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

Feb 182019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (August 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

One year ago, we were in the midst of the endless offseason debate on whether or not the Giants should draft one of the top quarterback prospects or Saquon Barkley. Many – including myself – argued that Barkley was probably a luxury who the Giants could not afford given their extremely rare opportunity to select a potential franchise quarterback at the #2 spot. “It’s a quarterback’s league. You can get a very good running back in later rounds, but not a quarterback. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to nab a stud QB without trading up.” And so on.

From the start, Dave Gettleman did not hide his love affair for Barkley. There was no smoke. Some will say Gettleman made the safe pick in selecting Barkley, but I would argue that since most pundits and fans felt the Giants should have selected Sam Darnold, Gettleman was actually sticking his neck out as most would have understood taking the QB.

The Barkley vs. Darnold debate won’t be settled for some time. But the early returns are that Gettleman made the right call. With the full understanding that I will be accused of immense hyperbole, Saquon Barkley is the best young running back I’ve watched in my lifetime. At 51, I’m too “young” to have seen Gayle Sayers, Jim Brown, and O.J. Simpson. I saw Walter Payton in the latter stages of his career, not his prime. But I did witness the entire careers of Barry Sanders, Bo Jackson, Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, Thurman Thomas, Adrian Peterson, and others. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t take any of them over Barkley, who combines better size/power base with Sanders-like moves, Jackson-like speed, Faulk’s hands, and without Dickerson’s fumbling.

Barkley has it all. He’s a big back who runs like scatback. He can run with power, make you miss, and run away from you. He doesn’t fumble. He catches the football like a wide receiver. He’s a threat to score every time he touches the football. His head is screwed on right. And in the “look at me” era, he just hands the football to the official after he breaks off a 50-yard touchdown. I can’t even imagine how dreadful and unwatchable the 2018 New York Giants would have been without him on the football team. The 22-year old Barkley is already the face of the franchise. Pray he stays healthy and has a long career because this guy truly is a generational talent. The last time the Giants selected a player with the #2 pick was Lawrence Taylor. Barkley has a chance to be viewed in that light.

On a bad team, behind a bad offensive line and blocking tight ends, Barkley accrued over 2,000 combined yards and 15 touchdowns. This also despite averaging 16.3 carries and 5.7 receptions per game. Let me emphasize that again, Barkley only touched the ball 22 times per game. In only three games did he have more than 20 rushing attempts. Yet he had over 2,000 combined yards! Amazing. Indeed, one could make a strong argument that Barkley was underutilized, particularly during the first half of the season.

Given those numbers, one would normally expect that the Giants’ reserve running backs would have seen a lot of action. First of all, surprisingly, the Giants only had one back-up halfback on the roster in Wayne Gallman. Secondly, Gallman was only on the field 15 percent of the time (as compared to Barkley’s 83 percent of all offensive snaps). Gallman only had 51 carries and 14 receptions all year. That’s an average of only four touches per game.

The only other back of note is fullback Elijhaa Penny, who primarily served as a blocker on 12 percent of all offensive snaps. He touched the ball only 15 times all year.

In summary, Barkley was THE reason fans watched the New York Giants in 2018. And he clearly is one of the very best players in the entire league.

THE MAN

Despite pressure to draft a quarterback, the Giants felt strongly that Saquon Barkley was the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting him with the #2 overall pick. Barkley did not disappoint, becoming only the third rookie in NFL history to accrue 2,000 yards from scrimmage and breaking a number of franchise records. He also 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.” Barkley started all 16 games, rushing 261 times for 1,307 yards (5.0 yards per carry) 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. Barkley also led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. The latter figure is the highest single-season total by a Giants player since the 1970 merger. All of this despite playing behind a subpar offensive line. Barkley is a complete three-down back who can make an impact running and catching the football. He has an outstanding combination of size, quickness, and speed. A home-run threat every time he touches the football, Barkley has great vision, instincts, and balance. He makes defenders miss and can accelerate to full speed in a heartbeat. Barkley is big enough to run through and athletic enough to leap over tackle attempts. Barkley is a very good pass receiver who can hurt a defense down the field in the passing game. Outstanding kick returner. He did not fumble the ball in 2018. His biggest negative is that he will sometimes try to do too much and dance around instead of taking what the defense gives him. Excellent intangibles. Team leader with a good work ethic.

