Jun 292023
 
Andrew Thomas, New York Giants (January 2, 2022)

Andrew Thomas – © 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: Offensive Line

2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: The offensive line was not a disaster in 2022, but it did not play as well as expected or hoped for. While Andrew Thomas continued to develop, becoming one of the best left tackles in the game and earning second-team All-Pro Honors, there was a revolving door at left guard due to injuries, and inconsistent play at center, right guard, and right tackle.

Rookie offensive linemen often struggle, but more was expected from the 7th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Evan Neal, at right tackle. He missed a month with a knee injury and was seen favoring his left arm/shoulder in another game. Neal had issues in pass protection and was flagged with six false starts. He was replaced by Tyre Phillips for those four games. Phillips had issues in pass protection as well. Right guard Mark Glowinski was a bit too up-and-down for his 3-year, $18 million contract. The Giants also signed Jon Feliciano to a 1-year deal in March after he was cut by the Bills. They converted him to center, where he started 15 games. But he was also inconsistent.

The initial plan appeared to be to start Shane Lemieux at left guard, but he missed virtually the entire season with a toe injury that landed him on Injured Reserve twice. Ben Bredeson started the first seven games until a knee injury sidelined him for six games. Joshua Ezeudu started two games at left guard until he suffered a neck injury. Nick Gates then stunned everyone by returning to the starting line-up despite a career-threatening leg injury he suffered in 2021 that required seven surgeries. Including the playoffs, Gates started the last nine games at left guard.

Overall, this group did help the Giants become the NFL’s 4th-best rushing team, averaging 148 yards per game, more than the Eagles. On the other hand, the Giants allowed 49 sacks, which tied them for 5th-worst in the NFL. Daniel Jones was pressured on one-fourth of his drop backs, which was 4th worst in the NFL.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants re-signed Wyatt Davis and Jack Anderson as exclusive rights free agents. They also re-signed Practice Squad players Solomon Kindley, Devery Hamilton, and Korey Cunningham. (Kindley was waived in May).

However, both centers, Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates, somewhat surprisingly departed in free agency. Gates received a 3-year, $16.5 million contract from the Commanders and Feliciano a 1-year, $2.3 million contract from the 49ers.

The offseason additions were few, but one was significant, the drafting of center John Michael Schmitz in the 2nd round of the draft. The team also signed center J. C. Hassenauer from the Steelers. The team did not sign any rookie free agents after the draft at the position.

In short, the Giants stood pat at the position except at center where they exchanged Schmitz and Hassenauer for Gates and Feliciano.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES:  Most of the attention will be on Evan Neal. Some have lowered their expectations on Neal, saying he just has to play at an average level. Teams don’t draft right tackles with the 7th overall pick in hopes they will just be average. Neal is likely to still experience growing pains, but he needs to drastically cut down both pass blocking mistakes and penalties while becoming a stud in the running game. The better Neal becomes, the easier it will be for this team to run and throw the football.

That all said, the same could be said for each of the starters in the interior of the line. The Giants need Glowinski to become a steadier player at right guard. If he doesn’t, it will be interesting to see if Marcus McKethan or one of the other back-ups presses him for playing time. Assuming that John Michael Schmitz will start at center, he will have his hands full in a division loaded with stud defensive tackles. Expect rookie growing pains. The left guard position still is unsettled. The leading candidates are Ben Bredeson and Joshua Ezeudu. I would not discount Shane Lemieux. The now injury-prone lineman was an ironman in college, and had he not been hurt the past two seasons, he would have been the starter at left guard under two different coaching staffs.

One of the unexpected developments this offseason is how much the team stood pat at the position. No new tackles or guards were added to the roster. This at least partially suggests the team was not down on many of the lesser known back-ups. Tyre Phillips (former 3rd round pick), Wyatt Davis (3rd round), Jack Anderson (7th round), Matt Peart (3rd round), Devery Hamilton (undrafted), and Korey Cunningham (7th round) also factor into the competition and someone could surprise.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 15 offensive linemen on the 90-man roster. The Giants will likely keep nine on the 53-man roster. The locks are Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, Josh Ezeudu, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, and Evan Neal. That leaves nine players fighting for three spots. The leading candidate for the swing tackle is probably Tyre Phillips. Bredeson’s flexibility to play both guard and center helps the team if they feel another guard is better than Hassenauer at center. Marcus McKethan was impressing before he got hurt last summer.

FROM TEAM GENERAL MANAGER/COACHES/PLAYERS: General Manager Joe Schoen on the center position before the draft: “We knew Jon (Feliciano) was on a 1-year contract last year at this time. We didn’t know if Nick Gates was even going to be able to play football again. Heck, we didn’t know that until midway through the season. We had contingency plans in place. We claimed Jack Anderson. He was with us in Buffalo. He’s been working at center. Ben Bredeson is a guy who we are very comfortable with playing center. Shane Lemieux was playing it as well before the injury… We’ll be patient. We’ll continue to look. But we have confidence in Ben Bredeson, Jack Anderson, and Shane.”

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson on why the Giants offensive line has struggled to form an identity in recent years: “You look at our line, before I got here and even now, it’s different. I’m like the sixth or seventh coach in the last five years. There have been just a line of (players) who have come through here. What we need to do is develop our identity… you need to continue to develop guys… the fans don’t know everything in house. Some of the guys we have on the roster they’ve never seen play. And so they assume they are not good enough, that’s why they haven’t played. Well that’s not necessarily the case… We only have three players that are older than 26 out of the 15. It’s a young room. There’s a lot of potential, a lot of room for growth. I see these guys getting better every day.”

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson on Evan Neal: “Evan’s a worker. So I have no reason to believe (he won’t improve) with the work ethic put in, the attention to detail, and pushing to be a really good player. We’ll see better results… Now it’s not new to him.”

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson on Josh Ezeudu: “He’s rehabbed very well from the injury, he’s another year in the system, he’s got confidence in what we’re doing. Some things we decided to work on from a technique standpoint he’s really worked hard at. I’m seeing good results. I expect to see even more when we get to training camp.”

