Jun 222015
 
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Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Cornerbacks

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: The Giants dramatically overhauled the cornerback position in the 2014 offseason, saying goodbye to long-time contributors Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas while adding free agents Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie (DRC), Walter Thurmond, and Zack Bowman. These new additions were to support former-first rounder Prince Amukmara and the re-signed Trumaine McBride. It was believed by many that not only were the Giants exceptionally strong at corner, but that this could be the strongest group of corners on the team in recent memory.

But those expectations vanished quickly due to injury. Nickel corner Walter Thurmond was placed on Injured Reserve after only two games, followed by Trumaine McBride in mid-October and Prince Amukamara in early November. The loss of Amukamara – who was having his best season – was particularly a hard pill to swallow. Without three of their top four corners, more pressure was placed on DRC, who was also dealing with a litany of injury issues to the point where he could not play a full game.

The Giants were quickly left to scramble and made in-season roster moves including signing castoffs Chykie Brown, Mike Harris, and Chandler Fenner. Brown and Harris performed reasonably well given the circumstances, but overall, the secondary failed to fulfill their preseason boasts as one of the best units in the NFL. The Giants finished 18th in the NFL in pass defense.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Most of the significant roster changes at corner have been subtractions. Somewhat surprisingly, the team did not make much (if any) of an effort to re-sign Thurmond and he signed with the Eagles. The Giants also appear not to have made an effort to re-sign Bowman, who signed with the Dolphins.

The Giants made few additions at corner, choosing instead to re-sign free agents Chykie Brown and Chandler Fenner. The team signed the uninspiring corner/safety ‘tweener Josh Gordy from the Colts and journeyman street free agent Trevin Wade. Because of this, it was expected that the Giants would probably take a corner in the 2015 NFL Draft. However, not only did the Giants not draft a corner, the team also did not sign a rookie free agent at the position after the draft.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: If Rodgers-Cromartie and Amukamara can stay healthy, the Giants may have the best duo of corners in the NFL. However, Amukmara has been an injury-prone player since being drafted in 2011, missing significant time in three of his first four seasons. Rodgers-Cromartie did not miss a game in 2014, but was nagged all season long with a variety of injuries that affected his game and the number of snaps he could play. Assuming these two stay healthy, the media will focus much of its preseason attention on how good these two can be playing together.

But the more important story line could be the apparent lack of depth. The third (nickel) corner is a de facto starter in today’s NFL. Who will be the team’s nickel corner? The early favorite is McBride, but he could be pressed by Mike Harris. Also, what if DRC or Amukamara miss time due to injury? Who will be the first corner off of the bench to replace the missing outside guy? Again, the early favorite is probably McBride, but Chykie Brown could factor into the equation.

Other contenders for roster spots include Josh Gordy, Jayron Hosley, Chandler Fenner, and Trevin Wade. None of these names inspire. Indeed, on paper it appears that corner is the shallowest position on the team. An injury or two here could spell disaster.

A longer-term focus is Amukmara’s contract situation. The Giants are currently set to have three of their very best players hit the open market in 2016 (Eli Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Amukamara). And the team can only Franchise tag one of them. Prince has made it very clear via his Twitter feed that he wants to get paid. Will he be able to play a full schedule for just the second time since he was drafted? If he does and plays as well as hoped, will the Giants be able to re-sign him?

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants normally keep five or six corners. Barring injury or unforeseen circumstances, DRC and Amukamara are locks, leaving three or four roster spots open. The early favorites to make the team are McBride, Harris, and Brown. Gordy, Hosley, Fenner, and Wade are clearly on the bubble. Gordy could be helped by his position flexibility, being able to play safety in a pinch.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Tim Walton on Prince Amukamara: “He definitely can improve just in techniques in general. When we play press technique, that is always a constant thing because with his talent, he is going to see different guys, he is going to see smaller receivers and bigger receivers, and you have to be able to change that up based on the guys you see and be effective with it. Also just on his ability to play fast and trying to show him to be able to see formations, see tendencies, see splits and being able to let that put you in the right position and be able to play up to his maximum potential all the time. That has a lot to do with the understanding of the situations, of formation or splits and things like that, because he has played a lot of football so he understands and those are the things that can help him grow so he can play fast all the time because he has some real talent.”

