Aug 062019
 
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Kareem Martin, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Kareem Martin – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 6, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their eleventh full-team summer training camp practice on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin), offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), offensive tackle Chad Wheeler (back), offensive tackle Brian Mihalik (burner), linebacker Avery Moss (unknown), and cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring) did not practice on Tuesday.

“(Wheeler is) dealing with a back thing that’s… Those are a little bit tricky sometimes,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He’s sort of day-to-day.”

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (thumb) and cornerback Grant Haley (shoulder) participated with non-contact jerseys.

Defensive end B.J. Hill was excused from practice due to the birth of his child. Safety Michael Thomas and long snapper Zak DeOssie were excused in order to participate in NFLPA duties.

TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS FROM SY’56…
Even though a practice two days prior to a game can seem boring and uninformative at times, I still found value in being there. First, it was great to catch up with gidie. That guy does a lot of work behind the scenes for BBI so you guys can enjoy it…and I hope all of you remember it. Second, we had some decent conversation about the noticeable and maybe not-so-noticeable differences in this team. So while there really wasn’t a ton to write about today regarding practice, the wheels were spinning on what exactly needs to go right for this team to get back in to contention-mode. After all, gun to my head I think this team finishes under .500 but I’ve seen too many “sure things” go in the opposite direction to pretend I know what is going to happen. In sports, anything can happen.

One glaring missing piece, and we all know this, to the defense is a lack of edge presence. I didn’t oppose the trade of Olivier Vernon because of what it brought back and Vernon never really stuck with me. But that trade nearly left the cupboard bare and one of the most frustrating, team-killing components of this team in recent years has been the lack of pass rush. They have ranked bottom three in the league three of the past four years – yes you read that right. One who looks like he is ready for the next step is Lorenzo Carter. The tools he brings to the table are second-to-none when it comes to height, newfound bulk, and speed. If the skill set develops, I see a potential Danielle Hunter (MIN) in him. If he breaks out in 2019, the reward for the defense could be enormous as I think the inside DL will be getting plenty of push from Lawrence-Hill-Tomlinson.

Back to the OL…the acquisition of Kevin Zeitler cannot be underestimated. He isn’t just a solid presence, he is an elite 330+ pound pass protector who constantly makes good, powerful contact as a run blocker. Will Hernandez – Jon Halapio – Zeitler might be the heaviest (332-316-330) interior group in the league if I have my information correct. The OL has held this team back more than anything you can think of and even though the RT spot is a weaknesses, if these guys can be as dominant as I think they can be, the entire outlook of the offense changes.

Those who have been around the past few years, you know my affinity to quality linebackers. I have wanted the team to put serious resources in to the position (free agency money/high draft picks, etc.) and I realize it may not be among popular belief. But I look at a team like Dallas and the impact they have had from their second level defenders and I see what a Darius Leonard has done for IND, I just can’t shake the thought. Maybe I am stubborn. Anyway, the battle for the spot next to Alec Ogletree is going to be interesting. Tae Davis is the smallest, but quickest among the three who I think will end up competing for the spot. B.J. Goodson is, by far, the most imposing and physical. Rookie Ryan Connelly looks like the gamer who knows the defense so well and can really take in coaching. They are awfully different players and a lot will depend on what the coach wants out of that spot, but whomever gets the job needs to help rid the NYG defense of getting torched week-after-week, year-after-year in the middle of the field.

The backfield is going to need to be more than good if this offense is going to soar. As I said last week, I just see too many limitations in the passing game for me to think they will be dangerous. That is fine. However the running backs need to be elite. We have that in Saquon Barkley, nothing new there. But as good as he is, you can’t run this guy in to the ground with 35 touches a game every week. He and Wayne Gallman appear to be much more assertive and explosive. Part of that will come from the confidence of better OL play, but I think they are making it a point to keep themselves moving forward as they diagnose the lanes and holes. Both, more so Barkley, had a tendency last year to side shuffle too much after getting the ball. Those extra 1-2 yards per carry mean more than you think if you know anything about analytics and “early down success.” With the way this offense is put together, these backs need to stick with this “fall forward” approach much like we see Ezekiel Elliot do so well.

My general point in all this, and it is backed up by analysis around the league, these second/third year players MUST make the jump if this team has any shot at competing. Rookie contracts are arguably the greatest asset to a franchise on the field and the ascent in levels of these guys is completely critical. Veterans like Manning, Latimer, Solder, Ogletree, Jenkins…etc., we know that they are and we can only hope they don’t decline. The performance on the 2019 Giants mostly sits on the shoulders of these young guys, maybe the rookies as well, taking it to the next step. If they don’t, see ya next year.

TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS FROM GIDIEFOR…
It was warm and overcast today. You could smell the rain in the air, but the rain held off, and the players and coaches got practice in before any rainfall. The players were all in shells. As has been the usual the players were out in groups with their coaches doing drills as we waited to get on the field. Today, TE Evan Engram, WR Sterling Shepard, and RB Saquon Barkley were right in front of us throwing passes at the practice net trying to make baskets from about thirty yards away. Saquon Barkley is a pretty accurate thrower. Sterling made a few quite a few himself, or at least hit the net. Engram hit the net a few times himself. The four quarterbacks in their red shirts were again to the right of us practicing their footwork. There was not a lot to read into today’s practice, some of it was with cards, and they mostly practiced setting up play action in their sets without hitting. The Giants were getting ready to play the Jets in two days.