THE BACK-UP

Despite being the only other true halfback on the roster for the bulk of the season, Wayne Gallman only carried the football 51 times for 176 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Gallman was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, Gallman played in 13 games with one start and carried the football 111 times for 476 yards (4.3 yards per carry). Gallman also caught 34 passes for 193 yards in 2017 and 14 passes for 89 yards in 2018. Gallman is a well-rounded cutback runner with good vision, elusiveness, strength, and speed. He has good hands as a receiver, but he needs to improve his ball security (a combined five fumbles in 2017 and 2018).

THE FULLBACK

The Giants signed Elijhaa Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He ended up playing in 14 games for the Giants, with three starts, carrying the ball seven times for 25 yards and catching eight passes for 50 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. Penny spent his rookie season on the Cardinals’ Practice Squad. He was active all 16 regular-season games in 2017 with no starts and finished the season with 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Though Penny lacks classic fullback size, he is a well-rounded player who can block, run, and catch the football.

THE MISTAKE

The Giants placed Jonathan Stewart on Injured Reserve in September 2018 with a foot injury. The 5’10”, 240-pound Stewart was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Panthers. In 10 seasons with the Panthers, Stewart rushed for 7,318 yards and 51 touchdowns. He also caught 162 passes for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2017, Stewart started 10 games but saw his rushing totals fall to 680 yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The Giants signed Stewart in March 2018 after he was cut by the Panthers. He rushed for just 17 yards on six carries for the Giants. Injury prone, Stewart has not played a full season since 2011.

PRACTICALLY FORGOTTEN

The Giants signed Robert Martin to the Practice Squad in September 2018. The Giants originally signed the 5’11, 210-pound Martin as an undrafted rookie free agent after he impressed at the May 2018 rookie mini-camp as a tryout player. Martin also flashed for the team during the preseason, carrying the ball 15 times for 97 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and one touchdown.

Paul Perkins was waived with a non-football injury in May 2018 and placed on Injured Reserve with a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered before the offseason program began. After a respectable rookie season, Perkins had a very disappointing sophomore season in 2017. Perkins saw both his playing time and productivity markedly decline. In 2016, Perkins played in 14 regular-season games with one start. He also started the playoff game. Perkins finished the 2016 regular season with 112 carries for 456 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and 15 catches for 162 yards (10.8 yards per catch). In 2017, Perkins started the first four games, but then suffered a rib injury and lost his starting job to Orleans Darkwa. He played in 11 games and finished the year with 41 carries for 90 yards (2.2 yards per carry). He also caught eight passes for 46 yards. Perkins was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Perkins has good vision, quick feet, and cutting ability. He is a tough runner, but his lack of size, strength, and power limits his game. He catches the ball well.

Aug 182018
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (August 17, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – DETROIT LIONS 17…
Minus quarterback Eli Manning, wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and running back Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants soundly defeated the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Friday night, 30-17. Despite the overall team stats being similar, the game was not as close as the final score as the Giants led 24-3 and 30-10 in the 4th quarter. Manning and Beckham were healthy scratches from the contest and Barkley is still recovering from a hamstring strain he suffered in practice on Monday.

Detroit received the ball first but the first-string defense of the Giants forced a three-and-out. Defensive end Kerry Wynn sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 10-yard loss on 3rd-and-8. New York retained possession despite a muffed punt by wideout Hunter Sharp. With quarterback Davis Webb starting for Manning, running back Jonathan Stewart for Barkley, and wide receiver Cody Latimer for Beckham, the Giants also went three-and-out as Stewart lost five yards on a 3rd-and-1 conversion attempt.

On their second possession, the Lions generated their only lead of the game as Stafford found running back Theo Riddick for a 42-yard gain against linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 57-yard drive resulted in a 44-yard field goal and a 3-0 advantage.

Webb and the Giants’ offense responded with a marathon 17-play, 79-yard drive that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Webb to running back Wayne Gallman. The drive was spurred by a perfect 27-yard deep pass from Webb to wide receiver Sterling Shepard on 3rd-and-17, an 7-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram on 3-and-7, and a successful quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1.

After two punts by the Lions and a turnover on downs by the Giants, New York added to their lead when Webb threw another perfect deep pass, this one a 40-yarder to wideout Russell Shepard. While the Giants only gained three more yards on the next three plays, place kicker Aldrick Rosas connected on a 55-yard field goal attempt and the Giants went up 10-3. The Lions missed a 49-yard field goal on the ensuing possession and the Giants maintained their 7-point advantage at the break.

