Aug 252015
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 25, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their last public training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Monday, the Giants waived/injured safety Justin Currie (fractured tibia and ankle) and linebacker Tony Johnson (knee sprain). To fill these roster spots, the team signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Ashlee Palmer (Detroit Lions) and rookie free agent C.J. Conway (Montclair State).

Palmer was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played both for the Bills (2009) and Detroit Lions (2010-14). In six seasons, Palmer has started 24 games. In 2014, he played in 16 regular-season game for the Lions, starting five, and accrued 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two pass defenses. Palmer is a good special teams player.

Conway was the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s (NJAC) Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, when he was also chosen to the American Football Coaches Association Division-III Team and First-Team USA Football. Conway led the NJAC in passes defended with 17 and was second with eight interceptions, as he also registered 51 tackles and forced two fumbles.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), center Weston Richburg (knee), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), linebacker Jon Beason (knee), linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), and cornerback Chandler Fenner (hamstring) did not practice.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), safety Landon Collins (knee), safety Nat Berhe (calf), safety Cooper Taylor (toe) practiced on a limited basis. Collins did not appear to do much in practice however.

Wide receiver Julian Talley (toe) returned to practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Jeromy Miles and Brandon Meriweather were the first-team safeties.
  • Without Jon Beason, the starting middle linebacker was Jameel McClain.
  • Without Weston Richburg, Dallas Reynolds started at center with the first-team offense.
  • Geoff Schwartz continued to see first-team reps at both right guard and right tackle.
  • Wide receiver Preston Parker caught a touchdown pass.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Odell Beckham for a touchdown against cornerback Josh Gordy. (Video)
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off a pass intended for wide receiver Rueben Randle from quarterback Eli Manning and return the interception for a touchdown. (Video)
  • Cornerback Josh Gordy picked off a pass from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
  • According to Giants.com, the top three players from practice today were wide receiver Odell Beckham, wide receiver Preston Parker, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

GIANTS ON ESPN RADIO…
Audio clips of the the following Giants being interviewed on ESPN Radio are available at ESPN.com:

  • President/CEO John Mara (Audio)
  • General Manager Jerry Reese (Audio)
  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Audio)
  • QB Eli Manning (Audio)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Audio)
  • WR Victor Cruz (Audio)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (Audio)

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

Q: How was Landon Collins able to keep engaged while he was on the sideline? Sometimes young players have difficulty with that.

A: He’s in every meeting, he’s in every plan, he’s interested. After what he’s missed on the field, he has an opportunity to listen to the coaches talk about it in the classroom. He’s up to date on everything that we’re doing.

Q: He was also kind of engaged with the players, running to the ball, things like that. How important was that to see? Just to not see him on the sideline in his own world.

A: Well, that’s his game. He’s got to be involved like that. To keep him as involved as we possibly can, even though he can’t take snaps—that’s the challenge. Of course with a young guy, who has a sense that he’s missing time, he should be more engaged.

Q: He’ll go full today?

A: He’ll go limited.

Q: What about some of the other guys?

A: What about them?

Q: Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle—do you expect them out here?

A: They say Rueben [Randle] will go tomorrow. And I don’t know when to say Victor [Cruz] will go.

Q: Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe?

A:  [Cooper] Taylor goes today, and Berhe’s  going today. Yeah, he’s going. They’re all limited. Anybody that’s been out, their classification when they first come back is limited.

Q: Any better idea on Jon Beason?

A: No. Nope.

Q: Are you concerned about Victor at all?

A: I’m concerned, yeah. Because obviously there were a couple of slotted opportunities there that didn’t take place, or one. Of course this would have been the second one, if he’s not ready to go. So, yeah, yeah, I am. But I would like to see him get out there, and be able to stay out there. That’s what our real intent is. As soon as that can be done, that’s possible, then that’s what will happen.

Q: Would you say he’s out for Saturday or it’s too early?

A: I’m not going to say anything like that. No, it’s day to day.

Q: It’s not the knee right?

A: No, it’s not the knee.

Q: You said originally that you thought it might be dehydration-related. Did it end up being more serious than maybe you thought?

A: No. I can’t classify it. I just know that he can’t go.

Q: Ashlee Palmer, what’d you like about him?

A: Worked out very well. And I do like the fact that he’s played without injury for quite some time. That could’ve been the reason right there.

Q: What do you like about the combination of Jay Bromley and Kenrick Ellis? They seem to be working well together.

A: Well, they’re big, solid guys inside. What I like is they enjoy playing and they seem to be able to hold the point in there pretty good. So we just need to keep those two getting better.

Q: What has Andre Williams shown you in year two, specifically, in how he has grown?

A: Well, he’s obviously second time around—he knows more about what he’s doing. He’s more comfortable doing it. He is a powerful runner, and when given the opportunity, he’s demonstrated.

Q: Do you notice a different level of patience with him?

A: That’s not necessarily the first word that would come to—but he did demonstrate it the other night.

Q: Johnathan Casillas’ neck, is that a serious thing or day to day?

A: You know, I don’t know what to make of that, because he came out and practiced. He was not supposed to have any contact. Evidently, he did get a little bit, and then he got sore again. They’re just not going to let him go until they feel like he can play and not receive any kind of injury.

Q: Steve Weatherford didn’t seem to have a great night the other night. How open is that competition?

A: Well, it is open. It should be looked at that way by everybody. I don’t care how many years in the league, when you come to camp, it’s competitive, and you’ve got lots of people trying for the same job. So we certainly would like to see it the way we hope to expect it on game day and during the regular season. So I’m hoping that improves.

Q: When you got a better look at the film, you saw Odell Beckham had five targets with no catches. Was that all just timing that you assume will come? Or was there anything you saw as to why he didn’t get to those balls?

A: To me, he had a chance for one ball that was thrown out in front of him. He had a drop. Again, to me, it’s timing, it’s rhythm, it’s all of those things. But that would be where I would start.

Q: I would assume you don’t worry about a guy like that with what he’s done.

A: I worry about everything. I’m worried about everything. You give opportunities and guys make plays and they don’t make plays. Then you analyze why they did or why they didn’t and present it. You’d like to see it the other way. There has to be a little bit of a sense of urgency right now. You’re a couple weeks away from lining up. So, I mean, I’d like to see things done well, done right. Obviously, whoever it is, doesn’t matter, Odell—it doesn’t make any difference. When it doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to go, and we’ve been at this for a couple of weeks, why doesn’t it go that way? So you have to look hard at that. And the one thing—it’s not an excuse—but again, when you see some of the younger guys doing some things and catching the ball and so on, advancing the ball, they’ve been out here. (Geremy) Davis has been on the field all this time, you know? The practice part of this thing has got to be understood and it’s got to be done right. It’s got to be done with a sense of urgency.

Q: Back to Victor, how do you view the importance of him getting into a preseason game?

A: Well, it’s great, but if it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen. You know, Odell didn’t have a preseason game last year. So you want them to play, that’s what the plan was. If it doesn’t work out that way, then what’s the next thing? We can’t worry about something that, right now, is not within our control.

Q: Would you contemplate playing him in the fourth game if he couldn’t be ready for this game?

A: Well, I’m considering that the whole time. I’m saying, ‘When can we play him?’ Would I contemplate it? Sure. I mean, we just have to have X number of days together practicing before that’s going to happen, though. We’re not going to make a decision the night before the last preseason game to play him. It has to be something that builds up to it, so I know he’s ready to go. I wouldn’t put him out there without that.

Q: There was a report yesterday that Jason Pierre-Paul is planning a return.

A: I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about that.

Q: He hasn’t told you?

A: He hasn’t told me.

Q: Getting any of your corners back? Chykie Brown?

A: No.

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 last two training camp practices for the Giants this summer are on Wednesday and Thursday, but neither is open to the public.

Aug 152015
 
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Mykkele Thompson, New York Giants (August 14, 2015)

Mykkele Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Mykkele Thompson Lost for Year; Landon Collins MCL Sprain: As feared, New York Giants safety Mykkele Thompson’s season is over. The 2015 5th-round draft pick ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in the team’s 23-10 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night.

It also appears the Giants will be without fellow rookie safety Landon Collins for at least a couple of weeks. Collins sprained the MCL in one of his knees in the game. Collins was the team’s 2nd-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“I would say it’s longer than a week (that Collins will be out),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

Coughlin could not provide an update on cornerback Jayron Hosley, who suffered a neck injury and a possible concussion in the game as well. “I don’t have any information for you yet (on Hosley). I’m hoping that this is not a long term deal,” said Coughlin.

Cornerback Trumaine McBride also left the contest early with a hamstring injury, but there was no update.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis) left the game after only a few plays. “He had struggled when we first got to the practices,” said Coughlin of Randle. “His tendinitis, his patellar tendinitis had bothered him after a couple days off of his feet. He thought he could play, he did not warm-up well, we probably should have shut him down right away, but he had played a few snaps. He definitely was not himself and he was in pain.”

Coughlin was asked about three defensive backs who did not play in the game: cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), and safety Nat Berhe (calf).

“I don’t see (Brown) coming back right away this week,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin was hopeful that Berhe could return soon, but did not provide much clarification regarding Amukamara.

August 15, 2015 Head Coach Tom Coughlin Conference Call: The following is the transcript from Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s conference call on Saturday afternoon:

Good afternoon everyone, I just had a staff meeting and I spent most of the day looking at the tape. I said just about everything I needed to say last night. It’s the first preseason game. We were able to get everybody dressed into the football game, which was good. We didn’t play well with our ones and perhaps didn’t play well throughout the entire night. We still had chances. As you all know, we ran a kickoff back to the 35, accepted the ball and ran it back to the 35, and then did really nothing with it after we got it in to that point.

Our first group gave up an easy touchdown with Cincinnati driving the ball with their ones then they took primarily their first group out of the game. Offensive team, Eli (Manning) played 15 plays, and the offensive line played 24 plays. I think with Eli we had one opportunity and we did not make it on 3rd and 1. We had a pass in there that was dropped, which would have been our only third down opportunity. Otherwise we really were just three and out, three and out, three and out type things, so not pleased at all with that.

I expected much more, don’t know what the issue was with that, but it does put into perspective the entire day, the work that has to be done and put in here. Questions are going to be asked about the offensive line, we did some things okay. Everybody wants to know how (Ereck) Flowers played, I thought he played okay. I just think as a group we weren’t able to execute together in any capacity that allowed us to have total success with a play. For example, the ball would be run to the left, it would look like we would get to the perimeter and be able to make a nice run with it, and perhaps one of the backside people would have been beaten and a defender was there for a potential cutback or caught the ball carrier before he got to the corner.

I didn’t think our receivers played well. I thought our execution left a lot to be desired and I thought the details and the route work was not very good. We did have a couple opportunities that we let get away from us, particularly there was a post ball that I thought we could have hit for a touchdown, and we didn’t get that done. The quarterback was forced out of the pocket, but prior to that, I thought he could have made a play possibly and got the ball down the field. It was one of those deals where their secondary perhaps was making an error.

As I said, we played a lot of people, had some chances and didn’t do very well with the ones that we had, and then the backup players had an opportunity to get plenty of snaps, and they did get play time, but it wasn’t of a productive nature as such.

We did have a couple of injuries. We all know today the achilles injury to (Mykkele) Thompson. I feel really bad for that young guy and (Landon) Collins has a MCL sprain, and you’re going to ask me how long, but I really don’t know. We’ll see. A lot of that is up to the individual.

Q: Is the season over for Thompson?

His season is over, yes.

Q: Speak on (Rueben) Randle’s knee injury

He had struggled when we first got to the practices. His tendinitis, his patellar tendinitis had bothered him after a couple days off of his feet. He thought he could play, he did not warm-up well, we probably should have shut him down right away, but he had played a few snaps. He definitely was not himself and he was in pain.

Q: You usually don’t play guys who don’t practice, why was it different this time?  Was it because this is the preseason?

No, I don’t necessarily agree with your statement. He missed two practice days but the trainers felt and he wanted to go, and he felt like he could go, and with that regard, the number of snaps that anyone was going to get made that a little bit easier decision when the trainers said he can play.

Q: What’s your level of concern after losing the two rookie safeties?

The level of concern has been there since day one because of the nature of where we are. Even going back to Nat Berhe being unable to come in here and practice, one of the few remaining safeties from our roster of a year ago. We obviously drafted two young players that we know were going to be able to help. Now we’ve lost one of those guys, the other issue is how quickly Landon can come back so he doesn’t miss out on anything, because he definitely needed last night. To be honest with you, he needed it. In order to be able to be in position, I think to where he’s seen a great deal of what takes place in the National Football League, and has been in games, and has had a chance to prepare and play, he needed last night. He didn’t get much last night, so certainly there’s concern.

Q: Where does Berhe stand? Is there any update on that? Any closer to maybe coming back than in the past week or so?

A: Well, I hope so. I hope so. I really don’t have much information yet from Ronnie (Barnes) or today’s medical, but I’m hoping that he’s—when we brought him back before, we thought he was going to be able to work his way through this thing before and then all of a sudden he got sore again. Whenever we do get the green light to bring him back, we will do so and we will always have to, and I think until proven, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he can spend some consistent time on the field and get himself in position to where he can play.

