Aug 312015
 
Share Button


Giants Sign Safety Stevie Brown, Cut Linebacker Victor Butler: The New York Giants have officially signed safety Stevie Brown, who was released by the Houston Texans last week. To make room for Brown, the Giants terminated the contract of linebacker Victor Butler.

Brown was with the Giants from 2012-14, although he missed the entire 2013 season with an ACL tear. An unrestricted free agent this past offseason, Brown signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Texans in late April.

“Pretty exciting just being able to come back here – seems like a position of need and it is a good fit (so) definitely exciting to come back,” said Brown.

Brown played in all 16 games for the Giants in 2014. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks to Quintin Demps, then regained it for the last five weeks of the season. Brown finished with 38 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in the 2014 regular-season finale.

The Giants signed Victor Butler to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2015. Butler was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Saints (2013), Cardinals (2014), and Colts (2014). Had he made the team, Butler would have been suspended for four games for violating the League’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

August 31, 2015 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), RT Bobby Hart (knee), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), LB Jon Beason (knee), CB Josh Gordy (hip), CB Chykie Brown (knee), CB Chandler Fenner (hamstring), and S Nat Berhe (calf).

“They haven’t cleared me just yet,” said Cruz. “I think we’re just being careful, cautious with it. Especially, you don’t want to come out here, and calves are tricky. Once they feel healed and once they feel okay, you can go out here and mess it up again. So you want to make sure that it’s fully healed and fully recovered once you step back out there on the field…We’re still working with the training staff to continue to get the swelling down and continue to get myself back to 100 percent.”

“I haven’t been able to jog,” said Cruz. “Not that I haven’t been able to, but they don’t want me to right now. They just want me to sit down and let it heal, let it repair itself and things like that. I’ve just been working out – lower body one leg or whatever the case may be, upper body. Just doing all the things I can to stay in shape.”

“Nothing has been set in stone, in terms of playing that first week or not playing that first week,” said Cruz. “I’m still excited for Week 1 – that’s still the goal, that’s still the plan, in my opinion. Obviously, the training staff will advise if they see differently as the next week and a half comes along. But we’ll see. So, I’m just taking it one day at a time, and making sure that I’m ready to go.”

“I’ll be alright,” said Ayers. “Right now, just trying to manage things and keep things on the up and up and get better. I’ll be alright. As far as what happened, that’s a tricky question that’d I’d rather not try to get into. But I’ll be alright…We’re just taking it day-to-day.”

OC Weston Richburg (knee), LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), LB Mark Herzlich (concussion), and DE George Selvie (knee) returned to practice.

S Jeromy Miles left practice early with a groin injury.

August 31, 2015 New York Giants Practice Notes: Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team safeties were Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor.
  • The first-team offensive line had Geoff Schwartz at right guard in place of John Jerry.
  • Tight end Jerome Cunningham caught a touchdown pass against the second-team defense.
  • The first-team defensive line was defensive end Kerry Wynn, defensive tackle Markus Kuhn, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and defensive end Cullen Jenkins. Defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis also received first-team reps in place of Kuhn.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning overthrew open wide receivers Odell Beckham and Geremy Davis.
  • Tight end Will Tye made a one-handed reception.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning made a nice throw on the run to tight end Larry Donnell.
  • Linebacker Unai’ Unga, who saw first-team reps as the nickel linebacker, made a leaping interception of a pass from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris scored on a touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning, and then Harris scored on an end around.

August 31, 2015 Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of media sessions with the following players are available on BigBlueInteractive.com:

Articles on the 2015 New York Giants:

Article on WR Geremy Davis: Giants rookie trying to not ‘over-think’ the camp process by Jeremy Davis for The New York Post

Article on DT Cullen Jenkins: Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins says Giants need ‘more of a killer instinct’ by James Kratch for NJ.com

Jun 302015
 
Share Button
Jon Beason, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Jon Beason – © 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: Linebackers

