Jul 312020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (January 9, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 31, 2020 JOE JUDGE CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Friday in his first training camp presser (see video at Giants.com):

Opening Statement: I hope everyone had a good summer. Right now, where we’re at, the coaching staff was in here on the 19th, really getting back together and start getting used to being in the stadium as a crew. We got the players in a short time after when you guys all saw in the media when it was released. Our early entry group right now is rookies, quarterbacks, first-year players and a few guys that were injured last year going through rehab in the offseason. Right now, we have a few more days left. By the end of next week, we’ll be able to get that early group on the field. Our veteran group right now is finishing up their testing and quarantining period. They’ll start their physicals tomorrow and we’ll see them in person on Monday. It’s a good point for us right now. We had a good, productive few days. It’s almost been a little bit like a rookie minicamp for us in terms of rookies getting on the field, getting them exposed to some of our new stuff for the first time in terms of being on the field, our strength and conditioning program and getting some walkthrough time with them. It’s been great with the vets, the quarterbacks especially, getting these guys on the field, being able to go through the systems with them. It’s been a productive couple days so far. We have another walkthrough tonight, then tomorrow we have some strength and conditioning programs. They’ll have off on Sunday and then Monday we’ll pick it back up. Any questions with anything we’re doing, fire away.

Q: I wanted to ask, I know it’s early but what have you seen about what kind of relationship, if any, Jason Garrett and Daniel (Jones) have been able to develop over this very unusual offseason and these first few days?

A: I’ll tell you what, it’s still early. These relationships are going to evolve over time. But I would say for our entire coaching staff, and it’s reflected, obviously, through Jason and Daniel, as well as Jerry Schuplinski and Daniel, our coaches work very hard and our players work very urgent to do what we’re trying to do, and that was in the virtual program, knock down these walls. Look, we were given the opportunity to work together. Just like we are right now, we had to interact. Communication was the biggest part, talking about the introduction of our schemes and systems, laying out some of the groundwork for our culture. We’re all looking forward to getting everybody in person, but you can tell that over time, the relationships will obviously… we’ll see more to it. But it’s been very positive to this point with all the players and coaches.

Q: I’m just curious, with all of the planning you put into how you thought this was going to take place, what has been the biggest challenge for you as a coach? Have you gotten a chance as the coach where you almost feel like you’re kind of coordinating everything and not really coaching football?

A: Look, I’ll be very honest with you, the other day was the first time I’ve been in a walkthrough where instead of being directly related to a specific group or running a period at a time, you’re walking around observing everything. By the time we got to our second walkthrough, look, my natural tendency is to be very hands on, so I find my way to groups and I know what I wanted to get across to different players. There’s definitely a lot of coordination that goes on. The planning is huge, but really ultimately, our job as a coaching staff, and my job, is to make sure we’re positioned to adjust accordingly and keep moving. That’s what I’ve seen right now from our coaches and players. We’ve got to figure it out, and right now everyone is figuring it out. Whatever we’re allowed to work with, we’re going to have to figure it out. We have to plan day by day. If that plan changes, we adjust and we keep going full speed.

Q: We’ve seen other sports try to launch here in this COVID atmosphere. Obviously, hockey and basketball seem to be doing okay in a pretty tight bubble. Baseball is having some struggles without that bubble. What have you told the players that they need to do and that they need to be aware of to make this football season work, not just for the Giants but really for the whole NFL?

A: The first thing we have to all understand is, everyone at this level has sacrificed to get here. We’re going to have to make some more sacrifices, whether that’s socially away from the game, how we interact with friends and family members throughout this season. But we have to make the right decisions. The biggest thing is everyone has to understand that all of our decisions directly impact each other. It’s not fair for me to go out and do something and put myself at risk and come in here and get players sick. That’s not my right. I’m not entitled to do that. We have to all make the right decisions, both in the building following the protocols and away from the building. I think ultimately as a league, we just need to trust that the plan in place that the league put, make sure we adhere to the protocols, make sure we wear the PPEs. Let’s be careful, let’s be cautious, but we can operate aggressively if we just follow the plan in place.

Q: I was curious if you guys, the coaching staff, have talked about, in the scenario that you were to test positive or if Jason (Garrett) or Patrick (Graham), if you had a succession plan and how you plan on dealing with that? I’m sure you have to plan for all scenarios this year.

A: We absolutely have. We have succession plans for the coaching staff. Once we get a depth chart in place at the end of the roster development, we’ll have plans for every player on the team, who the next man up would be. To be honest with you, my plan as the head coach as we go through training camp is not only evaluating players, but also evaluating the coaches in terms of interaction. It has to be the total chemistry of how a game day would operate. There will be decisions that we’ll make at the end in terms of going through the season. Those decisions may change as we go through the entirety of the season. But we’ll structure practices accordingly. We’re always in for developing every player, we’re in for developing every coach as well. We started talking back in the spring in terms of if any one coach, myself included, couldn’t come to work that day for any period of time, how would we address meetings, practice on the field, the game. We have to make sure we have a plan.

Q: Leadership is so vital during this COVID time, not only from the coaches’ standpoint but from the players’. Do you see players that are handling the leadership in this time period, adapting to protocols, and basically, even in a virtual fashion, showing you that this is going to work?

