Jan 032021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – DALLAS COWBOYS 19…
The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. The Giants finished the 2020 regular-season with a 6-10 record (4-2 in the NFC East). If the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night, the Giants will win the NFC East and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading 20-9 at the half, the Giants almost let this game slip away, including some gut-wrench moments late in the 4th quarter. But defensive lineman Leonard Williams dominated with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 3 tackles for a loss, and one pass defense.

The Giants received the ball to start the game and impressively drove 78 yards in six plays to take a quick 6-0 lead (the extra point was missed). A mixture of passes from quarterback Daniel Jones and runs by running back Wayne Gallman set up a 23-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard that went for the score.

Dallas picked up two first downs on their initial drive and then were forced to punt after a 3rd-down sack by linebacker Blake Martinez. However, the Giants gave the ball right back when Gallman botched a handoff from Jones. The Cowboys recovered at the New York 27-yard line. The Giants defense held when Williams sacked quarterback Andy Dalton on 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line. Dallas kicked the 38-yard field goal to cut the score to 6-3.

For the next six consecutive drives (three by each team), the Giants and Cowboys struggled to move the ball. New York picked up three first downs and Dallas could not pick up one. All six of these possessions ended with punts.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Giants’ offense began to click into gear again. New York drove 65 yards in six plays with Jones finding Shepard for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Shepard also caught a 21-yard pass earlier on this possession. Giants 13 – Cowboys 3.

The Cowboys finally began to move the ball themselves, driving 44 yards in 10 plays to set up a 46-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Cowboys 6.

With 2:13 left on the clock before halftime, New York decided to remain aggressive. It took just four plays for the Giants to drive 75 yards, the two big gains being an 18-yard pass to Shepard, followed by a 38-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dante Pettis. The Giants now led 20-6 with under a minute to play. Unfortunately, the defense allowed Dallas to gain 35 yards in 45 seconds, setting up a successful 57-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 20-9.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out by the Cowboys to start the 3rd quarter. However, two plays later, on 2nd-and-10, a pass from Jones intended for tight Evan Engram bounced off of his hands and was intercepted at the Dallas 38-yard line. Worse, Cowboys’ momentum continued to surge as Dallas drove 62 yards in 10 plays to cut the score to 20-16. Running back Ezekiel Elliott scored from one yard out.

The Giants gained two first downs before an illegal crackback penalty called on Shepard pushed the Giants back, leading to a punt. The Cowboys then began a long, 13-play, 62-yard drive that was finally stopped by linebacker Kyler Fackrell’s 8-yard sack on 3rd-and-9 from the Giants’ 10-yard line. Nevertheless, the 36-yard field goal cut the score to the slimmest of margins early in the 4th quarter. Giants 20 – Cowboys 19.

After both teams exchanged punts, with another sack by Williams, the Giants put together a key 8-play, 48-yard possession that ended with a clutch 50-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Shepard caught another 21-yard pass from Jones on this drive. Giants 23 – Cowboys 19 with six and a half minutes left to play.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Cowboys began a potential game-winning, marathon, 17-play possession that took over five minutes off of the clock. All looked lost when Dallas was able to set up a 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. But Williams sacked Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Then on 3rd-and-goal from the 17-yard line, safety Xavier McKinney intercepted Dalton in the end zone with 1:15 left to play.

However, the game was not over and Gallman gave New York fans a huge scare when he fumbled on an 8-yard gain on 2nd-and-5. Gallman recovered the loose ball at the New York 39-yard line. The Giants then knelt on the ball to run out the clock.

Daniel Jones finished the game 17-of-25 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. His leading receiver was Shepard, who caught 8 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for a 23-yard touchdown). No other Giants had more than two catches. Gallman carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards.

Defensively, the Giants sacked Dalton six times: Williams (3), Martinez (1), Fackrell (1), and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (1). The defense was also credited with nine tackles for losses and six pass defenses. Linebackers Martinez and Tae Crowder were each credited with 11 tackles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
P Ryan Santoso was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (calf), OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, CB Madre Harper, and P Ryan Santoso.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
If the finish in first place, they will be the first six-win playoff team in NFL history.

The Giants ended a seven-game losing streak to Dallas. They had last defeated the Cowboys in December 2016.

The Giants won despite finishing 0-for-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts. This is the first time the Giants won a game without converting a third down since the 1970 merger.

This was the fifth game this season in which the Giants did not allow a first half touchdown.

This was the first time in wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s 5-year pro career that he scored two times in a game.

The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014. Leonard Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, the most by a Giants’ player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14.5 in 2014.

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson became the first Giants defensive player to begin his career with the Giants and start each of his first 64 games in the league since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.

Kicker Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the 4th quarter was his 30th consecutive successful attempt, a franchise record. Gano made 31-of-32 attempts this season, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. In 2018, Aldrick Rosas made 32-of-33 attempts, a success rate of .9696. Gano kicked his fifth field goal this season of 50 or more yards, including four against the Cowboys. That is a franchise single-season record.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Saturday, the Giants activated linebacker Kyler Fackrell and cornerback Madre Harper from Injured Reserve. To make room for these two, the team placed fullback Eli Penny (illness) on Injured Reserve and cut quarterback Joe Webb.

The Giants placed Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury. Up until that point, he had played in all 11 games, starting eight, and accruing 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020.