Q: What did you see from the safeties who were out there? Specifically Jeromy Miles and Cooper Taylor?

A: Miles knows the defense and he’s been around Steve Spagnuolo. There’s a guy who we’re fortunate that we have here, to sign now, because of all that. Cooper is learning. He’s learning, he’s come in and after having had all that time off—so he’s started to come back and hopefully he’ll keep growing and learning and so on and so forth. That’s the way, those are the guys that we have and we will work hard to get those guys ready to play.

Q: What did you think about how the safeties performed overall last night when you watched the tape? And what kind of happened on that first touchdown? I know you kind of ran a safety onto the field and it seemed like one of them wasn’t in the right spot on the first touchdown.

A: Yeah, I saw what you saw, but how did they play last night? They did okay. There wasn’t anything overly, overly glaring. Certainly there were some penalties down the field, not that they were involved but it seemed to be as much of anything the big plays. Let them play. Let’s let them play and then we will take it step by step. Certainly as teams become more sophisticated and more comfortable with what they’re going to eventually be represented of their offense, we’ll see more of the ball in the air and we’ll see more of the safeties having to be involved in the play, not only coming to the line of scrimmage but also playing the pass. I can’t answer the questions you want because we’ve got to play some games with these guys back there and see how they go, see how they do.

Q: Is there a chance that Collins is in practice next week? Or is it thinking something longer?

A: I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. I would say it’s longer than a week.

Q: Now that Bennett Jackson is that sort of a nickel-cover guy, slot-cover guy, is he going to have to move to safety full-time now?

A: Well, we were able to bring him down from safety to play the nickel position and he also plays the safety position in that first and second down. So hopefully we can continue to do that. Certainly, he’s going to have to play more safety now.

Q: Did you have an update for Jayron Hosley? With his neck?

A: I don’t have any information for you yet. I’m hoping that this is not a long term deal. See if he can get back in there because he needs the play time and he showed that he certainly can get himself in position and do some of the things we have to do at the corner spot. Didn’t have a bad night at all prior to getting the injury and the injury came flying to  the line of scrimmage and he made a tackle in which he got his head banged around a little bit. I don’t have anything for you yet from today, but we’re hoping that Hosley can be cleared to go here real quick.

Q: Is the expectation that Prince is going to be back this week? And either way, do you need to add corners just to have numbers now? Do you feel like you’re getting short at that position?

A: Well, you can certainly count as well as I can and you can never have enough of those guys anyways. If Prince comes back and we get even short-term notice on when some of these other guys will be back, we probably do have enough but otherwise, you’re right, we’ll be down in numbers.

Q: Do you know anything on Chykie Brown? What is the injury first of all and what was the original diagnosis?

A: I don’t see him coming back right away this week.

Aug 052015
 
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Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Ereck Flowers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 5, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fifth summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor), center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.

“Richburg has a little tendinitis and they decided to hold him out today,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

“We’re just going day-by-day. It’s getting better,” said Flowers. “When it first happened, I wasn’t able to lift it, but now I can lift it up. So, it’s getting better, I should be practicing soon…I usually heal pretty fast and do pretty well, so I’ll definitely be out there really soon.”

“Day to day (with Flowers),” said Coughlin. “He’s much improved. Whether they let him go tomorrow or not, I don’t know. But he was much improved.”

Linebacker Jameel McClain (stinger) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) left practice early with injuries. McClain suffered a serious neck injury while with the Ravens so the injury could potentially be more serious than an average stinger.

“(McClain) got a little stinger,” said Coughlin. “So he’s got to run through all the tests.”

“Prince [Amukamara] had a little strain in the groin area during one-on-one,” said Coughlin.

PRACTICE NOTES…
For the first time this year, the Giants practiced in full pads. “It was kind of sluggish, to be honest with you,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “As it usually is the first time in full pads. Their legs are covered etc. etc. But they have to learn how to handle that, and they will.”

Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) and center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis) out, the starting offensive line was left tackle Justin Pugh, left guard Adam Gettis, center Dallas Reynolds, right guard Geoff Schwartz, and right tackle Marshall Newhouse. The Giants also worked in John Jerry at right guard and Geoff Schwartz at right tackle. The line struggled to keep a clean pocket for the quarterbacks.
  • Cullen Jenkins got some work at defensive end with the first-team along with Robert Ayers. Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn were the tackles when Jenkins was at end. Damontre Moore and Owamagbe Odighizuwa also played end with the first-team.
  • Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins nailed running back Orleans Darkwa in the backfield on one play.
  • Landon Collins and Bennett Jackson were the first-team safeties. Jeromy Miles played with the second-team and made a couple of nice plays against the run.
  • Wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris returned a punt for a touchdown after bobbling it.
  • Wide receiver Julian Talley had a good practice, even beating cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on an in-cut.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his three stars of practice were safety Landon Collins, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and safety Jeromy Miles.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the afternoon practice:

Q: What happened to Jameel McClain out there?

A: He got a little stinger. So he’s got to run through all the tests.

Q: What about Weston Richburg?

A: [Weston] Richburg has a little tendinitis and they decided to hold him out today.

Q: Tendinitis in what?

A: Knee.

Q: How about Prince?

A: Prince [Amukamara] had a little strain in the groin area during one-on-one. So, naturally, he was out.

Q: Are you expecting Ereck Flowers back pretty soon?

A: Day to day. He’s much improved. Whether they let him go tomorrow or not, I don’t know. But he was much improved.

Q: What did you think of the padded practice, seemed like there was a lot of balls that hit the ground today, maybe today more than usual?

A: Balls hit the ground? Not necessarily, no. It was kind of sluggish, to be honest with you—as it usually is the first time in full pads. Their legs are covered etc. etc. But they have to learn how to handle that, and they will.

Q: Without the benefit of seeing the film, how do you think your offensive line held up?

A: I’m sure there was some good and some bad. To be honest with you, there were better runs than there were anything else. I thought that was something, if you want to build on, that was pretty good.

Q: While you were fully padded, did you want to do some more runs?

A: Well, we had an inside run drill, which we usually do fully padded. But otherwise it was blitz pickup and everything else. Nothing in particular to make it a run practice, if that’s what you’re asking.

Q: Do you feel like Jon Beason is under any restrictions?

A: Beason? Well, we’re very aware and his snaps are controlled, and basically they’re controlled by the number of people at the position. Obviously, if [Jameel] McClain is held out for any length of time, then that would affect the rotation.

Q: But you don’t want to overwork him obviously.

A: Well, everybody has got to get ready to play, though. We keep talking about that, and you know what, we’re taking every precaution—scientific precaution. Anything that has been discovered in our game by virtue of all the things we’ve looked at, we’re doing it. So now we’ve got to go out on the field. When we’re on the field, unfortunately, some things happen. I don’t have any other explanation for you.

Q: We got screened at the end of practice, what was the game today? It looked like both teams lost because they all had to do pushups.

A: We took some receivers and DBs and challenged them to throw the football and hit the crossbar. It wasn’t pretty. They all tried to kick field goals with the ball, and throw the ball up in the air. Take the ball and zing it. It was an eye-opener, let’s put it that way. Not anywhere as competitive as the last thing we did.

Q: This seems to be an emphasis for you guys, though.

A: Compete. Find stuff to make them compete. Just compete. Just always something, in addition to the field, obviously.

Q: Your defensive tackles looked like they had a solid day. Do you think they had a good showing today?

A: I know they’re working hard and they’ve improved their technique. Our footwork seems to be better. I think both the ends and the tackles rushed the passer pretty well today. Like I said, some runs squirted through, but they certainly did okay.

Q: How much negotiating goes on between you and Marvin Lewis as you get closer to these practices with the Bengals?

A: We set this up in the spring. It’s been set. Practice schedule is set, everything is set. I’m sure there will be maybe one more phone call, but most of it has all been done.

Q: How limited or how much contact are those practices going to have?

A: Just practice.

Q: Pads?

A: Pads.

Q: Uppers?

A: Pads one day, uppers the next—yeah.

Q: With the game officials here, did they tell you there’s going to be any extra emphasis on any part of the rules this year?

A: Well, they always stress whatever the new rules are and whatever the points of emphasis are. So, John (Parry) is prepared to speak about that as we’ve heard in the spring when the officiating crew is by. I’m sure we’ll continue to hear.

Q: Mike Sullivan thinks that Eli’s arm has looked as live as it has at any point that he’s seen. Would you agree with that assessment?

A: Yeah, it was that way in the spring, too. I think there was a lot of grinding on the part of the receivers today. Then, perhaps, the idea that in some occasions they weren’t where they were supposed to be kind of nullified some of the balls going downfield today. But, no question about his arm.

Q: With the more direct approach instead of the lob approach, could you have hit the crossbar?

A: I may have wanted to move it up.

Q: It was the crossbar not the upright?

A: It started out being the crossbar. The upright? Are you kidding? If we put a limit on it, we’d be out here all night.

Q: It looked like they were going for the upright.

A: It’s the way they were throwing the ball. I thought it was a rainbow.

Q: Cruz said last week about getting the pads on, it was going to be another step. Was this another rung in the ladder for him?

A: Yeah, I think he really got acclimated probably further than he expected, just in uppers. He went down a couple times with piles and that kind of thing. But I’m sure just handling the pads today.

Q: So nothing you saw today?

A: I didn’t see anything that way, no. Not at all.

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

Q: Last summer with Eli there was an emphasis on footwork. Is there something this year that there is an emphasis on mechanically or is it still the footwork?

A: It always starts with the footwork but I think it is just really having the reads, having the concepts become second nature and having that level of comfort and confidence that the player is going to be where we want them to be. That he is going to trust his feet, as we like to say, in terms of the timing of the system and nothing beats experience. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to kind of go around that and you’ve got a true professional like Eli who really buys into doing all the little things that really makes it easier to improve.

Q: What else can be done besides reps to get that done and to get that familiarity?

A: Certainty the reps out on the field and then the things that we can teach in the classroom. There is great dialogue that we have in our meeting room and certainly a guy with his experience and his background…and there is a couple of them in terms of being able to say anything [and] ask anything.  Those quarterback meetings…Ben (McAdoo) is certainly heavily involved in those meetings and it’s like another coaching meeting, so it is a lot of fun. Between the execution on the practice field, that preparation, what we do in the meeting room and then him taking care of his body, which he has done a tremendous job, of I think that we will be ready to go.

Q: How is your comfort level with the offense and is it odd that the guy you are trying to help and teach knows more of it than you do?

A: It has been exhilarating. I just can’t say enough about working with Ben McAdoo, what a detail-oriented, great teacher, very comfortable relationship and it is exciting. There [are] so many concepts about this scheme and I think Eli has really bought in and it has been a lot of fun to work with him. We didn’t really have to break through any of those barriers as far as establishing who we are and what we are about. We have a little history together so that has made it a lot easier so it has been a lot of fun.

Q: Does he have more options now? You look around at the talent level. Are his choices greater?

A: I think there [are] a lot of players that we are counting on. You look at certainly the receivers; Victor Cruz who is coming back and looking strong, Odell Beckham and Larry Donnell and so many of the players and younger guys, the addition of Shane Vereen out of the backfield. [It is] definitely nice to have those so he has been trying to spread the ball around and work on different reads, if you will, and that is certainly [a good thing].

Q: What have you seen from Ryan Nassib so far?

A: I think Ryan is a very, very hard worker [and] very competitive. I mean he is a gym rat, excellent…you talk about knowledge of the system, that guy, he is as sharp as a tack. He is someone from a mobility standpoint, the ability to extend plays and if he has to scramble, he has that as an asset and he is getting better [with] some of the things with his release and vantage point and tightening that up and getting the ball out of his hands faster. He has been doing that, so we have been very pleased working with him and I am excited to see what he does here in the preseason.

Q: Is that the emphasis with him? Getting the ball out faster?

A: I think there is a ton of areas of emphasis and he still has to get the, “Be ready to go at a moments notice.” That is the mindset and that is the way he prepares, which is great. He is not in the mode of, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in grad school.’ He prepares as though he is going to be called upon and takes it up [notch] in that regard. I think that whether it is footwork or tightening up his release or any little, tiny thing, he is looking to improve everything, so I wouldn’t just limit it to that one area. He is looking to get better in all areas.

Q: You guys always had a veteran behind Eli during your first time here. I know this is a new look at Ryan but do you have any sense of whether if anything happened to Eli he could step in and get the job done for a little while?

A: Yeah, you know you are always hoping that your backup quarterback, if called upon, is ready to win, is ready to go ahead and do the things that are going to help you be successful, and certainly he is the backup quarterback for a reason because there are certain things he might not be able to do. [However], certainly from the standpoint of a person who would be competitive, who would be prepared, would work very hard and give everything he has, we have great confidence that he will continue to develop and be ready to go if he is called upon?

Q: How has being an offensive coordinator made you a better coach?