We were let onto the practice area and escorted to the field at our far right. The defense was in white jerseys and the offense was in blue today. After the stretches, were position drills. We were standing where the backfield did their drills and watched them and I peaked at the offensive lineman drills at the edge of the field to our left, and saw LT Nate Solder knock T Paul Adams hard into the ground, and noted that LB Alex Ogletree has switched his uniform number from 52 to 47.

One of the conversations we had were about the differences between this year’s team and the team two years ago. As I have mentioned previously, it is noticeable that the Giants have invested in big men especially up front on both offense and defense. Consider that of the offensive line starters: LT Nate Solder is 6’9” 319lbs, LG Will Hernandez is 6’3” 332lbs, C Jon Halapio is 6’4” 315lbs, RG Kevin Zeitler is 6’4” 330lbs, and RT Mike Remmers is 6’5” 308 lbs. Sy’56 noted that the majority of the NFL isn’t built that way anymore, whereas on the Giants every lineman above 300 lbs and they range from 6’3” to 6’9” – the guards being a little shorter and nearly 15 lbs heavier than the tackles. The starters on the defensive line are DL Dalvin Tomlinson at 6’3 319 lbs, DL Dexter Lawrence at 6’4” 342lbs, and DL BJ Hill at 6’3” 310 lbs. These are all Giants. Coach Pat Shurmur and GM Dave Gettlemen have stated that this is a big man’s game and clearly that is how they are building the roster with very big men who are strong and athletic and cannot be pushed around so easily.

As we watched the first sets setting up play-action, it is easy to see the Giants being a throwback team this year with the big men up front giving RB Saquon Barkley a little more breathing room, and we hope learning to keep moving forward, and buying time with the play-action to set up the quick-passing game. WR Sterling Shepard and WR Golden Tate will be key to this type of game with crossing patterns and other short passes and with getting big chunks of yardage on the fly after the catch. TE Evan Engram will also play a big role up the seam and running sideline routes. TE Rhett Ellison will be counted on as a burly outlet and has been stout in practice in the red zone. One or more of WR Cody Latimer, WR Alonzo Russell, WR Bennie Fowler, and WR Darius Slayton – when and if they play – will be asked to stretch the field.

On defense, the big front will be tasked with stopping the run and penetrating the line to get to the QB. LB Lorenzo Carter, albeit that he has yet to prove it, is probably set up to be the Giants best weapon off the edge with LBs Kareem Martin and Markus Golden opposite him. By the way, the new LB/ER Joey Alfieri was given first- and second-team reps off the edge today and looked almost comical getting engulfed by LT Nate Solder and LT Paul Adams. He looks a little small, way too light at 226, and not too fluid. The other new addition, G Malcolm Bunche, does look the part of the big man, however, at 6’6” 310lbs.

Notes:

  • WR Cody Latimer made the first big play today with a 50-yard reception down field by the end zone.
  • We remarked how disconcerting it is to see CB Deandre Baker wear Brandon Jacobs old number. Also, WR Reggie White, Jr. wearing OBJ’s old number. Both of their body types are polar opposites to their predecessors. LB Ryan Connelly had his helmet off for a while today and looks a little like Mark Herzlich.
  • RB Paul Perkins looks like he is filling out, and looks more the part of a running back.
  • CB Deandre Baker made a strong play boxing out WR Bennie Fowler III on another long pass.
  • S Jabrill Peppers looks very comfortable out there catching punts, and build-wise looks a lot like Tiki Barber. He also wears Tiki’s old number.
  • WR Alonzo Russell made a nice catch today.
  • During the final series of 11-on-11’s and then 7-on-7’s, the team practiced getting into formation and getting the snap off before the 40-second play-clock elapsed.

MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • QB Daniel Jones hit WR Reggie White, Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown over CB Ronald Zamort.
  • QB Kyle Lauletta connected with WR Da’Mari Scott for a roughly 30-yard gain over CB Grant Haley.
  • S Jabrill Peppers broke up a short pass to WR Alex Wesley.
  • QB Alex Tanney hit WR Da’Mari Scott for a long pass down the right sideline.
  • QB Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to WR T.J. Jones.
  • CB Janoris Jenkins tipped a QB Kyle Lauletta pass that was intercepted by CB Grant Haley.
  • QB Daniel Jones threw a touchdown pass to WR T.J. Jones on a corner route.
  • CB Deandre Baker broke up a long pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Bennie Fowler.
  • QB Eli Manning fired a touchdown pass to WR Sterling Shepard against CB Grant Haley.

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

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

ARTICLES…

Aug 052019
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 5, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their tenth full-team summer training camp practice on Monday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have waived offensive guard Austin Droogsma and re-signed offensive tackle Malcom Bunche.

The Giants signed Droogsma after he impressed at the 2019 rookie mini-camp. The 6’4”, 345-pound Droogsma was a star shot-putter at Florida State. He has not played football since high school in 2012.

The 27-year old, 6’6”, 319-pound Bunche was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2015 NFL Draft. Bunche has spent time with the Eagles (2015), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2017), and Jacksonville Jaguars (2017). The Giants signed Bunche after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2018 rookie mini-camp, but cut before the season started. He has not played in a regular-season game.

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

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (thumb) and cornerback Grant Haley (shoulder) participated with non-contact jerseys.

Defensive end B.J. Hill was excused from practice due to the birth of his child. Safety Michael Thomas and long snapper Zak DeOssie were excused in order to participate in NFLPA duties.

Offensive tackle Brian Mihalik (burner) left practice early.

MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The quarterbacks completed 14 of their first 16 pass attempts, primarily focused on the short passing game.
  • CB Deandre Baker broke up a long pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Golden Tate.
  • LB Ryan Connelly was unblocked o a blitz up the middle and “sacked” the quarterback; LB Alec Ogletree also got to the quarterback with an inside spin move.
  • QB Eli Manning threw a “perfect” deep pass to WR Cody Latimer over CB Janoris Jenkins.
  • CB Janoris Jenkins broke up two passes.
  • At one point in practice, Corey Ballentine and Deandre Barker were the first-team corners with Janoris Jenkins playing in the slot.
  • CB Corey Ballentine broke up a pass intended for WR Sterling Shepard.
  • QB Alex Tanney connected with WR Alex Wesley, who ran a good route and beat CB Grant Haley.
  • LB Kareem Martin got past LT Nate Solder on a blitz and forced QB Eli Manning to spike the ball into the ground.
  • In red zone drills, tight coverage from CB Corey Ballentine caused an incomplete pass from QB Daniel Jones to WR Bennie Fowler. But then Jones threw a touchdown pass to WR T.J. Jones against Ballentine.
  • In 7-on-7 drills, CB Grant Haley knocked away a QB Alex Tanney pass intended for WR Da’Mari Scott in the end zone.
  • QB Daniel Jones had a good day, completing 10-of-16 passes with three of those going to WR Bennie Fowler.

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

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

ARTICLES…

Jun 262019
 
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Spencer Pulley and Will Hernandez, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

Spencer Pulley and Will Hernandez – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: It’s clear that General Manager Dave Gettleman took one look at the team’s offensive line and had the same reaction as fans. Justin Pugh (2013 1st rounder), Weston Richburg (2014 2nd rounder), and D.J. Fluker were allowed to walk in free agency during the 2018 offseason. John Jerry was cut before the season started. The Giants started the 2018 season with newly-signed free agent Nate Solder at left tackle, 2nd-rounder Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio at center, newly-signed free agent Patrick Omameh at right guard, and Ereck Flowers at right tackle.

This group did not play well and the offense struggled to score points before the bye week. In addition, Halapio broke his ankle in Week 2 and was replaced by John Greco and then waiver-wire pick-up Spencer Pulley. Flowers was benched after the second game and replaced by second-year undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler. Omameh lasted a bit longer, starting the first six games before being cut in November. Greco first took his spot, then newcomer Jamon Brown, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The 2.0 version of the 2018 offensive line thus included Solder-Hernandez-Pulley-Brown-Wheeler. The best thing that could be said of this group was that it wasn’t as crappy as the previous group. Team scoring improved, but Pulley and Wheeler were clearly weak links. Brown looked the part, but demonstrated the same inconsistency that led to him being cut by the Rams. And it rapidly became apparent that the desperate Giants dramatically overpaid Solder, who did play better as the season progressed. While Hernandez experienced the expected rookie growing pains, he improved and was named to the All-Rookie team.

Overall, for yet another season, the line remained the offense’s Achilles’ heel, with the free agent newcomers not playing as well as expected, and the team being forced to start two mid-season waiver-wire pickups.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants re-signed both Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley. The team did not bring back John Greco, and Jamon Brown signed with the Falcons. The Giants acquired guard Kevin Zeitler via a trade from the Browns and signed tackle Mike Remmers in free agency. Street free agents Chad Slade and Austin Droogsma were signed. Surprisingly, the Giants only drafted one lineman: George Asafo-Adjei in the 7th round. Rookie free agents Paul Adams and James O’Hagan were signed after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Heading into training camp, the expected starting offensive line is Nate Solder at left tackle, Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio or Spencer Pulley at center, Kevin Zeitler at right guard, and Mike Remmers at right tackle. On paper, this appears to be the team’s best offensive line in almost a decade. Hernandez and Zeitler are arguably one of the best set of starting guards in the NFL. They are not just big, physical football players, but they play with professionalism and attitude. The Giants haven’t been in such good shape here since the days of Rich Seubert and Chris Snee.

The three other spots are a bit more unsettled. Nate Solder clearly did not live up to his contract. He’s also missed the Spring workouts due to ankle surgery. However, he is another veteran presence who gives the Giants more stability and reliability at the crucial left tackle position than Ereck Flowers and Will Beatty ever did. Moreover, the Solder-Hernandez tandem on the left side should play better in their second year together. Mike Remmers has bounced around the League, now playing with his seventh team. But the self-made journeyman parlayed his improving play into a 5-year, $30 million contract with the Vikings in 2017. He played well at right tackle for that team in 2017 but was more inconsistent at right guard in 2018. A recurring back issue that required offseason surgery was a factor in the Vikings cutting him in March. If Remmers is over his back issues (which caused him to miss Spring workouts), and if he can regain his 2017 form, the Giants will have massively upgraded themselves at right tackle with another professional, veteran presence. But those are two big “ifs”. Like the left tackle position, right tackle has been a disaster for the Giants for years.

Based on offseason comments by team officials, it was assumed that Jon Halapio would be penciled in as the starting center again. However, Spencer Pulley has been pushing him and splitting snaps with the first unit during Spring workouts. The starting center position appears to be very much up for grabs. The good news is that whomever starts, they will be tremendously aided by Hernandez and Zeitler on their flanks.