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: As was the case with every other area of the defense, the linebackers were a disappointment in 2014. It was expected that Jon Beason would headline and lead an improved linebacking corps. But Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered. The 2011 rookie class of linebackers – Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, and Mark Herzlich – continued to largely disappoint in their fourth season together. Jameel McClain was a decent free agent addition and led the team in tackles. Rookie 5th round draft pick Devon Kennard flashed in the second-half of the season. In the end, the Giants finished 30th in the NFL against the run and dead-last in the NFL in yards-per-rush defense.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: There were significant changes made at linebacker. The Giants said good-bye to Jacquian Williams (still unsigned) and Spencer Paysinger (signed with Dolphins) in free agency. The team signed J.T. Thomas (3-years, $10 million) from the Jaguars and Jonathan Casillas (3-years, $8 million) from the Patriots. The Giants also signed street free agent Victor Butler and rookie free agents Cole Farrand and Tony Johnson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The primary focus at linebacker in training camp is can Jon Beason stay healthy? Beason was a major shot in the arm for the entire defense when he joined the team during the 2013 season, but the injury-prone linebacker missed almost all of the 2014 season with a foot injury. Not only is Beason a good run defender, he is an intelligent, inspirational leader who is needed to help orchestrate Steve Spagnulo’s new complicated defense on the field. The complexion of the entire defense changes with Beason in or out of the lineup. The good news? Beason made it through the OTAs and mini-camp this year, something he didn’t do last year.

Assuming Beason can stay healthy, the main story lines will be who mans the two outside linebacker spots, and how well do they perform? It is assumed J.T. Thomas will start at one position. But Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas may split snaps at the other spot depending on the opponent, in-game down-and-distance situations, and who has the hot hand. Kennard’s strength is attacking the line of scrimage and rushing the passer while Casillas is better in pass coverage. The Giants seem to be higher on Thomas and Casillas than their former teams, whose coaching staffs saw them more as back-up types. It remains to be seen if the Giants made the right decision to spend $18 million over three years on both. Where Jameel McClain – a respected team leader but castoff from the Ravens – fits in remains to be seen as well.

It’s important to note that Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann says this is the most talented group of linebackers he has had with the Giants since he joined the team in 2009.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably keep six linebackers and assuming everyone stays healthy, the six will probably be Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich. The one most vulnerable could be Herzlich. Herzlich had his best pro season in 2014 and appears to remain a Tom Coughlin favorite and decent special teams player. But he’s not the most athletic guy in the world and has only performed so-so or worse when called upon to start. That said, it’s not likely that one of the lesser known players such as Victor Butler, Uani Unga, Cole Farrand, or Troy Johnson would surpass Herzlich on the depth chart. Butler has talent, but a 4-game PED suspension hurts his cause. Farrand looks like he needs work in the weight room.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Jim Herrmann on J.T. Thomas: “He is very athletic. That is what I like about him. He will be a great addition to our (special) 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…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.”

Herrmann on Thomas and Jonathan Casillas: “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.”

Herrmann on Devon Kennard: “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.”

Herrmann on Jameel McClain: “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.”

Herrmann on Jon Beason: “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.”

PREDICTIONS: I am going to go out on a limb and say Beason stays healthy and Thomas has a break-out season as a respectable three-down NFL starter. Fans will push for more playing time for Kennard but much will depend on the opponent and in-game match-ups. Casillas may be a better option at times against teams that throw the ball more to the backs and tight ends. Spagnuolo will use Kennard far more imaginatively than Perry Fewell did, having him rush the quarterback from a variety of spots. Contrary to popular belief, this unit could be one of the better ones in the NFL if Beason stays healthy and Kennard develops.

“I can’t praise Kennard enough,” said Beason. “He prepared better than any rookie I’ve ever seen, and that’s including myself. He just really wants it. He gets it. He understands it…The thing I’ve noticed the most this offseason, he’s a step or two faster. He’s quicker. He’s not afraid anymore.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring injury, Beason, Thomas, Kennard, Casillas, McClain, and Herzlich.

Apr 102015
 
Share Button
Victor Butler, Dallas Cowboys (November 17, 2011)

Victor Butler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Linebacker Victor Butler Suspended by NFL: The NFL has suspended New York Giants linebacker Victor Butler for four games for violating the League’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Butler can participate in Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, training camp, and the preseason before sitting out the first four games of the year. That is, if he makes the team.

Butler was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Saints (2013), Cardinals (2014), and Colts (2014). Butler missed the 2013 season with a torn ACL knee injury that he suffered during training camp that year. The Giants signed Butler to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2015.

Butler has played in 65 games with two starts with a total of 91 tackles, 11 sacks, four pass defenses, and four forced fumbles.

Victor Cruz Injury Update: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was interviewed by by Complex.com and provided the following injury update:

“(The patella tendon knee injury suffered in October 2014 is) definitely is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to go through in my life,” said Cruz. “Still currently going through it. It’s not easy to come back from something like this and to work every day. I guess I’m in the parts right now when it’s more (physical). Physically getting it stronger, getting the muscle back. Literally when you have surgery on your knee, the muscles atrophy and just go (away). Your muscles just go (away). So physically is definitely the hardest part right now. I think the mental aspect was early and then it’ll be late. ‘Early’ meaning when it first happened, thinking you probably won’t be able to even run again; and ‘late’ when you are able to run and jump and mentally being able to connect to your knee, saying that you can do all these things and not being afraid to do it. I think that’s both sides of it.”