A: You know, it is interesting to see when you have the perspective of the entire operation: the run game, the pass game, the protections. I certainly can appreciate the responsibility and the pressure that Ben is under and having gone through that, I kind of try and find different areas and ways to make his job easier, to try to have a perspective of some of the bigger picture things, of lessons I learned and mistakes that I made, things that worked well and just to focus on what can I do, especially from the quarterback’s standpoint, to help him to be at his best so it helps the rest of the offense flow smoothly.

Q: With Tom Coughin, it always comes up every year whether the game has passed him by or if he is up with the latest things. How have you seen him evolve as a coach and keep up with the times and what is your opinion about that?

A: I think Coach Coughlin certainly has core values, he is a man of great integrity and honor and the way his style of football…the discipline, the belief in team above self that has not changed. He has in a lot of ways tried to do various thing to…whether it is the music we’ve got at stretch or just some of the various things behind the scenes that I don’t necessarily want to get into, but he has definitely been on the cutting edge and you look at just the openness of having the veteran quarterback and now with the new system and all that is going on there, I think he is always looking to evolve and grow. It stresses to us as coaches that the day you stop learning, the day you are so set in your ways, is the day that it is time to move on, so he has been very energized and it has just been a thrill for me to be back.

Q: Did you ever you think six or eight years ago that you would see a Giants practice with Tom Coughlin with music on the field and big guys catching punts?

A: It has been great and there is more to come. We have a few more things in store, so it should be a lot of fun.

Q: What about your year as a consultant. Was that sort of a year off?

A: It was an opportunity, first and foremost, to reconnect with my family and spend more time with my daughters, and I spent the time to work with Derek Carr to help get him ready for the draft, which was a lot of fun. Of course, David’s younger brother, went out to California and helped train him and work out with him and I was pleased with the progress he has made and wish him well as long as we don’t play him. I did some online work and that just gave me a chance really to take a step back and without all the pressure, to see the games it is just amazing. There is so many…when you take that vantage point, you can see some of the mistakes that are made and of course you fill the spiral notebook with ideas and it is not necessarily X’s and O’s as much as just ideas and thoughts of how you can be better prepared should you get another opportunity. I feel very fortunate to have a chance to be back and not just back but to come back home with big blue.

Q: Do you still have that book?

A: Oh, yes. My manifesto, my lessons learned and that type of thing.

Q: The goal for Eli last year was 70% completion rate, which he hasn’t really backed off when you ask him about it. Is that just something that is put out there as something to shoot for or is that an attainable goal?

A: Eli has always been very goal oriented. He has always been someone that has had high expectations for himself and I would say this, he is certainly going to do everything and has been and will continue to do everything possible to achieve those goals that are going to help us win. I think that it comes down to however many passes we need to win, that is what we are going to want to complete. However many big plays or touchdowns or adjustments in the run game or protections or whatever needs to be done, he is going to do. I don’t know if there is any set number or those certain indicators that help you win. We all know that if you protect the football, if you are able to have a certain amount of yards you are able to rush for or efficiency on third down or red zone or QB rating, those are all objectives but ultimately it just comes down to winning and I think that is all that really Eli cares about. In fact, I know that is all he cares about.

Q: How much does this offense make it reasonable to think that number can be realistically attainable?

A: I think there are components of the offense where we are looking for completions and trying to get the ball out of his hands and if there is a completion there, we are going to take it. Heck, when you’ve got a guy like Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Shane Vereen and some of these guys that can do a lot of damage…a 70-yard gain is a 70-yard gain whether the ball is in the air for 50 or one yard and we had a great run, so whatever it takes.

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

Q: What have you seen in Larry Donnell this year as opposed to last year?

A: He’s coming along, as far as just getting healthy again. As far as football is concerned, it’s his commitment to focusing on the techniques in blocking—that’s really improved. What we need to get him to do is really get back to where he was running routes. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s working towards it and he’s done a nice job with the workload we’ve given him.

Q: Because of the Achilles?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have a handle on what he is and what he can be?

A: I think he can be a pretty special player, but there’s a lot of improving that is going to have to take place in order for him to be that special player. The good thing is, he’s working towards it, and he’s starting to understand that he could be a pretty special guy as well.

Q: When you say special, in what way? A big time pass catcher or an overall player?

A: A big-time pass catcher, number one. I think we all saw the ability there last year. But also, not only be serviceable in the run game, but could be a very good run blocker in what we’re asking him to do.

Q: After the Washington game did his injury slow him down?

A: I think so. I think the wear and tear of the full season—it’s the first time he’s ever had to go through something like that. Even in college, he was a quarterback to start off and then became a tight end. College seasons are much shorter than the professional NFL year, so through the course of the year and the wear and tear, and the banging day in, day out that he took, did slow him down through the course of the season.

Q: What has Jerome Cunningham shown you?

A: He shows that he can be an explosive pass catcher and route running receiver from the tight end position. What’s been not necessarily surprising, but exciting, is watching him run block and watch how intense he is about it, and how he likes to finish blocks and move defenders off the ball.

Q: Larry had some great highlights but also some lowlights—dropping the ball, losing it. Is controlling his body an issue?

A: I think that’s a big, big part of it. I always reference back to the fact that he hadn’t played much football, and hadn’t played the position very long. So the more he does it, the better he’s going to be. It’s been a huge emphasis on our part—having him carry the football the proper way. Knowing how to protect himself when he has the football in his hands and he’s carrying it and running with it. There’s little things like every time he was on the sideline or came out of practice—he’s having a ball tossed to him and he’s holding it with the tip high every now and then as I’m telling the rest of the guys the plays, I’m trying to knock it out. Just little things to have him remember that it is the most important thing—to hold it properly. That’s the way you protect it the best, by focusing on it and focusing on doing it right.

Q: He got knocked head over heels a lot?

A: Often, when he would almost straighten his legs and at the waist. That’s something that also we’ve talked about. He’s got two options: he can lower his shoulder and run over the man—and that means you’re bending your legs, bending your knees or you can jump over him. It’s one of the two. No matter what you do, you have to protect the football. The tip of the football can never be here [down]—it’s not protected, it’s not secure, it’s not strong. It has to be high.

Q: How big of a surprise was Daniel Fells last year? He seemed to be an extra guy but he made a lot of big receptions.

A: He did, he made a lot of good plays. Again, I wouldn’t say it was a surprise because you know what you’re getting with Daniel. You know he’s going to be a consistent player, a consistent person, and a great leader in that room—being a veteran and having those guys to help them come along. Daniel makes the plays that are there to be made and then he impressed you every now and then by making one that you don’t necessarily think he can make.

Q: Do you expect to have good matchups with your tight ends because of all the weapons you have in the receiving corps and running backs? Do you expect Donnell to have more favorable matchups?

A: Rather than have like a dime playing him, they have to worry about Shane [Vereen]. We’ll see how it plays out, you never really know how you’re going to get attacked by the defense. You prepare for all the different scenarios and you prepare based on what you see on film from the defense. That certainly could a scenario where because of all the weapons on the outside with Shane Vereen out of the backfield, with Rashad Jennings, that potentially you could get a good matchup at the tight end position. That’s something that as coaches we study very, very hard to prepare for, but then through the course of the game, they can always switch up the matchups based on who they’re being hurt by.

Q: It seems like this time last year Larry moved up out of the pack because of the work he had done in the offseason, is that fair?

A: Not necessarily, no. Last training camp we were working hard to figure out who was going to be the best player and what they can do. We’ve talked about that with you and I and this group. Each guy has a certain skillset, and we’re going to try and find the things that they can do and put them in the football game to execute those things. If you can do something that’s going to bring in value to our team, you’re going to get in the game to do it.

Q: In terms of him specifically, he seemed like a good offseason guy for you. A guy who took coaching well and advanced quickly as a result of that. So he misses May and June, what does that do for his development?

A: Well, where it hurt his development was physically, not mentally. He did a great job of being very locked in, in the meetings and on the practice field when he was with us and wasn’t rehabbing. He did a tremendous job of making sure he was locked into the play and getting mental reps.

Q: If he gets back to where he was, is he going to be the guy who takes the majority of the snaps like last year?

A: You would love to have even more guys. The more guys, the better, because the wear and the tear through the course of the season isn’t as heavy—it’s not as heavy of a workload for each guy. The more you can have, the better off you’re going to be.

Q: Has Jerome done enough to play himself into a role yet?

A: Right now the evaluation process is going on with everybody.  I think he’s done some very good things, and he’s done some things where he can improve. He certainly warrants a shot, as far as getting playing time in the preseason and then you see where it goes from there.

Q: You mentioned the advancements Larry is making as a blocker, what specifically do you see in what he’s doing now better?

A: As far as the technique is concerned? Not dropping his inside knee when he’s working with the offensive tackle. Trying to keep his elbows tight. Those are all very important things and really it comes from having confidence. When your hands go outside, it’s because you think the guy is going to go around you. When you trust yourself to get your elbow tight and punch your hands inside, that means you’re trusting what you see and that’s a very important thing. It’s an area he still needs to improve on, but he’s getting there. He’s getting there and he’s working with it. He’s making mistakes and learning from them rather than just reverting back to what he was doing before.

Q: There was a play when he was split outside on a run play, in terms of downfield blocking in the run game, is that something he’s still working on?

A: It’s something that we’ll ask him to do certainly. It’ll be a part of our package. That’s one thing that you always work on, but that’s not the major focus. The major focus is the in-line blocking that we need him to improve on. And he is, he’s getting there, he’s just not there yet.

Q: To have Mike Sullivan back, how excited is he and how excited are you to have him back?

A: I think he’s very excited to be back. You’d have to ask him as far as any specifics. But I can comment on what itit is to have him back. I think the comradery and the synergy that you have as an offensive staff is incredibly important. Having him back is a big part of that. Getting him back in the fold and he really got back in the fold pretty quickly and got to know the guys that he hadn’t known before. Re-established relationships and working relationships with guys he had before, so it’s been a nice addition.

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 sixth training camp practice will be held on Thursday 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 five remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • 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
Aug 022015
 
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Shane Vereen, New York Giants (July 31, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third summer 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 TWO…
The Giants have signed second-year wide receiver Derrick Johnson (Maine) and rookie defensive end Brad Bars (Penn State). Johnson has spent time with the Patriots.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (soreness in surgically-repaired ankle) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.

“(Schwartz) was sore, so they held him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No. It wasn’t planned. I’d like to have him practice. But the trainers just said we’d be better off holding him. Maybe he can go tomorrow.”

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:

  • Bennett Jackson received first-team reps at safety along with Landon Collins. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe practiced at safety with the second-team.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a touchdown.
  • Tight end Larry Donnell made a sliding catch on a pass from Manning.
  • Wide receiver James Jones made a diving sideline catch on a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
  • Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his four stars of practice were linebacker Devon Kennard, safety Bennett Jackson, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and linebacker Jon Beason.
  • NJ.com agrees that linebacker Devon Kennard was a standout and also singled out tight end Daniel Fells, safety Bennett Jackson, left tackle Ereck Flowers,

GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
Jerry Reese addressed the media on Sunday (video is available at Giants.com):

Reese: Welcome to training camp. Our coaches are working hard, our players are working hard. We’re excited about the 2015 season. There’s a lot of competition at several positions that we like. We look forward to the challenge of this season. I’m open for questions.

Q: Have you had any contact with Jason Pierre-Paul?

A: Guys, I’m not going to say much. I don’t have anything really to report about that situation. I am going to say this, I wish Jason [Pierre-Paul] nothing but the best. This is a traumatic situation—it was an accident. Plenty of people have opinions about it. My heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life is life-changing for him. I hope and pray for the best for him, that’s what I can say about that. Other than that, I’m not going to say anything else about what Jason’s situation is, except I hope for the best and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m going to say about the Jason situation.

Q: Can you say whether you hope he’ll be back?

A: I’m not going to say anything else about the Jason situation guys. There’s plenty of people [who] already talked about it, and everybody’s got an opinion about it. You can still form your own opinion about it, but that’s my opinion about it.

Q: Do you think your defense still has the ability to be solid?

A: I think we’ll be really good defensively. I think we’re going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play and play at a high level at that position. I do think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year. I’m excited to see them out there playing.

Q: Some of your defensive ends were saying that Jason was the star and the name. Do you think a defense needs somebody else to step up and become a star? Can the rest of the guys get it done without that?

A: It’s a great opportunity for us, that’s what the National Football League is about. When you have an injury, somebody can step out of the shadows and do something great. It’s a great opportunity for some more guys at that position to step out of the shadows and do that. There’s some guys that have been around for a while—Damontre Moore is a guy that sticks out in my mind, Kerry Wynn. We’ve got some other guys, we drafted Owa [Odighizuwa]. There’s some more guys at that position that we like and think can help shore up that position for us.

Q: How do plan going forward? There’s that situation that’s lingering out there. How do you plan as the general manager with JPP, whether you’ll have him or maybe you don’t. How do you look at that?

A: I’m not talking about the JPP thing, guys, I’m not talking about it.

Q: I mean for your roster, though.

