Aug 202015
 
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Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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AUGUST 20, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held another training camp practice on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf strain), wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), wide receiver Julian Talley (toe – boot on left foot), right tackle Brandon Mosley (back), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), and safety Cooper Taylor (toe) did not practice.

“It’s feeling better than yesterday,” Cruz said of his calf strain. “They didn’t give me a timetable, but I know how it feels for me right now [compared to] how it did when it first happened. It feels light years better than it did then. I doubt Coach will let me play this weekend, but we’ll see.” Cruz said the calf strain was on a different leg than his knee injury.

Safety Landon Collins (knee sprain) participated in individual drills. Safety Nat Berhe (calf strain) participated in a few practice snaps and did much of the scout team work. He reported no soreness in his calf. Berhe will not play on Saturday against the Jaguars, but he expects to fully practice next week.

“It’s been so long that getting back out there made me realize how much I’ve really, really missed it,” said Berhe. “It was one thing to say I missed it, but to actually get out there on the field, I’m like, ‘Man, this is where I belong.’ So it was good. I got a lot of reps today on scout, and on (special) teams. I was able to get in a couple toward the end of team, I was able to get thrown in for two, three plays. I was good. Just trying to make sure I ran to everything so I can get my cardio back, and just trying to get in shape at this point.

“Everything is really big. You can play your technique no matter what coverage you’re in, or whatever they put you in on the paper. So I just try to make sure I get to the ball and go through my progressions and stuff like that. Just try to keep sharpening.”

Cornerback Chandler Fenner left practice early with a possible hamstring issue.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (dental work) and left guard Justin Pugh (dental work) returned to practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Giants practiced in “uppers” (shoulder pads, but not full pads) this evening. It was a pretty uneventful practice as there was not much contact and the Giants were doing a lot of scout-team work. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Bennett Jackson and Jeromy Miles were once again the first-team safeties.
  • James Jones, Dwayne Harris, Corey Washington, and Geremy Davis received first-team reps at wide receiver in 11-on-11 drills.
  • Jerome Cunningham saw first-team reps at tight end.
  • Geoff Schwartz received second- and then first-team reps at right guard, but John Jerry remained with the first-team offense at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.
  • Linebacker Jon Beason picked off a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington dropped a pass.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit tight end Jerome Cunningham for a touchdown.
  • Wide receiver James Jones caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • Quarterback Ricky Stanzi hit wide receiver Geremy Davis for a touchdown.
  • The Giants ran a wide receiver screen to wide receiver Odell Beckham.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell had two catches during the two-minute drill.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media in the early afternoon before the evening practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: When you bring guys like [Shane] Vereen and James Jones in, is there something beyond what they can do on the field that’s part of the equation?

A: Well, there always is— every opportunity to evaluate is taken, and there’s always thought given to, normal circumstances, to how people are going to fit in and how they’ll not only help us as a team but obviously in representing the Giants, so I would say yes.

Q: With regard to [Shane] Vereen, you haven’t had a lot of pass-catching backs here for a couple of years. How good is he out of the backfield?

A: Well, he had an exceptional year a year ago. In certain situations, he was dominant because people played certain coverages and [Tom] Brady dropped the ball off. The catch and the run were a huge part of their [the New England Patriots’] offense, and we felt like that ingredient, in addition to some of the other people that we would pose as threats, would really do a good job of accommodating the rest of our offense.

Q: Is Victor [Cruz] going to play this week?

A: Probably not.

Q: What have you seen offensively and defensively in terms of your team responding after Friday?

A: I would say it’s been a good week of practice— certainly last night was very spirited. The first night of the week, Sunday night, was when you saw all the offensive production with Odell [Beckham Jr.] and Victor [Cruz] and Larry [Donnell] getting involved, and Eli throwing the ball down the field— he threw the ball down the field again last night, which was good— but I’ll continue to say what I said yesterday. They have to practice for us to advance in terms of the passing game— the timing, the significance of knowing exactly when people are reacting to coverage and adjusting their routes, etc. That all has to be seen through the eyes of the quarterback, and it’s been very rare that we’ve had the whole group out there to practice with. But there are some other guys that are getting a lot of time and will get a lot of time this weekend, and in the long run, it’s going to be good for our team.

Q: Is [Rueben] Randle still out?

A: As of now, he is.

Q: Odell will be back today?

A: Today he’s going to work, yes.

Q: Is there anyone else besides Victor [Cruz] that you know you’re not going to play in the game on Saturday? Rueben [Randle], I assume, at this point?

A: Well, we’ll see about all of that. I’m not going to project anything just yet. We’ve had some guys that have been out that are going to remain out.

Q: You have a ton of playmakers on offense— what’s your confidence level in your defense right now?

A: My confidence level is growing, but we’ve got to, again, test ourselves in these preseason games. This weekend will be an outstanding test because you have a team that’s trying to be very physical and wants to run the ball, has a good run defense, so it’ll be a good test.

Q: Who will start on the right side of your offensive line Saturday?

A: In all likelihood, J.J. [John Jerry] and Marshall [Newhouse]. Same combination, but obviously [Geoff] Schwartz is going to get his opportunity to play in there.

Q: At both spots maybe?

A: We’ll see. Possibly.

Q: How are Prince [Amukamara] and Nat Berhe coming along?

A: Prince practiced yesterday. Prince had about 15 plays yesterday, which was good to see. Hopefully he’ll be able to do some more. [Nat] Berhe does nothing but individual.

Q: What have you seen from [Brandon] Meriweather?

A: He’s trying to understand what we want of him and understand the terminology as best he can. He starts to grasp it— yesterday was a little bit better than the day before.

Q: So how much will he play Saturday?

A: Probably a limited amount, since he’s been here a very short time and this will be his first experience.

Q: Who do you likely expect to start in that secondary in this preseason game? Do you want to shuffle them?

A: You’ll see. I mean, it’s not going to be anything complicated. I’ll let you know that.

Q: With the new extra point rules, have you spent any extra time thinking about what your strategy will be?

A: Well, I have. As you see, many people came out last weekend and just went for two, but the advantage there is no different than it ever was. I think it’s just as important to kick extra points from 33 yards as it is to go for two. I think the real interesting concept there is a defensive penalty. A defensive penalty puts a ball at the one, so most people are going to go for the two points then.

