NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
There was no media access to the Giants on Thursday, but TE Larry Donnell (neck), OC Weston Richburg (ankle), LG Justin Pugh (concussion), and LB Mark Herzlich (quad) did not practice on Thursday.
Richburg had practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday but could not do so on Thursday. It’s looking more likely that John Jerry will start at left guard and Dallas Reynolds at center against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
LB J.T. Thomas (ankle) practiced on a limited basis.
OG Geoff Schwartz (ankle), DE Damontre Moore (hamstring), LB Uani ‘Unga (neck), CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), and CB Leon McFadden (groin) fully practiced.
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Instead of practicing, the Giants will hold a “recovery day” on Friday. The players will select two of six recovery stations, based on seniority. Their choices are massage, yoga, FMS (Functional Movement Screen) exercises designed for the individual, air compression boots, contrast bath (between a hot and cold tub), and self-massage with stick rollers and elastic bands.
The Giants will also have a 45-minute, up-tempo “walk-thru” practice on Saturday that is not open to the media. The Giants play the Washington Redskins in Maryland on Sunday.
NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT… WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Larry Donnell (neck), LG Justin Pugh (potential concussion protocol), RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle), LB J.T. Thomas (ankle), and LB Uani ‘Unga (neck) did not practice on Wednesday.
The Giants issued a statement that said Cruz will “continue to build on the straight line running he did last week with the hope of expanding as the week progresses.”
Donnell began running on the side.
Pugh has been experiencing headaches and is being evaluated to determine if needs to undergo the concussion protocol. Schwartz will practice on Thursday.
(Late Update: Pugh was examined today by an independent neurologist, and the conclusion from that exam is that Pugh is suffering from the effects of dehydration/heat, not a concussion).
CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) practiced on a limited basis without contact. CB Leon McFadden (groin) was also limited.
OT Will Beatty (pectoral – PUP) continued to work on an undisclosed basis.
JOSH BROWN NAMED “NFC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK”…
New York Giants place kicker Josh Brown has been named the “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” for his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Brown made all four of his field goal attempts – from 35, 35, 53, and 44 yards – in the Giants’ 32-18 victory. The 53-yarder was his longest field goal of the season. Brown is the second Giant to win this award in three weeks as Dwayne Harris won it for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7.
HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
The transcript of Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.
New York Giants Re-Sign Kicker Chris Boswell: The New York Giants have re-signed place kicker Chris Bosell, who the team waived on August 16. Incumbent kicker Josh Brown has a leg injury and the Giants want to rest Brown until the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13th. The Giants final preseason game is on Thursday in New England against the Patriots.
Brown suffered a bruised leg two weeks ago when he made a tackle in the third quarter against Jacksonville Jaguars.
Boswell was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft and he briefly spent time on the team’s practice squad. The Giants signed Boswell to a reserve/future contract in January 2015. Boswell has experience both place kicking and punting.
The Giants had an available spot after on the 75-man roster after trimming their roster to 74 on Tuesday. The team must reduce their roster to 53 by 4:00PM on Saturday.
Report – Jason Pierre-Paul Expected to Report to the Giants Before Season:The NFL Network is reporting that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is “expected to show up at the Giants facility” before the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13. Pierre-Paul badly injured his right hand and arm in a fireworks accident on July 4. Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated at the knuckle and he is assumed to have at least fractured his right thumb and suffered third-degree burns that required skin grafts on his lower right arm. But since Pierre-Paul remains an unsigned Franchise player, the Giants have been unable to examine him to discover the true extent of the injuries.
The NFL Network is also reporting that it is unknown if Pierre-Paul would be able to play in the opener or whether he will take “a few weeks to round into form.” Three unidentified sources told The NFL Network that Pierre-Paul is “progressing well” in his recovery.
Pierre-Paul’s 1-year, $14.813 million Franchise tender has not been rescinded by the Giants. But if Pierre-Paul signs the tender, the Giants still could put him on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) List and not pay him until for up to the first six weeks of the regular season.
Osi Umenyiora to Retire a Giant on Wednesday: Former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora will officially retire as a New York Giant at a ceremony at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Wednesday. Umenyiora played for the Giants from 2003 until 2012 and was a key part in two NFL Championship teams for New York. Umenyiora signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and played the last two seasons there.
2014 YEAR IN REVIEW:It was a mixed bag for the New York Giants on special teams in 2014. The Giants finished 3rd in the NFL in field goal percentage, but 22nd in net punting (including allowing a blocked punt for a touchdown). The Giants were 2nd in the NFL in covering kickoffs, but 27th in covering punts (also allowing one punt return for a touchdown).
