Jul 092015
 
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Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Brad Harrah and Bobby Hart – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: The overall play of the New York Giants offensive line improved in 2014 from its dreadful performance in 2013 but the unit was still sub par. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Pass protection was better as the Giants gave up 30 sacks on the season, which was 9th-best in the NFL. But that figure is a bit misleading given the offense’s new emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly (West Coast Offense) and quarterback Eli Manning’s long-established tendency to get rid of the ball quickly and not take the sack (which he probably actually should do more often when under duress).

The improvement that did take place not only had to do with the individual components playing better, but the Giants had greater cohesion up front due to far fewer injuries. In 2013, the Giants used seven different starting offensive line combinations, the second-highest total in the NFL that season. In 2014, the same players started all 16 games at left tackle (Will Beatty), center (J.D. Walton), and right guard (John Jerry). Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and Justin Pugh started 14 games at right tackle.

That all said, it is widely-recognized that the offensive line was once again a sore spot in 2014. Chris Snee retired before training camp. The Giants counted on high-priced free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz to be a major building block, but Schwartz only played in two games due to injuries. Beatty had a decent year, but Walton and Jerry really struggled at times. Pugh regressed after a strong rookie season and Richburg experienced the expected growing pains, especially since he was playing out of position. Overall, the line was more finesse than power, which usually is not good for any offense, but especially so for one predicated on balance and the ability to run the football.

Another issue was the overall poor depth situation. James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Eric Herman, Dallas Reynolds, and Adam Snyder were complete non factors and did not push the weaker links on the line. Adam Gettis was signed late in the season from the Steelers practice squad and ex-Eagle Michael Bamiro was signed to the Giants practice squad.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants released center J.D. Walton in March. Tackle James Brewer signed with the Jets in free agency and the Giants have made no effort to re-sign guard Adam Snyder. The Giants signed CFL All-Star center Brett Jones and street free agent tackle Emmett Cleary early in the offseason and then signed unrestricted free agent tackle Marshall Newhouse from the Bengals.The Giants drafted tackle Ereck Flowers in the first round and guard Bobby Hart in the seventh round. The team also signed rookie free agent tackle Sean Donnelly.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The Giants will enter training camp with no 2014 starter remaining at the same position. Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in an offseason weight-lifting accident and will probably miss at least half of the regular season. Because of that, the Giants are starting Ereck Flowers at left tackle at least one year sooner than they anticipated (post-draft comments by Giants officials made it clear that they saw Flowers as Beatty’s eventual replacement). Flowers had been penciled in at right tackle but now Marshall Newhouse – a player benched by the Packers and Bengals – gets first crack at the position. Weston Richburg moves to his more natural position of center. Justin Pugh has shifted from right tackle to left guard. Geoff Schwartz moves from left guard to his more natural right guard position.

The Giants have now invested two first-round draft picks (Pugh and Flowers), two second-round draft picks (Beatty and Richburg), and a high-priced free agent (Schwartz) on the offensive line. Even though Beatty is out, much improvement is expected. On paper, the Giants look strong inside (Pugh-Richburg-Schwartz) with significant question marks at tackle (Flowers and Newhouse). Flowers should eventually excel, but growing pains should be expected. Newhouse’s track record during the last few years has not been good and he appears to be the obvious weak link. The Giants may be forced to move Schwartz to right tackle and start John Jerry at right guard if Newhouse can’t handle the position. The situation should improve when Beatty returns mid-season, but long-term, Beatty may have sealed his fate with the team, especially if Flowers shows steady improvement at left tackle.

Another area of focus is the depth situation and if one of the younger players could possibly surprise and push for a starting job. Brandon Mosley apparently had a good spring as he received some first-team reps during OTAs. The Giants have some very big, young tackles including Michael Bamiro (6’8”, 340lbs), Emmett Cleary (6’7”, 324lbs), and Sean Donnelly (6’7”, 333lbs). The team drafted guard Bobby Hart (6’4”, 334lbs). Brett Jones was a CFL All-Star who is now adjusting to the NFL game.

Overall, the Giants need the line to become a much more physical and intimidating presence. Flowers has a reputation as a bad ass and should help. Pugh and Richburg worked hard in the offseason to get bigger and stronger. The Giants need Schwartz to rebound from a serious ankle injury and be a tough veteran inside.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will probably carry nine offensive linemen. Beatty will probably start the season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List and not count against the 53-man roster limit. Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, and Schwartz are the locks. Newhouse and Jerry are on shaky ground, but one will likely start and the other will likely provide veteran depth. The other nine offensive linemen will probably be fighting for three spots. Those linemen include Mosley, Bamiro, Cleary, Donnelly, Hart, Jones, Dallas Reynolds, Eric Herman, and Adam Gettis. Troy Kropog is also currently on a PUP List.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Pat Flaherty on Weston Richburg: “Right now the progress is good, it really is. He learned an awful lot last year but I knew that he was going to be a player for a very long time and I know I’m using that, but I believe it because he likes the game of football. He really has embraced the center position because you are the voice of everybody to start out and the quarterback may change things, but you are telling everyone what to do. I think that Weston has a little bit of bossman in him and he likes that.”

