Aug 042021
 
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Levine Toilolo, New York Giants (September 14, 2020)

Levine Toilolo – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 4, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their seventh full-team summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.

JOE LOONEY RETIRES; GIANTS SIGN WR ANDY JONES AND TE TOMMY STEVENS…
A few days after signing with the Giants, center/guard Joe Looney has decided to retire. Looney is the second unrestricted free agent to retire from the Giants just days after signing with the team. The other was linebacker Todd Davis.

The Giants signed Looney as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. The 30-year old, 6’3”, 310-pound Looney was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He has spent time with the 49ers (2012-2014), Tennessee Titans (2015), and Dallas Cowboys (2016-2020). Looney has played in 104 regular-season games with 42 starts, including 12 starts for the Cowboys in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Giants have also signed wide receiver Andy Jones, who was waived by the San Francisco 49ers last week, and tight end Tommy Stevens, who was waived by the Carolina Panthers in early June.

The 27-year old, 6’1”, 217-pound Jones was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Jones has spent time with the Cowboys (2016-2017), Houston Texans (2017), Detroit Lions (2017-2018), Miami Dolphins (2019-2020), and San Francisco 49ers (2021). Jones has only played in 11 regular-season games, catching 11 passes for 80 yards and one touchdown.

The 24-year old, 6’5”, 235-pound Stevens was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. A college quarterback, the Saints converted him to tight end. The Carolina Panthers signed him in November 2020 after he was cut and shifted him back to quarterback. The Giants intend to convert him to tight end again.

INJURY REPORT – LEVINE TOILOLO TEARS ACHILLES’ TENDON…
WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), LB Lorenzo Carter (unknown), LB Elerson Smith (unknown), and WR Austin Mack (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday.

“(Golladay is) actually seeing a doctor this morning,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “I would say, in terms of a worse-case scenario, I think we’ve kind of avoided that in terms of dealing with it, but we’ll see what the timetable looks like. And again, injuries are different for every player based on what they are, so we’ll have to see how his body responds and make sure we do right by him.”

LG Shane Lemieux (knee), LT Andrew Thomas (unknown), and WR Kadarius Toney (COVID) practiced on a limited basis.

TE Levine Toilolo tore his Achilles’ tendon working on the side near the start of practice. His season is most likely over. S Montre Hartage injured his shoulder and left practiced early.

The Giants also placed RB Mike Weber (hip flexor) on Injured Reserve.

The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:

  • Reserve/COVID-19 List: TE Rysen John
  • Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle)
  • Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Reggie Ragland (hamstring) and LB Ryan Anderson (back)
  • Reserve/Injured: WR Derrick Dillon (unknown) and RB Mike Weber (hip flexor)

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • WR Kadarius Toney received reps with the first-team offense.
  • With Shane Lemieux (knee) being eased back into practice, Kenny Wiggins received the bulk of starting reps at left guard.
  • With Andrew Thomas limited, Matt Peart received starting reps at left tackle with Nate Solder at right tackle.
  • QB Daniel Jones’ first pass of team drills was a well-thrown ball to WR Darius Slayton, who beat CB James Bradberry.
  • After missing on a couple of deep throws, QB Daniel Jones found TE Evan Engram down the seam between the corner and safety for a touchdown.
  • QB Daniel Jones finished 2-of-3 in 7-on-7 drills and 5-of-6 in team drills.
  • DL Leonard Williams was active.
  • CB Darnay Holmes has had trouble covering WR Sterling Shepard out of the slot. CB Julian Love received some first-team reps as the slot corner on Wednesday night.
  • CB Rodarius Williams continues to make plays in coverage.
  • RB Gary Brightwell has been receiving more touches and had a long run in practice. He also has looked sharp as a receiver.
  • Former Giants QB Phil Simms addressed the team after practice for about 10 minutes. He received applause when he finished.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1423084085325541378

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’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 Thursday afternoon (12:45-2:00 PM). The team’s coordinators, assistant coaches, and select players will also address the media.

