Aug 192019
 
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Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

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AUGUST 19, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their seventeenth full-team summer training camp practice on Monday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The remaining training camp practices are no longer open to the public.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion), offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), linebacker Tae Davis (illness), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), and cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring) did not practice on Monday.

Cornerback Deandre Baker (knee) participated in individual drills. Linebacker Alec Ogletree (calf) was limited.

Safety Michael Thomas was excused for NFL business.

TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS FROM SY’56…
So I have been to probably a little more than a dozen training camp practices and this one was, by a fair margin, the hottest one yet. I have a high tolerance for the heat and sun because I enjoy being outdoors, but an hour into practice I was absolutely baking. Humidity was really thick. Practice ended up getting shortened because of it, I think. It was just a 90-minute session, if not a little less.

Deandre Baker was back on the field for individuals. Didn’t seem like he was going full speed but he wasn’t limping or anything. That was pretty much it for him.

-One of the new bodies out there in the defensive backfield was Terrell Sinkfield, Jr. He played both S and CB today and I was impressed with the physical package he brought to the table. He was beat off the ball a couple times because of poor footwork but he recovered well.

-Defensively, the pass rush was disruptive early on. It seemed like this was a very blitz-heavy day and the second/third level guys were getting through. Always hard to tell though when they can’t hit the QB.

Markus Golden and Dalvin Tomlinson were sent into coverage a couple times via the zone-blitz. The latter, I mean what can you expect from a 310 pound DT? Golden, however, looked just as uncomfortable. Burned as badly as one can be burned on a short slant route by Evan Engram.

B.J. Goodson was in there with Ryan Connelly at inside linebacker because of the absence of Alec Ogletree (calf) and Tae Davis (illness). It was a good day for him with extra urgency and pop. It seemed like he smelled an opportunity and wanted to really get after it. He ended his day with an interception off a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage. I will keep saying this, I hope he gets a shot. I think he adds something to this defense attitude wise.

Corey Ballentine got picked on in coverage today. From my vantage point he got beat by Engram, Cody Latimer, and Bennie Fowler.

-I watched CB Janoris Jenkins a lot today. I wanted to visibly see the difference between him and the others. That is what this position group is, Jenkins and a bunch of hopefuls. Jenkins excels at efficient movement. No wasted steps, no lackluster decision making. He did gamble twice (and was wrong) but he didn’t get exposed because the QB was looking elsewhere. Corner is, outside of QB, the toughest position to play and project in my opinion. But it is easy to see Jenkins simply moves differently out there, a different level of coordination and control.

-Nice TFLs for both DT Olsen Pierre and S Kenny Ladler. Pierre may have had a sack as well but it was hard to tell for sure.

-Offensively, Eli Manning looked exceptional today. Very sharp all over the field. Left, right, middle, short, intermediate, his throws were on the money. He audibled at the line a couple times and ended up completing passes for 10+ yards. There was a heavy emphasis on play-action today. He really has a different look about him and I will go to my grave saying it stems from the OL. The physical and mental impact that has on a QB cannot be overlooked.

Evan Engram had a drop on a tough, but very doable catch. He was a little late and slow out of his break and just didn’t see it right away.

Saquon Barkley was given the ball, I would say, 8-9 times today. Few handoffs and pitches in addition to a few catches. They split him out wide a couple times and the safety Jabrill Peppers went out to cover him man on man. Barkley had a deep pass tossed his way (about 25-30 yards) on a vertical route and he leapt up gracefully, seamlessly caught the ball, and came down ready to explode downfield. I do think in a game, Antoine Bethea had the angle to light him up after the catch. It wouldn’t have been a touchdown but it would have been a big gain. Manning could have put it more outside if I am gonna nitpick.

Paul Perkins received a ton of praise from coaches and players alike for a jump cut he made after a handoff on a play where the defense sent blitzers up the middle. The reaction and balance were superb. You can easily tell that a lot of the guys really like him.

-Nice day for rookie WR Darius Slayton. He was a full-go in team drills, the first I got to see up close. It is easy to forget about him since he hasn’t been here long and hasn’t practiced much. His burst out of his breaks is notable, he can move at a different speed than the others. He didn’t get any deep looks.

-QB Daniel Jones had, you guessed it, an up-and-down day. Broken record, I know. The worst I have seen him has been in practice and the best I have seen him has been in the games. I want to take that as a good sign. He threw a beautiful ball downfield but WR Golden Brittan couldn’t get under it. I think a speed receiver gets it and scores a TD.

Daniel Jones is a very underrated athlete when rolling out. He gets out on those bootlegs in a hurry but I haven’t seen him show a ton of accuracy. He didn’t seem as comfortable besides the plays where he quickly got it out to a target in the flat. He did tuck it and run once and it would have been a 10+ yard gain. He is a long strider who will gain chunks when they are there. That is something NYG hasn’t had in….well…Hostetler?

-Head Coach Pat Shurmur brought the whole team together before red zone offense vs. defense. Not sure what he said but there was a challenge presented that got everyone fired up. It was second-team offense vs. second-team defense…players were chirping. Play 1 was…a tipped pass at the line that was intercepted by B.J. Goodson. That was it, they then put the third-stringers in.

