AUGUST 5, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT… The New York Giants held their eighth full-team summer training camp practice on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.
WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), TE Levine Toilolo (torn Achilles’ tendon), LB Lorenzo Carter (calf), LB Elerson Smith (hamstring), LB Trent Harris (unknown), and WR Austin Mack (hamstring) did not practice on Thursday.
While media reports said that Golladay will be out 2-3 weeks, Head Coach Joe Judge was not that specific. “I don’t (have an update), I know he’s with the trainers right now,” said Judge. “These first 36 to 48 hours is the biggest, as far as what his timetable may be. We’re hoping for the best. We’re going let him go ahead and keep getting treatments and see where it progresses over the next week.”
LT Andrew Thomas (offseason ankle surgery) and WR Kadarius Toney (COVID) practiced on a limited basis.
When asked about Thomas, Judge said, “It was a third day in back in pads. For some of the guys, coming off the loads they had the year before, and he’s obviously coming of an injury and surgery at the end of last year, so we just take all that all of that into account. It wasn’t a direct issue of something we couldn’t do, but it was just us being cautious.”
LBReggie Ragland (hamstring) was activated off of the Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List.
The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:
Reserve/COVID-19 List: TERysen John
Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson(core muscle)
Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Ryan Anderson(back)
Reserve/Injured: WR Derrick Dillon (unknown) and RB Mike Weber (hip flexor)
PRACTICE NOTES… Some snippets from various media sources:
After two straight padded practices, Thursday’s practice was a light affair.
For the second straight practice, Julian Love was working as the #1 nickel corner at times again. He may be challenging Darnay Holmes for that spot.
Niko Lalos and Ifeadi Odenigbo received first-team reps at outside linebacker opposite of Azeez Ojulari.
With Andrew Thomas on the sideline at times during practice, Matt Peart received reps at left tackle again with Nate Solder at right tackle.
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 New York Giants pass defense improved from 28th in 2019 to 17th in 2020. This 11 spot jump is quite the accomplishment given the year-long swirling personnel changes at linebacker and defensive back. The Giants were tied for 4th for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed with 22 and tied for 12th in yards per passing attempt with 6.2. New York was also 2nd in red zone scoring defense. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham and his defensive assistants deserve a lot of credit for getting both units to play at a respectable level despite significant personnel issues.
Tied in with the pass defense is the pass rush. Remarkably, despite no viable outside edge rushers, the Giants somehow finished tied for 12th in sacks with 40. Much of that had to be schemed, including blitzes from defensive backs. On the down side, the Giants only picked off 11 passes on the year, with only one player (CB James Bradberry) intercepting more than one pass.
Only three of the team’s five primary defensive back positions were set throughout the year. Free agent acquisition James Bradberry was arguably the team’s best player, locking down one corner spot. He did miss one game due to COVID-19. Rookie Darnay Holmes won the nickel slot position, but missed four games due to injury. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers missed one game due to injury, but was also a fixture in the defensive backfield, often being utilized as a hybrid linebacker.
The other two spots were revolving doors. At corner opposite of Bradberry, Corey Ballentine (Weeks 1-2), Isaac Yiadom (Weeks 3-4), Ryan Lewis (5-7), Yiadom again (Weeks 8-16), and Julian Love (Week 17) all started. At free safety, Love started the first two weeks, followed by Logan Ryan for the bulk of the season, until rookie Xavier McKinney started in the final weeks.
Graham and Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson were hampered by a number of early personnel hits. 2019 1st-round cornerback Deandre Baker was cut after his legal troubles in Florida surfaced. That was a major blow to the team as Baker was being penciled in to start opposite of Bradberry. 2018 3rd-round pick Sam Beal then surprisingly decided to sit out the season due to COVID-19. Rookie 2nd-round pick Xavier McKinney broke his foot before the season started and wasn’t available until almost December.
The primary play-makers were Bradberry, Peppers, and Ryan. Despite many teams not throwing in his direction, Bradberry led the team with interceptions (3) and pass defenses (18). He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. Peppers was third on the team in tackles (91) and second in pass defenses (11). He picked off one pass, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, and led defensive backs with 2.5 sacks. Ryan was second on the team in tackles (94) and third in pass defenses (9). He picked off one pass, forced three fumbles, and recovered two. He also had one sack.
Bradberry was the stud of the group. Peppers improved as the year progressed with the coaching staff seemingly having a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses. He remained an inconsistent player however. Ryan quickly became a team leader and his tremendous versatility was desperately needed at safety and corner. That said, he missed plays against the run and pass at times.
It was an up and down year for the rookie Holmes. He did help to settle the secondary and his absence was noticed during the four games he missed due to injury. But his five penalties in coverage always seemed to come at the most inopportune times and he didn’t make many plays on the football (contrary to his collegiate reputation). The other corner spot was a a bit of a mess. Ballentine simply couldn’t handle the job and was eventually cut. Yiadom and Lewis were up-and-down, with Lewis missing most of the season due to injury. Love was a bit of an enigma. His playing time varied wildly on a game-to-game basis. He started the season at safety and finished at corner.
THE CORE GROUP
The Giants signed James Bradberry as an unrestricted free agent from the Carolina Panthers in March 2020. He had a major impact on the defense, arguably being the unit’s best player, and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Bradberry started 15 games, missing one game due to COVID-19, and finished the year with 54 tackles, 18 pass defenses, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He played in 94 percent of all defensive snaps. The 6’1”, 212-pound Bradberry was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Panthers. Bradberry is a big corner (6’1”, 212 pounds) with good speed and agility. He plays a physical game both against the run and pressing opposing corners off of the line. Outstanding in coverage, Bradberry can erase even top receivers.
The play of Jabrill Peppers improved markedly as the 2020 season progressed as he seemed to become more comfortable with the team’s new defensive schemes and the coaches learned better how to use him. At times, he was a real difference maker on the field. However, there was still some annoying inconsistency in his play, particularly in coverage. Peppers played in 15 games with 14 starts (84 percent of all defensive snaps), missing one game with an ankle injury. He finished the season with 91 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, 11 pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Peppers also served as the team’s primary punt returner, returning 15 punts for 187 yards (12.5 yards per punt). Peppers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham deal in March 2019. He started 11 games for the Giants in 2019 before being placed on Injured Reserve with a transverse process fracture in his back. Peppers combines good size (5’11”, 215 pounds) and overall athleticism. Still a better athlete than football player, Peppers flashes signs of being an impact safety, but he must become a more consistent player, especially against the pass. He does his best work when moving forward and attacking the line of scrimmage.
The Giants signed Logan Ryan in late August 2020. He ended up being a very important, jack-of-all-trades defensive back who was used at both safety and corner. Ryan also quickly became a team leader and solid presence in the locker room. In all, Ryan played in all 16 games with 15 starts (96 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 94 tackles, one sack, nine pass defenses, one interception, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. The 5’11”, 195-pound Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019), playing 109 regular-season games with 85 starts. Ryan has spent most of his career at corner, but now prefers to play safety. While Ryan has history of being an instinctive, play-maker, he also still misses too many tackles and can be exposed in coverage at times.
The Giants drafted Darnay Holmes in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Serving as the team’s primary slot corner, he played in 12 games, with five starts, missing four games due to injuries (neck and knee). Holmes finished the season with 30 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, one interception, and one fumble recovery. He played in 41 percent of all defensive snaps. Holmes lacks ideal height, but he is well-built with good speed and quickness. He is overly aggressive at times, as indicated by his five penalties in coverage. While Holmes had a solid rookie season in coverage, he needs to make more plays on the ball. Holmes can also return punts and kickoffs, but did not do so in 2020.
THE UNFORTUNATE INJURY
The Giants placed Xavier McKinney on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that required surgery. The team activated him off of IR in late November 2020. McKinney ended up playing in six games with four starts (19 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 25 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception, and one pass defense. The Giants drafted McKinney in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The 6’0”, 201-pound McKinney is versatile performer, who is capable of playing multiple positions. He is a good athlete with fine instincts for the position, but he needs to become a more consistent tackler. Most of his rookie season was a wash due to his broken foot.
IN-AND-OUT OF THE STARTING LINE-UP
The Giants traded a 7th-round pick to the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yiadom in early September 2020. Yiadom eventually won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry, playing in all 16 games with 10 starts (58 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 46 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, and one forced fumble. The 6’1”, 190-pound Yiadom was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Broncos. In two years with Denver, Yiadom played in 29-regular season games with nine starts. Yiadom has good size and plays a physical game. However, after some decent performances, his play really deteriorated down the stretch, and he was benched for Julian Love in the regular-season finale. Yiadom also did not make many plays on the football.