Q: So the fact that statistically it makes sense that there will be more extra points missed, so that difference… wouldn’t it affect your thinking?

A: Well, as I’ve said before, the old extra point circumstance was 99 point something, and a 33-yard field goal was 94 something— so in between there, yeah it’s something. But still, I don’t think until late— you know, you’re talking maybe after November, after Thanksgiving, in December before any of those issues, I think, come up. I’m hoping that our percentages, in terms of 33-yard extra points, are going to be 100 percent— just like I always think.

Q: So, let’s say it’s a bad day in December here [MetLife Stadium]. Would you literally be in touch with the kicker as to what he thinks about kicking a 33-yard field goal and trying for an extra point at that point in the game?

A: Not necessarily at that point in the game, but obviously pregame, we’d go through all that and it would be part of the questions that I always ask. You know, ‘How far— what’s the distance like today from both ends?’ I get a feel for what the wind is, now that the wind is an issue during the course of the game, and you have to revisit it, so it’s a constant.

Q: Any projection on how deep your first teamers are going to go on Saturday night?

A: Play a little more probably than they did the other day.

Q: What are you looking to see from them in general?

A: Improvement. Improvement.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR TOM QUINN…
Tom Quinn addressed the media on Thursday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: Josh Brown’s leg has gotten stronger on kickoffs in the last couple of years. Have you seen that and is that rare to happen for a player in that stage of his career?

A: I don’t think so. I think they’re obviously learning about their bodies and nutrition and training and taking care of their bodies and managing their kicks. They are pretty serious about how many kicks we do in a week and in a day, so we don’t try and kick our leg out. It’s a long season and a long process, so we try and keep him fresh but then he also does a lot of work in the weight room, which is showing up.

Q: When Dwayne Harris was signed, he was supposedly for special teams [or] wherever you wanted to put him. Is that still the case?

A: Yeah, I hope so. If he is a receiver and he can play on all the big four teams, he can be the returner, the gunner, the kickoff coverage, so we are excited about him going forward.

Q: Is he the primary kickoff and punt returner at this point?

A: Yeah, I mean at this point in the preseason, we are trying to get as many guys opportunities to see what they can do, so we will roll a lot of different guys back there to see what we have.

Q: How did Akeem Hunt look kick returning?

A: He looked fast. There was a big hole. I hoped he would have finished it off more and not gotten nudged out of bounds, dive in there and keep scrambling and trying to cutback and trying to score, but he has got quickness, so, so far so good with him.

Q: How has Geremy Davis been progressing so far?

A: He’s progressing. He really works hard at it [and] he really has a lot of upside. He didn’t do a lot of it in college, so a lot of it is new to him, but he has really taken to the coaching and he tries hard and works hard, so we’ve been pleased with him.

Q: Is it almost like working with a blank canvas with him?

A: A little bit. I was trying to tell these guys to use your skill set and we will put you in the right position, so if you are a receiver, be a receiver. If you are good at avoiding guys, that is how you cover a kick, so you keep it simple for them and he has done that.

Q: Where do you see him? Gunner?

A: That is [where] we are starting him out. We are starting him out there and he will play all four teams, which he did last week, and try and give him enough reps to show what he can do.

Q: You kind of alluded to it. How different is it to get off the line as a wide receiver as opposed to a gunner?

A: Well, a lot of times as a gunner you have two guys standing in front of you, so you have to pick one and make that the battle…there are limitations on being able to go out of bounds and come back in and all those things and the rules they have to understand. It is just a mentality, it is hard. You talk to David Tyree and you have to earn your money out there and a lot of young guys, it is a whole new experience and they really don’t do that much in college the way college is played, so it is a little bit of a transition.

Q: How much of a loss is Mykelle Thompson?

A: We were really excited for him. He is a guy that [had] shown in the spring and the start of training camp that he could really add some value. He is smart, got great speed, had some size to him, so that will be a loss. It is too bad for him.

Q: Do you do anything different extra-point wise?

A: No, we had the two or three preseason games with it last year. I think three because we had the Hall of Fame game and if we kick our field goals, we start at the 15. We always kick a PAT first and then go from there. I think you will get more pressure, more of a chance to block it, so you will have to be ready to anchor down and treat them just like a field goal.

Q: Offensive linemen don’t seem to be that much for it?

A: Well, they better be for points. I understand, but that play has always been a violent play and they have done some things to make it safer, but I think if they use good technique, they will be all right.

Q: You always look at Zak DeOssie for his reliability with snapping but when you see him make that tackle in Cincinnati, can you just talk about the contributions he makes on special teams?

A: He is a great leader in the room. We have grown up with him from when he was a rookie to the point he is at now and he does have the ability to cover and tackle. When he first came into the league, he was a little bit rare but now with the rules of not being able to line up over the center and some different things, more and more guys are starting to become more athletic like he is but he does add great value because he is a football player, he isn’t just a specialist who snaps. He was brought here as a linebacker, played some linebacker early and then had to become a snapper.

Q: What are the goals for the special teams for you in particular?

A: Obviously, the net punt and the punt return. We want to make a big difference on the opponent’s punts and our punts. We need to see a big swing there; we spent some money with bringing guys in to get that done.

Q: So that is what the focus is on?

A: Yeah, I mean you focus on all of them. You don’t neglect one or the other but kickoff and kickoff return nowadays, half of the kicks are returned and half of them are covered, but all the punts and punt returns and that is the biggest impact nowadays, so we have to really make that go with a lot of time and effort.

Q: Have you shifted the time you spend on those two?

A: A little bit. We’ve always spent a lot of time on punt, obviously, and then [we] spend a little more time on punt return than we normally do.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants will hold a walk-thru on Friday before Saturday’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only one remaining training camp practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 162015
 
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Brandon Meriweather, Washington Redskins (October 12, 2014)

Brandon Meriweather – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 16, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held another training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY BRANDON MERIWEATHER, WAIVE KICKER CHRIS BOSWELL…
The New York Giants have officially signed unrestricted free agent Brandon Meriweather, who has played with the New England Patriots (2007-10), Chicago Bears (2011), and Washington Redskins (2012-14). The 31-year old Meriweather is a two-time Pro Bowler (2009 and 2010) who has a history of being suspended by the NFL for illegal hits.

