May 262020
 
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Andrew Thomas, Georgia Bulldogs (November 2, 2019)

Andrew Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: The more things change, the more things stay the same. That could be the mantra for the New York Giants franchise and their almost decade-long effort to rebuild the offensive line. 2019 was no exception. Expectations were at least slightly raised by the offseason additions of seasoned veterans Kevin Zeitler at right guard and Mike Remmers at right tackle. It was expected that left tackle Nate Solder would rebound from a disappointing debut season with the team in 2018. Center Jon Halapio returned after missing 14 games with a broken ankle and we were told by management and coaches what an underrated player he was. Left guard Will Hernandez was coming off a decent rookie season and was expected to develop into a more consistent player.

Long story short is that the offensive line not only did not improve, at times it looked worse than the ad hoc group that finished the 2018 season. Nate Solder regressed even further. Hernandez stagnated. Halapio sucked and tore his Achilles’ tendon with only minutes left in the season. Zeitler dealt with a number of injuries that most likely affected his overall play. Mike Remmers played as expected as an only adequate, temporary placeholder. As a unit, their play did not exceed or equal the sum of its parts. It played at a lesser and very much disappointing level that did not meet expectations. To be blunt, it wasn’t pretty. Saquon Barkley and his fellow running backs were often facing penetration in the backfield and quarterbacks Eli Manning and Daniel Jones were regularly under siege.

The depth situation was also not good. Seventh-rounder offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei suffered a serious concussion early in camp and was lost for the season. For the second year in a row, back-up center Spencer Pulley did not look good when he played. Reserves Eric Smith and Chad Slade were non-factors. Only 2018 undrafted rookie free agent Nick Gates showed some promise in three starts, one at right guard and two at right tackle.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Dave Gettleman re-signed exclusive rights free agents Eric Smith and Chad Slade in late December before Joe Judge was hired. The team did not tender restricted free agent Jon Halapio and he remains unsigned. Team officials contend they could still re-sign Halapio, but it is somewhat telling that they already gave his jersey number away to another offensive lineman.

Mike Remmers signed with the Chiefs. George Asafo-Adjei was waived/failed physical in March.

Journeyman offensive tackle/tight end Nate Wozniak was signed to a reserve/futures contract in late December. Unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Cam Fleming (Dallas Cowboys) was signed in March. The Giants drafted three offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft, including tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), and guard Shane Lemieux (5th round). The team also signed rookie free agent guards Kyle Murphy and Tyler Haycraft after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: It’s the same as it has been for almost 10 years. Can the Giants field a respectable offensive line? The Achilles’ heel of the offensive team for the last decade has been the play of the offensive line. Every Giants fan knows that. Under two general managers and three head coaches, the team has spent high draft picks and spent a ton of free agent money to fix the problem with no improvement. The old maxim still holds true, football is indeed won and lost in the trenches. And the NFC East is filled with good front sevens. It’s no wonder why the Giants have become the punching bag for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Giants did not make a big splash this year in free agency (Cam Fleming), it certainly did in the draft by taking three offensive linemen in their first five selections, including the 4th player overall. On paper, things look much improved. The Giants appear to have four potentially adequate or more starters at tackle (Solder, Thomas, Fleming, Peart) and guard (Hernandez, Zeitler, Gates, Lemieux). The obvious sore spot is center. There is no reason to believe Spencer Pulley will develop into an adequate starter. Team officials have already publicly admitted that players such as Gates, Lemieux, and Kyle Murphy will cross-train at at both guard and center.

The hope here is twofold. First, the belief that Head Coach Joe Judge, Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, and Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo are superior coaches to their predecessors. And not only will they implement more coherent and viable blocking schemes that fit the existing personnel, but they will develop each individual player better. Second, that the Giants have not only improved the level of talent, but also the level of depth.

In the short term, media and fan focus will be on the center position and the development of the rookie tackles. It doesn’t help that the COVID situation has prevented the team from holding on-field spring practices.

ON THE BUBBLE: A lot of fans want to cut Nate Solder now. While an argument can be made to do so, the COVID situation makes it more unlikely that a team would want to rely on untested rookies who missed spring practices. Just as importantly, the team already paid his $3 million roster bonus in March and would be penalized with a sizable cap hit in dead money (almost $10 million if cut after June 1st).

Barring a complete collapse by Solder and/or rapid development of Thomas and Peart, the Giants are likely to keep four tackles: Solder, Thomas, Peart, and Fleming. It would also seem like the Giants will keep at least five interior linemen with Hernandez, Zeitler, Lemieux, and Gates having the inside track. Pulley’s fate may depend on who is on the waiver wire and the cross-training status of Lemieux, Gates, and Murphy.