A: We’ll keep all of our options open with respect to the roster.

Q: Were you relieved to see Victor and Odell pass that physical and get out there?

A: Yeah, I’m just happy to see Victor [Cruz] out there. It’s a long way back, he had a big injury. I still don’t think he’s 100 percent back but I think he’s close. We’ll continue to take him slow. To see those two guys out there together, it’s exciting for us and exciting for our fans. We think they can be a good tandem out there together.

Q: John Mara said the other day that there’s enough here for this team to contend for a playoff spot. Is it fair to say that’s your belief?

A: We always have high expectations here, and that will never change. We always have high expectations and we expect our coaches to perform high, John Mara expects me to perform high. We expect our coaches to perform high, we expect our players to perform high. Our expectation is always high here. Again, we want to go out there and compete for the division and get a chance to get in the tournament.

Q: Does it faze you at all that at the end of last season John Mara said this is a win-or-else year for a lot of people?

A: It’s every year– that happens every year. Regardless, in the National Football League, every year is a win-or-else season in the National Football League, that never changes either.

Q: After three years of missing the playoffs, do you feel more pressure to see this roster perform?

A: No, the pressure is always there, the pressure is always the same—it’s the National Football League, guys. Every year is a different year regardless if you win or you don’t make the playoffs. It’s a pressure-fueled profession and it’s a high-performance business and we relish the challenge.

Q: I know you don’t like to talk about contracts but with that said, with Eli going into his final year, how do you think he’s going to respond to the pressure? I have to think that weighs on his mind.

A: You’re right, I’m not going to talk about a contract. Eli is here and he’s working hard like the rest of the players. He’s excited about the offense. It’s his second year in this offense and he’s got some healthy guys around him again. Our offensive line, we worked on that some. We think the sky is the limit. I think Eli should have a big year.

Q: Is that something that you would expect to get done before the season though?

A: I’m not talking about the contract, he’s under contract.

Q: Speaking of the offensive line, how do you feel about that unit going in? Do you feel you have enough there?

A: Yeah. We’re going to get Will Beatty back at some point, hopefully maybe in October, I’m not sure what exactly the timeline is. He’s working hard trying to get back. We drafted Ereck Flowers, obviously. He’s working hard out there at left tackle. We got a couple young veterans that we’ve drafted lately and a couple older guys that we have in our offensive line. There’s some guys behind them, as well, competing for some positions. I think we’ll have enough to get us through and play well up front.

Q: Do you still keep your options open, though, in case someone comes available?

A: Absolutely, we always keep our options available. Every day we look at the wire. We’re always looking for trade possibilities, we’re always trying to upgrade our roster.

Q: I know you looked at Jake Long twice, is he a possibility or is that knee not okay?

A: Yeah, we’re going to keep our options open with respect to him as well.

Q: You brought in a new receiver, a veteran guy, what do you like about him and what do you think he is?

A: Obviously we had an injury early on and he [James Jones] was a short-list guy for us and really makes sense. He’s been in that system before and he was very productive last year for Oakland. He knows the system, he jumped in really quickly here and hit the ground running. So that’ll create some competition. There’s three, four, five spots at the receiver position.

Q: What did you see in Jeromy Miles? He’s another guy you signed recently. Did you feel you needed a veteran in that room?

A: We just needed some more depth. We’re always trying to upgrade the back end of the roster. He was still out there. We thought he’s been with Spags, he knows him a little bit from being over at Baltimore. We thought we’d bring him in and let him compete for a roster spot. Guy has played some and started a couple of games in his career. He’s been more of a special teamer but he’s started some games.

Q: You always want your rookies to come in and play and contribute. You’ve got a first and second round pick that are lining up with the starters. You need them to be good players right away, don’t you?

A: Well, we hope so. I’ll always say this, your first three picks—you expect those guys to come in and be contributors right away and what you get after that [first three rounds] is a little bit of a bonus. Our first three guys, we expect those guys to come in and be strong contributors right away. Again, I’ll always say this, you might get a couple of starters and it looks like we could possibly get a couple starters out of our first couple of picks.

Q: How important is the health of Jon Beason to this defense overall?

A: [Jon] Beason, it’s a big year for him. I hope he can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, I think he gives us a lot of pop in there. He gives us that leadership that you want out of that middle linebacker position. So far, so good. He’s been running around and playing with a high motor, he’s a high motor player. If he can stay healthy, that will be tremendous for us.

Q: Health has obviously been a huge issue for you guys over the last couple of years. I know you look at everything in the offseason, have you found anything at all that you think ‘if we change this, we’ll get better luck on the injury front’?

A: Well, we’ve tried different things. We readjusted the schedule, we adjusted some things in the weight room, we’re trying to have more room for down time; it’s an opportunity for guys to recover. But I think it’s just been some bad luck. When guys break bones or tear muscles off the bone or something like that, it’s just unfortunate. Bad things happen sometimes in the National Football League, and hopefully this is our year to stay healthy.

Q: What is your confidence in the roster right now in comparison to what you’ve had in recent years. How do you feel in general about the roster?

A: I like the roster. I like our roster. I think it’s a good roster and, obviously, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve got to get out there and prove it. Like I said earlier, it’s a high-performance business and you’ve got to go out there and perform. I think our players are hungry, they’re excited about the season, the expectation is high and I think they’re up for the challenge.

Q: Is it unusual to have so many new starters? I mean you have five new starters basically in the positions on the offensive line, new starters at safety, a new starter at weakside linebacker. Is that unusual? Does that make you nervous a little bit?

A: No, I don’t think it’s unusual. You always like to have some continuity but you see teams all the time turn their roster over. Again, Seattle, I think maybe the year they won the Super Bowl or the year before, they turned their roster over pretty quickly and had a lot of new starters there. So it happens around the National Football League. It’s just the way it is. Your young players have to play these days. You can’t bring guys in and expect them to sit for a couple of years. You have to bring them in and they have to be contributors early. We like where we are right now in respect to the roster.

Q: You signed Dwayne Harris and gave the indication he can also play receiver, but with the guys you have, is there enough room for him?

A: That’s a lot of competition. If he wants to be a contributor at the receiver spots, he’s got to compete and earn that spot. We do think he’s talented as a receiver as well, but there’s a lot of competition at that position and we love it. We love the competition at that position. At any position, we like competition.

Q: You mentioned that there are several groups of competition that you’re looking forward to. Which ones in specific really stick out to you?

A: I think there’s competition all over. Obviously there is some competition at the safety position, I think our offensive line has some competition, the receiver, the tight end position. I think our defensive ends, that group of five that I talked about, that we feel like can play, are going to be competing for the starting job and a lot of playing time there. Even in our defensive tackle position. I think we have—the running back position has competition. I think there’s competition all over the roster.

Q: How concerned are you at the depth of offensive tackle?

A: I think we have depth there. Again, we are going to get Will Beatty back but we have, you know (Justin) Pugh is playing guard but he can easily go out there and play tackle. He’s been a starter out there for two years. If we have to move him back out there at some point, we are not afraid to do that. I think we have enough and, again, we are going to get Will back.

Q: Do you think overall the offense will be explosive? Do you expect it to be explosive?

A: I hope so. You just think about last year, if you have Odell (Beckham Jr.) for 16 games and you have Victor Cruz for the entire season, you would think you could probably squeeze out a few more wins if you have those explosive-type players playing for the full season. Hopefully those guys, the offensive line, Eli (Manning)’s playing well, continue to grow from this offense, the tight end, Larry Donnell, stepped up in a big way last year and there are some more guys competing at that position. So I expect our offense to score points. If you don’t score 28 points in this league, it’s hard to win. Those 14-10 games, there are not a lot of those games left around the National Football League in light of how the rules favor the offense mostly, how the rules are made now. So you have to score points. You have to take advantage of that, of the rules.

Q: Jerry, you were very optimistic with Cruz from the very beginning when we talked to you. When you see him out here the last couple of days, are you even a little taken aback by how far he’s come?

A: Well, again, it was a big injury and if anybody can come back—the guy is a terrific athlete, number one, and if anybody can come back and has that determination. The guy comes from UMass and develops into a star, so he knows what it’s like to be coming in undrafted so he knows what it’s like to come from some depth to get to where he is. So he has the willpower, the fortitude to come back from something like that and he’s come along way. I still think you won’t see the real Victor Cruz until he gets into some real games and starts to let his quickness take over and his instincts take over.

Q: Just to go back on something you just said, there was a mantra in this league for decades that a defense wins championships. Do you think that’s changed?

A: Well, I still think you need to have a solid defense, but the rules now favor the offense. In my opinion, the rules favor the offense mostly and you have to score points because if you don’t score points—if you’re playing from behind all the time, it’s hard to win football games. You’ve got to get out and score points. We hope our offense can do that.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge Odell faces trying to follow up on last season?

A: I think Odell just has to be himself. I don’t think there’s any challenge. Obviously, he’s gifted. I think he just has to let the game come to him and not try to force things because he’s going to make plays. I don’t think he should press and try an ‘I have to do everything’ kind of situation for him. He’s driven, he loves football. I don’t think he’s going to have any issues. I think he’ll perform high again.

Q: Compared to other sports, football has been a little slow when it comes to using analytics, evaluating players and that kind of thing. What role do you think they should have?

A: Analytics? Everybody is trying to implement the analytics part of evaluating players but, again, here with us, we evaluate guys with our eyes. Our scouts go out and we look at them and we evaluate them with our eyes and with our experiences for different positions on your football team. Analytics play a role, we try to look at it, but the number one thing we use here is our eyes. Our eyes tell the story. Believe what you see.

Q: Is the analytics more for you guys to confirm what you’re seeing with your eyes? Is that an accurate way…

A: Well, you can say that. It’s just part of the puzzle. I think that can be part of the puzzle, it can confirm some things for you, I guess, in some ways. But at the end of the day, what you see is what you have to believe.

Q: Some of the defensive players have been talking about how Spags has been stressing the history of the Giants’ defenses. How does bringing Spags back make that connection to the defenses of the past and why is that important for them?

A: He did a terrific job when he was here the last time, but Spags, he can motivate these guys and tell them what they have to do, but the players have to get out there and perform. So it’s up to the players. I think we have a terrific coaching staff on both sides of the ball. They are working their behinds off and I appreciate the work they put in. I think our entire football team would be motivated to perform at a high level and compete. We open up September 13 against Dallas and I think we will put a terrific football team out there and play well.

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

Q: Did Geoff Schwartz practice today?

A: No, he was sore so they held him.

Q: Was it ankle/leg/foot?

A: Yes.

Q: Was it something that was planned?

A: We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No, we’d like to have him practice. Trainers just said they’d be better off holding him, maybe he can go tomorrow.

Q: You practiced Cruz and Beckham three straight days, do you have any plan for those guys?

A: It is the plan, you’re seeing it. They only take a certain number of reps. They work their way up into things. You’re seeing it.

Q: First day in uppers, did it sort of go the way you wanted?

A: Some of the plays are not exactly what you would like because they end up getting in some poor positions sometimes. But otherwise, I’m hoping that we came out of it good. They have to learn how to handle the pads and learn how to practice together with the pads on. It has to start somewhere.

Q: What have you seen from Cruz thus far?

A: He seems to be doing well. There’s no complaints and he’s gone through some things that I think he’s maybe challenged himself and came out the other end. So far, so good.

Q: Did you find any new punt returners out there at the end?

A: Yeah, we did. Some of them, their sternums held up well. Did you hear the sound of the hits? But they caught it, four straight defensive linemen caught the ball. We may have found a tight end or something.

Q: How’s Flowers doing so far? Do you like his attitude?

A: I love his attitude, his attitude is great. He just goes to work, he doesn’t say much. He’s got to go through it again. Lots of things to learn, lots of things happen fast. He’s out there, he competes.

Q: How’s his singing?

A: You know what, he did pretty good today. He got it over with, I think, at least one time. They may make him do it again.

Q: How is Bennett Jackson handling his transition?

A: Seems to be doing okay. There’s a guy coming off an injury, too, but nobody talks about him much. He’s been out there and done a pretty good job.

Q: What’s the biggest thing for that transition from corner to safety?

A: There’s a lot to learn. Safeties have a lot of information to spit out in a short amount of time. It’s a totally different position from corner, so he’s got a lot of things to learn but so far he’s done pretty well.

Q: I saw him out there with the first team. Was that something that was earned?

A: Guys are going to rotate, guys are going to rotate. Should be going on at other positions as well.

Q: Did you back off of Rashad Jennings a little bit today? Was he limited?

A: No, he was fine, he was in there. Got a few guys who can run through there, which is nice. They all got work.

Q: Prince and DRC, are they pretty sharp in your mind at this point?

A: They’re getting there. I would say there has not been a lot of just plain opportunities for them to flat out defend. DRC made a nice play yesterday on the ball up in the air with Beckham. Everybody has a long way to go. It’s early on, but we’re working on it.

Q: I don’t know how much you can say about Derrick Johnson?

A: He’s just over here for the first time trying to help out and trying to learn some assignments so we can get him in there.