Jun 092021
 
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Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (May 27, 2021)

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 9, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day mandatory mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. No live contact is permitted during the mini-camp, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing were RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Cam Brown (unknown), LB Ryan Anderson (unknown), and RB Taquan Mizzell (unknown).

WR John Ross (unknown) and CB Aaron Robinson (unknown) were limited, being kept out of team drills.

TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart left midway through practice with a trainer.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Multiple media sources said that WR Kadarius Toney had a strong practice, even beating CB James Bradberry in one drill. He demonstrated good quickness in and out of his breaks and made a number of sideline catches. Toney was also active returning punts.
  • WR David Sills saw some work with the first team.
  • Starting at inside linebacker alongside Blake Martinez was Tae Crowder.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1402407595474706433

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

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

Mar 172021
 
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Devante Downs, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Devante Downs – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS RE-SIGN CASEY KREITER…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed unrestricted long snapper Casey Kreiter. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

The Giants signed Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

GIANTS DO NOT TENDER DEVANTE DOWNS…
According to multiple press reports, the New York Giants have chosen to not tender linebacker Devante Downs as a restricted free agent, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Downs can now freely sign with any team without the Giants having the right to match any contract offer or possibly receiving compensation if he signs with another team.

Downs began the season as a starter in 2020, but saw his playing time give way to rookie Tae Crowder. Downs played in all 16 games with eight starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 33 tackles, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery.

The 6’2”, 252-pound Downs was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings waived him in late September 2019 and he was then signed by the Giants to their Practice Squad and 53-man roster in October 2019. Downs played in seven games for the Giants in 2019 on special teams.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS ON NATE SOLDER’S PAY CUT…
The Athletic is reporting on more specifics of the pay cut recently accepted by offensive tackle Nate Solder in order to remain with the New York Giants. Solder’s base salary was reduced from $9.9 million to about $4 million, creating approximately $6 million in salary cap space. His overall 2021 cap hit was reduced from $16.5 million to about $10.5 million. Had the Giants cut Solder or had he retired before June 1st, the same amount of cap space would have been created.

The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder’s play has been inconsistent at best with the Giants.

Feb 272021
 
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Nate Solder, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Nate Solder – © USA TODAY Sports

NATE SOLDER MAY HAVE TO ACCEPT PAY CUT TO RETURN TO GIANTS…
New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder, who sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, has reportedly told ESPN that he would like to return to the team in 2021. However, the NFL Network is also reporting that the Giants intend to ask Solder to re-structure his contract. How those talks go may determine if Solder remains with the team.

The 32-year old Solder is currently scheduled to make $9.9 million in base salary in both 2021 and 2022 and will cost $16.5 million against the 2021 salary cap. If the Giants cut him before June 1st, the team will take a $10.5 million cap hit and “save” $6 million in cap space. If they designate him a post-June 1st cut, the team will “save” $10 million in 2021 but push a $4 million of the $10.5 million dead money into 2022.

Solder was replaced in 2021 by the team’s 2021 1st-round draft pick, Andrew Thomas.

In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not lived up to his contract, struggling at times at the position. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots.

GIANTS CUT TWO PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have waived wide receiver Da’Mari Scott and cornerback Shakial Taylor, two players who opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Scott was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns waived him in December 2018 and he was then signed by the Bills. The Giants claimed Scott off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills in July 2019. They waived him in August but Scott spent time on both the team’s Practice Squad and 53-man roster during the 2019 season. In all, Scott played in five games with two starts. He finished the year with just two catches for 22 yards. He also returned four kickoffs (27.5 yards per return) and six punts (5.3 yards per return).

The Giants claimed Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos in late July 2020 and attempted to waive him a few days later. However, Taylor requested a COVID-19 opt-out and spent the year on the team’s Reserve/Covid-19 Opt-Out List. Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019.

Jan 182021
 
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Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates – © USA TODAY Sports

New Head Coach Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in early January 2020. After an atypically long vetting process, the team announced its complete staff a month later in early February. The extremely well-organized new head coach was all set to initiate his program to turn the franchise around. Then disaster struck. COVID-19 forced the league to shut down in the spring and much of the summer. The challenges for a new head coach trying to rebuild most of the roster seemed almost insurmountable.