Julian Love spent most of 2020 playing safety but was shifted to cornerback late in the year, starting two of the final three games at the position (one in the slot). He also saw his playing time dramatically fluctuate on a per-game basis. In all, Love played in all 16 games with six starts (66 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 64 tackles, three pass defenses, and one interception. A collegiate corner, the Giants drafted Love in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft and moved him to safety. He played in 15 games with five starts as a rookie. A bit of a cornerback/safety tweener, Love lacks ideal physicality for safety and ideal speed/quickness for cornerback. But he is a versatile performer who played well at the corner spot late in 2020. Love needs to improve his tackling and make more plays on the football.
The Giants placed Ryan Lewis on Injured Reserve in early November 2020 with a hamstring injury. Before that, he had played in five games for the Giants, starting three (25 percent of defensive snaps). Lewis finished the year with 13 tackles and one pass defense. Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). The Giants signed Lewis to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and to the 53-man roster two weeks later. Lewis has played in 25 NFL regular-season games with nine starts. Lewis had a mixed performance in his three consecutive starts in October, playing well at times and struggling in one game.
The Giants placed Adrian Colbert on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in early November 2020 and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He ended up playing in six games with two starts (10 percent of all defensive snaps) and finished the year with 13 tackles. The 6’2”, 205-pound Colbert was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Colbert has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Kansas City Chiefs (2020). The Giants claimed Colbert off of waivers from the Chiefs in early September 2020. He has played in 33 regular-season games with 19 starts, accruing 74 tackles and eight pass defenses. Colbert has also played cornerback and is a good gunner on special teams. He had mixed reviews in his two starts in 2020.
The Giants drafted Corey Ballentine in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Ballentine played in 13 games with two starts, receiving 27 percent of all defensive snaps. He finished with 26 tackles and two pass defenses, often struggling in coverage. Ballentine won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry to start the 2020 season, but was benched after just two games. He played in seven more games, returning 10 kickoffs, before the Giants waived him in November. He spent the rest of the season with the New York Jets.
SPECIAL TEAMS AND PRACTICE SQUAD
The Giants signed Nate Ebner as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020. Almost exclusively a special teams player, Ebner only saw limited snaps on defense in five games, finishing with eight tackles and one pass defense. The 6’0”, 215-pound Ebner was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons in New England, Ebner has played in 111 regular-season games with no starts.
The Giants signed Madre Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. He was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. The Giants activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021, but he did not play in the season finale. Harper ended up playing in just three percent of all defensive snaps and was credited with five tackles and one fumble recovery. The 6’1”, 196-pound Harper was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.
Montre Hartage alternated between the Giants’ Practice Squad and the 53-man roster a number of times in 2020. He only played in two games (two percent of all defensive snaps) and was not credited with a single tackle or pass defense. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants claimed Hartage off of waivers from the Dolphins in April 2020. Hartage has played in six NFL games.
The Giants signed Jarren Williams in early August 2020 after he was waived by the Arizona Cardinals. He spent most of the year on the Practice Squad, but did play in two games exclusively on special teams. The 5’10”, 187-pound Williams was signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Giants signed Quincy Wilson to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 6’2”, 193-pound Wilson was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He has spent time with Colts (2017-2019) and New York Jets (2020). Wilson has played in 32 regular-season games with 11 starts, accruing 59 tackles, 8 pass defenses, and 2 interceptions.
The Giants placed Brandon Williams on Injured Reserve in late September 2020 with a groin injury and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in early November. The team cut him a month later. In all, Williams played in six games, exclusively on special teams. Williams was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants signed him in late August 2020.
The Giants originally signed Sean Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent all of 2018 and parts of 2019 on the team’s 53-man roster. He began 2020 on the team’s Practice Squad, but was activated for three games, playing almost exclusively on special teams. The Carolina Panthers signed him off of the Giants’ Practice Squad in October.
The Giants selected Chris Williamson in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad until he was cut in December.
Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. Beal has had a rough start to his pro career. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. He missed all of his rookie season when he was placed on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Giants placed Beal on Injured Reserve again in September 2019 with hamstring and groin injuries, but added him to the 53-man roster in early November. Beal missed the last game with another shoulder issue. In all, Beal played in six games with three starts, receiving 26 percent of defensive snaps, and accruing 26 tackles and one pass defense. Beal combines good size (6’1”, 177 pounds) and overall athleticism. Stating the obvious, Beal needs to stay healthy. But he flashes the ability to be a solid coverman when he does play.
GIANTS ACTIVATE DAVID MAYO OFF OF INJURED RESERVE… The New York Giants have activated linebacker David Mayo off of Injured Reserve. Mayo was placed on Injured Reserve on September 6th with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery.
The Giants signed Mayo in September 2019 after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers. He surprisingly ended up playing in all 16 games with 13 starts, playing in 57 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing with 82 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 pass defenses.
The 6’2”, 240-pound Mayo was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. After four seasons in Carolina, Mayo signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2019. Before coming to the Giants, Mayo only had started four NFL games in four seasons.
OCTOBER 16, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Darius Slayton (foot), DL Dexter Lawrence (knee), LB Kyler Fackrell (ankle), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice on Friday. Slayton and Lawrence are officially listed as “questionable” for the game while Fackrell and Peppers are expected to play.
S Adrian Colbert (shoulder) fully practiced but is also listed as “questionable” for the game.
HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on 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:
AUGUST 23, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:
Light practice today in helmets and shorts. It was more of a fast-paced walk-through.
The Giants provided a 20-minute video on today’s practice on YouTube.
Fullback Eli Penny (unknown), linebacker Ryan Connelly (unknown), and cornerback Prince Smith (unknown) did not practice.
Head Coach Joe Judge was asked about Connelly missing Friday’s scrimmage and today’s light practice. “You know what, first off, I’m not going to go into any specific injuries really at any time,” replied Judge. “But I’ll say this, we had several players that we kind of managed a little bit different today. We came off a long, hard week, a hard scrimmage the other day. We gave them a day off yesterday. Today was really a day to mentally take a step forward, physically get our bodies right, then we’re going to hit the field again tomorrow. We’ll see where everyone’s at tonight after a couple days off. We’ll approach practice tomorrow accordingly for everyone individually.”
THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:
ALL OF NEW YORK GIANTS 2020 NFL DRAFT CLASS SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced late yesterday that all 10 of their 2020 NFL Draft picks have officially signed. This includes offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), offensive tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), cornerback Darnay Holmes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), linebacker Cam Brown (6th round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round), defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round), and linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round).
ROSTER MOVES – GIANTS CLAIM CORNERBACK SHAKIAL TAYLOR…
The New York Giants have claimed defensive back Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos. The 23-year old, 6’0”, 181-pound Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019. Taylor played in five games and accrued seven tackles and one pass defense as a rookie.
The Giants have also waived undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Malcolm Elmore, who failed his physical due to a non-football injury.
Wide receiver David Sills was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, which means he either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did. While he remains on the list, Sill does not count against the team’s 90-man roster limit. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by the Bills. The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He did not play in a game however.
Quarterback Alex Tanney was placed on the Non-Football Illness List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. The 6’4”, 220-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). He surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game.
Linebacker Tae Crowder was placed on the Non-Football Injury List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants selected Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
In other moves, the team officially announced that they have waived place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The signing of international player running back Sandro Platzgummer also became official.
GIANTS DECIDE TO GO SPLIT-SQUAD ROUTE…
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, NFL teams had to decide whether they wanted to reduce their training camp rosters on July 28 or August 16. The Giants have chosen the latter. But in doing so, the team must be split into (1) veteran and (2) rookies/first-year players/rehabbing players/select quarterbacks contingents until August 16. Teams will be allowed to begin practicing on August 17.
NEW YORK GIANTS VETERANS REPORTS TO CAMP…
As scheduled, the bulk of New York Giants players reported to training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Tuesday. Quarterbacks, rookies, and rehabbing players reported on July 23.
Actual practices are not expected to be held until mid-August due to COVID-19 restrictions. All preseason games have been canceled. The Giants’ regular-season Monday night home opener is currently scheduled for September 14th. For the players who arrived on Tuesday, the current schedule looks like this:
July 28: Report and receive first test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
July 29: Report and receive second test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
July 30: Stay at home/hotel and only participate in virtual meetings.
July 31: Report and receive third test; participate in virtual meetings.
August 1-2: Players who test negative receive physicals and equipment fitting.
August 3-16: Strength and conditioning and on-field walk-throughs.
August 17: Helmet and shells practices begin, slowing being ramped up to full-padded work (14 padded practices maximum).
According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.
THREE MORE DRAFT PICKS AGREE TO TERMS… SNY is reporting that New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft picks cornerback Darnay Homes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), and linebacker Cam Brown (6th round) have agree to terms. Linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round) signed his contract in early May.
SNY is also reporting that safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), offensive tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round), and defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round) are expected to agree to terms by the start of training camp. Only offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round) is not “imminent.” However, since draft pick salaries are slotted, even Thomas’ deal is not expected to be an issue.
