drug policies:

  • OL Eric Herman (4-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (4-game suspension for illegal drugs)

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

“There were a lot of good, competitive positions, even going into Thursday night’s game with New England,” Coughlin said. “Many of the young guys were competing, not only for roster spots but for the practice squad. That is an important concept as well. It is in the best interest of the clubs to be able to go to their practice squad, if the need is there, for a player who has been in your meeting rooms the entire summer and fall.”

With Painter being cut, Ryan Nassib will be the only quarterback on the roster behind Eli Manning. “Ryan Nassib made big strides,” Coughlin said. “I think that his third and fourth preseason games were outstanding. You see definite improvement. You see the work that he’s put in. He’s been a very good student and he’s applied that to the field. What I really liked is he did have a poor preseason game and he came back with two good ones. That showed me, he didn’t do it by talking, he did it by working.”

Speaking of the competition at fullback between Conner and Henry Hynoski, Coughlin said, “Two very good players. Both guys can play in this league. Very, very close. Both of them are physical. They’ll knock the heck out of you. Utmost respect for John Conner, I think he’s a heck of a player and a great competitor and a good man. He doesn’t say a word, just goes and does his job. Give me all of those you can find.”

Preston Parker, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Coughlin on WR Preston Parker, who made the team: “Preston’s been around a little bit. Preston also has the punt return/kickoff return ability. Right now that’s very critical for us, because Odell Beckham was going to be the punt returner.”

Coughlin on keeping Kerry Wynn over Israel Idonije at defensive end: “We had tremendous respect for Izzy (Idonije) because of the quality of man he is. He came in here and whatever we asked him to do, he did. He battled, he competed. The other night he played a lot of nice snaps. At this point in time, the idea of developing the young player was first and foremost on your minds as we put the roster together…I like the fact that (Wynn) has very good size and he runs well. He flashed in the preseason and he is a young prospect that works hard, studies hard. We think he has a lot of upside.”

“They’re great stories and that’s what this thing is all about,” Coughlin said. “Your needs are much deeper than seven picks in the draft or sometimes you’re not in position to help yourself in free agency because of the cap, so this is still the source. And when a young guy comes along and they look like they’ve got a high end, you’re excited about it. Especially when they work hard, they study hard, it’s important to them and they have great desire. You can see it on some of these kids’ faces that this means so much to them, and quite frankly it re-energizes me.

“Even on a day like this where I have to let people go, when I see what the game means to certain players and when I see that, then I think there’s hope, to be honest with you. I do. Not just hope here, hope for everybody in this world because we’re not going through the motions. They love it. They love what they’re doing, they love the game. That’s how it all starts. For the normal young person that comes along and plays this game, it started with the love of the game. You compete, it’s about competitors. It’s still about competitors and people who are determined to be the best that they can be at what they do. That’s what reinforces me.”

After noon on Sunday, the Giants can sign 10 players to their Practice Squad, if they are not claimed off of waivers first.

“The practice squad is not taken lightly,” Coughlin said. “There are a lot of things that go into making choices and one of the things that’s really important, that has to be stressed, this summer is that we’ve got it to 10. And that’s a very important thing, the fact that we can have 10 practice squad guys means a lot in terms of your ability to prepare. Because as you go through the season and you have the various nicks that occur during the course of it and players can’t practice, at least you can continue to service your first groups with your practice squad players. That helps tremendously because the drain always comes.

“If a two becomes a one, then who services the other side of the ball? That’s a major concern for us at this level, because you have to continue to improve. People don’t realize that, it is about improvement and it’s not just about games, it’s about improving and your chance to improve on the practice field is so important.”

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Embarking on a New Path by Bill Pennington of The New York Times

NY Post Q&A with WR Victor Cruz: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Victor Cruz by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Jul 112014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to camp in less than two weeks, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s defensive line.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Line

Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: The 2013 defensive line performed adequately, helping the New York Giants finish 8th in total defense (10th against the pass and 14th against the run). But those figures may have been inflated by the Giants facing some incredibly poor quarterbacks/passing offenses. The chief problem for the Giants was their best player up front, Jason Pierre-Paul, had his second subpar season in a row. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and he never seemed to fully rebound from that procedure. He flashed some of his old form in Week 10 but also suffered a shoulder injury in that game which caused him to miss the last five games of the season. He finished 2013 with only 27 tackles and 2 sacks in 11 games. Statistically, the most productive player was Justin Tuck, who rebounded with a strong season (63 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles) after two down seasons in a row. Mathias Kiwanuka played in all 16 games, with 10 starts at right defensive end. He finished the season with 41 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Damontre Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. However, an early preseason shoulder injury disrupted his development, and while Moore flashed on special teams, he did not make much noise at defensive end when given a limited number of snaps.

The Giants were pretty stout inside with Linval Joseph (59 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble) and Cullen Jenkins (31 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles). Backing them up were Mike Patterson (23 tackles), Shaun Rogers (9 tackles), Johnathan Hankins (16 tackles), and Markus Kuhn (1 tackle). Rogers started two games but was placed on Injured Reserve in November in a move that appeared to be designed to give Hankins more snaps as well as keep Kuhn, who had been on the PUP recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in 2012.