Walton on Rodgers-Cromartie and Amukamara being elite corners: “(DRC) definitely has to be that guy. The thing about it that we feel good about is hopefully we have two guys that can be that and that is the confidence and level of expectation that we have is that he definitely will be that guy and a guy that has that ability, and we need to build on a consistent basis. We also feel that Prince has the ability to do that, also, and that is where we become better as a football team where we can have that with both guys because that gives you the ability that you can handle the match-ups.”

Walton on Jayron Hosley:  “He has the talent. The thing we talk about is confidence. We have to make sure the confidence is there and the consistency is there and all of those things, so that the talent is showing on a daily basis. We don’t want to be up and down with it, so that is the thing we talk about and we work on, is trying to be consistent with it and getting confidence so you can play at a level that you would like to play at on a daily basis… He would probably be outside right now. Who knows what he may end up doing, but right now, to get confidence, you also want to start at one spot and kind of go from there and grow with it. You don’t want to throw a ton on his plate, start with one thing, let’s do that well and we’ll progress from there.”

PREDICTIONS: Provided they stay healthy, the Giants are in great shape with Rodgers-Cromartie and Amukamara. They are clearly the best two corners in the NFC East and one of the two could end up in the Pro Bowl.

Nevertheless, the biggest weakness on this roster may not be the offensive line or linebacker or safety, but cornerback due to the overall lack of quality depth. When teams like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins play 3- and 4-wide receivers sets, the Giants will be forced to counter with the likes of McBride, Harris, and Brown. And God help the Giants if either one of the two top guys get hurt.

The fear here is that while DRC and Amukamara largely handle their business, opponents will feast on the third and fourth corners. The Giants desperately need one or two of these former castoffs to surprise. McBride did start 10 games for the Giants in 2013 and did a respectable job. Harris is a guy who the team thinks can play nickelback.

Chykie Brown, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Chykie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The wild card could be Brown. He was a 2014 in-season cut by the Ravens, when he was ironically being coached by Steve Spagnuolo. Before he was fired, Perry Fewell said of Brown, “He is a young man that is very conscientious. He takes very good notes, and when I say takes good notes, he is a good film study guy. He doesn’t have all of our techniques down pat, but he has the long arms. We like that, for jams, he has really good speed, so we like the speed that he can possess when he runs down the field. He is a pretty tough guy as a corner. Most corners are not physically tough guys, I think he is a pretty tough guy. I think he is a really nice addition to come in and help play in our secondary. We just like the speed factor, and some of the intangibles of what I just mentioned in his play.”

If the reserve corners struggle, the Giants will be scanning the waiver wire.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Unless there is another roster addition, the top five corners look to be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Chykie Brown, and Mike Harris. To me, the bigger question is do the Giants go with five or six corners. My early guess is they will carry one more safety and one fewer corner and go with only five cornerbacks.

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

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

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

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

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

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

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

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

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

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

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

A: That’s the plan.

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

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

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

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

Q: Did you see enough progress from the rookies?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you ever try to curb it?

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

Q: How does Shane Vereen look?

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

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

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

Q: What is the deal with Bennett Jackson?

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

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

A: No.

Q: Any thoughts on the drone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q:  What did you get accomplished during the spring?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How has Geoff Schwartz looked?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Does Eli Manning’s arm look stronger?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: There are always open lines of communication upstairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What does that tell you about him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane Vereen and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What makes Odell tick?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What have you seen from Ereck Flowers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What have you seen from Mike Bamiro?

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

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

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

Q: Justin Pugh seems to have embraced his change?

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

Q: What do you like about him at guard?

