AUGUST 2, 2015 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third summer training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The full training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.
GIANTS SIGN TWO…
The Giants have signed second-year wide receiver Derrick Johnson (Maine) and rookie defensive end Brad Bars (Penn State). Johnson has spent time with the Patriots.
INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz (soreness in surgically-repaired ankle) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (PUP – recovering from pectoral surgery) did not practice.
“(Schwartz) was sore, so they held him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No. It wasn’t planned. I’d like to have him practice. But the trainers just said we’d be better off holding him. Maybe he can go tomorrow.”
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) still has not signed his 1-year Franchise tender and has not reported to training camp.
Some snippets from various media sources:
- Bennett Jackson received first-team reps at safety along with Landon Collins. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe practiced at safety with the second-team.
- Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a touchdown.
- Tight end Larry Donnell made a sliding catch on a pass from Manning.
- Wide receiver James Jones made a diving sideline catch on a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib.
- Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record said his four stars of practice were linebacker Devon Kennard, safety Bennett Jackson, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and linebacker Jon Beason.
- NJ.com agrees that linebacker Devon Kennard was a standout and also singled out tight end Daniel Fells, safety Bennett Jackson, left tackle Ereck Flowers,
GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE…
Jerry Reese addressed the media on Sunday (video is available at Giants.com):
Reese: Welcome to training camp. Our coaches are working hard, our players are working hard. We’re excited about the 2015 season. There’s a lot of competition at several positions that we like. We look forward to the challenge of this season. I’m open for questions.
Q: Have you had any contact with Jason Pierre-Paul?
A: Guys, I’m not going to say much. I don’t have anything really to report about that situation. I am going to say this, I wish Jason [Pierre-Paul] nothing but the best. This is a traumatic situation—it was an accident. Plenty of people have opinions about it. My heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life is life-changing for him. I hope and pray for the best for him, that’s what I can say about that. Other than that, I’m not going to say anything else about what Jason’s situation is, except I hope for the best and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m going to say about the Jason situation.
Q: Can you say whether you hope he’ll be back?
A: I’m not going to say anything else about the Jason situation guys. There’s plenty of people [who] already talked about it, and everybody’s got an opinion about it. You can still form your own opinion about it, but that’s my opinion about it.
Q: Do you think your defense still has the ability to be solid?
A: I think we’ll be really good defensively. I think we’re going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play and play at a high level at that position. I do think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year. I’m excited to see them out there playing.
Q: Some of your defensive ends were saying that Jason was the star and the name. Do you think a defense needs somebody else to step up and become a star? Can the rest of the guys get it done without that?
A: It’s a great opportunity for us, that’s what the National Football League is about. When you have an injury, somebody can step out of the shadows and do something great. It’s a great opportunity for some more guys at that position to step out of the shadows and do that. There’s some guys that have been around for a while—Damontre Moore is a guy that sticks out in my mind, Kerry Wynn. We’ve got some other guys, we drafted Owa [Odighizuwa]. There’s some more guys at that position that we like and think can help shore up that position for us.
Q: How do plan going forward? There’s that situation that’s lingering out there. How do you plan as the general manager with JPP, whether you’ll have him or maybe you don’t. How do you look at that?
A: I’m not talking about the JPP thing, guys, I’m not talking about it.
Q: I mean for your roster, though.
A: We’ll keep all of our options open with respect to the roster.
Q: Were you relieved to see Victor and Odell pass that physical and get out there?
A: Yeah, I’m just happy to see Victor [Cruz] out there. It’s a long way back, he had a big injury. I still don’t think he’s 100 percent back but I think he’s close. We’ll continue to take him slow. To see those two guys out there together, it’s exciting for us and exciting for our fans. We think they can be a good tandem out there together.
Q: John Mara said the other day that there’s enough here for this team to contend for a playoff spot. Is it fair to say that’s your belief?
A: We always have high expectations here, and that will never change. We always have high expectations and we expect our coaches to perform high, John Mara expects me to perform high. We expect our coaches to perform high, we expect our players to perform high. Our expectation is always high here. Again, we want to go out there and compete for the division and get a chance to get in the tournament.
Q: Does it faze you at all that at the end of last season John Mara said this is a win-or-else year for a lot of people?
A: It’s every year– that happens every year. Regardless, in the National Football League, every year is a win-or-else season in the National Football League, that never changes either.
Q: After three years of missing the playoffs, do you feel more pressure to see this roster perform?
A: No, the pressure is always there, the pressure is always the same—it’s the National Football League, guys. Every year is a different year regardless if you win or you don’t make the playoffs. It’s a pressure-fueled profession and it’s a high-performance business and we relish the challenge.