Flaherty on Michael Bamiro: “I’ll tell you he is the Kevin Garnett of the football players, that guy is huge. He is a good worker, he really is. He has some position versatility from being a tackle to a guard and we worked out with him. We have to really find out a little more about him when we get on pads, but I like his attitude.”

Flaherty on Justin Pugh: “I think that he likes playing and I love guys who like playing. I think any position that you put him at, he would play it. He would like to be a guy that is settled in one position. Most guys are that way. I think you probably get that feeling from him more than anything. He would only get better at the tackle position for us. Is he a better guard than tackle? He is going to be a good football player…Justin has very good feet, he is a very good athlete, has tremendous lower body strength and when you get closer to the ball at the guard position, you are going to be blocking bigger people, so I think that is going to be an advantage for us. He will be able to block those people.”

Flaherty on Geoff Schwartz: “Geoff wants to do it and he has worked awful hard to get back from his injury and he just needs to have the good luck charm on his side for once. Once he is able to do that, here is a guy that can be in the next half dozen years and have a tremendous finish to his career.”

PREDICTIONS: While there will be growing pains with Ereck Flowers, 4/5ths of the Giants offensive line could be set for a few years provided there are no more injuries and Schwartz recovers well from his ankle injury. Flowers will bring much-needed toughness and physicality to the line. Richburg seems primed to develop into a good one at center and the Giants seem to think Pugh will excel at left guard. In fact, these three players could not only be solid, but very good.

“We like (Flowers) as a future left tackle of the New York Giants. I am very comfortable with him being out there right now,” said Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo during the mini-camp.

“(Pugh) is a football-smart guy,” said McAdoo. “He is a hard worker. He brings a nice level of physicality that we like. Some grit to the position right there. It is probably a position that doesn’t get as much glamor as a tackle, but when you are on the left side, it is important position to protect the backside of the quarterback away from his vision. The left guard position is especially important because a lot goes on there on the inside. When one becomes two and two becomes three and when zero becomes one and all the movement happens, you have to make quick decisions and we feel Justin can do that.”

“Weston is a natural center,” said McAdoo. “I am excited for him. I am excited for the offense. I think he brings some energy to the position and to the offense. He’s a guy who likes to have control of things and likes to have his hand on the football. He works very hard at it. I like Weston.”

The obvious question mark is Newhouse at right tackle. He could be the Achilles’ heel for the entire line. Given his struggles in the league the last few years, it’s hard to imagine him being the answer. If he has problems early, the Giants may have to pull the plug and scramble to fill the position. While fans knock John Jerry, he may be an important piece of the short-term puzzle. The pie-in-the-sky hope is that someone like Mosley or Bamiro presses for starting time.

“Marshall has played a little bit of everywhere,” said McAdoo. “I was with him in the past when he first got into the league. He has played just about every position. I believe he even snapped the ball at one point. He is a smart guy. He gets the game. He is very nimble-footed. We need to get some pads on and get out there and get a look at him with the defense moving and be physical. He has done it before and he has done it at a high level before and he will have an opportunity to be a major contributor this year.”

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, Schwartz, Newhouse, Jerry, Mosley, Hart, and Jones.

Jun 262015
 
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Odell Beckham Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 8, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants.com Video Player Q&As: Video clips of Giants.com Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • WR Victor Cruz (Video)
  • DT Johnathan Hankins (Video)

Articles on the 2015 New York Giants:

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Odell Beckham insists: ‘No problem with anybody’ on Giants by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on the New York Giants Tight Ends: What do the Giants think of young tight end Jerome Cummingham, Will Tye and Matt LaCosse? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Offensive Line:

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul intent on dropping weight for his contract year by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on LB J.T. Thomas: How Giants’ linebacker J.T. Thomas got his football education from his ‘toughest critic’ by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on New York Giants Cornerbacks: Sizing up the Giants nickel cornerback position after minicamp and the need to be good blitzers by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Best of New York Giants Mini-Camp Video: A sights and sounds video of the action from New York Giants mini-camp is available at Giants.com.

