Dec 032020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 20, 2020)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 3, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and LB Cam Brown (illness) did not practice on Thursday.

“We had positive reports on (Jones) yesterday,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “Obviously, we have to kind of see a little bit more from him today. The plan is to get him out there with the trainers, move him around a little bit, throw a little bit, see where that progresses to and what that allows him to do later in practice today or maybe what that shows what we can do with him tomorrow. Again, there are still a lot of questions more so than answers right now. I know he’s doing everything he can to get back and be with the team. He’s preparing tirelessly, he’s in the building, he’s doing everything he can like it would be any other day. I know mentally where he’s at. We just have to check physically where he’s at and make sure we make the right decision for him.”

WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot), WR Sterling Shepard (toe/shoulder), LB David Mayo (knee), and S Nate Ebner (knee) were limited in practice.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE…
The New York Giants have terminated the Practice Squad contract of safety Chris Williamson, who the team drafted in the 7th-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:50AM-1:20PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Nov 062020
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS PLACE RYAN LEWIS ON INJURED RESERVE…
The New York Giants have placed cornerback Ryan Lewis on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury. Lewis has played in five games for the Giants this year with three starts, accruing 13 tackles and one pass defense. He will be eligible to return after missing at three games.

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.

NOVEMBER 6, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
OG Will Hernandez (Reserve/COVID) and CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring) did not practice on Friday. Neither will play on Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe), LB Blake Martinez (hamstring), LB Devante Downs (shoulder), and S Logan Ryan (hip) were limited in practice. Freeman has officially been ruled “out” of Sunday’s game. The other four players are expected to be available to play.

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 YouTube.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Washington Football Team in Maryland on Sunday.

Oct 182020
 
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Tae Crowder, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

Tae Crowder – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 20 – WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 19…
It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Giants finally got their first win of the 2020 season by defeating the Washington Football Team 20-19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday. The Giants are now 1-5 on the season.

Both teams came into the game with bottom tier offenses that continued to struggle in this contest. At the start of the game, the Giants actually benched rookie 1st-round pick Andrew Thomas for rookie 3rd-round pick Matt Peart at left tackle. Thomas was being penalized for being late to a team meeting on Saturday night. Meanwhile, it was the last player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, linebacker Tae Crowder, who saved the day.

Washington actually significantly out-gained the Giants in first downs (24 to 16), total net yards (337 to 240), net yards passing (251 to 108), and time of possession (33:30 to 26:30). The Giants did out-rush Washington (132 to 86), but that was mainly due to quarterback Daniel Jones gaining 74 yards on the ground. The key stat was the Giants won the turnover battle 2-1, with one of Washington’s turnovers leading to a defensive score late in the 4th quarter.

Now counting the kneel down before halftime, the Giants only had the ball three times in the first half. And surprisingly, all three drives ended with points:

  • 9 plays, 48 yards, 33-yard field goal
  • 3 plays, 27 yards, 23-yard touchdown pass from Jones to WR Darius Slayton
  • 8 plays, 73 yards, 20-yard field goal

Meanwhile, Washington had four first-half possessions:

  • 12 plays, 39 yards, missed 47-yard field goal
  • 2 plays, 0 yards, interception by CB James Bradberry returned 19 yards
  • 11 plays, 70 yards, 35-yard field goal
  • 13 plays, 70 yards, 5-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds before halftime

On the last drive, it was another case of the Giants’ defense performing well until late in the first half. Nevertheless, New York led 13-10 at the break.

The Giants’ offense did not score in the second half. Not counting the kneel down at the end of the game, the Giants again only had three possessions, two ending with punts and one ending with an interception on a play where Jones was trying to throw the football away after reaching the Washington 7-yard line late in the 3rd quarter.

Washington went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, but tied the game at 13-13 on their second possession after driving 70 yards in 14 plays to set up a 28-yard field goal with just 9 minutes left to play in the game.

After New York punted the ball away on their last real possession of the game, Washington drove from their 25-yard line to the New York 45-yard line. On 3rd-and-9 with 3:41 to play, quarterback Kyle Allen was sacked by linebacker Kyle Fackrell. Allen fumbled on the play and rookie linebacker Tae Crowder scooped up the loose ball and returned it 43 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Giants 20 – Washington 13.

But just as the New York defense has struggled all year at the end of the first half, it has also struggled at the end of games. And this contest was no different. With 3:29 left to play, Washington drove 75 yards in 10 plays with Allen throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left to play. Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera decided to go for the 2-point conversion and win. Allen’s pass fell incomplete and the Giants escaped with the victory after recovering the onside kick.

Jones only completed 12-of-19 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He did rush for 74 yards on seven carries, including a 49-yard effort. Tight end Kaden Smith caught three passes for 15 yards. No other player had more than two catches. Running back Devonta Freeman carried the ball 18 times for 61 yards.

Defensively, the Giants picked up three sacks: defensive lineman Leonard Williams, safety Logan Ryan, and Fackrell, the latter leading to the fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by Crowder. Bradberry also picked off a pass the set the Giants up on the Washington 27-yard line.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants activated LB Trent Harris from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were LB Lorenzo Carter (Achilles), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder), TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, and LB T.J. Brunson.

WR C.J. Board (neck/concussion) and CB Darnay Holmes (neck) left the game with injuries and did not return. Board was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
Three of the Giants’ last four victories have been against Washington and they have beaten Washington four consecutive times.

All three of QB Daniel Jones’ 2020 touchdown passes have been to WR Darius Slayton.

Jones’ 49-yard run was the longest run by a Giants quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Oct 042020
 
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Austin Johnson, New York Giants (October 4, 2020)

Austin Johnson – © USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES RAMS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 9…
The game was far closer than it was expected to be, but the New York Giants fell to the Los Angeles Rams 17-9 on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. New York is now 0-4 on the season and has only scored three touchdowns in four games, and none in the last two contests.

The Giants actually out-gained the heavily-favored Rams in first downs (19 to 15), total net yards (295 to 240), net yards rushing (136 to 58), and time of possession (33:17 to 26:43). The turnover battle was also equal as both teams turned the football over once.

The game started off on a negative note for New York as the Giants quickly went three-and-out on their first drive of the game and the Rams then responded with an impressive 12-play, 65-yard effort that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run. The Rams were quickly up 7-0.

After gaining one first down, the Giants found themselves in a 3rd-and-27 situation after a sack/fumble and a false start penalty. They punted two plays later. However, the Giants immediately got the ball back when defensive lineman Austin Johnson forced tight end Gerald Everett to fumble after a 10-yard catch. Cornerback James Bradberry recovered the loose ball at the Los Angeles 34-yard line. The Giants could only gain 17 yards on six plays, but place kicker Graham Gano kicked a 35-yard field goal to cut the score to 7-3.