Q: I know you don’t like to talk about contracts but with that said, with Eli going into his final year, how do you think he’s going to respond to the pressure? I have to think that weighs on his mind.
A: You’re right, I’m not going to talk about a contract. Eli is here and he’s working hard like the rest of the players. He’s excited about the offense. It’s his second year in this offense and he’s got some healthy guys around him again. Our offensive line, we worked on that some. We think the sky is the limit. I think Eli should have a big year.
Q: Is that something that you would expect to get done before the season though?
A: I’m not talking about the contract, he’s under contract.
Q: Speaking of the offensive line, how do you feel about that unit going in? Do you feel you have enough there?
A: Yeah. We’re going to get Will Beatty back at some point, hopefully maybe in October, I’m not sure what exactly the timeline is. He’s working hard trying to get back. We drafted Ereck Flowers, obviously. He’s working hard out there at left tackle. We got a couple young veterans that we’ve drafted lately and a couple older guys that we have in our offensive line. There’s some guys behind them, as well, competing for some positions. I think we’ll have enough to get us through and play well up front.
Q: Do you still keep your options open, though, in case someone comes available?
A: Absolutely, we always keep our options available. Every day we look at the wire. We’re always looking for trade possibilities, we’re always trying to upgrade our roster.
Q: I know you looked at Jake Long twice, is he a possibility or is that knee not okay?
A: Yeah, we’re going to keep our options open with respect to him as well.
Q: You brought in a new receiver, a veteran guy, what do you like about him and what do you think he is?
A: Obviously we had an injury early on and he [James Jones] was a short-list guy for us and really makes sense. He’s been in that system before and he was very productive last year for Oakland. He knows the system, he jumped in really quickly here and hit the ground running. So that’ll create some competition. There’s three, four, five spots at the receiver position.
Q: What did you see in Jeromy Miles? He’s another guy you signed recently. Did you feel you needed a veteran in that room?
A: We just needed some more depth. We’re always trying to upgrade the back end of the roster. He was still out there. We thought he’s been with Spags, he knows him a little bit from being over at Baltimore. We thought we’d bring him in and let him compete for a roster spot. Guy has played some and started a couple of games in his career. He’s been more of a special teamer but he’s started some games.
Q: You always want your rookies to come in and play and contribute. You’ve got a first and second round pick that are lining up with the starters. You need them to be good players right away, don’t you?
A: Well, we hope so. I’ll always say this, your first three picks—you expect those guys to come in and be contributors right away and what you get after that [first three rounds] is a little bit of a bonus. Our first three guys, we expect those guys to come in and be strong contributors right away. Again, I’ll always say this, you might get a couple of starters and it looks like we could possibly get a couple starters out of our first couple of picks.
Q: How important is the health of Jon Beason to this defense overall?
A: [Jon] Beason, it’s a big year for him. I hope he can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, I think he gives us a lot of pop in there. He gives us that leadership that you want out of that middle linebacker position. So far, so good. He’s been running around and playing with a high motor, he’s a high motor player. If he can stay healthy, that will be tremendous for us.
Q: Health has obviously been a huge issue for you guys over the last couple of years. I know you look at everything in the offseason, have you found anything at all that you think ‘if we change this, we’ll get better luck on the injury front’?
A: Well, we’ve tried different things. We readjusted the schedule, we adjusted some things in the weight room, we’re trying to have more room for down time; it’s an opportunity for guys to recover. But I think it’s just been some bad luck. When guys break bones or tear muscles off the bone or something like that, it’s just unfortunate. Bad things happen sometimes in the National Football League, and hopefully this is our year to stay healthy.
Q: What is your confidence in the roster right now in comparison to what you’ve had in recent years. How do you feel in general about the roster?
A: I like the roster. I like our roster. I think it’s a good roster and, obviously, the proof is in the pudding. We’ve got to get out there and prove it. Like I said earlier, it’s a high-performance business and you’ve got to go out there and perform. I think our players are hungry, they’re excited about the season, the expectation is high and I think they’re up for the challenge.
Q: Is it unusual to have so many new starters? I mean you have five new starters basically in the positions on the offensive line, new starters at safety, a new starter at weakside linebacker. Is that unusual? Does that make you nervous a little bit?
A: No, I don’t think it’s unusual. You always like to have some continuity but you see teams all the time turn their roster over. Again, Seattle, I think maybe the year they won the Super Bowl or the year before, they turned their roster over pretty quickly and had a lot of new starters there. So it happens around the National Football League. It’s just the way it is. Your young players have to play these days. You can’t bring guys in and expect them to sit for a couple of years. You have to bring them in and they have to be contributors early. We like where we are right now in respect to the roster.