Probably the position most affected by these developments was the offensive line. The Giants entered 2020 knowing they would have to have new starters at center and at least one of the tackle spots. That quickly became three starters when left tackle Nate Solder decided to sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Right tackle Mike Remmers had already signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The only free agent addition was journeyman swing tackle Cam Fleming. It was obvious that most of the help would have to come from the draft, where the Giants selected Andrew Thomas in the 1st round, Matt Peart in the 3rd round, and Shane Lemieux in the 5th round. Despite those additions, there was still a glaring hole at center, with no obvious candidate to start other than the disappointing Spencer Pulley and talk of possible conversion projects.

With the desperate need to sort all of this out, Joe Judge was being told he could have no mini-camps, no Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, a dramatically scaled back training camp, and no preseason. Teams were told they could only hold 14 padded practices before the season. 14 practices to get rookie Andrew Thomas ready at left tackle. 14 practices to find and name a starting center. 14 practices to figure out who to start at right tackle. 14 practices to build cohesion and chemistry for a group largely unfamiliar with each other.

The early returns were predictable. The line struggled. Converted guard/tackle Nick Gates was moved to center, a position that he had never played, and he had a rough start. Andrew Thomas did not look like the 4th player taken in the draft and fans began to question the pick, arguing the team drafted the wrong lineman. There was no time for Matt Peart to seriously challenge Cam Fleming for the right tackle job, and Fleming continued to demonstrate he really wasn’t an ideal starter. All of this was made worse by the fact that the two guys who the team needed to rely on, guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez, were once again not playing as well as expected.

Saquon Barkley was lost in Week 2 and the Giants had no ground game early in the season outside of Daniel Jones running for his life. No Giant had more than 30 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 50 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. Jones was also getting sacked early and often, something that never really totally abated as he was sacked 45 times and NYG quarterbacks sacked 50 times on the season (or over three per game).

Despite all of this negativity and an 0-5 start, something began to change in October. A hodgepodge group of backs and Jones began to hurt teams on the ground as the offensive line began playing better. In eight of their next nine games, the Giants ran for over 100 yards or more. In seven of these games, they ran for over 130 yards or more. The high point was a 190-yard rushing effort against the Seattle Seahawks on December 6th. The line appeared to be developing into a physical, smash-mouth unit almost overnight.

Why? First, Nick Gates made a miraculous transformation from an undrafted tackle to a big, feisty, physical presence at center. In just a few games, he clearly became the team’s best offensive lineman. Second, Andrew Thomas settled down and started playing much, much better. Third, the Giants replaced Will Hernandez with Shane Lemieux at left guard, and while that created some pass protection issues, Lemieux’s presence seemed to be an upgrade in the run-blocking department. Finally, Kevin Zeitler started to play better. Matt Peart did receive increased playing time, receiving significant snaps in half of the games, but right tackle remained a bit of a sore spot with Cam Fleming.

In mid-November, Joe Judge surprisingly fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo, bringing onboard outsider Dave DeGuglielmo, who ironically had served under Tom Coughlin from 2004 to 2008. DeGuglielmo would later miss the last week of the season due to COVID-19.

The line struggled in three-game stretch in December before finishing strong in the season finale against Dallas. In those three games, New York never rushed for more than 80 yards and Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 13 times. Nevertheless, the overall impression was despite all of COVID-19-related handicaps, the Giants actually finally made progress in rebuilding the offensive line in 2020. There appears to be a young, talented foundation to work with.

THE STARTERS

Despite having no prior experience at playing the position, and after a rough start, Nick Gates not only solidified the center position for the Giants but rapidly became the team’s best lineman. Gates started all 16 games at center. He was flagged with five penalties (two holding, one false start, one unnecessary roughness, and one illegal block). The Giants signed Gates as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He missed all of 2018 with a foot injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve before the season started. In 2019, Gates was active for all 16 games with three starts (two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard). Gates is a versatile player, able to play tackle, guard, and center. He has good size and brings toughness and attitude to the offensive line. Gates is a solid pass and run blocker.