After both teams exchanged three-and-out possessions, the Rams took 15 plays to drive 47 yards to set up a 32-yard field goal to extend their lead to a touchdown again, 10-3. On this possession, the Rams converted on 3rd-and-3, 4th-and-1, and 3rd-and-2, but Johnson pushed the Rams back from the 4-yard line with an 8-yard sack.

With 3:52 to go before halftime, the Giants did drive 56 yards in 13 plays to cut the score to 10-6 on Gano’s 37-yard field goal. On this possession, the Giants converted on 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-2, and 3rd-and-10, with the first two being completions to wide receiver Golden Tate in addition to running back Dion Lewis picking up 10 yards on rushing effort.

There was no scoring in the 3rd quarter as the Rams punted twice and the Giants once. However, the Giants did begin their final scoring drive with 5:25 left in the 3rd quarter as they drove 48 yards in 11 plays, taking over six minutes off of the clock. On this possession, the Giants converted on 4th-and-1 when quarterback Daniel Jones threw a 10-yard pass to tight end Kaden Smith. However, the Giants once gain were forced to settle for a field goal, this time from 27 yards out. The Rams now led 10-9 early in the 4th quarter.

Both teams exchanged punts. With about 7 minutes to play in the game, the Rams came up with a dagger to the heart on a big 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. To put this in perspective, the next longest play the Rams had on the day was just 16 yards. The Rams now led 17-9 with less than a quarter to play.

The Giants’ first desperate attempt to tie the game failed after picking up 44 yards on nine plays. However, Jones could not connect with Tate on 4th-and-11 from the Los Angeles 31-yard line. After a three-and-out by the Rams, the Giants got the ball back with 2:05 left in the game, down by eight points. Jones threw a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton to the Rams’ 47-yard line. He then scrambled for a total of 24 yards on two 2nd-and-10 scrambles. With 57 seconds left, on 2nd-and-5 from the 18-yard line, Jones tried to squeeze a sideline throw to wide receiver Damion Ratley, but cornerback Darious Williams made a diving interception at the 5-yard line to end the game. Unfortunately for Jones and the Giants, he had room to run on this play.

Jones finished 23-of-36 for 190 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was also sacked five times, four of which occurred in the first half. Jones also rushed six times for 45 yards. Tight end Evan Engram had six catches, but for only a total of 35 yards. Running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 45 yards on six carries and running back Devonta Freeman gained 33 yards on 11 carries. Freeman also caugh four passes for 35 yards.

Defensively, the Giants held the Rams to 58 yards rushing and 182 net yards passing. Besides Austin Johnson’s sack, linebacker Kyler Fackrell also got to the quarterback. The Giants had seven tackles for losses and hit Goff five times.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants activated WR Austin Mack from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were WR Austin Mack, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Carter Coughlin, LB T.J. Brunson, and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle).

LB Oshane Ximines (shoulder), LB Kyle Fackrell (neck), and S Adrian Colbert (neck) all left the game with injuries.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 282020
 
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Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 36-9 loss to the San Francisco (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: The offensive line struggled a bit again in run blocking. Are you contemplating any changes going forward?

A: Well look, every week based on a player’s practice and performance, we’re looking to put the best players on the field. We spent the day reviewing the tape as a staff. We’ll go through the rest of this week in terms of how guys are implementing the plan we put ahead for the Rams, and we’ll see who the best guys to put on the field are.

Q: If I may follow up, are you happy with this unit right now the way they’re run blocking?

A: There is work we have to do and we have to improve as a team. Everyone has to play better, everyone has to coach better. I like the urgency they come to work with every day. There are things we have to improve on, and we have to get moving fast on that.

Q: If you guys are going to struggle to run the ball without Saquon (Barkley), are you worried, concerned here that teams are going to kind of tee off on Daniel (Jones) until you guys can prove that you can run the ball better, whether that’s the offensive line or the running backs or both?

A: We have to work to be a balanced team. That’s balanced whether it’s running and passing, balanced offense and defense, balanced with the kicking game, playing complementary football. There are a lot of things right now that we have to make sure the Ying and the Yang factor out for each other. But we have to do a better job overall as a team, and we have to do a good job complementing each other on offense to help out the passing game and the running game.

Q: Any injury update? Anything from Jabrill (Peppers) or Andrew Thomas or anything maybe we didn’t see coming out of the game?

A: Nothing significant. I’d say with Andrew, you guys asked about him yesterday, he did finish the game. There was nothing significant to really go over today with the trainers. Jabrill, I don’t have a timetable on him for anything. We’re going to evaluate him day to day. We’ll see where he is. He had that lower leg. They’re going through a couple more things with the doctor this afternoon, but it looks like it could go either way at this point right here.

Q: I just want to know how you think Daniel Jones played and what you made of his turnovers? Obviously, two turnovers in each of the first three games. Separately, curious about your feelings on the penalties? (Darnay) Holmes, (Darius) Slayton, (Lorenzo) Carter. I know you guys are coaching these things, but how can you ensure that those are eliminated and they don’t happen?

A: Yeah, that starts with fundamentals and technique and making sure we execute at the right time. I think they were good calls. Look, you turn the tape on, it was a hold. Call it what it is. It was a hold. We need to make sure we don’t do that. The illegal contact part, that’s something we stress all the time. Darnay is a player we have a lot of confidence in. He’s a talented guy, he’s a young guy, he competes at a high level. One thing he really does, he learns from his mistakes. Obviously, he’s a guy that I don’t expect to see much of that from him going forward. But look, they made the calls. It’s what the rules are. We have to play within the rules.

Q: I’m kind of a big picture guy. A lot of people would look at 0-3 and be discouraged. I kind of look at the NFC East and say you’re a game out of first place. How do you approach it?

A: For us, it’s game by game. Right now, I’m really just emphasizing to our team just weekly improvement, starting with fundamentals and execution. That’s really it. We need to focus on what we’re doing day by day to really take care of our own jobs and make sure that we’re improving as a unit and as a team, and then all of the other things will start taking care of themselves.

Q: But doesn’t it make it easier if the guys see that there’s something reachable in front of them?