PREDICTIONS: Things may not be pretty in the short term (this season), but I think FINALLY the Giants made some moves that will settle this position down for the long term (beyond 2020). I’m thrilled with what the Giants did in the draft at this position. With all due respect to Brad Benson, Jumbo Elliott, and David Diehl, the Giants have have not had a left tackle with the skill-set of Andrew Thomas in my lifetime. Thomas has an ideal combination of size/length, athleticism, temperament, and work ethic for the position (Ereck Flowers lacked the latter two qualities). Matt Peart has many of the same characteristics but it is assumed he will take a little longer to refine because he played at UConn. Both started as freshmen. Both have have started at right and left tackle. It is not far-fetched to dream that the Giants may have selected two 10-year starters at tackle in one draft.

Furthermore, Shane Lemieux was one of the best guards in the draft. Like Thomas, he started as a freshman in a major program. Lemieux has the size, temperament, and work ethic you want at the position. I honestly think all three will eventually start for the Giants. I also would not sleep on rookie free agent Kyle Murphy, who has played at both tackle spots, guard, and center. Based on the limited tape I’ve seen of him, this former team captain plays the game you want your offensive linemen to play (VIDEO).

What’s hard to predict is what the starting line will look like in 2020. Nate Solder and Andrew Thomas are going to start at tackle, but we don’t know who will start on each side. If Solder continues to struggle, I would not completely discount seeing Peart or Fleming in there sooner than expected. Hernandez and Zeitler should start at guard, but neither should get too comfortable with Lemieux and Nick Gates looming in the wings. Joe Judge has repeatedly said the best guys will play, regardless of their draft position or paycheck size. Zeitler is one of the better guards in the NFL and should rebound. It will be interesting to see how Hernandez responds to the new coaching staff.

The huge question mark of course is center. Nobody really wants Pulley starting. The hope is that Gates, Lemieux, or Murphy impress enough in camp to quickly take the starting job. But there is not much time.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Cam Fleming, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Kyle Murphy

What? No center? No way! You’re right… I’m going way out on a limb here and predicting that Lemieux, Gates, and/or Murphy show enough potential at center for not only to have one, but BOTH centers on the team to be converted guards. Teams can also carry 10 offensive linemen and I wouldn’t discount that as a real possibility with Pulley (or a waiver wire pick-up) serving as insurance. Again, I don’t think things will be pretty in the short term. But sometimes you have to take your lumps early for it to pay dividends down the road.

The Giants rolled the dice in 1984 with a converted guard starting at center, Kevin Belcher. It worked out wonderfully for the team in the short-term. (Kevin’s career ended the following offseason with a car crash).

At the very least, the depth situation looks very much improved. There will be guys who can come off of the bench and play in this league.

Oct 282019
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Jets (December 24, 2017)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS TRADE FOR LEONARD WILLIAMS…
Although not official, the New York Giants have acquired New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams by trade. According to The NFL Network, the Jets will receive the Giants’ 2020 3rd-round pick plus a 2021 4th-round pick if the Giants and Williams agree to a new contract before free agency. If they do not, then the Jets would receive the 2021 5th-round pick. The Jets will also pick up $4 million of Williams’ 2019 compensation. Williams is in the final year of his 5-year, rookie contract and is scheduled to make $14,200,000 in salary this year.

The 25-year old, 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jets. In four and a half seasons with the Jets, Williams has started 70 games, accruing 240 tackles, 17 sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles. His best season was 2016, when he was credited with 68 tackles and seven sacks. In seven starts this year, Williams has accrued 20 tackles and no sacks.

GIANTS SHOPPING OTHER PLAYERS…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have shopped and are open to trading linebacker Alec Ogletree, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and possibly left tackle Nate Solder.

MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Q: What was your reaction last night when you heard the players wanted a players only meeting? What is your history and experience over the years with players only meetings and what does it say that they want to do that?
A: I think it’s good, I was made aware of their comments after the game. I think we are all disappointed that we lost, I think it’s pretty obvious we fell a couple plays short of winning that football game. I think they are going to get together and discuss it, that’s a players only thing. I think this was addressed after the game with the coaches and the players, we need to keep working, we have to be very intentional with how we do things, which we have been, but we have to find ways to get better at everything we do so that shows up on game day and we make more plays.

Q: As you look at Daniel through six games, how would you assess the totality of his development? Where have you seen the most progress?
A: I think there’s areas in each game where he has shown improvement just playing quarterback. Just focused on yesterday, I think we had the play where he gets hit, the ball goes backwards, and it becomes a fumble, but he stays in the moment and he just keeps playing. I keep saying this each week, but he’s tough and he’s resilient and he competes, and he fights and he tries to do everything right. There’s plenty of production, things he did in terms of getting us in the right protection. There were some run checks he executed properly, I think he made some nice throws, he scrambled around, a couple of zone reads. I think the important thing for him is to continue to put more good plays on tape, continue to get the ball off on time and try to eliminate the mistakes that can wrongly affect the game.

Q: You alluded to those pre-snap checks, are you guys as a coaching staff adding more of those to him in terms of stuff he can check out of at the line of scrimmage?
A: It’s been part of what he has been able to do since we put him in against Tampa. I think that’s part of what he’s able to do and you have to be able to do that. Defenses are too good, they are too multiple, and they do things within plays that changes need to be made. That’s part of why he’s had success.