Jun 022015
 
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Preston Parker, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE REPORT…

The New York Giants completed their fifth of ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday. The Tuesday session was not open to the media, but Giants.com did report some of the following tidbits:

  • Play of the Day: “A bomb from [quarterback] Ryan Nassib to Ben Edwards during 11-on-11s. Edwards, an undrafted wide receiver from Richmond, broke free down the middle, and Nassib dropped it right into his hands in stride for the longest play of OTAs so far. Wide receiver Victor Cruz ran out to give him a high-five as he was running back to the huddle.”
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Preston Parker in 7-on-7 drills.
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson made a nice gain on a pass from Nassib. (Video)
  • Cornerback/safety Josh Gordon picked off a pass from Nassib. (Video)
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris made a few nice catches.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz – who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon – continued to work on the sidelines, running routes and catching some passes.

Phase Three (Weeks 6-9) of the New York Giants voluntary nine-week offseason program started last week. During Phase Three of offseason programs, NFL teams may conduct a total of 10 days of OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

The final five OTA practices will be held June 4, June 8-9, and June 11-12. The Giants will hold a mandatory, full-team mini-camp on June 16-18.

Giants.com Q&A with OC Weston Richburg: The video of a Giants.com Q&A session with center Weston Richburg is available at Giants.com.

Articles on the New York Giants OTAs:

Article on RB Shane Vereen: Shane Vereen could be more prominent than expected in Giants’ backfield by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Articles on CB Prince Amukamara:

Articles on CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie:

Apr 232015
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Reese’s 2015 Pre-Draft Press Conference: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference today. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Q: Who are you picking?

A: A good player at nine.

Q: In a year like this and with some of the things that went on last year in the NFL, how much more important or different is the way you look at a player’s character and behavior when you are assessing them? Has that changed?

A: I think we are always mindful of a player’s character and background. That always goes into the equation. It is not really anything new for us. Obviously, like all teams, we have taken some guys on the back end of the roster, more risk-reward kind of situations on the back end of the roster. We are very conscious and have been for a long time about backgrounds and character.

Q: That seems to have changed last year when you guys wanted a lot of clean players… Whereas in the past you would have taken…?

A: The thing you have to think about when you are thinking about these young players is that they are young. They do young kid stuff. You can’t just absolutely kill them. You wouldn’t have anyone to draft. Kids do kid things and do college things and it happens. If a guy has a long list of issues, that is when you have to throw the red flag in there. Is this guy going to stop? If you have a couple things that college kids do, you can’t just throw it away.

Q: Is there anything concrete you do with that or is it just an eyeball test?

A: We do all the background checks and our scouts go out and dig the information that we can. We interview them and try to put it all together and make a decision on it.

Q: Is it kind of three strikes and you are out?

A: Not necessarily, it depends on how egregious the off-field issues are, more than anything else probably.

Q: Last year you seemed to have a guy pegged or a couple guys you thought would be available… Is it more unpredictable being at nine?

A: I think you always have a good idea, but it is always unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen. You can look up and some of those quarterbacks they think are going to be in the first couple picks could be – not off the board until 15 or 20. You never know. I learned that a long time ago in the draft. Funny things can happen, so expect everything to happen.

Q: Last year the wide receiver corps turned out to be a really good group… There are a lot of thoughts that this wide receiving corps could be just as good… Thoughts?

A: I think there are good receivers, just as there were last year. I think that is every year. I think there are good players at every position every year. I don’t know if that is a good answer or not, but I think there are good wide receivers…I think there are good players at every position.

Q: Given you have a lot of depth at receiver, would you have any qualms about drafting another receiver?

A: First of all, as soon as you say you have a lot of depth at any position, you don’t have depth. I know better than to say that. We will draft the best player available for us. It really doesn’t matter what position it is.

Q: How do you look at your offensive line at this point? Do you look at it saying you need to supplement it at least during one day of the draft?

A: Every position. We want to try and upgrade every position as best we can every opportunity we get. Offensive line won’t be excluded from that as well.

Q: In your mind right now, what does your offensive line look like? Is Justin Pugh still at right tackle?

A: That is something for Tom. You have to talk to Tom about that. Obviously Pugh has been a starter and is going to be a starter somewhere more than likely. [Geoff] Schwartz is coming back from injury. Hopefully he can fit in there somewhere. What we want to do is get as many good players as we can and create as much competition as we can in the offensive line.

Q: When you are picking as high as you are, is there a sense of a guy having to fit in at a premium position? In the past, you wouldn’t have drafted linebacker in the first round, but guys like defensive backs, wide receivers and left tackles… Is that part of your thinking when you are as high as you are?

A: If you draft at nine, whoever it is, is a premium position, regardless of the position that he is. If you draft at nine, it is a premium position, regardless of what it is. It doesn’t matter what position. If you draft him at nine, he is a guy you expect to come in and play and play quickly.