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson on John Michael Schmitz: “He’s progressing quite well. He’s got all of the intangibles you look for. He’s got all of the physical traits you look for. We’ll find out more when we get to training camp… He’s progressing the right way… It will be an eye-opener for him when he has to block (Dexter Lawrence in training camp).”

Evan Neal on what he did this offseason to improve: “Really just everything. I want to get better across the board. I tweaked my stance. I got a lot healthier. I got a lot more flexible. I worked a lot on flexibility. Just being able to move throughout my lower body and my hips. Making sure that I am in a stance that I am comfortable in, that I can load up my front leg and press out of it and be explosive and also be balanced and under control at the same time… I’ve been doing a whole bunch of yoga.”

Marcus McKethan on his status: “Just trying to get healthy. That’s the main thing of my offseason so far. I’m pretty close, just getting over that final hump and I feel like that I’ll be there. My timeline right now is training camp… I (am still working at) guard and tackle.”

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson on what Giants fans can realistically expect this year: “You’re going to see an improved offensive line in a number of areas. We are going to start to show an identity and some consistency… I think for the first time in a long time the fans are going to be proud of their lineman… I think we’re going to put a product out there on the field that the fans will have pride in. Because I know the players that are going to put those jerseys on will have pride in that jersey.”

PREDICTIONS/CLOSING THOUGHTS: If you told Giants fans in January that the team would not add any tackles or guards to the roster this offseason, they probably would have freaked out. But the confidence in this front office and coaching staff right now is so high that given that now-known outcome, fans are not now panicking in June. Not adding a tackle or guard in free agency, the draft, or the rookie free agent signing period is pretty telling. It seems to suggest the team wants to develop players already on the roster.

Giants fans are all thinking the same thing… we’re set at left tackle with Andrew Thomas. Now we need Evan Neal to rapidly improve at right tackle and for John Michael Schmitz to show signs he will be a long-term answer at center. There is also hope that the two second-year, North Carolina guards will eventually press for starting roles.

Assuming Schmitz starts at center, the only training camp battle for a starting spot is at left guard. In the spring, Ben Bredeson and Josh Ezeudu were splitting snaps with the first team with Bredeson also receiving first-team snaps at center. Glowinski is probably entrenched as a starter at right guard for at least one more season, unless he falters and someone like Marcus McKethan presses him. I’m in the minority on this, but I still would not count out Shane Lemieux. He started his rookie season. He was set to start in 2021 and 2022 before training camp injuries ruined both seasons. In four years in college as a starter, Lemieux never missed a game. The last two seasons seems like flukes.

Andrew Thomas has not reached his ceiling yet. Keep in mind this is the first offseason he did not have surgery and this is the first time he will have the same offensive line coach for two years in a row.

This brings us to Evan Neal. We all know Neal struggled as a rookie. But too many fans seem to be focused on him and not the interior line spots that were also an issue last year. Neal needs to improve but the team needs better center and guard play just as much. Especially in this division. My prediction is Neal will improve as the year progresses, but he will be nitpicked to death by fans in September and October. That’s OK. I’m old enough to remember Giants fans being sure that Brad Benson, Jumbo Elliott, David Diehl, and Andrew Thomas were crappy players. Neal will be better but I think the real dividends will come in year three and beyond.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Tyre Phillips, Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, Josh Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan, Shane Lemieux, John Michael Schmitz

Jun 272023
 
Darren Waller, New York Giants (June 14, 2023)

Darren Waller – © 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: Tight Ends

2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2022, it appeared the New York Giants had arguably the weakest group of tight ends in the NFL. The team had parted ways with their top three tight ends: Evan Engram (who signed with the Jaguars in free agency), Kyle Rudolph (who was cut in March), and Kaden Smith (who was also cut in March after failing his physical). Chris Myarick was the only returning player. The Giants signed Ricky Seals-Jones, Jordan Akins, and Tanner Hudson, but the first two didn’t even make it to the end of August. The Giants drafted Daniel Bellinger in the 4th round and signed undrafted rookie free agents Austin Allen and Dre Miller after the draft. When the season started, the team’s three tight ends were Bellinger, Myarick (listed as a fullback), and Hudson. Not exactly a murder’s row.

Bellinger proved to be pleasant surprise and one of Daniel Jones’ few reliable targets. Coming out of the draft, he was considered more of a blocking tight end, but continued to flash in the passing game, demonstrating better-than-anticipated on-field athleticism and adjusting to pro passing concepts sooner than expected. However, he suffered a very scary and possibly career-threatening eye-injury in Week 7 when his orbital bone was fractured. Somewhat miraculously, Bellinger only missed four games. He finished the year starting 11 games, catching 30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on his only rushing attempt.

Lawrence Cager was signed to the Practice Squad in October after the Jets cut him and then the 53-man roster in November. He ended up playing in six regular-season games with three starts, catching 13 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown. Nick Vannett was signed to the Practice Squad in November after he was cut by the Saints and the 53-man roster in December. (Hudson was also cut at this time after playing in 11 games and catching 10 passes). Vannett ended up playing in six regular-season games with three starts for the Giants, catching four passes for 42 yards. Myarick played in 16 games with eight starts, catching just seven passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.

In summary, the position was a bit of revolving door most of the year, aside from Bellinger who had his rookie season interrupted by the eye injury.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants re-signed Lawrence Cager and Chris Myarick. They also signed unrestricted free agent Tommy Sweeney from the Bills and signed Ryan Jones as a rookie free agent after the draft. However, perhaps the most significant offseason addition to the entire team was the trade for former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller in March.

The team made no attempt to re-sign Nick Vannett and waived Dre Miller after he failed a physical in mid-June (Miller had spent part of 2022 on the Practice Squad).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES:  The significance of the Darren Waller acquisition still seems underappreciated. Waller’s two best seasons in the NFL were 2019 and 2020, when he caught an incredible 197 passes for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. He missed five games in 2021 with ankle and knee sprain injuries and eight games in 2022 with a nagging hamstring injury. None of these injuries required surgery and Waller appears completely healthy now and was a daily standout in spring practices.