A: Our players are very committed to doing everything possible to make this work. Our team is committed to improving on and off the field on a daily basis. I would say in the short time we’ve been with the players in our stadium as far as the protocols, they’ve done their absolute best. Obviously, when you first get in, there are some natural tendencies you’re used to from being in a team environment that you have to start to distance yourself from, both physically and just, hypothetically, having a form of distance among the players. The leadership aspect of it, I think we’re going to see that emerge. We’ll have a leadership council, we’ll talk. Part of our culture is doing what’s necessary to be successful. At this time, to be successful, we have to stay healthy. The healthiest team has an advantage, and we’re going to do our part to stay healthy.

Q: Two questions, if I may. Given the fact that there are no preseason games, do you have a plan in place regarding a scrimmage or something where you can test out game day operations, which I imagine you’re going to want to do? I’ll wait before I ask the second question.

A: Yeah, absolutely. We have to do a good job of structuring training camp in that we’re able to evaluate the players first and make sure we make the right decisions while we form this roster. You can’t do that without playing full speed football, and you can’t have a safe team who’s ready to play on September 14th without having some full speed football, whether it’s a situation of intrasquad scrimmaging or intrasquad games. We’ll also develop the coaching staff as well through intrapractice communication and then within the scrimmages and intrasquad games. We’ll also divide the coaches up and make sure the necessary communication takes place. Then going back to an earlier question, we’ll make ways within scenarios of, within game communication where a certain coach isn’t there and practice those scenarios as well so we have a plan in place.

Q: Then my other question is you have some players coming off injuries. I don’t believe you put anybody on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform), but is everybody going to be able to go full speed? Evan Engram? Corey Coleman? Then I think you had a couple of other guys who had injuries they’re coming off. And Markus Golden, where do you stand with him?

A: In terms of Markus or any other player, there’s an entry process that everyone has to go through. The testing, the quarantining, then the physicals. Once these players clear that process, I’ll be happy to talk about all of them. To this moment, that’s one player who has not cleared the process. In terms of the question as far as being limited, I’m going to wait until all of the players clear their physicals to give you an absolute answer on that. Remember, these are guys that we still have not seen physically for some time. They’ve been sitting in a hotel now for about a week quarantining and testing. I’m going to let Ronnie Barnes and the doctors do the physicals. We’ll get all of the necessary information and see where we’re at right there. But Evan has been working hard throughout the summer. He’s been training and doing his rehab. We’ve had him out here with our group working and going forward, we’ll see where he’s at physically as we ramp up the intensity and the volume, and we’ll make our decisions from there.

Q: I’m sure not long after you got this job, you envisioned what it would be like to stand up in front of your whole team and address them for the first time as the head coach. Obviously, that has not happened yet. It will happen much differently when it does because of the situation. Are there a lot of players that you’re literally meeting for the first time, face to face, and when do you envision the first time you get these guys all in a room together?

A: In terms of our roster reduction, eventually we have to be at 80. That’ll be the first time you’re actually getting the entire team together at once. That will be the first time you get to talk to everyone at once, collectively. To answer your question, no, we don’t have any strangers. We’ve taken our time this spring to make sure everyone has gotten the chance to establish relationships with each other. It is the first time I’m physically seeing some of these players eye to eye. But the funny thing has been, even though we’ve been talking through the virtual world throughout the spring, these young guys came in, these quarterbacks, first-year players, you just pick right back up where you left off. We were very thorough this spring with how we prepared, how we launched into the program. This isn’t going to be the first time I will address the team in terms of our culture or what we expect. At this point, we’re really looking forward to getting training camp started and getting football on the field.

Q: When David Sills goes on the COVID/Reserve List and a player is asymptomatic like that, can you just describe how that response went, if you were pleased with how the club and the organization responded, if to your knowledge anyone else has caught it or tested positive since? Do you feel comfortable with how you handled that first positive test?

A: I have a lot of confidence in the way that our medical team has set up these protocols and how they’re handling everything going forward. I think our players will as well. We’re taking every possible step to make sure our players are coming into work every day and focused on football, but knowing that they’re safe if they follow the protocols and the plan we have in place. The biggest thing for us is any player who cannot be with the team on a daily basis due to any kind of illness is we can extend the meetings through Zoom like we did in the spring. The one thing is it’s not something foreign for our players now. They’ve already gone through an entire spring of it, so if they can’t be in the meeting room with us, they can be in a hotel room with whatever their personal situation is and still participate in the meetings and not fall behind on the mental aspect that day.

Q: I know it’s an ongoing legal situation with DeAndre Baker, but now that he’s on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, what’s the thought process in terms of you guys keeping him around? Also, as you start training camp, how is it going to look at the top of the depth chart at cornerback aside from James Bradberry?

A: To address the first part of the question, he’s not on our 90-man roster. Currently, he’s on the exempt list, so I’ll let the league deal with that issue. I’m not going to comment on any ongoing legal investigation. In terms of our depth chart, the entire team is really at the same point. Everyone has to come in and compete at ground zero and build their way up. Again, we had very productive meetings in the spring. We haven’t been on the field together yet besides the walkthroughs with this early group. I mentioned earlier, it’s been more almost a rookie minicamp-type atmosphere of getting guys on the field, getting them acclimated to our systems, just getting used to being on the field with the coaches and players together for the first time. It’s new for all of us right now. It’s a new staff, it’s the first time we’re meeting together on the field together, it’s the first time being with our players together. These are things that we’ve been able to take this early reporting opportunity to iron out some details and get on the same page.