Q: Has the profile of offensive linemen changed at all in the last decade at all?

A: We just look for good players. Good profiles. Good players. Strong. Big, strong, fast and smart.

Q: The big lineman from Iowa is a guy everyone seems to love as a guard prospect… What do you see from him?

A: I think he can play both. I think he can play tackle and he can play guard. I think he can play somewhere.

Q: Where do you see him?

A: The coaches will have to figure that out.

Q: How do you look at this group of pass rushers?

A: There are some good pass rushers and edge rushers available.  Are you asking me to stack them or something like that? I can’t do that, but I do think there are some good pass rushers in this draft.

Q: You haven’t made a ton of trades as compared to other teams throughout the years… How do you explain that? Is that the way things worked out?

A: We will keep all of our options open on the draft. We can trade up and we can trade down. That doesn’t change. We are not looking to trade just to try to be cute to trade up or down. If we think we have an opportunity to move up, then we will move up. If we have an opportunity to move back, then we will do that as well.

Q: Back around the combine, in regards to Victor Cruz, you said you couldn’t think of him as a sure thing… Have you seen anything from him where you can have some kind of certainty of how he will be when he comes back?

A: I don’t think you can have certainty. [Cruz] looks good. He is running pretty good right now. He is scheduled to be back for the opener for us, but until you get out there and turn it loose, you never know what a guy is going to do. He looks great right now.

Q: Are you still approaching whatever he can give you guys next year as a ‘bonus?’

A: I am not counting it as a bonus, but I want to be prepared if he is not here.

Q: Is there any change in your perspective in the preparation on your part when you pick ninth instead of 12th like last year and going back to the Super Bowl when you picked last?

A: We just stack the board. Whoever we think the best player is in the first row, it doesn’t matter what position, which is how we do it. We stack them the same way. If you pick inside 12 picks, you should get a good football player.

Q: Does the expectation change as far as impact goes?

A: The higher you pick – that is how the system is. If you pick high in the draft – that is the way the whole system is built. If you pick high in the draft, you are supposed to get better players to help you have a better football team. If you are picking last in the draft, you get penalized for being successful. You get penalized, so you get lesser players. Whoever you pick at nine should be a better player than you pick at 32. That is the way the system is and obviously we are picking nine and expect to get a good player.  A really good player.

Q: Another general manager said there were eight to ten players who were real difference makers above other guys… Do you have a point in your estimation of how many guys are at a higher level than the rest of the group?

A: I think there is always a break. Everyone in the first row – that is why we call them rows; they are not first round picks. There are natural breaks. There may be eight and then there may be five more players, then there is another break. There are always breaks in the first row where you stack them, but you have to have 32 players in the first round.

Q: Where is that first break?

A: We’ll see.

Q: How are you looking at your safety position right now? Do you think it is a position of need?

A: We are not going to make do, just like any position, we are going to try to upgrade that position. Just like the rest of the positions. We are not going to make do. We have some young players that we think have some talent, but we are going to continue to try and upgrade that position as well.

Q: Last year we were saying you needed to get a tight end and you felt confident with some of the young guys… Is it the same thing now?

A: Every position we want to upgrade. We want to upgrade safety. We want to have competition at that position like we want to have at every position and we will try to do that.

Q: Tom talked about the possibility of converting Chykie Brown or Bennett Jackson to safety… Is that realistic in your mind and what goes into that?

A: It happens all the time. One of the best players we tried to get in free agency was the corner from New England. He was a corner and played safety. You see those conversions. That is not new to see something like that happen. That is a possibility as well.

Q: Are [Brown and Jackson] guys who could possibly convert in your eyes?

A: I think so. You never know. You have to experiment in the spring. Obviously you would like to get a guy who has played there and done the job, but you have to be creative in this day and age with your personnel.

Q: You went after [Devin] McCourty, so you wanted to upgrade that position… What happened after that? Do you look at Josh Gordy as a safety?

A: That is what he plays.

Q: What was the plan at that position after McCourty?

A: We thought he was the best player in free agency [at his position] and after that we thought there was a drop off and that is what happened.

Q: Now that Eli is back in the building and he said his attitude is to play the year and go from there… What is your thought on his contract?

A: It is inappropriate to talk about a contract right now. Eli is back in the building. He looks great. He is happy to be back. We are glad he is back. We will address that when it is appropriate.

Q: Do you sense that this a real opportunity for Eli this offseason, given that he is not coming off ankle surgery and he has already been in this offense for a year?