Barring injury, Waller seems destined to be the team’s #1 pass receiving threat. He’s more of a TE/WR hybrid who can threaten defenses with size, speed, hands, and ability to adjust to the football. He’s a legit 6’6” target, with a big wing span, who can also run. Waller is “open” even when covered and can threaten defenses vertically down the field. Combine that skillset with Brian Daboll’s history of coaching tight ends with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Mike Kafka’s exposure to the Chiefs’ passing concepts, and it’s easy to see where this is heading. Waller will be deployed in multiple ways to create match-up problems for defenses. It’s quite telling that observers, coaches, and players were raving about him this spring.

Daniel Bellinger was getting lost in the Waller hoopla until a photographer snapped a picture of his huge arms this spring. Bellinger not only has worked his butt off this offseason to reshape his body, but he has drawn praise from Travis Kelce and George Kittle, two of the headliners at the position in the NFL. Indeed, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Waller and Bellinger could be viewed as one of the best tight end combos in 2023, quite an accomplishment given how weak the depth chart looked a year ago at this time.

The third and possibly fourth tight end spots also are now more intriguing. Lawrence Cager flashed in his limited chances as a pass receiver and could have the inside track on Waller’s primary back-up as a receiving target. Tommy Sweeney was signed from the Bills as a blocker. Chris Myarick offers tight end/fullback flexibility and special teams value. Also note that of the nine rookie free agents the team signed, Ryan Jones was given the third-most guaranteed money ($125,000).

ON THE BUBBLE: Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger are locks. Lawrence Cager, Tommy Sweeney, Chris Myarick, and Ryan Jones will be vying for one or two roster spots.

FROM TEAM COACHES/PLAYERS: Head Coach Brian Daboll on Darren Waller: “He’s a good pro. He’s smart. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s a good communicator. He’s played a lot of football and been productive. Again, we’re still utilizing him in different ways. We’re seeing what he likes, what he feels comfortable with, what the quarterback feels comfortable with, but he’s been a pleasure to be around both in the classroom and out on the field.” (Note: Coach Daboll rarely throws praise around like this, particularly in the spring).

Mike Kafka on Darren Waller: “He’s a really talented player. He’s a great person. He’s a really good teammate. That’s one thing I’ve learned about him. He cares about his guys. He’s competitive, which we really like. We value that here. He’s doing everything we’re asking him. He’s working hard, putting in the time and effort to learn the offense and get in sync with D.J. (Daniel Jones) and the quarterbacks. He’s done a great job.”

Tight Ends Coach Andy Bischoff on the impact of Darren Waller on the other tight ends: “These guys are like a sponge. So a guy like Bellinger, he’s improved immensely in the air of Darren Waller. Lawrence Cager is improving daily just being around this guy. It’s good for the whole group in so many ways.”

Tight Ends Coach Andy Bischoff on Daniel Bellinger: “Bellinger is a guy who can help us win plays and lead to winning games, every down. Bellinger is a better version of himself today by leaps and bounds from this time a year ago. And it’s because of his own commitment, his own awareness, his own learning… He’s a guy who can play the position, he’ll do whatever’s asked. A great teammate.”

Safety Xavier McKinney on how Darren Waller changes the offense: “Really different… added piece that’s explosive, that’s able to make plays. Obviously when he’s out there, you’ve got to be aware of where he’s at, at all times… because he can make a lot of plays.”

Wide receiver Darius Slayton on Darren Waller: “He’s impressive… Somebody asks what’s an NFL tight end, you just point to Darren Waller; big, fast, can catch it. He’s been a great addition to our team.”

PREDICTIONS/CLOSING THOUGHTS: I suspect pundits will soon be asking how the heck the Giants acquired Waller for a late 3rd-round pick.

It is difficult to believe that Daboll and Kafka will have many offensive formations that have Waller or Bellinger standing on the sidelines, suggesting a heavy emphasis on 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends). But flexibility may still come from the fact that Waller is more of a WR/TE hybrid and may be employed as more of a wide receiver on many plays.

The Giants had 15 passing touchdowns in 2022. Waller had nine touchdown receptions in 2020 alone. Believe it or not, the Giants had one of the NFL’s best red-zone offenses in the NFL in 2022. Their problem was getting to the red zone. That should be less of a an issue now. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Waller-Bellinger-Cager alone will tie the Giants’ total touchdown mark from last season. I don’t think it is crazy to think Waller could have eight touchdowns, Bellinger six touchdowns, and Cager one touchdown with Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka calling the plays.

The presence of Waller changes the entire complexion of this offense. He will draw double-team attention, opening up opportunities for Saquon Barkley (both as runner and receiver), Daniel Bellinger, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, and the other receivers. This coaching staff knows how to use tight ends. Waller can become New York’s version of Kelce or Kittle. And if the latter two are correct about the emergence of Bellinger? Look out!

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Tommy Sweeney (Chris Myarick to the Practice Squad)

Jun 232023
 
Isaiah Hodgins, New York Giants (January 15, 2023)

Isaiah Hodgins – © 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: Wide Receivers

2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: Plans quickly went awry at this position in 2022. On paper, $72 million Kenny Golladay, 2021 1st-round draft pick Kadarius Toney, the talented but oft-injured Sterling Shepard, and 2022 2nd-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson were to form the core of group that was supposed to provide a nice combination of size, speed, quickness, experience, and play-making ability. By year’s end, none were contributors. Golladay, perhaps the biggest bust in NFL free agent history, ended up with just six receptions on the season. Toney had two catches before being traded to the Chiefs. Shepard tore his ACL in Week 3 and Robinson tore his ACL in November.

Who picked up the slack? Unbelievably, Marcus Johnson started seven games, but only had nine receptions. David Sills started five games and had just 11 receptions. Richie James, who had been signed mostly for his return skills, led the group with 57 catches. Darius Slayton, who barely made the team as the 7th receiver and wasn’t even active early in the season, started a team-high 11 games at the position, and finished with 46 catches. As a group, Golladay (1), Toney, Shepard (1), Robinson (1), Johnson, Sills, James (4), and Slayton (2) had just nine touchdown catches. It was ugly and you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse group in the League.