A: There are 13 games left. It’s the NFL. There’s a lot of ball left to be played. I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been on a lot of teams that have started off 5-0, 6-0, 7-0, 10-0 and I’m telling you right now, it’s the same feeling in every building across the league right now. All they’re thinking about is things you have to improve on, things you have to work on. It’s not sunshine and rainbows. To me, Mondays are always a day where it’s a tough day on everybody because all you can think of as a coach is what you have to get better at. It doesn’t matter what the result of the game is and how well or disappointing something may have been. You’re just focused on what you have to correct and fix and get it going fast. To be honest with you in terms of how all that goes, does anything make it easier? In the NFL, not a lot of things get easier as the year goes. We have to improve to make sure that as the year goes, we can be competitive and put our team on the field with a chance to be successful.

Q: How do you view the mental state of your team right now?

A: I think we’re fine. I think the emphasis has to be for our guys on moving forward and executing, and that’s the biggest thing. We have to be better teachers and coaches, and we have to execute better on the field for 60 minutes. That’s really it.

Q: I know you said you’ve been on teams that were 5-0, 6-0, 10-0. These guys, a lot of them have been on teams that were 0-2, 1-6, the other end of that. How much does that concern you that you don’t go down that rabbit hole with these guys?

A: Look, I’ll tell you right now, those years we started off with a lot of wins, we didn’t always finish those years as successful as the years we started off pretty rough. Sometimes early on, you really get a vision of what you are and your identity by how you have to correct your mistakes and what you have to learn from. We had a lot of years we were the most successful team in the world where it started off really, really rough. There are a lot of times you look around the meeting rooms and the locker room halfway through the year, regardless of your record, and it’s just doom and gloom. You have to make sure you kind of bring it back into perspective and understand it’s a day by day process as a team, and you’re all you got. You need to stand together as a team and you have to go ahead and make sure your guys move forward on a weekly basis to make improvements. It’s the NFL. It’s the most competitive league in all of sports in the world. It’s at the highest absolute level. It’s not supposed to be easy. What we’re trying to do here isn’t easy either. But we’re going to try to keep it simple for our players that we can improve on a weekly basis and keep moving forward.

Q: How does that work for you? It’s been a long time since you lost three in a row. How are you handling this?

A: I look at the film the same way every week regardless. Win, lose, whatever in between, I turn the tape on and I’m focused on what we have to correct going forward. Yesterday is gone. It’s done. There’s nothing we can do to bring back yesterday. There’s nothing we want to do to bring back yesterday. Our only focus right now is on the Rams. We’re moving forward with that. We have a lot of things that we know (Sean) McVay is on the other side and he’s watching. We have to make sure that we correct what’s on the tape because they’re watching the same tape right now.

Q: When you have a game-wrecker on the outside, there are things you can do with chipping and double teams and things like that. With the Rams, their game-wrecker is right in the middle. How do you kind of scheme to give Nick (Gates) as much help as you can give him against Aaron Donald?

A: I’ll tell you what, Aaron Donald is one of the best players in the NFL, and he’s definitely a force. You’re right. A lot of times, you see those guys that are game-wreckers on the edge, and they have their share of them out there as well. But with Aaron in the middle, it makes you be a little more creative in terms of how you protect and how you use some different tools in your toolbox to make sure your guys don’t always get isolated up on him. He’s definitely a guy that lives for that one on one matchup. He’s very competitive. He’s a high motor guy, he’s as explosive as can be, and he can really ruin the game inside out if you don’t give some help to whoever’s on him.

Q: I don’t think we’ve asked you about David Mayo since he went on IR, but obviously now with three games down, there’s an opportunity to possibly bring him back. I’m just curious if you could provide an update as to where he is. Do you expect to bring him to practice this week with a chance to be activated?

A: Actually, we’re going to make that decision probably sometime tomorrow. We’ll kind of look and see where that goes. He’s with the trainers. I know he’s been working hard. I see him around the building. I don’t get a lot of time with him on the grass, but they say he’s working his butt off every day and improving on a daily basis. We have to look and see where he’s at. For us, it’s in his best interest to make sure that when we start that 21-day clock, that he’s in a position that he’s not going to have any setbacks that would take him past that 21-day clock. I want to make sure we do the right thing by him by not rushing him back before he’s fully ready, and that would keep him possibly off the field for the entire year. I want to make sure we go ahead and do right by him.

Q: Has he been able to be in meetings, position meetings, team meetings, or is he just strictly with the trainers?

A: No, he’s with us in all the meetings. That’s been great. In terms of him staying up to date on the game plans, the terminology, getting mentally into the scouting reports, that’s all been really good. But David, him (Xavier McKinney), a bunch of other guys, they’ve all been very present in the meetings and involved with the team. Just once we hit the grass, they’re on their own separate program.

Q: You keep talking about areas you need to improve in. One of the areas you guys have really struggled in defensively is getting off the field on third down. What are you seeing on third down? You seem to be doing okay on first and second down, but you’re just not making those plays on third down.

A: It’s never one thing. We’re going through that right now as a staff, making sure we find the common thread and identify that. There has been a lot of times we’ve been a step away here, a step away there, but that to me is really a symptom of what are we doing on the front end of the play, and make sure we start in the right position and we can finish in the right position. But we definitely have to make more plays on third down to get off the field to shorten the drives for the opponents right there and give our offense the chance to get on the field and get some points.

Q: Just a general question here. You mention that the team has to play better, you have to coach better. I’m just wondering, though, at what point do you say to yourself ‘this just isn’t happening. We have to consider a change’? Is there a cutoff point for you? What tells you that you have to go to plan B, so to speak?

A: I’m not exactly sure what you’re clarifying as plan B. I would say this, I’d say we consider change on a daily basis. But that’s change within what we’re doing schematically, change in what we’re doing conceptually within the game plan, change in how we’re approaching something as a coaching staff, or changing how we’re using somebody on our roster personnel wise. We’re always looking for change and to evolve. We’re not looking to go ahead and be hardheaded and keep forcing the same thing in the same position. We’re looking on a daily basis at what we can do different to always improve.

Q: I’m really curious, when you look at the amount of turnovers that Daniel Jones has had, when does this become kind of a five-alarm fire for you guys? What went wrong on that pitch play there with him?

A: We just have to have better execution on that play. We thought it was a good thing to have in the game plan. Obviously, we didn’t carry through the way we needed to. These aren’t things we’re going to go ahead and completely abort going forward. We’ll look and see and make sure we execute it going better. But it’s never one person. It’s multiple guys that have to execute better, so we have to get that corrected.

Q: Do you have to talk to him? With the interception, it seemed like he was kind of locked in on Evan (Engram) the whole time before he threw it. Is that something you need to go back on the tape and kind of drill into him that he can’t telegraph throws? It just seems like this is an on-going issue with him.