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

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

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

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

Jun 172015
 
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Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 17, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants three-day mini-camp was held on Wednesday. Like the Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, no live contact is allowed, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), tight end Larry Donnell (Achilles tendinitis, still in walking boot), offensive tackle Will Beatty (recovering from pectoral surgery), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

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

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

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • First-team defensive line was DE Kerry Wynn, DT Markus Kuhn, DT Johnathan Hankins, and DE Cullen Jenkins.
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa saw reps at left defensive end.
  • DE Robert Ayers (ankle) returned to team drills.
  • Cooper Taylor and Landon Collins saw snaps at safety with both the first- and second-team units.
  • Justin Currie also saw first-team snaps at safety with Landon Collins.
  • Ereck Flowers continued to receive first- and second-team reps at left tackle.
  • Brandon Mosley continued to see snaps at right tackle with the second-team offensive line. He had a false start during a two-minute drill near the end of practice.
  • RB Andre Williams (on a screen) and WR Preston Parker both dropped passes early in practice.
  • RB Andre Williams broke off a nice run up the left side. “Running back Andre Williams showed his speed and power on a few good runs.” (Source: Giants.com)
  • On a free play where the defense jumped offside, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made a one-handed interception on an overthrown pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Rueben Randle. (Video)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham was active catching the ball.
  • WR Rueben Randle turned a short pass into a big gain with some good yards-after-catch elusiveness. (Video)
  • QB Ryan Nassib had some accuracy issues, including overthrowing RB Shane Vereen on a screen pass.
  • CB Prince Amukamara jumped a route and intercepted QB Ryan Nassib as the pocket was breaking down. (Video)
  • LB Uani’ Unga picked off a pass from QB Ryan Nassib.
  • DT Dominique Hamilton and OG Eric Herman got into a scuffle.
  • WR Corey Washington dropped a touchdown pass on a fade from QB Eli Manning with CB Prince Amukamara in coverage.
  • LB J.T. Thomas blitzed and sacked QB Ryan Nassib.
  • The defense stopped the offense during the two-minute drill at the end of practice, forcing an incompletion on 4th down.
  • Former Giants DT Fred Robbins has been working with the defensive line at mini-camp as a temporary assistant defensive line coach under Steve Spagnuolo, his old defensive coordinator.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following video clips of player media Q&As are available at Giants.com:

  • OT Ereck Flowers (Video)
  • DE Robert Ayers (Video)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)
  • CB Prince Amukamara on the team’s safeties: “They have been doing a great job, especially these last couple of days with Cooper [Taylor] and [Landon] Collins and even [Mykkele] Thompson has been getting a lot of plays and [Justin] Currie made a play yesterday, so they have been doing well. I haven’t seen a lot of [mistakes] and they have been making plays on the ball, so I have been applauding them.”

RELATED ARTICLES…

Jun 092015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Have Not Approached Eli Manning About New Contract: According to The New York Daily News, the New York Giants have not yet approached quarterback Eli Manning about a new contract. The 34-year old Manning is entering the final year of his current six-year deal and is set to count $19.75 million against the team’s 2015 salary cap.

“No discussions yet,” Manning told The Daily News. “I don’t know if there will be or not.”

Manning was asked by the paper if he thinks the Giants are making him prove he deserves a new deal.

“Sure. I think you’re always proving yourself in this league,” replied Manning. “It’s always kind of what have you done lately and you got to prove that you can still play at a high level.”

In March, the Pittsburgh Steelers gave fellow 2004 NFL Draft alum Ben Roethlisberger a 5-year, $99 million contract with almost $61 million in guaranteed money. Manning’s last contract extension in 2010 was a six-year, $97.5 million deal with $35 million in guaranteed money.

Despite the Giants disappointing 6-10 record in 2014, Manning is coming off one of his best seasons, having completed a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). The expectations for him are even higher in his second season in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offensive-based system.

Article on QB Eli Manning: How Eli Manning borrowed from baseball to develop arm ‘with pop’ by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Giants.com Feature on Wide Receivers: A video feature on the New York Giants wide receivers is available at Giants.com.

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Giants CB Amukamara’s goal: stay healthy this year by The Associated Press

Article on Safety Cooper Taylor: For Giants’ oft-injured, mystery safety, ‘The time is now’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jun 022015
 
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Preston Parker, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their fifth of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday. The Tuesday session was not open to the media, but Giants.com did report some of the following tidbits:

  • Play of the Day: “A bomb from [quarterback] Ryan Nassib to Ben Edwards during 11-on-11s. Edwards, an undrafted wide receiver from Richmond, broke free down the middle, and Nassib dropped it right into his hands in stride for the longest play of OTAs so far. Wide receiver Victor Cruz ran out to give him a high-five as he was running back to the huddle.”
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Preston Parker in 7-on-7 drills.
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson made a nice gain on a pass from Nassib. (Video)
  • Cornerback/safety Josh Gordon picked off a pass from Nassib. (Video)
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris made a few nice catches.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz – who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon – continued to work on the sidelines, running routes and catching some passes.