The Giants also waived place kicker Chris Boswell and placed safety Mykkele Thompson (torn Achilles’ tendon) on season-ending Injured Reserve. Because Thompson is not a vested veteran, he will continue to count toward the Club’s 90-man roster limit.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (stiff neck), cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (neck/concussion), safety Landon Collins (knee sprain), and safety Nat Berhe (calf strain) did not practice.

The Giants provided the following updates on those who did not practice:

  • WR Rueben Randle (day-to-day)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (day-to-day)
  • CB Chykie Brown (week-to-week)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion protocol; cervical issue still being evaluated)
  • S Landon Collins (day-to-day)
  • S Nat Berhe (day-to-day)

Amukamara and Berhe worked with the trainers on the side before practice.

Right guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle) and linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) returned to practice. Right tackle Marshall Newshouse left practice after overheating.

PRACTICE NOTES…
The Giants practiced in full pads today. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Cornerback Trevin Wade received some first-team reps.
  • Geoff Schwartz saw reps both at right guard and right tackle, filling in for either right guard John Jerry or right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw touchdown passes to wide receiver Odell Beckham, tight end Larry Donnell, and wide receiver Victor Cruz.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz looked quick and decisive in and out of cuts.
  • Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw a long completion to wide receiver James Jones.
  • Cornerback Mike Harris, playing left cornerback, had nice deep coverage on wide receiver Odell Beckham.
  • Left tackle Ereck Flowers looked good handling defensive ends George Selvie and Damontre Moore in team drills.
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington made a diving sideline catch on a pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Safety Cooper Taylor intercepted a slant pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib to wide receiver James Jones in the red zone.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham made a leaping sideline catch over cornerback Trevin Wade.
  • Cornerback Trevin Wade then deflected a deep pass to wide receiver Preston Parker that safety/cornerback Bennett Jackson dove to intercept to end practice.

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

Q: How much does Shane Vereen give you maybe a different dimension in regards to the backfield?

A: I think Shane brings a lot to the table. He’s a veteran, he knows what he’s doing, he’s smart, he’s tough, he can make a lot of plays both in the run game and the pass game. I think he brings a lot to the table from his experience and we can use him in a lot ways. We can use him on early downs, we can use him on third down, and so far he’s really acclimated to our system.

Q: With three talented running backs, how hard is it to get them all snaps and be able to even out playing time?

A: That’s a work in progress. We’re still trying to get through all that in the preseason and find out just how we’re going to get that done. It probably won’t be arrived at until we get ready to play our first game, but what we’re trying to do right now is put every guy in situations and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are in each situation and then when we get closer to game time, we’re going to try and figure out close to a rotation and try to make sure everybody gets their touches so they can help us win.

Q: It’s good to have this depth compared to last year, right?

A: There’s no coach that I know of who doesn’t want competition at their position. So yes, I think they all bring a lot to the table.

Q: Does Rashad Jennings look any different to you? Is there anything he did in the offseason that you look at him and say he’s taken his game up a notch at all?

A: I would probably say this about Rashad, he is one of the hardest workers I know. He trains religiously. I would say, like myself, both of us are second year in the offense. I think from that alone, he works hard for the game both on and off the field and that is where I think he is probably going to make his greatest improvements. It’s just being more comfortable in our system in his second year.

Q: What do you think about Andre Williams’ progression so far?

A: I think Andre did a really good job. He was our leading rusher as a rookie last year. I thought he started off kind of slow. He started understanding the game, understanding his pace and timing to get into the hole, he found out that in the NFL, holes close really quickly, but I think he’s done a really good job. He has tirelessly worked on the stuff he needed to work on. We all knew that when he came out of college he did not have a catch his last year and I can’t tell you how many hours he spent on catching the football. He knew that was something he had to get better at, he’s done that and he is walking around with the confidence of a guy that’s played (and) knows that he can get it done on this field and he’s continued to do that.

Q: What were your takeaways from the preseason game of your unit?

A: I would say because we did not win the game, I’m never happy. I would say that our guys, I thought, were okay. I don’t think they really stood out. They didn’t not lose the game, but they didn’t help win it. I told them all they need to pick it up as a unit. I think we can do a better job. One thing I will certainly single out is I thought Orleans Darkwa really had a good game in every phase. He did a good job running the ball, which everybody can see those stats, but he also did a really good job in his pass protection and his passing game routes where he was supposed to be. As I told him, that’s the kind of play I want to see out of all of them this year. Orleans was good last week, but as I told him, I don’t want to see one-week wonders, I want to see him continue to improve.

Q: Talking about how you want them to pick it up, it seems to be the underlying theme of the entire game. What did they need to do that you didn’t see them do on the field?

A: Well, I’d like to see them, if there’s something there, make more of it. If there’s nothing there, still have a positive play so we’ll stay on track on down and distance. So make sure we can get ourselves in the 2nd and 6 and 3rd and 2 and so on and so forth. So all a back can do is when his number is called to make the right read if it’s a run or the right protection or the right catch. I just think that we were playing at a higher level in practice and I’d just like to see that get carried over to the game.

Q: What is it about Orleans that sort of stood out to you about his game the other day?

A: I thought he really showed good speed to the hole, but I think even more so, I think he did a great job of setting up his blocks. And if you really go back and watch the film and verified that, that he was really in good timing with his line, and he knew how to get right to the hole and explode it through the hole and he had really good finishes. He did a really good job—all backs want to do is finish forward and get the extra yardage. That helps add up, it helps put that 3rd and 6, maybe a 3rd and 3 or 3rd and 2. I thought he really did a good job with that.

Q: You mentioned the work Andre’s done on improving as a receiver. Has it worked?

A: When I watch him, I can just tell you I got a chance to watch him in the Combine and I would say he’s a much changed player from the player I saw in the Combine coming out from Boston College to the player I see today. I think one of the greatest examples happened was the swing pass that he caught. It’s a very difficult catch in that he did not see the ball thrown, so when he turned around the ball was on him and as a back, that’s a tough situation. I would probably say in Boston College coming here, that would probably be a dropped pass. I think he’s worked really hard on his hands, he’s going to continue to work at that and he was able to execute the catch, which allowed him to catch the ball and run. As the backs know, I don’t care how they get the yardage, whether it’s in the pass catching game or the run game, I want anything they can do to help us win.