Q: This obviously is not a normal season. Do you have to prepare differently for other things that may pop up along the way? How do you go about doing that?

A: It’s different for every situation. I think that my job is to make sure that we’re preparing for all the possible scenarios that could come up throughout the season. It’s not only things we’ve thought of already, but things that pop up as we go. ‘Ok, what if this happens? What’s our plan in place?’ Now you do that as a football team anyway. This year, you just take into a different account with COVID and how that may affect our team or other teams as well. But the biggest thing is just to talk about the situation. You talk out how you’re going to handle it. A lot of it is personnel oriented. A lot of it may be preparation based on meetings, how we had to do the spring virtually. In practice, how will that look? Right now, we have all plans for practice that will look as normal as can be. If that changes at some point, we’ll figure it out and we’ll adjust and we’ll keep on moving. We’re just not going to make any excuses for anything that comes up this season. We’re all here to play and coach football, we’re here to do it well, and we’re going to put everything into it.

Q: You don’t believe in the idea that because it’s going to be a wild season, you might get a pass in public perception?

A: There are unknowns in every season going in. This year is no different, it just has a different element that we haven’t dealt with before. As we go, we’ll see how things change and how they shake out. Right now, we are looking to go ahead and build the strongest team we can.

Q: Obviously with Nate Solder, the most important thing is his family and we read your comments about that. From a football standpoint, you lose your most experienced tackle. Dave (Gettleman) has been trying to build this offensive line to a strong point for three years. From a football standpoint, how secure are you with your offensive line and your tackles without Nate? From a salary cap standpoint, that opened up a lot of space under these rules. Do you expect to be active in free agency this summer?

A: We’ll always make the best decision for the team. We don’t feel right now that we have money burning a hole in our pocket. We just know there is a little bit more for us in the cap space right now. We fully support Nate Solder’s decision. I’ve known him personally going back to my time in New England. Not only have I known him, but I’ve had a relationship with him and his family. His wife Lexi is a great woman. Their children and what they are going through personally, this was not an easy decision. I don’t want to talk for Nate, he has put out his own words. From an organizational standpoint, we wanted Nate to play this year, but we fully support his decision not to because we absolutely understand what he is going through. This was not an easy decision for him, we talked about it a lot. At the end of the day, I am not going to try to talk a player into doing anything when it comes to the situation we are in right now. You have to make the decision personally that’s best for you and your family. I think Nate did that and we fully support him. From a football standpoint, we have confidence in all of our players. We still have to get on the field and practice and evaluate them, and that’s at all positions. Whether it’s the offensive line, skill positions, defense or wherever it ends up being. We have to see these guys perform under pressure and handle the loads in install and see how they perform when they are tired and in direct competition. There’s a lot of things that have to be done in a short period of time. We have to make good evaluations as coaches. I’ve got to set practices to make sure we can evaluate guys at multiple positions. We have to do a good job of making sure we see what every player does when he understands what to do and can play as fast as possible. That’s our job as coaches and teachers.

Q: Has any other player indicated he plans to opt out?

A: At the current moment, no.

Q: What went into the decision on Aldrick Rosas and what went into signing Chandler (Catanzaro) as his replacement?

A: In terms of who may be coming in, I’ll be happy to talk about that when they complete the entry process coming in. On the decision to release Aldrick, we felt it was best for the team based on all things being put together moving forward. I like Aldrick a lot as a person and I wish him the best of luck. I am not going to comment on the legal investigation, but we made a decision we felt was best for the team.

Q: You spoke a lot about versatility when you got hired and leading up to the draft. How big of a role did that play with the selection of Xavier McKinney and how do you see him fitting into to the secondary? How optimistic are you that we can play a full 16-game season?

A: I have a lot of trust in the plan put forth by the league. We spent a lot of time on this. When these players left, we signed off and took vacations. As coaches, we took a little bit of a break for about a month. It was 24/7 around the clock really working on making sure we got the facilities in order that we can bring our players in and have them work safely. We are doing everything we can, not to just be compliant but making sure we are staying ahead of issues that may arise. We are trying to educate our players on a daily basis. We have to enforce the rules as coaches. We have to rely on the leadership on the team to build the culture in the locker room. In terms of the optimism for a season, right now we have 16 games on the schedule and I’m looking forward to playing every one of them. To answer your question about X, versatility is huge part of our systems, offense, defense and the kicking game. Our defense is going to be multiple both by base scheme and based on game plan and who the opponent is. You are going to see four to six DB’s on the field in certain times. His role will be different based on different game plans. He’ll have a chance, like all are other players will, to establish what he is going to be in our defense based on how he performs in this next month of football.

Q: With Nate Solder gone for the year and based on who you have, some very young players are going to have to fill significant roles. Normally by now you have seen them on the field, tested them a little bit. How concerned are you in general about using rookies and young players in key spots anywhere this season when things are so unusual?