A: Look, we work with him on a daily basis, obviously, every day. We’re not going to leave anything to chance with that position especially. But look, he’s a guy that works extremely hard. It’s very important to him. Everyone here has to coach better, everyone has to play better. We need to raise our level of execution, and we’re committed to doing that as a team.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday. The assistant coaches will be available to the media on Tuesday.

Sep 202020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 20, 2020)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO BEARS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants battled back from a 17-0 first-half deficit against the Chicago Bears and almost stole the game late, being stopped 10 yards short from the go-head touchdown. The Giants lost 17-13 to the Bears and fell to 0-2 on the season. Worse for the Giants, running back Saquon Barkley may have suffered a very serious injury to his right knee. The NFL Network is reporting that Barkley suffered an ACL tear, ending his season. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard was also forced from the game with a toe injury.

The Bears received the ball to start the game and immediately drove 82 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 early lead on quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s 28-yard touchdown pass to running back David Montgomery. Chicago converted on four 3rd-down attempts on the drive including on 3rd-and-7 on the touchdown. Matters got immediately worse for the Giants when quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked and stripped of the football on 3rd-and-6 on the ensuing drive, setting up the Bears at the Giants’ 20-yard line. Chicago could not pick up a first down but went up 10-0 on the 34-yard field goal.

The Giants went three-and-out on their second drive. After a Chicago punt, the Giants drove to the Bears’ 28-yard line, but on 3rd-and-8, Jones threw an interception to halt the scoring threat. It was on this drive, on the first play of the 2nd quarter, when Barkley was hurt.

Both teams exchanged punts and the Bears took a commanding 17-0 lead on their final possession of the half by driving 80 yards in 11 plays, with Trubisky throwing a 15-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-8. With 14 seconds left, the Giants did gain 36 yards on two plays to set up a last-second 57-yard field goal attempt, but the kick failed.  The Giants gained only seven first downs and no points in the first half.

The Giants received the ball to start the 3rd quarter, picked up one first down, but were then forced to punt again. However, two plays later, cornerback James Bradberry tipped a pass that was intercepted by safety Julian Love and returned to the Chicago 25-yard line. New York had to settle for a 39-yard field goal as the Giants could not pick up even one first down. Bears 17 – Giants 3.

The Bears moved the ball 33 yards on their second possession of the half, but were forced to punt, pinning New York at the 5-yard line. However, the Giants responded with an impressive 11-play, 95-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-goal by running back Dion Lewis early in the 4th quarter. Bears 17 – Giants 10.

The Giants got the ball back again with Bradberry picked off a deep sideline pass at the New York 34-yard line. The Giants were able to drive 47 yards in 10 plays to set up a 37-yard field goal to cut the score to 17-13. Fortunately for the Giants and Jones, a 54-yard pick-6 interception was erased by a defensive pass interference penalty on this possession.

With 7:43 left in the game, the Bears were able to drive 44 yards in 12 plays to take off 5:41 from the clock and set up a 50-yard field goal. However, the Bears missed the kick. Frustratingly for New York, Chicago was able to pick up a key 1st down on 4th-and-2 when a pass deflected by the Giants was caught for a 1st down by a Chicago offensive lineman.

Nevertheless, with 2:02 left in the game, New York had the ball at their own 40-yard line, down 17-13.  Jones threw a 22-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram on 3rd-and-10. Then on 4th-and-4, he connected with Lewis for six yards to keep the drive alive at the Chicago 26-yard line with just over half a minute to play. On 4th-and-1, Jones threw a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. After Jones spiked the ball to stop the clock, New York was facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Chicago 14-yard line with eight seconds left in the game. Jones threw a 4-yard pass to Lewis. With four seconds left, Jones’ pass intended for wide receiver  Golden Tate fell incomplete as Tate was flagged with offensive pass interference. Game over.

Offensively, the Giants gained 295 yards (75 yards rushing, 220 yards passing). The team only held the football for 25:31. The Giants were 3-of-13 (23 percent) on 3rd down and 3-of-3 on 4th down. Jones completed 25-of-40 passes for 241 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He also was sacked four times and fumbled the ball away once. The leading receiver was Engram with six catches for 65 yards. Barkley was the leading rusher with 28 yards on four carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 304 yards (135 yards rushing, 169 yards passing), controlling the ball for 34:29. The Bears were 9-of-16 (56 percent) on 3rd down and 1-of-1 on 4th down. The defense picked off two passes (Love and Bradberry) and garnered four sacks (defensive lineman B.J. Hill and linebackers Blake Martinez, Lorenzo Carter, and Kyler Fackrell).

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
With teams now allowed to activate two players from the Practice Squad on game day, the Giants activated CB Ryan Lewis and S Sean Chandler.

Inactive for the game were RB Wayne Gallman, TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring), and S Adrian Colbert (quad).

RB Saquon Barkley (right knee) and WR Sterling Shepard (toe) were injured and did not return.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 122020
 
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Golden Tate, New York Giants (August 24, 2020)

Golden Tate – Courtesy of New York Giants

SEPTEMBER 12, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Golden Tate (hamstring), TE Levine Toilolo (hamstring), and LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) were limited in practice on Saturday. All three players are officially “questionable” for Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

LB Markus Golden (illness) and S Adrian Colbert (illness) fully practiced. Both are expected to play on Monday.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Saturday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Aug 122020
 
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James Bradberry, New York Giants (August 9, 2020)

James Bradberry – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 12, 2020 JOE JUDGE CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Wednesday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Opening Statement: Before we get started, I just want to take a second, this entire organization and personally, really just send our thoughts and prayers to the Tisch family and the terrible tragedy they’ve had to endure with the loss of their daughter. No one should ever have to go through that. Our hearts are all with the Tisch family, and showing support to them in whatever way we can.

To kind of catch everyone up, today was the first day of Phase 2 activities with the entire 80-man squad on the field. We were out there for a 90-minute window. Generally, what that is, we’re split up offense and defense. We can’t come together or do anything competitive against each other. But it’s an opportunity to get on the field and work football drills full speed. Get the guys out there, start working on some timing within the execution of our individual fundamentals and scheme, and build them to Phase 3 activities, which are really coming up starting Friday with practice on the field. With that being said, any questions anyone has, I’d be happy to answer.

Q: I was wondering if you could shed any light on what happened with Ross Cockrell?

A: You know what, that’s just something the front office would have a better answer for. We’ve talked with several players. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out when you’re doing negotiations of contracts. You can ask Dave (Gettleman) or Kevin (Abrams) or his agent, they’ll probably give you a better reference on what happened.

Q: You obviously have a lot of young corners. Is bringing in a veteran at that position sort of a priority?