TRAINING CAMP ON HOLD UNTIL COVID TESTING PROCEDURES AGREED UPON…
The plan to have quarterbacks, rookies, and injured players report to New York Giants training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Thursday, July 23 is currently on hold until there is more clarity on COVID-19 testing procedures for NFL players. According to media reports, the rookies have been told to stay home and not to travel to New Jersey at the present time. All other players were to have reported by July 28. Coaches began arriving on July 17.
That said, based on social media video, a number of players are already in the area working out, including quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram, cornerback Darnay Holmes, and safety Jabrill Peppers.
According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
The current NFL-NFL Players Association plan appears to require players to be tested on the first and fourth day of camp, with only virtual meetings being held in between tests. Players who pass both tests would then be allowed to congregate at the team facility. Meanwhile, daily testing would continue for at least the first two weeks of training camp. If the rate of positive tests remains below 5 percent at the 2-week mark, testing will occur every other day.
NO PRESEASON GAMES THIS YEAR…
Although it has not yet been officially announced, press reports indicate that there will be no preseason games this year due to the COVID-19 issue. The NFL had originally reduced the number of preseason games from four to two.
NO FANS AT METLIFE STADIUM OR TRAINING CAMP…
The governor of New Jersey has decreed that his executive order limiting the size of our outdoor gatherings due to the COVID-19 issue also applies to MetLife Stadium. Thus, until further notice, fans will not be allowed to attend football games at the stadium. In addition, the order also applies to training camp and fans will not be allowed to view summer practices in person.
With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.
2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: For the second year in a row, the New York Giants special teams unit was arguably the strongest part of the team. The Giants were tied for 3rd in the NFL in punt returns (9.8 yards per return) and 10th in kickoff returns (23.5 yards per return). The Giants were 6th in the NFL in covering punts (5.67 yards per opponent return) and 1st in covering kickoffs (18.05 yards per opponent return). Cody Core (8 tackles) and Michael Thomas (7 tackles) were particularly active in covering punts and kicks. For the second year in a row, 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. The Giants did block a punt for a touchdown.
The return game was by handled by committee. Golden Tate, T.J. Jones, Da’Mari Scott, and Jabrill Peppers returned punts while Cody Latimer, Corey Ballentine, Darius Slayton, and Da’Mari Scott returned kicks. Jones was cut during the season.
Punter Riley Dixon had a solid season, averaging 46.1 yards per punt (13th in the NFL) and 42.3 net yards per punt (9th in the NFL), with 29 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. However, two of his punts were blocked.
After a stellar sophomore pro season in 2018, place kicker Aldrick Rosas regressed in 2019. Rosas was 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) on field goal attempts and missed four of his 39 extra point attempts (89.7 percent). Seventy percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. In 2018, Rosas made the Pro Bowl after making 32-of-33 field goal attempts, including a team-record 57 yarder.
The Giants placed long-time long snapper Zak DeOssie on Injured Reserve in late November 2019 with knee and wrist issues. He was replaced by Colin Holba for the last five games.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: It appears Zak DeOssie’s tenure with the Giants is over as he remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent. Colin Holba was cut in late April. The Giants signed long-snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April.
Special teamers Cody Latimer (Washington Redskins), Michael Thomas (Houston Texans), and Antonio Hamilton (Kansas City Chiefs) signed elsewhere while the Giants added special teams ace Nate Ebner (New England Patriots). The Giants also drafted and signed a bunch of rookie linebackers and defensive backs who could significantly contribute on special teams.
Aldrick Rosas (1-year, $3.259 million), Cody Core (2-years, $4 million), and Corey Coleman (1-year, $1.1 million) were re-signed in the offseason.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: After John Harbaugh in Baltimore, Joe Judge became the second special teams coordinator in NFL history to make the jump directly to head coach. And almost all of Judge’s coaching experience is limited to special teams. Obviously, his heart and soul will likely remain with that part of the team and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has on the unit. Judge rewarded Thomas McGaughey for his solid work as special teams coordinator under Pat Shurmur by retaining him in the same position. Tom Quinn, who has been with the Giants since 2006, was also kept on as assistant special teams coach. McGaughey’s other assistant, Anthony Blevins, was moved to assistant defensive backs coach.
A major wrench was thrown into things when Aldrick Rosas, currently the only place kicker on the roster, was arrested in June for allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run accident and driving with a suspended license. Police also report Rosas was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Rosas was arrested in 2016 for also driving under the influence. At best, Rosas is likely facing suspension from the NFL. At worst, he could receive jail time and/or the team may simply decide to let him go. The Giants had just re-signed him to a 1-year, $3.259 million contract as a restricted free agent.
Once again, the Giants do not have a clear-cut favorite to return punts and kickoffs. Potential candidates include WR Golden Tate, WR Darius Slayton, WR Corey Coleman, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Alex Bachman, RB Dion Lewis, RB Javon Leake, CB Darnay Holmes, CB Corey Ballentine, and S Jabrill Peppers. The Giants could also try WR Derrick Dillon as a returner.
In the punt and kick coverage department, the Giants gave Nate Ebner a 1-year, $2 million contract simply to play special teams. Cody Core’s stellar special teams play in 2019 was reminiscent of past Giants special teams studs Reyna Thompson, Larry Flowers, and David Tyree. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate and even improve on his gunner skills.
ON THE BUBBLE:Aldrick Rosas. What a dumbass!
PREDICTIONS: Don’t discount the impact special teams can have on the win-loss record. Thomas McGaughey has done a fine job with this unit the past two years, but Joe Judge was so impressive as a young special teams coordinator that he is now the head coach of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises. A stellar special teams unit can turn a 6-10 team into a 10-6 team with timely blocked punts/kicks, big returns, winning the field position war, and the kicking game.
Even though on the surface CB Deandre Baker’s legal charges are far more serious, I think Aldrick Rosas’ roster spot with the Giants is in more jeopardy. Even in the best-case scenario, I have a hard time seeing Rosas avoiding a 4-game suspension. The NFL’s policy on “substances of abuse” includes alcohol-related incidents. If that is the case, he won’t begin the season on the 53-man roster. Do the Giants use a roster spot on him in training camp? Rosas may just have kissed $3 million goodbye.
Trying to predict who will be the primary kick and punt returners in June from among the existing list of candidates is probably an exercise in futility. But I’m going to guess Corey Coleman is the kickoff returner and Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes will split the punt return duties.
Keep an eye on Cody Core. He deserved more attention than he received last year for his special teams play. Also, the Giants added seven rookie linebackers and six rookie defensive backs. Not all of them will make the team, but many of them could form the core of the specials units.
FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring some unforeseen event, Riley Dixon will be the punter and Casey Kreiter the long-snapper. I already predicted in my wide receiver overview that Corey Coleman will make the team; if so, he has a good shot to be the kickoff returner. Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes are the obvious candidates to return punts. It’s pretty obvious that Nate Ebner was signed by Judge to lead this entire unit.
I don’t think the team’s opening-day place kicker is on the roster. I think Rosas will be suspended and may not even be a New York Giant. It depends on whether the team wants to wait out the likely suspension.
With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.
2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2019, fans were generally upbeat about a secondary that was clearly in transition. The Giants had heavily invested in the position by drafting corners Deandre Baker (1st round), Julian Love (4th round), and Corey Ballentine (6th round) in the 2019 NFL Draft. At safety, the team had effectively swapped out Landon Collins (signed by Washington Redskins) and Curtis Riley (signed by Oakland Raiders) for Jabrill Peppers (part of Odell Beckham trade) and Antoine Bethea (signed after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals). It was expected that Janoris Jenkins would rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2018 season and that Sam Beal (who missed his rookie season due to a shoulder injury) and Grant Haley (who started nine games as an undrafted rookie) would develop and improve. Michael Thomas provided depth and special teams value.
But it was a case of the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Once again, the Giants were one of the NFL’s worst in pass defense, finishing 28th. In the “you can’t make this shit up” category, the team’s best defensive back, Jenkins, was cut in December after calling a fan a “retard” on Twitter. Baker started 15-of-16 games as a rookie, but was very inconsistent with his work ethic being questioned. Nickel corner Haley regressed and was eventually benched. The injury-prone Beal was placed on IR in September with hamstring and groin injuries, added to the 53-man roster in early November, and missed the last game with another shoulder issue. Ballentine had to deal with being shot right after he was drafted and then being thrust into a nickel corner spot that he was clearly ill-suited to play.
At safety, despite being told by team officials that Bethea still had it, he clearly did not and was a significant liability at free safety both against the pass and the run. Peppers did not make much of impact and was lost for the season in November as his overall play was improving. Michael Thomas played in all 16 games with two starts but clearly wasn’t the answer. Julian Love was moved from cornerback to safety early. He ended up starting five games late in the season, flashing at times but also experiencing growing pains as a rookie.
Overall, the unit was a collective disappointment and a major reason the overall defense finished 25th in yards and 30th in points allowed.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: As mentioned, Janoris Jenkins was waived in December. S Michael Thomas was signed by the Texans and CB Antonio Hamilton was signed by the Chiefs. Safety Antoine Bethea remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent.