Q: We see him after practice on the Juggs machine, but something like you’re talking about, that’s a game situation. How does he simulate that and get better at that?

A: We try to put him in situations like that all the time in practice. I know he does a lot of work with catching tennis balls, he’s got a little thing he does that with someone in the training room and we have some drills that we do in the pregame. As I told him in our meeting today, we practice that exact scenario on the practice field. We do it as one of our pregame warmups and basically it’s a blind and draw ball drill and so the backs have got to turn around and locate the ball as it’s in the air, which is exactly what he had to do. So we were fortunate that sometimes you like as a coach when your drill carries over to the field. In that example it did.

Q: Did you throw the ball to him in that drill or is it a machine?

A: No, I actually throw the ball. I was a quarterback in my other days, but it’s only about a four or five-yard distance because I know my limitations.

LINEBACKERS COACH JIM HERRMANN…
Jim Herrmann addressed the media on Monday (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What did you see from your group, what is your overview of them this summer?

A: The biggest thing that I was looking at when we went in the game, as a group, we were talking about block destruction. Getting off blocks and getting to the ball. There’s quite a few plays in there where we did that. We can always improve. There were spaces in there where we can get better at, that was what I was looking for—block destruction, being where you’re supposed to be, knocking guys back, getting off the ball and making some plays. A couple of the guys did a good job in there, and we’re always looking to improve, but that was the biggest thing going into the game was, knock back and getting off and making plays.

Q: Looked like Unga had a good night for you guys. Can you talk about his development?

A: He did a great job, as a young player. I don’t know how long exactly it’s been since he’s actually played in a game because he was hurt his senior year, didn’t play last year. So it’s been about a year and three quarters since he’s played in a true game. I thought he did a great job of taking over the role as the Mike backer and making calls, he made a great call in there and got the guys lined up. Did a good job, and I like his development. I think he’s doing a great job of—he got in on a few plays, made a hell of a play tipping the ball. I think he’s going to get better and better as he goes.

Q: Do you have any idea of when you’re going to get Jameel McClain back?

A: You have to ask the medical guys. I’m not a doctor, unfortunately.

Q: Unga seems like he’s got some athleticism.

A: He does, he’s got some range. He’s a stocky young man, but he has range. He can move around in there, so that’s what we saw on his college film prior to his injury coming out of college. That’s why we brought him in, he showed some good stuff.

Q: How did Jon Beason look to you?

A: Good. I think Jon [Beason]—it’s been awhile since he’s played, too. He did a great job of commanding the defense and getting the calls out and getting himself in position to make plays. Made a couple plays, and I like what I saw in his limited snaps.

Q: What are your options at middle linebacker if Jameel isn’t there behind Jon? Who would you move around if you needed to? Devon Kennard or J.T. Thomas or Mark Herzlich?

A: What we’ve always done, to me, every guy has their position and they all have alternate positions based on what we know about different guys. So there’s a lot of different options you can go to. Normally you go into a game maybe five, maybe six backers on the 46 [game day roster.] So everybody is going to have to play dual roles. You just have to, each week that changes because of injuries. All the guys know how to go in there and do it. I feel confident that all those guys could take over that role. The guys that are alternates, they could do it.

Q: Is that an option for Devon, or would you rather keep him outside?

A: Yeah, but this past spring and even some of last year, we put him some at Mike. He has an ability, he does a great job of getting the calls out, and knowing where to play. He’s a big backer, big man. He does a good job with that.

Q: How much has Kennard’s pass rush improved?

A: I think it’s better and better now that we’re asking him to do some of that. The quandary that you come into is he’s got to cover and do cover stuff, and then we want him to rush. You’ve just got to be able to balance that as a staff and decide when he can go down and do some rush stuff and when he can do the coverage stuff, because you can’t do all just, so he’s got to do both. He does a good job. He’s played out there in college, so it’s not like it’s foreign to him. Very similar to Victor Butler, he’s played out there, he’s done that, so it’s not foreign to him. Just have to keep getting their reps when they can.

Q: What do you see from J.T.? What are some of his strengths and some of the things that you’re trying to work on?

A: I think both those new guys, J.T. [Thomas] and [Jonathan] Casillas, both have a lot of range, they can run, their speed, they’re both tough guys. Just the ability to have a speed guy out there, it helps when we go to sub [package], if they have to cover down on a tight end. That’s really what you see out of those type of guys, they can walk out on a guy and not feel uncomfortable. So that’s what you get. Then, the fact that they can run. In this game you have to be able to run, and you’re a backside pursuit guy—being able to run the ball down and do those types of things. Both those guys show that kind of stuff.

Q: You see Casillas in certain packages and J.T. as well, is that the way you’re looking at it? You’re going to try and fit these guys in based on their skill as much as possible?

A: Right now we’re just trying to get our stuff in, our package in, and where they fit and that kind of stuff. As we narrow it down, it’s going to about, ‘Okay, who best fits where? How are we going to play this game? It is going to be a three-backer game, two-backer game? How are we going to play that?’ A lot of that will depend on the opponent. So they give you a lot of flexibility because they can play either-or, so the flexibility is nice as a coach.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The next training camp practice will be held on Monday but is closed to the public. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only three remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 112015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 11, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their ninth summer training camp practice on Tuesday outside of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio in a joint practice session against the Bengals. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS RELEASE FIRST OFFICIAL DEPTH CHART…
The Giants released their first official depth chart on Monday. See the Depth Chart section of the website for details.

INJURY REPORT…
Not making the trip to Cincinnati were Geoff Schwartz (coming off of ankle surgery), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), and safety Nat Berhe (calf).

Linebacker Jon Beason told NJ.com that he expects McClain to return to practice next week. McClain has also tweeted that he is doing well.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Chykie Brown, but he could not provide an update.

Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) made the trip to Cincinnati but did not practice. “Regular protocol is to shut it down a little bit for a couple days to let the (cortisone) shot do the healing,” Amukamara said. “It’s definitely not 3-4 weeks. They know it’s definitely not, I know it’s definitely not. It all depends on how I feel the next couple days.”

Wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery) participated in Giants-only drills, not the practice periods that involved the Bengals.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis) did very little work. “Tendinitis,” said Coughlin about Randle. “We thought he was doing pretty good last night.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
The Giants and Bengals practiced in full pads. Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team offensive line was composed of Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, John Jerry at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.
  • Left tackle Ereck Flowers did well against Bengals right defensive end Karl Dunlap.
  • Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg made good blocks on a screen pass to running back Shane Vereen.
  • Guard Michael Bamiro looked good.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell made a nice juggling catch. (Video)
  • Quarterback Eli Manning’s pass intended for wide receiver James Jones was intercepted and returned for a defensive touchdown.
  • In 7-on-7 drills, running back Andre Williams and tight ends Adrien Robinson and Daniel Fells all dropped passes.
  • Wide receiver Geremy Davis made a tough catch in traffic, and later made another catch on a comeback route. He had a good day.
  • The first-team safeties were Jeromy Miles and Landon Collins.
  • Safety Bennett Jackson broke up a seam pass to Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones. Jackson also saw some action at nickel corner.
  • Safety Bennett Jackson and cornerback Trevin Wade would have had sacks on blitzes from the nickel spot had this been a real game.
  • Defensive ends George Selvie and Robert Ayers pressured Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for what would have been a sack in a real game.
  • Fullback Henry Hynoski made a good block on the edge on a run by running back Andre Williams.
  • Defensive end Damontre Moore pushed Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth five yards into the backfield on one play at the snap of the ball.
  • Wide receiver Julian Talley caught everything thrown in his direction.
  • Despite good pressure from defensive end Robert Ayers, quarterback Andy Dalton connected with wide receiver A.J. Green for a touchdown against cornerback Jayron Hosley. Hosley did well against Green for much of practice but struggled against him late in the day.
  • Bengals running back Jeremy Hill broke off a big run for a touchdown against the Giants defense.
  • Safety Jeromy Miles made a nice a leaping pass defense against Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.
  • Linebacker Devon Kennard looked comfortable rushing the passer from a down position.
  • According to Giants.com, the three standout players were wide receiver Odell Beckham, linebacker Jon Beason, and left tackle Ereck Flowers.

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

Q: Un-training camp-like weather? Not as humid?

A: Yes. Not sure what the humidity normally is here. We’ve had some nice humidity from where we came from.

Q: Tom, what did you think of the work you got done?

A: It’s good to get to work against another team. Both teams did a good job of making sure that, although they were fast and crisp, for the most part kept the piles to a minimum and did a good job that way. I thought the initial special teams drills were good. Then I picked my spots the rest of the way. But it’s good to work against the Bengals. Marvin (Lewis) did a very good job of preparing his team for this and our guys came in and did a nice job as well.

Q: What was it about the special teams that you liked so much?

A: It was very crisp and we had some good penetration. They did too, unfortunately, but I liked it. I liked the tempo of it.

Q: Tom, how is it important that you and Marvin seem simpatico? It has to be a guy you trust.

A: It has to be someone you trust because obviously there is an awful lot at stake when you work but it is good for your team to work against someone else, the intensity goes up a notch and they realize all the drills are meant for their own improvement and to get a handle on where your team exactly is. I think from that standpoint, I thought the Bengals did a good job preparing for us and things went well.

Q: Was there any point where you had to settle the guys down or you thought they did a good job?

A: No, there was none of that.

Q: Tom, has (Jayron) Hosley looked very different to you on the outside this year? I know he’s been on the inside for a little while.

A: I’m hoping. He certainly came back in excellent condition and I think he’s very serious about it right now and he’s trying and he senses this is a critical, critical camp for him. We’re all hoping he comes through in the fashion we thought of him when we drafted him.

Q: Coach Coughlin, Paul Brown—the only reason I ask this is because I know you have an appreciation for the history of the game—Paul Brown, did he have any effect on you, really what you’re doing now with a variation of the offense?

A: When I was 12 years old, after a game, probably a Giant playoff game, I sent him a note and he sent one back. That was the highlight of someone of his stature of that time reacting to me sitting there critiquing his game at the age of, like, 12. Tremendous history. All you have to do is think about the man’s success and his career, way back in the beginning, high school.

Q: Jon Beason earlier today was saying that these two practices are very important for the starters. How would you view that?

A: Well, it’s important for everyone. Not just the starters, but it is important to them because it does lead up to a game in which normally he  doesn’t get many snaps.

Q: …

A: From time to time. Some spot things that I thought were good. I wanted to look at all the different one-on-one stuff because that may be where you formulate all your parts right there before you get into the screen passes. So I look forward to seeing that.

Q: What do you think of your offensive line from here?

A: Well, that’s what I want to look at.

Q: A lot of the things the Bengals were talking about looking forward to going against players like Eli and Odell, how do you think that turned out today as you watched?

A: Well, obviously both teams are going into their first preseason game so you’re operating with just what you have in up or not from the development, what we’re doing offensively. I thought it was—for Eli to get out there with pressure and recognizing where the pressure is coming from, adjusting the cover protections, signaling the receivers different kinds of plays, so on and so forth. I think that’s good.

Q: On how important is this preseason going to be for Ryan Nassib?

A: Very, very important. For his development, yeah, this is where, again, he takes that next step. He took a nice step a year ago and hopefully he’ll do it again this preseason.

Q: What are you looking for during these practices in the preseason that tells you he’s making that kind of progress?

A: Moving the ball, control the offense, put points on the board.

Q: Rueben Randle, on sideline with ice on his knees…

A: Tendinitis. We thought he was doing pretty good last night.

Re: benefits of joint practices in player evaluation

A: It’s good. It’s very good. It’s good to see them against another team. People you know are outstanding players. It’s good.

Q: You got a lot out of practice today. Tomorrow, is that the plan? Are you going to do the same? Are you going to…

A: Basically the same but no, there are some other drills that we’re going to use.

Q: Have you gotten an update on Chykie Brown?

A: No, not really.

Q: Did what Odell get out of team drills, is that what you were hoping to see?

A: Yeah, I think he did. I went back and forth between both fields and really didn’t just stand there and watch the office per say but I’m sure he got a good workout. Hopefully, he’ll come back tomorrow.

Q: I’m sure you know what happened in the Jets locker room today. Have you ever heard anything like that?