-Good to see plenty of guys getting extra work in after practice. The entire TE group. OT Brian Mihalik vs. OLB Jake Carlock. Quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Alex Tanney and a few others.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Monday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Aug 032019
 
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Michael Thomas, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Michael Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 3, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their ninth full-team summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have placed linebacker Mark McLaurin on Injured Reserve with a broken foot and waived defensive end Alex Jenkins. To fill these roster spots, the Giants signed defensive end/linebacker Terrence Fede and claimed linebacker Joey Alfieri off of waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Giants signed McLaurin, a collegiate safety, as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants signed Jenkins after he impressed as a tryout player during the 2019 rookie mini-camp. Born in England, Jenkins was part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program and spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the Practice Squad of the New Orleans Saints.

The 27-year old, 6’4”, 267-pound Fede was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In four seasons with the Dolphins, Fede played in 51 regular-season games with no starts, accruing 55 tackles and one sack. Fede signed with the Buffalo Bills in April 2018 but was waived before the season started.

The 6’3”, 239-pound Alfieri was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Eagles after the 2019 NFL Draft.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin), offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), offensive tackle Chad Wheeler (unknown), defensive lineman John Jenkins (unknown), linebacker Avery Moss (unknown), cornerback Grant Haley (shoulder), and cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring) did not practice on Saturday.

MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • With CB Grant Haley out, Julian Love was the first-team nickel corner.
  • In red zone drills, CB Corey Ballentine closed quickly to knock away a pass from QB Daniel Jones. Then Ballentine made a heck of a play with a leaping interception of a Jones fade pass to WR Al0nzo Russell. Ballentine later had another pass break-up.
  • QB Alex Tanney threw a touchdown pass to WR Amba Etta-Tawo, beating LB Nate Stupar.
  • In one five-wide formation, the Giants had both RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram line up outside.
  • QB Daniel Jones overthrew WR Alonzo Russell deep.
  • CB/S Julian Love broke up a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • CB Deandre Baker closed very fast on broke up a QB Kyle Lauletta pass over the middle intended for WR Da’Mari Scott.
  • WR Bennie Fowler dropped one pass, but caught three others in 11-on-11 drills.
  • CB Henre’ Tolliver broke up a pass.
  • QB Eli Manning finished 8-of-11; QB Daniel Jones was 5-of-13.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Jul 242019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (May 20, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

VETERANS REPORT TO NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP…
New York Giants rookies and select veterans reported to summer training camp on Monday. The bulk of the veterans reported today. Also, the first rookie practice open to the press (but not public) was held today.

“You got a chance to see the second day of our rookie camp,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We did two (days) this year instead of three. I felt like we got a lot of good work with the rookies in the spring. Felt like the last couple days was a continuation of what they learned in the spring, but also going back to the first installs as they go through their first year. As you know, the veterans will report here in a couple of hours and then we’ll be off to the races. We’re excited to get going. A lot of changes, as we all talked about this offseason. But we look forward to getting out on the practice field and getting after it, getting ready to play our first game and the games that follow.”

The first full-team training camp practice and the first practice open to the public will be held on Thursday. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GIANTS SIGN DANIEL JONES…
On Monday, the New York Giants signed quarterback Daniel Jones, the team’s first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. According to media reports, Jones’ contract is slotted to be around $25.6 million with approximately $16.7 million in guaranteed money. All 10 of the Giants’ 2019 NFL Draft selections are now signed.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have waived quarterback/tight end Eric Dungey and signed tight end Isaiah Searight. Dungey was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft, but missed most of the offseason program with a back injury.

Searight is a three-time All-Patriot League selection from Fordham University. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2019 NFL Draft but was waived/injured in May with a hamstring injury.

ALEX WESLEY PLACED ON PUP LIST…
The New York Giants have placed wide receiver Alex Wesley on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List with an undisclosed injury. Wesley is an undrafted rookie free agent the Giants signed after the 2019 NFL Draft.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Wide receivers Darius Slayton (hamstring) and Alex Wesley (PUP List – unknown) did not practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was excused in order to attend a funeral.

“(Slayton) just tweaked his hamstring a little bit (yesterday),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Nothing serious. He’ll be back soon.”

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Jul 052019
 
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Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (December 9, 2018)

Lorenzo Carter – © 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: Linebackers

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: It’s both ironic and tragic that the team so closely associated with a great linebacking legacy has become so incompetent at addressing the position. Worse, with the shift to the 3-4 defense, the importance of the position was elevated in the overall scheme of the defense. In the 3-4, the linebackers are the play-makers, the pass rushers, and the active run defenders. Despite spending assets on the position: $17 million for Olivier Vernon, $15 million for Kareem Martin, $5 million for Connor Barwin, two draft picks for Alec Olgretree, a 3rd rounder for Lorenzo Carter, and a 4th rounder for B.J. Goodson, the returns were not good. As a team, the Giants had 30 sacks, tied for 30th in the league. Only the Raiders had fewer. And of those 30 sacks, 17 came from the linebackers. Only two linebackers on the team picked off a pass. Most startlingly, Giants linebackers only forced ONE fumble all year. Overall, the run defense wasn’t good (20th), with players often being out-of-position or being successfully blocked out of position. And pass coverage against tight ends and backs remained a sore spot for yet another year.