A: Our priority is just to develop the players we have on the roster and look for any talent available on the street. I don’t care if it’s a first-year player or a 10th year player. We’re looking for good players who can help build this program. To answer that question pretty direct, is it a priority to have a veteran? No, it’s not.

Q: I know your focus is on the field, but with what is happening in college right now, how are you guys pivoting or adjusting? What are you going to have to do scouting wise to stay on top of next year’s draft, if it happens, when it happens? How much time can you spend on it now and do you know how it’s going to work?

A: I’ll tell you what, in terms of the timeline of the draft, at this point, I’m assuming it’s on the normal schedule until the league adjusts that. But our personnel department has done a great job up to this point of really staying proactive with it. They’ve been talking throughout the summer anticipating that some colleges may cancel football. Obviously, that’s come to fruition at this point. You’re going to have to rely heavily on tape, which is ultimately the best scouting device anyway, what they do on the field. The disadvantage to that is you’re not going to see their most recent year available because they’re not going to play in a lot of places. It will be interesting to see how college football takes shape this year as far as allowing transfers, maybe within the same year, or what these conferences decide to do. They have to make their decisions on their level. We’ll adjust however we have to.

Q: I just wanted to follow up on something from last week. You mentioned you were thinking of having some scrimmages and stuff like that. I know that’s coming up in the next week or so. Can you just give us an update as to what your plan is for that phase of training camp?

A: Yeah, we’re basically going to have an intrasquad scrimmage of some type every week of training camp. The first one will be on this next Friday coming up. Not in two days, but next Friday. Look, for everyone kind of familiar with football, that will look a whole lot like every high school and college scrimmage in America. Offense on one sideline, defense on the other. We’ll create situations on the field and let them play live football all the way through. We have to get an opportunity to let our guys play at full speed. Let them go out there and experience the game and demonstrate they can operate when coaches aren’t yelling in their ears and trying to make corrections. We just have to get them out there and let them play.

Q: You talked a little bit about cornerback. I wanted to ask you about James Bradberry. What have you learned about him so far and are you seeing him take sort of a leadership role with that group?

A: I think all of our players are working on establishing leadership within their own groups. That will emerge more and more as training camp goes on. It all starts with doing your job well and putting the team first, and that’s really what leaders have to do. But I’d say specifically to James, what I’ve really seen with him in person so far is he comes to work every day with a purpose. He’s intent in the meetings. He takes diligent care of his body off the field. You can tell he’s learned through his time in the league as to how to prepare himself for a season. I’ve been very impressed with him with his mannerisms in the meetings and how he’s preparing. Now I’m anxious to get more on the field and see him in competitive situations.

Q: In terms of Jabrill Peppers, we all keep talking about how multiple your defense will be. He’s kind of been a guy since college who is a multiple player and really hasn’t fit into a certain role, per se. What have you seen from Jabrill and what do you envision as his spot on this defense?

A: The first part is what I see from him. I see energy. You hear him before you see him. You know when he’s in the room. He’s a lively guy, he brings a lot of energy to the team, a lot of energy to the locker room. You can tell he’s a football guy. He loves ball. He flies around. You can tell if guys are on the field, whether it’s conditioning, whether it’s the limited version of practice we had this morning, you can tell football guys. He’s definitely a ball guy. In terms of his spot on the defense, I’m not trying to be evasive on this, but it’s going to be whatever we need him to do right there. With his skill set, he’s going to factor into a lot of sub-packages. Traditionally, you’ve seen him play a lot in the box in different schemes and roles. He has that body type that still fits that. But he’s going to have to be able to play the deep part of the field as well as the box for us. Right now, we’re working all of our players in terms of understanding our zone concepts so they understand how we’re trying to play with the spacing on the field and reaction time. We’re trying to train them all the best man techniques within their own skill set in our schemes. We’re going to give him a swing of the bat at a lot of things. We’re going to shake it out week by week. However our opponent matches us up, he’ll be ready to take on a different position for us.

Q: Why was it important for Daniel Jones to put on weight this offseason, or muscle?

A: That’s not even a conversation we ever had. When you look at any player from their rookie year to year two, bodies change. It’s just different. In college, you work hard. In college, you’ve got a spring training program, you practice hard, you do the mat drills in the winter. But when you get to the NFL and your body is your career, guys learn to take different care. Not that they’re trying to take better care of it, because they’re trying to do their best in college, but they learn how to really maximize what they have. That comes in nutrition, that comes in the training. Obviously, he’s a guy that during the pandemic, he didn’t take time off. He really used it to his advantage for whatever he could do. I’d say in terms of the importance of him putting on weight, I think it was just important to him overall to change his body to be able to handle the duration of a season, which every rookie in the NFL, I don’t care who you are or where you come from, every rookie eventually struggles with the duration of the 16-game season. That’s just a fact.

Q: Is there an area where it helps a quarterback to have more weight on though?

A: I think just overall body strength helps every player as an athlete with explosion and endurance on the field. You can look at it as a measure of does it help him absorb hits better. I don’t know if there’s an absolute answer to that. It depends on who the hell is hitting you. But I would just say in terms of it, he’s done everything he can to help himself on the field. He definitely came in in shape. He looks good in conditioning. We’re working right now as far as getting with his teammates and building some time.

Q: With the start of Phase 2 today, can you just say how much that meant to you to make it look more like football? Has there been any point during this whole process where you have been able to mentally forget about it for five, ten, 15 minutes and just be coaching football and not get into coronavirus, all these masks and everything, and it’s just football?

A: I think the thing we did early on in this training camp was we just established the rules and protocols we’re all going to follow, and that’s it. We don’t have to make a big issue of it every day. We know what it is, we’re working for each other’s safety and health, we’re following the rules, and when we do that, we can think about football all day. I’ve been coaching football every day here. Listen, if you like football, you truly love being on the field with the players. That’s the most fun part. Being on the field with the players, interacting, getting to coach, getting to feel their energy on the field, that’s what’s fun. Today being the real, first, true experience of having everyone on the field together, from the start of stretch right there, getting them moving, until the end of practice with conditioning, it was just a great opportunity to be out there with the guys. They get a feel for us, we get a feel for them. You’re out there coaching. They love football, we love football. Meetings are necessary to make sure we know what to do on the field, but practice is what the day is all about.

Q: This was indeed the first time you looked out on the field and saw 80 players, correct?

A: That is true, yes.

Q: Once you guys get on the field in pads on Monday, you get into another gear. I’m curious what you hope to see from a guy like Darius Slayton going into his second year, when you guys can be a little more physical and it looks a little bit more like football, especially when you didn’t take any receivers in the draft? Once everything intensifies, what are you hoping to see from Darius?