Q: Where do you think is the biggest area he can still grow in this learning process?
A: I think he can improve in all areas of his game. That’s what happens with a young player, he goes through the game, there are a handful of throws that he maybe could throw better. There’s a couple times maybe he could have done something different with the football. You are always working on your decision making, your timing, your accuracy and just in general what the quarterback has to do to in terms of managing the game. That’s constant, that’s a continual process for a rookie, as it would be for anybody that’s even a veteran.

Q: Any news on the injury front, particularly Sterling Shepard?
A: No, not really. Everything we did today was in the meeting room, we weren’t on the practice field. He’s still in the protocol, so to speak, he’s been out there running around. We’ll just have to see what the week brings.

Q: The trade deadline is tomorrow, what are your expectations for that?
A: I really don’t have anything expectation wise, there’s really nothing to add to all that.

Q: There has been talk of Janoris Jenkins possibly being moved, how would you look at that, losing a good player if that were the case?
A: I guess it has been rumored that he is being moved all the time. I don’t know of any conversations to do that. It’s purely hypothetical with regards to him.

Q: How much input do you have around these times? Obviously, Dave (Gettleman) makes the decisions of who stays and who goes, but can you kind of characterize what kind of input level you have?
A: We talk about everything. We talk about everything with regard to how the games play out, we talk about everything personnel wise. Put trades aside, we’re always making little roster adjustments each week, depending on covering up for injuries or trying to improve the roster. We talk. It’s pretty fluid in terms of our conversation.

Q: They seemed to want you to return the kickoffs. Why were you unable to get anything going there?
A: I think it just pretty much came down to execution. I thought they… That’s something that they do. That’s part of what they do. As we looked through it today, it’s a block here and a block there. It’s not the same thing every time. But I certainly think we need to clean that up moving forward.

Q: How did you think (Deone) Bucannon played in his first time out after you had a chance to check out the film?
A: He had a handful of reps in there. I thought he did a pretty good job really for the first time out. Obviously, look forward to giving him more reps as we go. So, pretty good outing for the first time.

Q: Is there anything you could do, you could figure out to try to avoid some of these slow starts? 14-0 in the first quarter the last two games is really unprecedented around the Giants. Is there anything you can do to help the defense, help the offense change something, do something to change, because these slow starts are really putting your team behind these last four games?
A: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think we just need to play better early. We find a way through the middle and the later part of the games to make enough plays. Defensively, we get settled down throughout the middle and later in the game and make plays that are significant. Then certainly, you don’t like the turnovers that go for scores. That’s something that you obviously want to avoid at any point. But you’re right, because what happens is you have to get away from some of the things that you had planned to do when the game was in the balance. You never want to do that.

Q: My colleague, Ian Rapoport, I just saw on Twitter, is reporting that Leonard Williams from the Jets has been traded to the Giants. Do you have a reaction to that?
A: I don’t. I don’t. Again, I wouldn’t comment on all of that until anything was public.

Q: I know after the game, you said there weren’t any injuries you knew of. Has that changed at all?
A: No, not really. Just I would call them game soreness. Nothing. No injury changes. Nothing significant. We actually, as games go, we pulled out of this one pretty well.

Q: What do you think of the way your d-line has played, and I’d hearken back as well to Paul Schwartz’s question about the slow starts that have been apparent the last couple of weeks?
A: Each guy up front has had an impact and played pretty good at times. Forget just the d-line. I think we’ve been inconsistent in all of the groups. Yesterday was probably one of B.J. Hill’s better outings. Going forward, I think Dexter Lawrence is battling and playing hard, and Dalvin (Tomlinson). Those are the three guys that come to mind right now that are very steady. I think we have to get better and certainly we all have to play better to win these games. But I think they’re making improvements.

Q: Where would another starting-caliber defensive lineman sort of fit into the mix in your estimation?
A: On our defense? I think we’re looking to upgrade in really every area. So yeah, he’d be in the mix if we added one.

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

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

Oct 062019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 6, 2019)

Sterling Shepard could not hold onto this pass in the end zone – © USA TODAY Sports

MINNESOTA VIKINGS 28 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
The Minnesota Vikings soundly defeated the New York Giants 28-10 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fall to 2-3 on the season.

New York entered the game with injury issues at running back and linebacker. Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), linebacker Ryan Connelly (Injured Reserve – knee), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), linebacker Tae Davis (concussion), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (neck) did not play. Worse, the Giants lost running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) in the 1st quarter. The Vikings were able to exploit these absences. The Vikings also both lines of scrimmage.

