Aug 242017
 
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Valentino Blake, New York Giants (August 11, 2017)

Valentino Blake – © USA TODAY Sports

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have placed cornerback Valentino Blake on the Exempt/Left Squad List. To fill that roster spot, the team signed defensive Tim Scott.

“(Blake) is dealing with some personal issues right now,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We are going to give him some time and space to deal with those.”

The 5’11”, 195-pound Scott was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Washington Redskins in 2015, but he did not play in a game and was out of the NFL in 2016.

The Giants signed  Blake as an unrestricted free agent in March 2017. Blake was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-2015), and and Tennessee Titans (2016). In five seasons, Blake has played in 78 regular-season games with 18 starts (16 of which came with the Steelers in 2015 when he was credited with 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions).

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (shoulder), wide receiver Dwayne Harris (upper body), wide receiver Tavarres King (ankle), linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion), and cornerback Michael Hunter (concussion).

“(Beckham) is working through some treatment,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We will see how he responds to it tomorrow.”

Cornerback Eli Apple (ankle), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) were limited.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Friday. The team plays the New York Jets on Saturday at 7:00PM.

Aug 232017
 
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Marquis Bundy, Arizona Cardinals (August 28, 2017)

Marquis Bundy – © USA TODAY Sports

ROSTER MOVES – VALENTINO BLAKE LEAVES TEAM?…
The New York Giants have waived offensive linemen Michael Bowie and Corin Brooks. They also waived/injured wide receivers Darius Powe (hamstring) and Andrew Turzilli (hamstring).

“We are short on receivers,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We think highly of Darius. He’s been a good, productive player for us in the offseason and for camp. It is simply a numbers issue at this point.”

To fill those roster spots, the Giants signed guard Matt Rotheram and Richard Levy, and wide receivers Marquis Bundy and C.J. Germany.

Though not officially announced by the team, the NFL transaction wire is also showing that cornerback Valentino Blake has been placed on the Exempt/Left Squad List.

The 6’5”, 325-pound Rotheram was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Green Bay Packers after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Detroit Lions. The Lions waived Rotherman last week.

The 6’6”, 315-pound Levy was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. The 49ers cut him on earlier this month.

The 6’4”, 215-pound Bundy was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Arizona Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Cardinals waived him last week.

The 5’11”, 180-pound Germany was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Los Angeles Rams after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Rams waived him last week.

Michael Bowie was signed by the Giants to a reserve/future contract in January 2017. Bowie was originally drafted in the Seattle Seahawks in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in nine games with eight starts as a rookie. Bowie was waived in August 2014 and claimed by the Cleveland Browns. Bowie had shoulder issues in Cleveland and did not play in a regular-season game. The Browns placed him on the reserve/retired list in August 2016 and cut him in September 2016.

Corin Brooks was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent in August 2017. Brooks was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2017 NFL Draft but waived in June.

The Giants originally signed Powe as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft and he spent his rookie season on the team’s practice squad.

The Giants signed Andrew Turzilli in August 2017. Turzilli was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Titans (2015), San Francisco 49ers (2015), and Detroit Lions (2016-2017), but he only played in three NFL games. The Lions waived him in May.

The Giants signed  Blake as an unrestricted free agent in March 2017. Blake was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-2015), and and Tennessee Titans (2016). In five seasons, Blake has played in 78 regular-season games with 18 starts (16 of which came with the Steelers in 2015 when he was credited with 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions).

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (shoulder), wide receiver Dwayne Harris (upper body), wide receiver Tavarres King (ankle), linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion), cornerback Michael Hunter (concussion), and cornerback Valentino Blake (unknown) did not practice.

“(Beckham has) got an ankle. He is in there getting treatment,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We are just taking it day by day.”

Cornerback Eli Apple (ankle), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) were limited.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Thursday at 11:20AM.

Aug 172017
 
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J.T. Thomas, New York Giants (December 20, 2015)

J.T. Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

J.T. THOMAS ACCEPTS PAY CUT…
ESPN is reporting that New York Giants linebacker J.T. Thomas has accepted a pay cut. His 2017 base salary has been reduced from $2,975,000 to $775,000. He now has a roster bonus of $20,000 and will earn $400,000 in incentives if he plays 70 percent of snaps or more.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Dwayne Harris (upper body soreness), wide receiver Darius Powe (hamstring), wide receiver Kevin Snead (lower body), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), and cornerback Eli Apple (ankle) did not practice.

“(Apple) felt his ankle a little bit, so we were precautionary with it,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo.

“Just got kicked a little bit going against some of the receivers,” said Apple. “It’s kind of bruised up after practice, but it’s not a big deal… I’m not sure (if I will play Monday). I’m just going to take it one day at a time and see what happens.”