Q: Why did you want to bring in another wide receiver?

A: Why did we want to bring in a receiver? Because we’re trying to see guys that are coming back and limiting their snaps, so we need some people to be able to put out there.

Q:That’s what I thought.

A: Then why did you ask?

Q: I need you to say it.

A: Why? Don’t quote me on it.

Q: With your defensive ends, who do you really see as ready to step up without Jason Pierre-Paul here?

A: Well, they’re going to have to. Damontre [Moore] has done a pretty good job in the early going. Robert Ayers. The young guy, Owa [Odighizuwa], he missed a lot of the spring. He’s a guy that we’re going to end up counting on, too.

Q: How much does it help having Jon Beason out here?

A: A lot. Refocuses everybody. He’s got great energy. Very positive guy, good leadership.

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 fourth training camp practice will be held on Monday 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 six remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:

  • 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 162015
 
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Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Wide Receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © 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: Wide Receivers

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: Perhaps the two biggest story lines of the 2014 season for the New York Giants were at the wide receiver position. First came the devastating knee injury to Victor Cruz in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 5. Cruz was lost for the final 11 games of the season and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to his pre-injury form.

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. Cruz and Beckham only played in two games together in 2014 before Cruz was lost for the season. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying. Marcus Harris impressed in training camp but missed the season with a hip injury. The Giants signed veteran Kevin Olgree in October, but he did not see much action. Julian Talley, Juron Criner, and Chris Harper were practice squad players.

In the end, it was Beckham and not much else at the crucial wide receiver spot. Other teams knew that too and still could not stop Beckham.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants released Kevin Ogletree in May after re-signing him in February and waived Marcus Harris in July. The team chose not to re-sign Jerrel Jernigan in free agency. The Giants signed Dwayne Harris from the Dallas Cowboys and drafted Geremy Davis in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. They also signed Ben Edwards, who was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014 after graduating from the University of Richmond, but sat out the year recovering from an ACL knee injury.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The two main stories are obviously going to be Beckham and Cruz. Can Beckham make the same impact or better in 2015 or will he regress? How will he handle the attention both on and off the field? How much of an impact will he make on the win-loss record? Beckham was once again nagged by a hamstring issue that caused him to miss most of the spring practices.

The other main story is Cruz. The Giants have repeatedly said that they are optimistic about his return to form, but there are no guarantees that may never be the same player again. If he isn’t the same player, it will be a big hit to the team as Cruz was one of the few impact players on the Giants. Cruz may also not be long for the Giants given his high price tag. But if Cruz does return to form, he and Beckham and Randle could form possibly the best receiving corps in football and help carry the team to the playoffs. So much of the team’s success depends on Beckham and Cruz. It will be interesting to see how much work Cruz gets at training camp and in the preseason. He appears to have made tremendous progress in his rehabilitation.

Randle also will also be under the spotlight. Although he had his best season to date in 2014, he was still inconsistent and was benched twice for disciplinary reasons. But he also exploded in the last two games, catching 12 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown. Plus it’s a contract year for Randle. If he plays like he did in the final two games, that will be a big asset for the Giants.

Corey Washington also made a lot of noise in the spring practices. “He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster,” QB Eli Manning said. “I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades but just kind of adding the complete package to his game.”

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six wide receivers. Barring injury or unforeseen events, Beckham, Cruz, Randle, and special teams extraordinaire Dwayne Harris are the sure bets. That leaves two spots for Parker, Washington, Davis, Edwards, Criner, Talley, and Harper.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Sean Ryan on Odell Beckham: “A lot of different things (make him tick). 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 he 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…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 him, but the first thing is they have to find him.”

Ryan on Rueben Randle: “I thought Rube did a nice job. He 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.”

Ryan on Corey Washington and Preston Parker: “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.”

PREDICTIONS: Why have the Giants struggled so much since 2011? Because they haven’t had enough top NFL talent. Super Bowl-caliber teams need strong overall rosters but they also need impact players. It’s no accident that there has been a noticeable lack of NYG presence on “Top 100″, All-Star, and Pro Bowl lists. Two guys who can be impact players are Beckham and Cruz. And for the Giants to have any realistic shot at the Super Bowl, these two – along with Eli Manning – must carry the offense similar to what Manning, Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks did in the 2011 regular-season.

Beckham seems “Lawrence Taylor”-like to me. If he can do for the offense what LT did for the defense in the 1980’s, this is going to be a fun. I just hope the limelight doesn’t go to his head because that and injury appear the only things that can derail him.

As for Cruz, in a weird way, the injury may end up positively impacting his career. Since peaking in 2011-12, Cruz wasn’t playing up to the same level before the injury. The contract and limelight may have gotten to his head. Now Cruz will have to fight to prove the doubters wrong. He’s no longer the media darling. Beckham is. If his body doesn’t fail him, Cruz could rebound in a very big way. In the clutch, Eli trusts him. I think Cruz will be ready for opening night.

The Giants are in a catch-22 situation with Randle. If he has a big year, it’s hard to see him wanting to re-sign with the Giants next offseason unless the team decides to part ways with Cruz. On the other hand, if he remains inconsistent, the team may not want to keep him. Regardless, it’s a big year for him financially, and because of that, I expect him to play well.

“This is a big year for me, and I’m looking forward to being the player I know I can be,” said Randle. “I get it now. I know what’s expected of me, and now I’m just going to go out there and prove it every day. That’s my main focus.”

My ultimate prediction is that this trio will combine with Eli Manning to get the team back into the playoffs in 2015. Beckham, Cruz, and Randle have a higher upside than Cruz, Nicks, and Mario Manningham.

One final note. It seems as if the Giants may have an offensive role in mind for Harris too. They may move him around a bit like they do with Beckham to take advantage of his elusiveness with the ball in his hands after the catch.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Beckham, Cruz, Randle, Harris, Davis, and Washington. The tough call here is on Preston Parker. He could push Davis or Washington.

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:

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Owamagbe Odighizuwa, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 16, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants three-day mini-camp was held on Tuesday. 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), DE Robert Ayers (sprained ankle), DE Damontre Moore (recovering from shoulder surgery), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice or fully practice.

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As expected, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has yet to sign his Franchise tender, was a no-show. Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn said that he has met with Pierre-Paul a number of times this offseason. “I have been in touch with him and he came up here and we met with him for a few days,” said Nunn. “We have been in touch with him throughout… I have fed him some of the stuff as we’ve gone and progressed through and he was here and I met with him probably four or five times, maybe even six or seven times. We kind of implemented some of the stuff and how it is going to be introduced when we get to training camp. I thought he had a very good grasp of it when he left… All of my contact with JPP has been positive… He seems to be in a very good place mentally and working out and keeping in very good shape.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team offensive line remained LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, OC Weston Richburg, RG Geoff Schwartz, and RT Marshall Newhouse.
  • Brandon Mosley saw some reps at right tackle with the second team.
  • First-team defensive ends remained George Selvie and Cullen Jenkins.
  • Kerry Wynn, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and Jordan Stanton saw reps at defensive end with the second team.
  • Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn remained the first-team defensive tackles.
  • The starting linebacking corps was J.T. Thomas, Jon Beason, and Jonathan Casillas.
  • Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor remained the first-team safeties.
  • QB Eli Manning hit TE Daniel Fells for a touchdown on a seam pass, beating S Landon Collins. (Video)
  • Manning then found RB Shane Vereen for a short touchdown reception.
  • RB Andre Williams looked good catching a pass out of the backfield from QB Ryan Nassib. (Video)
  • LB Uani’ Unga intercepted a tipped throw from QB Ryan Nassib.
  • WR Corey Washington made a one-handed reception on a deep throw over CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
  • CB Prince Amukamara had good coverage on a deep sideline throw to WR Geremy Davis.
  • S Justin Currie tipped a pass intended for WR Marcus Harris and S Mykkele Thompson intercepted the deflected ball.
  • QB Eli Manning hit WR Preston Parker down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
  • On the next play, CB Prince Amukamara intercepted Manning. (Video)

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

Q: Any difference for you for what you do in OTAs versus mini-camp?

A: Not really. What you do is you have a 10-day series of objectives and you get to the camp and you revitalize your objectives. Present it as we did this morning to the players and talk about how important these three days are and what they lead up to. Set a theme whereby you jump on that again on Thursday afternoon.

Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: It looked like the defense was playing a lot better today… Are they progressing according to schedule or is there even a schedule?

A: Sure, there is a schedule. They have had a whole lot thrown at them and they have done decently with it. They worked didn’t work as good as at the end of last week and that is probably why you saw better here today.

Q: Is Odell [Beckham Jr.] just not going to do anything this week?

A: I don’t think so, but he was running around on the field out there. He seemed to be doing okay.

Q: Is it hard to get a bead on what you have here with three of your best players not participating with Odell, Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul?

A: Is that one of those rhetorical questions? Yes. I mean, I can see what we can do. At least I got to see Odell for a while, but there is no doubt. You have a lot of timing involved. You have a two-minute drill you are trying to time things up. You are trying to create some – ball gets out the quarterback hands quickly. I don’t know exactly what the issue was here today, but the offense wasn’t very good in the two minutes.

Q: Do you play it safer with Odell for the purpose of this being a June mini-camp?

A: No, whatever the medical people tell me is what we do. If he could go, he would be out there.

Q: [Defensive Line Coach Robert] Nunn was saying he has had contact with JPP and senses he is up to speed as much as he can be without being here… Do you have a sense of security…?

A: All I know is that he is not here. That is all I know. He has been here for a couple of days. He spent a couple days in the classroom. He seemed to do well with the information that was given up to that point, but since he has left, he obviously has received nothing. All I know is that he is not here.

Q: Can you comment on the Stony Brook guys?

A: They are no doubt happy to be here. They are working hard. There is an awful lot of stuff. Michael [Bamiro] has been around a little bit, so he has grasped what we are doing a little quicker. We are getting some things done with the other guy. Will [Tye] is doing okay.

Q: You had Bamiro at guard a little bit today?

A: He has been playing some guard. Either way.

Q: You have been moving the linemen around whether it is between guard or tackle?

A: Normal for this time of year. Probably for training camp, too.

Q: Is it just to see what the best fit for guys is?

A:  [It is to] make sure they well versed in playing whatever position we put them at. We are looking for versatility. We are looking for combinations.

Q: What is Devon Kennard’s status?

A: He warmed up and did some things. It is a hamstring.

Q: Having gone through the hamstring with Odell, does it change at all? Are you doing anything differently?

A: We approach it the same way, but we don’t have our head in the sand. We know the guy has an issue. I think the training room is well aware of that.

Q: Why not keep him inside? What is the thinking behind that?

A: He works with the trainers. He does some work on the side. He jumps over there and gets on the JUGS machine. Plus, why have him inside when the football is out here. He can absorb information based on the fact that he knows the play. Sees the coverage, knows what the reaction should be and benefits from the corrections. That is why he is out here.

Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Steve Spagnuolo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEVE SPAGNUOLO…
Steve Spagnuolo addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

It has been great to be here. I can’t remember the last time we spoke. It might have been during Phase 2 or OTA’s, but it is great to get out on the field with the guys. That is when you get a true feel for what you have, where you are at and where you are going. We are in the middle of that and I look forward to continuing it. The way Coach has it structured the next three days I think will be exciting for us and hopefully when it is all said and done, we feel real good.

Q: Do you have a better handle on what your roster is and the talent on it?

A: I think better than when we began. I think I have mentioned this before; it won’t be until we get to the third day of training camp that we play real football. We can tell a certain number of things to a certain point in these practices. Certainly from the chin to the hairline if people are getting it. We say we are evaluating everybody on their ability to learn, which we can get a feel for that. Footwork you can get a feel for and hand placement and things like that defensively. I was talking about this with the D-line this morning – footwork is different when you don’t have any protection and pads on than when you are pressing up against people and doing the things you need to do when you have pads on. It is an ebb and flow. It is a 50/50, but do I have a better feel than I did two months ago, yeah. The answer to that would be yes.

Q: Have you had much contact with Jason [Pierre-Paul]?

A: Yeah. Not as much contact as I would like, but he is doing well. What is really hard when you come in new and you have a player in that situation is you want to start a rapport and a relationship, coach-player, and friendship. It makes it a little bit difficult, but we have all been through this. It is part of the league. We will just keep grinding away.

Q: How much will JPP’s absence put him behind?

A: He is going to be behind because there is a lot we are doing right now, but he had been around for a period of time. He did a little bit of the mental work, which I greatly appreciated. I thought that spoke volumes to who he is and what he is about and how important it is to him. Because it is new – terminology is big in this league on both sides of the ball. Hopefully he is up to that challenge and we can get up to speed real quick.

Q: Do you consider JPP an elite pass rusher?

A: He looks pretty elite to me. The simple answer to that would be yes. Anybody can put a highlight film together and make a play look great. If you just watch tape with JPP out there, it is evident to me that he is an elite defensive end and fits a 4-3 system, which is exciting.

Q: Would you like this to be a more aggressive Giants defense than what you have seen in previous years?