A: Yeah, I am excited. It should be a big year for him. He is not learning the offense. A lot of the players were in the offense last year. He’ll get another piece back hopefully with Victor Cruz coming back. The tight ends will have a little bit more experience. I hope the offense – we got [Shane] Vereen, who we think is a good piece to help our offense as well. I think our offense should be a pretty good offense.

Q: Re: Thought process in the signings of Vereen, [Dwayne] Harris, [J.T.] Thomas… What were you after?

A: We were trying to upgrade some positions that we already had. We knew we were going to lose some players. We felt Vereen was a really nice piece. Everyone knows what he does as a receiver out of the backfield, he can run the ball. He is a professional football player back there. He is really good on third down. Really good on any down, to be honest. We thought he would be a nice piece. Went after him and the two linebackers. We thought they were upgrades. They will battle for starting positions. Dwayne Harris, we thought the guy was kind of a four to five tool type player for us. We thought we were getting a lot of players out of one position. We played against him for a long time and he has been a good player for [Dallas]. Hopefully he will bring it over here to us and he will play for us in those capacities.

Q: Where do you view J.T. Thomas’s best position?

A: I don’t know. It is up to the coaches. He looked like a WILL linebacker to me, but that is up to the coaches.

Q: Are you still hoping to get Stevie Brown back?

A: We are going to keep all our options open.

Q: As one of the teams in the league that isn’t quarterback-needy, do you even look at those top two guys?

A: We look at everybody. You never say you aren’t quarterback-needy. You can’t say those kinds of things. Ralph just said we were deep at receiver and you are saying we don’t need a quarterback. I know better than to say something like that.

Q: What is your take on the two quarterbacks at the top of the draft?

A: They are good players. They are both good players. They are both different, but I think they are both, in what they do, I think they are both good players.

Q: Is your expectation that they are going to go one and two?

A: I don’t expect anything. Expect the unexpected in the draft. They may not go until 15, who knows?

Q: You have gone offense the last three years in the first round… Does that go into any decision making?

A: I didn’t even know that. Whoever the best player is at nine – we are going to pick them.

Q: Do you have any concern over Jason Pierre-Paul not being here for the offseason program and not signing the tender yet?

A: It is voluntary and it is inappropriate to talk about player contracts at this point in time. It is not mandatory that he should be here.

Q: After you get an Odell [Beckham Jr.]  and everything that he did in his first season and now you are picking at nine, are there heightened expectations?

A: You always want to get good players in the draft. Sometimes you hit on a guy like Odell and he is a terrific player, but the higher you pick, the better the player should be. When you are picking on the back end, it is obviously not the same caliber.

Q: When you look back at last year’s draft, from top to bottom, how do you evaluate it?

A: We don’t really look back on that draft that much. We draft them and that draft is over. We are moving on to this draft and we are excited about the players in this draft. We go back after two or three years and look and see why a guy made it or why a guy didn’t make it. After one year, it is really hard to evaluate.

Q: Was the approach different in the past two drafts?

A: No.

Q: This week, have you checked in with Odell and how his hamstring is feeling?

A: I just saw Odell a couple of minutes ago down in the weight room. He looks great and he didn’t say a word about his hamstring.

Q: Do you have any injuries that are long-term concerns?

A: There will be a couple guys we have concerns with, but we feel good about the vast majority of our players being ready to go for training camp.

New York Giants Player Q&As: Video clips of Thursday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Mar 042015
 
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Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions (January 4, 2015)

Ndamukong Suh – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants May Pursue Ndamukong Suh: According to press reports, the New York Giants may pursue unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions) when the free agency negotiating period begins on March 7.

The New York Daily News is reporting that “several NFL sources believe the Giants are considering a run” at Suh, who is widely-regarded at the top unrestricted free agent on the market. ESPN is also reporting that the Giants may be one of the teams in the mix for Suh.

However, with the Giants only currently about $10-13 million under the $143 million cap, the team would have to be creative to find a way to pay for Suh. The Giants could extend/re-structure some contracts (including that of QB Eli Manning) or cut players or force them to take pay cuts. There is also the possibility that the Giants could remove the almost $15 million franchise tender on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

The 28-year old Suh is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and the rare defensive tackle who can both play the run and rush the passer. The problem for the Giants is that many teams with a lot more cap space are expected to bid on Suh, who may be seeking a contract in the 6-year, $100 million range with $50 million in guaranteed money.

Victor Cruz Injury Update: On a Giants.com video interview, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said he expects to be ready to practice by the time training camp starts in late July.

“My goal is for training camp,” said Cruz. “Obviously OTAs are near and approaching, but I just want to take my time and continue rehab. But training camp is definitely the goal.”

If Cruz is able to practice at camp, he would likely be limited as he is recovering from a very serious injury, tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014. It remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability.