Phase Three (Weeks 6-9) of the New York Giants voluntary nine-week offseason program started last week. During Phase Three of offseason programs, NFL teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The final five OTA practices will be held June 4, June 8-9, and June 11-12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

Giants.com Q&A with OC Weston Richburg: The video of a Giants.com Q&A session with center Weston Richburg is available at Giants.com.

Articles on the New York Giants OTAs:

Article on RB Shane Vereen: Shane Vereen could be more prominent than expected in Giants’ backfield by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Articles on CB Prince Amukamara:

Articles on CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie:

May 072015
 
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Kevin Ogletree, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Kevin Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Cut Kevin Ogletree and Terrell Manning: The New York Giants terminated the contract of wide receive Kevin Ogletree and waived linebacker Terrell Manning on Thursday.

Ogletree was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013), and Detroit Lions (2013-14). The Lions waived Olgetree in September 2014. The Giants signed him in October 2014 and Ogletree played in seven games for New York, catching five passes for 50 yards.

Manning was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Manning has spent time with the Packers (2012-13), Chargers (2013), Vikings (2014), Dolphins (2014), Bears (2014), and Bengals (2014). He was with the Giants in training camp, waived, and then re-signed off of the Practice Squad of the Bengals in November. Manning was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with an ankle injury after playing in only one game with the Giants in Week 13.

Because of these moves, we have updated the Transactions, Roster, and Depth Chart sections of the website.

Jerry Reese Interview on The NFL Network: A video of an NFL Network interview with General Manager Jerry Reese is available at NFL.com.

CB Prince Amukamara on WFAN Radio: The audio of a WFAN interview with CB Prince Amukamara on Tuesday is available at CBS New York.

Article on DT Donte Rumph: Donte Rumph, humiliated on ‘Hard Knocks’ while with Falcons, invited by Giants to rookie minicamp by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: Winners and losers from each of the Giants’ 2015 draft picks by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Apr 232015
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Reese’s 2015 Pre-Draft Press Conference: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference today. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Q: Who are you picking?

A: A good player at nine.

Q: In a year like this and with some of the things that went on last year in the NFL, how much more important or different is the way you look at a player’s character and behavior when you are assessing them? Has that changed?

A: I think we are always mindful of a player’s character and background. That always goes into the equation. It is not really anything new for us. Obviously, like all teams, we have taken some guys on the back end of the roster, more risk-reward kind of situations on the back end of the roster. We are very conscious and have been for a long time about backgrounds and character.

Q: That seems to have changed last year when you guys wanted a lot of clean players… Whereas in the past you would have taken…?

A: The thing you have to think about when you are thinking about these young players is that they are young. They do young kid stuff. You can’t just absolutely kill them. You wouldn’t have anyone to draft. Kids do kid things and do college things and it happens. If a guy has a long list of issues, that is when you have to throw the red flag in there. Is this guy going to stop? If you have a couple things that college kids do, you can’t just throw it away.

Q: Is there anything concrete you do with that or is it just an eyeball test?

A: We do all the background checks and our scouts go out and dig the information that we can. We interview them and try to put it all together and make a decision on it.

Q: Is it kind of three strikes and you are out?

A: Not necessarily, it depends on how egregious the off-field issues are, more than anything else probably.

Q: Last year you seemed to have a guy pegged or a couple guys you thought would be available… Is it more unpredictable being at nine?

A: I think you always have a good idea, but it is always unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen. You can look up and some of those quarterbacks they think are going to be in the first couple picks could be – not off the board until 15 or 20. You never know. I learned that a long time ago in the draft. Funny things can happen, so expect everything to happen.

Q: Last year the wide receiver corps turned out to be a really good group… There are a lot of thoughts that this wide receiving corps could be just as good… Thoughts?