A: I’m trying to make sure that our locker room is very, very—it’s a disappointing and sad thing. That’s all I can tell you.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants hold another joint practice session against the Bengals on Wednesday outside of Paul Brown Stadium starting at 3:15PM. There will be a jog-thru practice on Thursday in advance of Friday’s Giants-Bengals preseason game.

The next training camp practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be held on Sunday, August 16th from 5:50-7:50PM. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only four remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Aug 022015
 
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Geremy Davis and Jayron Hosley, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Geremy Davis and Jayron Hosley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 1, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their second summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

JAMES JONES OFFICIALLY SIGNED, MATT LaCOSSE AND BRAD HARRAH WAIVED…
The Giants have officially announced the signing of unrestricted free agent wide receiver James Jones.  Jones will wear #89. The Giants have waived/injured tight end Matt LaCosse (hamstring) and defensive end Brad Harrah (quad).

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (recovering from knee surgery), safety Nat Berhe (calf), and safety Mykkele Thompson (hamstring) were held to a limited number of snaps. The Giants want to work them back in slowly. Offensive guard John Jerry (sick) was limited.

Tight end Jerome Cunningham and wide receiver Preston Parker had to leave practice early with cramps.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit tight end Jerome Cunningham (now wearing #86) for a touchdown.
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa saw some first-team reps at defensive end with Robert Ayers.
  • The defense performed well on Saturday with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Landon Collins, and safety Bennett Jackson each making a couple of pass break-ups.
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson made a nice catch.
  • Safety Nat Berhe saw some time with the second-team defense.
  • Cornerback Jayron Hosley had a good practice.
  • Wide receiver Geremy Davis made another nice reception and has looked good early.
  • Running back Andre Williams has looked quicker than last year and has received some first-team reps in practice.

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

Q: Did you get word on what happened to Preston Parker yet?

A: Cramp.

Q: I just saw Jerome Cunningham go off on a cart…

A: Cramp.

Q: Are you going to be in some kind of pads tomorrow?

A: Uppers, yes.

Q: You had two guys with cramps here, a guy with a hamstring injury. Does that concern you? You wanted guys to arrive in shape.

A: They’re in shape. Evidently, they didn’t hydrate well enough. One guy had had the runs, one of those deals. So, try as you might, you’re still going to get these things. No matter who you try to blame, it’s going to happen. It’s 90 degrees.

Q: Has Cunningham shown you a little bit?

A: Yesterday he did well. I didn’t think too many people on offense showed me anything today. He did a few good things yesterday.

Q: We hear a lot of the players saying “be where your feet are.” Where does that come from?

A: Mindfulness. Mindfulness. If you’re going to be in the gym, be in the gym. Be where your feet are. Stay in the moment. Take care of one moment at a time. While you’re here, you deal with your football, deal with your job. It’s all the same type of theme.

Q: Who came up with that? Where was it discovered?

A: Well, we studied it this offseason as a staff. We’ve always had lots of statements about things of that nature. It’s just been reinforced more heavily, to the point where the guys are repeating it.

Q: Did James Jones come in as advertised?

A: Yes. Seemed like he was in good shape. Took some snaps today.

Q: Do you think he will acclimate more quickly. He thinks the offense is very similar to Green Bay.

A: The terminology, yes.

Q: Is his ability to do things in the red zone something that you liked?

A: Well, we’ll see. Hopefully it’s that, and in the field as well. It doesn’t have to be just the red zone.

Q: What have you seen from Ereck Flowers and Landon Collins? The two rookies starting right from the get-go.

A: I haven’t seen anything particularly good or bad just yet. It’s very early. They’re both working hard.

Q: Any word from JPP yet?

A: Not to my knowledge, no.

Q: Is Larry Donnell over the Achilles tendinitis from the spring?

A: He’s practiced and he’s done well with that.

Q: I haven’t seen John Jerry that much. Does he have something?

A: He was sick yesterday, and kind of sick today but he kept going. He took some reps today.

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

RELATED ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The third training camp practice will be held on Sunday from 2:30-4:30PM. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only seven remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • Sunday, August 2: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
  • Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
  • Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM
Jul 202015
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Running Back Rashad Jennings – © 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: Running Backs

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: 2014 was a major transition year for the New York Giants at the running back position. The two backs most-associated with the team’s recent Super Bowl seasons – Brandon Jacobs (2005-11, 2013) and Ahmad Bradshaw (2007-12) – were both completely out of the picture. Heading into training camp, it was anticipated that free agent acquisition Rashad Jennings, 2012 first-round draft pick David Wilson, and 2014 fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams would form the core of the new running attack. However, Wilson’s NFL career prematurely ended when he re-aggravated a neck injury he originally suffered in the 2013 season. He was forced to retire from the NFL in training camp. It was a major blow for the Giants as not only was Wilson particularly well-suited for Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, but he was one of the few home-run hitters on the team and a dynamic kickoff returner.

Without Wilson, the Giants were largely a between-the-tackles and off-tackle team that was unable to consistently threaten the perimeter of the defense. With a group of blockers on the line and at tight end who were not very physical and often struggled to move defenders off of the line of scrimmage, the running backs did not have much room to operate. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that Jennings was limited to nine starts due to knee and ankle injuries. Reserves Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox also ended up on Injured Reserve in November. The Giants were forced to scramble by picking up Orleans Darkwa and Chris Ogbonnaya.

At fullback, Henry Hynoski beat out John Conner in training camp and the preseason. However, the fullback position was de-emphasized in McAdoo’s system in favor of multiple tight end sets. Nikita Whitlock was signed to the Practice Squad in December.

In the end, the Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt and 23rd in the NFL with 100.2 rushing yards per game. New York was tied for 12th in rushing touchdowns with 13. For a team that was 10th in the NFL in rushing attempts, these figures simply were not good enough.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants cut David Wilson and Peyton Hillis in February, Michael Cox in April, and Chris Ogbonnaya in May. The Giants signed unrestricted free agent Shane Vereen from the New England Patriots in March. After the draft, the team signed rookie free agents Akeem Hunt and Kenneth Harper.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Provided everyone stays healthy, the Giants appear to have a nice triumvirate in Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Andre Williams. The main focus, of course, will be if the team can dramatically improve its ground game productivity. It’s been a common misperception by national media and fans that the Giants have been a running back-based offense. Nothing could be farther from the truth as the Giants have ranked 32nd (Super Bowl team), 14th, 29th, and 23rd in yards per game since 2010. Obviously much of the success or failure of the running game will depend on the blocking of the offensive line and tight ends. But the primary unknown is how good can Jennings, Vereen, and Williams really be? Is this a middle-of-pack, average group of runners or something more than that?

