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.



2023 YEAR IN REVIEW: The Giants acquired Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders in March 2023 in exchange for a 3rd-round pick. Waller was a daily standout in training camp and it was anticipated that he would be the centerpiece of the passing offense. However, right before the season, Waller appeared on the injury report with a left hamstring injury, the same injury that wiped out much of his 2022 season the Raiders. While Waller did not miss any early games and was leading the team in receptions, the injury seemed to negatively affect his play and overall impact. Worse, Waller injured the right hamstring in Week 8, an injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve and miss five games. He later returned to play the last four games of the season. In all, Waller played in 12 games, with 11 starts, and finished the year with 52 catches and 552 yards, both numbers being second-best on the team. However, he only had one touchdown.

The Giants selected Daniel Bellinger in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Despite suffering a serious eye injury that included a fractured orbital bone in Week 7, missing four games in the process, Bellinger ended up starting 11 games as a rookie. He finished the regular season with 30 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Bellinger also scored a touchdown on his only rushing attempt. However, Bellinger regressed in 2023. His blocking was subpar and he seemed more cumbersome as a receiver, catching just 25 passes for 255 yards despite playing all 17 games with 13 starts.

Lawrence Cager spent the first six games of 2023 on the 53-man roster, spent two weeks on the Practice Squad, and then spent the next seven games on the 53-man roster. The Giants placed him on Injured Reserve in late December 2023 with a groin injury. In all, Cager played in 11 games with no starts, catching just four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. He played in just 15 percent of offensive snaps in those 11 games.

The Giants signed Tyree Jackson to the Practice Squad in late August 2023 and the 53-man roster in early January 2024. He played in two games, with one start, but did not have a catch.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Darren Waller retired right before the mandatory mini-camp in June. The Giants re-signed Tyree Jackson and Lawrence Cager. The Giants signed Chris Manhertz in March after he was released by the Broncos. They also added Jack Stoll in free agency from the Eagles. Theo Johnson was drafted in the 4th round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The tight end position appeared to be a team strength last summer, but that quickly fizzled with Darren Waller’s continued injury issues and Daniel Bellinger’s disappointing second season. While many fans are glad Waller is gone, he still was the second-leading receiver on the team and his numbers may be hard to replace. The primary candidates will be Daniel Bellinger and Theo Johnson. Bellinger needs to rebound and improve his overall game. Johnson’s skillset is closer to Waller’s and he may may play a lot of snaps as a rookie.

Tight end blocking was a weakness on this team in 2023. Enter Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz, two players known more for their blocking than pass receiving. Given the talent at wide receiver, it will be interesting to see how much this team uses two- and maybe three-tight end sets (12 and 13 personnel packages).

ON THE BUBBLE: It is usually anticipated that the Giants will carry three tight ends on the 53 man roster. However, they could go as high as four this year. Bellinger and Johnson are the locks. However, Manhertz, Stoll, Cager, and even Jackson all bring something to the table. It may be a dogfight for the remaining one or two spots.

FROM THE COACHES: Brian Daboll on the tight ends: “They’ve done a really good job. (Tight Ends Coach) Tim Kelly been a great addition to our staff. Really does a good job leading those guys. They’re all conscientious guys, have good ability. They can play multiple positions, so it will be a good training camp… Feel good about our group.”

Brian Daboll on the tight end position: “There is a variety of personnel groups you can use. You can play with one tight end, no tight ends, two tight ends, three tight ends, sometimes four tight ends. Depending on the player, you ask them to learn multiple spots. Most of our guys right now have been trained through Tim (Kelly) to learn two to three spots depending on the personnel group we’re in. It’s always a challenge when you’re learning multiple spots, whether you’re young or new. That’s the job requirements nowadays. It’s kind of evolved throughout the years, but I think it depends, too, on offensively what personnel groups you want to utilize and how many and all the different positions you ask them to play. We certainly ask our guys to do a fair amount in terms of learning our system, playing multiple positions, and one time you’re the F, one time you’re the Z, one time you could be the X, one time you could be the Y. They do a good job of studying it.”

Brian Daboll on Theo Johnson: “I would say (Offensive Assistant) Angela Baker is doing a really good job with Theo. She meets with him as much as she can to try to catch him up to speed. He’s working at it. He’s a smart kid.”

Brian Daboll on Lawrence Cager: “I’ve been very happy with Cage. Probably one of the most improved players throughout the offseason that we’ve had relative to playing fast, being able to use his speed, not thinking, being in the system here for a little bit. I’ve been very happy with his progress. He’s got a great schedule. He has come in really early. He’s taken to the coaching from Tim Kelly. He has had a really good camp.”

Tim Kelly on Theo Johnson: “The cool thing is that even the rookie is acting like a pro. He’s got a good room to learn from… (He’s) doing a really good job of learning the offense… the way he’s prepared. He’s wired the right way… not get overwhelmed. He’s diligent in his preparation. When you see him in person, he’s big. His attention to detail and the way he’s working has been great.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: The tight end position is near and dear to Brian Daboll’s heart. He was the tight ends coach in New England for four seasons under Bill Belichick, directly coaching Rob Gronkowski. Likewise, Mike Kafka also worked with Travis Kelce in Kansas City. It’s easy to see why both may have wanted to take a gamble on Darren Waller. Fans have minimized Waller’s departure, but despite playing hurt and missing five games, he was still second on the team in both catches and yards.

Daniel Bellinger’s subpar season was a head-scratcher. Instead of taking a step forward, he seemed to go backwards as a receiver and blocker. This is a big year for him. Is he an NFL starter or simply back-up material?

Theo Johnson fell in the draft because of concerns that he tested better athletically than he played, and because he did not catch the ball more at Penn State. However, the early returns in the spring have been positive. He’s big and fast for his size, the kind of guy who can present match-up problems for smaller defensive backs and slower linebackers. He also has natural hands. There is a glaring need for such a pass-receiving threat with the departure of Waller.

Speaking of receiving tight ends, the usually reticent Daboll’s glowing remarks on Lawrence Cager are worth noting. Cager has been a bit of a tease since the Giants signed him in November 2022 after he was cut by the Jets. He is in direct competition with Tyree Jackson, an ex-quarterback with a huge wingspan and 6’7” frame.

Both Jackson and Jack Stoll were with the Eagles. Stoll provides much-needed blocking and special teams value. Similarly, Chris Manhertz has survived nine NFL seasons, playing in 120 regular-season games with 53 starts based solely on his blocking. Stoll and Manhertz are clearly a reaction to the poor blocking from the position in 2023.

Flying under the radar is the hiring of Tim Kelly as tight ends coach. Kelly replaces Andy Bischoff, who left to become Jim Harbaugh’s tight ends coach and run-game coordinator with the Chargers. Kelly is the former offensive coordinator for both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. Daboll has spoke well of Kelly all spring.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Daniel Bellinger, Theo Johnson, Chris Manhertz, and Jack Stoll