A: I hope to see an improvement and a level of intensity from everyone on the field. Look, we’re going to be moving at a fast pace come Friday, and then again on Sunday when we come back from the day off. They’re going to be moving fast, we’re going to be intent, we’re going to have an intensity in how we work. When the padded practices start on Monday, it will reduce to a 90-minute practice per league rules. We’re going to build everyone to make sure that now that we’re in pads, we can execute with the right fundamentals to play aggressive but safe. At all positions, receiver, d-line, it doesn’t matter. When the pads go on, you have to see intensity ramp up.

Q: Just a quick follow up on Peppers. Can he play what we would consider more of a traditional cornerback role for you? Does he have that versatility? The second part is how does the new rule about allowing tryouts for free agents affect how you’re going to develop this roster over the next month?

A: I’m going to answer the second question first. Regardless of whoever’s on the street, the most important thing is developing the players on your roster. That’s the most important thing. As part of the National Football League, you’re always aware of the personnel available on the street. The personnel department is always coming up with lists of who’s out there, who’s available, what the needs may be. In terms of the rules, they are what they are. We’ll work within them. But I’m not worried about guys that aren’t on our team. I’m focusing on developing the guys on our team. In terms of Jabrill with the cornerback role, we’re going to cross train all of our DBs. Based on who the receiver is, maybe there’s a game we have to use him in that kind of role. We’ll have to see where the depth and the opponent takes us based on the weekly game plan. But we’re going to work all the fundamentals with all of our players, and make sure that when they’re called on, they have a solid base to start with and they can execute what we need them to.

AUGUST 12, 2020 DARIUS SLAYTON CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton addressed the media on Wednesday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: I’m curious about your confidence level going into Year 2 and kind of building on the chemistry you started with Daniel Jones a year ago? How different is this process this year compared to when you came in as a rookie?

A: It’s definitely been an interesting offseason just all the way around with the whole corona thing. It’s kind of been a little bit more extended than a normal offseason would be. I feel like I have had a lot of time to get in a lot of good work. I’m looking forward to this season.

Q: I wasn’t going to ask a question but then I saw you come in with the mask. You are seemingly alone, are you just very concerned about the virus?

A: No. Honestly, at this point, we wear it every day, it’s habit. At this point, it’s just habit. I wear it all around because we have to wear it in the building anyway, just a habit.

Q: I saw you had a unique setting for some of your training at home with family members. Was that out of necessity? What made you go that route? How did that help you work on your game when you need to hunker down a little bit?

A: It was a tremendous help for me. I had mostly my dad and my sister just doing ball drills with them around the house. They both have good enough aim to not break anything in the house. As long as I’m catching it, stuff tends to stay put together. Obviously, I was trying to stay home. I was trying to abide by the rules and regulations at that point in time and not be out and about. I just tried to get creative at the house and find a way to keep getting better.

Q: I don’t think there was a single game last year where Saquon, Evan, you, Shep and Tate were all lined up together. How much are you looking forward to potentially getting on the field with all those weapons together this season?

A: I’m really looking forward to it. I hope everybody can stay healthy this year and hopefully play a full 16 together. I definitely think it will be really important to have all of us out there at the same time. I’m really excited.

Q: What has your impression been of Jason Garrett so far? Obviously, he came in from the Cowboys, he had been a Head Coach there for a long time. I’m curious what you knew about him coming in and what has been your impression of him since he started coaching you?

A: I didn’t know too much about him coming in besides obviously he was the Dallas head coach. Since he’s been here, I think he has done a really good job of teaching us the system. Being patient and helping give guys time to learn things and get used to the playbook and all that type of stuff. I’m excited to have him as a coach this year.

Q: Having studied this offense or starting to learn it, what is it about it that makes it a real good fit for your skill set?

A: I think it just does a really good job of harnessing all of our weapons on our offensive skill set. We have fast receivers like myself, Shep and Golden. We have a fast tight end. All of our tight ends honestly, Evan, Levine and Kaden. Obviously, our running backs speak for themselves with Wayne and Saquon. I think the offense does a really good job holistically of getting everyone involved. Everybody will have a chance to get the ball and have the opportunity to make plays.

Q: You basically have Shep and Tate back, what does it mean to have that continuity in your room?

A: It’s tremendous. In a league where there is a lot of turnover across the board, it’s huge to have two guys, especially two veteran guys, coming in. I had them my first year and now I have them again for my second year. Just to continue to learn from and draw from them is definitely huge for somebody like me.

Q: What are your expectations in this offense? Both with all the weapons you mentioned before and for yourself with Jason Garrett being the new coordinator?

A: I think we just have a really good chance to be explosive. I think we have a chance to be an explosive offense, a really efficient offense. I just look forward to playing this year.

Q: For you personally, how do you see yourself fitting in that?

A: Kind of the same. When the ball gets thrown my way, I’ll make plays when I have the opportunity to. Just kind of go from there.

AUGUST 12, 2020 JAMES BRADBERRY CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry addressed the media on Wednesday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: What are your impressions of this defense now that you’ve spent this whole offseason kind of absorbing it, now actually at least gotten out there and talked to your coaches and seen it a little bit?

A: Every day is a learning process. I’m learning something new every day. How I feel about it? I’m enjoying it. I’ll play anything. Cover 3, Cover 2, Man, anything. I’m looking forward to it.

Q: What does it resemble? Does it resemble anything you’ve done? How would you describe it to someone if they said, ‘Hey, what kind of defense are you guys playing’?

A: Of course, I did some of those things in Carolina. Some of the techniques and certain coverages are a little bit different. But it’s pretty much the same. Defense is defense, no matter what you play.

Q: What’s been your impression of Darnay Holmes so far coming in as a rookie? He’s obviously getting a lot of reps with you guys. What have you thought about him in the time you’ve spent with him?

A: The biggest thing that’s jumped out to me is he asks a lot of questions. Given that I’m one of the older guys in the room, he’s always coming up to me, asking me different questions. He wants to learn a whole lot, and that’s what you’re supposed to do as a rookie. I’m just enjoying him being very impressionable. I’m able to make an effect on him, and that’s my goal.

Q: What is it like for you being the veteran of the cornerback room? It’s obviously a very young group. You’re coming in and you’re only 27, 28 years old. What’s it like being the veteran of the room there?

A: It’s been pretty cool but, of course, I’m on a new team, so I’m learning every day too with them. I try to teach them things that might come up on film when we’re watching film that I might know, that might help them. But for the most part, I’m learning as well.

Q: Coach Judge has been preaching all along about cross training guys on both sides of the ball. I’m just wondering, have they asked you to do anything new in this defense along the lines of that cross-training philosophy?