The Giants did have some good fortune when they claimed little-known wideout Isaiah Hodgins off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills in early November. Due to the dearth of talent at the position and his experience with Brian Daboll, Hodgins quickly saw the field, playing in eight regular-season games with five starts. He finished with 33 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns (team high tied with Richie James). In the playoff game against the Vikings, Hodgins caught eight more passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Collin Johnson, who was making some noise early, tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp. Kalil Pimpleton, Makai Polk, and Jaydon Mickens were on the Practice Squad.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants finally had the cap room in March to cut Kenny Golladay after two seasons of his disastrous 4-year contract. The Giants appear to have made no effort to re-sign their leading receiver, Richie James, and he departed in free agency for the Chiefs. Marcus Johnson remains an unsigned free agent whose NFL career is likely over.

The Giants re-signed Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, David Sills, Kalil Pimpleton, Makai Polk, and Jaydon Mickens with Slayton receiving the biggest investment at two years and $12 million.

The new additions have been significant. Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, and Jeff Smith were signed in free agency. The Giants traded up in the 3rd round to draft Jalin Hyatt. Bryce Ford-Wheaton was signed as a rookie free agent after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES:  The pundits, media, and some of the fans have focused on the apparent absence of a “true number one” wideout. Based on early indications, the number one target in this offense is actually going to be tight end/wide receiver hybrid Darren Waller with the true wide receivers being more complementary targets. The good news is that the Giants now appear to have a plethora of NFL-caliber options. There are no Toney’s refusing to practice. Or $72 million players who can’t get open, but you can’t cut. Marcus Johnson and David Sills won’t be starting. While there may be no Pro Bowlers, there could be eight guys on the team who are legitimate NFL players. The concern? What is the upside of all of these eight players? Will any of them present problems for opposing defenses? That remains to be determined.

The story lines are almost as numerous as the players vying for playing time. Who receives the most snaps? With Waller and Daniel Bellinger at tight end, how often will the Giants use 3- and 4-wide receiver sets? Can seriously injured players such as Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, and Collin Johnson regain earlier form? Will Robinson and Shepard start and/or finish training camp on the PUP? Can Parris Campbell stay healthy and re-capture his collegiate form as a true difference maker? Was Isaiah Hodgins productivity a mirage or did the Bills make a huge mistake? Does Jamison Crowder have anything left in the tank as receiver and returner? Can Jalin Hyatt get off press coverage and how rapidly can he be brought up to speed? How many make the 53-man roster?

ON THE BUBBLE: Last season, the Giants started the year with seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster. They will likely carry six or seven this year. The true locks are probably Wan’Dale Robinson (2nd round draft pick) and Jalin Hyatt (3rd round draft pick), with the caveat that Robinson may start and finish camp on the PUP. Early indications are that Parris Campbell will be a significant contributor and he’s very close to being a lock. One would think Isaiah Hodgins is a lock unless last year was truly a mirage. The Giants did re-sign Darius Slayton to a 2-year, $12 million deal so he should be more favored to make it as well. That’s five, leaving Sterling Shepard, Collin Johnson, and Jamison Crowder vying for one or two spots.

Though long shots, I would not completely discount Jeff Smith, Makai Polk, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton.

FROM TEAM COACHES/PLAYERS: Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka on Jalin Hyatt: “Jalin is doing a nice job. He’s right on schedule. He’s working. He’s growing. That’s one thing you’ve seen from him from the first day in rookie camp, to the next day, then you’re working through this Phase III part of it, is his growth and his familiarity and comfortability with the offense.”

Wide Receivers Coach Mike Groh on Jalin Hyatt: “I think if we had major concerns (with the route tree) maybe he wouldn’t be here. Very pleased with what he has shown us on the field so far… We have a lot of confidence in the player that he can be. ”

Wide Receivers Coach Mike Groh on Parris Campbell: “I think he has done a great job of coming in and learning our system, being able to assimilate very quickly and build a relationship with Daniel (Jones) out there on the field, build that kind of rapport that is very important between quarterbacks and receivers.” (Note: Groh coached Campbell for two years with the Indianapolis Colts).

Parris Campbell on the wide receivers: “This is definitely probably the fastest total complete group that I’ve played with in my career. I mean, we’ve got speed all across the board. It’s speed that can do a lot of different things. It’s not just guys running in a straight line fast, it’s ball in the hands fast. In their routes fast. We complement each other. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Sterling Shepard on the wide receivers: “It’s probably the (largest) receiver group I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here… We wanted to bring in competition… We’re definitely going to see what we have because we have a lot of guys that can play some good ball. I love the fact that we added more play-makers. It’s not just on one person to make all the plays. We’ve got a lot of guys that can do it.”

Sterling Shepard on his rehab status: “I’m right on schedule where I wanted to be, a little bit ahead… My goal is to be ready for the season.”

PREDICTIONS/CLOSING THOUGHTS: Nothing is set stone and everything seems in flux at the position. That has led to speculation that the 2023 New York Giants will use a committee approach at wide receiver with new starters and/or adjusted playing time on a week-by-week basis. That’s certainly possible. The coaching staff has proven to be flexible and able to adjust on the fly. Players returning from injury or getting injured can certainly change the situation as well. However, cream tends to rise to the top and there are opportunities for players to lock down starting jobs.

I am going to take John Schmeelk’s lead and break down the position into the following three baskets:

  • Receivers with size: Isaiah Hodgins, Collin Johnson, David Sills, Makai Polk, Bryce Ford-Wheaton
  • Outside receivers with speed: Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, Jeff Smith
  • Slot receivers: Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Jamison Crowder, Kalil Pimpleton, Jaydon Mickens

Looking at these baskets, I would think ideally the Giants want two players from each group. That is, two receivers with size, two with outside speed, two who can play the slot. One of these six needs to have return skills on special teams. However, right now, the Giants seem to have more quality at the slot position. You could make the case for Campbell, Robinson, Shepard, and Crowder all making the team, though that seems difficult on paper.