A: The age of a player doesn’t really ever bother me. We bring guys in to play. This isn’t like college where a young guy in the NFL is given a red shirt year. You have 53 and 54 guys on your roster, you have a limited roster. Everyone has to contribute and everyone has to play. One thing you hear a lot about and people get caught up in the word ‘starter’. You can only bring so many to an active gameday list, everybody plays. It’s not really significant who the first 11 on the field are. At the end of the game, everybody has a role, everybody has a very important job and everyone has to contribute. We are going to play all of our offensive linemen at multiple positions right and left. We are going to have a competition for every position. We are going to have multiple guys playing inside at center and outside at tackle. We are going to play all of our tackles at right and left to start camp and see who fits best where. Once we establish who should be on either side, we will go forward. That being said, we want to cross-train all of our players. You can’t just play right tackle or left tackle, or right corner or left corner. Based on depth and health of the team, it may require you in the middle or an entire game to play on a side you don’t normally play on. All our guys are working to switch sides and mirror their technique and play effective for a game.

Q: Do you expect there will be less movement at the bottom of the roster than there normally would be? If you claim a guy off of waivers or sign a free agent, you are not going to have them on the field for a full week?

A: That’s one thing we have talked about. This may a different training camp around the league in terms of the time of the claims. That’s not going to eliminate the roster moving, it’s still the National Football League and people are going to look to fill their needs and possibly improve their depth as they see guys on the waiver wire. The one thing I think you have to be conscious about as a coach is if you have to move somebody off the roster to claim somebody, you better have a plan in place for that week so you can say you are at 80 but you are really at 79 if that makes sense.

Q: I would think that would become more of a pressing issue once the regular season does start. Normally when you claim a guy on Tuesday, he probably wouldn’t even be available to you on that Sunday’s game.

A: You are absolutely right and that’s part of the discussions we’ve had in the claiming process. We don’t have a definite answer on how the regular season is going to go. At this point, we are kind of assuming it is going to be very similar to what we are looking at right now with the testing and quarantine piece. I think what you said is very fair and very true. You can no longer work a guy out on a Tuesday, Tuesday night he is doing meetings and Wednesday he’s practicing with the team. It’s important for us to establish depth. In terms of the practice squad, the league has allowed us to flex players up and down and the amount of veterans we can keep on the practice squad roster. That’s going to be key for all the teams and how they manage those 16 positions going forward.

Q: I know players are in a hotel now and they are quarantined. As the season comes up, how are you going to handle them when they go home? Are there some rules that you are going to put into effect to limit their access when they are home?

A: The league has put out some rules already with the agreement in terms of where they can and cannot go and be exposed to large crowds. The thing I want to emphasize with the team is we have to make responsible decisions, all of us. What I have to think about personally is, it’s not just where I go, I know I’m at the stadium or driving to my house. I have to be conscious of where my wife and children are. Who are they around on a daily basis? What am I bringing back to the team? There are some sacrifices we have to make. Like I said earlier, everybody has had to make sacrifices to get to this level. If the biggest thing we have to do is for half a year wear masks around each other, distance a little bit and when we go home, be home, I think it’s a pretty fair trade off to be a part of the National Football League.

Q: How did you decide to split up your 90-man roster for camp? Some teams are doing the quarterback thing where first string and third string are together and second and fourth are together. Is that something you are doing?

A: The league really established how we can split the roster. You have to go rookie to first year players and then vets in another group. What you had flexibility with was injured players and quarterbacks. We felt it was most beneficial for us now to keep all the quarterbacks with this first group. As we progress and have time to get on the field in phase two activities coming up next Friday, we can have the quarterbacks working with them on the field. The biggest thing we are thinking about right now at this point is physically to give our players a chance to get their bodies ready for practice. That’s why the league has set this up, that’s why the players and the coaches were very adamant about having a training period for the players. We have to remember, these guys can’t go from 0 to 100. You have to give them a chance to train and get their bodies in a position to be ready. They have to go out there without having to face an offensive or defensive player in front of them and just have football movement. There are things that when you train on your own, you just can’t simulate. It’s really the reactive movements that you are so vulnerable to. To avoid soft tissue injuries or have ligament issues, we want to make sure we take our time with this front part of this acclimation and give the players the full progression of lifting, running, walkthroughs and eventually getting to phase two activities. Eventually getting to padded practices and true training camp. For us, it was important to get the quarterbacks in that first group so we can start their clock right away and get them on the field and keep them healthy.

Q: You are getting 14 practices and I think 10 are padded, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot. With that said, how much of your evaluation of the players is going to be swung more towards the mental side. To understanding what the coaches are asking in the scheme of their specific roles. Does it change how you are going to evaluate as you go along?

A: It is kind of funny when you think about the way it was set up. When you talk to a lot of the coaches on the staff, you have to reach back to your previous experience. This is almost more like a college training camp because you are not worried about getting ready for a preseason game. You are not concerned about having a plan in place for a specific opponent. You really have more time to work on your own installs and what you can address within your own team at your own progression. The number of coaches on our staff, myself included, who have been through college football, we have thought back as to how you can have this progression. For us, there are waves to training camp. While we are having these walkthroughs on the field, we are going to really emphasize the mental part. We’ll bring these guys around in the systems and give them an opportunity to really learn this at a good learning and teaching pace. When we get the opportunity to get on the field, we have to really ramp it up. It’s not ramping it up to say here’s the green light, let’s step on the gas. You have to get the players’ bodies ready for competition. Each part of the season gets faster. Preseason is not as fast as the regular season, regular season is not as fast as the playoffs. Every round you go in the playoffs, it gets faster and more intense, that’s just the truth. Not that the players aren’t putting in max effort, it’s just the reality of the situation of how the teams get better as you go, the reaction you have to have and the intensity of the game. We have to do our part as coaches in ramping up the practices in training camp, so when we get to the regular season, our guys are physically prepared to play safely on the field.