Grant Haley was re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent in January. The first player the Giants signed in free agency in March was CB James Bradberry (3-year, $43.5 million contract). S/special teams player Nate Ebner (UFA from Patriots) and CB Dravon Askew-Henry (cut by Steelers last year) were also signed.
The Giants drafted S Xavier McKinney (2nd round), CB Darnay Holmes (4th round), and CB/S Chris Williamson (7th round) in the 2020 NFL Draft. After the draft, rookie free agent additions included CB Christian Angulo, CB Malcolm Elmore, and S Jaquarius Landrews. S Montre Hartage was claimed off of waivers from the Dolphins after the draft as well.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: There is a lot going on here and thus each fan probably has their own top story line. Clearly, one is the offseason drama surrounding 2019 1st-round draft pick Deandre Baker, who may or may not make it to training camp depending on the outcome of his offseason legal troubles (four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from a bizarre incident in Florida). My personal belief is that the Giants were counting on Baker to form a solid starting CB duo alongside high-priced James Bradberry. Will Baker even be a Giant in 2020? If he is, will he be suspended by the team or the NFL? Did he get scared straight and will he commit himself to the game? If Baker is not part of the equation, the pressure increases to find his replacement among Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, and possibly Julian Love. Are they up to the task? Can Beal stay healthy? Is Love athletic enough to handle corner at the NFL level? Will Ballentine shine more at outside corner rather than inside at nickel?
Speaking of the nickel spot, one would think the Giants would want Holmes to nail down the position if the rookie can handle it. But there are others possibly in the equation, including Love and maybe Williamson.
At safety, it would appear that Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney will have the inside shot at starting, but the coaches may want to configure packages to get Love on the field as either a third safety or additional corner. Depth is still needed here with Sean Chandler (holdover from 2018/2019), Rashaan Gaulden (added late in 2019), Montre Hartage, Chris Williamson, and Jaquarius Landrews all competing to make the roster.
Big picture is this: for the past three seasons, the Giants have invested a tremendous amount of resources into the defensive backfield, including a trading for a former 1st-round pick (Peppers); spending $43 million on a corner in free agency (Bradberry); and drafting players in the 1st (Baker), 2nd (McKinney), 3rd (Beal), 4th (Love, Holmes), 6th (Ballentine), and 7th (Williamson) rounds. It’s time for the investment to deliver returns and for the Giants to get out of the NFL basement in pass defense.
ON THE BUBBLE:There are currently 18 defensive backs on the roster. Probably only nine or ten will make the final roster. The only sure bets are probably Bradberry, Holmes, Peppers, Love, and McKinney. Baker obviously isn’t safe. Beal has to prove he can be a reliable player.
PREDICTIONS: So much here depends on the new coaching staff, not just Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham but Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson, the latter coming from Atlanta where his unit struggled at times. It’s also interesting to note that Pat Shurmur holdover Anthony Blevins was moved from assistant special teams coach to assistant defensive backs coach. These three men have to develop all of the talent that been acquired in recent years.
In addition, so much depends on the legal and emotional status of Deandre Baker. He was (and still may be) and important piece of the puzzle. The expectation is that versatile Xavier McKinney, who many felt was the best safety in the draft, will be able to handle the starting free safety spot as a rookie.
My prediction is that if Baker is available and truly focused (two big ifs), this unit could be poised for a big turnaround. There were games last year where Baker did shut down his opponent. He can do it. But how important is the game to him? Usually you can’t count on a person to change their ways, but if anything was going to scare Baker straight, facing a long prison sentence might do the trick. Bradberry should be able to more than adequately handle the other corner spot, replacing Jenkins with less drama. The nickel corner should improve with Holmes, Love, or maybe Williamson an improvement over Haley and Ballentine.
At safety, the closer Peppers plays to the line of scrimmage, the more impact he makes. The drafting of McKinney should enable the coaching staff to play Peppers in a role best suited to his skills. I would not be shocked to see packages that get Peppers, McKinney, and Love all on the field together.
FINAL DEPTH CHART: James Bradberry, Deandre Baker, Sam Beal, Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner, Chris Williamson
I’m making some bold assumptions here: Baker being a Giant, Beal staying healthy, and Ballentine and Williamson showing enough to stick. Ebner is strictly a core special teams player who Joe Judge obviously targeted in free agency to lead his unit.
GIANTS PICK UP 5th-YEAR OPTIONS ON EVAN ENGRAM AND JABRILL PEPPERS…
The New York Giants have announced that they have picked up the 5th-year contract options on tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers, effectively ensuring that both players will remain under contract through the 2021 season.
Per the team’s press release: “NFL teams are permitted to exercise the fifth-year option on first-round draft choices after they have played three years. When a player has his option exercised, his rookie contract is extended by one year and guaranteed. The player is protected against injury but isn’t eligible to enter unrestricted free agency until after the conclusion of the fifth season.”
The Giants placed Engram on Injured Reserve in December 2019 due to a foot injury that he suffered more than a month earlier in November. He also missed a game in October with a knee injury. In all, Engram played in eight games in 2019 with six starts, catching 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns.
The Giants drafted Engram in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Other than too many dropped passes, Engram had a very solid rookie season for the Giants in 2017, playing in 15 games with 11 starts, and finishing with a team-high 64 catches for 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. It was a tale of two seasons for Engram in 2018. Before the bye week, Engram missed three games with a knee injury and caught just 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. After the bye, Engram missed two games with a hamstring injury, but his productivity increased to 28 catches for 432 yards and one touchdown, with a number of game-changing plays.
Although he did not live up to the preseason hype, Peppers had a decent first year with the Giants and was improving before he suffered a transverse process fracture in his back in the game against the Chicago Bears in late November, ending his season. Peppers started all 11 games he played in, and despite missing the last five games, still finished fourth on the team in tackles with 76. He also had five pass defenses, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, and three forced fumbles. He returned one kickoff and four punts.
Peppers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham deal in March 2019.
REPORT – REGIONAL SCOUT STEVE VEREROSA OUT… InsideTheLeague.com is reporting that New York Giants regional scout Steve Verderosa, who has been with the team since 1988, “will not return for the 2020 season.” It is not clear if Verderosa has been fired, is retiring, or is simply moving onto another organization.
Back in late February InsideTheLeague.com reported that the Giants fired two of their area scouts, Ryan Jones and Donnie Etheridge. Jone had been with the team since 2000 and Etheridge since 2001.
5th Round: OG Shane Lemieux, 6’4”, 310lbs, 5.13, University of Oregon
6th Round: LB Cam Brown, 6’5”, 233lbs, 4.69, Penn State
7th Round: LB Carter Coughlin, 6’3”, 236lbs, 4.58, University of Minnesota
7th Round: LB T.J. Brunson, 6’0”, 230lbs, N/A, University of South Carolina
7th Round: CB/S Chris Williamson, 6’0”, 200lbs, 4.43, University of Minnesota
7th Round: LB Tae Crowder, 6’3”, 235lbs, N/A, University of Georgia
Scouting Report on CB Darnay Holmes: The 5’10”, 195-pound Holmes was a 3-year starter at UCLA. He lacks ideal height and is probably best suited to slot corner in the NFL. Holmes is a very smart and competitive player who is equally comfortable with press and off coverage. Good speed and quickness. He makes plays on the football. Overly aggressive at times, Holmes needs to guard better against double moves. Despite his lack of size, he is a tough guy who will play the run. Holmes can also return punts and kickoffs.
Sy’56’s Take on CB Darnay Holmes: Slot corner that can come in year 1 and compete for a nickel job. Graduated college in under 3 years. Smart and savvy, shows up on the field. Can mirror quick slot receivers, has some size/playing strength issues.
Scouting Report on OG Shane Lemieux: The 6’4”, 310-pound Lemieux started an incredible 52 games in college, never missing a game. Tough, strong, blue-collar offensive guard who could project to center. He has good size but also has athletic limitations that will limit his upside. Lemieux can create movement as a run blocker, but can be exposed by quick pass rushers at times. Smart.
Sy’56’s Take on OG Shane Lemieux: Fifth year senior from Yakima, Washington. Four year starter who never missed a game, 52 consecutive starts. Two-time 2nd Team All Pac 12 and 2019 2nd Team All American. Lemieux is a reliable, know-what-you’re-getting guard who won’t be a guy who consistently hurts an offense, but has a limited upside. He is big and plays with a blue collar attitude, often overpowering and out-hustling his man. However there are certain matchups and situations where his tight hips and inconsistent pad level pops up. He will need to be protected a bit, but he should at least be a solid interior backup early on with the potential to start down the road.
*I talked about how impressive and rare it is to see a lineman start 46 games over the course of a career. Lemieux started 52! Just amazing. I really wanted to grade him higher than this because I love his grit and style. However I just can’t get beyond the stiffness he shows when something unexpected comes his way. He might be a guy who can play early but he needs to be protected and you can’t have him move laterally that often. I just wouldn’t want to see him on an island against these quicker interior pass rushers.