In terms of specific players. Vernon was an injured tease (again). Barwin was invisible. Martin was one-dimensional. Ogletree alternated between being beaten like a drum in coverage to making some spectacular interceptions. Carter flashed some potential as a pass rusher. Goodson flashed as a run defender, but wasn’t consistent. Rookie free agent Tae Davis had some rough moments both against the run and the pass. Nate Stupar was a core player on an improving special teams unit.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants traded Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns. Connor Barwin was cut in February and Ukeme Eligwe was cut in May. The Giants did not re-sign Jordan Williams, who spent the year on Injured Reserve. Nate Stupar was re-signed, as was Avery Moss, the team’s 2017 5th rounder who spent the year on the Practice Squad.

In free agency, the Giants added Markus Golden from the Cardinals and “street” free agents Jonathan Anderson and Keion Adams. The Giants drafted Oshane Ximines in the 3rd round, Ryan Connelly in the 5th round, and signed rookie free agent Josiah Tauaefa after the draft. The Giants also signed rookie free agent Nate Harvey after the draft, but he was placed on Injured Reserve in May with a season-ending knee injury.

The Giants have also been playing rookie free agent collegiate safety Mark McLaurin at their “money backer” position during Spring practices. Rookie free agent Jake Carlock is another hybrid linebacker/safety type, who can also long snap.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Perhaps the biggest question mark the entire team faces is the pass rush. The Giants were near dead last in the NFL rushing the passer in 2018 and traded away arguably their best pass rusher. Many wanted the team to select a pass rusher over Daniel Jones with the 6th overall pick in the draft. In the 3-4 defense, you need your outside linebackers to be good pass rushers. The Giants are hoping Markus Golden can rebound from his torn ACL and regain his 2016 form (12.5 sacks). Also, based on the pecking order during Spring practices, it appears the coaches are giving Lorenzo Carter (4 sacks as a reserve in 2018) every opportunity to supplant Kareem Martin as starter. Lurking in the wings is rookie Oshane Ximines. Most believe the Giants are screwed here as they lack the talent to get after the quarterback. It’s up to Golden, Carter, Martin, and Ximines to prove them wrong.

Inside, the problems remain the same. The team has been inconsistent stopping the run and atrocious covering tight ends for years. The Rams most likely traded Alec Ogletree to the Giants because of the same inconsistencies he demonstrated last season, both against the run and the pass. B.J. Goodson has to take the bull by the horns and prove to the coaches he’s an asset on the field. Tae Davis, a former collegiate safety, has been splitting time with Goodson with the first unit. Like Ximines outside, rookie Ryan Connelly is lurking in the wings.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are 13 linebackers on the roster (15 if you count Mark McLaurin and Jake Carlock) and the Giants are likely to keep eight, possibly nine. The obvious players on the bubble are Avery Moss, Keion Adams, Jonathan Anderson, Josiah Tauaefa, McLaurin, and Carlock. The tough decision will be Nate Stupar because of his special teams play.

FROM THE COACHES: Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on Lorenzo Carter: “He is rushing with a plan. When you see him rush, a year ago he was trying to get off the ball as quick as he could and use his hands when he could. Now, you see a guy that is aware of how he wants to rush, aware of techniques that he wants to rush with. Guys that get in there as pass rushers, I have been in there and have coached them before personally, you see their best growth in the two and three years. You start to figure out what they are as rushers. Whether you are Chandler Jones and a really bloody rusher or a speed counter guy. He is really starting to figure that out. He is building his pass rush toolbox right now. The second thing, he is practicing as hard as anyone on the field right now. He is running around and has been a great example that we have been able to show defensively of just straining and effort, finish.”

Bettcher on Marcus Golden: “Markus unfortunately somewhere around 18 months ago had a pretty significant knee injury. Don’t ever forget that before that he was one of the best pass rushers in this league. People had to plan for him. I know that because I was one of the guys calling the plays for him on defense. I saw what he was able to do when he was healthy and running around. I love how he is moving right now and I love his work. He is a guy that is going to play exceptionally hard. As I sat here a year ago and talked to you about one of the identifying qualities we needed our defense to look like was it took relentless, work relentless and play relentless. I think that is probably the epitome of Markus.”

Bettcher on Alec Ogletree: “This is his second year in the system. You get a guy like AB (Antoine Bethea) who has been in the system before who really can get in the conversations of how we are doing it and what we should expect in certain coverages, that is where Tree is at now. He is in his second year. He is really working on his core fundamentals, but the other side of it, how are we going to attack this coverage? Where is the soft spot in coverage and how can we defend it? I think that is really what happens when guys come into the second year.”

Bettcher on Oshane Ximines: “X-man coming off the tape, I loved the way he played. Saw a guy that could flip and had athleticism to move in space. If you are picking a prototypical outside linebacker, he has some of both of those skills. He has the rush skills and has skills in his hips to open, change in space and change who the rusher is.”

Bettcher on Ryan Connelly: “Connelly is really smart. It is funny because today I was showing a cut-up to the vets and you try not to do that. You try not to show a rookie to the vets too early, but I was showing the cut-up to the vets. This is a guy from the rookie mini-camp and it was a concept and a route and he played it exactly the right way. It was a great example. Smart and tough.”

Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern on Ryan Connelly: “A guy who is smart and intelligent. He plays fast and shows good instincts. We are excited to have him… We are excited that Ryan is a quick study and he has brought things to the practice field so we are excited about that.”

McGovern on Alec Ogletree: “I think you saw him develop as the year went along. As he was getting into the system, he has been in a few different systems. As the season went along, I think he got even better and started making even more and more plays. No matter where he has been, he is a productive player. We have been seeing the ball thrown a little bit more against us and he ended up showing up and making plays in the pass game. He has always been good against the run. He sells out on everything. Again, his leadership and everything else is something that we love having him out there for. We appreciate everything he does on the field.”

McGovern on B.J. Goodson: “Just keep improving. Get better. He has his package and has to work through it. In the run game, there are things that he can use to get better.”

PREDICTIONS: This is the one area of the defense that makes a lot of people nervous. Changes are being made. Olivier Vernon was traded. It appears Kareem Martin will now be more of a role player. The early favorites to start outside and rush the quarterback are Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter. It is possible to see these two combine for 20 sacks. It’s also possible to see both underwhelm and finish with a total of just 10. With Golden, it’s all about his knee. With Carter, he has to prove he is more than a straight-line athlete. Reading between the lines, the Giants also appear to be pleased with what they’ve seen so far from Oshane Ximines. But until the pads come on, we really won’t know a thing. Going out on a limb here, I’m going to predict that Golden, Lorenzo, Ximines, and Martin are more productive pass rushers than anticipated.

Inside, it appears the Giants are well aware of their issues covering the middle of the field. Hence you see linebacker/safety hybrids like Tae Davis, Mark McLaurin, and Jake Carlock being added to the roster. It’s also telling that Davis saw quite a bit of time with the first unit during Spring practices. I’m not sure what to make of Alec Ogletree yet. Just when I had written him off as a trade bust last year, he started making game-changing interceptions. The coaches seem to think he will be more consistent in his second year in the system, but we shall see. The Rams got rid of him for a reason. I expected more from Goodson last year. I think this is a critical training camp for him. The real wild card here is Ryan Connelly, a very smart player who is a better athlete than advertised.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Kareem Martin, Alec Ogletree, B.J. Goodson, Tae Davis, and Ryan Connelly.

(The tough call here is Nate Stupar due to his special teams value. It’s also tough to predict if a guy like Mark McLaurin or Jake Carlock do enough to stick on the 53-man roster. Special teams play will be a huge factor in determining the final numbers).

Jun 052019
 
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C.J. Conrad, New York Giants (June 5, 2019)

C.J. Conrad – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 5, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day mandatory mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

INJURY REPORT AND ABSENTEES…
Quarterback/tight end Eric Dungey (back), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (wrist), wide receiver Brittan Golden (unknown), wide receiver Alex Wesley (unknown), tight end Evan Engram (“soreness”), left tackle Nate Solder (recovering from ankle surgery), right tackle Mike Remmers (recovering from back surgery), defensive lineman Olsen Pierre (unknown), linebacker Avery Moss (unknown), cornerback Sam Beal (personal matter), safety Jabrill Peppers (tooth extraction), safety Sean Chandler (unknown), and safety Jake Carlock (unknown) did not practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The Giants continue to alternate first-team centers. Today was Spencer Pulley, a day after Jon Halapio was with the first unit.
  • Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter were the first-team outside linebackers. Linebacker Oshane Ximines also saw some first-team reps and did a nice job in underneath coverage on one play against wide receiver Golden Tate.
  • The starting corners were once again Janoris Jenkins and Deandre Baker, with Grant Haley playing slot corner.
  • Kamrin Moore was the first-team strong safety with Antoine Bethea at free safety.
  • Cornerback Corey Ballentine saw reps with the second-team defense.
  • At one point, quarterback Eli Manning was 10-for-10 in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, but cooled off some after that. He started off the day with a nice deep post pass to wide receiver Corey Coleman.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, quarterback Eli Manning found tight end Rhett Ellison deep against safety Kamrin Moore.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw touchdowns to wide receiver Golden Tate, wide receiver Bennie Fowler, and tight end Rhett Ellison in red-zone drills.
  • Tight end C.J. Conrad stood out in red-zone drills with a pair of touchdown receptions from quarterback Daniel Jones. Conrad also made a one-handed catch near the sidelines.
  • Quarterbacks Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta also threw touchdowns in red-zone drills.
  • Cornerback Grant Haley “sacked” quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Quarterback Daniel Jones threw a perfect deep pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton despite blanket coverage by cornerback Tony Lippett. Jones followed that up with a nice “dart” to tight end Scott Simonson. Jones also hit wide receiver Bennie Fowler deep down the left sideline.
  • Wide receiver Darius Slayton had a strong day and has been getting separation on deep routes. He caught a touchdown pass on a fade route
  • Safety Michael Thomas was active and stripped wide receiver Reggie White, Jr. of the ball after a reception.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Feb 262019
 
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Olivier Vernon, Alec Olgetree, and Kareem Martin; New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Olivier Vernon, Alec Olgetree, and Kareem Martin – © USA TODAY Sports

There are two positions on the team that management simply has not been able to “fix” for years: offensive line and linebackers. And it is not for want of effort. While the Giants have not spent a great deal of draft assets on linebackers (3rd-round pick on Lorenzo Carter, 4th-round pick on B.J. Goodson), the team certainly has spent free agent and even indirect draft (i.e. trade) assets. Three of the four Giants’ starting linebackers in 2018 were:

  • Olivier Vernon ($17 million 2018 cap hit)
  • Alec Ogletree ($4.75 million 2018 cap hit, plus 4th- and 6th-round draft picks in trade)
  • Kareem Martin (3-year, $15 million contract)

The Giants also gave Connor Barwin a 2-year, $5 million deal as a reserve.