Harper was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. He was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Raiders in late September 2020.

The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts.

The Giants signed Joe Webb to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in December 2020. Webb was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He has spent time with the Vikings (2010-2013), Carolina Panthers (2014-2016), Buffalo Bills (2017), Houston Texans (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020).

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 132020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

ARIZONA CARDINALS 26 – NEW YORK GIANTS 7…
The New York Giants got their collective asses kicked by the Arizona Cardinals 26-7 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fell to 5-8 on the season.

The statistical domination was total. The Cardinals out-gained the Giants in first downs (22 to 10), total net yards (390 to 159), net yards rushing (159 to 78), net yards passing (231 to 81), and time of possession (37:52 to 22:08). The Giants also lost the turnover battle 3 to nothing.

To say the Giants’ offense struggled would be an understatement. Quarterback Daniel Jones returned to the starting lineup after missing a game due to a hamstring injury, but he clearly was not healthy. Jones only completed 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards. He was sacked six times, losing 52  yards in the process. His back-up, Colt McCoy, was also sacked twice. No-name Cardinals linebacker Hasson Reddick set a single-game franchise record with five sacks and forcing three fumbles.

The tone was set on New York’s first drive. After picking up two first downs and reaching midfield, Jones was sacked by former Giants linebacker Markus Golden on 2nd-and-10. Jones fumbled on the play and Golden recovered the football and returned it 30 yards to the New York 9-yard line. The Giants’ defense did stop the Cardinals on 4th-and-goal. That was the high point of the game for New York.

New York went three-and-out on their second drive, but the Giants’ special teams gave up a 24-yard punt return to the Giants’ 38-yard line. The Cardinals gained 22 yards in six plays to set up a 34-yard field goal. Cardinals 3 – Giants 0.

After two punts by the Giants and one by the Cardinals, Arizona extended their lead to 6-0 after driving 34 yards in 11 plays to up a 34-yard field goal. Matters got quickly worse when running back Dion Lewis fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. The Cardinals recovered at the New York 21-yard line. Quarterback Kyler Murray threw a 7-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal to give Arizona a 13-0 advantage.

Both teams had two more possessions before intermission, but neither scored. The Cardinals continued to lead 13-0 at halftime.

Arizona received the football to start the 3rd quarter. They immediately drove 77 yards in 11 plays to go up 20-0. The Giants responded with their only scoring drive of the game. After a 39-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Golden Tate, Lewis scored from one yard out to make it 20-7.

After that, it was all Cardinals. The Giants only gained two first downs for the rest of game, punting three more times and fumbling the ball away again on their last possession. While the Cardinals also punted twice, they added two more field goals to comfortably extend their lead to 26-7. The game was never in doubt.

Video lowlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
On Friday, the New York Giants placed cornerback Madre Harper on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. To fill that roster spot, the Giants signed safety Montre Hartage from the Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. This year, he has played in nine games, mainly on special teams.

After spending time with the Giants in training camp, the Giants re-signed Hartage to the Practice Squad in late October 2020. He was signed to the 53-man roster in November and moved back to the Practice Squad earlier this month. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATION, INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
CB Jarren Williams was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were CB Darnay Holmes (knee), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 062020
 
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Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, New York Giants (December 6, 2020)

Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 17 – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 12…
In perhaps the team’s most impressive victory in years, the New York Giants defeated the Seattle Seahawks 17-12 on Sunday at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington. The win was New York’s fourth in a row, improving their overall record to 5-7 and keeping the Giants in first place in the NFC East. The heavily-favored Seahawks fell to 8-4.

Playing without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, back-up quarterback Colt McCoy and the Giants’ offense struggled in the first half. New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in three punts, an interception, and a safety. The Giants were only able to generate four 1st downs, 95 yards, and no points. The safety came with 33 seconds left before halftime when Riley Dixon’s punt was blocked with the ball exiting the end zone.

Fortunately for New York, the Giants’ defense was up to the challenge, holding the NFL’s 5th-rated offense to one field goal in the first half. Those points came on Seattle’s first drive of the game, as the Seahawks drove 57 yards in nine plays to set up a 31-yard field goal. Seattle did nothing after that, with their next four drives resulting in a punt, punt, fumble, and a punt. Rookie defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos recovered the fumble.

At the half, the Seahawks led 5-0.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. The Giants’ offense finally got the big play they needed on their second drive when running back Wayne Gallman broke off a 60-yard run around left end. Running back Alfred Morris gained 13 yards on the next snap and then Morris finished off the 4-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. McCoy hit wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the end zone for the successful 2-point conversion and the Giants were now up 8-5.

Seattle gained one first down on their second possession and decided to gamble on 4th-and-1 at their own 48-yard line. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass was broken up by cornerback Isaac Yiadom and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs. The Giants then made Seattle pay with a 5-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Gallman rushed for 3, 13, and 23 yards. Then Morris ran for three before catching a 6-yard pass from McCoy for the score. Place kicker Graham Gano missed the extra point and the Giants now led 14-5.