Overall, the main story line is this group needs to develop cohesion and chemistry quickly. Both starting tackles missed the mini-camp and OTAs this Spring due to injuries. With so few training camp practices, there is not much time for everyone to come together.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 16 offensive linemen on the roster. The Giants will probably keep nine. Barring injury, Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Mike Remmers will start. Both Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley should make it unless one of the younger centers push one off the roster. That leaves three spots for ten players. Chad Wheeler probably has a leg up on being the reserve swing tackle. But it will be a dogfight for those last few spots.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Mike Remmers: “I worked with Mike for two years. He is a pro, a real pro, and he played winning football for us in Minnesota. I knew a lot about Mike and then he started last year every game and played well. We were in talks with him, took a couple of physicals, just went through the process and signed him.”

Shurmur on Jon Halapio: “He was really playing well for us before he got hurt a year ago. So we had high hopes for him last season. It appears he has come back 100 percent and is back in there just like he was when he left us.”

Shurmur on George Asafo-Adjei: “We like him for all the reasons we liked him on his college tape. He is a powerful guy that has very good length. You can tell he is a very physical style player. That is important at that position.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on the offensive line: “I think the guys that we’ve added over the course of last season and this season have brought a lot of character, intelligence, competitiveness, integrity to that room. I think it didn’t show as early as we wanted it to last year. I think it showed pretty well at the end of the year. I think we’ve kind of picked up, in fact improved since then. We are going to be leaning on them, they are going to be the starting point of our offense. Everyone knows we have Saquon, we want to run the football, we are going to be balanced. To do that it’s got to start with the offensive line. We want to run the ball, when we want to run it, we want to throw that ball when we want to throw it. To do that it starts up front. We are going to lean heavy on those guys.”

Shula on Chad Wheeler: “I think Wheels has done a really good job this offseason with our exposure with him. Again, I have only been around him for a year, but I think there is a big difference even with him and his approach. I think he, along with a lot of other guys, got better as the year went on. We all know that we were nowhere near good enough early in the year. We did a lot of good things even though it wasn’t good enough at the end of the year, but we were really, really close and trending in the right direction. He was one of those guys that falls in that category.”

Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter on Kevin Zeitler: “You have to love Zeitler. He is a tough, hard nose guy. I have seen him play. I watched him play when he was in Cincinnati’s offense. He is a good football player. He brings a real toughness. He is all business… He is very demanding of guys around him in a positive way. You demand in yourself what you demand in others. I love that about him. I love everything about him, his personality and what he brings. He is so fun to coach.”

Hunter on Jon Halapio: “He made good progress during (the 2018 training) camp and great progress during the preseason. The way he was playing in the beginning of the Dallas game, that was shocking. He was playing really well. When you sit out all that time, you get so far behind physically and technically. Now he is back in the swing of things and he looks good. He is only scratching the surface. He is smart, tough and strong. He has athleticism and needs to continue to play at the position.”

Hunter on George Asafo-Adjei: “My son works at Kentucky. He works in the football office down there. We found out from the inside out – he talked about what a quality guy he was. He was probably the most respected guy on the offensive side of the ball. He talked about how he competed with Josh Allen on a day-to-day basis. He talked about his character, work ethic and his toughness. All of those things peaked interest. You watch him on tape and see that he has a lot of athleticism and power. He has a lot of toughness and plays in the best football conference in the country. We have some technical work to do. He is a rookie and you have to tell him to do something once and he goes on and does it right the next time. He picked up the offense much quicker than I thought he was going to. When you compare our offense to their offense, we have a lot more volume to it with a lot of the things that we were doing. We need to continue to work with him technically to get him up to speed but you have to like everything about him. When you read him, that is one of the first things that I found out. He had committed to Kentucky early and is a man of his word. When all those other schools came in like Alabama, that is legit. Those people tried to come in and recruit him. He gave Kentucky his word and didn’t go anywhere. He has some developmental potential.”

PREDICTIONS: Some fans have questioned me about why I am so upbeat about the 2019 offensive line since there remain some serious question marks at center and both tackle spots. I feel good because I see a group of professional, reliable veterans. For the last decade, the Giants haven’t just been bad up front, they’ve been dreadful. They were not only physically overmatched, they did not treat their jobs as professionals. And they certainly could not be relied upon.

I love our two guards. And whomever starts at center will benefit from them. Solder and Remmers aren’t pretty, but they get the job done. This group will show up to work, give you a full 60 minutes, and leave their opponents feeling sore the next day. I’ll take that any day.

My only concern is that with Solder and Remmers missing all of the Spring workouts, early-season cohesion and chemistry will be lacking. But both guys have been around the League for a long time and that will help. The Giants also have to pray Remmers’ back holds up.

There are Giants fans in their teens and 20s who have never seen their team field a decent offensive line. I think that is about to change. Don’t be surprised if both guards receive some Pro Bowl recognition.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Kevin Zeitler, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder, Mike Remmers, Jon Halapio, Spencer Pulley, Chad Wheeler, George Asafo-Adjei, Paul Adams

(I realize this is tackle heavy, but it’s easier for a tackle to play guard in a pinch rather than the other way around. The Giants also need to groom a couple of young tackles).

May 082019
 
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Rod Smith, Dallas Cowboys (December 30, 2018)

Rod Smith – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN RB ROD SMITH…
The New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent running back Rod Smith (Dallas Cowboys). The 27-year old, 6’3”, 235-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He was released by Seattle in October 2015. The Cowboys claimed him off of waivers and he played with the Cowboys until the end of the 2018 season. Smith has played in 49 regular-season games with two starts, carrying the ball 101 times for 364 yards and five touchdowns. He also has caught 30 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown.