Scouting Report on LB Cam Brown: The 6’5”, 233-pound Brown was a 2-year starter at Penn State. Very tall and lanky outside backer with long arms and decent speed. Brown is an aggressive but not overly instinctive player. His size and solid athletic ability assist him coverage but he needs to improve his run defense at the point-of-attack and overall tackling consistency. Team leader.
Sy’56’s Take on LB Cam Brown: A frame and tool set that every coach is going to want to work with because of the multi-down versatility he can offer. Can be a weapon in coverage because of his top shelf length and loose hips.
Scouting Report on LB Carter Coughlin: A 3-year starter at Minnesota, the 6’3”, 236-pound Coughlin is an outside linebacker who can play over the tight end. He may project to inside linebacker in the pros. Coughlin can set the edge against the run. Hustles and chases. Coughlin is limited by his athletic limitations, but he is a tough, competitive over-achiever who is reliable and consistent. Solid in coverage.
Sy’56’s Take on LB Carter Coughlin: 40 career TFL + 22.5 career sacks. Sneaky athlete that will be a “multiple” LB for NYG defense that wants to be able to change schemes weekly. A natural in coverage, effective with his hands as a rusher, and plays low.
Scouting Report on LB T.J. Brunson: The 6’0”, 230-pound Brunson is an undersized inside linebacker with decent but not ideal athleticism. He is very physical and aggressive, to the point where it sometimes hurts his game. Brunson needs to play under more control and consistently wrap up as a tackler. Hard worker and team leader.
Sy’56’s Take on LB T.J. Brunson: One of the biggest combine snubs. Bruiser that leaves a mark when he hits you, shows good tackle to tackle range. Versatile on third down because he can blitz well and carry tight ends up the seam.
Scouting Report on CB/S Chris Williamson: The 6’0”, 200-pound Williams combines good size and overall athleticism. He has experience playing as a hybrid inside defensive back/linebacker and is physical with receivers in coverage. Williamson is aggressive in run support and will hit but he needs to play under more control.
Sy’56’s Take on CB/S Chris Williamson: One of the favorites down at Shrine week. Top shelf athletic ability but also shows the discipline to stay in phase, trusting his feet and balance. Might be an ideal fit for nickel but can play outside.
Scouting Report on LB Tae Crowder: The 6’3”, 235-pound Crowder was moved from running back to linebacker in college and thus is still learning the position. Only a 1-year starter. He is a good athlete and has added size to his frame. More instinctive than you would expect given his lack of experience.
Sy’56’s Take on LB Tae Crowder: Leader of a talented Georgia defense that plays fast and physical. Maybe more of a 2-down guy that the team drafted for special teams, the theme of their 7th round.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge:
Dave Gettleman on CB Darnay Holmes: We had a good day today. I’m very pleased with what happened. We took all defensive guys except for Shane Lemieux, the guard in the fifth round. The theme of the day for defense was speed. We really feel like we improved our teams speed and that was what we were trying to do. In the fourth round we took Darnay Holmes, a kid from UCLA. He’s a corner, he plays the nickel. He will come in and compete for that spot right away. He’s a tough kid, he can run. We’re excited we were able to get him.
Joe Judge on CB Darnay Holmes: Darnay is definitely a guy that jumps out at you. He’s got good speed, he’s got real good short area quickness. He’s contributed on the defensive side of the ball, he’s had impact in the kicking game. He plays with a good edge, shows some nasty. You can see he definitely plays bigger than his size. He’s a guy that jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. His tape backed up what we saw down there. I’m really happy we were able to add him today.
Dave Gettleman on OL Shane Lemieux: Next round we got Shane Lemieux, a guard out of Oregon. Every really good club that I have been with, the offensive line has set the tone. This is a tough kid who plays mad. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a pretty good athlete. We’re excited to add him to the mix.
Joe Judge on OL Shane Lemieux: Shane’s a guy like Dave said, he plays with nasty. You turn the Auburn game on and right from the first snap he’s tossing bodies around. You can’t help but watch him. In a lot of cross over tape he jumps out at you as well. He’s a guy that’s going to have interior swing value. We’re going to cross train him guard and center. It’s going to be something he has been working on out at Oregon and we’re going to keep on building with that as well.
Dave Gettleman on LB Cam Brown: In the sixth round we took Cam Brown, a big long kid out of Penn State. He’s 6’5 and change, he’s 230, he runs well. Cam and all the young men we took in the seventh round, we like they are players with good developmental qualities and tools. They all can run, every one of these guys can run. We’re excited about that.
Joe Judge on LB Cam Brown: Physically, he’s got good length. He’s got a frame to fill out and play. He plays with good energy. He plays aggressive and downhill. He’s going to bring versatility on the edge as well as a little bit of stack backer value. He brings impact in the kicking game with us. Looking at the way our defense is pieced up and set, we need guys that are versatile, that we can move by game plan and by need. Cam definitely fits within that. Sean Spencer (defensive line coach) on the staff has spoken very highly of Cam since he got here. He’s also a guy that when you talk to other guys on Penn State and you hit them with who the leader on the defense is, without hesitation they all said Cam Brown. That stuck out to us. He’s been an alpha dog in the locker room and that brings the attitude we really look for on the field.
Dave Gettleman on LB Carter Coughlin: The next guy is Carter Coughlin. Another tall linear guy out of Minnesota. He’s 6’3 and change and 240. He can run. He’s got some versatility to him.
Joe Judge on LB Carter Coughlin: Dave hit this off the bat, the theme of the day was speed. He’s a guy that gives us more speed on the edge. He brings some length with him. He plays with a high motor and a lot of aggressiveness. He was productive in Minnesota’s scheme and with the way we are going to play guys on the edge in different packages, he’s someone with a lot of value. He will come in here and compete.
Dave Gettleman on LB T.J. Brunson: The next guy is T.J. Brunson. T.J. played at South Carolina as you guys know. He’s a little bit smaller. He plays the stack Will linebacker. He’s fast, he’s really athletic, he’s got good instincts. He’s just a little bit on the small side but he plays at about 230. We feel like he will be a really good fit and also has a lot of special teams value.
Joe Judge on LB T.J. Brunson: He’s a guy you see making tackles sideline-to-sideline. He’s also a guy in South Carolina’s scheme and (Will) Mushchamp’s scheme down there isn’t the simplest. Guys have been challenged mentally being down there. They’ve been coached hard. It’s very similar to the guys we talked about playing at Georgia and Alabama. Very similar schemes, very similar cultures. He’s a guy that was out there making a lot of calls so you can see the communication element with him on the field as well as the productivity on the field.
Dave Gettleman on DB Chris Williamson: Next we drafted the safety out of Minnesota, Chris Williamson. Good sized kid. He’s long, he can run and he’ll hit you.
Joe Judge on DB Chris Williamson: This is a guy who’s going to have some combination corner to safety. We call it the star position, that nickel position as well. He’ll bring some position flexibility in the defensive backfield. He’s got a good size and speed combination. We look for him to compete at multiple positions this year.
Dave Gettleman on LB Tae Crowder: The last guy who in former days of the NFL draft was called Mr. Irrelevant Tae Crowder, the linebacker out of Georgia. He was a running back early, they converted him. He’s a 245-pound kid that runs 4.6 and plays 4.6. He’s got some versatility and some value and definitely has some special teams value.
Joe Judge on LB Tae Crowder: This is a guy that’s only played a couple years at linebacker. We see a lot of upside with him. Both in his physical skills as well as his emerging defensive understanding. He’ll come in and compete for positions at that Will linebacker spot as well as give impact to the kicking game. We think we added a very competitive group over these last few days. We think today we brought in a lot of guys with versatility and speed.
Q: I’m curious on the run on linebackers late. What does that say about not only these guys but the linebackers you have on the roster? You guys didn’t take a tight end in this draft. How confident are you in Evan Engram’s durability and how excited are you about Kaden Smith?
Judge: Let me start with the linebackers first. I think it says a lot more about how our defensive scheme fits together. That we are going to play with a lot of linebackers throughout the game. You build your defense to build two thirds of your team, that’s really your defense and your kicking game for covering kicks. These guys have a lot of impact across the board right there. In terms of our tight end position, we’re excited about all the guys at that position right now. We’re always looking for the best player available. We thought there were a few tight ends on the board that were worthy of being taken at certain points. When it came up to us, there was either someone better or they may have already been taken. We have confidence in the guys we have on our roster right now at the tight end position. In terms of durability question of our players, they are all working through strength programs and rehab to get as healthy as they can. No one is ever 100 percent healthy once the football season begins. We have to prepare everyone for depth because you never know who is going to play.
Q: How did the system go with this virtual draft? Joe, I know you made an audible there to move to a different location. Dave, I wanted to ask you specifically about the offensive line. I know you used the term the another night that you want to fix it once and for all. Do you think this draft did that?