Minnesota took control of the game early, controlling the ball and the clock for 12 of 15 minutes in the 1st quarter, en route to an early 10-0 lead. Shoddy coverage tackling did not help. First, the Vikings drove 62  yards in 11 plays, settling for a 31-yard field goal. After the first Giants’ possession stalled at the Minnesota 39-yard line, the Vikings then embarrassingly drove 98 yards in 11 plays, with quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen on 3rd-and-4 on the first play of the second quarter, beating cornerback Grant Haley. At this point in the game, Cousins was 9-of-10 for 119 yards.

Cornerback Corey Ballentine sparked the Giants on the ensuing kickoff by returning the ball 52 yards to midfield. Five plays later, quarterback Daniel Jones threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. New York had cut the lead to 10-7.

The Vikings scored points again on their third possession, this time moving the ball 45 yards in eight plays to set up a 48-yard field goal to extend the lead to 13-7.

After the Giants punted the ball away on their third possession, the Vikings drove from their 20-yard line to the New York 24-yard line. On 2nd-and-6, running back Dalvin Cook broke off a 19-yard run, but safety Jabrill Peppers stripped him of the football at the 5-yard line. Linebacker Tuzar Skipper recovered the loose ball at the 1-yard line. However, on the very next offensive snap, running back Jon Hilliman was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Vikings now led 15-7.

After the free kick, the Vikings extended their lead to 18-7 with a 32-yard field goal after a 9-play, 49-yard drive. Other than the fumble at the 5-yard line, Minnesota scored on their four other first-half possessions. On the other hand, New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in one touchdown, a Minnesota safety, and three punts. The Vikings held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half.

The Giants began the third quarter with a marathon 15-play, 61-yard drive that unfortunately only resulted in a 32-yard field goal despite the Giants facing both 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line and 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line. That field goal represented New York’s last points of the day.

The Vikings then responded with a devastating 5-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown from Cousins to Thielen again, this time beating cornerback Deandre Baker. Minnesota now led 25-10 with just under five minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

New York threatened to score a touchdown again on their second drive of the half, reaching the Minnesota 3-yard line. But on 4th-and-2, Jones was sacked for a 9-yard loss at the end of the 3rd quarter.

After a three-and-out, the Giants drove into Vikings’ territory again, but turned the ball over on downs after a 4th-and-12 incomplete pass from the Minnesota 27-yard line. The Vikings then added another field goal, from 45 yards out, after gaining 46 yards on nine plays. With just over four minutes to play, the Vikings held a commanding 28-10 lead.

New York’s last possession ended on 4th-and-2 when Jones was intercepted. Minnesota then ran out the clock.

New York’s offense only gained 211 yards, 147 net passing yards and 64 net rushing yards. Worse, the Giants were 0-for-2 in the red zone. Jones completed 21-of-38 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was sacked four times for a loss of 35 yards. His leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (6 catches for 42 yards), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 49 yards), and Slayton (4 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown). Hilliman only gained 20 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 490 yards and 22 first downs to an offense that had been struggling. Minnesota rushed for 211 yards and Cousins completed 22-of-27 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Peppers did force one fumble that Skipper recovered. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh, and linebacker Markus Golden also had sacks.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), LB Tae Davis (concussion), LB Lorenzo Carter (neck), QB Alex Tanney, OT Eric Smith, and OT/OG Chad Slade were inactive.

RB Wayne Gallman (concussion) left the game in the 1st quarter and did not return.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday. The players return to practice on Tuesday.

Sep 182019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 15, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 18, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion), right guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder), and cornerback Grant Haley (illness) did not practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion), wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), and tight end Garrett Dickerson (quad) were limited in practice.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants terminated the practice squad contract of tight end C.J. Conrad on Tuesday. The Giants originally signed Conrad as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants also signed running back Austin Walter to the Practice Squad. The 23-year old, 5’8”, 190-pound Walter was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The 49ers cut him in late August.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

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

Sep 082019
 
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Oompa Loompas

The New York Giants Defense

DALLAS COWBOYS 35 – NEW YORK GIANTS 17…
The New York Giants were clearly outclassed by the Dallas Cowboys 35-17 in the regular-season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday. The Giants begin the 2019 season with a divisional loss.

In many ways, the game was even more lopsided than the final score would suggest. The Cowboys scored touchdowns on five straight drives from the 1st quarter to the 3rd quarter, only calling off the dogs in the 4th quarter.

New York actually took the early lead after forcing the Cowboys to punt on their initial possession and followed that up with a 7-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 59-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley, and ending with a 1-yard touchdown reception by tight end Evan Engram from quarterback Eli Manning. Oddly, despite this early success, Head Coach Pat Shurmur only called 11 carries for Barkley on the day.