“(Herzlich is) progressing,” said McAdoo. “He is not where we want him to be yet to put him back on the field, but he is working through it.”

Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle), linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee), and safety Duke Ihenacho (hamstring) were limited.

“(Thomas) is working through it,” said McAdoo. “Going through individuals, and eventually we will build him up to 7- on-7’s, some special teams work, and then team reps. But right now we are starting slow with him.”

Wide receiver Keeon Johnson left practice early with a lower body injury.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • PK Aldrick Rosas went 3-for-4 on field goal attempts.
  • FB Shane Smith was promoted to first-team punt coverage and punt-return special teams units, now working with all four special teams units. He also received first-team reps at fullback.

HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO…
The transcript of Ben McAdoo’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Friday at 11:20AM. The team’s coordinators will also address the press.

Jul 192017
 
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Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Backs

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: The biggest reasons for the New York Giants defense’s dramatic improvement in 2016 was the improved play of the (1) defensive line and (2) defensive backs. The Giants defense went from dead last in 2015 to tenth in yardage allowed and second in scoring allowed in 2016. And while the team’s 23rd-ranked pass defense (251.1 yards per game) does not sound impressive, the unit played at a far higher level than that, as indicated by three defensive backs earning All-Pro honors.

The secondary became a team strength because the Giants signed Janoris Jenkins in free agency, drafted Eli Apple in the first round, and watched second-year safety Landon Collins develop into an impact player at his more natural strong safety position. An inconsistent player in St. Louis, Jenkins became one of the best corners in the NFL in 2016, teaming with Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) to form perhaps the NFL’s best trio of corners. While Apple had his growing pains, he performed well enough to shut down a number of opponents and allow the coaches to move DRC to the slot corner position. Meanwhile, Collins led the Giants in tackles, was second on the team in interceptions, and third on the team in sacks. The weak spot in the secondary was free safety as promising rookie Darian Thompson and Mykkele Thompson were lost early to injuries, Nat Berhe battled concussions, and undrafted rookie Andrew Adams started the bulk of the season. While Adams didn’t embarrass himself, he did not make many plays either. Late in the season, Leon Hall – who was shifted from corner to safety – took over the position.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to re-sign CB/S Leon Hall and CB Trevin Wade. The Steelers signed CB Coty Sensabaugh. The Giants signed unrestricted free agents CB Valentino Blake and S Duke Ihenacho and re-signed practice squad players CB Michael Hunter, CB Donte Deayon, and S Ryan Murphy. The Giants surprisingly did not draft a defensive back in a DB-strong draft. But the team did sign undrafted rookie free agents CB DaShaun Amos, CB Nigel Tribune, S Jadar Johnson, and S Trey Robinson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: At cornerback, while fan focus will be on the depth situation after the top three cornerbacks, the main story line will be determining Eli Apple’s upside. He had a solid but not great rookie season. If he can elevate his game to a different level in 2017, then the Giants defense will be very tough. The Giants do need to determine their #4 and possibly #5 corners. Injuries happen. When Rodgers-Cromartie left the playoff game, the Packers picked on his replacement. With Leon Hall, Trevin Wade, and Coty Sensabaugh gone, someone else will have to step forward.

At safety, can Landon Collins duplicate or even build upon his 2016 All-Pro season? Much attention will be focused on who starts at free safety opposite of Collins. Darian Thompson is coming off a serious lisfranc injury. Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson have not been able to stay healthy. “Veteran” journeymen Duke Ihenacho, Eric Pinkins, and Ryan Murphy will battle Andrew Adams and the two rookie free agents (Jadar Johnson and Trey Robinson). There are a lot of bodies, but also a lot of questions.

ON THE BUBBLE: Everyone except for Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and probably Darian Thompson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Cornerbacks Coach Tim Walton on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: “Work ethic. He’s an athletic guy, he’s smart so he understands the game. He has enough ability that wherever he works at, he could be successful at it. He’s a very intelligent guy, he’s quick, he’s long, he has experience and he still moves well. Ten years in the league and you can’t tell that by his movement. He rarely misses practice, he practices all the time… He tries to lead the young guys, and tries to direct them on things, because he has a wealth of experience. They listen to him and look up to him, so that’s good.”

Safeties Coach David Merritt on Darian Thompson: “He looks good. The fact that he’s coming off a leg injury. The one day he complained that it was sore, two weeks ago. Since then, he looks good. He’s transitioning. I see him actually bursting and coming in and out of his transition. He’s doing a good job. There is still some ways to go and hopefully training camp we will be able to really test that foot. Right now, he’s going through all the individual drills. I’m happy and excited.”