The Seahawks gained two first downs but were pushed back by a 15-yard sack by defensive end Leonard Williams and were forced to punt again early in the 4th quarter. The Giants went three-and-out, but New York got the ball right back when cornerback Darnay Holmes picked off a deflected pass at the Seattle 39-yard line. New York’s offense could only gain nine yards, but it was good enough to set up a 48-yard field goal and a 17-5 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

Seattle made things interesting when they followed up with an 11-play, 82-yard drive than ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass by Wilson. Their sole touchdown of the game cut New York’s lead to 17-12 with 6:09 left to play.

The Giants were able to pick up two first downs and take 4:21 off of the clock. But the Seahawks got the ball back with 1:48 left to play and a chance to steal the game. Starting from their own 20-yard line, Seattle did pick up two first downs, cross midfield, and reach the New York 46-yard line. The New York defense then stiffened as Wilson threw two incomplete passes and was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Leonard Williams on 3rd-and-10. Wilson’s last desperate 4th-and-18 deep pass fell incomplete.

McCoy finished the game 13-of-22 for 105 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (four catches for 32 yards) and wide receiver Golden Tate (four catches for 30 yards). Gallman rushed 16 times 135 yards and Morris chipped in with eight carries for 39 yards and a rushing touchdown as New York rushed for 190 yards against the NFL’s 3rd-ranked run defense.

Seattle was held to 327 total yards on 70 offensive snaps. The Seahawks were 4-of-13 on 3rd down and 0-of-2 on 4th down. The Giants picked off one pass and recovered one fumble. Linebacker Blake Martinez led the team with 10 tackles. Linebacker Tae Crowder had seven tackles and one sack. Safety Jabrill Peppers had 5 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Leonard Williams was credited with 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. Linebacker Jabaal Sheard had 0.5 sacks.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney to the team’s Practice Squad on Saturday. Tanney was cut by the Giants on September 5th. The Giants also placed running back Devonta Freeman, who is currently on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury, on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
QB Clayton Thorson and DE/LB Niko Lalos were activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (hamstring), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Trent Harris, and LB T.J. Brunson,

LB Blake Martinez left the game in the fourth quarter with a lower back injury and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Joe Judge (Video)
  • QB Colt McCoy (Video)
  • RB Wayne Gallman (Video)
  • RB Alfred Morris (Video)
  • DE Leonard Williams (Video)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Oct 232020
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 23, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Friday to discuss his team’s 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (the video is also available on Giants.com):

Q: There was a report that Saquon’s (Barkley) surgery is scheduled for next week. Is that true and do you have any other information on that?

A: At this point, I don’t have any information on that. I have to check with Ronnie (Barnes) and see when everything is final. I know Saquon was with us this weekend on the trip. As far as when his surgery can officially take place, I don’t have a date right now specifically myself. But I’ll talk to Ronnie when we’re done here about a lot of guys today.

Q: How did Devonta Freeman come out of last night? I know he had the ankle. Were there any other meaningful injuries coming out of the game?

A: Again, I have to check with a lot of guys in terms of where they’re at today with Ronnie. But I would say with Devonta, he finished the game for us. He’s been obviously playing through a bunch of nicks and bumps like a lot of guys in the league are at this point in time. But he’s a tough dude. He never complains, so you’d never really know anything is wrong with him.

Q: You guys have seen seven games of Andrew Thomas now at left tackle. I’m just curious what has he done that makes you believe he deserves to be the starting left tackle still?

A: He’s done a lot. Andrew’s a good guy to build with. We have a lot of plans long-term with Andrew. He’s the kind of guy we want to work with, both physically and his personality off the field. We have a lot of confidence in Andrew. We’re going to keep working with him and developing him going forward. I fully expect Andrew to have a very productive, long career in this league. We enjoy him being a Giant.

Q: A follow up on Andrew, do you think his confidence has been hurt at all with the struggles he’s gone through?

A: I see him coming to work every day with a good attitude, effort and energy. When you see guys with confidence issues, normally the urgency goes down. I see this guy work tirelessly every day, so no. He’s a pleasure to be around right there. Look, he’s a young player who’s still learning to develop in this league. Nothing is going to be perfect all the time. We need to keep doing a good job of coaching him and bringing him along.

Q: What do you need to do to sort of clean up some of the mistakes that keep showing up time and again?

A: I think with any young player, it always comes down to just fundamentals, that you can execute your technique at the right time against the speed of the game.

Q: In the last three weeks and maybe throughout the season, the two-minute defense has struggled. Is there a common thread there?

A: They’re all different opponents and they attack you in different ways. We’ve had different personnel on the field throughout all those games for the most part, some changing parts. Look, we just need to do a better job of coaching the situation and executing as players. Everyone has to raise their level of play. That’s something that we have to work on as a team, and need to see marked improvement going forward.

Q: The other thing quickly was Graham Gano, it looked like he tweaked his kicking leg. Could he have kicked last night a long one?

A: Yeah, Graham finished the game for us. We had no plans of changing anything we would have done with him differently. We’ll see where he’s at physically today. But he kicked the ball really well for us last night. To answer that question for you, you can easily see a lot of times with kickers based on their kickoffs. In terms of the plan on kicking a long field goal, you look at Graham, the hang time and the distance he had on the kickoffs, I think that kind of shows you where his leg was at last night. We moved the ball around a little bit and placed the ball differently. But when we asked Graham to go ahead and bang the ball, he banged it pretty good and put it deep in the end zone with good hang time. That answers your question right there in terms of where we thought he was physically last night.