Q: Some teams have talked about quarantining their quarterbacks. I don’t know if that would be Daniel (Jones) by himself or quarantining a back up quarterback. Is that something you are thinking about putting into action?

A: We are trying to keep all the players spaced out physically. In terms of just quarantining any one player at this moment, we want to have every player around here so we can have an interpersonal connection with them, get them on the field and train them.

Q: Will you have separate protocols for your quarterbacks just to keep those guys extra safe during the regular season or just in the building now?

A: I think we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our guys extra safe to be honest with you. Our guys know to go back to the hotel, they are in their room. We keep them late enough here anyway. They don’t have a ton of time once they leave the building. Normally they get back, they read their notebook and then their head hits the pillow and they’re out and they start the day over again. We are just making sure all of our players, not anyone specific, but all of our players keep spacing, follow the protocols. We put a lot of work into that. It’s just part of understanding what we are dealing with. We can’t make this the biggest obstacle. We are going to have 16 games of opponents that are going to be a lot tougher than just following protocols. We have to get ready right now and follow all the little details and get ready for the season.

NATE WOZNIAK RETIRES…
New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Wozniak has retired from the NFL. The 6’10”, 280-pound Wozniak was originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Saints (2018-2019), Minnesota Vikings (2019), and Atlanta Falcons (2019). The Giants signed Nate Wozniak to the Practice Squad in December 2019.

BBI GUEST APPEARANCE ON BIG BLUE PODCAST…
In a wide-ranging discussion of current issues surrounding the New York Giants, Eric from BBI joined the D-Man and Stormer Big Blue Podcast on Thursday evening. The audio for the show is available at Spotify.

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.

Dec 302019
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Monday after the team fired Head Coach Pat Shurmur and retained General Manager Dave Gettleman (video):

Opening Statement: Steve (Tisch), Dave (Gettleman) and I met with Pat Shurmur early this morning and informed him that we were going to make a change at our head coaching position. These decisions are never easy, particularly when you have someone like Pat with his character, his integrity, his work ethic. But at the end of the day, we just didn’t win enough games, and we believe that we have to move in another direction. It’s certainly not all Pat’s fault, he did a lot of good things here; in particular, his role in selecting and training Daniel Jones. It’s a difficult day when you have to do something like this. The first thing that I always think of is the effect that it has on so many good people and their families. But at the end of the day, it was a decision that we just felt like we had to make going forward. In terms of Dave, I know you’re going to ask me about that, but Steve and I decided to retain Dave and give him a chance to finish what he has started, which includes so many changes in this organization that people really don’t know about. We’ve made a lot of turnover in our scouting area, we’ve completely changed our grading system in how we grade college players, we’re deeper into analytics and technology than we’ve ever been before, and that process is ongoing. We’ve completely re-organized areas in our football operations, we’ve added a staff psychologist on a full-time basis, and we believe it would be a mistake to pull the plug on that after two years, particularly when you consider that Dave spent a good part of the first year fighting for his life. Personnel-wise, we’ve had some hits, we’ve had some misses, and we have a lot of young players who have shown some promise, but it remains to be seen whether they’re going to develop into quality NFL players or not. The point I’m trying to make is it’s not business as usual here at the Giants. We’ve made a lot of changes, changes that you don’t necessarily know about, and we felt like we needed to give it a chance to see if it’s going to succeed or not. All that being said, we need to win more games, and Dave knows that, and that’s going to be the challenge going forward. We’re going to start the coach search immediately. I’m not going to comment on specific candidates, but we will inform you as people are being interviewed. With that, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Why do you feel that you only needed to take one of the two prongs at the top between your coach and your GM, even though the call from the fans was to do a complete overhaul?
A: Well, I’m not sure that was the call from all the fans, but I understand the criticism that’s out there. But I just explained why I think we need to give Dave a chance to finish the job.

Q: Not much has gone right for this organization over the last eight years, the one playoff year, other than that–
A: I’m painfully aware of that.

Q: How much blame do you deserve for that?
A: It all starts at the top. So, yes, you can criticize me all you want, and it would be warranted because it all starts at the top. The success, the failures, and the last eight years have been pretty miserable. So, I’ll accept my share of blame for that.

Q: What specifically went into the decision to fire Pat Shurmur but retain Dave Gettleman, who built the roster that Shurmur was the coach of, especially when you credit Shurmur with helping identify Jones and develop him?
A: Like I said with Dave, I think we’ve had some hits and some misses. He implemented so many changes within our organization, we just felt like at this stage to pull the plug on all of that would not be the wise thing to do. I’m excited about what I see in the future for this team because of the young players we have, because of the changes that we’re making. With Pat, it ends up being as much a gut instinct as anything else. I just felt like we weren’t winning enough games, we weren’t winning the games that we should have won, and we just need to go in a different direction.