Not enough attention has been focused on comments made late in the season by Andre Williams who made it clear he felt some of the team’s running game issues were the fault of the coaching staff.

“We were dabbling a lot between schemes, whether we were outside zone, whether we were a zone team or a power team, what fit our personnel the best,” Williams said. “As we continue to learn the offense and learn what we’re good at, we’re bound to get better…I just don’t know if we knew when and where we were supposed to do what.”

Hopefully, with a full first season together under their belt, Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo have decided what scheme the team should employ and stick with. The clarity should dramatically facilitate better execution and results.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will keep three or four halfbacks and one fullback. Henry Hynoski is heavily favored to retain his fullback roster spot over Nikita Whitlock. Orleans Darkwa has a good shot to make the team if the team keeps four running backs, but won’t make it if they keep three. The best shot for Akeem Hunt and Kenneth Harper is the Practice Squad.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Craig Johnson on Shane Vereen: “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.”

Johnson on Rashad Jennings: “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.”

Johnson on Andre Williams: “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.”

Johnson on Orleans Darkwa: “Orleans Darkwa, who played for us a lot last year, played a lot of teams and has done a good job. He 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.”

Johnson on the fullbacks: “(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.”

PREDICTIONS: Vereen is going to have a major impact on the offense as a receiver out of the backfield. Ben McAdoo’s West Coast system is heavily dependent on a running back who can catch the ball. Rashad Jennings can do it too, but he missed half the season last year. Plus, Vereen is simply a better receiving target. The Giants are already thrilled with what they see from him.

“(Vereen) can be a quarterback’s best friend in a way in the passing game,” McAdoo said during the June mini-camp. “Similar to the way tight ends can be. He has great body language coming out of the backfield. He usually does not fool (Eli Manning) and they seem to be on the same page.”

With opposing defense’s concentrating on Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle, Vereen should feast on the soft under-coverage. Indeed, Vereen may be the best running back outlet that Manning has had since Tiki Barber. Many fans forget that Barber caught over 100 passes and almost 1,000 yards from Manning in 2005-2006, including many well-executed screens. Vereen’s receiving skills are so good that we’ll even see the Giants split him out wide. Vereen may also be used as a runner more than many expect. He gives the Giants more outside quickness.

A lot of fans don’t think Andre Williams is very good. I’m not one of them. He was far too productive in college and flashed too much late in the season for me not to still be excited about his potential. I don’t think he was scapegoating but being being honest about the coaches not sticking with one scheme last year. I also think he realizes that he needs to develop better patience as a runner in McAdoo’s offense.

“I’m always about accelerating,” said Williams late last season. “In college and in high school, that’s what I watched a lot of other backs do. They got from 0 to 60 as quick as possible and it caught people off guard. But it’s a little different in this scheme. It’s all about timing and being in the right place for things to open up the way they should. That’s what I’m working on right now.”

“All young players, they have a tendency to really get in a hurry, but I think that he is getting more patient as he continues to go,” said Johnson of Williams late last year. “What he is going through, the process of right now, getting more carries and so on, is timing and rhythm with the offensive line. That’s the bottom line. They block in a certain rhythm and a certain pace, he runs at a certain rhythm and a certain pace. Everybody’s trying to mesh that together to make sure we have an effective running game.”

“I tell him,” Jennings said of Williams, “you don’t necessarily want to be quick to the hole, you want to be quick through the hole.”

I really like Jennings as a runner and receiver, but I think Williams is going to push for major playing time. He’s a punishing, physical runner who once he has a feel for the scheme is going to give a physicality to the offense that it desperately needs similar to what Alfred Morris brings to the Redskins.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Jennings, Vereen, Williams, and Hynoski. The team would like to keep Darkwa too, but roster spots are short.

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 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 252015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Coughlin Addresses Media at League Meeting: New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin addressed the media at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday. Some of key points made by Coughlin included:

  • On WR Victor Cruz’s recovery from knee surgery: “I think he will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better. Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well… I don’t know (when he will be able to fully practice). I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”
  • On QB Eli Manning’s contract situation: “Eli knows he’s our guy. (As for) when these things get done, well, I think John (Mara) last week expressed it as well as it can be said. Yeah, it’d be great if it was done. If it isn’t done going in (to the season), it’ll be done during or shortly after or whenever… It’ll get done, I’m fully confident of that, and I think so is Eli. Why would he have any concern about that?”
  • On the safety position: “That’s an issue, no doubt. We do have one more access to bringing in personnel, obviously, the draft. And we have a couple of guys in the program including (Nat) Berhe, who we really liked as a rookie and a special-teamer. We have injured players (Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson) coming back that can help. But there’s concern, no doubt… (Moving Jackson to safety) is a possibility… a kid none of us know much about. He’s rehabbing. He’s doing pretty well.”
  • In addition to Bennett Jackson, Coughlin also said cornerback Chykie Brown might be moved to safety.
  • On S Nat Berhe: “(He can play free safety and) I think he can come down in the box, too. His special-teams play would lead you to believe that. We threw him into a lot of responsibility on special teams and I thought he handled it well. So he’s adaptable, he’s smart, he’s anxious and he’s eager for the opportunity, for sure.”
  • On RB Shane Vereen: “As a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, pass-protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three wide offense, the defensive run game if you will. A lot of the (Tom) Brady hook up with Vereen, the ball was almost automatically going to him. You know there would be certain first downs, if there was zone coverage, they would drop the ball off and he would scoot. So, we know that. Will we open it up to other parts of it? Well, we would like to make sure he can. He does very well at that spot. I really like the young man, he adds an experienced playmaker out of the backfield.”
  • On WR/Special Teams Player Dwayne Harris: “The idea that you have a guy of that ability — and you’ve seen the way he carries himself on the field, he’s physical — to have a guy who can kick return, punt return, cover kicks, gunner. In this day and age to have a guy at gunner who’s consistent and good, let’s face it, it’s been a while since we’ve had that. That is a very attractive deal… (David) Tyree would come in (on offense), he’d be a blocker, that’s what Harris does, but you see him on the field, you start thinking that way. And that part of it alone opens up possibilities, maybe you get back to that old fake ghost screen stuff again, maybe that becomes a better opportunity for it. Whether he’s the third receiver or fourth receiver or a special situation kind of a player, offensively he wants to contribute.”
  • On linebackers J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas: “We think Thomas can be a WILL ‘backer. Casillas is basically the same kind of guy. Both are excellent special teamers. They’ll make contributions in both ways.”
  • On what he expects out of LB Devon Kennard: “A lot. If Jon (Beason) comes back and Jon is healthy and can play, then you have Kennard maybe in a stronger position and rushing the passer more, the whole deal that way. That is going to make you better.”
  • On DE Damontre Moore: “He has to make a contribution. He has the pass rush ability and special team play.”
  • On the defensive tackle position: “(Kenrick) Ellis is a big human. The young man on our practice squad, (Dominique) Hamilton, is a big human, so I am looking forward to seeing what they can do, too… We realized that big dominating guy in the middle is a good starting point for the D-Line.”