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

Articles on the New York Giants and Free Agency:

Articles on Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul:

Giants.com Feature on Center Weston Richburg: A video feature “Building Blocks: OL Weston Richburg” is available at Giants.com.

Jan 272015
 
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Perry Fewell Joins Redskins as Defensive Backs Coach: Perry Fewell, the former defensive coordinator of the New York Giants who was fired by the team on January 7th, has joined the Washington Redskins as their new defensive backs coach. Ironically, Fewell replaces Raheem Morris, who interviewed with the Giants for the defensive coordinator vacancy before the Giants hired Steve Spagnuolo.

Fewell had also interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers, who reportedly offered him a position as their defensive backs coach.

Article on Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: Sam Madison: Spagnuolo has unmatched preparation by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Articles on WR Odell Beckham:

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Should the Giants try to do something about Victor Cruz’s contract? by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on OC J.D. Walton: Know Your Giants: Center J.D. Walton by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Giants.com “Building Blocks” Feature on Players: Video features on the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • OC/OG Weston Richburg (Video)

Article on Former Giant TE Mark Bavaro: Bill Belichick praises Mark Bavaro by Bob Glauber of Newsday

Jan 192015
 
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John Jerry and J.D. Walton, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Two Shaky Offensive Line Components – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The overall play of the New York Giants offensive line improved in 2014 from its dreadful performance in 2013 but the unit was still sub par. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL with only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt. Pass protection was better as the Giants gave up 30 sacks on the season, which was 9th-best in the NFL. But that figure is a bit misleading given the offense’s new emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly (West Coast Offense) and quarterback Eli Manning’s long-established tendency to get rid of the ball quickly not take the sack, which he probably actually should do more often when under duress.

The improvement that did take place not only had to do with the individual components playing better, but the Giants had greater cohesion up front due to far fewer injuries. In 2013, the Giants used seven different starting offensive line combinations, the second-highest total in the NFL that season. In 2014, the same players started all 16 games at left tackle (Will Beatty), center (J.D. Walton), and right guard (John Jerry). Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and Justin Pugh started 14 games at right tackle. In 2013, not only were the Giants continually shifting players around due to an inordinate number of injuries to starters, but they were sometimes relying on third-stringers as backups were also getting injured.

That all said, it is widely-recognized that the offensive line was once again a sore spot in 2014. The Giants counted on high-priced free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz to be a major building block, but Schwartz only played in two games due to injuries. Chris Snee, who the Giants never really counted on, retired before training camp. Overall, the line is more finesse than power, which usually is not good for any offense, but especially so for one predicated on balance and the ability to run the football.

Another issue is the poor overall depth situation. For years now, the Giants have not had quality up-and-coming reserves waiting in the wings in case the starters faltered or got hurt. Questionable free agent decisions and shoddy drafting have been the primary culprits. Most of the offensive linemen drafted in recent years have not developed, including Mitch Petrus, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, and Eric Herman.

THE STARTERS

Will Beatty, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Will Beatty started all 16 games at left tackle. He rebounded from a terribly inconsistent 2013 and a fractured tibia that he suffered in the regular-season finale at the end of that year to have a mostly positive performance in 2014. Since Beatty was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Giants, Beatty has had issues staying healthy, including a broken foot in 2010, a detached retina in 2011, a back injury that caused him to miss offseason work in 2012, and the broken leg in 2013. Beatty is a big lineman with long arms and a very good athlete. When on top of his game, Beatty can mirror and slide with the best pass rushers, and is athletic enough to pull and engage defenders at the second level in the run game. However, Beatty is more of a finesse player. He does not play with a lot of strength and power and he is not a very physical or aggressive blocker. Beatty still has consistency issues.

The Giants drafted Weston Richburg, a 4-year starter at center in college, in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Most of his practice reps with the Giants came at guard in training camp and when Geoff Schwartz suffered a preseason toe injury, Richburg became the starter at left guard. He started 15 games at the position, being benched for one game in November. Richburg had an inconsistent year as a rookie as both a run and pass blocker. Richburg is a good athlete with decent size, but he needs to get bigger and stronger. He is not a mauling type of lineman, but he plays with good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. He is smart, tough, and aggressive. His best position is most likely center though he is obviously versatile enough to play guard.

J.D. Walton started all 16 games at center for the Giants in 2014, but his play was sub par. Walton was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He started 32 regular-season games in 2010 and 20011 and the first four games of 2012 until he missed the rest of the season with a severe left ankle injury that required surgery. Walton had a setback on the ankle during the following offseason and underwent a second surgery in June 2013. He missed all of training camp and the preseason and was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Broncos waived him in December 2013 and Walton was then claimed off of waivers by the Redskins. The Giants signed him in March 2014. Walton has average size and athletic ability for a center. He does not generate much movement in his run blocks and can be physically overpowered by bigger, stronger linemen. Walton is a better pass protector but he is vulnerable to powerful or quicker linemen in that area as well. The strength of Walton’s game is his intelligence, scrappiness, and effort. The Giants were comfortable with him making all of the offensive line calls.