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Thomas started 15 games at left tackle despite playing on a left ankle injury that required offseason surgery in January 2021. Thomas was benched for the start of one game for being late to a team meeting. In terms of his overall play, Thomas struggled early, but markedly improved as both a pass and run blocker as the year progressed. He was flagged with five penalties (three false start and two holding penalties) on the season. Thomas has a big frame (6’5”, 315lbs) and long arms. He is a strong, physical run blocker who can get movement at the point-of-attack. He is athletic enough to get to the second level and works to finish his blocks. Thomas is a good athlete and he flashes excellent pass protection skills, but he needs to improve his overall technique and consistency in that department.

The Giants signed Cam Fleming as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in March 2020. He ended up starting all 16 games at right tackle, by far the most in his career in a single season. But Fleming was arguably the weak link up front, regularly missing blocks. Fleming was also credited with four false starts and two holding penalties. The 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After four years in New England, he played two seasons with the Cowboys. In seven NFL seasons, Fleming has played in 91 regular-season games with 42 starts. Fleming is versatile lineman who can play both tackle spots. He has good size. However, Fleming seems better suited to a reserve, swing-tackle type role than starter.

While the overall play of Kevin Zeitler improved in his second season with the Giants, he still did not meet expectations in 2020. Zeitler started all 16 games at right guard. He was flagged four times on the year (one holding, three false starts). Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. The Giants acquired Zeitler by trade from the Cleveland Browns in March 2019 in exchange for linebacker Olivier Vernon. In eight seasons, Zeitler has started 134 of the 135 regular-season games he has played in. Zeitler has good size (6’4”, 315lbs). Once regarded as one of the best guards in the game as both a run and pass blocker, Zeitler’s play in recent years has been more inconsistent. Nevertheless, he is still a solid, steady, veteran presence up front.

The Giants drafted Shane Lemieux in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly ended up playing in 12 games with nine starts starts at left guard, stealing Will Hernandez’s position. He was only flagged once (false start) all year. The 6’4”, 310-pound Lemieux started an incredible 52 games in college, never missing a game. He is a tough, feisty, blue-collar lineman with some athletic limitations. Lemieux needs to get stronger, but he is a physical presence in the ground game with a feel for blocking angles. He struggled at times as a pass protector.

After starting every game in his first two years in the league in 2018 and 2019, Will Hernandez lost his starting left guard job to Shane Lemieux after the seventh game of the season. Hernandez missed two games in early November due to COVID-19. He was flagged only once (one holding penalty) all year. The Giants selected Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was named named to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Hernandez has good size, strength, and toughness for the guard position, but he appears to lack ideal lateral agility. This hampers his play as a run blocker on the move and as a pass blocker when isolated against quick defenders. He can move defenders with his strength and power.

THE RESERVES

The Giants selected Matt Peart in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Peart played in 11 games with one start at left tackle. He did play in 15 percent of all offensive snaps, receiving some quality playing time. He missed one game in late November due to COVID-19. The 6’7”, 318-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and stronger. As expected, Peart was inconsistent as a rookie and needs more technique refinement.

Spencer Pulley spent all of 2020 as the team’s primary reserve center, but he did not play. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. The Giants claimed Pulley off of waivers from the Chargers in September 2018. That season, 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. In 2019, Pulley played in four games with one start in which he again struggled. He also is able to play guard.

The Giants claimed Jackson Barton off of waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs in early September 2020. Despite remaining on the 53-man roster all season, Barton never played in 2020. The 6’7”, 302-pound Barton was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs signed him off of the Colts’ Practice Squad in 2019. He has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.

The Giants signed Kyle Murphy as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad in early September and then signed to the 53-man roster in mid November. Murphy did not play in a regular-season game in 2020. Murphy was a 3-year starter in college with experience all along the offensive line.

The 6’5”, 315-pound Chad Slade was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2015 NFL Draft. Slade spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve, and the 2016 and 2018 seasons on the Practice Squad of the Texans. In 2017, Slade played in five games with three starts (two at right guard and one at tight end) for the Texans. The Giants signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. While he surprisingly made the team, he wasn’t active for any game. Slade spent all of 2020 on New York’s Practice Squad.

The 6’6”, 315-pound Kenny Wiggins was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2011), San Francisco 49ers (2012-2013), San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2013-2017), and Lions (2018-2020). The Lions cut Wiggins in late October 2020. The Giants signed Wiggins to the 53-man roster in November, cut him 10 days later, and then signed him to the Practice Squad for the remainder of the season. Overall, Wiggins has played in 79 regular-season games with 38 starts.

COVID-19 OPT-OUT

Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. However, off-the-field issues with a sick child could understandably be affecting his focus and play.

Jul 292020
 
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Nate Solder, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Nate Solder – © USA TODAY Sports

NATE SOLDER OPTS OUT OF 2020 NFL SEASON…
As had been expected by some, New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to the ongoing COVID-19 issue. Under the agreement reached last week between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), players can choose not to play in the upcoming season without penalty. The opt-out is irrevocable.

The highest-paid player on the team, Solder had two years left on his current contract with $9.9 million in base salary each of the final two years, but counting $19.5 million against the 2020 NFL salary cap and $20.5 million against the 2021 salary cap. While his cap hit will be significantly reduced this year (media reports indicate possibly around $13-16 million), his contract will now be pushed to 2022 with the pre-existing significant cap hits now counting in 2021 and 2022. This year, Solder will likely receive $350,000 “stipend” that does not count against future earnings and a credited NFL season towards medical insurance and benefits because he is high risk with family cancer issues. (Compensation is $150,000 for low-risk players).

“My family and I have been praying, wrestling and listening to God about our current circumstances and whether it is best that I play football this season,” Solder said in a prepared statement. “Our primary goal is to pursue God and listen to the Holy Spirit in everything we do. As hard as that can be and as daunting as what He asks us to do can seem, we have come to believe, trust and wait on the Lord. That is why we have chosen to pause for this season. Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer. We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.

“We fully recognize that being able to make a decision like this is a privilege. I will deeply miss my teammates, coaches and everyone in the Giants organization. I want to thank them and all my friends and fans who continue to support me and my family through the highs and the lows. As scary and bleak as it sometimes can be, we know that the God of the universe has all things under His control, and His plans are and will always be for our good.”

Solder’s 5-year old son, has been battling with kidney cancer since he was 3-months old. Solder also faced testicular cancer in 2014.

“We have great respect for Nate as a person and player,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “When he called today, I told him it is faith, family and football. He is doing what’s best for his family.”

“I spoke with Nate this morning,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We were together in New England, obviously, and he has always been a thoughtful, conscientious person. Ultimately, he made this decision because it is the right thing for him and his family. We support Nate and Lexi and their children (son) Hudson, (daughter) Charlie and (son) Emerson. Our concern is for their health and well-being.”

The expectation is that rookie 1st-round pick Andrew Thomas will replace Solder at left tackle with free agent acquisition Cam Fleming competing with Nick Gates at right tackle. Third-rounder Matt Peart could also factor into the equation.

In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles.

The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in.

WILLIE YOUNG PASSES AWAY…
Willie Young, an offensive lineman with the New York Giants from 1966-1975, passed away. He was 77. Young played in 135 game with the Giants, starting in 119 of those contests. He was also the father of Rodney Young, who played defensive back for the Giants from 1995-1998.

ARTICLES…

Jul 192020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS BEGIN REPORTING TO TRAINING CAMP ON JULY 23…
The NFL has announced the reporting dates for training camp. Although rookies are eligible to report two days earlier, the New York Giants have determined that quarterbacks, rookies, and injured players will report to East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 23. All other players are to report by July 28. Coaches began arriving on July 17.

According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The NFL and NFL Players association are still negotiation about how many – if any – preseason games will be held in 2020.

ARTICLES…

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.