Cruz was asked if he has had to tell himself to slow down a bit on the rehab. “Yeah, I’m kinda there right now,” replied Cruz. “I’ve started to do some things and I’m starting to feel my knee getting better and responding better, but I understand there’s a long way to go and a process and I don’t wanna rush anything.”

Feb 172015
 
Share Button
Jameel McClain and Jon Beason, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Jameel McClain and Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants shifted from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense in 1994, there have been some glimpses of outstanding linebacker play from players such as Michael Brooks, Jessie Armstead, Michael Barrow, and Antonio Pierce. But outside of Armstead, New York simply hasn’t been able to draft any long-term impact players at the position. Instead fans have been subjected to a long list busts or journeymen who have included Ben Talley, Scott Galyon, Doug Colman, Pete Monty, Ryan Phillips, O.J. Childress, Dhani Jones, Brandon Short, Quincy Monk, Wesley Mallard, Nick Greisen, Reggie Torbor, Gerris Wilkinson, Zak DeOssie (who was not drafted as a long snapper), Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, Jacquian Williams, and Greg Jones. If that list wasn’t so painful, it would be comical. Because the Giants have drafted so poorly at this position, they have repeatedly had to address the linebacker spot in free agency, or in the case of Jon Beason, by trade. While they have had more success there, these older players haven’t remained on the team very long.

Before the season, it was hoped that the linebacking position would be reasonably improved. Jon Beason was a major positive in-season addition to the team in 2013 and it was believed with a full offseason, his impact would increase even more so. The Giants added Jameel McClain in free agency and the coaching staff was talking up the improvements Jacquian Williams had made. But linebacker remained a weakness for the Giants in 2014 and was a significant factor in the team’s near dead-last rankings in overall defense and against the run. Beason broke his foot during June OTA’s and never recovered and was placed on Injured Reserve after playing in only four games. Williams, who also ended the season on IR with a concussion, simply has not developed, along with fellow 2011 rookie class members Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich. All three of those players have been here four years and the Giants have very little to show for it. Jameel McClain was the best of the bunch, but he most likely looked better than he really was simply by being compared to poorer quality teammates.

The only true bright spot on the horizon is Devon Kennard, a defensive end-linebacker tweener who flashed with his ability as a line-of-scrimmage player and pass rusher. However, it remains to be seen if he really can fit in as a true 4-3 linebacker who can cover tight ends and backs.

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Mark Herzlich and Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“For a rookie, (Kennard is) very mature,” said Perry Fewell in December. “He’s very serious about his work and his business. He has a very professional attitude every single day in the classroom and on the field about his work and how he can improve for a rookie. We always talk about the rookie wall or what have you. It doesn’t seem to faze him. We’re giving him more in the classroom and he’s able to take it on the field. He loves to talk football and he loves to visualize what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. He takes the critiquing not personally, but he takes it as a learning experience and for a rookie, that’s very mature.

“It’s kind of tough (to determine his ideal position). He’s a powerful man that can play at defensive end and rush and do that type of thing. He’s also skillful enough to play a linebacker position. He’s not as fleet-footed as you would like for him to be and so we put that in the term of a tweener. I think after the season and over the next training period, if he works on his burst and his explosion, that he can be an ideal linebacker. We call him a SAM linebacker. That would be his ideal position and he can also transition and put his hand on the dirt and rush, but I think linebacker would be his natural position.”

THE PLAYERS

Jon Beason’s 2014 NFL season was basically wiped out due to a ligament tear and fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot during an OTA practice on June 12. He aggravated the injury in Week 2 against Arizona, missed the next three games, and aggravated the injury again in Week 7 against Dallas. After that, the doctors decided he needed season-ending surgery and Beason was placed on Injured Reserve in October. In the end, he only played and started in four games and finished the season with 11 tackles. Beason was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Panthers. He is a three-time Pro Bowler (2008-2010). Beason missed most of the 2011 season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn right ACL, an injury that required microfracture knee surgery. The Giants acquired Beason in a trade with the Panthers in October 2013. He played in 12 games with the Giants in 2013, starting his last 11 at middle linebacker. In those 12 games, he finished with 93 tackles and one interception. Beason lacks ideal size, but he is a decent athlete with very good intangibles. He is smart, instinctive, energetic, and productive, and brought leadership and gravitas to a linebacking corps in 2013 sorely needing all of those qualities. Beason is a better run defender than in coverage, where he sometimes struggles against better athletes in space. Beason is a good hitter and tackler. He obviously has been a very fragile, injury-prone player in recent years.