To be blunt, the return on the investment was quite poor. The 3-4 defense relies on the linebackers to be the the play-makers and the pass rushers. They didn’t do that. As a team, the Giants had 30 sacks, tied for 30th in the league. Only the Raiders had fewer. And of those 30 sacks, 17 came from the linebackers. Only two linebackers on the team picked off a pass. Most startling, Giants linebackers only forced ONE fumble all year.

Ask a Giants’ fan about their linebacker memories for the 2018 season and they’ll probably mention Ogletree picking off five passes and returning two of those for touchdowns. Or Goodson picking off two passes in a game. They may say that the injury-prone Vernon flashed as a pass rusher as he got healthier. And that Carter showed some good things as a rookie. But mostly it was just blah. Barwin was invisible. Martin was one-dimensional. The positives from Vernon were overshadowed by a frustrating lack of impact and bonehead mistakes such a penalties or losing contain responsibility.

Overall, the run defense wasn’t good, with players often being out-of-position or being successfully blocked out of position. And pass coverage against tight ends and backs remained a sore spot for yet another year (despite the five picks, there was a stretch of games where Ogletree was regularly abused in coverage).

THE EDGE RUSHERS

Olivier Vernon’s first three seasons with the Giants have been sabotaged due to nagging injuries, including a high ankle sprain in 2018 that caused him to miss the first five games of the season. Vernon started the remaining 11 games, accruing 30 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble. Despite the missed time and subpar tackle production, Vernon played in the Pro Bowl as a first alternate. Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016. Although Vernon played in all 16 regular-season games in 2016, a serious left hand/wrist injury affected his play. In 2017, he missed four games with an ankle injury that also continued to be a factor in other games. An undersized but athletic defensive end, the Giants shifted him to linebacker in 2018 to fit their new 3-4 scheme. Vernon teases with his big-play ability but he simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy and be consistently productive and reliable.

The Giants signed Kareem Martin as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2018. Though not a standout, Martin has his most productive season as a pro, playing in a 16 games with seven starts, and finishing with 48 tackles (twice as much as his previous high), 1.5 sacks, and 2 pass defenses. The 6’6”, 272-pound Martin was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cardinals as a defensive end. The Cardinals moved him to linebacker after his rookie season. Martin is a ‘tweener who does his best work moving forward rather than moving backwards in space. He is a sold run defender, but he only has six career sacks in five seasons.

The Giants drafted Lorenzo Carter in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Carter played in 15 games as a rookie with two starts, finishing the season with 43 tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 pass defenses. He is a tall, athletic, disruptive forward mover. Carter causes problems with his quickness and closing burst but can get hung up on blocks at times. Carter flashes as a pass rusher, and he can rush the passer from the defensive end spot in certain packages.

The Giants signed Connor Barwin as an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Rams in July 2018. Despite playing in 15 games with three starts, Barwin finished the year with just 12 tackles, 1 sack, and 4 pass defenses. Barwin was originally selected in the 2nd-round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Before joining the Giants, he spent time with the Texans (2009-2012), Philadelphia Eagles (2013-2016), and Rams (2017).

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

The Giants traded with the Rams for Alec Ogletree in March 2018, giving the Rams 4th- and 6th-round draft picks. In his first season with the Giants, Ogletree started all 13 regular-season games he played in, missing three games due to hamstring and concussion issues. He finished the year with 93 tackles, 1 sack, 8 pass defenses, and 5 interceptions (2 of which were returned for touchdowns). Ogletree was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Rams. He made the All-Rookie team in 2013 and was named second-team All-Pro in 2016. The 6’2”, 235-pound Ogletree lacks classic size. He’s more of a run-and-hit linebacker than take-on-and-shed guy. Team leader who was voted team captain on both the Rams and Giants. In his six NFL seasons, Olgetree has averaged almost 100 tackles per year. Despite his five interceptions in 2018, he can be exposed in man coverage by athletic pass catchers.

In his third year with the Giants, B.J. Goodson had his most productive season, playing in 15 games with 13 starts, and finishing with 61 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 4 pass defenses, and 2 interceptions. Goodson was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he played in 15 regular-season games with no starts. In 2017, Goodson started all seven games he played in, but missed most of the season with shin and ankle issues. Goodson is a big, strong, physical linebacker who lacks ideal speed and quickness. He plays the run better than the pass.

The Giants signed Tae Davis as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. Davis not only made the team, but he played in 14 games with four starts, accruing 33 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 pass defense. The 6’0”, 222-pound Davis lacks size, but he is a good athlete with fine speed. While aggressive, Davis is not a physical player against the run and he missed too many tackles in 2018. He also needs to improve in coverage.