Overall, the slow-but-sure aging and departure of past stalwarts such as Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck – combined with two down season by JPP – has largely taken the bite out of the once-formidable outside pass rush. Tuck had 11 sacks in 2013, but six of those came against the Redskins. The other ends combined for only eight sacks on the season while the tackles chipped in with only eight as a unit.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants did not show much interest in re-signing 31-year old Justin Tuck and he is now in Oakland. Gone too is the Giants best defensive tackle of the last couple of seasons, Linval Joseph, who signed a big contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Again, it did not appear that the Giants made much of an effort to re-sign him. The Giants also did not choose to re-sign Shaun Rogers, who remains an unrestricted free agent.

Robert Ayers, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The main additions are DE Robert Ayers (UFA from Denver Broncos) and DT Jay Bromley (3rd round draft pick). The Giants also have brought in rookie free agents ends Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke, and Jordan Stanton as well as tackle Kelcy Quarles. Practice Squad DE Kendrick Adams, who has spent time with the Jaguars, Buccaneers, Lions, Browns, and Bengals, was re-signed. DT Everett Dawkins, who has spent time with the Vikings, Cowboys, and Buccaneers, was added as street free agent in June 2014.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Will Jason Pierre-Paul regain his 2011 form? Who will start opposite of him – Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers, or Damontre Moore? Who will start at defensive tackle with Cullen Jenkins? How many defensive tackles will the Giants keep?

“(Moore) made good, steady progress,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin in June. “He’s, naturally, a year later, a year more into it so he’s more comfortable with what’s going on. It’s not one of those things where you don’t notice that he’s out there because he does have a correction here or there. We like what we see. His continued development in the weight room with just some added muscle and strength, a little bit more size is something that will help a lot.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Barring injury, it would seem that JPP, Kiwanuka, Ayers, and Moore are locks to be the four defensive ends. Jenkins, Hankins, and Bromley are probably sure bets at tackle. Do the Giants keep four or five tackles? It could come down to a serious battle between Markus Kuhn and Mike Patterson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Robert Nunn on Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins:  “I thought Damontre really took a step forward (this offseason) and Hankins really took off at the end of last year and has done a great job in the offseason working out, coming in in really good condition…I like where they are at now.”

Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97), New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97) – Photo by Connor Hughes

Nunn on Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson: “They’re solid guys, solid veteran guys. And they understand where they are in this stage of their career and we’ll have to take care of them through training camp. Both of those guys have had outstanding offseasons, I thought Mike came in here in really good shape. Cullen’s always been in good shape ever since I’ve been around him. We’ll see where it goes. Again, it’s so hard to tell, we’re so limited in what we can do in the offseason now but they’re in great shape and a really good frame of mind and have done a really good job with leadership with the younger players. We’ll see where it goes.”

Nunn on Markus Kuhn: “He had an outstanding offseason, really outstanding practices. He and Hankins, they’ll definitely get more reps in training camp than Mike P and Cullen if everything goes as planned. He showed up every day. When we go out there and go in team situations Markus was, there wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t call his name out in a positive manner.”

Nunn on Jay Bromley: “You know, he’s come in very willing to learn. He’s very green, very raw but hey, he’s got to get started. Those guys are the ones that really suffer as far as how limited we are with what we can do. He needs all the work he can get but he’s shown enough that hey, he’s got to show up when the pads come on. We’ll see when that happens.”

PREDICTIONS:

Eric Kennedy – The Giants will have problems rushing the quarterback. Unless Kiwanuka, Ayers, or Moore can get to the passer on a consistent basis, Jason Pierre-Paul may be in for a rough season. Without a viable threat opposite of him, JPP will be the focal point of other teams’ blocking schemes. Kiwanuka and Ayers have flashed throughout their veteran careers, but they have yet to become (and may never become) guys who the other teams really worry about. To be frank, when Moore played DE last year, he didn’t look good. Perhaps he will show more now that he is healthier and stronger. I think Hankins has the tools to be better than Linval Joseph and if the Giants can get another good, solid season out of Jenkins, they’ll be fine inside. I’d prefer to keep only four defensive tackles, but I think 2014 will be a redshirt season for Bromley and thus the Giants will be forced to keep both Patterson and Kuhn.

Connor Hughes - For all the questions concerning the Giants’ roster heading into training camp, the regular season and beyond, I don’t believe any have as many unknowns as the defensive line. Throughout the course of the offseason, the Giants put their emphasis on the secondary. Gone were the days of loading up on pass rushers. Instead, the team signed and signed again big-name and high profile defenders in the secondary. I agree with the change in philosophy, but I have very little faith in those up front.

Mathias Kiwanuka appears to be in the tail end of his career, who knows what JPP will take the field (if he even gets on it), Cullen Jenkins is older, Johnathan Hankins has yet to be an every-down player and Mike Patterson doesn’t have much ability outside stopping the run. Justin Tuck is in Oakland, Jay Bromley is a rookie. If one or two injuries hit the group…things could get ugly fast.