Q: Were there specifics in-game or philosophically with Shurmur that made you believe that he was more to blame than the guy getting the pieces and bringing in the personnel?
A: Well, it’s a collaborative effort when you have a coach and a general manager. They worked very well together, they were in sync on all the personnel decisions that we made here, but I just felt like there were so many games that I felt like we should have won, and we just didn’t get the job done.

Q: Was there a push and pull with you and Steve Tisch about this, or when you guys spoke—was it today you spoke with–
A: I speak to Steve all the time, and we’ve been in lockstep on this all along. Our relationship, contrary to what I read the other day, has never been better. We communicate on these issues, any issues regarding the team, all the time, and this has been a conversation we’ve been having for at least the last few weeks anyway.

Q: So, no one had to convince one another about the decision?
A: Absolutely not. That’s absolutely false, no.

Q: Is there a chance that whoever the next coach is would influence or factor into Dave’s role here, that the next coach would have some say over keeping Dave?
A: He’s not going to have any say over keeping Dave, but certainly I’m going to want somebody that’s going to be able to work hand-in-hand with him. Dave and Pat’s relationship has been terrific, they worked very well together, there was no personnel decision that has been made here in the last two years that Pat wasn’t fully on board with.

Q: Do you have any concern that Dave’s presence could have a negative impact on the pool of candidates?
A: I’m aware that that’s a perception that’s out there, but I don’t have that concern because I think once they meet him and get to know him, that won’t be an issue.

Q: Are you committed to maintaining the power dynamic that you’ve had with the general manager and director of personnel and–
A: I’m always willing to look at whatever’s going to improve the team, and if I felt that there was somebody coming in here as a head coach who wanted a different role and he could convince Steve and I that that would make sense for our organization, we would certainly consider that.

Q: Is Dave going to run the coaching search?
A: Dave and I will be involved in the coaching search. Steve will be involved as well.

Q: What if some of these candidates, you said that talking to Dave they won’t have a problem, but what if they do?

A: If they do, they do. We’re going to try to get the best candidates in here that we can, and we’re going to try to convince them why this is a good job opportunity for them. We’ve got a terrific young quarterback, we’ve got a young roster, we’re in the best cap space shape we’ve been in in many years. There’s a lot to this organization that I think would attract a lot of different candidates.

Q: Your past two coaching hires obviously haven’t worked out. Before that, a long time since you brought in Tom (Coughlin). What do you say to the questions about whether you guys are in tune with what it takes in the modern NFL to bring in a successful coach, given the last few hires?
A: That’s fair criticism. We’ve failed twice in a row now, and you have to keep working at it, try to find the right guy, that’s all. I’m not convinced that either of the past two coaches couldn’t have been successful over a longer period of time, but there comes a point in time when your patience runs out, your gut tells you that you need to make a change, and that’s what happened this time.

Q: You had specific criteria the last two coaching searches about who you were looking for, what you saw as the next head coach. Has that criteria changed a bit? If I recall, over the last two searches, you did not bring in any college head coaches, or anyone without any coaching experience in the NFL. Will that expand when you’re looking at new candidates?

A: There well could be college candidates here. I’m really looking for leadership, that’s the big thing going forward. Somebody who can come in and take control of this roster, help build a culture that is going to lead to winning. Somebody who is going to help us with our football re-organization during the process we’re undergoing right now. We’re looking for all those qualities from the next candidate.

Q: When you look at Dave’s stay here as GM, how do you balance, if you do, his successes with analytics and things behind the scenes that you outlined with the significant misses in free agency, if not a miss overall on a player, perhaps overpaying for others?
A: Well, we could have differences in opinion whether those were hits or misses. There definitely have been some misses, no question about it. I think that can happen to anybody. There were reasons for some of those personnel decisions. He does know that the batting average has got to increase going forward though.

Q: What’s your message to the fans in terms of how long this process will take before you see a winning team on the field?
A: Well, I’d like to think that we can start winning next year. It’s been too many years since we’ve had a winning team on the field. Nobody feels that more than Steve and myself. It’s not easy to sit in your stadium and watch fans from the other team, you know, and that’s happened too often this year. So, believe me, we live this every day, we feel it as much if not more so than the fans do, and we’re committed to try and get this thing right.

Q: You mentioned the fans from other teams cheering in your building. It was very pronounced this year. Have you ever been through an entire season where that consistently happened, with the Packers, to the Cowboys, to the Eagles?

A:  Probably not, it’s probably the worst. I think that’s more of the norm in the NFL now, when your team is not winning, your fans sell their tickets, and often times it’s the fans of the opposing team that come in. We had that situation when we were in Tampa, when we were in Washington, we had large contingents of fans down there. But listen, we haven’t been winning, the fans are getting fed up with that, and so they sell their tickets. I get that.

Q: You just mentioned that Dave knows his batting average in free agency and that personnel needs to improve. Worst case scenario, what if it doesn’t? Do you run the risk of hiring a head coach and potentially having to fire a GM a short time after and kind of throwing that power structure out of whack?
A: Yes, we do run that risk.

Q: How much did you weigh that these last couple of days?

A: Weigh what exactly?

Q: The risk?
A: That’s certainly something we are aware of, but I happen to believe in Dave. I happen to believe in the changes that he’s making here, and I think those are going to pay off.