A: I think there are good receivers, just as there were last year. I think that is every year. I think there are good players at every position every year. I don’t know if that is a good answer or not, but I think there are good wide receivers…I think there are good players at every position.

Q: Given you have a lot of depth at receiver, would you have any qualms about drafting another receiver?

A: First of all, as soon as you say you have a lot of depth at any position, you don’t have depth. I know better than to say that. We will draft the best player available for us. It really doesn’t matter what position it is.

Q: How do you look at your offensive line at this point? Do you look at it saying you need to supplement it at least during one day of the draft?

A: Every position. We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get. Offensive line won’t be excluded from that as well.

Q: In your mind right now, what does your offensive line look like? Is Justin Pugh still at right tackle?

A: That is something for Tom. You have to talk to Tom about that. Obviously Pugh has been a starter and is going to be a starter somewhere more than likely. [Geoff] Schwartz is coming back from injury. Hopefully he can fit in there somewhere. What we want to do is get as many good players as we can and create as much competition as we can in the offensive line.

Q: When you are picking as high as you are, is there a sense of a guy having to fit in at a premium position? In the past, you wouldn’t have drafted linebacker in the first round, but guys like defensive backs, wide receivers and left tackles… Is that part of your thinking when you are as high as you are?

A: If you draft at nine, whoever it is, is a premium position, regardless of the position that he is. If you draft at nine, it is a premium position, regardless of what it is. It doesn’t matter what position. If you draft him at nine, he is a guy you expect to come in and play and play quickly.

Q: Has the profile of offensive linemen changed at all in the last decade at all?

A: We just look for good players. Good profiles. Good players. Strong. Big, strong, fast and smart.

Q: The big lineman from Iowa is a guy everyone seems to love as a guard prospect… What do you see from him?

A: I think he can play both. I think he can play tackle and he can play guard. I think he can play somewhere.

Q: Where do you see him?

A: The coaches will have to figure that out.

Q: How do you look at this group of pass rushers?

A: There are some good pass rushers and edge rushers available.  Are you asking me to stack them or something like that? I can’t do that, but I do think there are some good pass rushers in this draft.

Q: You haven’t made a ton of trades as compared to other teams throughout the years… How do you explain that? Is that the way things worked out?

A: We will keep all of our options open on the draft. We can trade up and we can trade down. That doesn’t change. We are not looking to trade just to try to be cute to trade up or down. If we think we have an opportunity to move up, then we will move up. If we have an opportunity to move back, then we will do that as well.

Q: Back around the combine, in regards to Victor Cruz, you said you couldn’t think of him as a sure thing… Have you seen anything from him where you can have some kind of certainty of how he will be when he comes back?

A: I don’t think you can have certainty. [Cruz] looks good. He is running pretty good right now. He is scheduled to be back for the opener for us, but until you get out there and turn it loose, you never know what a guy is going to do. He looks great right now.

Q: Are you still approaching whatever he can give you guys next year as a ‘bonus?’

A: I am not counting it as a bonus, but I want to be prepared if he is not here.

Q: Is there any change in your perspective in the preparation on your part when you pick ninth instead of 12th like last year and going back to the Super Bowl when you picked last?

A: We just stack the board. Whoever we think the best player is in the first row, it doesn’t matter what position, which is how we do it. We stack them the same way. If you pick inside 12 picks, you should get a good football player.

Q: Does the expectation change as far as impact goes?

A: The higher you pick – that is how the system is. If you pick high in the draft – that is the way the whole system is built. If you pick high in the draft, you are supposed to get better players to help you have a better football team. If you are picking last in the draft, you get penalized for being successful. You get penalized, so you get lesser players. Whoever you pick at nine should be a better player than you pick at 32. That is the way the system is and obviously we are picking nine and expect to get a good player.  A really good player.

Q: Another general manager said there were eight to ten players who were real difference makers above other guys… Do you have a point in your estimation of how many guys are at a higher level than the rest of the group?

A: I think there is always a break. Everyone in the first row – that is why we call them rows; they are not first round picks. There are natural breaks. There may be eight and then there may be five more players, then there is another break. There are always breaks in the first row where you stack them, but you have to have 32 players in the first round.

Q: Where is that first break?

A: We’ll see.

Q: How are you looking at your safety position right now? Do you think it is a position of need?

A: We are not going to make do, just like any position, we are going to try to upgrade that position. Just like the rest of the positions. We are not going to make do. We have some young players that we think have some talent, but we are going to continue to try and upgrade that position as well.

Q: Last year we were saying you needed to get a tight end and you felt confident with some of the young guys… Is it the same thing now?

A: Every position we want to upgrade. We want to upgrade safety. We want to have competition at that position like we want to have at every position and we will try to do that.

Q: Tom talked about the possibility of converting Chykie Brown or Bennett Jackson to safety… Is that realistic in your mind and what goes into that?

A: It happens all the time. One of the best players we tried to get in free agency was the corner from New England. He was a corner and played safety. You see those conversions. That is not new to see something like that happen. That is a possibility as well.

Q: Are [Brown and Jackson] guys who could possibly convert in your eyes?

A: I think so. You never know. You have to experiment in the spring. Obviously you would like to get a guy who has played there and done the job, but you have to be creative in this day and age with your personnel.

Q: You went after [Devin] McCourty, so you wanted to upgrade that position… What happened after that? Do you look at Josh Gordy as a safety?

A: That is what he plays.

Q: What was the plan at that position after McCourty?

A: We thought he was the best player in free agency [at his position] and after that we thought there was a drop off and that is what happened.

Q: Now that Eli is back in the building and he said his attitude is to play the year and go from there… What is your thought on his contract?

A: It is inappropriate to talk about a contract right now. Eli is back in the building. He looks great. He is happy to be back. We are glad he is back. We will address that when it is appropriate.

Q: Do you sense that this a real opportunity for Eli this offseason, given that he is not coming off ankle surgery and he has already been in this offense for a year?

A: Yeah, I am excited. It should be a big year for him. He is not learning the offense. A lot of the players were in the offense last year. He’ll get another piece back hopefully with Victor Cruz coming back. The tight ends will have a little bit more experience. I hope the offense – we got [Shane] Vereen, who we think is a good piece to help our offense as well. I think our offense should be a pretty good offense.

Q: Re: Thought process in the signings of Vereen, [Dwayne] Harris, [J.T.] Thomas… What were you after?

A: We were trying to upgrade some positions that we already had. We knew we were going to lose some players. We felt Vereen was a really nice piece. Everyone knows what he does as a receiver out of the backfield, he can run the ball. He is a professional football player back there. He is really good on third down. Really good on any down, to be honest. We thought he would be a nice piece. Went after him and the two linebackers. We thought they were upgrades. They will battle for starting positions. Dwayne Harris, we thought the guy was kind of a four to five tool type player for us. We thought we were getting a lot of players out of one position. We played against him for a long time and he has been a good player for [Dallas]. Hopefully he will bring it over here to us and he will play for us in those capacities.

Q: Where do you view J.T. Thomas’s best position?

A: I don’t know. It is up to the coaches. He looked like a WILL linebacker to me, but that is up to the coaches.

Q: Are you still hoping to get Stevie Brown back?

A: We are going to keep all our options open.

Q: As one of the teams in the league that isn’t quarterback-needy, do you even look at those top two guys?

A: We look at everybody. You never say you aren’t quarterback-needy. You can’t say those kinds of things. Ralph just said we were deep at receiver and you are saying we don’t need a quarterback. I know better than to say something like that.

Q: What is your take on the two quarterbacks at the top of the draft?

A: They are good players. They are both good players. They are both different, but I think they are both, in what they do, I think they are both good players.

Q: Is your expectation that they are going to go one and two?

A: I don’t expect anything. Expect the unexpected in the draft. They may not go until 15, who knows?

Q: You have gone offense the last three years in the first round… Does that go into any decision making?

A: I didn’t even know that. Whoever the best player is at nine – we are going to pick them.

Q: Do you have any concern over Jason Pierre-Paul not being here for the offseason program and not signing the tender yet?

A: It is voluntary and it is inappropriate to talk about player contracts at this point in time. It is not mandatory that he should be here.

Q: After you get an Odell [Beckham Jr.]  and everything that he did in his first season and now you are picking at nine, are there heightened expectations?

A: You always want to get good players in the draft. Sometimes you hit on a guy like Odell and he is a terrific player, but the higher you pick, the better the player should be. When you are picking on the back end, it is obviously not the same caliber.

Q: When you look back at last year’s draft, from top to bottom, how do you evaluate it?

A: We don’t really look back on that draft that much. We draft them and that draft is over. We are moving on to this draft and we are excited about the players in this draft. We go back after two or three years and look and see why a guy made it or why a guy didn’t make it. After one year, it is really hard to evaluate.

Q: Was the approach different in the past two drafts?

A: No.

Q: This week, have you checked in with Odell and how his hamstring is feeling?

A: I just saw Odell a couple of minutes ago down in the weight room. He looks great and he didn’t say a word about his hamstring.

Q: Do you have any injuries that are long-term concerns?

A: There will be a couple guys we have concerns with, but we feel good about the vast majority of our players being ready to go for training camp.

New York Giants Player Q&As: Video clips of Thursday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Apr 232015
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Re-Sign Tight End Larry Donnell: The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent tight end Larry Donnell. Terms of the deal are not yet known but Donnell most likely signed his 1-year, $585,000 tender.

Donnell went from a little-known player to the team’s primary tight end in 2014, playing in all 16 games with 12 starts. Donnell finished the season with 63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns. His 63 catches were tied for ninth-most in the NFL among tight ends.

Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent 2012 on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest. He finished the season with only three catches for 31 yards.

Cornerback Chandler Fenner was the only other exclusive rights free agent of the Giants and he was re-signed earlier this week. For a complete listing of the Giants’ free agent activity, see the 2015 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

Stevie Brown Visits the Texans: According to NFL.com, unrestricted free agent safety Stevie Brown (New York Giants) visited the Houston Texans on Tuesday. Per an earlier update, the Giants are believed to still be interested in re-signing Brown, but at what the team considers a reasonable price.

Giants.com Q&A with CB Prince Amukamara: The video of a Giants.com interview with CB Prince Amukamara is available at Giants.com.

Article on LB Jonathan Casillas: Jersey City native Jonathan Casillas hopes to start for Giants by Yueh Ho for NJ.com

Article on Super Bowl XLII: Spike Lee film looks back at David Tyree’s ‘Greatest Catch Ever’ by Neil Best of Newsday

Apr 202015
 
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Steve Spagnuolo, New Orleans Saints (January 22, 2013)

Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Defensive Players Meet With Steve Spagnuolo: The New York Giants defensive players who participated in today’s first offseason program workouts met with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the other defensive coaches, including new cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.

None of the defensive players who played under Spagnuolo with the Giants in 2007-08 remain on the current roster.

“It was great meeting the new coaches and learning about the tradition of the Giants,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara. “(They talked about) getting back to the pillars starting with the Maras and the Tisches and the players who went before us – the Jessie Armsteads, the Tom Landrys, the LT’s. All of that has been really educating.

“Learning a new defense is definitely a challenge. It is like learning a whole new language every year if that is happening. It is definitely a challenge, but it is a good challenge for all of us.”

Linebacker Jameel McClain was with the Ravens in 2013 when Spagnuolo was a defensive assistant with Baltimore.

“Everyone on the defense is going to find out about Spags,” McClain said. “There isn’t really anything I have to tell them. He is a smart man. He is an honest man. He is a fair man. That is everything that every player wants all together. That is all they need to know about him. The rest of that is that they just go out there and play and we will be great.

“I think everybody will love Spags, not just people on the team, but fans. They already know about Spags. They know what he brings to the game. Everybody will buy in and we will have a great defense off of what he brings to the game, too.”

“It’s very exciting,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “If you know anything about Spags and what he has done in this league, you know his defenses get after it. He’s already gone to the Super Bowl with this team. You are excited to play for him and get back to playing that type of defense.”

“I was always a fan of his from afar,” linebacker Jon Beason said. “Now having the opportunity to play for him is something I really look forward to it. I did have a conversation with Antonio Pierce and Jonathan Vilma (linebackers who played for Spagnuolo) and they all had good things to say about him. I am looking forward to it and just trying to do my part and make sure I live up to the hype.”

Pierce played under Spagnulo with the Giants in 2007 and 2008.