The Giants claimed Nate Stupar off of waivers from the New Orleans Saints in September 2018. He played in all 16 games, finishing the year with just 14 tackles. In his one start, Stupar missed three tackles. The 6’2”, 240-pound Stupar was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Stupar has spent time with the Raiders (2012), Philadelphia Eagles (2012), San Francisco 49ers (2012–2013), Jacksonville Jaguars (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014–2015), and Saints (2016–2017). He has played in 79 regular-season games with ten starts, six of which came in 2016 when he accrued 58 tackles. Stupar missed 11 games in 2017 with a torn ACL. He is a good special teams player.

Ukeme Eligwe was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2018 after he was waived by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Giants signed him to the 53-man roster in October 2018. Eligwe ended up playing in 10 games with no starts, accruing just seven tackles and one pass defense. The 6’2”, 239-pound Eligwe was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chiefs.

STILL HANGING AROUND

Avery Moss was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2018. Moss was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, he played in 11 games with two starts. He finished with 14 tackles, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Moss has good size with long arms and is a good athlete. Moss flashes as a disruptive run defender and pass rusher, but he needs to become more consistent and get stronger at the point-of-attack.

Jordan Williams was waived/injured in September 2018 with hip and shoulder injuries, and then placed on Injured Reserve. Williams was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Jets (2015) and Miami Dolphins (2015-2016) before being signed by the Giants to the Practice Squad in December 2016. He spent most of 2017 on the Giants’ Practice Squad, even though he played in one regular-season game.

Dec 162018
 
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Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, Eli Manning; New York Giants (December 16, 2018)

A Disappointing Day for the Offense – © USA TODAY Sports

TENNESSEE TITANS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 0…
The New York Giants saw their slim playoff hopes evaporate on Sunday as the team was shut out 17-0 by the Tennessee Titans at a rainy MetLife Stadium. The Giants are now officially out of the playoff hunt. With the loss, the Giants fell to 5-9, guaranteeing their fifth losing season in the past six years.

While Tennessee only passed the ball for 86 net yards, the Titans out-gained the Giants in first downs (22 to 15), total net yards (301 to 260), net yards rushing (215 to 47), and time of possession (35:21 to 24:39).

The Giants’ five first-half possessions ended with four punts and a sack as time expired. Yet only trailing 7-0 at halftime, quarterback Eli Manning had two killer turnovers to start the second half, including a bad interception and fumble. The Giants survived the first, but not the second as Tennessee’s second touchdown near the end of the third quarter all but officially sealed the game. The Titans added another field goal in the fourth quarter as the Giants punted two more times. Until New York’s last drive, the closest the Giants got to the end zone was the Tennessee 29-yard line. The Giants reached the 4-yard line on their final possession but turned the ball over on downs.

Manning finished the game 21-of-44 for 229 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was also sacked three times. His leading receiver was tight end Evan Engram (8 catches for 75 yards). Running back Saquon Barkley was held to 31 yards on 14 carries.

The defense kept the Giants in the game until late in the third quarter, but they did not create a turnover and only had one sack (by safety Michael Thomas).

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, tight end Garrett Dickerson, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Center Spencer Pulley (calf) and cornerback Antonio Hamilton (quad) both left the game with injuries and did not return. Defensive end Kerry Wynn (unknown) had post-game x-rays taken.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Dec 122018
 
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Russell Shepard, New York Giants (December 9, 2018)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Odell Beckham (quad) practiced on a limited basis. Safety Curtis Riley (wrist) fully practiced.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The Giants terminated to the practice squad contract of punter Brock Miller on Monday. The Giants filled that roster vacancy by signing defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton to the Practice Squad.

The 25-year old, 6’3″, 315-pound Hamilton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Patriots waived him in September 2017 and he spent time with the New Orleans Saints in 2017 and 2018. Hamilton has played in two regular-seasons games with one start.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice again on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Dec 102018
 
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Alec Ogletree, New York Giants (December 9, 2018)

Alec Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports

MONDAY MEDIA SESSION WITH HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media on Monday to discuss the team’s 40-16 victory over the Washington Redskins (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Opening Remarks: I’ll try to update you first on some of the injuries of note. Odell (Beckham) came in today, felt a lot better than he did Friday and Saturday. He received some treatments over the weekend, so he feels better and we’ll just see where that takes us. It’s too early to tell. Rhett Ellison, as you know, had an ankle sprain during the game, feels better, we’ll just see how the week progresses for him. Then Curtis Riley had a wrist sprain that they’re getting checked out. I don’t have any details on that at this point. Beyond that we’ve just got a little bit of game wear and tear. Not much to add after last night, it’s fun to win a game – fun to win a game in that fashion. It’s very rare you ever get to 40 to nothing on a team, that’s a very unique experience, it’s hard to do, and I credit our players for getting us to that point. They did an outstanding job of playing hard. Things sort of bounced our way, but we made enough plays along the way to take advantage of some of the things that we had to. As I say every Monday, we’re back in the moment, we’re getting ready to play Tennessee, and we’re finishing up the corrections from yesterday. Monday’s, in my mind, are more important than Wednesday. You have to clean up things. That’s why it would be extremely rare they get a ‘Victory Monday’ because I think this is an important day to fix the things that may show up as we finish the season. With that, I’ll try to answer your questions.