After that, the roof caved in on New York as Dallas scored touchdowns on every possession until the 4th quarter. The Giants could not stop the pass as quarterback Dak Prescott registered a perfect quarterback rating (158.3) as he completed 25-of-32 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants pass rush was invisible (no sacks, only two quarterback hits) and the coverage was even worse. Dallas’ five possessions:

  • 11 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
  • 9 plays, 93 yards, touchdown
  • 13 plays, 83 yards, touchdown
  • 3 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
  • 7 plays, 89 yards, touchdown

At that point, the 3rd quarter was ending and the Cowboys were up 35-10.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense couldn’t keep pace. After New York’s initial scoring drive, the team’s other three first-half possessions ended with two punts and a turnover on downs on a Hail Mary deep pass at the end of the half. The Giants cut the scored to 21-10 on their initial drive of the 3rd quarter, but Dallas simply responded with another touchdown. On New York’s ensuing possession, the drive ended on 4th-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 7-yard line when Manning was sacked, causing a fumble that was recovered by Dallas. The Cowboys scored for their final time on the subsequent possession.

The third and final score by the Giants came in garbage time with running back Wayne Gallman scoring from two yards out with less than three minutes to play.

Manning finished 30-of-44 for 306 yards and one touchdown. His leading receiver was Engram, who caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Barkley carried the ball 11 times for 120 yards.

The Giants’ defense allowed 494 yards (405 through the air). The Giants did not register a sack, interception, or force a fumble. They only hit the quarterback twice and only had three pass defenses.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), TE Garrett Dickerson (quad), QB Alex Tanney, RB Paul Perkins, OG/OT Chad Slade, and OT Eric Smith were inactive.

Linebacker Kareem Martin injured his knee and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • QB Daniel Jones (Video)

GIANTS RESTRUCTURE NATE SOLDER’S CONTRACT…
In order to create more short-term salary cap room, the New York Giants have restructured the contract of left tackle Nate Solder. The Giants reportedly converted $7.5 million of Solder’s 2019 base salary into a fully-guaranteed roster bonus. The Giants had entered the season with the NFL’s least amount of cap space. ESPN is reporting that this revision will create an additional $5 million in immediate cap space but adds $2.5 million to the cap in both 2020 and 2021.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday. The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Jul 242019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (May 20, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

VETERANS REPORT TO NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP…
New York Giants rookies and select veterans reported to summer training camp on Monday. The bulk of the veterans reported today. Also, the first rookie practice open to the press (but not public) was held today.

“You got a chance to see the second day of our rookie camp,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We did two (days) this year instead of three. I felt like we got a lot of good work with the rookies in the spring. Felt like the last couple days was a continuation of what they learned in the spring, but also going back to the first installs as they go through their first year. As you know, the veterans will report here in a couple of hours and then we’ll be off to the races. We’re excited to get going. A lot of changes, as we all talked about this offseason. But we look forward to getting out on the practice field and getting after it, getting ready to play our first game and the games that follow.”

The first full-team training camp practice and the first practice open to the public will be held on Thursday. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN DANIEL JONES…
On Monday, the New York Giants signed quarterback Daniel Jones, the team’s first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. According to media reports, Jones’ contract is slotted to be around $25.6 million with approximately $16.7 million in guaranteed money. All 10 of the Giants’ 2019 NFL Draft selections are now signed.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have waived quarterback/tight end Eric Dungey and signed tight end Isaiah Searight. Dungey was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft, but missed most of the offseason program with a back injury.

Searight is a three-time All-Patriot League selection from Fordham University. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2019 NFL Draft but was waived/injured in May with a hamstring injury.

ALEX WESLEY PLACED ON PUP LIST…
The New York Giants have placed wide receiver Alex Wesley on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List with an undisclosed injury. Wesley is an undrafted rookie free agent the Giants signed after the 2019 NFL Draft.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Wide receivers Darius Slayton (hamstring) and Alex Wesley (PUP List – unknown) did not practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was excused in order to attend a funeral.

“(Slayton) just tweaked his hamstring a little bit (yesterday),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Nothing serious. He’ll be back soon.”

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

Jun 262019
 
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Spencer Pulley and Will Hernandez, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

Spencer Pulley and Will Hernandez – © USA TODAY Sports

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: It’s clear that General Manager Dave Gettleman took one look at the team’s offensive line and had the same reaction as fans. Justin Pugh (2013 1st rounder), Weston Richburg (2014 2nd rounder), and D.J. Fluker were allowed to walk in free agency during the 2018 offseason. John Jerry was cut before the season started. The Giants started the 2018 season with newly-signed free agent Nate Solder at left tackle, 2nd-rounder Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio at center, newly-signed free agent Patrick Omameh at right guard, and Ereck Flowers at right tackle.

This group did not play well and the offense struggled to score points before the bye week. In addition, Halapio broke his ankle in Week 2 and was replaced by John Greco and then waiver-wire pick-up Spencer Pulley. Flowers was benched after the second game and replaced by second-year undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler. Omameh lasted a bit longer, starting the first six games before being cut in November. Greco first took his spot, then newcomer Jamon Brown, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The 2.0 version of the 2018 offensive line thus included Solder-Hernandez-Pulley-Brown-Wheeler. The best thing that could be said of this group was that it wasn’t as crappy as the previous group. Team scoring improved, but Pulley and Wheeler were clearly weak links. Brown looked the part, but demonstrated the same inconsistency that led to him being cut by the Rams. And it rapidly became apparent that the desperate Giants dramatically overpaid Solder, who did play better as the season progressed. While Hernandez experienced the expected rookie growing pains, he improved and was named to the All-Rookie team.