The punt and kick return games remained anemic, with the Giants finishing 19th and 18th, respectively. The punt returns were split among Odell Beckham (21 returns, 11 fair catches, 8.1 yard average), Preston Parker (8 returns, 6 fair catches, 6.6 yard average), and Rueben Randle (no returns, 10 fair catches). The kickoff returns were split among Parker (21 returns, 24.2 yard average), Quintin Demps (12 returns, 21.3 yard average), and Michael Cox (11 returns, 23.7 yard average).
The Giants scored no special teams touchdowns and had the two aforementioned scored against them, both in losses.
The best Giants player on special teams in 2014 was Josh Brown, who made 24-of-26 of his field goals (92.3 percent) with one of the misses being blocked.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants signed street free agent punter Robert Malone and street free agent place kicker/punter Chris Boswell in January to compete with punter Steve Weatherford and place kicker Josh Brown.
The big signing was the the 5-year, $17.5 million contract given to special teams stud Dwayne Harris from the Dallas Cowboys. Because Harris does it all on specials, returning and covering both punts and kicks, he is arguably the best special teams player in the game. Harris has three “NFC Player of the Week” awards to his credit.
Other additions who could impact special teams coverage units include free agent linebackers J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas and rookies WR Geremy Davis, DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, S Landon Collins, S Mykkele Thompson, and S Justin Currie. Rookies WR Ben Edwards and RB Akeem Hunt could provide competition to the return game.
No longer in the picture are linebackers Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams, as well as returners Quintin Demps and Michael Cox.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Most eyes will focus on Dwayne Harris and his impact on not only the return game but on special teams coverage units. The $17.5 millon the Giants gave to Harris puts a lot of pressure on Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn to fix issues in the return game and punt coverage unit. The Giants also gave a lot of money to linebackers J.T. Thomas (3 years, $10 million) and Jonathan Casillas (3 years, $8 million) to help out on coverage units. Quite a few of the defensive backs on the team are or should be good special teams players too, including Mike Harris, Landon Collins, Bennett Jackson, Cooper Taylor, Nat Berhe, and Mykkele Thompson.
ON THE BUBBLE:Though he will probably make the team, Mark Herzlich (2-year, $2.6 million contract) could be pressed by rookie free agent linebacker Cole Farrand. The signing of Dwayne Harris also could reduce the special teams value of wideout Preston Parker.
FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Tom Quinn on Dwayne Harris: “He is going to be a ‘big four’ player, so he will be on all four of the teams and he will make a very good contribution. His coverage skills are equal to his return skills, so that is the nice thing about getting this kind of player.”
Quinn on what makes Harris a good returner: “He is decisive. There isn’t a lot of wasted movement. He is physical. He has a good understanding of the return schemes and what is needed for each one. There is no hesitation. If he is catching the ball and you are running it to the right, he is going to get it to the right, which sets up all the blockers for him. They know where he is going to be. A lot of times when you are blocking, (the returner) is supposed to be over here, but the returner is running the wrong direction or in the middle and now your block is not set up for that. He is very decisive. He is a strong runner.”
Quinn on new acquisitions who could help out: “We got some new acquisitions at the linebacker spot and we got some safeties in, which are nice, and getting Bennett Jackson back has been pleasing. The young kid from Texas, (Mykkele) Thompson, has done some good things; he is long and has real good speed, so I think he can be pretty versatile for us. Obviously Landon (Collins) has done a nice job in what he have asked him to do, so (I) am pleased with the overall group.”
PREDICTIONS: Punt returns and punt coverage have been a problem under Tom Quinn for quite some time. From 2010-14, the Giants have finished 31st, 29th, 30th, 26th, and 19th in punt return average with no punt return touchdowns during that five-year span. During the same period, the Giants have finished 31st, 17th, 15th, 30th, and 27th in punt coverage with six punt return touchdowns allowed. The kick return game has been pretty bad too except for David Wilson’s performance in 2012.
This is not so much a prediction, but a gnawing fear. Despite bright moments in the 2007 and 2011 playoffs, the Giants special teams have been a sore spot for years. Yet Tom Quinn has somehow avoided the executioner. If the special teams unit under-performs again in 2015, costing the team in the win-loss column, Tom Coughlin may find himself being the one receiving a pink slip because of his decision to stick with Quinn.
FINAL DEPTH CHART: It would be a pretty major upset if Josh Brown, Steve Weatherford, and Zak DeOssie do not remain the team’s place kicker, punter, and long snapper, respectively. Dwayne Harris should be the kickoff and punt returner. There are some good athletes at defensive end (Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Damontre Moore), linebacker (Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, and Jonathan Casillas), and safety (Landon Collins, Bennett Jackson, Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor, and Mykkele Thompson) who should be special teams assets. The Giants also think Geremy Davis could be a special teams weapon.