Q: What do you value about Alec Ogletree, both as a leader and as a player?

A: You sort of answered it in your question. He’s a leader because he has courage and he does the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, doesn’t care about the consequence, but in order to be a leader you have to be really good at what you do. He’s had a chance to get turnovers, I think he played one of his better games. Again, he’s played well, he’s playing better and better and better, I guess I could say. He’s played well throughout the season, but he’s playing better and better, and that’s a credit to him.

Q: Are you giving him an offensive package? He has five receptions.

A: Yeah, we joked about that. Sure, I’d love for him to play offense. (Laughter)

Q: Was it just kind of a process for him to get used to this defense and the system?

A: No, I think he’s played well throughout. It’s easy as you look at a play, and a player has high expectations, to maybe look at a play or two that doesn’t go well and say he’s not playing the way he should, but Alec has played steady throughout the season and played very well. He’s just made more impact plays probably in the past few games, but his presence has been felt throughout the season.

Q: Eli (Manning) said yesterday he thinks the offense is starting to run through Saquon (Barkley) more and more. Obviously the success you’ve had since the bye, was there a tipping point where you saw something and thought that was the direction that would yield the best results?

A: I think it’s all connected. I’m an old offensive lineman, and I understand the importance of blocking. I can remember when Lorenzo White and Andre Rison and Bobby McAllister were getting praise for doing what they do, the five of us (linemen) sat in the corner, drank one more beer, and were just happy about the fact that we were winning games. It starts up front, and I think our guys are doing a better job blocking, which helps the run game. It’s much easier as a play caller also to call runs when you’re gaining yards, and when you hand the ball to a runner that can score touchdowns. I thought his touchdown run, I’ve never seen him run that fast, even in college. I think there’s data to tell us that was pretty fast. And everything plays off itself – it helps the play action, it helps the quarterback, his feet are clean because they think it’s a run, so it all plays off itself. If we’re playing right, then we need to be able to run the ball.

Q: What did you see when you looked at your wide receivers, the way they’ve contributed as blockers?

A: There’s some terrific blocks. I thought Sterling Shepard, he had some terrific blocks. The one long run, he kind of slid back and blocked 36, and that was the key block that sprung Saquon, and then on Saquon’s next run, he flipped around and saw 24 and had a good block that helped spring him even further. That’s his nature, he’s gritty, he’s tough, he understands the importance of being a good blocker and he found his way in the end zone as well. Two Shep’s and a Bennie scored for us, but the group themselves, I thought they did a good job.

Q: Size-wise, you don’t have the biggest receivers out there.

A: I think they’re typical of what receivers look like. There’s some certainly that are bigger and some are smaller, but I’ve never thought that we’ve had a small group of wide outs.

Q: This offense, the way you’re playing now, do you think it bucks a trend in the league, and if so, are you ok with that?

A: I really don’t care about trends in the league. I think we as coaches have to do what’s best for our team based on the players that we have, but from the beginning of time, a team that can run the football has a better chance to play good team offense. I really believe this, and we just played two really outstanding defenses. We saw what the Bears did last night against the Rams certainly, and we were able to score against them, and I really thought the Redskins defense is a top-tier defense in the league. But defenses are too good if you just start the game dropping back and throwing them. I think you’ve got to be able to run the ball throughout, and it helps not just for your offense but for your whole team. I don’t know if that’s bucking a trend, but I think that we as coaches all know that.

Q: You drafted Saquon where you did and have said many times why you valued that pick at that position. Do you think no matter who your quarterback would be, that if you draft a Saquon number two and he’s the kind of player he is, that it makes sense to tailor a lot around this guy as opposed to whoever the quarterback is?

A: It all goes hand in hand. You just can’t put Joe Schmo in at quarterback and think you’re going to win games. You’ve got to have a guy that can play the position. But the best friend of a quarterback is really the running back, because he can take some pressure off of him, but the running back can’t do it unless you block for him, so it’s all connected. That’s what we’re seeing. I think from an offensive standpoint we’re seeing a much better connection, that’s the way I would phrase it, since the bye – blocking, running, throwing, scoring points. I think in the last five weeks we’ve scored over 30 points a game, which in the first eight would have been tough to say, so it all goes hand in hand.

Q: What did you think of (Evan) Engram bouncing back coming off an injury?

A: Yeah, bouncing back from injury, I thought he did a terrific job. He had some explosive gains, he did a good job in the run game as well, got a couple knockdowns. It was good to see him have success. I’m rooting for him because I think he really works hard at being a good player. The guys that really work hard at it – right is right, you’ve got to go out and do it – but the guys that really work hard at it, I’m pulling for to make sure that they do well.

Q: Isn’t that second part especially important for him? If he’s putting some guys on the ground in the run game, that can enable the play caller to have him on the field?

A: Sure, more situations, absolutely. I think that’s, really unless you’re the quarterback, sometimes when you run reverse, it is what he has to do. Unless you’re the quarterback, everybody has to block for the runner. Everybody does, so tight ends certainly – it’s in everybody’s job description, and especially tight ends.

Q: You said there was data on Saquon’s fast run?

A: No, I’m just looking at it, but I know that they take data. There’s people that look at that kind of stuff, but when I was watching the run and then saw it again on the tape on the train ride home, just my naked eye and it looked like he was running pretty fast.