A: I am not going back or passing judgment on any years. I think we all can agree in here that if you are going to be good on defense, it needs to be aggressive. If you look around the league – I was very fortunate to be a part of one the past two years down south on I-95 [Baltimore Ravens] that is aggressive and physical. I think all good defenses in this league function that way. We would like to get to that point as well. How and when and where we will get with all that, we will see as we go. It is pretty tough to stress physical when you can’t really do physical out on the field. I think the mindset is there, but we will just see where we are at when we get to training camp.

Q: What did the experience in Baltimore do for you?

A: That could take a long time, and I say that in a positive way. Early on it was a rough period for me, but it was great that first year to just sit back and communicate with [Ravens Head Coach] John [Harbaugh] on head coaching things, work with the defense, see things from just sitting back and not being involved in a lot other then recommendations. The second year being back as a position coach, sometimes I think that is good for head coaches and coordinators to do periodically. You grow to appreciate the job a position coach has to do. Being around that system, which really is pretty different than what I had been used to with [former Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Jim Johnson, here in New York, what we took to St. Louis and New Orleans, etcetera, it was nice to get a new perspective on scheme. I am talking more about base defense than sub-defense. [Baltimore] is in what they say is a 3-4, but it is more of an under scheme. We will pick apart what we think are the meat and the good things from that and try to add them in. If you try to do too much, it won’t be any good. I thought it was very valuable. I am indebted and thankful to the people there. [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti, [Ravens General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and certainly John, who is a close friend of mine.

Q: Do you take anything from the 2007 Giants defense when guys didn’t have the light go off in regards to your system until the third game and can you apply that to this team?

A:  Definitely. It is a little bit of force-feeding right now. I do think it is important to be multiple in this league because offenses are multiple and you have to have an answer for certain things. There will come a point as we get closer to that first game when we are going to have to make a decision and say, ‘This is it.’ If we do too much, we become less as a unit. You are always weighing that out on either side of the ball in anything you do in this league, is the too much, ‘don’t let their mind clutter up their feet’ is one of the sayings. I will always go back on that. I did even the other places I went to. We will be careful of that. I think our guys are handling it right now. There is a ways to go. We are going to make those kinds of decisions as we go along the way here. That is why we are fortunate that we still have four preseason games. Thank God. I wish we had another one to figure all that out. That will be an important piece of it, especially early.

Q: Was that a lesson you learned in 2007 about installing a new defense?

A: No, we had used that a lot before. Going back to that, I will tell you this, I am not sure we had as much in then as we might have now or we did in after that. Obviously at that particular time – the one little element, I know you all remember this, my friend Michael [Strahan] wasn’t here for most of that. He was an integral part of the whole thing. [Strahan] and I have talked about that. It took a little while for him to get going, and yet when all the pieces fell together, I think we did pretty good.

Q: How much do you feel like you have grown since the last time you were a defensive coordinator?

A: The hope is, and I think I have said this before, we grow more in anything. It doesn’t matter whether it is coaching or life, we always grow more in adversity than we do in the good times. I believe that. Especially if you go through the right way and look back and use it the right way. I think sometimes I probably had too much experience. I had too much defense. You can have too much of that, too, so I am always careful of that. My hope is that I am better at this position than I was the first time. I guess we will find out.

Q: A lot of people in your position use the word ‘humbled’ … Do you think that is appropriate for you or is there another word?

A: I am probably not the right one to ask. This is how I feel about everything I have been through, especially being in this league. To me, this profession I am in and the ability to have been in is a blessing to me. I have never taken it for granted. I never thought I was anything better than just a normal person trying to work hard at a job, so I hope the ups and downs that I had been through weren’t what I needed to be humbled. That would be my hope. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know, but I do know it opens your eyes. It reveals who you are and what you are made of and the people you are around and what they mean to you and what they are able to give you through the tough times. I don’t know if humbling is the right word or not. It is an education if you use it the right way. I have spoken to people before about the past and I know this much, when you are in the middle of it, you have two choices: you can either be bitter or you can get better. I made a conscious decision in my mind to get better. I hope I have done that.

Q: How do you feel about the safeties on the roster and the progress the younger guys have made?

A: Young. There is youth and inexperience there. It doesn’t matter what system you are in, in my opinion, defensively, those two particular guys [at the safety spots] are really important. Everyone else relies on them. The quicker we can get to the other nine trusting them, the better off we will be. I am not sure we are there yet. I think it is going to be a work in progress, but we will get there. Guys can do it. That is why I wish we had another 10 OTAs. The players don’t want to hear me say that, but it would be helpful.

Q: Do you feel any better about the safety position now as compared to how you did heading into the offseason program?

A: Right now it is a challenge. Challenge is probably the best word. It is a challenge for our patience and our trust in them. Everyday it gets better, I can tell you that. I do think everyday there is a trust gained there from linebackers to corners and back to the safeties. Those are the guys that really need them. I think our other guys who, the non-safeties that rely on them, are doing a good job being patient and letting them try to work through it, rather than trying to overstate them or jump the gun and make the call, so to speak. I have asked them to do that and I think that is important. We have a long ways to go in my opinion.

Q: What can we expect from the Giants defense this year?

A: I will let you know in a couple of months. I know where you are going with it, but I am not a predication guy. I don’t make those kind of bold statements. I will say this, I believe we are getting everything out of them right now. I have no qualms with the effort and the attendance has been great. I know we are working through one issue. That part of it has been great and that is all you can ask for right now. I think I mentioned this to you before that the main focus, one of the first things I said in the meetings, was to make sure the number one goal is that we are better today than we were yesterday. I think if we live by that and able to accomplish part of that, then we will be okay.

Q: Are you starting to see the identity of the defense take place after showing them the past great Giants defenses and defenders?

A: A little bit. It is hard to see it until you are competing against somebody else. The idea there was that if they could embrace the tradition, the great tradition of New York Giants defense, then they could be proud of it. If you are proud of something, then you tend to protect it. It has been fun working through that. We showed, since we last talked, I can’t remember the timing of it all, but one day we did the 1986 NFC Championship Game. Then we have some other games. We were talking about this two days ago. I have saved some for training camp. We have some players we still need to put up there. To me, it is fun; look, we are all rallying around together as a unit learning things. I test them every once in a while to see if they remember. They don’t always remember. They are getting the point. They like it, too.

Q: Who are your best students?

A: Mark Herzlich was outstanding. I think he had typed up, ready to go the next day. I had to make sure he didn’t tell anybody else because he made it easy. He had his cheat notes and he was ready to roll. Mark was great.

Q: How much of the emphasis is on stopping the run before pressure defense?

A: It always comes before, in my opinion. Now we do have run-pressures, which I hope help. When you are talking about stopping the run, it does come back to the guys up front. It doesn’t matter what you draw up on the board, in my opinion. Guys up front have to do it first, then the second level behind them have to do it next, then when all else fails, you have to have guys in a position that those plays don’t become big plays. I totally understand what you are saying. It is not all about pressure and blitzing. That is not necessarily the answer. It is about fundamentals and playing good, strong, solid, physical football up front to stop the run. That will be a focus. Tough to do now when all you have protection-wise is a helmet.

DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ROBERT NUNN…
Robert Nunn addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: What have you seen or heard from JPP?

A: Well, obviously he is not here but I have been in touch with him and he came up here and we met with him for a few days. He has got a start of what is going to be expected when he gets here in the beginning of it and we have been in touch with him throughout and that is really all I have to say about it. Obviously we’d like to have him here, but I don’t get involved in that, but he has got some of the stuff that we dished to him when he gets back.

Q: So he has a playbook and can go over it?

A: Not all of it, but I have fed him some of the stuff as we’ve gone and progressed through and he was here and I met with him probably four or five times, maybe even six or seven times. We kind of implemented some of the stuff and how it is going to be introduced when we get to training camp. I thought he had a very good grasp of it when he left and when he gets here we’ll start and that is where we’ll begin.

Q: Was that all at the beginning of the offseason program when you met with him? Or was it something recent with him coming into town?

A: Yeah, it was right near the beginning.

Q: Do you expect him to pick up sort of where he left off? At the end of the year he was playing at that JPP level.

A: Yeah, you would hope so. His numbers increased there at the end. I thought he did some good things throughout but just didn’t have the numbers to show for it, and I have said that over and over, sacks are a little overrated, but his quarterback hits and his pressures, he was doing some good things. They were counting for him in a lot of different ways and he took advantage of some opportunities there at the end and got his numbers up. His tackles had to be up there in the top of the league. I don’t know where he was, but he had to be top two or three as far as the production and as far as in the run game and his pass production there at the end. I think it is just coming in healthy and in the right frame of mind and getting ready to start, he is going to be behind but that is where we will start.

Q: Do you get the sense that he is going to come in with the right frame of mind?

A: All of my contact with JPP has been positive. It is what it is; I don’t get involved with the business side of it. He seems to be in a very good place mentally and working out and keeping in very good shape. His weight was in a good place and so we’ll see when we begin.

Q: How hard is this defense to pick up? Is that really the part that he is missing now?

A: Yeah, there are wrinkles that you have got to be here to pick up and he has got to take it from the classroom to the field, but those things, we will begin in training camp and we will make it work.

Q: Is there still ample time with training camp in your mind?

A: Yes, if he comes in with the right frame of mind and in good shape, he will be ready to go.

Q: When you are evaluating the defensive front, if it were a lesser player, it would be easy to kind of put that player out of your mind. But I would imagine when you are evaluating right now, it is the opposite; it is imagining what it will be like when he is there. Is that fair?

A: Yeah, there is some of that. When we have a player that is as talented as him, he is not out there right now but the guys that are here are doing a hell of a job. They are doing exactly what we have asked them to do. Coaches told them and I have told them that we can’t get caught up in that; we don’t have anything to do with that. Who is here is going to work and they have done a good job with that.

Q: When Steve Spagnuolo was here the first time, he had a heavy rotation of defensive ends that could sack the quarterback; he had Strahan, Tuck and Osi. Beyond JPP, what do you have and what do you like about what you have?

A: The one issue is that some of the guys are limited right now because of injury so they haven’t been out there. We haven’t been able to evaluate that yet because some of them are not out there. The ones that are out there are doing what we ask them to do and some of that stuff that you are talking about will all take care of itself once we get into training camp, once we start out there with live bullets flying and then that will settle and take care of itself as far as the rotation and how we rotate people.

Q: Where do you see Cullen Jenkins fitting in? Is he a tackle, an end or is he both?

A: I think he can help us in a lot of different [ways], it all depends. We are letting him work more at end for one reason, because of numbers, but I can see him doing some more work for us out there. At his age and stage in his career, we have to take care of him and move him around a little bit. I have been very impressed with him at this point. He got the calf last year and was off to a good start but he never was the same after the calf injury. He has come in here healthy, good frame of mind and we have moved him around a little bit and will continue the next three days to move him around a little bit. We will try to take care of him during training camp and get ready to go.

Q: What have you seen from some of the new guys?

A: Selvie is solid, he is a solid pro. He played well last year in Dallas and he has been steady. Some of the other guys, Jay Bromley has got to continue to improve with technique, Kenrick Ellis has got to continue to improve and I think they have made the effort to do that and we have to continue that.

Markus Kuhn, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Markus Kuhn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: What does Markus Kuhn need to prove to you guys?

A: He has got to continue to do what he is doing. He has given us some quality reps last year and I have been very impressed with him during the OTAs. The thing he has got to do is produce when we get in pads and that is the same way with Jay, Kenrick and that group right there. When we get in pads and, like I said earlier, when the live bullets start being fired, production is going to tell us a lot about who is going to be playing and how the rotation is going to work.

Q: Has that been the thing with him? You have seen it maybe on the practice field but it hasn’t always translated to the live bullets?

A: He needs to increase his production but we all need to do that. He is a steady hand and a very good leader in the classroom, very good leader in our room. He is a quality guy and he has got it in front of him this year, this will be a big year for him.

Q: How high is the ceiling for Johnathan Hankins?

A: He really surprised a lot of people with his pass rush. Everybody thought that he was a run stopper coming out but those sacks were legit. He had some legit numbers and a lot of quarterback hits and pressures, came up big in some key situations and I really like where Hank is. He has got to continue to improve with technique. That is where his big improvement has got to be going into training camp but I think that it is a very good situation. He has got a chance to be a solid player for a very long time in this league.

Q: Is that pass rushing ability of his something that just happens when he sees an opportunity or more when you free him up?

A: I think that people underestimate him as a pass rusher. He wasn’t a great pass rusher coming out but he has really worked on a few things that have really made him effective. When they left him one on one the guy took advantage of it. When those guards have to block him one on one, he is powerful and deceivingly quick. He has got better speed and quickness than what people thing he does.

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

Q: What have you seen so far from J.T. Thomas?

A: He is very athletic. That is what I like about him. He will be a great addition to our teams. Special teams and athletically as a linebacker he can cover. He is tough. He is going to fill that role, both in base and in sub. We can do a lot of different things with him.