Complicating matters a bit are questions about the ability of Campbell and Shepard to play outside, and Hyatt’s heavy usage as a slot receiver in college without facing press coverage. Really complicating matters are injury rehab questions with Wan’Dale Robinson and Sterling Shepard.

Shepard tore his ACL in September and seems closer to returning. He was running routes at or near full speed in mini-camp. While he might start training camp on the PUP, it does not look like he will be on it very long if he does. The status of Robinson is more vague. He tore his ACL in November. There was one unconfirmed report that he should be ready by training camp, but no updates during the OTAs and mini-camp. That said, Giants.com‘s Lance Meadow recently predicted him making the 53-man roster recently. Does he know something or is he just spit-balling?

Let’s look at the early signs. The starters in spring were Hodgins and Slayton outside with Campbell in the slot. Campbell seemed to be the headliner from the reports, being used in a variety of ways including out of the backfield similar to how the coaches intended to use Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson last year. Campbell also has a lot of experience on jet sweeps/end arounds with the Buckeyes and Colts. He’s got a running backs mentality blended with legit 4.3 speed. The question with him is staying healthy.

The presence of Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, and Parris Campbell is going to place a ton of pressure on opposing defenses in the short-to-intermediate zones, with all three also being able to easily sneak down the field for the big play. Each can also do damage after the catch. Campbell could be poised for a very big year. This offensive scheme is ideal for his skillset, being used on bubble screens, jet sweeps, getting the ball to him on quick passes over the middle in full stride, etc. What will be fascinating to watch is when Wan’Dale Robinson is fully healthy. How will the coaching staff employ him with Campbell? Probably similar to the plans they had in place with Kadarius Toney and Robinson that we never saw. (Remember the “why do the Giants have both Toney and Robinson?” debates).

The wild cards in all of this are numerous:

  • The glaring missing component is the consistent outside deep threat. With all of the underneath threats, can Darius Slayton re-capture his eight touchdown rookie season? He doesn’t have to catch 6-8 passes a game, but the team needs him to stretch the defense and not disappear for long stretches. He proved he could be that deep threat in 2019, but has been far too inconsistent since then. Which version do we get?
  • If Slayton can’t do it, can Jalin Hyatt? He has great speed and great hands. But he has to prove he can get off press coverage. And it usually takes rookie wide receivers some time to learn pro-level concepts. If Hyatt can develop quickly, this offense could be a nightmare to defend. When Hyatt is on the field, the defense has to respect his deep speed, opening things up underneath for Waller, Barkley, Campbell, Bellinger, and company.
  • What is the true upside of Isaiah Hodgins? Is he as good as he looked late in the 2022 season, meaning that the Bills made a huge mistake in cutting him? If he can develop into a reliable, consistent security blanket for Daniel Jones, that would be a huge asset. Keep in mind, he scored five touchdowns in nine games for the Giants.
  • Collin Johnson was making noise in training camp last year before he got hurt. He’s also saw a lot of action this spring in non-contact drills. He is not a speedster, but he is intriguing because of his 6’6”, 220-pound frame. Preseason flash-in-the-pan or a legitimate roster contender?
  • Sterling Shepard is the kind of guy you love to root for. However, he simply has not been able to stay healthy. Shepard has missed significant time in five of his seven NFL seasons and has played in just 10 games the past two years. Every preseason we hope for breakout season and every year he gets hurt. But can you completely count him out? I wouldn’t.
  • Jamison Crowder. Full disclosure, I live in the DC area so I saw a lot of Crowder when he played in Washington. He’s always impressed me. Quarterback issues with the Jets and a broken ankle with the Bills in 2022 limited his productivity, but we’re talking about a 30-year old with 4,667 yards and 28 touchdowns. It shows you how much the talent level has improved at the position that he’s on the fringe on this roster. He also has experience as a returner. Crowder and Shepard may be vying against each other for the final roster spot and the return ability helps his cause.

If I had to go out on a limb, I say by the end of the year, Hodgins, Campbell, and Hyatt are the core group with Robinson being the jack-of-all trades/gadget player. Not impressed? Just keep in mind the presence of Waller and Bellinger at tight end.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton, Collin Johnson, and Jamison Crowder.

Wan’Dale Robinson to start the year on the PUP for four weeks.

The toughest call is on Shepard, an extremely popular player. The issues here are three-fold: (1) injury-proneness, (2) lack of special teams value, and (3) how much playing time would he receive? He would have to push Hodgins outside or Campbell inside for playing time. It is possible the team keeps seven wideouts again, however.

Look for 3-4 wide receivers to be on the Practice Squad again. I would think Jeff Smith and Bryce Ford-Wheaton are two obvious choices.

Jun 202023
 
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 26, 2022)

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

2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2022, there was real concern that the trajectory of Saquon Barkley’s career was going to be eerily and tragically similar to that of Tucker Frederickson, the top overall selection in the 1965 NFL Draft selected by the Giants. The uber-talented Frederickson was drafted in front of NFL legends Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, and Joe Namath, but saw his career derailed early due to knee injuries. He was never the same and retired after seven seasons. Barkley had not played a full season since his rookie campaign in 2018 and was a shadow of his former self in the 13 games that he did play in 2021, coming off his serious knee injury in 2020. His former explosion was not there. Worse, he looked gun-shy and tentative, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.

However, 2022 proved to be Barkley’s second-best season. While he still not completely recapture the dynamism of his rookie season, Barkley ran with a tougher and more physical style. He finished the season with a career-high 295 rushing attempts for 1,312 yards (4.4 yards per carry), and 10 touchdowns. He also tied for the team lead in receptions with 57 passes for 338 yards. Barkley only fumbled the ball once, out of bounds. He also played in every game, except for being a healthy scratch in the regular-season finale. Barkley made his second Pro Bowl.

The oddity to Barkley’s 2022 season was how his usage declined as the year progressed. Before the bye, Barkley averaged 20 carries and 97 rushing yards per game. Immediately, after the bye, he carried the ball a career-high 35 times against the Texans for 152 yards. After that, over the course of the next seven regular-season games, Barkley averaged 14 carries and 54 rushing yards per game. In the two playoff games, in total, he carried the ball only 18 times for 114 yards. Why? Wear-and-tear issues or concerns? Greater emphasis on throwing the ball? Note that the Giants were 7-2 through the Houston game, 2-4-1 in the remaining regular-season games before the meaningless finale, and 1-1 in the playoffs. Coincidence?