Q: You signed Dwayne Harris and gave the indication he can also play receiver, but with the guys you have, is there enough room for him?
A: That’s a lot of competition. If he wants to be a contributor at the receiver spots, he’s got to compete and earn that spot. We do think he’s talented as a receiver as well, but there’s a lot of competition at that position and we love it. We love the competition at that position. At any position, we like competition.
Q: You mentioned that there are several groups of competition that you’re looking forward to. Which ones in specific really stick out to you?
A: I think there’s competition all over. Obviously there is some competition at the safety position, I think our offensive line has some competition, the receiver, the tight end position. I think our defensive ends, that group of five that I talked about, that we feel like can play, are going to be competing for the starting job and a lot of playing time there. Even in our defensive tackle position. I think we have—the running back position has competition. I think there’s competition all over the roster.
Q: How concerned are you at the depth of offensive tackle?
A: I think we have depth there. Again, we are going to get Will Beatty back but we have, you know (Justin) Pugh is playing guard but he can easily go out there and play tackle. He’s been a starter out there for two years. If we have to move him back out there at some point, we are not afraid to do that. I think we have enough and, again, we are going to get Will back.
Q: Do you think overall the offense will be explosive? Do you expect it to be explosive?
A: I hope so. You just think about last year, if you have Odell (Beckham Jr.) for 16 games and you have Victor Cruz for the entire season, you would think you could probably squeeze out a few more wins if you have those explosive-type players playing for the full season. Hopefully those guys, the offensive line, Eli (Manning)’s playing well, continue to grow from this offense, the tight end, Larry Donnell, stepped up in a big way last year and there are some more guys competing at that position. So I expect our offense to score points. If you don’t score 28 points in this league, it’s hard to win. Those 14-10 games, there are not a lot of those games left around the National Football League in light of how the rules favor the offense mostly, how the rules are made now. So you have to score points. You have to take advantage of that, of the rules.
Q: Jerry, you were very optimistic with Cruz from the very beginning when we talked to you. When you see him out here the last couple of days, are you even a little taken aback by how far he’s come?
A: Well, again, it was a big injury and if anybody can come back—the guy is a terrific athlete, number one, and if anybody can come back and has that determination. The guy comes from UMass and develops into a star, so he knows what it’s like to be coming in undrafted so he knows what it’s like to come from some depth to get to where he is. So he has the willpower, the fortitude to come back from something like that and he’s come along way. I still think you won’t see the real Victor Cruz until he gets into some real games and starts to let his quickness take over and his instincts take over.
Q: Just to go back on something you just said, there was a mantra in this league for decades that a defense wins championships. Do you think that’s changed?
A: Well, I still think you need to have a solid defense, but the rules now favor the offense. In my opinion, the rules favor the offense mostly and you have to score points because if you don’t score points—if you’re playing from behind all the time, it’s hard to win football games. You’ve got to get out and score points. We hope our offense can do that.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge Odell faces trying to follow up on last season?
A: I think Odell just has to be himself. I don’t think there’s any challenge. Obviously, he’s gifted. I think he just has to let the game come to him and not try to force things because he’s going to make plays. I don’t think he should press and try an ‘I have to do everything’ kind of situation for him. He’s driven, he loves football. I don’t think he’s going to have any issues. I think he’ll perform high again.
Q: Compared to other sports, football has been a little slow when it comes to using analytics, evaluating players and that kind of thing. What role do you think they should have?
A: Analytics? Everybody is trying to implement the analytics part of evaluating players but, again, here with us, we evaluate guys with our eyes. Our scouts go out and we look at them and we evaluate them with our eyes and with our experiences for different positions on your football team. Analytics play a role, we try to look at it, but the number one thing we use here is our eyes. Our eyes tell the story. Believe what you see.
Q: Is the analytics more for you guys to confirm what you’re seeing with your eyes? Is that an accurate way…
A: Well, you can say that. It’s just part of the puzzle. I think that can be part of the puzzle, it can confirm some things for you, I guess, in some ways. But at the end of the day, what you see is what you have to believe.
Q: Some of the defensive players have been talking about how Spags has been stressing the history of the Giants’ defenses. How does bringing Spags back make that connection to the defenses of the past and why is that important for them?
A: He did a terrific job when he was here the last time, but Spags, he can motivate these guys and tell them what they have to do, but the players have to get out there and perform. So it’s up to the players. I think we have a terrific coaching staff on both sides of the ball. They are working their behinds off and I appreciate the work they put in. I think our entire football team would be motivated to perform at a high level and compete. We open up September 13 against Dallas and I think we will put a terrific football team out there and play well.
HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media after the afternoon practice (video is available at Giants.com):
Q: Did Geoff Schwartz practice today?