Overall, for yet another season, the line remained the offense’s Achilles’ heel, with the free agent newcomers not playing as well as expected, and the team being forced to start two mid-season waiver-wire pickups.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants re-signed both Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley. The team did not bring back John Greco, and Jamon Brown signed with the Falcons. The Giants acquired guard Kevin Zeitler via a trade from the Browns and signed tackle Mike Remmers in free agency. Street free agents Chad Slade and Austin Droogsma were signed. Surprisingly, the Giants only drafted one lineman: George Asafo-Adjei in the 7th round. Rookie free agents Paul Adams and James O’Hagan were signed after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Heading into training camp, the expected starting offensive line is Nate Solder at left tackle, Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio or Spencer Pulley at center, Kevin Zeitler at right guard, and Mike Remmers at right tackle. On paper, this appears to be the team’s best offensive line in almost a decade. Hernandez and Zeitler are arguably one of the best set of starting guards in the NFL. They are not just big, physical football players, but they play with professionalism and attitude. The Giants haven’t been in such good shape here since the days of Rich Seubert and Chris Snee.

The three other spots are a bit more unsettled. Nate Solder clearly did not live up to his contract. He’s also missed the Spring workouts due to ankle surgery. However, he is another veteran presence who gives the Giants more stability and reliability at the crucial left tackle position than Ereck Flowers and Will Beatty ever did. Moreover, the Solder-Hernandez tandem on the left side should play better in their second year together. Mike Remmers has bounced around the League, now playing with his seventh team. But the self-made journeyman parlayed his improving play into a 5-year, $30 million contract with the Vikings in 2017. He played well at right tackle for that team in 2017 but was more inconsistent at right guard in 2018. A recurring back issue that required offseason surgery was a factor in the Vikings cutting him in March. If Remmers is over his back issues (which caused him to miss Spring workouts), and if he can regain his 2017 form, the Giants will have massively upgraded themselves at right tackle with another professional, veteran presence. But those are two big “ifs”. Like the left tackle position, right tackle has been a disaster for the Giants for years.

Based on offseason comments by team officials, it was assumed that Jon Halapio would be penciled in as the starting center again. However, Spencer Pulley has been pushing him and splitting snaps with the first unit during Spring workouts. The starting center position appears to be very much up for grabs. The good news is that whomever starts, they will be tremendously aided by Hernandez and Zeitler on their flanks.

Overall, the main story line is this group needs to develop cohesion and chemistry quickly. Both starting tackles missed the mini-camp and OTAs this Spring due to injuries. With so few training camp practices, there is not much time for everyone to come together.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 16 offensive linemen on the roster. The Giants will probably keep nine. Barring injury, Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Mike Remmers will start. Both Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley should make it unless one of the younger centers push one off the roster. That leaves three spots for ten players. Chad Wheeler probably has a leg up on being the reserve swing tackle. But it will be a dogfight for those last few spots.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Mike Remmers: “I worked with Mike for two years. He is a pro, a real pro, and he played winning football for us in Minnesota. I knew a lot about Mike and then he started last year every game and played well. We were in talks with him, took a couple of physicals, just went through the process and signed him.”

Shurmur on Jon Halapio: “He was really playing well for us before he got hurt a year ago. So we had high hopes for him last season. It appears he has come back 100 percent and is back in there just like he was when he left us.”

Shurmur on George Asafo-Adjei: “We like him for all the reasons we liked him on his college tape. He is a powerful guy that has very good length. You can tell he is a very physical style player. That is important at that position.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on the offensive line: “I think the guys that we’ve added over the course of last season and this season have brought a lot of character, intelligence, competitiveness, integrity to that room. I think it didn’t show as early as we wanted it to last year. I think it showed pretty well at the end of the year. I think we’ve kind of picked up, in fact improved since then. We are going to be leaning on them, they are going to be the starting point of our offense. Everyone knows we have Saquon, we want to run the football, we are going to be balanced. To do that it’s got to start with the offensive line. We want to run the ball, when we want to run it, we want to throw that ball when we want to throw it. To do that it starts up front. We are going to lean heavy on those guys.”

Shula on Chad Wheeler: “I think Wheels has done a really good job this offseason with our exposure with him. Again, I have only been around him for a year, but I think there is a big difference even with him and his approach. I think he, along with a lot of other guys, got better as the year went on. We all know that we were nowhere near good enough early in the year. We did a lot of good things even though it wasn’t good enough at the end of the year, but we were really, really close and trending in the right direction. He was one of those guys that falls in that category.”

Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter on Kevin Zeitler: “You have to love Zeitler. He is a tough, hard nose guy. I have seen him play. I watched him play when he was in Cincinnati’s offense. He is a good football player. He brings a real toughness. He is all business… He is very demanding of guys around him in a positive way. You demand in yourself what you demand in others. I love that about him. I love everything about him, his personality and what he brings. He is so fun to coach.”

Hunter on Jon Halapio: “He made good progress during (the 2018 training) camp and great progress during the preseason. The way he was playing in the beginning of the Dallas game, that was shocking. He was playing really well. When you sit out all that time, you get so far behind physically and technically. Now he is back in the swing of things and he looks good. He is only scratching the surface. He is smart, tough and strong. He has athleticism and needs to continue to play at the position.”

Hunter on George Asafo-Adjei: “My son works at Kentucky. He works in the football office down there. We found out from the inside out – he talked about what a quality guy he was. He was probably the most respected guy on the offensive side of the ball. He talked about how he competed with Josh Allen on a day-to-day basis. He talked about his character, work ethic and his toughness. All of those things peaked interest. You watch him on tape and see that he has a lot of athleticism and power. He has a lot of toughness and plays in the best football conference in the country. We have some technical work to do. He is a rookie and you have to tell him to do something once and he goes on and does it right the next time. He picked up the offense much quicker than I thought he was going to. When you compare our offense to their offense, we have a lot more volume to it with a lot of the things that we were doing. We need to continue to work with him technically to get him up to speed but you have to like everything about him. When you read him, that is one of the first things that I found out. He had committed to Kentucky early and is a man of his word. When all those other schools came in like Alabama, that is legit. Those people tried to come in and recruit him. He gave Kentucky his word and didn’t go anywhere. He has some developmental potential.”

PREDICTIONS: Some fans have questioned me about why I am so upbeat about the 2019 offensive line since there remain some serious question marks at center and both tackle spots. I feel good because I see a group of professional, reliable veterans. For the last decade, the Giants haven’t just been bad up front, they’ve been dreadful. They were not only physically overmatched, they did not treat their jobs as professionals. And they certainly could not be relied upon.

I love our two guards. And whomever starts at center will benefit from them. Solder and Remmers aren’t pretty, but they get the job done. This group will show up to work, give you a full 60 minutes, and leave their opponents feeling sore the next day. I’ll take that any day.

My only concern is that with Solder and Remmers missing all of the Spring workouts, early-season cohesion and chemistry will be lacking. But both guys have been around the League for a long time and that will help. The Giants also have to pray Remmers’ back holds up.

There are Giants fans in their teens and 20s who have never seen their team field a decent offensive line. I think that is about to change. Don’t be surprised if both guards receive some Pro Bowl recognition.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Kevin Zeitler, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder, Mike Remmers, Jon Halapio, Spencer Pulley, Chad Wheeler, George Asafo-Adjei, Paul Adams

(I realize this is tackle heavy, but it’s easier for a tackle to play guard in a pinch rather than the other way around. The Giants also need to groom a couple of young tackles).

Jun 102019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (June 4, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE #7 COMPLETE…
The Giants held their seventh voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Monday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

The practice was not open to the media, but Giants.com provided the following summaries of the action:

The three remaining OTA practices will be held on June 11-13. Tuesday’s practice is open to the media.

ARTICLES…

May 172019
 
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Nate Solder, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Nate Solder – © USA TODAY Sports

NATE SOLDER HAS ANKLE SURGERY
New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery to remove bone spurs on Thursday, May 16th. Various media sources are reporting that Solder is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the spring, but he should be able to practice once training camp begins in late July.

Giants Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices begin on Monday, May 20th. There will also be practices on May 21, 23, 28-29, 31, and June 10-13. A mini-camp will also be held June 4-6.

NEW YORK GIANTS COREY BALLENTINE
The New York Giants have announced that they have signed cornerback Corey Ballentine, their 6th round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Ballentine was wounded in the butt during a shooting in Topeka, Kansas the day after he was drafted. Ballentine’s physical condition is not yet publicly known but he is participating in the team’s offseason program.

Cornerback Julian Love (4th round), inside linebacker Ryan Connelly (5th round), wide receiver Darius Slayton (5th round), offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (7th round), and defensive lineman Chris Slayton (7th round) were signed earlier this month.

The Giants have four remaining unsigned draft picks: quarterback Daniel Jones (1st round), nose tackle Dexter Lawrence (1st round), cornerback Deandre Baker (1st round), and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines (3rd round).

Feb 112019
 
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Will Hernandez, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Will Hernandez – © USA TODAY Sports

One of the primary reasons why General Manager Jerry Reese and Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross were fired was their inability to satisfactorily address an offensive line that had begun to deteriorate during the Super Bowl season of 2011. For years, Reese and Ross invested premium draft picks and free agent resources at the position, but to no avail. Enter new General Manager Dave Gettleman, who initially won over the hearts and minds of many Giants fans tired of inept offensive line play by focusing much of public comments on the “hog mollies” up front.

