Jul 072015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com 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: Defensive Ends

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: 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. But for the third time in the last four seasons, the defense gave up over 6,000 yards (the only times in franchise history the defense has done so). Everyone is to blame, including the defensive ends.

The headliner up front, Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) started the season off slowly and didn’t really impact games the way he should until the Giants were already out of playoff contention. 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. Jordan Stanton was a rookie free agent who spent a couple of stints on the Practice Squad.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants waived Mathias Kiwanuka in February. The team signed George Selvie (1-year, $1.2 million) in free agency. The Giants drafted Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft and signed Brad Harrah as a rookie free agent after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Even before the July 4th fireworks accident that caused severe burns to one of his hands, Pierre-Paul was going to be the main focus given that it was likely (now certain) that he was going to play out the season on his $14.813 million Franchise tender. JPP had a bounce-back year in 2014 but everyone is still looking for the 2011 version of the player who dominated. The Giants are most likely concerned about his inconsistency, previous back injury issues, dedication and focus, and now judgement if he signs a huge, multi-year contract. At this time, it is unknown how Pierre-Paul’s hand injuries will impact his availability and performance in training camp, the preseason, and the regular season. ESPN is reporting that JPP may not return to the line-up until after the beginning of the regular season.

That all said, Pierre-Paul is still one of the very best defensive ends in the NFL, the best player on the Giants defense, and one of the few impact players on the team. How well he plays in 2015 will most likely determine if he remains a New York Giant after the season.

“If you just watch tape with JPP out there, it is evident to me that he is an elite defensive end and fits a 4-3 system, which is exciting,” said Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in June.

The other big issue is who starts at left defensive end opposite of Pierre-Paul? Mathias Kiwanuka is no longer in the picture. Though he has bulked up to about 255 pounds, Damontre Moore appears to lack the size and strength to anchor the strongside. So unless Steve Spagnuolo moves JPP to left end, Moore will probably be relegated to a situational pass rusher when JPP returns to the starting lineup. Moore does believe his pass rushing skill set is better suited to Spagnuolo’s system.

Robert Ayers was arguably the team’s best pass rusher until he got hurt and JPP improved down the stretch, but he was up and down in run defense in 2014.

George Selvie was a solid strongside run defender in Dallas who occasionally flashed on the pass rush. “George is going to fill in that gap that we have on that other side,” said Pierre-Paul, who played with Selvie in college. “He is going to fight for that starting spot. That’s a good thing. That will make everybody work harder.”

The dark horse could be Kerry Wynn, the 2014 rookie free agent with a nice combination of size, strength, and athletic ability. He received significant playing time in the final month of the 2014 season. The initial impression of his overall game is that he is a better run defender than pass rusher.

Physically-speaking, Owa Odighizuwa may be the most talented of the group. It would be difficult for a rookie to win the starting job, but Odighizuwa has the tools to become a very good two-way defensive end. He could surprise early.

ON THE BUBBLE: There will be some extremely tough decisions at defensive end. Normally the Giants would only carry four or five defensive ends. Barring injury, the only sure bets to make the roster are Pierre-Paul and Odighizuwa. Complicating matters is that JPP may not be on the active roster early in the season. It would be difficult to see the Giants giving up on Moore and Wynn just yet. Ayers is on the bubble, but he is a very good situational pass rusher. If Selvie plays in camp like he did with Dallas in 2013, he will be difficult to cut. Jordan Stanton has talent, but he and Harrah are extreme long shots.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Robert Nunn on Jason Pierre-Paul: “You would hope (JPP starts 2015 like he finished 2014). His numbers increased there at the end. I thought he did some good things throughout but just didn’t have the numbers to show for it, and I have said that over and over, sacks are a little overrated, but his quarterback hits and his pressures, he was doing some good things. They were counting for him in a lot of different ways and he took advantage of some opportunities there at the end and got his numbers up. His tackles had to be up there in the top of the league. I don’t know where he was, but he had to be top two or three as far as the production and as far as in the run game and his pass production there at the end. I think it is just coming in healthy and in the right frame of mind and getting ready to start, he is going to be behind (due to missing the spring offseason work) but that is where we will start.”

Nunn on George Selvie: “Selvie is solid, he is a solid pro. He played well last year in Dallas and he has been steady.”

PREDICTIONS: With the signing of George Selvie, the drafting of Owa Odighizuwa, and the likelihood that Jason Pierre-Paul will miss training camp, I am guessing that Pierre-Paul will stay at right defensive end. Because of that, I have a hard time seeing Damontre Moore starting once Pierre-Paul returns to the starting line-up. Ultimately, Owa Odighizuwa will start at left defensive end, but I doubt it happens early in the 2015 season and may not happen until 2016. Unless Ayers dramatically improves his consistency against the run or Odighizuwa really surprises early, I think the starting left defensive end job will be between George Selvie and Kerry Wynn.

JPP was in great shape and looked primed for a big season before the July 4th accident. Now it remains to be seen how the hand injuries will impact his game. Even if he is ready physically for the season opener, the time he missed with the team in the spring and now potentially in the summer will set him back in the new defense. Another question is will the Giants get a solid consistent pass rush on first and second down from the player opposite Pierre-Paul? Selvie and Wynn have flashed in that area but their overall pass-rush ability remains a question mark. Situationally, Ayers proved to be a disruptive pass rusher particularly from the defensive tackle position and I think Spagnuolo will use Moore far better than Perry Fewell did.

If the Giants can get opposing teams into a lot of third-and-long situations, they will present problems with pass rushers like JPP, Moore, Ayers, and Odighizuwa, not to mention Devon Kennard and possibly Jay Bromley. But first and second down could be a problem. All three NFC East rivals like to run the football.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Even before Pierre-Paul’s accident, I was going to go out on a limb and say the Giants would keep six defensive ends: Pierre-Paul, Odighizuwa, Moore, Wynn, Ayers, and Selvie. Now I’m even more convinced. All six can have important roles on the team. Ayers is too good of an inside pass rusher to cut. The Giants were really high on Wynn when they signed him as a rookie last year and thus far he hasn’t disappointed. Selvie could be vulnerable if he does not flash in the preseason and Wynn does, but my guess is the coaches will be more comfortable with his veteran presence in the line-up on opening night. I’m really hoping things work out for Pierre-Paul and the Giants long term because replacing JPP in 2016 would be extremely difficult.