“(Pierce) said, ‘You are going to be able to run, which you love,'” Beason said. “He is going to coach you hard. He is very detailed and he is very in the trenches with his guys. He loves what he does. Anytime you have a coach that is passionate about what he does and he loves the game, you want to play hard for him. I am on board. That is what I want to do.”

Injury Update on CB Prince Amukamara: New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara commented on his rehab from the torn right biceps muscle that caused him to miss the final eight games of the 2014 NFL season.

“I would say I am about 90 percent,” Amukamara said. “I have been doing everything. I have been doing the lifts. I have been coming in for treatments, so I should be good.”

Giants.com Player Q&As: Video clips of Giants.com interviews with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Notes and Quotes: Running back Rashad Jennings on the difference between his first and second offseason programs with the Giants: “It is a night and day difference. (I am) not coming in and trying to figure out names and where the bathroom is and the little things that take some thought and energy. It is all about football and executing and making plays. I think (offensive coordinator Ben) McAdoo hit it on the head, saying, ‘Last year we installed a system, and this year we are molding ours.’ It is full speed ahead. The only thing on our minds is doing what we need to do to get into the Super Bowl.”

Giants.com video: Behind the Scenes: Shane Vereen’s first day

Mar 102015
 
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Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (October 16, 2014)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants Sign Shane Vereen: The New York Giants have reportedly signed unrestricted free agent running back Shane Vereen (New England Patriots). The contract is reportedly a 3-year, $12.35 million deal with about $4.75 million in guaranteed money.

The 26-year old Vereen was originally selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In four years in New England, Vereen played in 42 regular-season games with eight starts (six of those coming in 2014). In the 2014 regular-season, Vereen carried the ball 96 times for 391 yards and two touchdowns and caught 52 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes in Super Bowl XLIX. Vereen lacks ideal size and power, but he is an elusive back with good vision and speed. Vereen is one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL as he runs good routes and has good hands. He is also solid in pass protection. Vereen has been somewhat injury prone, completing only one 16-game season.

Giants Sign Jonathan Casillas: The New York Giants have reportedly signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas (New England Patriots). The contract is reportedly a 3-year, $8 million deal.

The 27-year old Casillas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New Orleans Saints after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played for the Saints (2009-11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-14), and Patriots (2014). Last season, Casillas played in five games for the Buccaneers before being traded to the Patriots in late October. In eight games for the Patriots with three starts, Casillas accrued 28 tackles. Casillas lacks ideal size and has issues against the run, but he is speedy linebacker who is good in coverage. He is a good special teams player.

Other New York Giants Free Agent News: Although teams have been free to negotiate with free agents on other teams since Saturday, the official signing period started at 4:00PM on Tuesday, March 10. Here is the latest news on the free agent front for the Giants:

  • A BigBlueInteractive.com source reports that the Giants are involved in trade talks with the New Orleans Saints about defensive end Cameron Jordan.
  • A BigBlueInteractive.com source reports that the Giants are close to a contract extension for cornerback Prince Amukamara, who has one year left on his current contract.
  • Unrestricted free agent safety Antrel Rolle is visiting the Chicago Bears.
  • The NFL Network is reporting that the Giants are out of the running for unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Dan Williams (Arizona Cardinals).
  • The New York Daily News is reporting that the Giants “are definitely in play” for unrestricted free agent safety Ron Parker (Kansas City Chiefs).
  • NJ.com is reporting that the Giants expressed interest in unrestricted free agent safety Da’Norris Searcy (Buffalo Bills). However, Searcy is signing with the Tennessee Titans.
  • ESPN is reporting that the Giants were interested in unrestricted free agent cornerback Buster Skrine (Cleveland Browns), but Skrine was looking for more money than the Giants are willing to pay. Skrine has since signed with the New York Jets.
  • According to a beat writer for the Falcons, unrestricted free agent linebacker Brooks Reed, who the Giants were reportedly interested in, will sign with the Atlanta Falcons.
  • NJ.com is reporting that the Giants only offered unrestricted defensive end Brandon Graham (Philadelphia Eagles) a 1-year contract. Graham re-signed a 4-year, $26 million contract with the Eagles.