The Giants went three-and-out to start the 3rd quarter, but the Giants got the ball back when linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong intercepted a deflected pass from quarterback Matt Cassel and returned it 24 yards to the Detroit 12-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Kyle Lauletta rolled to his left, juked out the defense on a cutback, and scored from 10 yards out. The Giants now led 17-3.

Detroit responded by driving from their own 25 yard line to the Giants’ 9, but on 4th-and-2, running back LeGarrette Blount was stopped by linebacker Mark Herzlich and a host of Giants for a 1-yard loss. Both teams exchanged punts, with linebacker Romeo Okwara sacking Cassel for an 8-yard loss on 3rd-and-14. The Giants then put the game away early in the 4th quarter with a 4-play, 59-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard cutback touchdown run by Gallman. The Giants were now up 24-3.

The Lions did cut into the lead by driving 77 yards in nine plays, including an 11-yard touchdown pass. However, New York followed that up with a 7-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown run by running back Robert Martin with just over four minutes to play. The Lions added a meaningless touchdown with seconds to go in the game after driving 71 yards in 14 plays.

Offensively, Webb finished 14-of-20 for 140 yards and one touchdown (QB rating of 106.2). Lauletta was only 2-of-5 for 27 yards but did have the impressive 10-yard touchdown run. The only target to catch more than two passes was tight end Jerell Adams who caught three passes for 31 yards. As for the running backs, Martin gained 47 yards on seven carries and Gallman 26 yards on five carries.

Defensively, Herzlich led the team with seven tackles and the stop on 4th-and-1. The Giants accrued four sacks, including by Wynn, Okwara, linebacker Olivier Vernon, and safety Mike Basile. Armstrong had the sole turnover on his interception.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Not playing for the Giants due to injury were running back Saquon Barkley (hamstring), receiver Travis Rudolph (quad), tight end Ryan O’Malley (ankle), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), linebacker Connor Barwin (“soreness”), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring).

Running back Jalen Simmons left the game with a concussion. Wide receiver Russell Shepard dislocated a finger. Linebacker Calvin Munson left the game late after a hit to the head.

Quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. were healthy scratches.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Saturday. The players are off on that day.

Aug 142018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 7, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 14, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
While the last official training camp practice for the New York Giants was held on August 7th, the team is holding joint public practices with the Detroit Lions on August 14-16.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Tuesday due to injury were wide running back Saquon Barkley (hamstring), receiver Travis Rudolph (quad), tight end Ryan O’Malley (ankle), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), linebacker Connor Barwin (“soreness”), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring).

“(Barkley) just tweaked his hamstring (on Monday during practice),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “(It’s) day to day, we’ll just see where he’s at, but really nothing to add from yesterday. Nothing serious, I think. Just day to day.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Curtis Riley remained the first-team free safety.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning connected on a deep ball with wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who blew past Lions’ cornerback Chris Jones.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. made a sharp cut against Lions’ cornerback Darius Slay for a catch over the middle. Beckham later beat Slay again in 7-on-7 drills and scored.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb badly overthrew wideout Hunter Sharp in the flat.
  • Running back Wayne Gallman burst through the line, made a nice cut, and got to the second level of the defense. Left guard Will Hernandez had a nice block on defensive end Ziggy Ansah on the play.
  • Cornerback B.W. Webb and wide receiver Kalif Raymond did a nice job as gunners on punt returns.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning overthrew wideout Cody Latimer in the end zone. Latimer made a one-handed catch by was ruled out of bounds.
  • Linebackers Olivier Vernon and Avery Moss were the Giants’ most disruptive pass rushers.
  • Defensive linemen Robert Thomas and B.J. Hill flashed.
  • The Giants’ offensive line did a good job of keeping the quarterbacks clean throughout practice.
  • In 7-on-7 redzone drills, quarterback Eli Manning was 4-of-5 with three touchdowns.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, quarterback Eli Manning stepped up into the pocket and fired a pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard over the middle on a post pattern. Manning finished 5-of-5 to five different receivers in this team drill.
  • In 2-minute drills, cornerback Eli Apple leapt up and knocked away a pass intended for wide receiver Marvin Jones in the end zone. But then quarterback Matthew Stafford found Jones for a touchdown against Apple and over safety Landon Collins.
  • In 2-minute drills, wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. made a leaping catch over corner back Nevin Lawson. But then the Giants’ possession ended with quarterback Eli Manning being intercepted by safety Glover Quinn.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Tuesday 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 will practice against the Detroit Lions in Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday (open to public).

Aug 012018
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (July 26, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 1, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their sixth full-team summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS CLAIM VICTOR SALAKO OFF OF WAIVERS…
The New York Giants have claimed offensive tackle Victor Salako off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns. The 24-year old, 6’5”, 316-pound Salako was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Practice Squads of both the Eagles and Browns in 2017. Salako has good size but lacks ideal athleticism.

To make room for Salako, the Giants waived offensive tackle Jarron Jones, who was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Giants cut him in September 2017, but re-signed him June 2018 after he had spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Wednesday were safety Curtis Riley (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (unknown), tight end Garrett Dickerson (hamstring), and defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list).

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Linebacker Olivier Vernon beat left tackle Nate Solder around the edge to “sack” quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Darian Thompson teamed with Landon Collins as the first-team safeties. When the Giants went to “dime” coverage, the extra corners were William Gay and B.W. Webb.
  • Second-team defense included Grant Haley and Teddy Williams at corner and Michael Thomas in the slot.
  • Chad Wheeler practiced at second-team left tackle today with Nick Becton at second-team right tackle, flipping from where they had been lining up.
  • John Jerry was working with the third team at right tackle.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb threw a perfect deep pass to wide receiver Kalif Raymond for a 40-50 yard gain between cornerback Grant Haley and safety Andrew Adams.
  • Quarterback Kyle Lauletta hit wide receiver Marquis Bundy deep down the left sideline.
  • Returning kickoffs were Hunter Sharp, Wayne Gallman, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Left tackle Nate Solder did a good job of picking up a blitz by linebacker Alec Ogletree.
  • Linebacker Mark Herzlich slammed wideout Kalif Raymond after a short catch over the middle.
  • Linebacker Alex Ogletree tipped a pass from quarterback Eli Manning that was intercepted by safety Landon Collins and returned for a touchdown during the 2-minute drill.
  • Defensive end B.J. Hill expertly sniffed out a screen pass for running back Saquon Barkley and tackled him for a loss.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. worked together after practice.

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:

ARTICLES…

Jul 282018
 
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Connor Barwin, New York Giants (July 26, 2018)

Connor Barwin – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 28, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third full-team summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Saturday were defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), cornerback Sam Beal (out for the season – shoulder), and tight end Garrett Dickerson (hamstring).

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. made one of his trademark one-handed catches in the corner of the end zone.
  • Wide receiver Cody Latimer beat cornerback Eli Apple on a post route for a 40-yard touchdown.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb threw a perfect sideline pass to wide receiver Kalif Raymond for a 35-yard gain.
  • Andrew Adams was the first-team safety along with Landon Collins.
  • Linebacker Olivier Vernon flashed off of the edge against left tackle Nate Solder for what would have been a sack.
  • Linebacker Kareem Martin beat tight end Evan Engram for what would have been a sack as well.
  • Linebacker Connor Barwin made a tackle for a loss. Barwin and linebacker Lorenzo Carter gave second-team tackles Nick Becton and Chad Wheeler problems.
  • Safety Michael Thomas was untouched on a blitz to “sack” quarterback Davis Webb.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley caught a low swing pass from quarterback Eli Manning and turned it into a nice gain with some nifty moves after the catch.
  • Cornerback Donte Deayon intercepted an underthrown post pass from quarterback Davis Webb, as Webb was being pressured by linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Deayon later broke up another pass.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley caught two touchdown passes during 7-on-7 red zone drills. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. also had a TD catch during these drills.
  • Defensive end Kerry Wynn received some reps with the first-team nickel defense.
  • Defensive lineman A.J. Francis was consistently disruptive.
  • Linebackers Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara gave the third-team tackles problems.
  • Cornerback Janoris Jenkins usually blankets his opponent, but wide receiver Hunter Sharp got some separation on him twice.
  • Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a deep ball to wide receiver Marquis Bundy, who out-fought cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris for the ball.
  • Connor Barwin worked with fellow linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Avery Moss, and Jordan Williams after practice.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Saturday 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…