Q: You said that you needed to see progress at the end of training camp when we talked to you. Do you need to see wins next year for Dave’s sake?
A: I’m not going to quantify the number of wins I need to see. We need to be able to put a better product on the field, that’s all.

Q: What role did Eli Manning’s early benching play into Pat Shurmur’s firing and the fact that you guys signed off on it. I’m curious how that process went?
A: It had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. How that process went, if I recall, Dave called me on Sunday evening after the Buffalo game. He said he had spoken to Pat and Pat wants to play Daniel. My only question was, do you think Daniel is ready? If you think he is ready, then whatever Pat wants to do. He’s the head coach, he makes those decisions.

Q: How important will it be that the next head coach has a background in developing young quarterbacks?
A: It either has to be that or it has to be his coordinator or his quarterback coach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the head coach, I’m not ruling out defensive coaches here.

Q: You talk about wanting to find a coach with leadership. How hard is it to find somebody who is a leader but at the same time is not too totalitarian?
A: Obviously, it is pretty hard. Those people are out there. I’ve always believed that the toughest decision that Steve and I ever have to make in this business is finding the right guy to stand up here in front of the team and lead them and develop a winning program going forward. That’s what we are going to put all of our efforts into now, trying to find that guy. It’s obviously not an easy thing to do.

Q: What made now the right time of the season versus say during the nine-game losing streak? The Redskins and the Panthers were obviously getting a head start on their coaching search?
A: You can argue we could have done it earlier. I wanted to give him the chance, I held out hope, quite frankly, for quite some time hoping things would turn around. They just didn’t, so it just was a decision we felt we had to make.

Q: If that’s the case, if you guys had won yesterday, would that have made this decision tougher?
A: Probably not. It probably would have been the same decision.

Q: Is it fair to say you think the roster is better than what the record has been?
A: I think we could have won more games, yes. You’re playing a rookie quarterback, you’re playing all those rookies on the back end on defense. You are going to have some problems, but again at the end of the day we just didn’t win enough games.

Q: Considering the state of the roster, you guys are still in a rebuild. How reasonable is it to expect this team to be a significant winner next year, a playoff team?
A: I think we’ve got the answer at quarterback. I think we have a lot of good young players. We just need them to take it to the next level and hopefully the next coach will help them do that. None of them will be rookies anymore and again we have a very good cap situation and we’re picking fourth in the draft. We should be better next year.

Q: After the spending in 2016, I do recall you saying that that is not how you want to conduct business moving forward. You mentioned the cap space, how do you walk that line?
A: It’s a tough line to walk. In 2016, it paid off in that first year and then afterwards, not so much. The key is still the draft. You have to make good draft picks. You have to supplement that with making wise decisions in free agency. You can’t think that you are going to fix all your problems in free agency. It just doesn’t work.

Q: You said the last two coaches, you didn’t get right. What is your confidence level going into this search?
A: I think there are some very attractive candidates who will have interest in this job. I believe we will get it right this time.

Q: Are you bringing anybody in from the outside to advise? Ernie (Accorsi) is obviously a name that comes to mind?
A: No, I don’t think so.

Q: Is Ernie (Accorsi) going to be a part of the process again?
A: No, I don’t think so. I talk to him all the time, but he’s not going to be a part of the process.

STEVE TISCH ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch addressed the media on Monday after the team fired Head Coach Pat Shurmur and retained General Manager Dave Gettleman (video):

Q: As John (Mara) just said, there’s been some talk before this that there might be some friction between you two on what direction you saw this team going. Was there any of that?
A: There was no friction. John and I have been partners going on 15 years. As you know, the Giants, the ownership is unique. It’s the only team with two equal partners. We’ve been talking as partners for 15 years. We talked about these issues starting weeks ago, today, and we will going forward. Everything you and I read about friction, differences of opinion, I didn’t say it, John didn’t say it. I read it, but it’s not true.

Q: Did you feel like you had the very honest conversation that you needed to have?
A: I’ve got to say, I would characterize every conversation that I’ve had with John as honest, straightforward. I feel very comfortable expressing my opinion on a whole bunch of matters, and I know John feels very comfortable expressing his opinion. It’s a partnership and as I just mentioned, it’s the only true partnership between owners in the NFL. At times, it’s challenging, but the bottom line is it’s been hugely rewarding for both families and I think for the organization.

Q: Did you have to be talked into or persuaded to keep Dave (Gettleman) or was that just part of the process?
A: No. It was part of a process. At the risk of repeating myself, John and I have a very, very, good dialogue constantly. When I’m not here in the building, we speak three or four times a week, home games, away games, we’re constantly speaking, sitting with each other. So, to say that there’s any issues with our communication is a total mischaracterization.

Q: What are you looking for, what qualities do you want in your next head coach?
A: Leadership, an ability to put together a great staff, an ability to really work with the players, the rookies. I think it’s really important that the next head coach has to have a point of view, a very strong point of view, and he will be supported by ownership.

Q: How hard is it to balance being patient with letting the process play out?
A: I think patience is a virtue, I’m not the first person to say that. But at times I think patience can be tested. But I think if I stay very focused, I sort of have the same…I see the same goal line that John Mara sees. Sometimes, the path to that goal line may be a little different, but we see the same goal line, we cross it, and it’s been a very, very, functional relationship. It’s been hugely functional.