Gettleman: We feel real good about it. We got two tackles and a guard that we feel real strong about. Adding them to what we already have now, adding them to Will (Hernandez), Kevin (Zeitler) and Spencer Pulley and the rest of the group. We’re very pleased with this. As I said earlier, every team that I have been with that has been playoff worthy and gone deep has had a strong offensive line. The O-line really does set the tone. We’re fired up about these guys because of their skill level. Obviously, their skill and ability and their playing demeanor.
Q: How did things work out with the virtual nature of the draft?
Gettleman: It was different. For us, it really worked well. Justin Warren the head of out IT department and Ty Siam (football operations/data analytics) was in the house with me to make sure I didn’t blow anything up. They did an unbelievable job. Our software developers developed two new programs for us, which we used. John Dorney (Lead Developer) and his group with Julie Glisky (Director of IT). They really did well, everything went as smoothly as it could. Occasionally there was a glitch, people would get bumped off. Considering the situation, it went about as well as you could expect.
Judge: I would second what Dave said there. The support staff within our building did a tremendous job. I had to come to Jersey from Massachusetts. I was a little nervous with the overall set up on my own personal end and just the way my house is set up. I thought this was better for the overall function. I didn’t want to be in the middle of a round and all of the sudden something froze up or I didn’t have everything accessible to me. Justin Warren our IT director did a tremendous job setting everything up. I would say throughout the league I didn’t hear of any real issues, everything went smooth. We had our versions of practice with the mock drafts. We even had what you would refer to as scrimmages with some other friendly teams in the league to make sure the function team-to-team worked as well. That was beneficial for all of us.
Q: We talked to Andrew and Xavier and they talked about a lot of the communication with you guys leading up to the draft really focused on them as people off the field and there weren’t many conversations about football. My assumption was you let the tape speak for itself on the football end of things. Is that your philosophy, at least in this draft, that you wanted focus everything you can get out of the video calls that was non-football? Then let the scouts and whatever you see take care of the football things?
Judge: Well I definitely think there is different things you need to find out about everybody. Ultimately you have to find out everything before you bring somebody in. I’d say with both Andrew and Xavier as well as the other players, we do talk at length about the football. With Andrew and with Xavier we got to talk with them earlier on in the process at the combine and have meetings with those guys in person where you get to talk a lot football. To get on tape, to get on the board and go through that. Towards the end of the process, I had a number of conversations with a lot of prospects. At length, with Andrew, Xavier and other players it was important for me to have some sit-down time like we are right now. This is about as intimate as we can be, but at least you can look at each other in the eye to a degree and see each other’s reactions. I want to find out as much about these guys as a person as I could. I want to know what kind of guys we’re bringing into the building. I want to know what makes them tick, that’s important to me. Everybody is different. You are going to have 53 guys on a roster, we’re going to have 90 on the roster through spring and training camp. You have to know how to get to every player. On the front end, you want to find out as much as you can to narrow down to find out if they fit you. At the same time, you want to gather as much information that once you get them in the building it helps you reach them as fast as possible. It helps you find out inside what makes someone tick and how they respond.
Q: With prospects that you are talking to, do you walk a fine line between wanting to keep the focus on them or do you talk about other guys? Whether it’s teammates or guys they’ve gone against. How did you handle that during this process?
Judge: I think it’s a natural part of the process. If you’re talking to an offensive lineman, it’s natural to say who the best rushers you’ve gone against. If it’s a pass rusher, who’s the best offensive linemen you’ve gone against. If it’s someone you know has competed against each other, for example, you had the Chaisson kid out of LSU, he went against Andrew. We talked to both of those guys at length. It’s important to talk to both of them (and say) hey who’s the best rusher, who’s the best offensive linemen. It’s interesting to see what they say. It’s also interesting to talk to teammates and ask them about players on their team. For example, there may be multiple receivers on a team and you ask a defensive back, who do you think is the best receiver on your team is? If you were starting a team who would you pick first? It sheds a lot of light. One thing you will find out is you can’t lie to the players, they really know. We have to dig for it as coaches. The support staff can only find out about the players. Inside that locker room they know. They know who the dudes are.
Q: What’s the plan for the rookies. What’s the logistics with these guys the next couple of days, weeks and months?
Judge: The league has allowed us to have a version of rookie minicamp. They have given us a couple weekends where we are going to get our guys in. We are getting all the information from the league as far as the days, the hours, the structure we’re allowed to work within. Then we’ll map out the specifics. We are going to get them somewhere around next weekend. To make sure we can meet with them and get them started on the process. It will be very similar to what our vets have gone through. For them, it will be a little bit more of an orientation on the front end to let them know a little bit more about our program. To be honest with you, with our vets, it’s a new staff, it’s a new program, it’s an orientation for them as well. Our coaches will repeat a lot of the process this week that we started with our vets. It will be all virtual right now so we have to bridge the gap as much as we can.
Q: Have you guys made a decision on the fifth-year options for Evan and Jabrill?
Gettleman: We’ll make the decisions this coming week. With the craziness on and off the field so to speak over the last six weeks, we’ve had preliminary conversations. We’ll make those decisions pretty quick.
Q: Any update on where Evan stands in his recovery?
Gettleman: I haven’t seen him. None of us have been in the building in over a month. As far as I know, he’s doing fine. That’s all I know.
Q: A lot of people expected you to come away with a center in this draft. Did the value not matchup to the need? What’s the plan at center going forward?
Gettleman: Value and need always has to be there. Right now, what we’ve got as Joe says, it’s all about competition. We are going to turn around and cross train Shane Lemieux and we’ve got Nick Gates who we are going to work with. You have Spencer Pulley, a returning center and we’ll see what happens with Pio (Jon Halapio) with his Achilles. We’ll see what kind of recovery he makes. We feel like we have three to four guys, two of whom have played the position with varsity competition. Nick worked at center last year during practice and of course Shane’s never done it in a game and we’re going to cross-train him and see where it goes. We’ve got two centers in the building that have played varsity snaps and have played winning football.
Q: You mentioned you would consider cross-training some of these guys on the offensive line. I’m just wondering, learning in the classroom and mental reps is one thing, but ultimately, you’ve got to get out there and do it because that’s the second part of it. Without knowing if you are going to have practices, how do you get these guys up to speed so if and when you do get to the practice field, they are going to be able to step right in as though they never missed a beat?
Judge: So first off, I’ll talk on the mental part of it which we have access to on the virtual setting. For the offensive line, and this is true really for all positions to know how the pieces fit, but with the offensive line you really have to know the entire concept and the entire scheme. So, a center got to know the guard, the tackle and vice versa down the line. Playing right, left, near each other responsibility wise just knowing if you’re on the front or the backside. The cross-training physically, really at this point right now, comes on the players themselves through the strength program we’ve given them. Now we’re not monitoring workouts so we’ve made some stuff available to the players that they can follow and keep up with, and we’ve made ourselves accessible to the strength coaches and nutritionist so they can reach out for help.
But we’ve incorporated along with conditioning some agility drills as well that will fit into position specifics. So, we can go ahead and say for center reps, for guard reps, for tackle reps with the agilities, this is what you’re going to work today on a daily basis. A lot of this stuff is really just total movement for an athlete as it is. But specifically, with the center, you’ve got to find a way to tie in the movements with the actual movement of the ball as well. Snapping, putting the ball between your legs and then moving accordingly. Look, it’s a lot easier for the OTAs when we had Phase Two in OTAs with them guaranteed and we’d get on the field and work them on a daily basis. Right now, we’re kind of the suspect of these guys working on their own on the field. But, I’ll tell you what — they showed up this week with a full head of steam, I’m very pleased with the progress they made with the urgency and the attentiveness they’ve shown in the meetings and everything else that’s happening off the field as well.
Q: Considering you didn’t go for a receiver in this deep class and I don’t know what you plan to add, do you feel you have enough speed at that position?
Judge: Well they can all run, they can all run. I think there’s different elements of speed that tie in all of the receivers. You may have the deep threat receiver, you may have the slot receiver for more short area quickness who’s shifty, you may have the side receiver where it’s really the release speed that’s important as far as getting off the line and establishing body position. I’d say the one thing that we stressed to everybody is the roster building process is not done by any measure after the draft. There’s going to be a lot of roster movements throughout the league, this next week, the coming weeks, throughout the remainder of spring and then when we get into training camp they’ll continue to roll and turn again. We’re always looking to see who’s available and compete within our own roster. A lot these questions may be met later on, but right now we’re going to let the guys on our roster compete full speed. And look, right now our scouts and personnel (people) are working together with the coaches of identifying undrafted guys and getting on the phones with them right now and talking with their agents and working with getting them added as well.
Q: Dave, now that you’ve seen the draft play out and you know where you used your premium picks, how do you feel at edge rusher and do you guys need to circle back in free agency to a Markus Golden or to a proven guy like that now that you know you didn’t use a premium pick on that spot?