Merritt on the competition at free safety: “I’m going to be honest with you, you can sit here right now and say yes (Darian Thompson is the favorite to win the job), but I can’t sit here and take away from what Andrew Adams has done. I think they’re all competing for a starting job. That second safety has been elusive for us. To have two guys that can actually step in there and actually hold down the position. Hopefully we will find that solid piece this year but we need four good guys. If we can get four good guys, it’s going to be great… Darian is a very cerebral guy. He is very smart and he understands the calls as well as Landon (Collins). To have two smart guys back there and to be able to feed off of one another, it’s going to be a good mixture between Darian, Andrew and Landon of course. Darian is a very smart guy and that’s what we knew about him coming out of college. He had the mental capacity to learn Spags’ defense and do things we’re asking him to do. It’ll be pretty exciting for sure.”

Merritt on Landon Collins’ ceiling: “Right now, if I was rating him 1 to 10 as far as where he is, right now Landon is at a 7. I think he can get up to playing at an 8 ½, 9 consistently. You’re talking always in the running for (Defensive Play of the Year) and constantly making Pro Bowls, things like that. Last year was such a big jump for the kid and I’m proud of him. That was last year. Antrel Rolle after he came off his big season the next year and didn’t do as well. I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t get caught in any type of trap. I understand right now that he was the best coming out of high school and the best coming out of college. Now, he’s here every year and there is going to be a new crop of guys coming in. The safeties around the league are humble. You have to make sure you’re humble. Keep your body in shape, keep your mind strong and understand constantly learning the game of football and studying your opponents.”

PREDICTIONS: This is arguably the most-talented group of defensive backs accumulated at one time in team history. Most of the question marks here surround health and depth. The Giants top three corners are as good as anyone in the NFL. Two are already playing at an All-Pro level. Look for Eli Apple to elevate his game and make this unit even stronger. As long as his foot is OK, Darian Thompson should start at free safety and give the Giants a very formidable (and intelligent) secondary. Special teams will be a big factor in determining the back-up corners and safeties.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Michael Hunter, Mykkele Thompson, Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, and Jadar Johnson. (Thompson can play both safety and cornerback, which helps his cause. Beat writers think special teams ace Eric Pinkins has a good shot – keep an eye on him. Donte Deayon is a favorite of Steve Spagnuolo).

Mar 232017
 
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Shane Vereen, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SHANE VEREEN TAKES A PAY CUT…
According to NFL Player Association records, New York Giants running back Shane Vereen has accepted a $1 million pay cut to his 2017 salary. Vereen’s salary was reduced from $3.15 million to $2.15 million. NJ.com is reporting that the reduction “is a straight pay cut with no incentives added to his contract to make up the lost income.” The Giants recently paid him a $500,000 roster bonus that was due if he remained on the team. Vereen is in the final year of his current contract.

(Late Corrrection: The NFL Network is reporting that in exchange for the $1 million salary reduction, Vereen can earn that back plus $250,000 through incentives).

Vereen was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) in September 2016 with a triceps injury that required surgery, activated back off of IR in December, and then placed on IR again that same month after re-injuring his triceps and needing surgery again. In all, Vereen played in just five games in 2016 and finished the season with 33 rushes for 158 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 11 catches for 94 yards.

Vereen was originally selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2015. In 2015, serving as the team’s third-down back and playing in all 16 games with no starts, Vereen had his most productive year in the NFL as a pass receiver. He caught a career-high 59 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns. It was the most receptions by a Giants running back in a single season since Tiki Barber. Vereen also carried the ball 61 times for 260 yards (4.3 yards per carry).

Vereen lacks ideal size and power, but he is an elusive back with good vision and quickness. Vereen is one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL as he runs good routes and has good hands. He is also solid in pass protection. Vereen has proven to be somewhat injury prone.

SHAUN DRAUGHN DEAL OFFICIAL…
The New York Giants officially announced that the team signed unrestricted free agent running back Shaun Draughn (San Francisco 49ers) on Wednesday.

“I think my versatility has helped keep me in the league,” Draughn said. “(The Giants) talked about my versatility. I don’t know exactly how they’ll use me. I’m sure they’ll use me to the strengths that I have.”

The 29-year Draughn was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Washington Redskins after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Redskins (2011), Kansas City Chiefs (2011–2012), Baltimore Ravens (2013), Indianapolis Colts (2013), Chicago Bears (2014), San Diego Chargers (2014), Cleveland Browns (2014–2015), and San Francisco 49ers (2015-2016). In six seasons, Draughn has played in 57 regular-season games with seven starts (all seven coming with the 49ers in the last two years). For his career, Draughn has rushed the ball 225 times for 723 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. He also 80 catches for 597 yards and two touchdowns.

Draughn has ordinary size (5’11”, 205 pounds), but he is a tough, hard-nosed cut-back runner who can move the chains in short yardage and catch the football. He is a good special teams player.