NEW YORK GIANTS ASSISTANT COACH MEDIA SESSIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of Wednesday’s media sessions with the following position coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

Mar 082019
 
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Kevin Zeitler, Cleveland Browns (December 24, 2017)

Kevin Zeitler – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS TRADE OLIVIER VERNON FOR KEVIN ZEITLER
The New York Giants have traded linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for offensive guard Kevin Zeitler. In addition, the Giants and Browns swapped mid-round picks, with the Giants sending a 4th-round (132nd overall) selection for the Browns’ 5th-round (155th overall) selection.

Vernon was scheduled to earn $15.25 million in salary in both 2019 and 2020, and count $19.5 million against the 2019 NFL salary cap. The trade will reportedly net the Giants $1.5 million in 2019 salary cap room as trading Vernon “saved” the Giants $11.5 million while the team now takes on Zeitler’s $10 million 2019 salary. Overall, the Giants absorbed $8 million in dead money from Vernon by trading him.

The 29-year old, 6’4”, 315-pound Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. In seven seasons, Zeitler has started 103 of the 104 regular-season games he has played in, not missing a start in the last four seasons. Zeitler has good size and is a consistently solid run and pass blocker.

Vernon’s first three seasons with the Giants were sabotaged due to nagging injuries, including a high ankle sprain in 2018 that caused him to miss the first five games of the season. Vernon started the remaining 11 games, accruing 30 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble. Despite the missed time and subpar tackle production, Vernon played in the Pro Bowl as a first alternate.

Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016 to a 5-year, $85 million contract. Although Vernon played in all 16 regular-season games in 2016, a serious left hand/wrist injury affected his play. In 2017, he missed four games with an ankle injury that also continued to be a factor in other games. An undersized but athletic defensive end, the Giants shifted him to linebacker in 2018 to fit their new 3-4 scheme.

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN JON HALAPIO
The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent center Jon Halapio, who won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. The injuries required surgery.

Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard.

Feb 112019
 
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Will Hernandez, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Will Hernandez – © USA TODAY Sports

One of the primary reasons why General Manager Jerry Reese and Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross were fired was their inability to satisfactorily address an offensive line that had begun to deteriorate during the Super Bowl season of 2011. For years, Reese and Ross invested premium draft picks and free agent resources at the position, but to no avail. Enter new General Manager Dave Gettleman, who initially won over the hearts and minds of many Giants fans tired of inept offensive line play by focusing much of public comments on the “hog mollies” up front.

So what did Gettleman do? He almost completely gutted the previous group. Justin Pugh (2013 1st rounder), Weston Richburg (2014 2nd rounder), and D.J. Fluker were allowed to walk in free agency. John Jerry was cut before the season started. Somewhat oddly, the only unrestricted free agent the team chose to re-sign was John Greco. Newcomers included Nate Solder (4 years, $62 million), Patrick Omameh (3 years, $15 million), and 2018 2nd-round draft pick Will Hernandez. Notably, Ereck Flowers (9th player taken in the 2015 NFL Draft), who the previous administration had refused to shift to right tackle, was finally moved to the spot that many argued would be his best position. The only real surprise coming out of the OTAs and training camp was that Jon Halapio beat out Brett Jones at center, with the latter eventually being traded to the Minnesota Vikings in late August. The new offensive line coach was Hal Hunter, a man with an uninspiring resume and who was also out of football in 2017.

The Giants started the season with Nate Solder at left tackle, Will Hernandez at left guard, Jon Halapio at center, Patrick Omameh at right guard, and Ereck Flowers at right tackle. This group did not play well and the offense struggled mightily to score points. Indeed, there appeared to be no measurable improvement over the previous pathetic groups. The Giants began the season 1-7, scoring an average of 15 points in six of those losses despite the presence of Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley.

Injury and an ineffectiveness soon led to shakeups up front. Halapio broke his ankle and leg in the second game of the season and was first replaced by John Greco and then Spencer Pulley, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers. The new regime also decided it had seen enough of Flowers and Omameh. Flowers was benched after the second game and replaced by second-year undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler. Omameh lasted a bit longer, starting the first six games before being cut in November. Greco first took his spot, then newcomer Jamon Brown, who was claimed off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The 2.0 version of the 2018 offensive line thus included Solder-Hernandez-Pulley-Brown-Wheeler. The best thing that could be said of this group was that it wasn’t as crappy as the previous group. Team scoring improved, but Pulley and Wheeler were clearly weak links. Brown looked the part, but demonstrated the same inconsistency that led to him being cut by the Rams. And it rapidly became apparent that the desperate Giants dramatically overpaid Solder, who did settle down more as the season progressed. (Unfortunately, it was the Giants’ failed attempt to land guard Andrew Norwell in free agency that led to the Giants acquiring both Solder and Omameh). While Hernandez experienced the expected rookie growing pains, he improved and was named to the All-Rookie team.

Overall, for yet another season, the line remained the offense’s Achilles’ heel, with the free agent newcomers not playing as well as expected, and the team being forced to start two mid-season waiver-wire pickups.

THE EVENTUAL STARTERS

The Giants signed Nate Solder as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2018. Solder started all 16 games at left tackle but had an inconsistent season, struggling at times as both a run and pass blocker, particularly during the first-half of the year. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons, Solder has started 111 of the 114 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. Solder was voted a team captain in his first year with the Giants.