John Jerry started all 16 games at right guard for the Giants in 2014. He was a wildly inconsistent player who alternated far too much between solid and poor play. Jerry was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins where he started 45 games in his first four seasons in the NFL. The Giants signed Jerry as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Jerry looks the part with very good size and long arms, and he flashes both as a run and pass blocker. But he simply is not consistently reliable, technique-oriented, and physical enough blocking for both the run and the pass. Simply put, Jerry needs to work harder at keeping his opponent from making the play. He also seemed to struggle at times mentally with recognizing stunts and blitzes in pass protection.

Justin Pugh, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Justin Pugh – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In his second season with the Giants after being drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Justin Pugh regressed a bit and had an inconsistent season at right tackle. Sporting a brace on his left elbow, Pugh struggled in the first half of the season and then missed two games with a quadriceps injury in November. He played much better in the final four games in December. In 2013, Pugh started all 16 games at right tackle and was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team for his performance. Pugh doesn’t look the part as he lacks ideal size and has short arms for a tackle. But he is a good athlete who plays with fine strength, technique, and leverage. Pugh is smart, aggressive, and tenacious. Though not a mauler, he can get movement on his run blocks and he has the agility to do well in pass protection, though he needs to become more consistent in that area. He can pull and block defenders at the second level. Versatile, the Giants think he can play both tackle spots, guard, and possibly even center.

THE INJURED STARTER

In his first season with the Giants, Geoff Schwartz suffered through an injury-plagued season that saw him play in two games at right tackle because of serious toe and ankle injuries that both required surgery. He missed both the first 10 and last four games of the season, ending up on Injured Reserve in December. Schwartz was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He has spent time with the Panthers (2008-10), Vikings (2012), and Chiefs (2013). He signed with the Giants as a free agent in March 2014. Schwartz has excellent size and can maul people as a run blocker. He is very solid in pass protection. Schwartz is versatile – he is able to play guard or right tackle.

THE RESERVES

James Brewer simply has not developed as a player since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. A year after playing in all 16 games with eight starts, Brewer only played in two games in November before being placed on injured reserve in December with a concussion. Brewer has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He can play both tackle and guard spots. However, he has not proven to be a very tough or physical lineman.

Adam Snyder was signed by the Giants in September 2014. He played in four games with one start at left guard in Week 12 before leaving that game with the knee issue that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve in December. Snyder was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. During his career, he’s played eight seasons with the 49ers (2005-11, 2013) and one with the Arizona Cardinals (2012). Snyder is extremely versatile, having starting experience at all five offensive line positions. He has started 88 regular-season games in 10 NFL seasons. However, despite having very good size, Snyder was considered the weak link of the starting units in San Francisco and Arizona in recent years.

Brandon Mosley has not developed since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He missed his entire rookie season with an ankle injury. Mosley was active for 22 games the last two seasons, including nine in 2014. His only start came late in the 2013 season. Mosley has good size and athletic ability. He is also versatile, having experience at both guard and tackle. But on a weak offensive line, he has not been able to gain any serious playing time.

Dallas Reynolds was active as a reserve linemen in 15 games in 2014, but he did not start. Reynolds was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Eagles’ Practice Squad from 2009-11. In 2012, Reynolds played in 16 regular-season games with 14 starts. The Eagles waived him August 2013 and he was signed by the Giants in October of that year. A limited athlete with good size, Reynolds is smart and tries hard. He has experience at both center and guard, but he has struggled when called upon to play.

Eric Herman added to the 53-man roster in December 2014 from the Practice Squad, where he spent the bulk of the season. He was also suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Herman was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He spent most of his rookie season on the Practice Squad until being also added to the roster in December 2013. Herman is a big, strong mauler who struggled with quickness and speed at the collegiate level. Herman needs to develop as a pass blocker in order to make it in the NFL.

Adam Gettis was signed to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014 and he was signed the Steelers’ Practice Squad in October. Gettis lacks ideal size, but he is athletic.

INJURED RESERVE

Rogers Gaines was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in August 2014. Gaines was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Ravens waived him in August 2013. The Bears signed him to their Practice Squad in September 2013. The Giants claimed Rogers Gaines off of waivers from the Chicago Bears in May 2014. Gaines has excellent size and long arms. He is a good athlete for his size. He improved throughout the 2014 preseason at right tackle for the Giants.