Barkley’s primary back-ups were Matt Breida (54 carries for 220 yards and one touchdown, 20 catches for 118 yards) and Gary Brightwell (31 carries for 141 yards and one touchdown, five catches for 39 yards). Unexpectedly, Bredia’s usage did not increase as Barkley’s declined in the second half of the season. The Giants simply did not run the ball as much. Breida only averaged four touches per game, both as a runner and receiver.

Undrafted rookie free agent Jashaun Corbin spent the season on the Practice Squad.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Saquon Barkley remains unsigned as the team’s Franchise player.  The Giants re-signed Matt Breida to a 1-year, $1.4 million deal in free agency and drafted Eric Gray in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Almost all of the media and fan attention now is on Saquon Barkley’s contract situation. July 17 is the key date. That is the deadline for teams that designated a Franchise player to sign a multi-year contract extension. After this, Barkley can only sign one-year contract that cannot be renegotiated until after the regular-season is over. Barkley’s hands are pretty much tied after July 17. He can sign his 1-year, $10 million tender or make a statement and hurt the team by holding out during training camp and the preseason. But he can’t change his contract situation after July 17 and before 2024.

So the key story line here is will Barkley hold out and be rusty when the regular-season starts? This may all be moot if he signs a multi-year deal before July 17. If not and he misses training camp and the preseason, it could impact the team on the field in September.

It may be best for Barkley to grin and bear the situation. The 2023 New York Giants are arguably the most-talented team of Barkley’s pro career. Improved play by a dual-threat at quarterback, the presence of the dangerous Darren Waller and an emerging Daniel Bellinger at tight end, a capable group of wide receivers, hopefully an improved offensive line, and a top-notch coaching staff should open things up for him as a runner and receiver. In other words, he should have more room to operate. Teams can’t simply concentrate on him. What will be interesting to watch is the run-pass ratio moving forward. That may be the #1 on-the-field story line at running back. Does Barkley come close to averaging 20 rushing attempts per game? Likewise, could his impact grow as a receiver?

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants carried three running backs on the 53-man roster in 2022. Barring injury, Saquon Barkley and Eric Gray are locks, with Matt Breida being very close to a lock as well. The question is do the Giants carry four this year, and if so, will it be Gary Brightwell or Jashaun Corbin? One would have thought Brightwell was toast after the hiring of Brian Daboll, but his usage went way up under the new coaching staff and he flashed at times. He also plays special teams. Corbin is a forgotten player who could still surprise.

FROM TEAM OFFICIALS/COACHES: Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown on Saquon Barkley: “We love Saquon. He knows how I feel about him, he knows how we feel about him collectively.”

Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Matt Breida: “Matt Breida is a great guy to have around; he has a veteran presence and really understands the offense. You know, he was with Coach Daboll in Buffalo, so he’s kind of like in his third year in the offense. Great guy to have around to help some of our younger running backs.”

Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Gary Brightwell: “He got opportunities last year, I thought he performed well. He started the last game against Philly. He’s still an arrow-up player. I think he’s getting a lot better.”

Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Jashaun Corbin: “Corbin you know, he was on the Practice Squad last year, but I really like his progress and he knows the offense. He’s going to really be able to show what he can do during training camp.”

Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Eric Gray: “He’s someone we thought performed as a three-down running back (at Oklahoma). Fortunately for him, his college coach was DeMarco Murray, so he had a really good one that kind of trained him to be to be a pro running back, and he’s been a constant pro since he’s been here. He fits right in with this group of running backs that I want to coach.”

Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on what he looks for in a running back: “I want to coach guys that can play on all three downs and who can be complete running backs. I always say I know the running backs can run the football. I mean, that’s what they naturally do. But what separates them from being great is if they can also catch the ball out of the backfield and block, so we try to train them to do all three things equally… I think we have a talented group of running backs and the way things are now in the NFL, you have to be three and four deep at that position. I feel we have that.”

(Side note on Jeff Nixon: He was hired this offseason by Brian Daboll and has served as both an interim offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at the NFL level).

PREDICTIONS/CLOSING THOUGHTS: In my opinion, Saquon Barkley has two realistic options. He can accept a multi-year deal for less than he expected to receive by July 17th, or he can sign his 1-year Franchise tag by opening day. Sitting out a season for a 26-year old running back, who has only been relatively healthy in two of his five NFL seasons, does not seem a wise course of action. $10 million is $10 million. You can’t make that money up. The question is does he want to gamble, sign the tender, risk a lesser season and/or injury in 2023, and take another shot at the plate next offseason? My guess is no and that a deal will be done by 4PM on July 17. The realistic worst-case scenario is that Barkley throws a hissy fit by holding out of camp and the preseason, looking rusty in September, and then getting hurt.

Will Barkley ever regain his rookie-year explosion? Probably not. That next-level dynamic athleticism seems to be gone. That does not mean he can’t still break huge plays as a runner and receiver. He’s still darn shifty and fast. And he actually ran tougher and more physically in 2022 than he did as a rookie.

There is also something else Barkley had in his rookie season in 2018. That was Odell Beckham, Jr. Beckham’s presence opened things up for Barkley as a runner and a receiver. That’s been missing from the Giants’ offense for the past four years. If he stays healthy, Darren Waller should have a similar impact on Barkley in 2023. Defenses should not be able to crowd the line of scrimmage like they have. Moreover, if Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, or Daniel Bellinger start to draw attention, Barkley’s job gets even easier. There will likely be some continued growing pains on the offensive line at left guard, center, and right tackle, but the arrow does seem to be pointing up on the offensive line. That obviously will help, particularly as the season progresses.

I suspect we have seen the last of Saquon getting 30 touches per game. But will he get 20 on a regular basis? There is an economic cost/benefit component to that discussion as well. On the other hand, fewer touches can extend Barkley’s career and enhance his future earning potential.