Will Beatty Tears His Pectoral Muscle, Out At Least Five Months: According to various press reports, New York Giants left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights. He is undergoing surgery today and is expected to miss at least five-six months.
Am told Will Beatty just went in for surgery on torn pec at HSS. Recovery said to be 5 months. That's back on the field around November.
While there were some bright spots, the special teams of the New York Giants continued to under-perform in many key statistical areas in 2014. Consider the following:
Field Goals: The Giants finished 3rd in the NFL as place kicker Josh Brown converted on 24-of-26 attempts for a 92.3 average. This is all the more remarkable when you consider one of those misses was blocked. Brown also hit all 44 extra point tries. Unfortunately, the only real miss by Brown was a factor in the 1-point loss to Jacksonville in November.
Punting: Steve Weatherford, who was impacted by an early-season ankle injury, finished 16th in the NFL in gross average (45.5 yards per punt) and 22nd in the NFL in net average (40.1 yards per punt). He was middle-of-the-pack with punts in the 20-yard line with 25 and touchbacks with six. The Giants also allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Eagles.
Kickoff Returns: The Giants finished 18th in kickoff returns, averaging 23.3 yards per return. They did not return a kickoff for a touchdown and the longest return was only for 45 yards.
Punt Returns: The Giants finished 19th in punt returns, averaging 7.7 yards per return. They did not return a punt for a touchdown and the longest return was for only 25 yards (which was 26th in the NFL). The Giants were 5th in the NFL in fair catches with 27.
Opposing Kickoff Returns: The Giants were very good at covering kickoffs as opposing teams averaged only 18.3 yards per return (2nd best in the NFL), with a long of 33 yards. Forty-six of Josh Brown’s 82 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks (56 percent).
Opposing Punt Returns: The Giants were not as strong covering punts as opposing teams averaged 10.6 yards per return and the Giants allowed a punt return to go 71 yards for a touchdown against the Cardinals. In addition, the Giants finished 23rd in the NFL in opposing fair catches with 17.
With the additions of Trindon Holliday, Quintin Demps, and Odell Beckham, plus the expected return of David Wilson, the return game was supposed to be a strength for the Giants in 2014. However, Holliday missed the bulk of camp with a hamstring injury as was placed on Injured Reserve. David Wilson re-injured his neck in training camp and retired. Beckham kept injuring his hamstring and was not a factor in the punt return game until later in the season. Demps never really flashed on kickoff returns like he did in Kansas City.
The kickoff return game was split among Preston Parker (21 returns, 24.2 yard average), Demps (12 returns, 21.3 yard average), and Michael Cox (11 returns, 23.7 yard average). The punt returns were split between Beckham (21 returns, 11 fair catches, 8.1 yard average), Parker (8 returns, 6 fair catches, 6.6 yard average), and Rueben Randle (no returns, 10 fair catches).
Steve Weatherford tore ligaments in his left ankle in September and was hobbled with the injury for much of the season. He finished 18th in the NFL in punting average (45.5 yards per punt) and 25th in net punting average (38.6). Twenty-five of Weatherford’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and only six resulted in touchbacks. He did suffer his first blocked punt of his career. Before coming to the Giants, Weatherford played for the Saints (2006-08), Chiefs (2008), Jaguars (2008), and Jets (2009-2010). He is a good directional punter with average length strength.
In his 12th season, Josh Brown had his finest season, making 24-of-26 of his field goals (92.3 percent) with one of the misses being blocked. He made all 44 extra point attempts. And 45 of his 82 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Brown was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Before coming to the Giants as a free agent in 2013, he kicked for the Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2009-11), and Bengals (2012). Brown now owns the Giants records for both single season and career field goal percentage. In his two seasons with the Giants, Brown has succeeded on 47-of-52 field goal attempts (90.4 percent).
Zak DeOssie is one of the NFL’s most consistent and better long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. DeOssie was drafted as a linebacker by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He is now strictly a special teams player. Aside from his long snapping duties, DeOssie also excels in punt coverage.
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.
Giants Place Peyton Hillis on IR; Sign Justin Anderson to 53-Man Roster: The New York Giants placed running back Peyton Hillis on season-ending Injured Reserve on Saturday. Hillis suffered a concussion in the Giants-Seahawks game last Sunday. Hillis also suffered a concussion against Seattle last season.
Hillis is the 14th Giant to end up on season-ending Injured Reserve.
To fill that vacant roster spot, the Giants signed linebacker Justin Anderson to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad. Anderson was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Giants waived/injured him with a hamstring issue in August but signed him to the Practice Squad in October.