Q: Do you see him getting any time at the middle linebacker spot or mostly weak side?

A: In our base, he is an outside linebacker and in sub, we play him some in the middle. It is a very fluid deal in sub defense, so he can play in or out.

Q: What kind of improvement has Devon Kennard shown from his rookie year up until now?

A: I think number one, he is more confident in himself as a player. He knows now he can play in the league. That takes you a long way. Just refining his technique and his footwork and trying to get the best of both worlds.

Q: Where do you see Jameel McClain fitting in?

A: I think Jameel is versatile enough. He has played all three positions, so he can play in and out. He is a tough guy, which is good, so you want him in there in the run game. He is athletic enough to play in subs. It gives us a big luxury because we have a lot of guys that have played NFL snaps and to me as a coach, that is luxury to have because a lot of times you don’t have that as a linebacker coach. It is nice to have them where you can do anything.

Q: Is it possible that your three best guys might be Jon Beason, Jameel McClain and Devon Kennard, but they might not be the three best guys to have on the field at the same time?

A: I think to me, when you go out, you are going to put the three best people on the field. Why would you have the best guys standing next to you? Whatever the position is… Who are the best guys? Those are the guys that are going to play. That is what the players are striving to be. They are striving to be the best three linebackers, the best four linebackers. To me, that has always been true, ever since I started coaching. The best guys are going to play, especially at the linebacker position, since they are all very similar.

Q: Do you feel like the talent you have top to bottom in your group is the best you have had since you have been here?

A: That is a true statement. Nothing against those other guys. I don’t want them to feel bad. Talent-wise, yes.

Q: Because you can do so many things?

A: Yeah, they are versatile guys and what is really nice is they are veteran guys. They have played NFL snaps. You have a lot of guys who have played a lot of snaps in football, in real games. That is good to have.

Q: Without Antrel Rolle, many people are expecting Beason to be the leader of the entire defense… Do you think he is capable of doing that?

A: Yeah, he is a born leader. He has always been that way since the day he got into the league. Since he was at Miami, he was a leader. I think he likes that role and he wants that role. You want a guy like that.

Q: Are J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas similar to you?

A: They are both very athletic guys. They are different kinds of players, but they are both very athletic and can move well. You like that. It is hard right now for me because you don’t have pads on. You will find out a lot more once the pads go on. With their body of work in the NFL, they are both tough guys who can play.

CORNERBACKS COACH TIM WALTON…
Tim Walton addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How physical do the corners have to be in this defense?

A: Well, it all depends on the coverage situation but what we try to preach is we want guys to be able to tackle [and] we need guys to be able to tackle. This league is about finding matchups and they will try and go after the weak links and guys that don’t do it, so we try to preach that we are going to have all our guys solid at tackling and being physical and getting off blocks and doing all the fundamental things that come with football, we have to get that down.

Q: We know from years ago when Steve Spagnuolo was here that he has a very aggressive defense up front. Are they aggressive in the secondary, too, in a way that the corners try to attack the receivers?

A: Yeah, that is the thing. The guys like it and it is fun for them to get a chance. You know how it goes, you either apply pressure or you feel it. Steve has done a great job with a history of doing things and the guys here have embraced it, they love the system and they love what he is doing. As a coach, I try to make sure that I rely on the message and rely on the techniques and be his voice of making sure we get done on the backend what he needs to get done for the defense to be successful.

Q: It does seem that the more you attack and apply pressure, the more defensive players are happy?

A: Yeah, and now we’ve just got to be good at executing things. Whatever he calls, that is the job on the backend. You are usually dealing with four, a lot of times five or six DBs, on the field at one time, so that is a big number of guys, so we have to be on the same page and the cohesiveness and the chemistry and all that stuff is critical to our development and our success.

Q: One of the guys the last couple years has been Jayron Hosley that just seems like they are constantly trying to bring his talent out. What have you seen from Jayron?

A: He has it, 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.

Q: Was he a guy that you felt like you had to break down a little bit once you got here to kind of get him back to where he felt like he was on a level playing field?

A: Well, everybody for me started in the same boat because they are all new to me. Even the guys that had been here and had been playing a lot, it was a new situation, there were going to be some changes and some differences on how things were. That relationship was starting from the communication and what we expect and the approach we are going to take was kind of done with everybody but with him, I know he has that talent and it was more of confidence and being able to be consistent so that we know what we are getting everyday from his body of work.

Q: Do you see him as a guy who can play inside in the nickel or is he mostly an outside guy?

A: 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.

Q: What about Prince can he still improve?

A: Oh yeah, 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.

Q: A year ago DRC came here and the idea was he was an elite corner who would be following the best receiver. In year two, what do you sense from DRC where he is and what you guys want out of him?

A: Yeah, well, he 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 matchups.

SAFETIES COACH DAVID MERRITT…
David Merritt addressed the media before the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):

Q: How is Landon Collins coming along?

A: Good. The rookie pitfalls that they all fall into, which is thinking you can come in here and that you know it all. Then you find out you don’t know much of anything and he has a situation now that he feels the pressure. He has to make the calls and get everyone lined up and he talked a good game as far as what he had to do at Alabama and I believe that. Now when you are trying to line up grown men who have wives and children at home and they need that call from you, it is a little different than lining up a freshman. The call has to be right. Right now, he is slow to go, which was expected, but he has to pick it up quickly for us to be successful.

Q: How hard is it at that position to come in as a rookie and start right away?

A: I think it is extremely hard. You are the ‘the extension of the defensive coordinator.’ Whatever call comes in, you need to be able to hear the call, accept the call and then spit it back out to your fellow teammates. For a rookie to come in and have that pressure, to be the extension of the defensive coordinator, I know we have the right one doing it, but it is extremely difficult.

Q: From what you have seen early on, do you think he is capable of doing that?

A: I do, I really do. He is starting to realize that these missed alignments and the minus plays, I have to cut those out of my game in order for the guys around me to trust me. That is what he wants to be. He wants to be a leader. Okay, we are putting him out there. I think he is going to be ready to go, definitely, for Dallas.

Q: How has Cooper Taylor come along after missing the year?

A: Cooper is coming along well. Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper’s body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him. The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor – he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us.

Q: How much has it hurt Nat Berhe not being able to get on the field?

A: That hurts tremendously because all the reps that Cooper and Landon and Mykkele [Thompson] and some of the other guys have taken, Nat would have been right in there with all the other guys. By him standing on the sideline and taking mental reps – I understand you are taking mental reps, but it is different. It is not the same as putting your body through the motions and making your body react to different movements that the receivers are stemming at you. It is going to definitely hurt him and set him back a little bit, but hopefully he can come back at training camp and be ready to fight for a starting job.

Q: How is Mykkele Thompson coming along?

A: Mykkele, I knew was a smart kid. He came here and he is a cerebral kid, that is for sure. He is going to take what I say literally and take my word for it and go out and try to execute it. Now I am starting to see that the kid actually has some football awareness, where I didn’t think he had much of it when we first started off. The [missed alignments] that started at the beginning of rookie mini-camp and OTAs have drastically gone down. Mentally, he has excelled past my expectations.

Q: Are you eager to see how he holds up physically?

A: Absolutely. Long arms. We did a drill the other day where he was having to punch a bag and escape from the blocker and to see his arms and the extension of his arms, that was good to see. I am definitely interested to see him in the pads.

Q: How has Bennett Jackson handled the moved from corner to safety?

A: It has been good. You are going from the outside where you are playing on an island and then all of sudden, you go to a back end position where you have to see the formation and play, the moving parts, and put people in the right position. Jackson, in his situation right now, there has been a learning curve for him, which has been hard for him. It has been a struggle at first, but out of all the guys, that is one kid that when he puts his foot in the ground, he can go. He can go. I am looking forward to seeing Bennett at camp with pads on because I truly believe he will hit as well.

Q: Has anyone else caught your eye here in the spring?

A: To be honest, the guys that you just named are the ones that I am focusing on. Justin Currie has done a great job, as well, our free agent. Big kid, as well. I am interested to see what he can do once the pads are on his shoulders and hopefully he will be able to be a thumper for us. Those are our crew. Those are our guys.

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

Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Q: Have you seen enough from Dwayne Harris to get an idea of how he is going to fit for you?

A: I had really a good idea before he came in, having faced him for so many years. He has done a nice job assimilating himself and getting the returns down, so we have seen enough, we are pleased.

Q: Do you envision returning kicks and punts being his primary duty?

A: He is going to be a ‘big four’ player, so he will be on all four of the teams and he will make a very good contribution. His coverage skills are equal to his return skills, so that is the nice thing about getting this kind of player.

Q: Do you feel that you have a little deeper of a candidate pool for the return jobs?

A: Well, we always want a deep pool because you know at any time one of those guys can get hurt and we need to put someone else in, so we are always trying to develop depth.

Q: Any of the young guys in particular jumping out at you?

A: As far as coverage guys or return guys?

Q: Return guys

A: Odell has caught punts before but hasn’t done much the last couple of weeks. Edwards, an undrafted player, is starting to make some strides, but we will see once the pads come on and when we go in preseason games.

Q: What do you see from Corey Washington?

A: We just need him to get better so he can contribute on all four. Right now he is a two-team player but we would like to see him on all four so you maximize that roster space and that if he is dressed on game day.

Q: Are the two you are talking about the return games?

A: Yeah, he has primarily been on punt return and kick off return. We would like to develop some of his coverage skills on punt and kickoff.

Q: Still the middle of June, but how do you feel about your overall group?

A: I feel good about them right now. We got some new acquisitions at the linebacker spot and we got some safeties in, which are nice, and getting Bennett Jackson back has been pleasing. The young kid from Texas, Thompson, has done some good things; he is long and has real good speed, so I think he can be pretty versatile for us. Obviously Landon (Collins) has done a nice job in what he have asked him to do, so [I] am pleased with the overall group.

Q: With the change in the extra point kick, will that change the way the kickers are going to be working in training camp?

A: We have always done it. We had two games with it in the preseason last year, so we are well versed in it. We start them at the 15 and then move back from there. It is something that we are used to and it will not be a problem at all.

Q: This isn’t something the linemen seem to excited about. Do you sense that at all?

A: The field goal protection, there are some violent hits that occur. The ante will be raised with the rule and the way that it is written. Points are points, so the guys will be eager to get out there and to get points.

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

  • QB Eli Manning on TE Will Tye: “I think Will, he catches the ball very well, that is always a good thing for a tight end. He seems to be running good routes. He is still getting a feel for the offense and all the ins and outs and going through what a lot of rookies go through in learning a new offense and a lot thrown at them. You see him working every day and in there and competing and making some plays, so that is good.”
  • Will Beatty on his pectoral injury: “It was a freak accident. It wasn’t, I mean I was lifting heavy, but it wasn’t my max. It was just something like, ‘What happened?’ I just don’t really know what happened. I know that I got to go into the recovery looking towards the future rather than the past.”

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TD pass to Shane Vereen. Think we'll see that a few times this year #Giants

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Apr 032015
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (November 4, 2012)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz Begins Running: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz posted a photo on his Instagram account yesterday showing him running inside the team’s indoor practice facility at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

This is the first public evidence that Cruz is running again since tearing the patella tendon in his right knee on October 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles and subsequent surgery. Team officials such as General Manager Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin have said a number of times this offseason while they remain optimistic that Cruz will return to full strength, there are no guarantees.

“When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket,” said Reese on February 21. “Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

“I think (Cruz) will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better,” said Coughin on March 25. “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.”

Good morning world! Not the greatest quality but I think the screen shot speaks for itself. #TheReturn

A photo posted by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

“Big Four” Together at Duke: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz also posted a photo on his Instagram account showing fellow wide receivers Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle as well as quarterback Eli Manning hanging out with him at Duke University. The extent of their athletic interaction is not known.

Jan 282015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

by Brendan Cassidy for BigBlueInteractive.com

The 2014 season was a trying one for the New York Giants.  After one of the busiest offseasons in franchise history, with high turnover at key positions, many were expecting big things from the Boys in Blue.  However, that was not to be, in large thanks to a restructured offensive line and a subpar defense that struggled to get a stop whenever it needed one.  The Giants finished a disappointing 6-10.

Despite all the letdowns from the 2014 season, there were some bright spots in this season of disappointment, the brightest being the emergence of rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr.  In just 12 games during his rookie season, Beckham did the unthinkable: racking up 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs, which were good for top 5 Fantasy Football WR numbers on the season.  Another positive for this Giants squad was the progress Eli made in the West Coast System, under first year Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo.  Coming off a horrendous 2013 season (3,818 yards, 18 TDS, 27 INT), Eli was able to bounce back and have arguably the most productive year of his career throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns to go with only 14 interceptions.  The progress he made throughout the year is definitely encouraging.   I am hopeful he will continue to improve especially if the offensive line problems are addressed this upcoming offseason.  Possibly the biggest spark would be Victor Cruz returning to his old form.  While this is a big “if”, Giants fans have to be drooling at the potential this offense could have in 2015.