Granted, things could go the complete other/positive way. Robert Ayers could excel in a new location, JPP could be the Pierre-Paul of 2011, Kiwanuka could revitalize his career, Hankins could be a force and maybe Bromley steps up. I’ve thought long and hard about the positives of the defensive line, and I’ve come up with a bunch, but for every one good there are two negatives. Who knows, maybe the secondary can mask the guys up front. That philosophy certainly worked in the reciprocal fashion over the last seven years.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy – Mathias Kiwanuka (LDE), Johnathan Hankins (LDT), Cullen Jenkins (RDT), and Jason Pierre-Paul (RDE). Reserves: Mike Patterson, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore.

Connor Hughes – Mathias Kiwanuka (LDE), Johnathan Hankins (LDT), Cullen Jenkins (RDT), Jason Pierre-Paul (RDE). Reserves: Mike Patterson, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore.

May 132014
 
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C.J. Barnett, Ohio State Buckeyes (September 21, 2013)

C.J. Barnett – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Sign Four More Rookie Free Agents and Cut Cornerback: The New York Giants announced on Tuesday that they have signed the following undrafted rookie free agents:

  • DE Emmanuel Dieke (Georgia Tech)
  • DE Jordan Stanton (James Madison)
  • LB Dan Fox (Notre Dame)
  • S C.J. Barnett (Ohio State)

The team also waived cornerback Chaz Powell.

On Monday, the team announced that that had signed undrafted rookie free agents DE Kerry Wynn (Richmond), DT Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina), DT Eathyn Manumaleuna (BYU), LB Justin Anderson (Louisiana-Lafayette), and S Thomas Gordon (Michigan).

Head Coach Tom Coughlin said on WFAN on Monday that the Giants signed 11 undrafted rookie free agents so the announcement on the other two should be released shortly. One of the players is believed to be tight end Xavier Grimble (USC). According to press reports, Grimble will sign on Wednesday when he arrives at the Timex Performance Center.

Scouting reports on the rookie free agents are available in the New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Review and Rookie Free Agent Signings section of the website. We have also updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Article on QB Eli Manning: Eli Manning feels 100 percent, not sure what Giants will let him do by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on WR Odell Beckham, Jr.: Odell Beckham Jr.: Analyzing the Giants’ first-round pick on tape by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Articles on RB Andre Williams:

May 122014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eli Manning Returns to Practice on Limited Basis: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on April 10, said on Monday that he is recovering well from the procedure. In fact, he said he has returned to practice on a limited basis during the ongoing offseason workouts.

“I didn’t know what the exact timetable was,” Manning said. “They say six weeks; I never know if that’s six weeks until you start rehabbing or six weeks until you’re 100 percent. It will be five weeks coming up Thursday, but I feel good. I took some team reps today, took about half the reps of the team stuff. (I am) doing all of the passing, doing all of the drills, so I feel great, feel like I’m ready to go. I think we’re kind of waiting until we hit that six-week mark until they fully let me do everything. But I feel right on my way and should be ready soon.”

On Saturday, Coughlin said he was also pleased with Manning’s progress.

“He’s an amazing guy,” said Coughlin. “We’ve got about a dozen medical eyes watching him and he’s just getting better and better. I expect after three days rest, he’ll come in on Monday and be doing jumping jacks…We haven’t kept him off the field. To be honest with you, he’s taken a snap here or there. He’s going to continue. As long as he’s feeling good and there is no setback, then, in moderation, he’s allowed to practice.”

It is an important offseason for Manning, who is coming off his worst season as a full-time starter and having to assimilate a brand new offense under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

“Today was really my first day of getting the play calls, having to call them out, doing some signals and stuff and just trying to run the offense,” said Manning. “Seeing an imaginary defense and making calls to try to pick things up, it’s going to take a little time. You have to be able to kind of forget the old offense and have this be the only thing you think about. Not referring to the old plays and say, ‘Hey, it’s like this route.’ You’ve got to teach it for what it is and try to eliminate the old offense, if possible.”

New York Giants Reportedly Sign DT Jordan Stanton: According to 1st Teams Sports Group, the New York Giants have signed undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackle Jordan Stanton (James Madison University). For more information on Stanton and the other nine undrafted rookie free agents the Giants have reportedly signed, see the New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Review and Rookie Free Agent Signings section of the website.

General Manager Jerry Reese on ESPN Radio: The audio of Monday’s ESPN Radio interview with General Manager Jerry Reese is available at ESPN.com

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on WFAN: The audio of Monday’s WFAN interview with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at CBS New York

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese: Jerry Reese, shrewd drafter? It’s a myth by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on WR Odell Beckham, Jr.: Offense excited to see what Beckham can bring by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Articles on the New York Giants and the Tight End Position:

Article on the New York Giants and Rookie Free Agents: Undrafted Rookie FA’s that made the cut by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

BBI on Giants.com Big Blue Kickoff Live: The audio of Eric Kennedy being interviewed on Giants.com’s Big Blue Kickoff Live podcast on Monday is available at Giants.com. Eric joins the show at the 30-minute mark of the broadcast.