Jun 182015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 18, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The third and final day of the New York Giants three-day mini-camp was held on Thursday. Like the Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, no live contact was allowed, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills were permitted.

The veterans are now off until training camp begins on July 30. The rookies will have some classwork on Friday before heading off to the NFL Rookie Symposium.

Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ERECK FLOWERS SIGNS…
The New York Giants have announced that they have signed offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, the team’s 1st round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, to a multi-year contract. Flowers and his father negotiated the contract, eschewing the services of an agent.

Second-round pick safety Landon Collins is now the only unsigned draft pick.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (right foot or toe) left practice for a few snaps but returned. WR Ben Edwards (unknown) was seen limping off of the field after practice.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis, no longer in walking boot), offensive tackle Will Beatty (recovering from pectoral surgery), safety Nat Berhe (calf), safety Bennett Jackson (unknown), and S Mykkele Thompson (hamstring) did not practice.

DE Damontre Moore (recovering from shoulder surgery) and LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) were limited to individual drills.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, skipped the mini-camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • For a few plays, Justin Pugh lined up at left tackle and Brandon Mosley lined up at left guard with the starting unit.
  • Once again, Ereck Flowers received snaps with both the first- and second-team units at left tackle.
  • QB Eli Manning hit WR Preston Parker for a big gain down the right sideline in 11-on-11 drills. (VIDEO) Parker also caught a 3rd-down pass for a first down in the two-minute drill.
  • WR Geremy Davis did a nice job of keeping both feet in bounds on a sideline pass from QB Ryan Nassib. (VIDEO)
  • WR Juron Criner made a couple of nice receptions, eluding CB Mike Harris in the flat after one catch.
  • WR Corey Washington made a leaping catch on a pass from QB Ryan Nassib.
  • CB Chykie Brown picked off a pass from QB Ricky Stanzi intended for WR Ben Edwards in the end zone. (VIDEO)
  • In the two-minute drill with the first-string offense against the first-string defense, QB Eli Manning threw a fade pass for a touchdown to WR Rueben Randle against CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. (VIDEO)
  • Practice ended with a dropped pass by TE Adrien Robinson on 4th down in the two-minute drill with the second-teamers facing off.
  • Eli’s father, Archie Manning, watched practice today.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Good afternoon. That completes our minicamp, our mandatory minicamp. I thought that we had a lot to learn this spring, obviously, with the defense changing coordinators and having new information to be learned. We had our assessment of last season and what we wanted to be able to take on and try to conquer. We had new people in different positions, some anticipated and some not, and of course a lot of that work had to get done and we started out spring knowing full well that Victor (Cruz) was not going to be able to work but thinking that Odell (Beckham) would and a couple weeks into the running part of it, we had to be able to maneuver with that. I thought the guys did a good job with that. The big thing is we worked hard. We have a long way to go. Our two practices here in this camp were good. They were intense and they worked hard. Sometimes it was a little too physical but that is kind of the way it goes. We have kind of set the tone for when we come back and we look forward to these guys having a little time off and I did caution them on all the things that are normally talked about, the “NY” never comes off and so on and so forth and be careful, etc. I think we look forward to getting back here and getting to work on this upcoming season. I know you have no questions, so I’ll just slide out of here.

Q: As far as you know, is Odell Beckham on track to be back for the start of training camp?

A: That’s the plan.

Q: He said in an interview that he is bothered by all the teammates teasing him about the injury. How do you react to that?

A: Just like he did last year. You worry about things you can control and not about those you can’t. His teammates, there is obviously some mix in there that may have been something serious, but most of it would have been well-intended shots just over the bow. His personality hasn’t let up any because of it, I can you guarantee that.

Q: What is the plan with him health-wise moving forward? Does he continue doing what he is doing here or do you want him to shut it down for a little?

A: No, he just continues to do whatever the plan is for them in the training room. He has been running, but most of it has been straight ahead but he has been doing that. He will maneuver into the cutting and so on and so forth as he goes forward. He feels better, but he needs to feel a whole lot better.

Q: Did you see enough progress from the rookies?

A: We have a good feel for the rookies, we really do. This incident with (Mykkele) Thompson with the slight strain of the ham, he had been doing well and starting to come along and that was a key thing. Getting Owa (Odighizuwa) back out there was big. He only had a couple, three days here but he showed us why he is here, so that was important. With Ereck (Flowers), the more you can throw at him, the better. He just has to get out there and he will make errors and make plays, but he has just got to play and recognize it. (Landon) Collins has done a good job, has gotten better and has really done a good job of starting to direct back there, and I think the coaches are excited about him going forward.

Q: The receivers say that Eli’s arm is stronger, do you see that?

A: Yeah, it is lively, very lively. He has worked hard on that.

Q: Is that because of the springtime or because of the offseason?

A: It is the offseason. Obviously, you see it here, but he has worked hard and has a very nice routine going. He is very comfortable and very confident of his routine.

Q: You mentioned Odell’s personality; how would you describe it?

A: He enjoys the athletic atmosphere, he enjoys his teammates and he doesn’t mind entertaining on occasion if you are not looking.

Q: Do you ever try to curb it?

A: Usually when I show up, I don’t get to listen to some of that.

Q: How does Shane Vereen look?

A: You saw him on the two-minute drill come scooting out the other side, that part of it he has done well.

Q: Are you keeping the rookies an extra couple days?

A: Just until tomorrow and then they will head out because (the drafted rookies) have the rookie symposium.

Q: What is the deal with Bennett Jackson?

A: He just did a little twist thing and they held him out.

Q: Is it the knee he had micro fracture on?

A: No.

Q: Any thoughts on the drone?

A: It is another advancement. The way it was presented to me is, “Is this angle worth looking at?” I am not really ready even to say that because I only saw it one day and saw it in a certain drill. Maybe there are drills where it would help, looking right straight down on an inside play, you have a tendency to speed through it and get to the end zone copy. There may be something to it. I’m not ready to say one way or another. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of the advancement of technology.

Q: Could you talk about the difference in the offense in the second season?

A: People have more knowledge of what they are doing, especially when we first came back with the veteran guys. I just think that now they have been kind of pounding away at it for a while. I am sure they are ready for a break, but the ability to communicate with one another is something that has been accomplished and the young guys, they have a lot to learn; there is a lot of language here.

Q: Do you think Victor Cruz will be cleared for the start of training camp?

A: It is my understanding that (Cruz) will be ready to participate. How limited, I can’t tell you. We will see. We aren’t going to throw him right out there, I can tell you that.

Q: You don’t think he will be on PUP to start training camp?

A: I’m not going to say. That is not the intent.

Q: Last August, Odell told us he wanted to show you how much he wanted to get on to the field. Now that you have a year under your belt in knowing how much he loves the game, does that allow you to be more understanding and patient?

A: Well, I want him on the field, just like he wants to be on the field. That is where the next level that he can attain is going to be accomplished, by practicing. As demonstrated last year, he can learn. He learns a lot about adjustments and what have you even though he is not out there. When he first came back, we didn’t hesitate to line him up every place under the sun and motion, but he can handle it. He would see it if he were out here, plus he wants to be out there. He is one of those kids that can…you’ve seen him throw the ball, you’ve seen him do all kinds of (things).

Q: What have you learned about your team this spring?

A: I was impressed by the seriousness this spring. I thought that they came here with the idea of what they had to work on and how they needed to accomplish it, but we will see, everything has to connect. What I learned about, we don’t have any pads on and we are playing against each other, so let’s see what we can do when we are playing against somebody else.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BEN McADOO…
Ben McAdoo addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q:  What did you get accomplished during the spring?

A: In Phase One, it was good to get here and watch our own tape. Watch our own tape as an offense; go through the cut-ups that way. Phase Two, putting the installs in from install one working your whole way through and then having a chance in OTAs to actually get out there and not do it on air and do it with a defense in front of you. Get the young players incorporated into it, giving them their first taste of the offense there. Finishing up in minicamp, having a chance to go back to the beginning of things and put some earlier stuff back in and get back to the fundamentals.

Q: What are your concerns with possibly having to start a rookie at left tackle?

A: I am excited to have Ereck (Flowers). I think he has done a nice job so far. He is a young player. He is going to grow, but my concerns are we would like to see him get in here in training camp in great condition and ready to go. Get some good defensive ends over there and get some good one-on-one battles going with some pads on. We are excited for that. We are out there running around in our underwear right now, so it is tough to really put a solid foundation or evaluation on these guys at this point up front. They seem to be working well together, Ereck included.

Q: How content are you with having Flowers as the left tackle or would you consider moving people around?

A: We like him as a future left tackle of the New York Giants. I am very comfortable with him being out there right now. Nothing is ever set in stone. We look forward to getting back here in camp and seeing him jump in there right from the beginning and give a run at it.

Q: What do you see from Justin Pugh as a guard and why did you want to move him to that spot?

A: He is a football-smart guy. He is a hard worker. (Pugh) brings a nice level of physicality that we like. Some grit to the position right there. It is probably a position that doesn’t get as much glamor as a tackle, but when you are on the left side, it is important position to protect the backside of the quarterback away from his vision. The left guard position is especially important because a lot goes on there on the inside. When one becomes two and two becomes three and when zero becomes one and all the movement happens, you have to make quick decisions and we feel Justin can do that.

Q: Do you view him as a veteran now or a new guy since he hasn’t played at that position?

A: He has some experience under his belt. I view him as a veteran.

Q: Do you plan for training camp as if you will have Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. back?

A: We plan for who is going to be out there. Day one right now as we close up shop at this point, if they are there, we will welcome them back with open arms. If not, they need to spend their time in the training room and get healthy. We are going to spend our time focusing on who is out there and who is healthy and we will take it from there.

Q: How is Weston Richburg taking to the responsibilities of center?

A: Weston is a natural center. I am excited for him. I am excited for the offense. I think he brings some energy to the position and to the offense. He’s a guy who likes to have control of things and likes to have his hand on the football. He works very hard at it. I like Weston.

Q: How has Geoff Schwartz looked?

A: Geoff is a guy who is trying to work back into football shape and get healthy. When he comes back to camp, we look forward to him being ready to go. I have to see him with some pads on. It is tough to evaluate those offensive linemen right now when you are running around with just helmets on.

Q: How much do you see a difference between how the offense is running from this time compared to this time last year?

A: You look at the speed of things and the way things get started. Weston does a nice job of getting up and on the ball and getting the party started. Eli is a lot quicker at this point in time in getting everything going and getting everything moving. The receivers, the tight ends, the backs are playing faster on the perimeter. Some young guys have had a nicer opportunity with some injuries to some veterans and they have taken full advantage of those opportunities.

Q: How much of a priority this offseason has it been to get your run game going again?

A: It is hard without the pads on. You are not supposed to technically be competing out there. They are more just fit drills when you are going against the defense. I believe the chemistry with the backs and their courses and the offensive line and the tight ends, that is coming along, but we won’t know that until we get pads on and into training camp and start playing games.

Q: Does Eli Manning’s arm look stronger?

A: Eli has put a lot of time and effort into his footwork and his training there and to his upper body and his strengthening and maintenance in those types of things. I like the look in his eye right now. His offseason has been encouraging.

Q: Were any of those things you asked him to do?

A: He has put a lot of time and effort into it. We had some collaboration before he left, but the credit goes to Eli.

Q: What do you like about Marshall Newhouse that makes you think he could be your right tackle right now?

A: Marshall has played a little bit of everywhere. I was with him in the past when he first got into the league. He has played just about every position. I believe he even snapped the ball at one point. (Newhouse) is a smart guy. He gets the game. He is very nimble-footed. We need to get some pads on and get out there and get a look at him with the defense moving and be physical. He has done it before and he has done it at a high level before and he will have an opportunity to be a major contributor this year.

Q: Did the personnel people come to you and pick your brain about Newhouse since you spent time coaching him before?

A: There are always open lines of communication upstairs.

Q: Do you sense if Eli Manning is energized by the weapons around him?

A: You would have to ask him that. That is a good question for him. A lot of those weapons haven’t been out there in the offseason program and the minicamp. I don’t think it really matters who is on the field. He brings some energy to the game. He does it in his own way.

Q: How would you describe the role Shane Vereen would play?

A: You can see why Shane has had some of the success he has had. (Vereen) can be a quarterback’s best friend in a way in the passing game. Similar to the way tight ends can be. He has great body language coming out of the backfield. He usually does not fool the quarterback and they seem to be on the same page and it happened pretty early.

Q: What do you see in Eli’s eyes that you like?

A: That (he) is excited for training camp.

Q: What does that tell you about him?

A: I think he is gaining confidence in what we have asked him to do fundamentally in the system and in the communication that happens in the meeting rooms and is carried on to the field. He is on the same page with his receivers, his tight ends and his backs. He is working well with the center and the o-line. I think being in the second year of the system helps. The confidence comes from what he put into the time before he got back here. That goes a long way, too.

Q: Do you ever wonder what it is going to take to get similar statistical numbers from Beckham again?

A: I think it is a little too early for that. When Odell gets healthy and gets back out there, we just need to get him and Eli connected and get the chemistry going there. After that, the rest will take care of itself. Last year, he was featured in a lot of ways. This year, there are some more guys in the mix and those opportunities are earned. When he gets back out there and healthy, we look forward to getting the chemistry with the quarterback and being able to spread the ball around.

Q: Is there a way to make up those missed snaps or will those guys have to rely on muscle memory?

A: No. To me, every year is a new year. You have to come in and earn for what is going to take place down the road. It is not like riding a bike. It takes work to get there. As soon as we can get together and get everyone together and on the same page and get that chemistry built, the better.

QUARTERBACKS COACH MIKE SULLIVAN…
Mike Sullivan addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: When you have looked at tape from last season of Eli in this offense, what were some things that you saw?

A: There are so many components, particularly from the timing standpoint and from a footwork standpoint, even just from the initial stance in the shotgun, which were different from what he had done in the previous 10 years of his career. I gained an even greater respect and appreciation for (Manning) to be able to adjust and to be able to have the open mind and embrace a lot of subtleties. It’s still football and it is still about a quarterback making good decisions, being accurate with the football and being a leader, but from a terminology and technique standpoint, I was very impressed with a lot of the things he has been able to adjust to and it has been exciting coming into this offseason with him being healthy and having the opportunity to get the drill work down and taking that drill work into working against the defense in OTAs and minicamp. I hated to see it to end today. We were just having fun. We need a few more of those. It was neat.

Q: Eli has been throwing the ball very well this spring. Did he do something different in how he trained or how you worked with him?

A: I can certainty empathize with a brand new system from the terminology to the footwork to what the pattern concepts are. It is hard to play fast, whether it is running a route for a receiver or a lineman blocking or a quarterback throwing the football, there is a lot that is going through mentally and then there is some injuries that he had where he couldn’t really push off his feet. I think he is a lot more comfortable having that year under his belt and we went through… it’s one thing when you review cut-ups and you are seeing yourself, it is another if you are learning a system and it is another team. He can actually go through and have a good dialogue about the reasons of why this or why that. (He) is a lot more comfortable, perhaps, and certainly healthy and we have had a chance to get rolling, but I agree he is definitely throwing the ball well and it is exciting.

Q: What is the biggest difference when you watch Ryan Nassib on film between last year and this year in spring?

A: He is a guy who is a very hard worker. He is a grinder and he is a gym rat and is someone who is very conscientious. He came from a similar type system in college, so he didn’t really have to unlearn, if you will, as much. I am very impressed with his work ethic, his competitiveness and how intelligent he is. He has been really trying to focus on the little things that can get his release a little faster. He is very conscientious about that, “Hey, I can just keep the ball a little bit higher.” He understands the reasoning and timing behind things in terms of not wanting to be too slow with his feet or having an elongated release and just a very bright and competitive player. In the meeting room, (Nassib) is someone that Eli relies upon. I got the sense early on that those two guys really respect each other and you look at a guy like Ryan and I am excited to see how he is going to perform in these games in the preseason, and he is just a really competitive kid.

Q: How do you expedite getting Odell and Victor caught up on the timing of everything?

A: That is a great question. The concept of the play and what the design of the play, where we want the timing to be ‘X’ and the footwork has to match that and it is all orchestrated. When you have a certain player, like an Odell or a Victor, that can get from point A to point B and his body language and his positioning is different from somebody else, you want that consistency. Even if we are doing it versus air, we were able to get some work with Odell, but unfortunately not with Victor, but even if it is just without a defender out there, to get the timing down is something that we would like to make sure we can do, even if there are limitations with whatever the issues with injuries or anything like that might be. We want those two guys, the quarterback and in this scheme, it is Odell or Victor or Larry Donnell, to be second nature to just see that it is a throw that is a result of a pressure or a hot throw, if you will, and they know exactly where the ball placement is. Regardless of system, that chemistry is important, so I can’t wait to get those guys back out there.

RUNNING BACKS COACH CRAIG JOHNSON…
Craig Johnson addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: So you have had a minicamp in the books, can you talk about the development of your guys? What Shane Vereen brings to the table and what you are seeing from your guys?

Shane Vereen and Eli Manning, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Shane Vereen and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

A: Since you brought up Shane, I will talk about him first. Nice addition to our team, I think he brings a veteran experience. He has obviously been a Super Bowl winning player (and) that helps a lot. He is very versatile; he brings great depth and competition to this spot. He is a very smart player. I kind of figured that was the way he was and the way he played before seeing him on tape. He really picked up our system well, has done a good job of understanding, and has a really good rapport going on with Eli right now, so I really like where he is at and I think he has done a good job. He ended up the spring like I had liked him to.

Rashad Jennings, who obviously had a very good year for us a year ago. He again has continued to develop, he is a great leader, very versatile, can play all the downs and does a good job. I really like what I saw from him this spring and he felt good, is fit and is running around, so I think he brings a lot to the table also.