Gettleman: It’s one of those deals where, as I’ve said before, sometimes people think that all of the sacks have got to come from one to two guys. It’s a group effort. As Joe said, we’re going to constantly evaluate. Roster building is a 12-month season. It’s 365 and it’s 24/7. At the end of the day, we feel good about where we’re at, but we’ll continue to try to improve it. We’re going to take a look at what we’ve got and you know part of it’s going to be scheme. I’ve got a lot of confidence in (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham and Joe and the defensive guys. We’re going to be fine. It’ll get better. No, we didn’t draft what you guys would call a blue-goose pass rusher, but a lot of the time it’s a group effort. It’s not about who gets the sacks, it’s about the number of sacks and the number of pressures.
Q: You’ve been a part of nine previous drafts in the NFL, all with one team as a special teams guy. What was this like for you now just having input as a head coach, working with a new organization? There’s always this feel of if the head coach has enough input — if this is a Joe Judge pick, if this is a Dave Gettleman pick, that kind of thing. How was this whole thing for you, even though it was remote, just knowing your input as a head coach? Then, do you feel like you’ve let down a lot of people by not having Abby show up on national television?
Judge: I’ll answer the last question first. I tried to bring the dog with me, I was told that I could not bring the dog with me. I’ll tell you I let me kids down. I’ve been getting frown face memes all weekend because everyone else’s kids got to be on TV. So, I’ve got a six-year-old who wants to know if she’ll ever be famous. I told her it’s okay, no news is good news sometimes.
But I’d say this, going back to the first question. From when I first got here, we talked in the interview, and I’ll tell you what — this entire process has been tremendous. There’s definitely a full teamwork environment in our building. Dave has been awesome, his staff has been great. The coaches have had a lot of involvement, there’s been constant communication going back and forth. Probably one of the more disappointing things we didn’t get to experience was going on the road together, coaches and scouts, and working the pro days. But that was bridged a lot with scouts and coaches working a lot through these virtual interviews with Zooms and constant communication. We spent a lot of time at night talking and going back over, watching tape together and talking to prospects. I spent a lot of time in the meetings with Dave and his staff and going through the scouts and hearing everybody’s opinion. The important thing in these processes is knowing what you see and sticking to your guns.
Look, not everyone’s going to see everything the same way so you go through this process and it’s tough. You’ve got to remember, these scouts do a very, very difficult job. They spend a whole lot of nights away from their families on the road in hotels. To go through that excruciating process of evaluating someone, lining them up on your board, hoping to have a chance to get somebody just to watch another team take them away from you. Or maybe you have someone whose opinion is a little bit different or varied, or you’ve got someone like me maybe hammering back at you saying he may not be a fit for us. That’s a tough thing, but the entire way, even through some of those kind of natural disagreements and opinions, there’s been a great teamwork environment in the building and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.
Was it different being a head coach than a special teams coordinator? Absolutely. There’s just different responsibilities that come with it. But I’ll tell you what, I thought the coaching staff gave me great input and insight, there’s a lot of experience on the staff that I was able to lean on, on the frontend and kind of ask advice from of how to handle different situations with things that may came up that I didn’t expect. Me and Dave had great conversations at length, whether it was late at night or early in the morning. We’ve gone back over the board or talked through different scenarios that could come up so that when they did come up, we were prepared for it. Look, obviously it’s a different situation, it was a different medium this year being virtual. But I’ll tell you what, through all of the changes that came our way I thought we operated pretty effectively as an entire staff.
Q: I know you said that you guys aren’t done making moves and the offseason is not over, but now that you have been through this draft and you went through the initial free agency, how do you feel with how this team sits right now compared to when you started out here in January?
Judge: Well, we haven’t been on the field yet so that’s the biggest answer right there. Look, you can’t really evaluate until you get on the grass. Right now we have a lot of names on paper. There’s a lot of guys that are itching to get on the grass and compete and start proving themselves. Look, everyone laughs when I say it, but our depth chart is a blank slate right now. We have a lot of names, everyone has to earn every spot they get. So, when we get out there on day one whoever the first five linemen are that are out there, that’s just the first five guys taking a rep. That’s not a spot in concrete at all. They’ve got to earn to keep that spot. We’ll change it up continuously throughout training camp or OTAS, whenever we get these guys. To answer as far as where we are, I think we’ve made some good moves in terms of bringing in pieces that can help us. But overall, I can’t really give you a solid answer just because I can’t comment on specific players until we really get them on the grass, otherwise it’s just speculation and hypotheticals.
Q: Dave, you talked a few minutes ago about not drafting that blue-goose pass rusher and maybe using the scheme to generate that rush. We talk about those old, good Giants teams and they always had four or five guys that could generate that…yeah, they had that one big one but you had multiple guys. When you look at your roster now do you have enough guys without the blue-goose pass rusher to generate a consistent pass rush?
Gettleman: You know, I believe we do. I’ve seen what scheme can do to free people up, it’s an effective way to do it. Obviously we’re getting better in the back end, force the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer. Again, there’s a million ways to skin the cat. You guys were raised on the blue-goose pass rushers, rushing with four, and the drafts and the accumulation of players just worked out that way. There’s a number of ways to do it. Like I said, I was here for that run and I saw what a blessing it is when you can rush with four. There’s no reason to say we can’t do it now and also can do it with scheme. So again, there’s a million ways to do it, guys. There’s not just one way.
Q: Dave, Joe talked about what it was like for him to do it as a head coach. How different was it to have him as the head coach working compared to some of the head coaches you’ve had in the past? Also, the streak continued with the no trades, now that’s eight. I’m wondering how big of a coincidence is that, how do you look at that and what do you make of that?
Gettleman: A lot less than you guys do (laughter). A lot less than you guys do. Unbelievable. You know, working with anybody is…working with Joe is different than working with Ron Rivera than working with Pat Shurmur. Anybody you work with that’s not the same person is going to be different. It was great working with Joe and at the end of the day, it’s not a Dave Gettleman decision, they are not Joe Judge decisions, they are New York Football Giants decisions. That’s really the way it is. It was terrific working with Joe, it was thorough, it was well done and we felt very prepared and felt we had a really good, solid draft.
Q: Can you give us an example of how it’s different? He seems like a pretty strong personality. Is that sort of how he operates as well?
Gettleman: God bless you. We get along fine. Next question.
Q: About the trades, did you get close though or was there at any point and you guys mentioned in the second round, but was there any other point where you did get close or did you want to add a pick between that 63 pick gap?
Gettleman: There were calls. But, I don’t believe in over paying. The couple of times that there were decent opportunities to trade back, the player we wanted was there. Plain and simple. So, we just took the player, that’s all.
Q: There have been a couple reports about phone calls you made to your high picks and you saying, “I don’t want to hear you talk about Super Bowls, I don’t want to hear you compare yourself to anybody, I want you to put your head down and work.” Obviously, you work to become a head coach, what goes into deciding how that first phone call is going to go, why you’re handling it that way and is that about setting the exact tone you want for your program right off the bat?
Judge: I think there’s more said on the phone calls than just what not to do. There’s a lot of we’re very excited about adding these players and giving them a chance to come up and compete and add to our team. Look, to be honest with you, and I think you guys have kind of found out a little bit in the short time we’ve been doing this together, I’m not big into predictions. I’m not big into that. I’m not big into comparing people to other people. One thing that drives me nuts is when sometimes guys get drafted, the emotion gets caught up, they stand on the stage a lot of times and what do they say? They start talking about how they’re going to take over the league. Look, this is a guy who hasn’t been in the league for five seconds. What do they know about taking over the league? What they have to worry about at this point is improving. Put your head down, just work hard. Hey, here’s the reality of every one of these rookies we just took — they don’t know how to be a pro yet, they don’t. As much as they may think they do, they don’t. Physically, they have an advantage over a lot of the vets because they have young legs. But in terms of technique, in terms of mentally how to prepare themselves and handle the situations in terms of emotionally how to handle the duration of the season, they have no idea what they’re doing yet. So, they’re behind in everything except for having fresh, young legs with everyone they are competing against. They watch it on TV, they think they have an understanding of what’s going on in the league. The reality is they don’t. The faster they understand that the better off they’ll be in a short term to improve and give themselves a chance to compete.
Look, everyone gets excited. When you get excited, you let emotion get the best of you, a lot of times you say things, you turn around afterwards and go, “Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say.” Well, sometimes you don’t want to have those slips when you’ve got millions of people and it’s forever ingrained anyway in print, social media, whatever it may be. You want to make sure that sometimes you wish that someone gave you a little bit of guidance. So, sometimes it’s good to just get reminded at certain times, “Hey listen, this is your focus, this is what we’re building, this is what our culture here is going to be, let’s just make sure you say the right thing at the right time.” Number one, not to make yourself have any expectations you now have to meet, it’s going to be tough enough for you to go ahead and get in the rhythm of you being a pro as it is. Number two, don’t ever, the whole comparisons and predictions, just work out what you can control. Right now what you can control is showing up, doing your job day-by-day and improving and that’s it.
Q: Did you like how the guys handled it, the group that you dealt with?