Q: It was the fastest running back touchdown this year. 21.91 miles per hour.

A: Somebody told me that. It all goes hand in hand. Everything’s connected.

Q: What was it that you guys did so well up front defensively when you looked at it?

A: Yeah, I thought we did a good job in the run fits, which was important so you didn’t allow Adrian (Peterson) to go that way fast. The one thing about Adrian, if he hits it, he can do what Saquon did on his run, so we were able to make him kind of have to move his feet side to side, which then negates all his skill and ability, so the run fits were very good. Then I thought we tackled better. I think we had a couple that kind of spit out, one comes to mind where the back backed up, or it spit out and Jackrabbit did a good job of a one-on-one tackle that could have been a big run if he missed it. Really in the run game, it comes down to run fits and tackling, and I think we did those two things better than we did at times in the last couple of games.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

NOTES…
The Giants improved their all-time regular-season record against Washington to 100-68-4 to become the first NFL franchise with 100 regular-season victories against another franchise.

Quarterback Eli Manning’s 197 passing yards increased his career total to 55,142. He is the seventh quarterback in NFL history with at least 55,000 passing yards.

Running back Saquon Barkley extended his Giants rookie record by increasing his season total to 1,124 rushing yards. Barkley’s 1,000-yard season is the 24th in Giants history, and first since Ahmad Bradshaw’s 1,015 yards in 2012. Barkley’s 1,124 yards is the highest total by a Giants back since Bradshaw ran for 1,235 yards in 2010.

Barkley scored his 13th touchdown (nine rushing, four receiving), a new Giants rookie record. He had been tied with running back Bill Paschal (12 in 1943) and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (12 in 2014). Barkley has five touchdowns from scrimmage this season of 50 or more yards, the most ever by a Giants rookie.

Barkley’s four receptions increased his season total to 78, breaking a tie with tight end Jeremy Shockey (2002) and moving into second place on the Giants’ rookie list. Beckham is first with 91 catches in 2014.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Dec 092018
 
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New York Giants Offense (December 9, 2018)

A Good Day – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 40 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 16…
The New York Giants improved their overall record to 5-8 by destroying the Washington Redskins 40-16 on Sunday afternoon at FedExField in Maryland. The game was 40-0 in the 3rd quarter when the Giants pulled out some of their key starters. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. also did not play in the game due to a quad injury.

The bulk of the first quarter was pretty ugly for both offenses. The Redskins and Giants each punted three times to start the game with both teams each only picking up two first downs.

The New York avalanche of points began late in the first quarter when free safety Curtis Riley picked off a a deflected pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez and returned it nine yards for a defensive touchdown. Then after a three-and-out by Washington, the Giants went up 10-0 by  driving 43 yards in nine plays to set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

After the Redskins went three-and-out again, the Giants blew the game open on the first ensuing offensive snap. Running back Saquon Barkley ran away from the Washington defense on a 78-yard touchdown gallop. Giants 17 – Redskins 0.

It only got uglier for Washington. Linebacker Alec Ogletree picked off a deflected pass at the Washington 28-yard line and returned it to the 10. On 3rd-and-goal, quarterback Eli Manning found a wide open wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a touchdown and a 24-0 advantage. The Redskins went three-and-out, and spurred by a 52-yard run by Barkley, the Giants got into the endzone again right after the 2-minute warning when Manning threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. Still the Giants were not done. The Redskins went three-and-out and the Giants got the ball back with 56 seconds left on the clock. A 39-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram set up the Giants at the 5-yard line. New York settled for a 23-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 34-0.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the second half. On New York’s second possession of the third quarter, the Giants drove 81 yards in nine plays, culminating with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wideout Russell Shepard. The extra point was missed, but the Giants were now up 40-0. The Redskins benched Sanchez and the Giants began to pull some of their starters.

The rest of the game anti-climatic and a bit sloppy, reminiscent of a preseason contest. Washington’s next drive ended on a failed 4th-and-2 conversion attempt at the New York 22-yard line. The Redskins got the ball back when Giants back-up quarterback Kyle Lauletta’s second pass of the game was intercepted, setting up Washington at the New York 33-yard line. Five plays later, Redskins back-up quarterback Josh Johnson scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempted succeeded. Giants 40 – Redskins 8.

New York went three-and-out. The Redskins cut the score to 40-16 after a 79-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, and another successful 2-point conversion attempt. The last Washington threat ended with under five minutes play when safety Michael Thomas picked off Johnson in the end zone. The Giants then ran out the clock.

Manning finished the game 14-of-22 for 197 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions for a QB rating of 132.0. His leading targets were Barkley (4 catches for 27 yards) and Engram (3 catches for 77 yards). Barkley carried the football 14 times for 170 yards and a touchdown.

The Giants accrued five sacks and and three interceptions. Linebacker Olivier Vernon (1.5), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (1.0), safety Sean Chandler (1.0), defensive end Josh Mauro (1.0), and linebacker Kareem Martin (0.5) all got to the quarterback. The interceptions were by Riley, Ogletree, and Thomas.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad), quarterback Alex Tanney, tight end Garrett Dickerson, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kenny Ladler.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.