In his second season with the Giants, Chad Wheeler was promoted to the starter at right tackle when the team decided to bench Ereck Flowers after the second game. Wheeler ended up starting 14 games at right tackle, but was a weak link on a unit that played better during the second half of the season. Wheeler was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. Not only did he make the team, but he ended up playing in 11 games with four starts, three at right tackle and one at left tackle. Wheeler is a hardworking, versatile player and a decent athlete, but he appears to lack ideal footwork, strength, and bulk to be a starter. He may be better suited as a back-up swing tackle.

The Giants selected Will Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. While he had some growing pains, Hernandez, ended up starting all 16 games at left guard and was named named to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Hernandez lacks ideal height, but he is a big, tough, strong, powerful guard who does his best work in-line and not on the move. Hernandez is a mauler who plays with leverage and gets movement as a run blocker. He plays with an attitude and looks to finish his blocks and punish opponents. Hernandez lacks ideal foot quickness which hampers his game in space and, at times, as a pass protector, but he generally gets the job done.

The Giants claimed Jamon Brown off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams at the end of October 2018. He was quickly inserted into the starting lineup, and played in the final eight games as the starting right guard. The 6’4”, 340-pound Brown was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Rams. Brown has played in 50 regular-season games with 38 starts. He was suspended the first two games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Brown’s size and strength is an asset in the running game, but he was too inconsistent in pass protection. He also needs to cut down on his penalties.

The Giants claimed Spencer Pulley off of waivers from the Los Angeles Chargers in September 2018. Pulley was inserted into the starting line-up in late October. He struggled in his nine starts at center and missed one game due to an injury. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. He also is able to play guard.

OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE

Jon Halapio won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. The injuries required surgery. Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard. Halapio is stout and strong, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism. Versatile, he can play both center and guard.

The Giants signed John Greco in November 2017. In 2018, Greco played in 15 games with seven starts (five at center, two at right guard). An older, fading player, Greco struggled at both positions and was eventually replaced in the starting line-up by players acquired during the season. Greco was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He has spent time with the Rams (2008-2010), Cleveland Browns (2011-2016), and New Orleans Saints (2017). He’s a versatile player with experience at both guard positions and center.

Sep 192018
 
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Elijhaa Penny, Arizona Cardinals (August 31, 2017)

Elijhaa Penny – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed running back/fullback Elijhaa Penny from the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals. The 25-year old, 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. Penny spent his rookie season on the Cardinals’ Practice Squad. He was active all 16 regular-season games in 2017 with no starts and finished the season with 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 38 yards.

The Giants also claimed wide receiver Stacy Coley off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. The 24-year old, 6’0”, 195-pound Coley was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Vikings. Coley played in four games in 2017 and the first two games of 2018, but he does not have a career catch. He has returned one kickoff.

To make room for Penny, the Giants waived fullback Shane Smith and placed center Jon Halapio on Injured Reserve. Halapio broke his ankle and lower leg in the game against the Cowboys last Sunday. He underwent surgery on Monday.

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Wednesday due to injury were linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), and cornerback Eli Apple (groin).

Wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (ankle) were limited in practice.

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

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Sunday’s away game against the Houston Texans. The team’s coordinators will address the press on Thursday.

Sep 172018
 
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Eli Manning and Jon Halapio, New York Giants (September 16, 2018)

Eli Manning and Jon Halapio – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY UPDATE – JON HALAPIO DONE FOR THE SEASON…
New York Giants center Jon Halapio is done for the 2018 NFL season as the team revealed that he suffered fractures to his lower leg and ankle during the game on Sunday night. He will soon undergo surgery to repair the injuries.

Head Coach Pat Shurmur did not have an update on cornerback Eli Apple, who was also injured in the game. “I have no updates other than he had to leave the game with a groin, I guess it was,” said Shurmur. “We’ll see where it’s at. We’ll know more tomorrow.”

MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 20-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

Opening Remarks: After watching the tape, I don’t have really anything new to add aside from the fact that we’ve just got to play better in some areas, and we’ve got to make more plays and give ourselves a chance to win. I’d like to see us get a faster start and basically continue to play hard through the game like we did, but we’ve just got to find a way to make the plays necessary to win. I’ll take your questions.

Q: What can you do as a head coach and especially as a play caller to try to get those fast starts? Obviously you’re trying to start fast every game, but seeing what went on the first two games, what could you do to change things up to maybe force feed a faster start?

A: Certainly we want to stay on the field, see if you can get some big plays in there, that’s important. We had one third down that we missed by inches and I chose to punt it the first time. At times, to be able to drive the ball and get big chunks – that’s what you want to try to do on every drive, we’ve just got to try to it better, sooner. We’ve got to get in the end zone, quite frankly.

Q: After watching the film and looking what the Cowboys did on defense with the twists and all that stuff, how much of that caused confusion with the offensive line, and were they prepared for what was thrown at them?

A: I think our guys were prepared. We were well aware of the fact they have been a defensive front that moves quite a bit. They have done it for years, that’s their style. We were aware of it and some of the pressures we practiced. I think we had a hat for them in most occasions, one time we had it picked up and we just didn’t slide through it. We’ve just got to do a better job, I don’t think we faced anything we hadn’t seen. We’ve just got to be cleaner with our blocks. They got on our edges a little bit too much.

Q: We know that Jon Halapio broke his leg and ankle and is out for the year, where do you go at center now?