Andre Williams played a lot of football for us last year, was our leading rusher, had a really good offseason and has worked diligently. A lot of people asked about, what about catching the ball. When he came to us out of Boston College, he didn’t have a catch his last year of playing in college and he has worked diligently at working on his hands and continues to improve dramatically in that area. He can run very well and can block. All three of those guys, I think, have done a really good job.

Orleans Darkwa, who played for us a lot last year, played a lot of teams and has done a good job. (Darkwa) picks up the offense, very smart, very smart player, has very good speed, is good on the edge runs and has done a good job inside. I put him in there in the two-minute situation today and we didn’t miss a beat in the two-minute, so I thought he did a really good job. I have a couple of young players, Akeem Hunt and Ken Harper, are two good young backs that we are looking at that are doing a good job.

(We also) have two good fullbacks: Henry Hynoski, who has played for us for quite a while and continues to thrive in his role and brings a lot to the table for us, and then we have Nikita Whitlock, a player that has played some on offense and defense for various teams. (He) is a very strong player, very low to the ground, has good hands and he has really expressed himself well.

I have a full room (with) eight guys, a lot of depth, a lot of guys that have played well and I think a lot of those guys are getting a deep look on special teams, which makes me proud and makes me happy, because I think it helps our whole team.

Q: Do you have an idea of any specific roles right now?

A: It is fluid. We aren’t really sure because right now what you learn in the spring is getting them acclimated to the system and make sure they can make all the adjustments that we have and see what they bring to the table. I think that as we get closer to games and time for the opener, we will find out more role defining roles for them. Right now, I try to put them in every situation so I can see what they can do. I try not to say, for instance, “Shane is only going to run the ball.” I want to see if Shane can catch the ball. I know he can, but I want to see if he can under pressure situations and vice versa. I do that for all of our guys because that way you can kind of find out what they all can do. A great thing for this room is there is great competition because Rashad watches what Shane does and that makes Rashad play better, and then Andre watches it and so on. It creates great chemistry for the room. I feel good that all of them are pushing each other to really compete and be the best.

Q: Did they come back looking at last year saying, “That is not who we are. That is not what Giants football is about”?

A: Yeah, I think they kind of had that attitude when they came in. I think they know and everybody understands that the running game, like the passing game, is a team-oriented thing. We have to do a better job with our reads. Before you do anything else as a running back, know your system and do a better job with your reads. We have to get fits better with the linemen and timing with them and then obviously you want to put yourself in the best position for all the running game that you can and that is part of what the quarterbacks do such a great job for us for. All those factors matter, but at the end of the day, I tell the backs, “When it is time to run, run and if there is a hole there, that is great, but if there is not a hole there, make a hole and make it happen.”

WIDE RECEIVERS COACH SEAN RYAN…
Sean Ryan addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Odell Beckham Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: How much can you do with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz when they aren’t practicing?

A: The meetings are where they have to be great. The film study, watching that, catching the coaching points in the meetings and also on the field. It is a challenge for them to stay locked in and, obviously, they are on the field doing a little bit of their own rehab, so they get pulled out of some things. We talk a lot about mental reps. You have to be disciplined to do it, but they have to see what is happening, hear the coaching points. I do think mentally you can get a lot out of it, but you have to be very disciplined to do that. I think they work at it. I think they probably did get quite a bit between the meetings, the mental reps and the field.

Q: Did Beckham prove his ability to do that last season, given how much time he spent with mental reps and meeting time?

A: I think so. He is a really bright football player. Some things come to him and make sense to him. I think that really helps him go through situations like this and get stuff out of it. Innately, he understands the game and understands how things work and that helps him.

Q: Have you sensed that his teammates’ teasing him has bothered him at all?

A: No, those guys get after each other in every type of way possible. They make fun of each other about what they eat for breakfast. I think a comment gets made here or there, but it is all in fun. The atmosphere in that room is a good atmosphere. They certainly have fun with each other. They are a tight knit group of guys. I think that shows up. I think they are just having fun with it a little bit. (Beckham) can handle it. He gives it out as much as he takes it, so don’t feel bad.

Q: Did you like the red spot on his hair?

A: I certainly saw it. I didn’t ask him what it was specifically all about. I’m sure it was some sort of fashion statement, but I didn’t have a chance to ask him about it. It was definitely noticeable. I think he had it since day one when he showed up back here in April.

Q: Is it a particular coaching challenge to coach someone’s abilities and personality, too?

A: Yeah, I think it is with every position group. There are some positions on both sides of the ball that are known a little bit more for having some characters in the room. I enjoy it. I like it. I think it keeps it interesting. I think if you are going to be a good coach in any sport, on any team, any position, you better figure out what makes your guys tick and you better go after it and press the buttons that work. As a coach, I find it is a challenge, but a challenge I like.

Q: What makes Odell tick?

A: A lot of different things. Certainly going against a great challenge makes him tick. Last year, we would do a thing where every Friday I would give him a listing of the rookie receivers because it was a heck of class of rookie receivers. How many catches and yards and touchdowns they had, and certainly Week 5 he was down at zero and the other guys were up there. I think (Beckham) thrives on challenges. You go out to Seattle and it is him versus Richard Sherman. I think that is what makes that guy tick. He is a true competitor.

Q: Have you noticed or talked to Odell about him reigning in his emotions?

A: I will go back to his competitiveness and what he is trying to do. You always have to talk to all the players about you can never put yourself in any way above the rest of the team. You can’t hurt the team. At the same time, you have to walk a fine line with these guys when you go back about what makes him tick. I don’t want him to lose his edge in any way. He is not going to hurt the team. That is clearly stated to him. He understands that. In a lot of ways, that passion and that energy make him special. You have to be very careful not to really put your foot down or squash that because it is an important part of his game.

Q: Have you changed anything in how you deal with that this year?

A: I think you talk to him reasonably. Talk to him man-to-man. When the situations came up during the year, we didn’t wait until the year was over. If there was a flag thrown in St. Louis and it cost us 15 yards for an excessive celebration or something like that, it gets addressed there and it gets addressed the following day on the field. You are making those corrections as it goes along. I haven’t had to in the offseason all of a sudden kick it into gear. It is something that you talk about ongoing as it happens.