Q: When a player has a play like Daniel’s (Jones) run last night that sort of ended ignominiously, it kind of takes on a life of its own. That’s sort of the social media world we live in. Is that any part of your purview to help him get through that part of it? And what you saw on that play?

A: I thought he made a nice run. Look, we’d like him to stay up and finish it. He stumbled. That’s something you don’t want to happen. Look, internally, that’ll be something eventually we’ll be able to laugh about. Right now, we’ll correct some techniques and things. I thought Jason (Garrett) made a good call at the right time. Daniel did a good job on the mesh as far as hiding that thing, disguising it and pulling it. He made a real nice run to get down there. It was a huge gain for the team, put us in a position to score and the team capitalized on it. In terms of the social media part of it right there, look, the internet is undefeated. There are funny things all over the place. You just need to have a sense of humor. When someone sends you something or shows you something, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself sometimes.

Q: Your next game is a day before the trade deadline. How does last night’s game affect what you’re going to do in the next 10 days leading up to that?

A: We haven’t really had too many conversations as of yet as far as how that would affect anything right there. Our focus right now with this long weekend is just reviewing what we’ve done the first half of the season, coaching and playing, and making sure when the players come back that we’ve made some adjustments going forward. That can be something in terms of how we practice, how we prepare, techniques we’re using with certain players, whatever that may be. We’re kind of treating this a little bit right now like we would in a bye week. It’s a good opportunity for the players to get physically refreshed, mentally refreshed, and when they come back on Monday, getting back into ball with those guys.

Q: When you looked at the Evan Engram play, the drop near the end of the game, did you think he should have caught the ball? If so, is there anything wrong with a head coach frankly saying, ‘I think he should have caught the ball’?

A: I think everyone has their own style right there. To me, across the board, it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback for a lot of people. We expect our players to perform in critical situations. Evan put us in position to be in that part of the game yesterday with how he performed. I thought he did a good job showing up, he was very productive for us. I like the way he comes to work, prepares and battles. Look, we’ll address that internally with how we can do things. I have no complaints on how Evan comes to work, what kind of teammate he is, and what he’s helping us build going forward right there. With how some other head coach wants to handle that, that’s on them.

Q: Coaches always say when you’re trying to build a team and gain confidence as a team, when you get some positive reinforcement, it’s easier. They win and you can point out mistakes and also point out things they did well. With so little winning this year, does it make your job harder to try to get positive reinforcement and build a team where there is so much losing that comes as a result of that?

A: I’ve always been very blunt and honest from day one. Regardless of if it’s coming off the field after a hard practice, coming off the field after a win or a loss, they are getting the same personality and feedback regardless. When you do something good, I’m going to highlight it and point it out. When you do something wrong, I’m going to show that to the team as well and make sure we correct it. Everyone has to learn the lesson. In terms of trying to use wins or losses at times to motivate or address players, to me you just have to be consistent on a daily basis. You don’t have to wait for the right time to correct someone, the right time to get motivation for somebody. The thing is to be consistent as a coach every day, so the players know what to expect coming in. They’ve been very consistent and very repetitive the entire way as well, all of them. I understand what you’re saying, I’ve worked for a lot of coaches who have said in the past, ‘hey, you can correct more after a win and after a loss you have to kind of pick them up.’ I’m going to be honest with you, that’s not really my personality. I think you just tell it like it is and people aware. They take the corrections as they come.

Q: I know you said you haven’t had much time to discuss the trade deadline. Any of those decisions, do you expect to have input on those decisions? Kind of like free agency and the draft with personnel.

A: We’ve had great synergy in the building since I have been here with everybody involved. We’ve been very open with a lot of discussions and talking through the personnel. Whether that was free agency or the draft, training camp or final cuts. There’s been great communication across the board. I expect that to continue. We’ve done a good job working together as a team.

Q: Any moves you do make, and I understand you haven’t made any and you don’t know if you will, any moves that you do make, do you have to consider what kind of message that sends to the locker room? How that affects some of the young guys’ development? Say it was an offensive guy, do you have to consider the ripple effect from those moves?

A: I don’t know that there needs to be an assumption that there is going to be a string of moves anyway. Right now, I think if I comment on a lot of this, all of the sudden you have players kind of anticipating what are we looking to do. I’m very clear with the players from day one that any decision we make is in the best interests of the team. That’s something I told them from day one and I always reiterate that to them. However, just because there is a trade deadline coming up doesn’t mean there is going to be a string of moves or something we’re going to have to look to go ahead and do and flip a lot of things. We always have personnel conversations. We always discuss (inaudible). We always make sure we’re on the same page. This week is no different just because there is a deadline approaching.

Q: How do you balance as a head coach trying to put the best team on the field for this year and looking at the big picture of wanting to continue to build around a young roster? Maybe not give up draft picks or assets at the deadline.

A: Part of the question you guys ask me every week, who do we expect to play at certain positions. I’ve been telling you every week, anyone at the game is going to play. We’re into developing all of our players. Whether that’s rotating linemen at different positions, getting a couple new DB’s in, make sure they are getting exposure. Make sure guys are getting reps in the kicking game. We saw TJ Brunson got into the game yesterday for the first time. He made a real nice play on kickoff. Went down there and showed what we have been seeing at practice for the time right now. We’re looking to develop our players all the time. To me, we’re going out there to be competitive and win every game every week. We’re not racing for some kind of a draft pick, that’s not our priority right now. We’re trying to go out there, we’re trying to win, that’s our goal as an organization. In terms of bringing players along, we’re using every player we have to develop to the future. We’re always thinking about the future in what we do. The future includes the Sunday game coming up that week as well as the long-term picture. The balance is always how it works off each other all the time anyway.