Q: What was the deciding factor in keeping Dave Gettleman? What was the deciding factor in the conversation that made you believe he should stay?
A: The deciding factor was, when John and I started talking about this literally weeks and weeks ago, assets, liabilities, good news, bad news, and at the end of the day we decided that we were going to jointly make a decision to keep Dave, to work with Dave going forward into the next season. As John mentioned just now, we have tremendous cap space. I can’t stand here today and say our next head coach is Paul Schwartz (laughter), but I think the search is going to be fruitful and I think we’re going to find a terrific number of candidates and the right decision will be made.

Q: When you look at the last eight years, and the failures that have gone on here and the failures of the last two coaching hires, what do you say to fans who question your ability and John’s ability to lead this organization back to success?
A: I say to the fans I totally understand your frustration, your concern, I read your emails, I get it. But, John and I make decisions that sometimes may not be popular, may not be supported by the fans, but we’re the ones making the decisions, we live by them. It’s been a very frustrating four years, certainly the record indicates that, those numbers don’t lie. Going forward, John and I want to make sure that those numbers change in the next season dramatically.

Q: Why do you think you guys will get it right this time?
A: Because I’m an optimist and I think we know what qualities, what kind of character we want in the next head coach. We’re very focused on that. There’s going to be a real priority to make sure the next head coach has strong leadership abilities and a very impressive track record.

Q: What’s your desire to be more involved? John is the day-to-day guy here, he hasn’t had a lot of success over the last eight years. What’s your desire to be more involved, if it is at all, in the day-to-day operations?
A: I am involved. I would like to be more involved, I will become more involved. So, going forward in 2020, the day after tomorrow. We have a great dialogue with each other. As I mentioned, it’s a very, very, functional, working relationship. Partnerships are hard, professional ones and domestic ones, but I feel we have a very good one and we always, with some differences of opinions expressed and communicated, we get to the same point.

Q: Does that mean you physically want to be here more? Is that what you mean?
A: Yes, I will be here more physically. But, the opportunities that John and I spend with each other in the same building, or the same stadium, or the same locker room will increase.

COACHING SEARCH NEWS…
According to media reports, the New York Giants have requested to interview the following head coaching candidates:

  • Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy
  • New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Josh McDaniels

The 50-year old Bieniemy has served as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator since 2018. Before that he was the running backs coach for the Chiefs (2013-2017), Minnesota Vikings (2006-2010), UCLA (2003-2005), and University of Colorado (2001-2002). He also served as offensive coordinator at the University of Colorado (2011-2012).

The 43-year old McDaniels was interviewed by the Giants for their head coaching vacancy two years ago when the team decided to hire Pat Shurmur instead. McDaniels is best known for serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during two stints with the Patriots (2005-2008 and 2012-2019). In between, he was head coach of the Denver Broncos (2009-2010) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach of the St. Louis Rams (2011). McDaniels served in a variety of roles with the Patriots from 2001-2004 before becoming offensive coordinator.

There is also rampant media speculation that the Giants will interview Baylor University Head Coach Matt Rhule, who was an offensive line assistant with the Giants under Tom Coughlin in 2012. Rhule has served as head coach at Baylor for three years (2017-2019). Before that, he was head coach at Temple University (2013-2016).

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN 13 PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have announced that they have signed the following 13 players:

Reserve/future signings:

  • RB Jon Hilliman
  • FB George Aston
  • WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • OC Tanner Volson
  • OT Nate Wozniak
  • DE Kevin Wilkins
  • CB Derrick Baity
  • LS Drew Scott
  • P Sean Smith

Except for Scott and Smith, all of these players finished the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Smith spend a couple of stints on the Practice Squad as well. Scott has spent time with the Raiders and Cowboys.

The Giants also announced that they have re-signed the following players who were set to become exclusive rights free agents:

  • OG Chad Slade
  • OT Eric Smith
  • LB Devante Downs

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…
General Manager Dave Gettleman will address the media on Tuesday at 11:00AM.

Dec 172019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS PLACE EVAN ENGRAM ON INJURED RESERVE, PROMOTE DAVID SILLS…
The New York Giants have placed tight end Evan Engram on Injured Reserve, effectively ending his season. Engram suffered a foot injury during the November 4th game against the Dallas Cowboys and has been out since that time. He also missed a game in October with a knee injury. Engram played in eight games in 2019 with six starts, catching 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants drafted Engram in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Other than too many dropped passes, Engram had a very solid rookie season for the Giants in 2017, playing in 15 games with 11 starts, and finishing with a team-high 64 catches for 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions.

It was a tale of two seasons for Engram in 2018. Before the bye week, Engram missed three games with a knee injury and caught just 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. After the bye, Engram missed two games with a hamstring injury, but his productivity increased to 28 catches for 432 yards and one touchdown, with a number of game-changing plays.

To fill Engram’s roster spot, the Giants signed wide receiver David Sills from the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by Buffalo.

GIANTS SIGN OFFENSIVE TACKLE TO PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have signed offensive tackle Nate Wozniak to the Practice Squad. The 25-year old, 6’10”, 280-pound Wozniak was originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Saints (2018-2019), Minnesota Vikings (2019), and Atlanta Falcons (2019). Wozniak has not played in an NFL regular-season game.