Keep an eye on Eric Gray. By season’s end, he may firmly entrench himself as the #2 back on the team. He’s got some Ahmad Bradshaw in him.

Final side note: Some Giants fans have gotten too angry and irrational about Saquon Barkley. He didn’t force the team to draft him with the #2 pick in 2018. The team did that. If you want to be pissed at someone, be pissed at the team. They didn’t even listen to trade offers. That said, Barkley had one of the most incredible rookie seasons in NFL history despite playing on a terrible team. He’s been a class act and a good teammate. The injuries are out of his control. And despite it all, he’s still been the best player on offense since drafted. And he knows it. That’s where his contract frustration is coming from, and it is completely understandable. I’m not advocating for the team to give him a huge contract, but fans may want to cut out some of the hostility. He’s a good guy and one of the best players in the NFL.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, and Eric Gray (with Gary Brightwell and Jashaun Corbin being offered PS contracts).

Jun 172023
 
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (January 1, 2023)

Daniel Jones – © 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: Quarterbacks

2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: At this time last year, the Giants had refused the fifth-year option on Daniel Jones, the sixth overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Most pundits and fans expected Jones to play out the final year of his contract and depart quietly in free agency, some predicting he would buckle under the pressure and be benched for Tyrod Taylor before the season ended. That didn’t happen. Instead, through hard work, perseverance, and top-notch coaching, Jones stayed healthy, dramatically cut down his mistakes, and led his team to a surprising playoff appearance. Indeed, the highlight of his season was his MVP-quality performance against the 13-4 Vikings in the first-round of the playoffs.

For the first time as a pro, Jones did not miss a game due to injury. He started 16 regular-season games, being held out of the season finale as a healthy scratch, and finished the season completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 3,205 yards, 15 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also set a franchise single-season record for quarterback rushing yards with 120 carries for 708 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only were the five interceptions a career-low, but so were his fumbles (six). His improved play occurred despite a revolving door of subpar receivers to throw to and shaky pass protection.

In March 2023, Daniel Jones was re-signed to a 4-year, $160 million contract.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The only change came at the third-string spot with Davis Webb retiring and moving on to become the quarterbacks coach of the Denver Broncos. Undrafted rookie free agent Tommy DeVito was signed after the 2023 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Most pundits and many fans still do not have a lot of faith in Daniel Jones and believe he is a middle-tier quarterback at best. The derogatory “game manager” label is employed. At worst, palpable hostility is easily detected from those who seemed triggered by his mere existence. Strange times. The national media story line is easy to predict: Jones has to prove his worthy of his $160 million contract. Fans are more focused on him increasing his passing touchdowns while maintaining a low turnover rate.

However, one gets the sense that the coaching staff has much more faith in Daniel Jones and fully intend for him to be much more than a “game manager” in 2023. The contract, offseason acquisitions, spring practices, and rhetoric all suggest something more. Fans forget that last summer that Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka were employing a more pass-centric offense that used the short passing game to a variety of targets. Those plans quickly went by the wayside due to injury and performance issues at wide receiver. It was so bad at times that David Sills and Marcus Johnson were starting. This spring, reporters have noted an increased emphasis on throwing the ball down the field.

The real story line could be whether or not Daboll and Kafka can help mold Daniel Jones into another Josh Allen.

ON THE BUBBLE: Barring injury, the top two spots are locked up. The Giants are very likely to carry a third quarterback on the Practice Squad, just like they did in 2022 with Davis Webb. Whether Tommy DeVito or someone not yet on the team will be that guy remains to be determined.

FROM THE COACHES AND PLAYERS: Brian Daboll on Daniel Jones: “Daniel’s a true pro. I’m not going to compare him to other guys I’ve been around, but he is constantly working. There’re times where I’ve got to say, ‘Just take a little break here.’ He just wants to work, work, work, meet. He’s a true pro… We’ve added I’d say considerably new things these camps just to see how they look. But he’s got really good give-and-take with Kafka, seeing how different players look in different spots. He’s had a really good camp… He’s made right reads, he’s had good leadership, he’s communicating well, he’s good in the meetings.”

Mike Kafka on what he is expecting out of Daniel Jones in 2023: “When we did our scheme evaluation, each position group identified several things we can look to improve on. Nothing specific that I would share in a public forum. Those are things we have a plan for, trying to work through all the little fundamental things. Yeah, we definitely have a plan. The coaches are doing a great job of implementing that in the offseason.”

Quarterbacks Coach Shea Tierney on Daniel Jones: “Far as differences (from last year), none. He’s the same guy. I don’t think Daniel will change for anyone. That’s part of the reason why I love him. Same dude. Still shows up at 6AM. First guy in there. Last guy to leave.”

Parris Campbell on what he has learned about Daniel Jones since joining the team: “Yeah, the number one thing that I’ve learned is, man, he’s a hard worker. I don’t think just from the outside looking in he gets a lot of credit for that. Like from day one, he puts so much time and effort into his craft. As a quarterback, obviously that’s something you’ve got to do. He takes it to a whole other level. I respect and applaud him for that. It gets you up, makes you want to play for a guy like that when you see him put in all that time and that work.”

PREDICTIONS: The Giants added Darren Waller, Parris Campbell, and Jalin Hyatt to the team for a reason. Same with re-signing Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard. Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown was more open about it when he said, “We did our research. We know from the fringe red zone, red zone, being a mismatch piece, (Waller) is someone that you call the problem creator. You look at what he can do in terms of opening up the field for the rest of our guys, whether it’s adding Parris Campbell, adding Slayton in terms of bringing him back, what he can do from separating, I call it stretching a defense, whether it’s vertically and laterally. He adds to that. He’s going to open up the field, and we get Wan’Dale (Robinson) back and add those pieces in the slot, Shepard back. I think it’s one of those things where he’s a force multiplier.”

The Giants are going to push the ball down the field this year. The offense will look more like the ones Buffalo and Kansas City. Saquon Barkley will still have his touches and Daniel Jones will still have his runs (just like Josh Allen in Buffalo), but the coaches are going to take the training wheels off. I suspect the message to Jones will be, “don’t be careless with the ball, but we want you to take some chances. We’re OK with some turnovers if the decision-making is sound.”