A: It’s still kind of early right now in our learning process. Right now, I’m just playing corner. But for the most part, we’re still learning the defense, so we’ll see down the road.

Q: When you play, do you like to travel?

A: I like to do whatever the game plan is. I’m cool with anything. I’m very flexible. When I was in college, I was very flexible. Anything that Coach asks me to do, I’m willing to do it. I’m down with anything, honestly.

Q: When you look at some of the other cornerbacks in the room, even Xavier McKinney coming in, versatile guy. Jabrill Peppers can drop in and play nickel at times. Darnay Holmes, versatile, can play outside and can play the nickel. When you have that many guys capable of playing the slot, how does that help you as an outside cornerback, and how much added pressure does that put on you with really the guy who’s best suited to play on the outside out of everybody else?

A: I think it helps Coach Pat (Graham) a lot more when he’s creating schemes and trying to go against certain offenses. Really, that would be a question for him. For me, whatever job they have in the coverage, I’m going to get it done and try to do it to the best of my ability.

Q: As a guy that primarily plays outside, how important is the chemistry with the guy on the other side of the field, or do you prefer to kind of be on an island and lock into your guy and that’s all you’re really focused on?

A: Just having chemistry within the whole secondary is important, especially with the safeties and the nickels and corners across the board. It’s a brotherhood back there, and that’s how you have to really look at it, especially in the meeting rooms when we’re talking and we’re trying to make communication calls and stuff like that. I’d say overall, it’s important.

Q: When you came to the Giants, the expectation was that DeAndre Baker would be there, a first round pick, maybe starting alongside you. Sam Beal was a guy who was there, obviously. Those guys are no longer around. First of all, does that put added pressure on you as a veteran coming in to really hold down the fort? Also, do you think this cornerback room needs to bring in some veteran who can at least know what’s going on back there?

A: All we can do is worry about the guys that we have in the room. It’s a next man up mentality around here. If you look in the room right now, I feel like we have a lot of ability. We’re going to get the job done no matter what they ask us to do. That’s our mindset.

Q: A lot of the guys, when you look in the room, you say they have ability, but they don’t have any proven track record in the league, do they?

A: We’re all young guys. I’m still learning, and they’re learning as well. At the end of the day, we’re going to get the job done no matter what.

Q: How much are you looking forward to actually getting out there and competing against teammates and playing some football?

A: It’s been a while. Of course, we missed OTAs, so it’s been a while since I’ve been out there playing football with my teammates. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

Q: Any Giants receivers you’re particularly interested in going up against?

A: Really, all of them. I haven’t played against any of them too much. I played against Sterling Shepard in the Senior Bowl, so I’m looking forward to going against all of them.

AUGUST 12, 2020 JABRILL PEPPERS CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers addressed the media on Wednesday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: There has been some talk about you cross training at cornerback? I know you train with a DB academy. Your trainer mentioned that you did some cross training at cornerback. Cornerback is such a wide-ranging type of position, what are some of the things from your game that might translate to that position to allow to contribute at that spot?

A: I think, first and foremost, I will play wherever the team needs me to play. We’ve all been cross training and can do multiple things. Whatever the scheme is, whatever they see fit, that’s what it’s going to be.

Q: You are learning about the position. Is there anything particular about it that gets you more excited about playing it?

A: Like I said, we’ve all been training at multiple things. I think as a far as the position, you have to have great footwork. I think that’s the main component that I was trying to better myself on. Just the footwork, being patient, it’s just not for any specific position. I think if I better those things, it will help me translate my game.

Q: How tough was it for you to finish last season on IR?

A: It definitely sucked. I want to be out there with the guys competing trying to help bring W’s home. To watch, it was hard. I liked what I saw from the guys. They stayed together, competed each and every week. Now I’m focused on this year.

Q: The way you got hurt, does that give you any reservations about returning kicks in the future? It didn’t happen while you were playing your primary position.

A: I’m not really worried about that. Football is football. Anything can happen out there, I’m healthy now. It’s a new year, new focus and I’m just ready to start on that journey.

Q: What are your first impressions of guys like Xavier McKinney, who could play alongside you. Does his ability to play center field get you more excited about being a playmaker up near the box?

A: We all can do many different things, each guy on the roster. Everyone looks like they are in shape, they are well conditioned, they are moving really well. We’re all just excited to compete against one another and keep making each other better.

Q: I know you said you are fully healthy. What was that process like in the offseason to get back fully healthy? How daunting was that rehab?

A: It’s not really daunting when it’s something you know you need and want to do. It was a great process, I learned a lot through it. I’m healthy now, it’s a new year. I’m just excited to be out there with the guys.

Q: Having talked to some people who trained with you this offseason, the word that kept coming up is hungry. Where is your hunger at right now? Is there another level you can take your game to?

A: We’re all hungry. We play for one of the most prestigious organizations in the National Football League. We all know where it should be. We’re all hungry to be the best person on and off the field that we can be. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating. We’re just doing our part to make sure we’re all the best that we can be.

Q: In terms of where your game is at right now and what you showed last year, do you think you can take your game to another level?

A: Right now, I am just focused on coming in here every day and being better than I was yesterday. I feel like if I continue to do that, good things will happen.

Q: I know you were training with Darnay Holmes and took him under your wing? What has been your impression of him with all the time you guys spent together? How valuable is that for a guy coming in, especially with such a weird offseason?

A: Anybody who wanted to work out, I definitely welcomed. I’m all about comradery, getting to know someone. When you get to know people deeper than just on a football level, it makes that bond much stronger and you want to play harder for those guys. That was my main focus. He comes from a great university, I like the product that they put out.

Q: This is a young defense, how much have you taken upon yourself to try and be more of a leader this year?

A: I’m not really thinking about that. I’m just worried about coming in here every day making sure we get better as a whole. No repeat mistakes, and just keep taking it step by step. We’re still early in this thing. We are going to keep coming in here with an attitude to want to get better, to want to learn and be coachable. If we can do that and sustain it, good things will definitely happen.

Q: What was it like to rehab your injury during the pandemic? How did things change for you once the middle of March came around? Did that affect the pace of your rehab?

A: No. Nothing really affected it. I definitely had to be more cautious with certain things, obviously social distance. It was still pretty routine.

Q: It seems like you have made strides the last couple of years. It seems like you are on the cusp of taking your game to that next level. Last year the injury set you back late in the year. What gives you confidence that this year is the year for you to break through. What about your situation says I’m ready to make that jump?

A: We have a great group of great leaders. I come in here every day anxious to learn from them. Put my best foot forward , put the coaching points forward. Just work as hard as I can work. That’s what I’m focusing on right now.