Q: I was curious with the Madre Harper late hit last night and then the hit on Desean Jackson, just your thoughts on seeing that on film and how you addressed it internally with Madre?

A: We haven’t had team meetings yet, so I haven’t had a chance to look at the tape before addressing Madre. I talked to him in the locker room. I’ll keep that conversation between me and him right now. When we have team meetings on Monday when the players come back, anything we have to correct, we will.

Q: After the game last night, Evan Engram was understandably down, given his performance. He’s had a rough start to his year. I’m just wondering what’s your approach in keeping his confidence up. Not letting his struggles manifest in his performance moving forward.

A: I’m not going to try and be a psychologist with him. I’m going to let him know right now, he’s an important player for us. He makes a lot of big plays. He put us in a position last night be competitive down the stretch. We all have to coach better, we all have to make plays and execute on the field. To me, there is not a player on our team that needs to worry about confidence or these questions about confidence issues. Confidence comes from practice, execution, and then in-game success. In terms of Evan as a player, we have all the confidence in him possible. We’re going to keep giving him the ball, keep making him the focal point of our offense. We expect him to keep showing up. He did a lot of good things for us last night.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Saturday and Sunday. There will be no media availability to the team on Saturday-Monday.

Aug 312020
 
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Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans (January 19, 2020)

Logan Ryan – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN LOGAN RYAN…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent cornerback/safety Logan Ryan (Tennessee Titans). The deal is supposedly a 1-year, $7.5 million contract.

The 29-year old, 5’11”, 195-pound Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019), playing 109 regular-season games with 85 starts. In 2019 with the Titans, Ryan started all 16 regular-season games and accrued 105 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 18 pass defenses, and four interceptions. A career cornerback, Ryan has indicated he would like to be moved to safety.

AUGUST 31, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:

  • Early part of the practice emphasized the running game.
  • QB Daniel Jones was sharp throughout practice. In 11-on-11 drills, Jones threw a long pass to WR Darius Slayton. Jones later connected with RB Saquon Barkley on a deep pass for a touchdown.
  • WR Corey Coleman has been difficult to cover for all of the defensive backs.
  • WR Alex Bachman caught a diving touchdown in 11-on-11 drills.
  • RB Dion Lewis continues to show good quickness as a runner and receiver.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, WR Derrick Dillon made a twisting, finger-tip reception on a pass from QB Colt McCoy.
  • CB Dravon Askew-Henry knocked away a short QB Colt McCoy pass intended for WR David Sills.
  • CB Corey Ballentine defended a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for WR Alex Bachman.
  • CB James Bradberry showed great timing in breaking up a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for WR Sterling Shepard.
  • Defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence batted down passes at the line of scrimmage.
  • LB Kyler Fackrell “sacked” the quarterback a couple of times during team drills.
  • TE Eric Tomlinson made a twisting touchdown reception on a pass from QB Colt McCoy against linebacker. T.J. Brunson.
  • LB Devante Downs leveled RB Sandro Platzgummer.
  • LT Andrew Thomas clobbered LB Devante Downs on a run block for RB Saquon Barkley.
  • PK Graham Gano made 5-of-6 field goals, missing a 50+ yard effort.
  • The Giants provided a video overview of today’s practice on YouTube.

INJURY REPORT…
Safety Xavier McKinney (left foot fracture), linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in left knee), safety Jaquarius Landrews (unknown), and tight end Rysen John (unknown) did not practice.

Wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring?), defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (ankle?), and safety Montre Hartage (hamstring?) all left practice early.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Monday 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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice Tuesday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media after practice.

May 142020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 29, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Coming off an incredible debut season in 2018, where he earned “Offensive Rookie of the Year” honors and led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, much was expected of Saquon Barkley in 2019. However, his second pro season quickly became forgettable after he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. The injury caused him to miss three games and nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns behind an offensive line that did not block very well. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

The game that best epitomized Barkley’s frustrating season was the Week 14 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants led 17-3 at halftime, yet the team’s offensive brain trust only called for seven runs by Barkley in the second half. Three weeks later, the Giants faced the Eagles again, this time in the Meadowlands. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter tied the game at 17-17. Yet the Eagles went on to win comfortably as Barkley only touched the ball twice before the score became 34-17 in the 4th quarter. One was left with the sense that the coaching staff simply did not use Barkley to full effect.

Unbelievably, and especially when you consider the fact that Barkley missed three games and played hurt in the final 10 games, no other running back on the roster gained more than Wayne Gallman’s 110 yards. To put this in perspective, Daniel Jones rushed for 279 yards. Gallman’s stock plummeted, falling from Barkley’s primary back-up to being a healthy scratch from the game-day roster in the last five contests of the season. Gallman carried the ball only 29 times all year. Jon Hilliman only carried the ball 30 times for 91 yards. Eli Penny 15 times for 39 yards. Javorius Allen 10 times for 36 yards. In other words, all of the other backs combined only gained 276 yards, or three less than Daniel Jones (who only played 12 games).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The team decided not to re-sign unrestricted free agent Javorius Allen, but did re-sign fullback Eli Penny to a 2-year contract. Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jon Hilliman, and practice squad fullback George Aston also return.