While the 2015 season is still more than seven months away, and the Giants personnel is sure to change through the draft and free agency, here are my very early fantasy football projections for the Giants key offensive players at quarterback and wide receiver:

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback:

Quarterback for the Giants is a one-man show, as it has been for more than a decade.  With Eli Manning entering his 12th season and second in McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, it is fair to think he will make even more progress in 2015.  Coming off a horrid 2013 season where many were even questioning Eli’s future with the Giants, Eli was able to prove all the doubters wrong.  McAdoo’s quick-paced gun-slinging offense did wonders for Eli in his first year.  Probably the most telling statistic was the fact that his interception per throw rate went from a career high 4.9% in 2013 to a very respectful 2.3% in 2014.  He finished as the 10th overall fantasy QB in 4 point passing TD leagues ahead of players such as Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and Matthew Stafford while finishing only 3 points behind Tom Brady.

With the wonder Odell Beckham coming back for his second year, the return of Cruz (to what extent is to be seen), Rueben Randle (who really came on in the last few games last season), and an offensive threat at tight end like Larry Donnell, Eli should have plenty of weapons to come back with.  That being said, here are my projections for Eli for the 2015 season:

Eli Manning Projections:

  • Yards: 4,550, Completion Percentage: 63%, Touchdowns: 32, Interceptions 13
  • Fantasy Football QB Rank: 8th Overall

Analysis: While I think it’s fair to say Eli will never be an Elite Fantasy Football Quarterback on the level of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, or Andrew Luck, I think he has the potential to be a serviceable mid- to low-end QB1 this season.  Assuming Cruz comes back somewhere close to what he was before his injury, he has arguably the best weapons of his career.  Look for Eli to have one of, if not the best year of his career next year.

Wide Receiver:

Wide receiver is one of, if not the strongest position on the Giants roster.  Beckham, as you all know, had one of the best rookie seasons of all time for a WR, and with Cruz coming back and Randle looking like a solid number 3, the wide receiver corps has the potential to be special.  Beckham looks to be an elite Fantasy WR next year with the potential to be the top overall WR.  If you average out his stats over 16 games this past season, it comes out to 121 catches, 1,740 yards, and 16 touchdowns.  That is 24.67 points per game in a PPR league and 17 points per game in non-PPR, edging out Antonio Brown for tops in the entire NFL, who had 24.31 in PPR and 16.12 in Non-PPR respectively.  The sky is the limit for Beckham.  Let’s just hope he can stay healthy and continue to produce at this level.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (September 21, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As for Victor Cruz, he is probably the toughest player to evaluate for next season.  So much hinges on his health and if he can return to his former self, and how the emergence of Odell Beckham as the clear-cut number 1 will affect his performance.  He has played with Hakeem Nicks while he was in his prime, so I don’t think the latter will be an issue.  More than anything, what concerns me the most is the grueling rehabilitation he is currently going through.  Returning to the player he was will be a tough task.  Before his injury, he was a borderline top 10 Fantasy WR, but now it is hard to gauge.  If he returns as a fantasy WR3, (somewhere in the range of 1,000 yards 6-8 TDS), I think Giants fans have to be thrilled.  Assuming Beckham has the year we all expect from him next year, this would be great production from the Giants top 2 WRs next season.  But we won’t really know until he steps onto the field come August.

Rueben Randle seems to be seen as a scapegoat and disappointment by many on BBI, which in some aspects is fair.  As a second round pick and looked at as polished player coming out of college and a “safe” pick, many here had high hopes for him.  He has had trouble running correct routes in the past (which led to a good amount of Eli’s interceptions in 2013) and had many poorly-timed drops when it mattered most.  However, at the end of 2014, when many had given up on him, he showed glimpses of the player he could become.  He finished the season with a very respectable 71 catches for 938 yards and 3 TDs.  Granted, part of this was aided by 132 yard and 158 yard performances the last 2 weeks of the season.  While I don’t necessarily think his catches and yards will go up in 2015, due to the return of Cruz, I do expect him to be much more polished with better route running and fewer mistakes.  Look for him to still be in the WR3/Flex conversation from a fantasy perspective.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Odell Beckham Projections:

  • 118 Catches, 1660 yards, 15 Touchdowns, 120 Rushing Yards
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank: 2nd Overall

Analysis: All signs point towards a monster season for Beckham.  With these projections, he would finish with 386 points in a PPR League.  This would leave him second only to Antonio Brown’s 388 based on this year’s results.  While this is slightly less production per game than this past year, I believe with the return of Cruz this would be a phenomenal output from Beckham.  The other factor being defenses will have a full year to study tape, and focus their game plans on containing him.  He is a bona-fide first round draft pick this upcoming year especially in PPR leagues.  If you miss on one of the elite RBs, you should seriously consider nabbing him in the mid-to late-first round.

Victor Cruz Projections:

  • 64 Catches, 870 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank:  28th Overall

Analysis:  Coming off Cruz’s injury, I think expectations have to be tempered.  With Cruz looking to be a number 2 at best in this upcoming season, these numbers would be very respectable and great production for a second WR.  Cruz will be in the Fantasy WR3 conversation, with a bit of upside.  Definitely a value pick in later rounds of drafts if he returns anywhere near to the player he was pre-injury.  Cruz is worth consideration after the 7th round in a 10-team draft.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Rueben Randle Projections:

  • 53 Catches, 720 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank: 52nd Overall

Analysis: Like I mentioned earlier, I think Randle will have his best season as a pro in 2015.  While this doesn’t necessarily mean more fantasy production with the return of Cruz as the clear number 2, I think he will prove to be a reliable number 3 and he will continue to improve as an overall player in a crucial make or break contract year.  He is probably worth a late-round flyer in deeper leagues (while knowing there is limited upside), unless Cruz gets re-injured or is completely ineffective coming back from his injury.

If a few things go the Giants way next season, look for them to have a ton of Fantasy value from the quarterback and wide receiver position.  Next week I will take a look at the Giants’ running back and tight end fantasy value going into the 2015 season.

Brendan Cassidy has over 15 year of experience in fantasy football in both league and daily fantasy formats and is an avid New York Giants fan.

Jan 272015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Perhaps the two biggest story lines of the 2014 season for the New York Giants were at the wide receiver position. First came the devastating knee injury to Victor Cruz in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 5. Cruz was lost for the final 11 games of the season and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to his pre-injury form.

“It is a significant injury that he has,” said General Manager Jerry Reese after the season. “You never know how he is going to come back from that. We are hoping that he is definitely going to come back and be the Victor Cruz that we know. You never know with the significant injury he had. We are hopeful that he will come back and be the Victor Cruz that we like, but you never know.”

The other major story line was the rapid emergence of Odell Beckham as an NFL superstar. The irony is that Cruz and Beckham only played one game together in 2014, and that was the game Cruz got injured. Beckham had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, and he did so in only 12 games, and playing with significant hamstring tears. Indeed, Beckham became the only reason many Giants fans looked forward to tuning in in what otherwise was a very disappointing 6-10 season. Right or wrong, his performance may also have saved Tom Coughlin’s job as one wonders what the Giants’ record would have been without him.

Aside from these two headliners, while Rueben Randle came on strong late, he did not have the type of season expected or hoped for, and the former 2nd rounder remains frustratingly inconsistent. Jerrel Jernigan, who came on very strong at the end of the 2013 NFL season, reverted back to his old disappointing form and was placed on IR after only two games. Preston Parker not only surprisingly made the team but became the new #3 receiver after Cruz was lost. Corey Washington was a preseason star who was little-used once the real bullets started flying.

In the end, it was Beckham and not much else at the crucial wide receiver spot. Other teams knew that too and still could not stop Beckham.

THE HEADLINERS

Despite missing virtually all of training camp, the entire preseason, and the first four games of the regular season with hamstring tears, Odell Beckham, Jr. had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history in 2014. Beckham finished the season with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, all franchise rookie records. He also set a franchise record and NFL rookie record averaging 108.8 yards per game. Beckham set NFL records for most catches and yards in the first 12 games to start a career and tied an NFL record for with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. He was voted first-alternate to the Pro Bowl and played in the game. He was also voted Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year.” Beckham was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. While Beckham lacks classic size, his long arms, big hands, and jumping ability give him a very good catch radius. Beckham is a tremendous athlete with excellent speed, quickness, and agility. Explosive. For such a young player, he can already play multiple positions and runs good routes. Beckham is very quick out of his breaks, adjusts exceptionally well to the football, and regularly makes the circus catch. He is dangerous with the football in his hand after the catch. Competitive, smart, and hard working. Beckham also was a very dangerous return man in college. He averaged 8.1 yards per punt return with the Giants in 2014.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (October 12, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014 and it remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability. Cruz finished the 2014 season with 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in six starts. Signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, the rags-to-riches Victor Cruz story is well known, culminating with his impact season in 2011, first Pro Bowl in 2012, and big offseason contract in 2013. In 2011-2012, he compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. However, in 2013 Cruz had his least productive season since becoming a starter in 2011. He also missed the last two games of the 2013 season with concussion and knee injuries – the left knee requiring arthroscopic surgery. Cruz has ordinary size and timed speed. However, he has very good quickness and plays faster than he times. Cruz reads coverages well, runs good routes, and has a good understanding of how to get open against both zone and man coverage. Cruz has good hands and is capable of making the circus catch, though he sometimes will drop the easy reception. He is elusive after the catch and usually isn’t caught from behind. Cruz is a hard worker. He can play outside, but has really developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers.

THE OTHERS

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Rueben Randle, a 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, remains an inconsistent performer. But he had his best season in 2014, catching 71 passes for 938 yards and three touchdowns. He played in all 16 games with 13 starts with his two best games coming at the end of the season. Randle was benched for the first quarter of two games for disciplinary reasons. Randle has a nice combination of size and athletic ability, and he has flashed play-making skills as a vertical receiver. While Randle is not a burner, he is fluid and smooth with good foot quickness and acceleration for a big receiver. He needs to improve his ability to read defenses and improve his route-running. Randle adjusts well to the football in the air and has good hands. Most of all, he needs to become a more consistently reliable performer so his quarterback can trust him. Randle can also return punts, averaging 7.8 yards per return in 2012-13.

Preston Parker, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

An afterthought by many when the Giants signed him to a reserve/future contract in January 2014, Preston Parker became the team’s primary slot receiver after Victor Cruz was lost for the season. Parker played in all 16 games with seven starts. He finished 2014 with 36 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns. Parker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2010 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers waived him in September 2012. He was with the Saints in training camp in 2013 but he did not play that season. While Parker lacks ideal size and speed, he is a decent athlete with good quickness and hands. Parker needs to be a more consistent performer. He returned both punts (6.6 yard average) and kickoffs (24.2 yard average) for the Giants in 2014.

The Giants signed Kevin Ogletree in October 2014. He played in seven games, but only caught five passes for 50 yards. 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. In six NFL season, Olgetree has played in 69 games with four starts. He has 83 career receptions for 1,049 yards and six touchdowns – two of which he scored against the Giants in the 2012 opener as a Cowboy. Ogletree has decent size, athletic ability, and hands.

Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants claimed Corey Washington off of waivers from the Arizona Cardinals in May 2014. He was a preseason standout for the Giants, catching 10 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns. While he played in 14 games in 2014, he seldom saw the field and finished the year with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Washington originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Washington played at Division-II Newberry College. Washington combines excellent size, overall athleticism, and speed. However, given his small-school background, he is very raw and needs a lot of development.

Jerrel Jernigan was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with a mid-foot sprain. He played in two games and finished the season with only one catch for six yards. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, Jernigan had a coming out party late in the 2013 season. In his first two years with the Giants, Jernigan played in 17 games and had a grand total of three catches for 22 yards. Through Week 14 of 2013, Jernigan had “amassed” 10 catches for 92 yards. Then in Weeks 15-17, Jernigan exploded with 19 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns in addition to carrying the ball twice for 57 yards and a touchdown. However, Jernigan did not really flash during the 2014 training camp or preseason. Jernigan lacks size, but he is a quick, fluid athlete with good speed. He is better suited to the slot position than outside. Jernigan also returns kickoffs, averaging 23.4 yards per return in his first three seasons on 21 returns.

Marcus Harris was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a hip injury that required surgery on his labrum. Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent time on Detroit’s Practice Squad in 2011, but the Lions waived him in July 2012. The Titans signed him in August 2012 but waived him a few weeks later. Before the NFL season started in 2013, Harris played in the Arena League caught 94 passes for 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Giants signed Harris as a street free agent in August 2013 and he spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Harris has a decent size-speed combination. He flashed with the Giants during training camp and the preseason in 2014, even earning time with the first-team offense, before being played on Injured Reserve.

Julian Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013 and 2014. Talley spent most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons on the team’s Practice Squad, although he did play in two games each season. He does not yet have an NFL catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.

Juron Criner was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Criner was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him on August 26. In 13 games with the Raiders, Criner has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He is a big receiver with good overall athleticism, but he needs to develop better technique and consistency.

Chris Harper was signed to the Practice Squad in October 2014. Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team but spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.