Q: How do you match last year’s production with him because teams aren’t going to be caught off guard?

A: I think we were as creative last year as I have ever been and as we have ever been with any player, and certainly a rookie. This guy lined up in the slot, as the number one strong, the number one weak, in the backfield; we would motion him into the backfield, from the backfield. (Opponents) can plan for (Beckham), but the first thing is they have to find him. We will also have some other weapons and other guys who make plays. Whether it be guys in the middle like Larry Donnell or Shane Vereen out of the backfield or certainly Rueben Randle or Victor Cruz or Preston Parker. If (opponents) want to take all their defensive plans and put it around one guy, it is going to lead to some holes for some other talented playmakers and it is going to hurt them. I think a little too much has been made of that because in the NFL, by the time we played these teams in games 12-16, teams knew who he was. He wasn’t catching them by surprise then. His productivity was still outstanding. I don’t worry about it. We will be creative with him and all of our players, like we always are. We will do our best to put them in the best positions in our scheme, and I think a little too much is made of that.

Q: What about the strides Rueben has made out there?

A: I thought Rube did a nice job. (Randle) is another guy that he is a really intelligent football player. The game makes sense to him, and things happen for him. He processes stuff really quickly and I think the more tape he watches and the more practice snaps he gets, the quicker that stuff happens for him and the quicker reactions he makes and I would say that is really what has shown up to me. The more football he plays, the better he gets. He sees things very quickly.

Q: Did anyone other than Randle stand out in the spring?

A: I thought Corey Washington had an excellent spring. I thought he had an excellent spring in the classroom and in the meetings. His attitude was outstanding. He worked. He got better and we will compile all the catches, but he is right up there. I am not sure if he didn’t lead the pack in catches and productivity for the spring. He certainly stood out to me. I thought Preston made some great strides, in particular playing in the slot. He is seeing things a little bit better. He is seeing defenses, reacting to blitzes better, so I thought Preston did a great job. I think those two guys really stuck out to me.

TIGHT ENDS COACH KEVIN M. GILBRIDE…
Kevin M. Gilbride addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen in Jerome Cunningham’s transition from last year to now?

A: We never got to see much of him with our offense. It was more – he came on towards the end of training camp and then right into the season when he was on the practice squad. He never really had much work with our offense. The good thing he did was he focused very hard in the meetings. Instead of getting the actual reps in practice, he got all the mental reps. He transitioned well in the spring. He knows the offense very well and he always was a great, great effort player and that is what showed up out here. He still has some technique issues that need to improve, but he improves at it because he works hard at it.

Q: What was it about him that caught your eye?

A: What stands out is (Cunningham’s) effort. He is going to give great effort, no matter what. Whether he knew what he was doing or not, he was going to be going 100 miles per hour, whether he knew what block he was supposed to make or not. He was going to be doing it as well as he could. That gives them a chance. It gives every person who plays this game a chance to be successful, or at least to be noticed as far as staying on the squad in some capacity, which certainly he did. He has carried it over throughout the season and then now through the spring where he has made some good strides.

Q: Do you see an opportunity for guys here to be that complete tight end?

A: No matter where you are at, when you play a position that is as multiple as we ask our tight ends to do, you are going to want guys to do different things. We don’t necessarily need this guy to have this receiving skill, this guy has to have run blocking skill, this pass-protection skill, this speed – they don’t have to have it all, as long as they have a number of attributes that they can use and use well on the field. That is enough for us to be successful. As coaches, we will put them in position to be successful.

Q: Do you think you have a guy that can be all of those categories?

A: I think they can all fit in certain capacities. If you are talking about if we are going to have the best tight end of all time – probably not. We could have guys who excel in a number of different areas, whereas if you look at the statistics, you would say, ‘They were a successful group.’ If you compare the tight end stats, receiving, last year, it is the best that it has been in over 15 years. Whether it be touchdowns or completion percentage when throwing to the tight ends. Just from one year within this offense, this group that we have has been very successful if you knew what you were looking at in the statistics columns.

Q: What did you see from Larry Donnell in his blocking skills last year and how does he go about improving that?

A: It is technique and confidence. Having him miss this offseason was not good for him in that regard. He is going to have to come into training camp and pick up where these other guys have left off in the improvements we have made in that area. We focused on certain things this offseason in the run game. It really started to show towards the end of the spring, which we were happy about. Happy to see. Still have a ways to go overall, but much improved. We were happy with where it went. We just want him to be a part of it.

OFFENSIVE LINE COACH PAT FLAHERTY…
Pat Flaherty addressed the media after the morning practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen from Ereck Flowers?

A: I really have a positive attitude towards him because he is a guy, from the time we went down to visit with him, he really likes the game of football, he has trained very hard in the weight room and he is a competitor, and when you have those types of elements as a person, you have a chance to develop into a player. It is going to take some development. We all know that because of the injury to William (Beatty) that his development has been escalated, so we (have) to go. I use the term that I really feel and still feel that Ereck is going to be a very good player for the New York Giants for a long time, and I thought in a couple years he would be very good. Well that couple years now is September, so that is where that is at.

Q: Last year when Victor Cruz got hurt Sean Ryan said he told Odell, “Congratulations your rookie year is over” Did you say the same thing to Ereck?

A: I did not. Ereck, from day one before he was drafted before he even took a snap with us, when he was up here, we sat and talked. He was one of the rookies (we visited with before the draft). As I went through a couple of the other guys, one guy asked me, “What are your expectations of me if I get drafted by the Giants?” Ereck never asked me that. Through the conversation, I guess he realized what I was telling him: you were drafted in the ninth pick by the New York Giants for a reason and that reason is that from day one you are going to compete to be a player. I did tell him at that time nobody knows when that day is. It could be the first day, it could be the 25th day (or) it could be the 10th day, but my goal as a coach is to always get you ready to be ready that first day. That is kind of what we talked about. I didn’t tell him his rookie season is over. You are going to be a rookie, they are going to treat you like a rookie, but I think he will grow and mature at a rapid pace.

Q: It had been a while before these last three years that a rookie lineman had started. Has the experience in recent years helped you?