A video of Coughlin’s remarks is also available at Giants.com.

A video of an NFL Network interview is also available at Giants.com.

Giants Receive No Compensatory Draft Picks: As expected, the New York Giants will not receive any compensatory choices in the 2015 NFL Draft. Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The Giants were pretty aggressive in signing free agents for other teams in 2014. For a complete list of free agents signed and lost by Giants in 2014, see the 2014 Free Agency Scorecard.

Giants.com Q&A with OT Justin Pugh: A video of a Giants.com interview with OT Justin Pugh is available at Giants.com.

Article on RB Shane Vereen: Shane Vereen gives Tom Coughlin and Giants more options in passing game by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: Jennings: Giants offense can be “dominant” by Arthur Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on the New York Giants Wide Receivers: Do the Giants have enough wide receiver depth to protect against Victor Cruz being healthy? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB J.T. Thomas: Why didn’t Jacksonville Jaguars re-sign J.T. Thomas and what does he bring to Giants defense? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Feb 102015
 
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Brett Jones, Calgary Stampeders (June 26, 2014)

Brett Jones – © USA TODAY Sports Images

According to various press reports, the New York Giants will sign Canadian Football League (CFL) offensive lineman Brett Jones. The 23-year old Jones has played center for the Calgary Stampeders for the past two seasons. He was named the CFL’s top rookie in 2013 and top offensive lineman in 2014.

Jones reportedly has worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New York Daily News is reporting that Jones will visit with the Giants on Tuesday night and take a physical with the team on Wednesday.

Jones is 6’2”, 318 pounds and considered smart, tough, and athletic. He could also be an option at guard in addition to center for New York.

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: Rashad Jennings’ incredible journey to the NFL by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Giants.com Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • DT Jay Bromley (Video)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (Video)
Feb 072015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul’s Contract Voided: The New York Daily News is reporting that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s rookie contract was voided on Friday. This expected move means Pierre-Paul will become an unrestricted free agent in March unless the Giants protect him with a Transition or Franchise tag. The Daily News is reporting that the expected Franchise tag number for defensive ends is expected to be approximately $15 million.

Other clubs are allowed to begin negotiating with free agents on March 7 and teams can officially sign another team’s free agents on March 10. Teams can designate Transition or Franchise players any time between February 16 and March 2.

“We would certainly like (Pierre-Paul) back, but it would have to be at the right price, something that makes sense for us,” said Giants President and CEO John Mara on December 30. “He certainly had a great finish to the season and showed the type of player that he can be and that he will be going forward. I would be very surprised if he was not a Giant next year.”

Pierre-Paul just turned 26 last month and his best football could still be in front of him. But he has had difficulty recapturing his tremendous productivity from his sophomore NFL season in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. Those numbers plummeted to 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2012 and 27 tackles and 2 sacks in 2013.

Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and he never seemed to fully rebound from that procedure during the 2013 season. He flashed some of his old form in Week 10 that year but also suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of the season.

In his fifth year in 2014, Pierre-Paul had his second-best season, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season.

Much more was hoped for and expected in 2014, but JPP remains the one player in the front seven that other teams need to account for. If he leaves, the Giants will have a major hole to fill on a defense already pot-marked with holes. But bringing him back is not a no-brainer. There is a salary cap and JPP clearly believes he is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and wants to be paid like it. The Giants know Pierre-Paul has had inconsistent productivity the last three years, as well as back surgery and shoulder issues.

“I think at the beginning of the season he wasn’t playing like he played at the end of the season,” said General Manager Jerry Reese on December 30. “The second half of the season, he came on really strong and played like we thought he should play. The guy has some ability to be a game changer. We didn’t see enough of that in the first half of the season.”

Towards the end of the 2014 season, Pierre-Paul’s comments to the press seemed to strongly suggest he will not be giving the Giants a hometown discount and that he is interested in testing the free agent waters.

“I don’t know (if I will be back with the Giants),” said Pierre-Paul in late December. “Everybody asks me that question and I really can’t answer that question truthfully. I don’t know what my future holds. Who knows if I am going to be in a Giant uniform, who knows where I am going to be in the offseason. Like I said, now, the numbers are there, I had a great season, and everybody sees it. There really is nothing else to say, just negotiations and it is coming.

“At the end of the day, it’s business, it’s business. Everyone knows that, even the fans know that, my family members know it, and I am going to make the best decision to better me and my family.

“I‘d love to be a Giant for the rest of my career, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t always fold like that. Look at Justin Tuck, look at Osi Umenyiora, look at Brandon Jacobs, it doesn’t matter. I think I am worth a lot of money.

“Like I said, it is going to be a business situation, it’s going to be about my family, and what I want to pursue,” replied Pierre-Paul. “At the end of the day, I’m here. Like I said earlier in the season, if I am a Giant, then I will be a Giant for my whole life. I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Articles on DE Jason Pierre-Paul:

Articles on Former New York Giants Co-Owner Ann Mara:

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: Rashad Jennings’ offseason training rundown by NFL.com

Article on the New York Giants Special Teams: Who was the Giants’ best special teams player in 2014? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com