Judge: I’ve only seen a couple of the actual quotes or the interviews. I’ve gone back and looked at a couple of them that Pat Hanlon sent my way. But you know, I’m very pleased. I’ll say this, I’m not surprised because we spent a lot of time with these guys on the front end. We spent a lot of time on the character, on the traits, on the personality. Look, we’re not collecting talent, we’re building a team — and it’s important. There’s a lot of good players out there. There’s not a lot of right fits and you want to find the right fits to bring into your locker room. It’s important to spend as much time with these guys as people on the front end and make sure that you’re building a culture in your locker room. I don’t want 53 independent contractors, I want one team. That’s what we have to make sure we bring in the right guys for that.
Media Q&A with CB Darnay Holmes:
Q: This is a pretty young secondary with a lot of guys drafted in the last couple of years, including DeAndre Baker in the first round a year ago. As another young guy coming in here, what can you do to differentiate yourself and get on the field?
A: My thing is to just be a sponge. DeAndre is there a year before me, so he definitely learned more things than I have learned. I’m definitely going to get under his wing and try to contribute in every phase. I’m going to be an asset, I’m not going to be a liability. I’m just going to play my part and maximize my role, for sure.
Q: I was reading up on you and you are somewhat of a trendsetter. Someone who uses chess as a way to analyze football. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you got into that and how exactly it works and helps you?
A: I saw several cornerbacks playing chess and I’m the type of player that wants to get insight on everything that’s going on. I walked up to the chess master and asked him do you mind helping me out with chess. The reason I play chess is I want to have efficient thoughts. I want to make sure I am making forceful moves and I want to make sure everybody responds to things that I do. Everything I’m doing, I’m not a piece, I’m a player. I’m going to make sure the team is working accordingly and we’re all on one accord. Chess is a great thing for me to get my mind off of football but also get my mind in the state of being efficient in everything I do.
Q: I read about some of the hardships you had earlier in your life. Was there ever a time when you thought this day wouldn’t come?
A: Definitely there were several times when you go through different emotions and you don’t know when that day will come. I know those days and those experiences molded me into a better person, a better man. It molded my spirit to be someone that’s ready to transition and transform within every phase of my life. Every season is not going to be a good season, but I know that season shall pass and I’ll be bigger than that season.
Q: How is everyone in your family doing these days?
A: Everyone in my family is doing good these days. They are all on one accord, there is no family feud and everybody is making sure that we are transitioning so we have generational wealth for our young nephews.
Q: I know your dad played in the NFL and he went through a lot of stuff in his life before he started coaching you guys up. How much has he impacted your growth as a football player and as a person over the years?
A: My pops impacted me in a lot of ways. He was a person who installed that hustler drive. That drive to compete each and every day, knowing that there is somebody out there working to take your spot or working to be better than you. Each and every day he always told me that you never compromise your grind or compromise the good habits you have for something that will not allow you to propel you forward to your full potential. He always made sure that you can’t take any shortcuts. If you take shortcuts, when the time comes and you reach that destination, there’s lessons that you did not learn. The downfall is going to be harder than the come up.
Q: Who were some of the guys you idolized growing up?
A: Definitely a few people that are mentors of mine are Aeneas Williams, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson. I have a great group of guys around me. Those guys are constantly providing me with insight that will allow me to be disciplined and have freedom. Freedom equals discipline. By them giving different tools and different things that I can add to my toolbox, I’m just ready to rock.
Q: Do you have personal relationships with them or just from studying them?
A: Personal relationships definitely.
Q: How did that come about?
A: When you are around the football circuit you definitely come around several marquee guys who want to give back to the youth. They understand that true wealth in life is what you give back to the world. They are constantly God-fearing men and they know when you serve somebody, it’s an opportunity to serve God.
Q: Where are you, that’s an interesting background behind you?
A: I’m in Palm Springs.
Q: What’s behind you there, is that your yard?
A: Yeah, that’s just some acres to get some work in.
Q: I’m just curious about your experience in the slot. Did you play much of it in college and if not, do you feel like you can play it at the next level?
A: Truthfully, I can’t tell you where I’m going to play, I’m just ready to contribute. Wherever they put me, I’m going to maximize that role and I’m going to make sure that I understand that role. That’s my main thing is understanding it and grasping all the concepts.
Q: Have you played the nickel much in the past?
A: The first time I played was the Senior Bowl. That was my first go around at it and I loved it. There’s a lot of things that I need to learn about it. Until then, I’m just going to keep on crafting and get to know this playbook that the Giants have in store for me.
Q: What did teams talk to you about position wise when they talked to you? Is that something that they brought up, the slot, and is that something that’s been mentioned to you? When people say you’re too small to play outside in the pros, is that something you heard and you had to fight throughout this process?
A: Definitely I haven’t had to fight that. A lot of people need different roles to be fulfilled. Some roles need to be nickel, some roles need to be boundary, some roles need to be primary corner. Everybody’s got different roles and different things that they need to fulfill, so I’m just ready to fulfill whatever role that’s needed right away.
Q: What do you bring to the team in terms of special teams? Did you talk to Joe Judge about any of that yet? He has a special teams background.
A: Definitely, I can bring a lot of things to the team. I can be a gunner, I can be a jammer, I can be whatever a team needs me to be. I’m ready to just contribute. I’m ready to play football, I’m ready to showcase everything that they need me to showcase. I have a lot of things to learn, I didn’t play much special teams in college, but I know right away I’m going to be able to contribute on those four phases of special teams. So, whatever that may be, I’m going to be front line ready to rock.
Q: You talked about how you went to a chess master. How does one go about finding a chess master?
A: When you go to UCLA, you’re around a lot of different things, you have access to different pools of people. So, Chip Kelly, a great father figure of mine I should say, he makes sure he brings people within the school who are going to aid and are going to be able to value the mindset to reach that different frequency.
Q: I read that you graduated very early, I think two or three years. What motivated you to get through your studies so quickly, and apparently you did so at a high level and you got good grades. How has that helped you with learning complex defenses and your studying?
A: Definitely the school curriculum allowed me to implement a strict routine, a routine that allowed me not to sway away into different distractions. So, by me having this vivid vision, my energy was aligning to it right away. That’s definitely something that I implemented right when I got to UCLA. It was, I’m going to graduate in three years and then from there I’m going to figure out what I want to do. Right away I was a student, then after I graduated, it was like okay, how can I pursue my athlete endeavor, and I’m here now being a New York Giant. I’m very excited.
Q: Did you choose to accelerate your studies or did that just come together for you?
A: Definitely. Definitely I had to make that choice. If I hadn’t made that choice, I would probably still be an undergraduate. So, I made that choice right away that I had to get my degree and break that barrier within my family being the first person in my family to get that degree at a prestigious college. (It) allowed them to know that we have so much greatness within ourselves, let’s go chase that and manifest that.
Q: How did that help you with football? Learning a playbook can be so complex, I imagine it made that easier for you?
A: Definitely. You have different tactics that you use to grasp concepts and grasp schemes and make sure that you understand those things. I don’t memorize, I want to grasp it and understand so I’ll be able to tap into it no matter what the heat of the moment is. I’ll understand it, so I’ll be able to utilize it.
Q: How do you think playing for someone like Chip Kelly, who has experience coaching in the NFL, got you ready to make this leap to the league? He kind of had the reputation in Philly and then in San Fran as kind of a taskmaster or drill sergeant. Joe Judge comes in here as all business, no nonsense type of guy. When you look at their two personalities, how do you think you’ll be able to make that transition from Chip to playing for Judge?
A: At the end of the day, everybody holds up a standard, so I’m going to abide by that standard and I’m going to abide by that code. I know that code is for us to flourish. When I have something that’s great, it’s like wouldn’t you utilize it to tap into it?
Q: Obviously you’re not going to be able to come here to New Jersey for a while. Did you take any online courses and do you think that’s going to help you during these next couple of weeks and months when most of this stuff is going to be done virtually?
A: My online courses are going to be the Zoom meetings with the New York Giants getting that playbook down. I’m a graduate, so it’s either hit the field, learn more about myself, the New York Giants organization, and tap into different people who’ve been around, veterans, Barkley, everybody who knows what it’s like to be a New York Giant. That’s my key and that’s my goal — to understand the playbook, be a sponge, and find a way to be a leader. I’m not saying I’m going to be a leader right away, but by me being under somebody who are leaders, you’re the average of the five people you hang around, so I’m going to hang around five leaders. That’s just the type of person I am.
Q: Have you taken online courses in the past, though?
A: Yeah, definitely. I had to take several online courses to graduate in two and a half years, Sir.
Q: What’s the key to learning that way?
A: The key to learning that way is understanding that you can’t lollygag. You can’t put things to the side because at the end of the day it’s on your own time. In this life we’re living, you do things on your own time, but at the end of the day if you have a strict routine, you can never be swayed off to different distractions or different things that will hinder you from accomplishing the main goal, which is being the great contributor to the team.