A: Yeah, it probably has. The first big help that I had was when Chris (Snee) was a rookie because he was a guy that was prepared to play in the NFL physically. I don’t know if when you come in if you are prepared to play mentally because it is a whole different type of organization structure and the game is much faster, but in terms of physical, he was well prepared and that helped him a lot. Through his first year it probably helped me that I was around it when Chris Samuels was a rookie with the Redskins in my first year in the NFL. I kind of observed how that went. I think that each year and each guy is different. I learned some things from Justin (Pugh) that helped Weston (Richburg) and learned some things from Weston in combination with Justin that have helped Ereck and through my teaching and everything. The biggest thing with these guys is how much time can you spend with them and just keep giving them the information so they just absorb it and digest it. One thing you find out with the younger players is they have to go out and do it, and they have to do it and do it, the more reps they get. That is what I did in the past and we did in the past. You don’t want to work a guy until he is crawling off the field, but you want to work him to his brink because the more reps he is getting, the better off, and the opportunity to get to teach him on tape and he is experiencing that. Weston did the same thing last year in training camp. He was a center one day, a guard this and back and forth. You guys were probably thinking, “What is wrong with the offensive line coach? He is going nuts, he can’t even find out a position.” What you didn’t know is that he had to be able to play either positon, and as it turned out, he started at left guard.

Q: How is it going with Weston at center at this point?

A: I think it is going. Right now the progress is good, it really is. He learned an awful lot last year but I knew that he was going to be a player for a very long time and I know I’m using that, but I believe it because he likes the game of football. He really has embraced the center position because you are the voice of everybody to start out and the quarterback may change things, but you are telling everyone what to do. I think that Weston has a little bit of bossman in him and he likes that.

Q: What have you seen from Mike Bamiro?

A: Yeah, I’ll tell you (Bamiro) is the Kevin Garnett of the football players, that guy is huge. He is a good worker, he really is. He has some position versatility from being a tackle to a guard and we worked out with him. We have to really find out a little more about him when we get on pads, but I like his attitude.

Q: No one is at the same position this year. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

A: Yeah, it is to a certain extent. These guys have been in this room. This is the second year for the majority of them. In that offensive line room, they have heard the same things. Maybe it was from another position that they played ,so it is more of a step or technique than it is a language and language and communication are so important in the position that I coach. It is different, I don’t know if it is that drastically different. We just have to, as I have mentioned to you in past years, once we get closer to training camp, we have to nail this thing down and say, “Hey, this is the best fit that we have that is going to make our offense successful in 2015.”

Q: Justin Pugh seems to have embraced his change?

A: Yeah, I have heard that from other people. I think that he likes playing and I love guys who like playing. I think any position that you put him at, he would play it. He would like to be a guy that is settled in one position. Most guys are that way. I think you probably get that feeling from him more than anything. He would only get better at the tackle position for us. Is he a better guard than tackle? He is going to be a good football player.

Q: What do you like about him at guard?

A: Well, right now where he is at and who is beside him, being a rookie, that communication and being able to have a couple years under his belt is going to be very vital to him. That is one thing that is going to help an awful lot. Justin has very good feet, he is a very good athlete, has tremendous lower body strength and when you get closer to the ball at the guard position, you are going to be blocking bigger people, so I think that is going to be an advantage for us. He will be able to block those people.

Q: How is getting Geoff Shwartz back going to help the line?

A: Oh yeah, it is exciting. Geoff wants to do it and he has worked awful hard to get back from his injury and he just needs to have the good luck charm on his side for once. Once (Schwartz) is able to do that, here is a guy that can be in the next half dozen years and have a tremendous finish to his career.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clip of a player media Q&A is available at NFL.com:

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

Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Cullen Jenkins, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Cullen Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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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 262014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 26, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: LB Devon Kennard (toe) did not practice on Friday. He has officially been ruled out of the regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), RB Andre Williams (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (knee), and DE/LB Paul Hazel were limited. Williams is officially “questionable” for the game while the other three players are “probable.”

December 26, 2014 New York Giants Coach Media Sessions: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

Giants.com Q&A with Head Coach Tom Coughlin: The Coughlin Corner: Every game is critical by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

December 26, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

Article on WR Corey Washington: Giants’ Corey Washington frustrated by how his rookie season has played out by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: Rookie lineman making some waves by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on the New York Giants and Penalties: For the Giants, fewer penalties don’t equal more wins by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Giants Online – Giants vs. Eagles Preview: The video of this week’s Giants Online is available at Giants.com.

Dec 242014
 
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No Giants Voted to Pro Bowl: The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl teams were announced on Tuesday. No Giants were elected to this year’s Pro Bowl team by coaches, players, and fans (each with one-third of the vote). Wide receiver Odell Beckham was named a first-alternate and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was named a fourth-alternate.

December 24, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: LB Devon Kennard (toe) did not practice on Wednesday.

RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), RB Andre Williams (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (knee), and DE/LB Paul Hazel were limited.

December 24, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday’s press conference are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.

December 24, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of media sessions on Wednesday with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

7 takeaways from Giants Media Hour by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Injured Giants receiver Victor Cruz has ‘no doubt’ he will return to form in 2015 by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: The biggest surprise youngster to enter Giants’ 2015 plans by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Devon Kennard: How Devon Kennard’s father helped him become an NFL pro by Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post

Article on P Steve Weatherford: After killing of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, NY Giants’ Steve Weatherford visits NYPD to say thanks by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the Upcoming Giants-Eagles Game: Why finale vs. Eagles is anything but meaningless for Giants by Kevin Kernan of The New York Post

Dec 232014
 
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Practice Squad Moves: The Washington Redskins have signed offensive guard Rishaw Johnson off of the Giants’ Practice Squad. The Giants had signed Johnson to their Practice Squad on December 2.

To fill the vacancy created by the departure of Johnson, the Giants signed linebacker Uani (Devin) Unga to the Practice Squad. 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.