A: No, he was sore so they held him.
Q: Was it ankle/leg/foot?
Q: Was it something that was planned?
A: We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Was it planned? No, we’d like to have him practice. Trainers just said they’d be better off holding him, maybe he can go tomorrow.
Q: You practiced Cruz and Beckham three straight days, do you have any plan for those guys?
A: It is the plan, you’re seeing it. They only take a certain number of reps. They work their way up into things. You’re seeing it.
Q: First day in uppers, did it sort of go the way you wanted?
A: Some of the plays are not exactly what you would like because they end up getting in some poor positions sometimes. But otherwise, I’m hoping that we came out of it good. They have to learn how to handle the pads and learn how to practice together with the pads on. It has to start somewhere.
Q: What have you seen from Cruz thus far?
A: He seems to be doing well. There’s no complaints and he’s gone through some things that I think he’s maybe challenged himself and came out the other end. So far, so good.
Q: Did you find any new punt returners out there at the end?
A: Yeah, we did. Some of them, their sternums held up well. Did you hear the sound of the hits? But they caught it, four straight defensive linemen caught the ball. We may have found a tight end or something.
Q: How’s Flowers doing so far? Do you like his attitude?
A: I love his attitude, his attitude is great. He just goes to work, he doesn’t say much. He’s got to go through it again. Lots of things to learn, lots of things happen fast. He’s out there, he competes.
Q: How’s his singing?
A: You know what, he did pretty good today. He got it over with, I think, at least one time. They may make him do it again.
Q: How is Bennett Jackson handling his transition?
A: Seems to be doing okay. There’s a guy coming off an injury, too, but nobody talks about him much. He’s been out there and done a pretty good job.
Q: What’s the biggest thing for that transition from corner to safety?
A: There’s a lot to learn. Safeties have a lot of information to spit out in a short amount of time. It’s a totally different position from corner, so he’s got a lot of things to learn but so far he’s done pretty well.
Q: I saw him out there with the first team. Was that something that was earned?
A: Guys are going to rotate, guys are going to rotate. Should be going on at other positions as well.
Q: Did you back off of Rashad Jennings a little bit today? Was he limited?
A: No, he was fine, he was in there. Got a few guys who can run through there, which is nice. They all got work.
Q: Prince and DRC, are they pretty sharp in your mind at this point?
A: They’re getting there. I would say there has not been a lot of just plain opportunities for them to flat out defend. DRC made a nice play yesterday on the ball up in the air with Beckham. Everybody has a long way to go. It’s early on, but we’re working on it.
Q: I don’t know how much you can say about Derrick Johnson?
A: He’s just over here for the first time trying to help out and trying to learn some assignments so we can get him in there.
Q: Why did you want to bring in another wide receiver?
A: Why did we want to bring in a receiver? Because we’re trying to see guys that are coming back and limiting their snaps, so we need some people to be able to put out there.
Q:That’s what I thought.
A: Then why did you ask?
Q: I need you to say it.
A: Why? Don’t quote me on it.
Q: With your defensive ends, who do you really see as ready to step up without Jason Pierre-Paul here?
A: Well, they’re going to have to. Damontre [Moore] has done a pretty good job in the early going. Robert Ayers. The young guy, Owa [Odighizuwa], he missed a lot of the spring. He’s a guy that we’re going to end up counting on, too.
Q: How much does it help having Jon Beason out here?
A: A lot. Refocuses everybody. He’s got great energy. Very positive guy, good leadership.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video clips of player media Q&As are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:
- WR Rueben Randle (Video)
- TE Larry Donnell (Video)
- OC Weston Richburg (Video)
- DT Cullen Jenkins (Video)
- LB Devon Kennard (Video)
- Giants scrap free and strong safety designations, simply going ‘left’ and ‘right’ by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com
- How nightmare of murdered dad fuels NFL dreams of Giants DT by Steve Serby of The New York Post
- Receiver Derrick Johnson, a Holy Trinity grad, signs with Giants by Tom Rock of Newsday
- How’s Victor Cruz doing? Giants so far seem pleased by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The fourth training camp practice will be held on Monday from 2:30-4:30PM. For a complete listing of training camp practices as well as a handy fan Q&A about training camp, see our Training Camp section of the website. Only six remaining training camp practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center will be open to the public this year:
- Monday, August 3: 2:30 – 4:30PM
- Thursday, August 6: 2:30 – 4:30PM
- Sunday, August 16: 5:50 – 7:50PM
- Wednesday, August 19: 5:50 – 7:50PM
- Thursday, August 20: 5:50 – 7:50PM
- Tuesday, August 25: 2:30 – 4:30PM