Jameel McClain, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Jameel McClain – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jameel McClain played in all 16 games in 2014 with 14 starts, primarily at middle linebacker. He finished the season as the team’s leading tackler with 116, and also had 2.5 sacks, three pass defenses, and one forced fumble. McClain was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games. A serious neck injury (spinal contusion) suffered late in 2012 caused him to miss the first six games of the 2013 season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Ravens released him in February 2014 and the Giants signed him in March. A defensive end in college, McClain has good size and he is versatile, being able to play both inside and outside linebacker. He is an aggressive, hard-working, tough, physical player who is solid against the run and a decent blitzer. McClain lacks ideal overall athleticism, quickness, and speed. He is not as strong in pass coverage. McClain is a good leader.

A fifth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Devon Kennard was a pleasant surprise. Kennard missed three games in September with a hamstring injury and the season-finale with a toe injury, but he played in 12 games, starting six. He finished the season with 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one pass defense, and two forced fumbles. A bit of a ‘tweener who lacks ideal speed and quickness for linebacker, Kennard has collegiate experience playing both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. He played at outside linebacker in the 4-3 for the Giants. Kennard has good size and strength for linebacker. He is a stout player against the run and flashes as a blitzer. He is not as good in pass coverage. Kennard is a very smart player, but he has been injury prone at both the college and pro level.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (July 22, 2013)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jacquian Williams started the first nine game of the season, but suffered a serious concussion in early November and was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014. He finished the season with 78 tackles and three pass defenses. Williams was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. His 2012 season was sabotaged by a PCL knee injury that caused him to miss six games. Williams lacks size, but he is extremely athletic. He is more of a run-and-chase run defender and coverage linebacker than physical presence due to his lack of size and overall physicality. While Williams gets in on a lot of tackles, he rarely makes big plays in any phase of the game.

In his fourth season with the Giants, Mark Herzlich had his most productive season, playing in 15 games with eight starts at outside linebacker. He finished the season with 52 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Herzlich was regarded as one of the better collegiate linebackers in the country before missing the 2009 season with bone cancer, which led to him having a titanium rod inserted into his left femur. Herzlich has very good size but is a sup-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer.

Spencer Paysinger, New York Giants (September 8, 2014)

Spencer Paysinger – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Spencer Paysinger saw his playing time dramatically decrease in 2014. He played in 15 games with one start, but only had 15 tackles. The year before in 2013, Paysinger started 10 games and finished with 74 tackles. Paysinger was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Paysinger is a decent athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger. He doesn’t make many plays.

Terrell Manning was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with an ankle injury after playing in only one game with the Giants in Week 13. He was with the Giants in training camp before being waived on August 30. The Giants re-signed him off of the Bengals’ Practice Squad in late November 2014. Manning was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Manning has spent time with the Packers (2012-13), Chargers (2013), Vikings (2014), Dolphins (2014), Bears (2014), and Bengals (2014). In three seasons, Manning has played in 10 NFL games with no starts. Manning lacks ideal overall athleticism and size, but he is an instinctive, aggressive, physical player who hits and tackles well.

The Giants signed James Davidson to the Practice Squad in September 2014 and the 53-man roster in December 2014. Davidson was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but waived in August. Davidson was an undersized collegiate defensive end who projects to linebacker at the pro level. Whether he has the overall athleticism and instincts for the position remains to be seen. Obviously, he is a project.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013 and was not drafted. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Jan 052015
 
Share Button
Victor Butler, Dallas Cowboys (November 17, 2011)

Victor Butler – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants have signed linebacker Victor Butler to a Reserve/Future contract.

Butler was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he has spent time with the Cowboys (2009-12), Saints (2013), Cardinals (2014), and Colts (2014). Butler has played in 65 games with two starts with a total of 91 tackles, 11 sacks, four pass defenses, and four forced fumbles. Butler is a DE/LB ‘tweener who is too small for the line and not ideally athletic enough for linebacker. He can rush the passer. Butler missed the 2013 season with a torn ACL knee injury that he suffered during training camp that year.

Butler is the twelfth players signed to a reserve/future contract by the Giants since the season ended. (Giants Sign 11 Players to Reserve/Future Contracts)