A: We have guys on the roster who have played center, John Greco went in there and played and then we brought in Spencer Pulley on the roster who played all last season at center, so we’ve got guys that have done it and they’ll just slide up and get ready to go.

Q: Is Greco the first option or were you just going with the guy who was active last night?

A: We’ll start with John and then obviously get Spencer ready to go.

Q: Do you have an update on the severity of Eli Apple’s injury?

A: I have no updates other than he had to leave the game with a groin, I guess it was. We’ll see where it’s at. We’ll know more tomorrow.

Q:  Back to the stunts and blitzes. If you were prepared, why do you think you didn’t handle the pressure well? Was it a communication issue, there’s a lot of former players out there turned analysts today saying that it was a schematic thing – do you not see it that way?

A: I don’t know, I’d have to ask whoever those former players are what it was. There are times when we had a hat for them, you’ve got to pick it up. We had one certainly on the fumble where it was a full slide, we just didn’t slide through, it was communicated. I don’t know. Whoever made those comments, they’d have to ask me.

Q: Is it too early in the season to make any kind of drastic personnel changes? Would you prefer to remain consistent whether it’s a player on the offensive line or wherever else – would you prefer to try and remain consistent or do you think with an 0-2 start, some consistency struggles with something like that could be necessary for week 3?

A: We look at everything all the time. I think what’s important is we stay the course, get the players that we have playing better, and try to make more plays to do what’s necessary to win the game.

Q: When you look at the first game against Jacksonville, really good team you played well – was this past Sunday a step back?

A:  No. Absolutely not. We didn’t win the first game and we didn’t win the second game. That goes back into that thinking you did good when you didn’t win. We’ve got to do what we have to do to do the things necessary to win the game, period. We really don’t worry about all of that stuff.

Q: Through two games, considering the personnel you do have on offense, why has it been so difficult to sustain drives, to get into the end zone, to score points?

A: I think I’ve been answering the same question over and over in different ways, but we’ve got to do more to stay on the field instead of ending six inches short, just keep the drive alive. We’ve got to do better in all areas, we just have to play better.

Q: On your third downs this year, an inordinate number of those plays the ball has been thrown short of the sticks. What do you think of that?

A: First of all, I don’t think that’s correct, but go ahead.

Q: All seven of your third downs in the first half, you didn’t throw the ball to the sticks. Is that not inordinate to you? The second half of the last game, too, I think it was six of seven. I’m just wondering what you think of it? Is that what you’re trying to do on offense, is that just circumstance?

A: Obviously, the plays are designed to get the first down, and there’s times when you’re playing against man coverage where you get catch-and-run scenarios, and then there’s other times when you have layered passes where you have a downfield throw and then kind of a shorter throw that requires a run to get the first. Depending on how all that plays out, really doesn’t matter as long as you get the first.  Then if you didn’t get it, you didn’t get it.

Q: Did you see opportunities yesterday where (Eli Manning) could have hit (Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard), or was the pass rush such that you didn’t have a chance on those kinds of plays?

A: There are times when you have to move slightly or dependent on what’s happening, you don’t have the ability to get the ball down the field. Certainly we’re always trying to do that and we didn’t get the chance to do that as much as we wanted to.

Q: I know you’re aware of what happened last year. Do you feel like you have to be cognizant of where this team is mentally right now more so because of that or do you just view it as everyone has a clean slate and it’s still the second week of the season?

A: We’re trying to grow away from that the best we can, and put all our efforts into beating Houston. That’s where we’re at. A question like this just kind of brings it into focus when that’s not something that we think about.

Q: When you look at the number of hits (Eli Manning) has taken, obviously you worry about him physically, but do you worry about him getting a little bit of whiplash from those hits and maybe speeding things up knowing that he’s going to take another big hit?

A: Eli is a competitor. We’re going to do everything we can to protect him. There was times last night where he wasn’t protected well enough, and we just keep playing and try to get better in all areas.

Q: On the defense’s performance – what did you see in the handling of Dak Prescott, especially when he was on the run? It looked like there wasn’t a lot contain on the edges.

A: I thought the general part of their running game, I thought our guys did a pretty good job. There were a couple times in the zone read situations where we could have done a little bit better job.

Q: When you look at the tape and look at that game yesterday, can you single out some players who you thought played well?

A: We lost the game. There are certainly some guys that behind the scenes will be told that this was good, but here still are your mistakes. Ultimately, we didn’t play well enough to win.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of the conference call media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

NOTES…

  • The Giants are 0-2 for the second year in a row and for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley set a Giants franchise, single-game record with 14 receptions (for 80 yards).

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

Sep 092018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 15…
The New York Giants lost their opening game of the 2018 season by falling 20-15 to the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. It was a tightly-fought and winnable game for New York, but too many mistakes on offense and special teams did the team in.

The Jaguars received the ball to start the game and went up 3-0 after an 11-play, 59-yard drive set up a successful 39-yard field goal. New York’s opening offensive possession almost ended in disaster with a safety as the team found itself in a 3rd-and-23 situation from its own 1-yard line. Two penalties on right tackle Ereck Flowers, including a holding penalty that wiped out a 34-yard completion to tight end Evan Engram, pushed the Giants back.

After the Giants punted, New York quickly got the ball back. Defensive end Kerry Wynn and linebacker Kareem Martin sacked quarterback Blake Bortles for an 8-yard loss. Then Janoris Jenkins picked off Bortles at the Giants 37-yard line. Sparked by a 10-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley and a 24-yard pass to wideout Odell Beckham, the Giants managed to move the ball 54 yards in nine plays to set up a 27-yard field goal. Unfortunately, the Giants couldn’t score a touchdown after setting up a 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

The Jaguars retook the lead 6-3 on their ensuing possession in the 2nd quarter by driving 54 yards in 15 plays to set up a 39-yard field goal. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Jacksonville added to their advantage with a 5-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to running back T.J. Yeldon, beating safety Landon Collins in coverage. The Jaguars now led 13-3.

Quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense put together a 10-play, 62-yard drive right before halftime to set up another field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas, this one from 31 out with just seconds left on the clock. The Giants overcame a sack and a 3rd-and-12 situation with a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Beckham drew two pass interference penalties that picked up a total of 45 yards, but the Giants were stopped inside the red zone again.

At the half, the Jaguars led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and immediately cut into Jacksonville’s lead with an 11-play, 49-yard drive that set up a 44-yard field goal by Rosas. Neither team could move the ball the remainder of 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters. After a three-and-out by the Jaguars, Barkley was stuffed on a 4th-and-2 effort from the Jacksonville 38-yard line as New York turned the ball over on downs. Then came five consecutive punts.

The game-changer came with just under 12 minutes left to play. Facing a 2nd-and-7 from their own 30-yard line, Manning was under immediately pressure as Flowers could not handle the outside rush. Right guard Patrick Omameh’s opponent then tipped Manning’s pass that was intercepted and returned for a 32-yard touchdown by linebacker Myles Jack. The Jaguars were now up 20-9.

However, just as it looked liked the game was all but over, Barkley broke off a spectacular 68-yard touchdown run, breaking three tackles in the process (and with an excellent downfield block by Sterling Shepard). The 2-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants now trailed 20-15 with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Frustratingly, the Giants could get no closer. The defense forced a three-and-out, but the Giants’ offense also then went three-and-out. The Jaguars picked up one first down and then punted again with just over four minutes to play. The Giants picked up two first downs and moved the ball to the Jacksonville 36-yard line, but then turned the ball over on downs with two incomplete passes on 3rd- and 4th-and-6.

After another three-and-out by the Jaguars, it appeared the Giants would get one more desperate chance to win the game with 45 seconds left, but punt returner Kaelin Clay muffed the punt and Jacksonville recovered to secure the win.

Offensively, the Giants were limited to 15 first downs and 324 total yards. Manning finished the game 23-of-37 for 224 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. He was sacked twice and hit six times. His leading target was Beckham who caught 11 of 15 passes thrown in his direction for 111 yards (and 45 yards of pass interference penalties). Barkley rushed 18 times for 106 yards, but the bulk of that came on the 68-yard touchdown run.

Defensively, the Giants held Jacksonville to 17 first downs and 305 total yards. The Giants only picked up one sack and hit Bortles four times. Jenkins defensed two passes and picked off Bortles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, center/guard Spencer Pulley, cornerback Michael Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Running back Wayne Gallman left the game with a knee injury, but said he was fine after the game.

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

ARTICLES…

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

Aug 262018
 
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Olivier Vernon, New York Giants (December 17, 2017)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK TRADE BRETT JONES TO THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS…
The New York Giants have trade center Brett Jones to the Minnesota Vikings. Newsday and The NFL Network are reporting that the Giants will receive a 7th-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as compensation. By trading Jones, the Giants “save” $2.914 million against the 2018 salary cap, the amount of salary (no bonus) Jones was tendered as a restricted free agent. Jones had been playing as the team’s second-team center behind Jon Halapio since the team’s offseason program began.

“I think the trade was good for both (Minnesota and us),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We got a pick in return for Brett Jones. He’s one of my favorite guys and he’s going to a really good place. With their situation in the offensive line, he’s going to have a chance to compete to maybe be their starter. I’m pretty familiar with their situation and he’s going to a very good place, so I’m happy for him, because he’s a real likeable guy. He works hard, he’s tough, and I feel like if he can’t be here – I tell the players all the time, we want you all to be here; if you can’t be here, we want you to be somewhere good, and that’s a good place.”

In 2017, Jones took over the starting center spot for 12 games after Weston Richburg was lost for the season. Jones was originally drafted by the CFL Calgary Stampeders in 2013 and named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Rookie” after that season. Jones was also named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman” in 2014. He signed by the Giants in February 2015 and placed on Injured Reserve in September 2015 after spraining the MCL in his knee on the preseason finale. In 2016, Jones was on the active roster for 14 regular-season games and made one start at left guard.

INJURY REPORT – OLIVIER VERNON INJURES ANKLE, SAQUON BARKLEY RETURNS…
Not practicing on Sunday due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (concussion), offensive guard Nick Gates (unknown), defensive end A.J. Francis (unknown), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown), and linebacker Connor Barwin (knee).

“(Barwin is) day to day,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He’s making good progress.”

Linebacker Calvin Munson (concussion) was in a red, non-contact jersey. Engram, despite being in the concussion protocol, did some running on the side. McIntosh participated in some limited football activities on the side for the first time this summer.

Linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) left practice early on a cart. Vernon missed four games in 2017 with an ankle injury that limited in him in other games as well. “He kind of just went inside the block and got his feet tangled up,” said Shurmur. “I think it’s his ankle. He’s being evaluated. I don’t have much right now.”

Running back Saquon Barkley (hamstring), running back Jalen Simmons (concussion), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring) returned to practice.

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

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

ARTICLES…