Newcomers include Dion Lewis (signed by Giants after he was cut by Tennessee Titans), Javon Leake (undrafted rookie free agent), and Sandro Platzgummer (Austrian from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Saquon Barkley is a generational talent. His presence on the roster had to be an immense appeal to coaches like Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Burton Burns, the latter coming back to coaching at the age of 67. But as we saw with Odell Beckham, talent guarantees nothing. And it is up to Judge, Garrett, and Burns to get the very best out of Barkley. Burns is an under-the-radar addition. He’s an old-school, demanding hard-ass, but running backs love playing for him.

Judge has stated numerous times that New York’s offensive game plans will change weekly depending on the opponent, to the point where he said there may be games where the Giants almost exclusively run or pass the football. Given the fact that Barkley is a superb receiving target and that Garrett had the Cowboys throw a ton to Ezekiel Elliott, Barkley should be heavily involved in any game plan. At the same time, the pressure is on all of the new offensive coaches, including offensive line coach Marc Colombo, and the blockers up front to simply give Barkley a chance to do his his thing. Too many times, Barkey was having to avoid tacklers in the backfield. Barkley also needs to touch the football, particularly in the clutch. When he does, good things happen.

There were a couple of red flags with Barkley last year. He still dances around a bit too much instead of taking what is there. And after he got hurt, Barkley looked tentative and indeed soft at times. That changed in December as his ankle got stronger. Hopefully that was only an anomaly. Other than that, Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight.

The other story line of camp is the depth situation behind Barkley. Gallman has not developed as hoped. Penny is more of a fullback. Hilliman didn’t impress as a rookie. The Giants added Dion Lewis, a smaller, elusive journeyman who did his best work in New England.

ON THE BUBBLE: Honestly, I don’t think anyone other than Barkley is totally safe. This is an area where the Giants may be actively scanning the waiver wire before the season starts. Given Judge’s familiarity with Lewis and his versatility as a runner, receiver, and returner, Lewis also has a good shot to make the roster.

PREDICTIONS: I’m a little bit wary of piling on the previous coaching staff, but I just don’t get the impression that they were terribly imaginative in using Saquon Barkley in the passing game (there was an odd, overreliance on the wheel route). The run blocking obviously wasn’t good either. Talent? Coaching? Scheme? Probably a combination of all three. When something worked, the Giants moved away from it, and just when you thought the opponent should be hit with a heavy dose of Barkley, he was nowhere to be seen.

On paper, Garrett, Colombo, Burns, and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens are major upgrades in the coaching department. I think they will know how to use Barkley. I also expect Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Nate Solder to play much better and for Andrew Thomas and possibly Shane Lemieux or Nick Gates to make an impact. Provided he stays healthy and focused, Barkley should hit the 2,000 yard mark again. He’s clearly one of the very best players in the entire League.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny

After Barkley and Lewis, this is a bit dicey. Gallman is on the bubble. Penny is replaceable. A guy like Javon Leake could easily press for a roster spot, especially given his kick return skills. Hell, a guy like Sandro Plazgummer probably couldn’t have picked a better team to compete on. My guess is Gettleman and Judge will be actively scanning the waiver wire here. Don’t be shocked to see running back a priority area next offseason. The Giants need better insurance behind Barkley.

Oct 032019
 
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Mike Shula and Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Mike Shula and Pat Shurmur – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 3, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) did not practice on Thursday.

“We’ll have to see (if Barkley plays this weekend),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “I think there are certain things we need to see a player do before we deem him ready to play. Deciding whether a player is out or not, those are Friday things. Today is Thursday… I would (consider it a possibility that he plays). I think we check constantly with our doctors, and we make sure that he’s on the right track to come back. So, we’ll just see. Really, if you think about this globally, people outside the building put time frames on things. Within the building, we know that all people are different and that’s why you hear us say, typically, day to day, or week to week. I think that’s where we’re at with all the injuries because as different as people are, they respond differently to injuries. Sometimes the injuries are more or less severe but still get categorized as this. That’s where I think we have to be careful when people are trying to predict when a player comes back.”

Running back Wayne Gallman (neck), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (neck), and linebacker Tae Davis (concussion) were limited in practice.

Right guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder) and left tackle Nate Solder (neck) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and 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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice again on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Sep 292019
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 24 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 3…
In a sloppy game filled with eight turnovers, the New York Giants soundly defeated the Washington Redskins 24-3 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 2-2. However, the victory came with a cost, as linebackers Ryan Connelly (knee) and Lorenzo Carter (neck) left the game with injuries. Connelly’s injury appears serious, possibly a season-ending ACL tear.

New York took control of the game from the beginning of the contest. On Washington’s third snap of the game, Connelly intercepted quarterback Case Keenum and returned the ball five yards to the Redskins’ 32-yard line. After picking up 15 yards on 3rd-and-17, the Giants decided to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 24-yard line. Quarterback Daniel Jones completed a 5-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard for the first down. Three plays later, Jones and Shepard converted again on 3rd-and-6. The drive ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jones to running back Wayne Gallman, who was starting for the injured Saquon Barkley.

The Giants defense forced a punt on Washington’s second possession. New York then drove the field, going 94 yards in 13 plays to go up 14-0 early in the second quarter. The drive was fortunately kept alive by a defensive holding penalty after Jones was sacked on 3rd-and-9. The Giants gained 23 yards on a pass to Shepard and 22 yards on a run by Gallman. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Gallman as well.

Washington went three-and-out on their third and fourth possessions, but the Giants’ momentum stuttered when Jones threw two back-to-back interceptions. The second set up the Redskins at the New York 37-yard line with rookie Dwayne Haskins now entering the game for Washington at quarterback. The Redskins gained just 34 yards in 11 plays and settled for a 21-yard field goal after facing a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Jones and the Giants responded with just over two minutes to go before halftime with a 10-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal to once again extend the lead by two touchdowns, 17-3. The big plays on the drive were a 31-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram and a 20-yard pass to Gallman on 2nd-and-20.

Neither team scored an offensive point in the second half, while the Giants added to their advantage with a defensive score. Both teams punted to start the third quarter. The Giants then drove from their own 40-yard line to the Redskins’ 5-yard line. But on 2nd-and-goal, running back Jon Hilliman fumbled the ball away at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Haskins threw an interception to safety Jabrill Peppers that was returned 32 yards for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead.

After both teams punted again early in the fourth quarter, the Giants forced another turnover when Haskins threw his second interception, this time to cornerback Janoris Jenkins on a deep ball down the right sideline. Both teams then exchanged punts again. With under five minutes to play, Gallman fumbled the ball away when the Giants were attempting to run out the clock. Washington gave it right back with Haskins’ third interception, and second by Jenkins, this time off of a tipped ball. New York then successfully ran out the clock to seal the win.

Offensively, the Giants generated 24 first downs and 389 yards, but turned the ball over four times. Jones completed 23-of-31 passes for 225 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 33 yards on five carries. His leading targets were Shepard (7 catches for 76 yards) and Gallman (6 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown). Gallman carried the ball 18 times for 63 yards and a touchdown; Hilliman gained 33 yards on 10 carries.

Defensively, the Giants only allowed eight first downs and 176 yards of total offense (55 rushing, 121 passing). The defense intercepted four passes, two by Jenkins, one by Connelly, and one by Peppers for a touchdown. The Giants also accrued three sacks, one by Connelly and half-sacks by linebacker Oshane Ximines, linebacker Markus Golden, nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, and linebacker Tuzar Skipper.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), LB Tae Davis (concussion), QB Alex Tanney, TE Kaden Smith, OT Eric Smith, and OT/OG Chad Slade were inactive.

LB Ryan Connelly (knee) and LB Lorezno Carter (neck) left the game with injuries and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday. The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Sep 252019
 
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New York Giants Helmets (September 22, 2019)

© USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), wide receiver Russell Shepard (foot), defensive end Olsen Pierre (knee), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), and linebacker Tae Davis (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday.

“Saquon will be out for an extended period here,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He’s getting a second opinion on his ankle… Tae Davis is in the concussion protocol, and then Ogletree with the hamstring. They didn’t practice today. Then Russell Shepard with the foot, and Olsen Pierre just had some soreness from the game. Those are the injuries of note.”

Wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion), wide receiver Bennie Fowler (hamstring), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (elbow) practiced on a limited basis.

GIANTS RE-SIGN NATE STUPAR, CUT ERIC TOMLINSON…
The New York Giants have re-signed linebacker Nate Stupar, who the team cut on September 6th. To make room for Stupar, the team terminated the contract of tight end Eric Tomlinson.

The 6’2”, 240-pound Stupar was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Stupar has spent time with the Raiders (2012), Philadelphia Eagles (2012), San Francisco 49ers (2012–2013), Jacksonville Jaguars (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014–2015), and New Orleans Saints (2016–2017). The Giants signed Stupar after he was cut by the Saints in September 2018. He played in all 16 games for the Giants, finishing the year with just 14 tackles. Stupar has played in 79 regular-season games with ten starts, six of which came in 2016 when he accrued 58 tackles.

The Giants signed Tomlinson in September 2019 after he was cut by the New York Jets. The 6’6”, 263-pound Tomlinson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Eagles cut him before the season started and he was then signed to the Practice Squad of the Houston Texans. In November 2016, the Jets signed him to their 53-man roster. In three seasons with the Jets, Tomlinson has played in 36 regular-season games with 30 starts. He has 16 career receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown.

DANIEL JONES NAMED “NFC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK”…
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been named “NFC Offensive Player of the Week” for his performance last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his first NFL start, Jones completed 23-of-36 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed four times for 28 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with just over a minute to play in the contest.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday, with the team’s coordinators also addressing the media.

Jun 172019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 30, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

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: Running Backs

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: The great debate during the 2018 offseason was about whether the New York Giants should draft a quarterback with the #2 overall pick or Saquon Barkley. General Manager Dave Gettleman chose the less popular option and selected Barkley. While the final determination of whether this was the right move or not cannot be determined for some time, Barkley became one of the NFL’s very best players in just his rookie season. Despite not carrying the ball more than 18 times per game in the first half of the season and running behind a subpar offensive line, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. And he didn’t fumble once. Barkley was voted to the Pro Bowl and named “Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”, “FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year”, “Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year”, and “Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.”

It was expected that ex-Panther Jonathan Stewart would be a significant contributor, but he only played in three games with six carries before ending up on Injured Reserve with a foot injury. Wayne Gallman became the team’s #2 running back, yet he only had 51 carries and 14 receptions on the year. The only other back to touch the football was fullback Elijhaa Penny, who carried the football only seven times and caught only eight passes. Third-year player Paul Perkins missed the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. In a nutshell, it was virtually a one-man show with Barkley.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to bring back Jonathan Stewart and he retired from the NFL. The team signed Rod Smith from the Cowboys in free agency and signed undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Hilliman after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Just how good can Saquon Barkley become? Will he let early success go to his head and fade? Or will he stay grounded and humble and seek to elevate his entire team? Jeremy Shockey and Odell Beckham were two of the most impressive rookies the Giants have ever had, but their careers with the team ended with a whimper. Aside from staying healthy, the challenge for Barkley is to prove to be a difference-maker for a team that has not won a playoff game in seven seasons. A good omen is that despite a questionable supporting cast, the more Barkley touched the football in 2018, the better the team performed (four of the team’s five wins came during the second-half of the season). Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Barkley could rush for over 2,000 yards in one season.

Oddly, the Giants basically only carried two halfbacks on the roster last year. And also oddly, the second back (Wayne Gallman) barely touched the ball. Yet, Barkley only carried the ball 16.3 times per game (catching the ball 5.7 times per game). One would assume Pat Shurmur would like to see more touches for the running back unit as a whole. But does that mean more touches for Barkley? Or does the team play it safe and try to spread out the workload to the #2 and #3 halfbacks? Will there be a #3 halfback this year? Wayne Gallman has the inside track on the #2 job, but he has to control his fumbling (five in limited carries in 2017 and 2018).

ON THE BUBBLE: No one is really safe other than Barkley. If the Giants keep a fullback on the roster, Elijhaa Penny probably makes it unless the Giants see someone better on the waiver wire. The other four backs – Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, Rod Smith, and Jonathan Hillman – are fighting for one or two spots. (And again, never rule out the waiver wire).

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Paul Perkins: “I think he is doing a good job. He is just getting back into it. There are a lot of running backs, so he is sharing reps, but the things that he has done out there, it looks like he has good body control and he handles the ball well. I have been pleased with his route running and the few carries he has had; it appears he has good vision.”

Shurmur on Rod Smith: “I think he is a pro. He came in and he has learned our offense pretty quickly. There is less and less mistakes in each practice setting. He does a good job with the ball in his hands. He is a big presence and we all know a lot of what he does is on special teams.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Saquon Barkley’s snap count: “I think Coach Johnson does a really good of keeping those guys fresh throughout the game. Selfishly as a coordinator and probably all the Giants fans, you want him in there every single play because you don’t ever want him to miss out on an opportunity. I think there is a happy medium to make sure he’s fresh throughout and don’t just kill him. We’ve got to keep that in mind as we put together our game plans.”

Shula on Paul Perkins: “I remember him coming out of college and I really liked him coming out of college. Last year obviously he got hurt, he spent the whole year on IR. Now he’s getting a lot of reps. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things, he can pass protect, he can run the football obviously, he’s pretty good out of the backfield. We want to have him continue getting better at all those things. You guys saw last year we don’t dress a lot of backs so the guys that are dressing have to be able to do all those things. We want them to be able to be productive on first and second down but also on third down and that would involve pass protection and catching the football.”

Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson on Wayne Gallman: “I thought he was playing at a real high level in December… He gave us a lot of explosiveness.”

Johnson on Paul Perkins: “He’s back to the Perkins I saw when he first got here.”

PREDICTIONS: Stating the obvious, this is Saquon Barkley’s team now. He’s a truly special talent. The Giants must keep him healthy and prevent too much wear-and-tear. Thus, I think even his touches in training camp will be limited and I don’t expect to see much of him in the preseason. If he stays healthy, I do expect him to challenge Tiki Barber’s franchise-record, single-season total of 1,860 yards set in 2005. He should also have over 100 receptions. And while a running back can have more of an impact on the win-loss record than a wide receiver, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders had great individual seasons on terrible teams. In other words, Barkley can elevate his team’s play, but he will need help.

I can’t see the Giants carrying more than four backs. One will be Barkley. According to reports, the quarterbacks threw a lot to fullback Elijhaa Penny during Spring workouts. A decent blocker, Penny will likely make the team unless someone more intriguing becomes available on the waiver wire. So how many other halfbacks do the Giants carry (one or two) and who? Paul Perkins finished his rookie season strong and actually started the last playoff game the Giants played in. But he regressed terribly his sophomore season. Perkins will need to rebound in order to make it. Gallman flashes as a runner and receiver, but he must protect the ball better or he could be vulnerable. Gallman and Perkins seem to be directly competing with each other for one spot. Rod Smith’s best chance is if the coaches want to keep a short yardage back to reduce wear-and-tear on Barkley. His special team ability also helps. Jonathan Hilliman is a powerful runner who appears to be directly competing with Smith in terms of the style he brings to the table.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Elijhaa Penny, Wayne Gallman, and Rod Smith