So what did Gettleman do? He almost completely gutted the previous group. Justin Pugh (2013 1st rounder), Weston Richburg (2014 2nd rounder), and D.J. Fluker were allowed to walk in free agency. John Jerry was cut before the season started. Somewhat oddly, the only unrestricted free agent the team chose to re-sign was John Greco. Newcomers included Nate Solder (4 years, $62 million), Patrick Omameh (3 years, $15 million), and 2018 2nd-round draft pick Will Hernandez. Notably, Ereck Flowers (9th player taken in the 2015 NFL Draft), who the previous administration had refused to shift to right tackle, was finally moved to the spot that many argued would be his best position. The only real surprise coming out of the OTAs and training camp was that Jon Halapio beat out Brett Jones at center, with the latter eventually being traded to the Minnesota Vikings in late August. The new offensive line coach was Hal Hunter, a man with an uninspiring resume and who was also out of football in 2017.

The Giants started the season with Nate Solder at left tackle, Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio at center, Patrick Omameh at right guard, and Ereck Flowers at right tackle. This group did not play well and the offense struggled mightily to score points. Indeed, there appeared to be no measurable improvement over the previous pathetic groups. The Giants began the season 1-7, scoring an average of 15 points in six of those losses despite the presence of Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley.

Injury and an ineffectiveness soon led to shakeups up front. Halapio broke his ankle and leg in the second game of the season and was first replaced by John Greco and then Spencer Pulley, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers. The new regime also decided it had seen enough of Flowers and Omameh. Flowers was benched after the second game and replaced by second-year undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler. Omameh lasted a bit longer, starting the first six games before being cut in November. Greco first took his spot, then newcomer Jamon Brown, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The 2.0 version of the 2018 offensive line thus included Solder-Hernandez-Pulley-Brown-Wheeler. The best thing that could be said of this group was that it wasn’t as crappy as the previous group. Team scoring improved, but Pulley and Wheeler were clearly weak links. Brown looked the part, but demonstrated the same inconsistency that led to him being cut by the Rams. And it rapidly became apparent that the desperate Giants dramatically overpaid Solder, who did settle down more as the season progressed. (Unfortunately, it was the Giants’ failed attempt to land guard Andrew Norwell in free agency that led to the Giants acquiring both Solder and Omameh). While Hernandez experienced the expected rookie growing pains, he improved and was named to the All-Rookie team.

Overall, for yet another season, the line remained the offense’s Achilles’ heel, with the free agent newcomers not playing as well as expected, and the team being forced to start two mid-season waiver-wire pickups.

THE EVENTUAL STARTERS

The Giants signed Nate Solder as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2018. Solder started all 16 games at left tackle but had an inconsistent season, struggling at times as both a run and pass blocker, particularly during the first-half of the year. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons, Solder has started 111 of the 114 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. Solder was voted a team captain in his first year with the Giants.

In his second season with the Giants, Chad Wheeler was promoted to the starter at right tackle when the team decided to bench Ereck Flowers after the second game. Wheeler ended up starting 14 games at right tackle, but was a weak link on a unit that played better during the second half of the season. Wheeler was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. Not only did he make the team, but he ended up playing in 11 games with four starts, three at right tackle and one at left tackle. Wheeler is a hardworking, versatile player and a decent athlete, but he appears to lack ideal footwork, strength, and bulk to be a starter. He may be better suited as a back-up swing tackle.

The Giants selected Will Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. While he had some growing pains, Hernandez, ended up starting all 16 games at left guard and was named named to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Hernandez lacks ideal height, but he is a big, tough, strong, powerful guard who does his best work in-line and not on the move. Hernandez is a mauler who plays with leverage and gets movement as a run blocker. He plays with an attitude and looks to finish his blocks and punish opponents. Hernandez lacks ideal foot quickness which hampers his game in space and, at times, as a pass protector, but he generally gets the job done.

The Giants claimed Jamon Brown off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams at the end of October 2018. He was quickly inserted into the starting lineup, and played in the final eight games as the starting right guard. The 6’4”, 340-pound Brown was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Rams. Brown has played in 50 regular-season games with 38 starts. He was suspended the first two games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Brown’s size and strength is an asset in the running game, but he was too inconsistent in pass protection. He also needs to cut down on his penalties.

The Giants claimed Spencer Pulley off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers in September 2018. Pulley was inserted into the starting line-up in late October. He struggled in his nine starts at center and missed one game due to an injury. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. He also is able to play guard.

OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE

Jon Halapio won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. The injuries required surgery. Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard. Halapio is stout and strong, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism. Versatile, he can play both center and guard.

The Giants signed John Greco in November 2017. In 2018, Greco played in 15 games with seven starts (five at center, two at right guard). An older, fading player, Greco struggled at both positions and was eventually replaced in the starting line-up by players acquired during the season. Greco was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He has spent time with the Rams (2008-2010), Cleveland Browns (2011-2016), and New Orleans Saints (2017). He’s a versatile player with experience at both guard positions and center.