Jun 152020
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

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.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Backs

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.

Mar 272020
 
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James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers (September 8, 2019)

James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

CONFERENCE CALL WITH CORNERBACK JAMES BRADBERRY…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with cornerback James Bradberry, who the New York Giants signed on March 16th to a 3-year, $43.5 million contract:

Q: Why the Giants and talk about the challenge of coming in as the veteran corner on what’s a pretty young group?
A: Of course, the city of New York and all the opportunities they have on and off the field. I’m familiar with Dave Gettleman and the culture he is trying to build in the locker room. I am looking forward to being a part of it. What I can bring to the locker room is my overall knowledge of the game. I can help the younger guys in the DB room get better. My experience for the most part is what I am going to bring to the game.

Q: Obviously you and Dave Gettleman have a relationship that goes back to when he drafted you. Can you just talk a little bit about what the conversations were like this time as he was recruiting you?
A: Honestly, he reached out to my agent. I really didn’t talk to (Dave) Gettleman. They came out of nowhere and made an offer, I didn’t even expect them to make an offer. He already knew the type of guy I was, and I already knew the type of guy he was. I already knew what type of organization he was trying to build over there in New York. I knew it was nothing but positive.

Q: One of the reasons the Giants wanted you even though you are only 26 is they need a veteran in the room? Just because you have been in the league four years doesn’t mean that naturally you would be a leader. What do you think they saw in you with these young cornerbacks that you can help them other than you being a good cornerback yourself?
A: Of course, Dave saw me up close and personal my first year and then after that he saw me from afar. After that, I think he saw me improve each and every year. In order to improve you have to take knowledge and apply it on the field. That’s what I want to do for the younger guys, I want to give them knowledge and hopefully they can apply it on the field.

Q: I think the expectation is this defense is going to play a lot of man coverage. How does that fit your strength and was that appealing to you?
A: I see myself as a versatile corner. I can play zone, I can play man. I was down for whatever. Of course, playing a lot of man is a challenge for any cornerback and I am always willing to accept a challenge.

Q: What was it like going into free agency during the coronavirus?
A: Initially, free agency was going smooth until the coronavirus came around. When it became official that I was going with the Giants, it didn’t hit me yet. I don’t think it still has hit me yet. I feel like after we get everything figured out and the coronavirus, everyone is safe and whatnot. I feel like it will hit me when I am able to come up and visit.

Q: You haven’t been to the Giants facility yet? Or met any of the coaches?
A: No sir.

Q: Where are you training?
A: Right now, I am in Charlotte. My training has kind of come to a halt because of trying to keep your social distancing, trying to keep a safe distance from everyone. Making sure you are not spreading the virus or contracting the virus. I have been working out here and there trying to get it in by any means.

Q: What are your first impressions of Joe Judge as a head coach from your conversations with him? You talked about the culture they want to build now? What specifically did they talk to you about?
A: I talked to him a little bit after I signed. It was a positive conversation. We didn’t really talk about football a whole lot. We talked about life and what’s going on right now in the world. He was telling me they are postponing OTA’s and we are going to figure out football later on. Right now, we are just going to worry about what’s going on in the world.

Q: Have you ever had an opportunity in your career to serve as kind of that mentor for a young group, and if so, how that went for you with balancing mentoring them as well as being the best player you could be?
Bradberry: In my career, including college and high school? Or in the NFL?

Q: Yeah. NFL specifically, but if you had some college or high school experience mentoring, that would work.
Bradberry: I’ll just talk about the NFL. In my third year, when Donte Jackson came, of course, he was already an elite athlete. I didn’t have to coach him up on that. His technique was superb, especially because he played a lot of press man (coverage). For me, I was just trying to help him just learn how to break down film and watch film, and make sure I stayed on top of him about watching tape because that’s how you anticipate routes, within film coverage. I feel like he improved in that going into his second year. Of course, he had a standout rookie year. I feel like that was all a tribute to his talents. I helped out a little bit here and there.

Q: What experiences did you take from playing in the NFC South against Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, all those guys, that you can take with you to New York? How did those guys help make you a better player in competition?
Bradberry: Of course, the competition, going against the best, of course, it’ll help you improve your skill. But just watching film, those guys are tier one guys. I knew I had to be on my A-game every time I faced them and I had to watch my film throughout the week. It made me very diligent with my film study. I just sacrifice time, make sure I put the time in so I can ball out on Sunday.

Q: In your opinion, who is the best receiver in the NFC South?
Bradberry: I thought Julio Jones was the best receiver, but all of those guys are elite. Michael Thomas, Mike Evans are not too far behind.

Q: Obviously, nobody knows what the next few weeks or next few months are going to bring because of COVID. I’m just wondering, how are you going to get a jumpstart on what the Giants run, given that they have a new coaching staff. Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator, he obviously had a year of experience down in Miami, different personnel. But what can you do while we kind of wait for everything to sort out so that once the time does come, you’re ready to kind of hit the ground running?
Bradberry: I think just having a routine as far as working out the best you can. Getting on the bicycle, riding the bike around the neighborhood and making sure your legs are conditioned. Communicating with the coaches and trying to get as much information from them as possible. Just little, small things. Mainly just staying in shape. That’s the biggest thing.

Q: Do you know anybody with the Giants? Any of the players that you’re familiar with in any way, shape or form?
Bradberry: Yes sir. I know David Mayo, I know Rashaan Gaulden and I know Chad Slade.

Q: Have any of those guys reached out to you and told you what it’s like to be a Giant?
Bradberry: Yeah, I reached out to those guys. They had nothing but positive things to say about it. They pretty much love the city, love the facilities, and I heard the food is good.

Q: How about the young DBs that you’re going to be working with? Have you had a chance to touch base with them and what are your thoughts on DeAndre Baker?
Bradberry: I followed them on Instagram but I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to them. I’d rather introduce myself to them and meet them in person. It goes a lot smoother than text messages or DMs. But honestly, I really haven’t watched a whole lot of film on those guys. But I did watch DeAndre Baker coming out of college and I saw a really good athlete. I’m looking forward to working with him. I’m looking forward to working with him and the rest of the guys, honestly. I don’t want to single one person out.

Q: I’m wondering how you’ll embrace the challenge of kind of helping the Giants, particularly on defense, get back on track after a few years where they didn’t necessarily play up to what they would have expected?
Bradberry: Honestly, my motto is just go out there and do it. There’s no point in being scared of it or hiding back from it. Just embrace the challenge, accept it and make sure you put the time in so that when it’s time to play on Sunday, that you’re able to perform at your highest level, put on a good show for the fans and also get a win.