Video of an exclusive Giants Insider interview with Draughn is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Mar 202017
 
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Geno Smith, New York Jets (October 17, 2016)

Geno Smith – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GIANTS SIGN GENO SMITH, VALENTINO BLAKE, AND MARK HERZLICH…
The New York Giants have officially announced that they have signed unrestricted free agents quarterback Geno Smith (New York Jets) and cornerback Valentino Blake (Tennessee Titans). The team has also officially re-signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Mark Herzlich. Smith reportedly signed a 1-year, $2 million contract.

“Geno has a great, positive attitude, and he’s looking forward to learning and competing in our QB room,” said General Manager Jerry Reese.

“I think the opportunity to learn from (quarterbacks) coach (Frank) Cignetti, coach (Ben) McAdoo, and to be alongside Eli (Manning) and learn from him, a two-time Super Bowl champion and, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Smith said. “I think it will work out tremendously for me. And it’s also an opportunity to be on a real good team, a winning team, get healthy – it’s just a perfect scenario for me. I couldn’t have written it up any better myself.

“I want to carry my notepad around and whatever I see Eli doing, whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or off the field, I want to write it down. Because he’s a guy you can model yourself after. If you learn from a guy like that, we can all do a lot better.”

Smith tore the ACL in his right knee in October 2016. “Right now, it’s doing great,” he said. “We’re being cautious. But I’m at that stage where I’m feeling healthy enough that I can push it. But I have to be smart about it and not do anything that will cause me setbacks.

“I have tons of good football ahead. The key is just staying healthy. If I can just stay healthy, the future is pretty bright. But I just look forward to this year and having an opportunity to get healthy and learn and become a better quarterback.”

The 26-year old Smith was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Smith has started 30 regular-seasons games, with 29 of those starts coming in 2013-2014. He lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in August 2015 after his jaw was broken by a teammate. Smith started one game in 2016 but tore the ACL in his right knee in that game. Smith has completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 5,962 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. Smith has good size and is a good athlete with a strong arm. He has struggled with his accuracy and mental aspects of the game. Smith needs to protect the ball better (36 interceptions, 7 fumbles). He also has had some off-the-field immaturity issues.

The 26-year old Blake was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-2015), and and Tennessee Titans (2016). In five seasons, Blake has played in 78 regular-season games with 18 starts (16 of which came with the Steelers in 2015 when he was credited with 12 pass break-ups and two interceptions). Blake is a short but well-built corner with very good speed. He has experience in playing the nickel slot position, but he is not regarded as a good cover corner. Blake is a good gunner on special teams (38 career special teams tackles), but he has had lapses of on-field judgement.

Herzlich remains primarily a reserve linebacker and special teams player who occasionally is called upon to play on defense (one percent of defensive snaps in 2016). Herzlich played in 14 regular-season games, missing two with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles on defense. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has started 17 regular-season games in his six seasons with the Giants, eight of which were in 2014. Herzlich has very good size but is a sub-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer. Herzlich is a good special teams player.

For a listing of all of the team’s free agent activity, see the New York Giants 2017 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

COTY SENSABAUGH SIGNS WITH STEELERS…
The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed unrestricted free agent cornerback Coty Sensabaugh from the New York Giants to a 2-year contract. Sensabaugh was signed by the Giants in October 2016 after he was waived by the Los Angeles Rams. He played in 10 regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with 15 tackles. Sensabaugh was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Rams signed him to a 3-year, $15 million contract in March 2016. Sensabaugh has played in 72 regular-season games with 29 starts. Sensabaugh is an average-sized corner whose strength is playing the slot nickel corner spot.

Sensabaugh is the third Giants free agent to leave the team this offseason, joining place kicker Robbie Gould (San Francisco 49ers) and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (Oakland Raiders).

KEENAN ROBINSON VISITS THE BUFFALO BILLS…
ESPN is reporting that unrestricted free agent linebacker Keenan Robinson (New York Giants) has visited the Buffalo Bills. Robinson also visited the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

Robinson officially only started 6-of-16 regular-season games, but he was second in playing time on the team among all linebackers (71 percent of all defensive snaps). Robinson finished 2016 with 83 tackles and seven pass defenses. Robinson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, where he missed time in 2012 (four games with right pectoral tear), 2013 (entire season with left pectoral tear), 2014 (three games with a knee injury), and 2015 (four games with a shoulder injury). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016. Robinson has decent size and is a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, he can play inside and outside linebacker. Robinson is more of a run-and-hit linebacker than stout run defender at the point-of-attack. Robinson is solid in pass coverage. He only has 1.5 career sacks and has been injury prone. Robinson does not make many impact plays.

GIANTS.COM PLAYER INTERVIEWS…
Video clips of exclusive Giants.com interviews with the following players are available at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…