It will be addressed more in the tight end preview, but the acquisition of Darren Waller is going to be huge both for this offense and Daniel Jones in particular. Not only will he will serve as a top-notch security blanket and play-maker, but he will open things up for everyone else who touches the ball. Daniel Jones threw 15 touchdown passes last year. It’s not unreasonable to expect Waller to have eight by himself in 2023. Combine that with the other pass-receiving upgrades and Jones’ passing touchdown totals could actually double.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor

Jun 172023
 
New York Giants Helmets (September 22, 2019)

© 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.

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN:

Jun 142023
 
Darius Slayton and Brian Daboll, New York Giants (June 13, 2023)

Darius Slayton and Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 14, 2023 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second and last day of the New York Giants 2-day, mandatory mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. No live contact is permitted during the mini-camp, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. After a team cookout on Thursday, the players are now off until summer training camp begins in late July.

“I think one of the most important things in spring is the strength and conditioning,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll on what his team accomplished. “I think those guys have done a good job with that. And then the chemistry that you build with one another, not just on the field, but off the field, getting to know one another. We’ve signed a bunch of new free agents; we have the college guys coming in. So again, it’s been a good group to work with. Time will tell here as we get started in training camp.”

ABSENTEES…
The only player not present was RB Saquon Barkley, who is currently not under contract as an unsigned Franchise player.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Wide receiver Sterling Shepard appeared to be running at full speed running routes against air early in practice. He worked on the side after that.
  • Wide receiver Parris Campbell continues to receive some snaps out of the backfield, similar to how wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson was used last season.
  • John Michael Schmitz was the first-team center with Ben Bredeson at left guard.
  • Darnay Holmes was the first-team slot cornerback with Bobby McCain starting at safety alongside Xavier McKinney.
  • Inside linebacker Bobby Okereke broke up a pass over the middle in 7-on-7 drills and nearly had the interception.
  • Cornerback Deonte Banks broke up a fade pass from quarterback Daniel Jones intended for wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins.
  • Wide receiver David Sills was active catching the ball, including a big gain on seam pass from quarterback Daniel Jones.
  • Quarterback Daniel Jones found tight end Lawrence Cager for a 20-yard touchdown near the end of practice.
  • Practice ended early due to the threat of lightning.

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

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

Jun 132023
 
Andre Patterson, New York Giants (June 13, 2023)

Andre Patterson – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 13, 2023 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants 2-day, mandatory mini-camp was held on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. No live contact is permitted during the mini-camp, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

“Really an extension of OTAs for us,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll before practice. “We have an extra walk-through and some extra meetings after practice, but relative to our practice and how we’re doing things, it’ll be very similar as to what we’ve done the last couple weeks.

“We’re adding some more things. Today, we’ll do some more team periods but with their helmets off, we’ll do some short yardage, some goal line and introduce some more things. Keep increasing the installation, and then go out there and have some call-it periods, albeit 7-on-7 where the coordinators are just calling the plays, there’s no scripts. Try to build on our communication, our fundamentals and keep on stacking days together.”

ABSENTEES…
The only player not present was RB Saquon Barkley, who is currently not under contract as an unsigned Franchise player. “Everything that I have to say about Saquon will remain private,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Quarterback Jacob Eason worked out for the Giants today. Eason was drafted in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and had briefs stints with the Seahawks, Panthers, and 49ers.
  • Safety Martez Manuel, an undrafted rookie free agent recently cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, was also trying out with the Giants.
  • During the install portion of practice, Ben Bredeson was the first-team center with Josh Ezeudu at left guard. John Michael Schmitz received a few first-team snaps at center with Bredeson at left guard.
  • The starting inside linebackers were Bobby Okereke and Jarrad Davis.
  • Xavier McKinney and Nick McCloud were the first-team safeties.
  • Cor’Dale Flott was the first-team slot corner. He knocked away one pass.
  • Quarterback Daniel Jones connected with wide receiver Parris Campbell five times on one 7-on-7 possession, including four in a row and one big yardage gain. Campbell was also employed out of the backfield.
  • Catching touchdowns passes mainly in 7-on-7, red-zone drills were wide receivers Parris Campbell, Darius Slayton, Jamison Crowder (twice), Collin Johnson, Jeff Smith, and David Sills (twice).
  • Safety Bobby McCain picked off quarterback Daniel Jones in the end zone. He also broke up a pass and had a pick-6 interception and return against quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
  • Wide receiver Darius Slayton beat cornerback Deonte Banks for a touchdown on a post route. On the very next play, Banks had good deep coverage against wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins.
  • Running back Eric Gray showed good moves after a catch en route for the end zone.
  • Linebacker Troy Brown intercepted a pass from quarterback Jacob Eason that was deflected off of wide receiver Jalin Hyatt.
  • Linebacker Carter Coughlin broke up a pass.
  • Former New York Giants Head Coach Bill Parcells was in attendance and addressed the team after practice.
  • Former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive end Michael Strahan also attended practice.

ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER BRANDON BROWN…
The transcript of Brandon Brown’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

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

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

Jun 082023
 
Darren Waller and Daniel Jones, New York Giants (May 31, 2023)

Darren Waller and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS CANCEL LAST TWO OTAs DUE TO POOR AIR QUALITY…
Due to poor air quality in the region from Canadian wildfires, the New York Giants canceled their ninth voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Thursday. The practice had been set to move indoors, but the organization decided not to proceed shortly before the players were set to take the field.

“It was important to the players,” Head Coach Brian Daboll said. “You guys can see how it looks in here. It’s not worth it for those guys.”

The last remaining OTA practices was scheduled to be held on Friday, but that has also been canceled. A mandatory mini-camp is scheduled be held next week, June 13-15, with media access on the first two days.

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

OTAs 6-8
Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices 6-8 were not open to the media, the Giants did provide the following practice reports:

June 2nd:

June 5th:

June 6th: