Sep 112019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants claimed linebacker Tuzar Skipper off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. The 24-year old, 6’3”, 246-pound Skipper was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. Skipper had five sacks, seven quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles in four preseason games.

“We’re going to get him out there,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur of Skipper. “He’s a pass rusher, edge pressure guy. Edge player… so he’ll play.”

Although not official, there are also media reports that the Giants will place linebacker Kareem Martin (knee) on Injured Reserve and re-sign wide receiver T.J. Jones.

The Giants signed 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 injured his knee in the season opener against Dallas.

The 6’0”, 190-pound Jones was originally drafted in the 6th-round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. In four seasons with the Lions, Jones played in 42 regular-season games with nine starts, catching 64 passes for 814 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants signed Jones in July 2019 and cut him at the end of August.

The team also cut running back Rod Smith, wide receiver Brittan Golden, tight end Scott Simonson, offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, offensive guard Victor Salako, and linebacker Jonathan Anderson from Injured Reserve with injury settlements. Even if interested, the Giants are ineligible to re-sign any of these players for six weeks. However, other teams can sign them now.

The 6’3”, 235-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He was released by Seattle in October 2015. The Cowboys claimed him off of waivers and he played with the Cowboys until the end of the 2018 season.The Giants signed Smith as an unrestricted free agent in May 2019. Smith has played in 49 regular-season games with two starts, carrying the ball 101 times for 364 yards and five touchdowns. He also has caught 30 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown.

The 5’11, 186-pound Golden was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2012 and 2013), Jacksonville Jaguars (2012), and Arizona Cardinals (2013-2017). The Giants signed Golden to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019.

Simonson had his best season in 2018 after being signed by the Giants in June 2018. Simonson played in all 16 games with four starts, finishing with nine catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. The 6’5”, 255-pound Simonson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Raiders waived him in June 2015 and he was then signed by the Carolina Panthers. He spent all of 2017 on Injured Reserve with a back injury. Simonson has played in 34 regular-season games with five starts. He had one catch in his NFL career before 2018.

Wheeler was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. Not only did he make the team, but he ended up playing in 11 games with four starts, three at right tackle and one at left tackle. In his second season with the Giants in 2018, Wheeler was promoted to the starter at right tackle when the team decided to bench Ereck Flowers after the second game. Wheeler ended up starting 14 games at right tackle. 

The Giants claimed Salako off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns in August 2018 and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. The 6’5”, 316-pound Salako was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Practice Squads of both the Eagles and Browns in 2017.

The 6’1”, 237-pound Anderson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2015-2017) and Arizona Cardinals (2018). The Giants signed Anderson to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion), wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), tight end Garrett Dickerson (quad), and linebacker Kareem Martin (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.

“Kareem Martin, that will be an extended deal probably,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Weeks more than days. Then (Shepard) is in the concussion protocol. Those are the two that are probably the biggest right now.”

Right guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder), defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (shoulder), and linebacker Markus Golden (hip) were limited in practice.

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 New York Giants practice on Thursday, with the team’s coordinators also addressing the media.

Aug 312019
 
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Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants (August 16 2019)

Kyle Lauletta – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS REDUCE ROSTER TO 53 PLAYERS…
On Saturday, in order to meet the NFL’s 53-man roster limit, the New York Giants made the following 36 roster moves:

Placed on the Reserve/Suspended List:

  • WR Golden Tate

Placed on Injured Reserve:

  • RB Rod Smith (adductor)
  • WR Brittan Golden (calf)
  • TE Scott Simonson (ankle)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Jonathan Anderson (knee)

Waived or contracts terminated:

  • QB Kyle Lauletta (2018 4th-round draft pick)
  • RB Jon Hilliman
  • WR T.J. Jones
  • WR Reggie White, Jr.
  • WR Alex Wesley (waived/injured – foot/ankle)
  • TE C.J. Conrad
  • TE Jake Powell
  • OC James O’Hagan
  • OC/OG Evan Brown
  • OG Malcolm Bunche
  • OT Paul Adams
  • OT Chad Wheeler (waived/injured – back)
  • OT Victor Salako (waived/injured – shoulder)
  • NT John Jenkins
  • NT Chris Slayton (2019 7th-round draft pick)
  • DE Jake Ceresna
  • DE Freedom Akinmoladun
  • LB Avery Moss (2017 5th-round draft pick)
  • LB Jake Carlock
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa
  • LB Terrence Fede
  • LB Keion Adams (waived/injured – knee)
  • LB Joey Alfieri
  • CB Henre’ Toliver (waived/injured – ankle)
  • CB Ronald Zamort (waived/injured – ankle)
  • CB Terrell Sinkfield, Jr.
  • S Kenny Ladler (waived/injured – hamstring)
  • S Tenny Adewusi
  • LS Taybor Pepper
  • P Johnny Townsend

Safety Kamrin Moore, who did not count against the roster, was waived off the commissioner’s exempt list.

“We are in the second year of building the kind of team we all want,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur in the team’s press release. “The process never stops. The communication between (General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) and I and our coaches and Dave’s staff is really good. The group of 90 that was with us through the spring and summer bought into what we are building here and created the kind of competition that makes for tough decisions.

“For the players who were released today, we thank them for their effort and commitment, and we told them to stay ready because you never know when your next opportunity will come, either here or somewhere else.

“I said it last week, it’s a credit to Kyle (Lauletta) the way he came in here every day and worked to get better and competed after we drafted Daniel. Not every guy would respond that way, and Kyle improved as a result. So there was a lot to consider in that decision, but ultimately we decided to go with (Alex) Tanney.”

The Giants can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squad on Sunday.

For an overview of the existing team, see the Depth Chart section of the website.

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

Jul 152019
 
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Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Aldrick Rosas – © 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: Special Teams

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: Despite the fact that the New York Giants’ special teams have been a liability for years, special teams ended up being the team’s strongest unit in 2018. New Head Coach Pat Shurmur chose not to bring back long-time special teams coordinator Tom Quinn and hired Thomas McGaughey to be the new coordinator and Anthony Blevins as his assistant. However, since McGaughey was diagnosed with cancer during the 2018 offseason, Quinn was retained as “assistant special teams coordinator.”

Overshadowed by Saquon Barkley’s phenomenal rookie season, place kicker Aldrick Rosas, who struggled in 2017, had the best year of any place kicker in team history, only missing one field goal all season. Newcomer punter Riley Dixon, who was acquired by trade, finished 7th in net punting. The Giants were 7th in the NFL in kickoff returns (24.4 yards per return) and 28th in punt returns (6.2 yards per return). The Giants were also 2nd-best in defending kickoff returns (20.4 yards per return) and 7th-best in defending punt returns (6.6 yards per return). The Giants did not return a punt or kick for a touchdown and they did not allow a punt or kick to be returned against them for a touchdown.

Two Giants made the Pro Bowl as special teams players, Rosas and first-team alternate Michael Thomas, who led the team with 12 special teams tackles. Other leading tacklers included Kerry Wynn (8), Kenny Ladler (8), Nate Stupar (8), and Russell Shepard (6).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Six Giants returned punts in 2018, including Jawill Davis (12), Quadree Henderson (9), Odell Beckham (8), Kaelin Clay (5), Stacy Coley (2), and Corey Coleman (1). All but Coleman are gone. Five Giants returned more than one kickoff, including Coleman (23), Davis (7), Cody Latimer (5), Henderson (5), and Coley (2). Only Coleman and Latimer return.

Kerry Wynn, who had a very good year covering kicks, signed with the Bengals. The Giants did sign running back Rod Smith from the Cowboys, who was a core special teams player for that team.

The Giants signed punter Ryan Anderson after he impressed at the 2019 rookie mini-camp. Anderson last punted for Rutgers in 2017 when he was named First-Team, All-Big Ten, averaging 44.4 yards per punt.

Journeyman wide receiver/returner Brittan Golden was signed in January.

The team also added two long snappers: Taybor Pepper (who played in four games with the Packers in 2017) and rookie free agent Jake Carlock.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Can the Giants replicate their 2018 special teams success and even build upon it? Or will they regress back to their usual norm?

Aldrick Rosas had an incredible season in 2018. He increased his field goal percentage from 72 percent in 2017 to 97 percent in 2018, missing just one field goal, making the Pro Bowl in the process. Was his performance a flash in the pan, similar to Ali Haji-Sheikh in 1983, or is Rosas set to become one of the NFL’s best kickers for many years to come? It is interesting to note that the Giants do not have another place kicker in camp.

While Riley Dixon finished the year 7th in net punting, some think the Giants could do better. Ryan Anderson does have a strong leg and could challenge Dixon.

The Giants were very good at covering both punts and kickoffs in 2018. Using a wide cast of characters, they did a respectable job returning kickoffs but were poor in returning punts. The real questions here are who will be the primary returners in 2018? Corey Coleman averaged 26 yards per kickoff return in 2018. Cody Latimer and Jabrill Peppers also have experience returning kickoffs. Who will return punts is an even bigger mystery. The only obvious candidate at the moment is the starting strong safety Jabrill Peppers, although starting wide receiver Golden Tate also has punt return experience. However, Pat Shurmur has said that impressive rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton is also a candidate to return both kickoffs and punts.

At some point, Zak DeOssie will have to hang it up as the Giants’ long snapper. Does he hold on another year?

ON THE BUBBLE: The kickers are most likely set although Ryan Anderson could challenge Riley Dixon. Taybor Pepper or Jake Carlock would have to be really impressive to unseat Zak DeOssie as long snapper. Brittan Golden has experience returning kickoffs and punts, but has an uphill climb to make the team. The Giants have a number of core special teams players who may not make it including Nate Stupar, Kenny Ladler, Russell Shepard, Antonio Hamilton, and Rod Smith.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Jake Carlock: “He is a very good long snapper. We are always looking for guys at skill positions. He is a very accomplished linebacker as well. Much like (Eric) Dungey who can compete at different areas, he is going to do the same.”

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey on whether he would hesitate to have a starter return kicks or punts: “Nope, not at all. It’s a play-making position. When you think about it over the years and you watch punt returners that have had success that have played on defense – the Deion Sanders, and all those guys. That’s a play-making position. That’s one of those positions where you can change the game just like that. I have no reservation by putting any kind of starter back there, because that’s a play that can change the game. We know 75 percent of game in the NFL comes down to the last possession. Any time you could gain an advantage on your opponent, you want to get that advantage.”

McGaughey on Jabrill Peppers: “High energy, the guy is a for sure ball handler. Can make all the cuts full speed. He just brings juice. I’ve known the kid since he was 16 years old. I recruited him when I was at LSU. Jabrill is a special athlete. He can do anything – run the football, catch the football, whatever. He’s just a great athlete… Yes, he’s going to (return kicks and punts for us)… That’s football – he’s a safety in the NFL. Those guys primarily do everything. When you look at them, most of them are three-core, four-core guys when they play. That’s just the reality of it, especially a young safety with a lot of energy like Jabrill.”

McGaughey on WR Russell Shepard, LB Nate Stupar, and CB Antonio Hamilton: “Those guys were the foundation of what we did last year. Whenever you can get veteran leadership and you can have continuity, that’s the most important thing. When you get guys that have done it before, and they’ve done it at a high level, and you can keep them in the same spots – it’s no different from having an offensive line with continuity, a secondary with continuity, it’s the same thing. A core group of special teams players. They’re no different from anyone else. You got to have that continuity if you want to have consistency.”

McGaughey on Rod Smith: “Big, strong, athletic, smart, playmaker – whenever you can get a guy like that on your roster to provide depth, and having value as a running back. (General Manager Dave) Gettleman always talks about having value on offense and defense, not just on special teams. He punches all the tickets. He’s a hard worker, he’s a pro, and he does everything you ask him to do. He’s 6’3”, 235 pounds, and has a skillset. He’s one of those guys if you’re sitting in a room, you won’t even know he’s there. He’s quiet, he comes in, and he works, and he does his job.”

McGaughey on Ryan Anderson: “Ryan is a lefty. Whenever you can bring a lefty in, and you can get a righty spin and a lefty spin is always good. Ryan has a lot of potential. His maturation from last year to this year has been huge. He came here last year to our local day. To see him again this year was a big difference. You can tell he’s been working on his craft, and he’s been working hard. It’s good to have him in to have a little competition. It’s always good to have two guys in where they can kind of compete against each other. It makes it better.”

McGaughey on Jake Carlock: “He’s a young guy with a lot of potential. He can run, he’s very athletic. So what we’ll see what happens with Jake. We’re excited about the chance of working with him.”

McGaughey on Eric Dungey: “He’s going to have a chance somewhere, right? We’ll put him out there. We’ll find a home for him. He’s athletic, he’s a tough kid. We’ll find a home for him. Those types of kids in college that are athletic quarterbacks, they always kind of find a way. They’ll figure out something. They’re athletic, they’ve always competed at a high-level, so they’ll find a way… Anytime you can get a big athlete that’s tough, that’s smart, that’s played the quarterback position, anytime you can get a style of athlete like that, and he’s coachable and is willing, a lot of good things can happen.”

PREDICTIONS: Saquon Barkley overshadowed the incredible performance of Aldrick Rosas in 2018. But the psychology of kickers tends to be on the fragile side and Rosas has to prove that 2018 wasn’t a fluke. If he becomes a perennial Pro Bowler, Rosas may be one of Jerry Reese’s most positive legacies.

Who returns kickoffs and punts seems up in the air at this point. My guess is that Corey Coleman remains the leading candidate to return kickoffs, but he could be pressed by Darius Slayton. For as much press as Jabrill Peppers receives as an athletic returnman, he only averaged 22 yards per kickoff return thus far in the NFL.

Peppers could end up being the primary punt returner, as he has returned 55 punts in the last two season for the Cleveland Browns, averaging 7.3 yards per return.

I think the Giants are going to face some tough roster decisions on veteran special teams players such as Rod Smith, Russell Shepard, Nate Stupar, Antonio Hamilton, and Kenny Ladler. My gut also tells me that either Eric Dungey or Jake Carlock will make the team as a special teams ace and jack-of-all-trades type player. The Giants face a bit of a dilemma with the ever-consistent Zak DeOssie. He plays a position where age isn’t a huge factor, and not only does he do a fine job of long-snapping, but he’s good at covering kicks. But he also doesn’t play another position. That said, Giants fans know all too well how costly having a bad long snapper can be.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Aldrick Rosas and Riley Dixon the kickers. Zak DeOssie as the long snapper, Corey Coleman as the kickoff returner and Jabrill Peppers as the punt returner. It’s too early to tell how legitimate a shot that Eric Dungey or Jake Carlock have in making the team, but I think one of these two will. If both falter, another one of the veteran core special teams players will make it.

Jun 192019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 22, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © 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

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: Things did not going exactly according to plan at the wide receiver position in 2018. Injuries hit the position hard, thus beginning a revolving door of players coming and going to not only serve as pass receivers but also returners. In the end, the only receiver to play all 16 games was Sterling Shepard. Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard were responsible for 76 percent of the wide receiver receptions (143) with no other wide receiver catching more than 16 passes. Instead, the Giants threw more to the backs (113 catches) and tight ends (79 catches).

The headliner – Beckham – missed four games. While he remained productive when he played, the explosive big plays seemed to be lacking. And despite playing all 16 games, Shepard still could not crack the 1,000-yard mark. Free agent acquisition Cody Latimer only played in six games, catching a total of 11 passes. It is fair to say more was expected from these three.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants decided to re-sign all of their free agent wide receivers, including Corey Coleman, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and Russell Shepard. A year before he was due to become a free agent, the Giants also extended Sterling Shepard with a 4-year, $41 million contract.

The big offseason move was the trade of Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. His New York career began with fireworks and died with a whimper. The Giants also cut Quadree Henderson and Jawill Davis in the offseason.

The Giants surprisingly signed free agent Golden Tate away from the Eagles to a 4-year, $37.5 million contract. Street free agent journeyman Brittan Golden was signed in January. The Giants drafted Darius Slayton in the 5th round of the draft and signed rookie free agents Reggie White, Jr. and Alex Wesley after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Fan and media attention will be on how the departure of Odell Beckham, Jr. will affect the overall offense and whether or not that trade was a huge mistake. Contrary to what the Giants say publicly, it is clear the organization felt Beckham was a detriment to team culture. As dynamic as he was, Beckham was exhausting to deal with. It will be interesting to see how the team performs without him, and how Beckham does in Cleveland.

Unless someone like Darius Slayton and Corey Coleman comes on like gangbusters, the Giants appear to lack a true deep threat who can take the top off a defense. Good offenses can survive without a true deep threat, but it does make things more challenging. It appears the Giants will rely more on the short-to-intermediate passing game and run-after-the-catch yardage. This is where Golden Tate excels. The team desperately needs Sterling Shepard to become a more productive player. They are paying him more on potential than productivity to date (he’s averaged 63 catches, 762 yards, and 4-5 touchdowns per season in his first three years in the league). Tate and Shepard are viewed more as slot receivers by some.

To be frank, the other veterans on the roster have been unimpressive journeymen to date. Cody Latimer is capable of making contested circus catches, but may not be able to separate from defensive backs on a consistent basis. The same concern exists with Bennie Fowler and Russell Shepard. Both have spent time with three other teams. Corey Coleman is a former first rounder and has the speed to get deep, but three other teams have let him go since 2016.

That all said, Coleman, Fowler, and newcomer Darius Slayton did flash during Spring workouts. It remains to be seen if they can build upon this success and push for regular-season playing time.

ON THE BUBBLE: Only Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are really safe.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Golden Tate: “You can see that he has the ability to break tackles. He is nifty. Obviously, before the ball is thrown and then once he catches it, he has a way of breaking tackles or making them miss. I can see that is going to be a part of his game already… He is a pro… He fit in immediately. He is smart, has picked up what we are doing offensively and finds a way to make plays. He is a real veteran presence. He has made a heck of an impact.”

Shurmur on Darius Slayton: “Darius has done a really good job. I think he is the most improved in my eyes. We expected a lot out of him when he got here. The rookie mini-camp was unremarkable, but since that time… He is very fast. He is practicing punts and kicks. He has done a nice job playing receiver. I really think he has done a nice job during OTA’s and mini-camp.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard: “I think (Tate) is going to bring productivity because he is really good with the ball in his hands, versatility, and flexibility. You can put him inside, you know, we know with Shep that Shep can play both inside and out. Now, we have two guys that can do that. I think when you have two guys who can do that, you become less predictable and I think it gives you another guy when the ball is in his hands, he’s pretty good… (Tate) provides the experience, the knowledge, the route awareness, sudden changes that you might not have to make that are kind of hard to cover all of the time with some of the younger guys. He is going to bring that to the table. And like I said, he is really good with the ball in his hands, so getting him the ball, he can lower his shoulder at times and make guys miss. Not necessarily defensive linemen, but DBs that are trying to tackle him. I think he is going to be a good weapon for us on all downs. ”

Shula on Darius Slayton: “I think Slayton has been pretty consistent. He’s been a really good pick for us. As long as he stays on track he’s got good speed, he uses his hands you can see. He’s got more confidence in his hands, he’s catching the ball more consistently. I think he’s a good route runner, that was one thing kind of coming out of the draft I was anxious to see how he did with maybe our routes, which were maybe a little bit different that the routes he ran at Auburn. He does a good job at the top end of those routes.”

Shula on how defenses will change with Odell Beckham now gone: “I think kind of based on last year, not as much as you might think. I mean, there might have been certain teams that had an all-out double team, but other than that, there really wasn’t much, and part of that probably was because of Saquon. I mean you got to be careful doubling receivers when you’ve got a back like that.”

Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert on Darius Slayton: “Slayton, I saw what we saw on tape. I saw a guy who has some pretty good size, who can run. His first practice, you know, he was trying to figure a lot of stuff out in the first half of the first practice, had a couple of drops, for the second half of that practice he made some good catches in traffic and had two good remaining days. So looking for explosive plays from Darius Slayton, he’s an explosive player who’s made a lot of plays, 21 or 22 yards a catch, something like that in college and I’m looking forward to him bringing that to the Giants.”

Tolbert on Corey Coleman: “It is a big opportunity, especially him being in the offseason program with us. He’s getting the whole gambit if you will: from the very first install to the whole, you know, all the way through. Last year when he came in we were his fourth offense he’s been in, in maybe the span of 3 months. Now it’s just our offense the whole time so he can grasp what we’re doing and have a solid contribution. He’s doing well this year. He’s doing much better than he did last year.”

PREDICTIONS: After Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, it’s difficult to predict what the make-up of this unit will look like. Darius Slayton has obviously caught the attention of the coaches, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact he can make as a rookie. One gets the sense that Eli Manning’s main targets will be Shepard, Tate, running back Saquon Barkley, and tight end Evan Engram (a de facto year-on-year change of Beckham with Tate). The good news is the Giants will have the ability to move Shepard, Tate, Barkley, and Engram all over the place, keeping defenses on their toes.

As previously stated, unless Coleman or Slayton surprise with significant playing time, we are not likely to see many 40+ yard touchdowns on deep routes by this group. But the run-after-catch damage could be significant. And as a group, most of the receivers are good run blockers who could have a significant impact on the ground game. In my mind, the guy on the hot seat is Shepard. He needs to justify his $41 million contract, be more productive, and make more big plays.

The wild cards here are numerous, but it is unwise to count on Cinderella stories. Can the talented Corey Coleman turn his career around? Have Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler finally found a home? Did the Giants find small school gold in Reggie White, Jr. or Alex Wesley?

Don’t discount the importance of special teams in determining who makes it. A guy like Russell Shepard was a core special teamer last season. Slayton and Coleman can also return.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Russell Shepard

Jan 022019
 
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Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

GENERAL MANAGER DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES MEDIA…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media on Wednesday to discuss the state of his team after completing a 5-11 season (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Opening Remarks: Happy New Year! It’s good to see everybody. I hope Santa made a visit, or you had some good potato latkes. It’s good to see everybody. I just wanted to open with a couple thoughts to get us going.

We’re headed in the right direction, I really believe that. We’ve had a year, we’ve done a lot of different types of things. Obviously we’ve done a pretty extensive overhaul with the roster. We consistently talked about culture and building a winning culture. Again, it’s a team that had to learn how to win again. So I feel really good about the foundation that we’ve started to lay. I’m not happy with 5-11, nobody is, but I feel good about where we’re headed. There’s eight franchises right now looking for head coaches and the common theme coming out of them was they needed to get in the right direction. Well, I feel very strongly and very good about it – and it’s easy for me to say it to you people that we are headed in the right direction.

As far as the team’s concerned, I’ve told you guys this and I mean it: there isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t ask myself the question, have me and the personnel people given Pat (Shurmur) and the coaches enough players to win with? I ask that question of myself all the time because roster building is a 12-month deal. The season doesn’t begin, ‘this is the 53 and this is the 10 guys on the practice squad, and away we go.’ You have to constantly evaluate what you’re doing, so like I said, roster building is a 12-month season and I’m very conscious of that. Like I said, we had a significant overhaul this year. By the end. I think we had on the varsity, we had like 13 guys that had an NY on their lid last year. That’s it. That’s a pretty extensive overhaul. Not every move’s going to work out, oh by the way, as we’ve seen. The other part of it is, I believe in that definition of insanity – keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It’s true, so you’ve also seen that we make a decision and if it’s not working, we will make a change. Again, we still have roster work to do, I’m not going to deny that for a moment.

Then the last thing I want to talk about before I take your questions, just to get it out there just so you guys understand, (QB) Eli (Manning) and I had a very extensive conversation on Monday. No holds barred, he took me in the low post and won, but the bottom line is it was a very honest and up front conversation. I’ll keep what was said private between he and I, but in terms of any question you’re going to ask me today, just so you understand – we will do what is in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. That’s the way we’ve operated since I walked in the door, and that’s the way we will continue to operate. What we’re trying to do here is build sustained success and that takes some brutal honesty and it takes some tough decisions. Then finally, just as a quick reminder, don’t ask me about contracts, don’t ask me about negotiations, don’t ask about any of that stuff because I’m just not going to respond. Ok? Alright, let the games begin.

Q: How do you evaluate the quarterback position when you look at a 1-7 start to the season and then four wins over the second half of the year, three of which were against backup quarterbacks? Eli seemed to play better, but the pressure was essentially off at that point after the 1-7. So how do you weigh those?

A: First of all, I don’t want to hear about ‘backup quarterbacks’, ‘we played backup quarterbacks’. We went 4-4 in the second half. Here’s what I would say to you, when you’re bringing in and installing a new offense, you’re looking at four to six weeks before everybody’s really on the same page, and it’s really the outlier, it’s six. It’s going to be the outside of six. We were having O-line issues, weren’t we in that first half? We made changes and I think that’s part of it, that you’ve got a comfort factor in terms of you’re on the same page, the offense is on the same page, and you’ve also got a comfort factor in that the O-line, putting Chad (Wheeler) out there, claiming Jamon (Brown). Jamon came in out of the bye, that’s when we got him. So doing those kinds of things, that settled everything down, the combination of those two, and I think that’s the reason that the offense started to click. I almost fell down when they told me we scored more points than anybody else in the division, which kind of blew my mind. They swore to us, so I hope I’m not lying to you. The distance that the offense came from Week 1 to Week 16, you think of the points – the backup quarterback that we played against, for example, (vs. Chicago), he didn’t play defense, and the other backup, Washington – those guys weren’t on the defense, they were on the offense, so you’re asking me an offensive question. At the end of the day, between the fact that they were able to get comfortable with each other and we settled the offensive line down, we scored points. I saw a graphic, I think we averaged 27-28 points a game the last half of the year, something like that.

Q: Are you committed to having Eli back next year?

A: Here’s what I’m committed to do. I’m committed to making the best decision in the interest of the New York Football Giants. That’s what I’m committed to do. We’re in the evaluation process. I know that you guys want answers now, but very frankly, I didn’t come in yesterday. I’ve got to do what I do, which is get in my office and watch film. We’re going to meet this week with the coaches and get their evaluation. We’ll meet next week with pro personnel and get their evaluations and get their feelings on everything. That’s our schedule, and I will be watching film for the next who knows how long until my eyes bleed. That’s what I do. So, my commitment is to make this team the best team it can be and if that happens to have Eli playing quarterback, it does.

Q: Why do you feel good about the foundation? Why do you feel good about this team?

A: I’ll tell you this, and I know that I’ve said this before when we had our little fireside chats during the season and you guys looked at me like I was a little off, I feel good because, number one, winning in the NFL is not easy. It’s hard. Winning a game in the NFL is hard. If anybody tells you any different, they’ve never played, they don’t know the game. It’s very difficult. To go 1-7 for the first half of the year and to lose a number of close games, I think we tied for the league lead with 12 games decided by a touchdown or less, and it would’ve been 13 if the Saints didn’t score that late touchdown. To lose games like that, be 1-7 and to have the types of practices we were having where there was focus, there was energy, things were getting accomplished and the proof was in the pudding by what we did in the last eight games. That’s what encourages me, that’s why I think the foundation is right. You didn’t have any of the crap going on in the locker room that happened last year. There is nobody in this room that can argue with me on one point: this team did not quit. It was competitive as hell. That’s the start.

Q: You said you almost fell down when somebody told you that you led the division in points. Did you almost fall down when someone told you that you gave up the most points, too?

A: No.

Q: That was evident to you?

A: Well, that’s why you’re 5-11.

Q: Is that the main reason you think you’re 5-11?

A: We’ve got to continue to improve. It’s not easy to win games when you don’t have playmakers. We need to improve the defense, guys. Just like I looked you right in the eye last year and told you we’ve got to fix this O-line, we’ve got to get better on the defensive side.

Q: You inherited two big contracts with Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. How would you evaluate those two, the way they played this year and moving forward?

A: I haven’t. This is what I’m going to do the next two weeks. My personal feeling is the biggest mistakes are made when you’re emotional. When the season ends, you’re emotional and you’re mentally cooked. So until I start watching the film, which is going to start today, I really can’t answer that question. It’s not fair.

Q: When you look at the moves you made last offseason, do you think you misjudged how close this team was to being competitive?

A: I didn’t misjudge it at all. That’s been asked before and I’ve thought about that. I had no illusions of what we were. None. You tell me why you think I misjudged it.

Q: If you know you’re going to be in a rebuilding process, you bring back Eli, you don’t draft a quarterback, you trade, give up a draft pick for (LB Alec) Ogletree, you bring in older veteran free agents, those types of things.

A: You’ve got to start somewhere. But by the end of the year, we had one of the youngest teams in the league. Listen, nobody likes losing. Nobody. Anybody in here like losing, you want to raise your hands? Nobody likes to lose. So what you have to do when you come in is you evaluate what you have and you say to yourself, remember, I’ve told you guys – I’m on that tight rope, and me in a tutu on a tightrope ain’t pretty. It’s the tight rope of you want to win now, you want to get those wins now because you’ve got a coaching staff whose fannies are on the line every Sunday, and you want to set the team up, the franchise up, for sustained success. We sat back, we made the decisions we made last year, and here we are. There’s some good stuff and there’s some stuff we’ve got to fix.

Q: You talk about not wanting to make judgments about players without looking at film. Last year at this time, though, you were very committed to Eli Manning. You said what you saw late in the season wasn’t a mirage. I’m just curious, is there a chance there will be a another starting quarterback next season for the Giants?

A: Listen, there’s a chance you and I are going to get hit by a bus. We’re going to do what’s in the best interest, we’re going to look at film, we’re going to evaluate everything. Everything’s on the table for us. Everything is on the table for us. Okay?

Q: When you look back at the evaluation process that led you to Jonathan Stewart and Patrick Omameh, do you have to do some self-scouting and go into this offseason differently?

A: We’ll go into this season because we have different issues. One of the biggest issues we had last year that we had to fix was what? The locker room. And both Jonathan Stewart and Patrick Omameh are true professionals, and they were brought here for a specific purpose, they were brought here for other reasons than their play. Just understand that. We feel like we’ve turned that corner, especially with this rookie class. (RB) Saquon (Barkley) is unique. I stood up here and you watched me drool all over myself in the pre-draft. It was ugly, wasn’t it? Things happen. I should’ve worn a bib from Joe’s Stone Crab. My point is, he’s unique and he’s special. So is (G) Will Hernandez, and (DL) B.J. (Hill), and (LB) Lorenzo (Carter), and (DL) RJ (McIntosh) is still growing up physically, (QB) Kyle (Lauletta) is in a different spot because of the quarterback position. But this is all part of the process. We’ll continue to vet guys out, we’re only going to bring quality people in here that hate to lose. That will stay the same. Obviously, we’re different than we were 12 months ago, we’re in a different place, so we’ll approach things somewhat differently.

Q: Last year when you evaluated Eli Manning, you hadn’t seen him play throughout the season, so you had to rely on the film. You’ve seen him take every snap this season, you see him in practices. Why do you need to go back to the film to form an opinion on what you just saw over the last four or five months?

A: I always want to be right. You always want to have your hole card and that’s me, that’s just my nature. I’m a film junkie, and there are things that I remember that happened that, oh, my gosh – that’s me. Understand this, and I think I’ve said this to you guys before: I am very intentional about how I operate. Very intentional. Methodical. Some people call me an Alta cocker (old man), whatever you want to say, but that’s just the way I am. I’ve been that way my whole career in the NFL. Very methodical about film watching and thinking about things in making decisions. I’m very intentional, that’s why I say yes, I watched every snap, but I want to watch the film and I want to have time to breathe.

Q: When you go back and you do this evaluation, obviously you’ve got guys like Eli Manning who have been playing 15 years, you’ve got some other guys who have been playing a couple years. When you do your evaluation and base it on everything, are you looking ahead or are you looking back at the entire body of work in terms of what they’ve done in the past, injury history and all that stuff?

A: Obviously, it’s different. When you’re looking at older players, you’re looking early, middle and late, did they fade? When you’re looking at younger guys, you’re looking for early, middle and late, did they improve? That’s what you’re looking for. It is a little different, I remember – I’m really going to date myself – back in 2000 when we brought in those three offensive lineman, Lomas Brown, Glenn Parker and Dusty (Ziegler). The big question for me on Lomas was what was he playing like in December because Lomas was long and lean. He wasn’t a power player, he was an athletic tackle, so I wanted to see is Lomas the same player in December that he was in September? When you’ve got older guys, you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to see if they fade or not. That’s why I will look and look and look and look until I have the puffs of white smoke coming out of my ears or my head or whatever.

Q: Pat Shurmur to us has been very supportive of Eli, saying he thinks he’s got years left, leadership, experience, makes the throws, all that stuff and pointed out that the last eight games, this offense scored a lot of points with Eli. How much will you take that into your evaluation of Eli that the head coach seemingly wants this guy back?

A: It’s part of it. This is not a dictatorship. I really am a big believer in collaboration. I’m not a dictator, I’m not. These are conversations that you’re going to have with Pat, that’s why I say we’re going to hear the coaches and what they have to say, we’re going to talk to the pro guys and what do they have to say, and then I’ll get my work done and we’ll get together and formulate a plan. Obviously it’s part of it. Pat’s had a lot of success with quarterbacks, so I’m certainly going to listen.

Q: When you and Eli had that conversation Monday, did the two of you come to conclusions, or did you leave it as the fluid situation that you’re portraying it to us?

A: We left it at that. We had a great conversation. He’s a mensch (a person of integrity and honor).

Q: I know you want to watch the film, but you when you watch this team every Sunday, what is your evaluation of your offense with and without Odell? What difference is that?

A: He didn’t play the last four games, right? Listen, the bottom line is you want him on the field. I have this crazy idea that he’s a great player, so let’s get him on the field. Unfortunately, he got the leg whip and those calves (quads) can be funny things, they really can. The offense did what it did with him and it did what it did without him.

Q: You guys obviously made a huge financial commitment to Odell Beckham just a few months ago. Are you committed to him being here in 2019 or are you open to trade ideas or anything as well?

A: We didn’t sign him to trade him, if that’s what you’re asking me.

Q: So he’ll be here?

A: You heard what I said.

Q: A year ago, you stood there and left very little doubt that you were committed to Eli. You were very strong about that, Pat was (too) a couple weeks later at his press conference. Today you’re saying you’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the Giants. Does that indicate a change in your feeling and commitment to Eli?

A: No, it isn’t. It’s funny, last year that was the question. That was the question, but if you think about it, the guy was running for his life last year. This year, we calmed it down. Once we got rolling, once everybody got comfortable with the offense, if you’re going to look at stats, it wasn’t too shabby what (Eli) did. Obviously, we want to win more games, and we’ve got to continue to improve the roster.

Q: How did he look to you in December?

A: In December? We scored 36, we scored 35, 27, scored 40. How does that look? He still can make the NFL throws. You know what I’m saying? He’s still got it.

Q: What would be the ideal scenario at quarterback going into next season? Would it be Eli and a first-round pick? Eli and you bring in another young player? Eli and a veteran free agent or just turning the page?

A: I can’t answer that question because I don’t know what the field is right now. I don’t know what the field is.

Q: How important is it for you to address the quarterback of the future of this team this offseason? Is that a priority?

A: Let me tell you something: if you make something a priority, you will make a mistake. It’s got to be within the flow of what you’re doing. You can’t force it, especially at quarterback. That’s why the guys in Carolina looked at me like I was out of my mind, you guys looked at me (like I was out of my mind). You get in the draft, you’re taking the best player — you’re not taking, ‘ I need a ___, so I’m taking a ___’. No. You do that, you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to screw it up.

Q: The Giants have had one winning season in their last six. What is your message to Giants fans right now?

A: The message is what I’ve said to you before: we’re going in the right direction, we had a lot of competitive games and we’re getting better, and we’re going to continue to fix this.

Q: What is Kyle’s (Lauletta) future here? Are you still as high on him as you were (when you drafted him)?

A: We drafted him in the fourth round, he did some nice things in training camp. He did something silly in Hoboken or Fort Lee or wherever the hell it was (Weehawken). He’s developing, he’s like anybody else. I’m going to be a little bit of a jerk here maybe to some of you, how many of you guys wrote Pulitzer winning articles your first year as reporters? You understand what I’m saying? He’s a kid. I’m a kid, you’re kids, we make mistakes. None of us are perfect. Hopefully we learn, so to answer your question, Kyle’s a work in progress, just like me.

Q: When you traded Snacks (Damon Harrison), I believe one of the reasons you said was so the young guys could get some valuable playing time. How would assess what they did with that?

A: When we traded Snacks, part of the issue when Snacks was here was he played the one, we had Dalvin (Tomlinson) playing the three, and B.J. (Hill) playing the five techniques. Well, Dalvin’s a one technique and B.J.’s a three, so I’m very pleased with the change, to answer your question. B.J. came a long way. Pass rush is critical, as I’ve stated it a million times as we all know. B.J. had, I think, five and a half sacks, so he made some progress inside. Dalvin did what he does at the one, so for us, it worked out and those young guys are getting snaps. That’s the only way they’re going to get better. There’s a theory out there that young guys, once they get to 5,000 snaps, that’s when they’re really ready to rock and roll and that includes practice and game snaps and all that. I don’t know if I subscribe to it, but I’m just throwing it out there.

Q: On the decision to keep Eli Manning: Will that decision, though, involve money? Can he have the talent to play here, but if he makes too much money, he can’t be here?

A: I’m not going to go down that road with you. Obviously part of the salary cap is, players are not in vacuums when it comes to that salary cap. Nobody’s in a vacuum. You don’t say, okay, I’m going to sign this guy, I’ve got to sign this guy – no, wait a minute, you’ve got to look at your cap situation. But I’m not going to go there. Not going there.

Q: Eli’s father (Archie Manning) told ESPN that if Eli wants to come back that you guys need to win, that he can’t go through another season like this. Can you guarantee to Eli that you will have a winning team for him to want to continue to play here?

A: Really and truly, can anybody guarantee anything like that? Really? All you Yankee fans thought you were going to win 162 games this year (laughter). I knew better. All kidding aside, you can’t guarantee that. There’s no way. I wouldn’t guarantee that to anybody.

Q: Do you understand his point?

A: No, because Archie didn’t tell me.

Q: How do you respond to the ongoing idea that you should’ve taken a quarterback, regardless of how great Saquon was his rookie season?

A: I respond to it by saying, again, you’ve got to take the best player available. If you start reaching, you’re going to get into trouble. I’ll say it again: us taking Saquon was not a referendum on the quarterbacks, it was a referendum on Saquon – on the player he is, and on the person he is. If I was in that situation 100 times, I’d draft him 100 times.

Q: You have (Nate) Solder, you have (Will) Hernandez. Do you feel like the other three guys could be your starting line next year? Is it a big emphasis this offseason?

A: Here’s what I would say – first of all, don’t forget (C Jon Halapio) Pio, don’t forget Jon. He went down, unfortunately, in the second game. He was playing the best of anybody. So, don’t forget about Pio. I am always going to keep working on those lines, on those groups. You cannot have enough hog mollies, you can’t, because people get hurt. You can’t have enough. People looked at me in ’13, we took a defensive tackle in the first round, a defensive tackle in the second round, and I had people say, and maybe they’re right, ‘Gettleman has no idea what he’s doing’. I’m always going to do that.

Q: Why is this offseason different from year one for you? What is different about this process?

A: I think what’s different is we’ve got a better understanding of what Pat and his coaching staff are looking for, because you’re looking for scheme fits. Last year was not easy, because we’re moving to that 3-4 look – that type of 3-4 that Jimmy (Bettcher) wants to play. There’s different style players on it, and you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. That’s part of it. We have a better understanding of what the coaches are looking for and it makes it big. When I went to Carolina, it was a 4-3. We had played a 4-3 year after year. So for me, it wasn’t a big deal. The offense was not a big deal. It’s really the defense that’s different.

Q: So it is fair to say the challenges last year were on the defensive side of the ball?

A: Exactly, and you can only trade out so many guys. When you blow the whistle, 11 guys got to go out there — at least you want 11 out there.

Q: Did you see anything to make you waver, in your mind, that Pat Shurmur is the right guy for this moving forward?

A: Not at all. If anything, it reinforced my feeling about him a year ago when we went through the interview process. It was the steadiness, it was the message. We’re 1-7 and we have two practices during the bye week, I just was kind of amazed. Again, you guys may gloss it over, but I don’t know that you can really appreciate it. You’re (the media) there, and then you’re gone. You watch them stretch – what are you guys there, 15 minutes? Then you’re gone. To stand there for the next hour and 40 minutes, I wish you could’ve seen it. Just the way Pat and the coaches kept everyone on task, going in the right direction, understanding that, to a certain degree, maybe we were the little engine that could. We kept pushing that thing up the hill. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the right guy.

Q: Why did you feel the need to have a straight-forward conversation with Eli?

A: I have this crazy idea that I’m always going to be honest and straight-forward, and sometimes that gets me in trouble, but we won’t go there. Eli came in and he wanted to talk. I just have this crazy idea that if a guy asks me questions, I’m going to be honest with him. It wasn’t like he was called to the principal’s office. He came to see me.

Q: Why did you call him a “mensch?”

A: Because he is – the way he carries himself, who he is as a person, the way he respects the game. You know men in your life who are not mensches. You know what a mensch is. There’s no deviousness, there’s no duplicitousness, none of that stuff. He’s a mensch. Someday, I hope to be a mensch.

Q: Do you look at this as a rebuild? Is it a multi-year process you’re in to get back to being a Super Bowl contender?

A: I just hate the word rebuild. You just keep going, you just keep building. It’s really what we’re doing here. We’re doing our best to accumulate the talent that fits our schemes, and that understands how to play the game, and hates to flippin’ lose. That’s what it’s really all about, and we’re going to continue to do this and get it right. We’re going to fix it.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have officially signed the following players to reserve/futures contracts:

  • RB Robert Martin*
  • WR Brittan Golden
  • OT Jylan Ware*
  • OT Victor Salako*
  • DE Jake Ceresna
  • DE Myles Humphrey*
  • LB Jonathan Anderson
  • CB Ronald Zamort*
  • LS Taybor Pepper

*Martin, Ware, Salako, Humphrey, and Zamort were on the team’s Practice Squad.

The Giants signed Martin to the Practice Squad in September 2018. The Giants originally signed the 5’11”, 207-pound Martin as an undrafted rookie free agent after he impressed at the May 2018 rookie mini-camp as a tryout player. Martin also flashed for the team during the preseason.

The 30-year old, 5’11, 186-pound Golden was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2012 and 2013), Jacksonville Jaguars (2012), and Arizona Cardinals (2013-2017). Golden played in 44 regular-season games with the Cardinals with one start. He has 18 career receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown. Golden also has experience returning kickoffs and punts.

The Giants signed Ware to the Practice Squad in October 2018. The 6’7”, 317-pound Ware was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him before the 2018 regular season started. He has played in one regular-season game with no starts.

The Giants claimed Salako off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns in August 2018 and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. The 6’5”, 316-pound Salako was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Practice Squads of both the Eagles and Browns in 2017.

The 24-year old, 6’6”, 295-pound Ceresna spent the past two years in the Canadian Football League (CFL) after a brief stint with the New York Jets in 2016.

The Giants signed Humphrey to the Practice Squad in October 2018. The 6’3”, 238-pound Humphrey originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent most of September on the Ravens’ Practice Squad.

The 27-year old, 6’1”, 237-pound Anderson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2015-2017) and Arizona Cardinals (2018). Anderson played in 31 regular-season games with the Bears with three starts. He has 53 career tackles.

The Giants signed Zamort to the Practice Squad in October 2018. The 5’10”, 174-pound Zamort originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He has not played in a regular-season game.

The 24-year old, 6’4”, 245-pound Pepper went undrafted in 2016. He signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2017, playing in four games, before being placed on Injured Reserve with a broken foot.