Troy Kropog was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a foot injury that he suffered in training camp. Kropog was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2012 and he then spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Vikings (2012-13) and Redskins (2013). The Giants signed Kropog to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Kropog has a decent combination of size and athleticism, and he is a hard worker. Versatile, he can play both tackle and guard. But it hasn’t come together for Kropog at the NFL level and he has never started a regular-season game.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Michael Bamiro was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Bamiro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on the Eagles’ Practice Squad before being waived in August 2014. Bamiro is a very raw player with an intriguing combiation of size (6’8”, 340 pounds) and overall athleticism.

Nov 292014
 
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Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (September 21, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Mathias Kiwanuka Will Not Play Against Jaguars: New York Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), who was originally listed as “questionable” on Friday for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, did not make the trip to Jacksonville and his status has been downgraded to “out.” Robert Ayers will start at left defensive end for Kiwanuka. Damontre Moore is likely to see his workload also dramatically increase.

DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), LB Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder), and OG Adam Snyder (knee) were ruled out of the game on Friday.

OT Justin Pugh (quadriceps), who is questionable, did make the trip but he is not expected to start at right tackle on Sunday. Geoff Schwartz is expected to start at that position for the second week in a row with Weston Richburg regaining his starting position at left guard with Snyder out.

NJ.com Q&A with CB Mike Harris: Cornerback Mike Harris ready for bigger role, wants to prove Jaguars wrong | Giants four downs by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Line:

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo thinks Odell Beckham Jr. has room to improve | Weekly offensive observations by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on OG Weston Richburg: Giants’ Weston Richburg plans to rebound by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: With NY Giants future uncertain, Tom Coughlin returns to Jacksonville, where his NFL head coaching career began by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell: Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell under heavy fire | Giants defensive observations by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Nov 282014
 
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Giants Officially Eliminated from Playoff Contention: With the Detroit Lions defeating the Chicago Bears on Thursday, the New York Giants have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. This is the third season in a row and the fifth time in six years the Giants have not made the playoffs. The Giants did win the NFL Championship in 2011. The Giants are currently 3-8 and have lost six games in a row.

Odell Beckham Voted NFL Rookie of the Week: WR Odell Beckham has been voted the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. In that game, Beckham caught 10 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular one-handed 43-yard touchdown reception.

November 28, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), LB Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder), and OG Adam Snyder (knee) did not practice on Friday. All three players have been officially ruled out of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

With Snyder out, Weston Richburg regains his starting position at left guard.

OG Geoff Schwartz (toe), RT Justin Pugh (quadriceps), and DE Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) practiced on a limited basis. Pugh and Kiwanuka are “questionable” for the game while Schwartz is “probable.”

WR Odell Beckham (back), LB Jameel McClain (knee), and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring) fully practiced. All three are “probable” for the game.

November 28, 2014 New York Giants Coach Media Sessions: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com and BigBlueInteractive.com:

Giants.com Q&A with Head Coach Tom Coughlin: The Coughlin Corner: How to win close games by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

November 28, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: The Giants Are Thankful for Beckham’s Catch…and That’s It by Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal

Article on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell: Giants defensive end Damontre Moore should’ve been on field for final drive; so why wasn’t he? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on WR Odell Beckham: The non-catch reasons the Giants love Odell Beckham by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on TE Daniel Fells: Daniel Fells grateful to be part of the team by Jeff Roberts of The Bergen Record

Article on OG Weston Richburg: Giants’ Weston Richburg back in the starting lineup after a strong week of practice by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Terrifying: Jason Pierre-Paul’s days at tight end by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Jon Beason: Perry Fewell says Giants miss Jon Beason by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Nov 062014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

November 6, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: CB Zack Bowman (viral gastroenteritis), DE Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), and OG Adam Snyder (knee) and did not practice on Thursday. Bowman was sent to the hospital and later released.

RB Rashad Jennings (knee), OG Weston Richburg (ankle), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring), DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), and P Steve Weatherford (ankle/back) practiced on a limited basis.

“I expect (Richburg) to (play on Sunday),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He was really probably 50 percent today, and I’m hoping to go inside and find out that he can do more tomorrow.”

November 6, 2014 New York Giants Coach Media Sessions: Transcripts and video clips of Thursday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:

November 6, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Thursday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin accepts Giant share of the blame by Bob Glauber of Newsday

Article on RB Michael Cox: With running game stalled, Giants think they might have a secret weapon by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Articles on DE Jason Pierre-Paul:

Article on the Giants-Colts Game: Film review: How to explain the Giants latest defensive flop on Monday night by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Giants Online – Giants vs. Seahawks Preview: The video of this week’s Giants Online is available at Giants.com.