December 23, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts of media conference calls on Monday with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com:

Giants on WFAN Radio: The audio of WFAN Radio interviews with the following players is available at CBS New York:

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin’s not coaching like a guy who’s close to the end by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Giants’ offense on a roll by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Tom Coughlin likes Odell Beckham Jr.’s edge, but warns rookie not to go too far with celebration by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the Giants-Rams Game: Giants vs. St. Louis Rams brawl: A picture-by-picture breakdown of what happened by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

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

Notes: This season, QB Eli Manning has played eight games with a quarterback rating of at least 100, equaling the career high he set in 2009. That is the fifth-highest total in the NFL this year, behind Ben Roethlisberger (10), Aaron Rodgers (10), Peyton Manning (9), and Tony Romo (9). In 2013, Manning had just one game with a rating of at least 100.0 (102.3 in the opener in Dallas).

Manning has thrown for over 3,800 yards for the sixth consecutive season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning is one of just five quarterbacks in history to accomplish that feat.

Dec 212014
 
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The Big Melee, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

The Big Melee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants defeated the St. Louis Rams 37-27 on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the third win in a row for the Giants who have now improved their overall record to 6-9.

The 37 points scored by the Giants was the most given up this season by a Rams’ defense that is one of the best in the NFL. The Giants gained 514 total net yards on offense and controlled the clock for almost 10 minutes more than the Rams.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback Eli Manning completed 25-of-32 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The leading receivers were Odell Beckham with eight receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns and Rueben Randle with six catches for 132 yards and one touchdown. Running back Andre Williams carried the ball 26 times for 110 yards.

Passions ran high in this contest as there were a number of dirty plays and cheap shots made by Rams’ players, culminating in a sideline fight in the second quarter after Beckham was hit late of out of bounds. Three players were ejected from the contest, including wide receiver Preston Parker and defensive end Damontre Moore.

“‘That dirty shit don’t make them tough,” said linebacker Jameel McClain after the game. “God damn that is a dirty ass team. They suck as an organization.”

“They were playing nasty football,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “They were taking cheap shots. I felt like they were trying to take Beckham out of the game…You can play physical but they were going over and beyond. Everyone saw that.”

The Giants were flagged 12 times for 149 penalty yards while the Rams were flagged nine times for 76 yards.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants scored 20 first half points, including 10 on their first two possessions of the game. New York received the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in 10 plays to set up a 29-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown. The big play on this drive was a 49-yard pass to Randle.

On the ensuing Rams’ kickoff return, reserve running back Orleans Darkwa forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Nat Berhe at the St. Louis 21-yard line. Five plays later, Manning hit Beckham for a 9-yard touchdown and the Giants were quickly up 10-0.

The Rams then started with superb field position at the Giants’ 48-yard line after a return to the 37-yard line and 15-yard personal foul penalty on the kickoff. The Rams’ offense only gained 15 yards but it was enough to set up a successful 51-yard field goal to cut the New York lead to 10-3.

The Giants punted on their third possession but quickly got the ball back when rookie defensive end Kerry Wynn intercepted a pass at the Giants’ 37-yard line and returned it seven yards. New York moved the ball 37 yards in seven plays to set up Brown’s 37-yard field goal as the Giants went up 13-3.

Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Rams punted on their next series and the Giants responded with an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive, culminating with a 12-yard touchdown run by Darkwa.

Although the Giants were now up 20-3 and seemingly in control, the Rams scored the final 10 points of the first half, first with a 5-play, 74-yard touchdown drive and then with a 9-play, 58-yard field goal drive. In between these two possessions came the big fight that caused three players to be ejected.

At the half, the Giants led 20-13.

The Rams received the ball to start the second half but punted after gaining two first downs. The Giants then responded with another impressive drive, this one for 87 yards in 13 plays, finishing with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Randle. On this drive, Williams broke off a 45-yard run. The Giants now led 27-13.

New York’s defense could not hold, however, and the Rams responded with their own impressive drive, going 90 yards in 10 plays to cut the Giants’ lead to a touchdown again at 27-20. On 3rd-and-10 on the ensuing Giants’ possession, Manning found Beckham all alone deep for an 80-yard touchdown strike as the Giants again went up by two scores, 34-20, near the end of the third quarter.

The Rams punted on their next possession and the Giants then drove 56 yards in 10 plays to set up a successful 52-yard field goal by Brown to go up 37-20. Both teams exchanged punts. With 5:14 to play, the New York defense allowed St. Louis to drive 66 yards in just over a minute to cut the score to 37-27 as there was a breakdown in coverage on a 47-yard touchdown pass.

The ensuing Rams’ onside kick went out of bounds and the ball was awarded to the Giants. New York reached the St. Louis 11-yard line but a 29-yard field goal attempt by Brown was blocked. However, on the Rams’ next offensive snap, Wynn recovered a fumble at the 12-yard line to end the game.

Video highlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&A’s: Video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), TE Jerome Cunningham, OG Eric Herman, OG Adam Gettis, DT Dominique Hamilton, LB James Davidson, and CB Jayron Hosley.

NY Post Q&A With LB Devon Kennard: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with Devon Kennard by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Giants’ offense still a work in progress by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on WR Rueben Randle: Why Rueben Randle has been one of the Giants’ biggest letdowns by Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and S Antrel Rolle: NY Giants should bring back Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre-Paul after late surge by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Dec 202014
 
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Odell Beckham Named Rookie of the Week: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham was named NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Washington Redskins last Sunday. In the Giants’ 24-13 victory, Beckham caught 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns.

Article on the New York Giants Head Coaching Position: Giants job the ‘gold standard’ of the coaching profession? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo: Tom Coughlin praises job Ben McAdoo has done with NY Giants offense by Mitch Abramson of The New York Daily News

Article QB Ryan Nassib: When do the Giants take a look at quarterback Ryan Nassib? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on RB Andre Williams: The headway of Andre Williams, Giants RB and soon-to-be author by Kevin Kernan of The New York Post

Article on TE Jerome Cunningham: From club bouncer to Giants tight end | Four downs with Jerome Cunningham by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on OT Justin Pugh: Justin Pugh finding his rhythm before facing major test by Brian Lewis of The New York Post

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: Undrafted DE Kerry Wynn makes most of opportunity by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on LB Devon Kennard: Rookie Devon Kennard keeps turning heads by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record