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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE EDGE RUSHERS

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

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

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

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

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

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

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

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

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

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

STILL HANGING AROUND

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

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

Aug 032018
 
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (August 1, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

AUGUST 3, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their eighth full-team summer training camp practice on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

“Another morning practice, and tomorrow what we’re going to do is we’re going to go back to the afternoon and then we’re going to have a little barbeque after that for the families,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur after practice. “But, good work. You’ll notice I took the pads off them. Four days in a row here, I thought we banged really well the last two days, very physical, went back today to a lot of individual, a lot of isolated drill work, some ball security, ball disruption stuff, stuff you work on all the time but we put a little bit more of an emphasis on it. Then we got some good team work, especially stuff we did in the red zone. So, productive day, I thought it was very competitive, thought there was good energy, and now we’ll keep moving on.”

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN LEONARD JOHNSON…
The New York Giants have signed cornerback Leonard Johnson. The 28-year old, 5’10”, 194-pound Johnson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Buccaneers (2012-2015), New England Patriots (2015), Carolina Panthers (2016), and Buffalo Bills (2017). In six NFL seasons, Johnson has played in 77 regular-season games with 27 starts, including seven starts with the Bills in 2017, when he was the team’s slot corner. Johnson has five career interceptions, but the last came in 2014.

To make room for Johnson, the Giants waived cornerback Kenneth Durden again. The Giants signed Durden in June 2018, cut him, and re-signed him in July 2018. The 6’1”, 180-pound Durden was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Raiders’ Practice Squad before being cut in September 2017. The Tennessee Titans then signed him to their Practice Squad and cut him in October 2017.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Friday were safety Curtis Riley (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), and defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list).

Cornerback William Gay (hamstring?) left practice early with his thigh wrapped.

Cornerback Teddy Williams was excused from practice due to personal reasons.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Giants were in helmets and shells today with no tackling.
  • Tight end Evan Engram appeared to beat cornerback William Gay deep down the field, but Gay was able to recover and knock the pass away.
  • Running back Jonathan Stewart picked up a blitzing cornerback Janoris Jenkins, but quarterback Eli Manning was still chased down by linebacker Olivier Vernon for a “sack.”
  • John Jerry was back at second-team right guard with Victor Salako now the third-team right tackle.
  • For the second day in a row, cornerback C.W. Webb, who has been taking some first-team snaps at slot corner, picked off quarterback Davis Webb. Later, Webb was picked off again, this time by linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong.
  • Brett Jones practiced with the first team at center and John Greco with the second team at center. Jon Halapio was back as the first-team center by the end of practice.
  • Safety Orion Stewart picked off quarterback Alex Tanney near the goal line on a deep pass intended for wide receiver Alonzo Russell.
  • Cornerback William Gay, who has been playing nickel corner and some safety, did a nice job of covering tight end Evan Engram in the end zone.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple broke up a deep pass from quarterback Eli Manning intended for wideout Sterling Shepard.
  • Giants continue to split running back Saquon Barkley out wide as a receiving target with good success. He beat cornerback Janoris Jenkins for a touchdown on a slant route.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown on a pass from a scrambling quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Running back Rob Martin flashed some explosiveness on a run up the middle. He also made a one-handed catch on a screen pass.
  • Wide receiver Jawill Davis made a sliding catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
  • Linebacker Connor Barwin continues to give second-string tackles Nick Becton and Chad Wheeler fits.
  • Place kicker Aldrick Rosas was 3-of-4 on field goal attempts.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Friday 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…

Jul 262018
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (July 26, 2018)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 26, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their first full-team summer training camp practice on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT – GIANTS STILL EVALUATING SAM BEAL…
Not practicing on Thursday were defensive tackle Damon Harrison (unknown), defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), and cornerback Sam Beal (shoulder).

“We’re evaluating what’s happening with (Beal),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “He was out here – and you saw him the last day of the rookie camp. He’s got a little thing going on with his shoulder that might need to get fixed…We knew there were some issues with his shoulder when we drafted him…Possibly (out for the season) – we’ll see.”

“(McIntosh) was going through a medical issue coming out,” said Shurmur. “We’re trying to get that rectified. We’ll just try to get him out there as quickly as possible.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • First-team offensive line: left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez, center Jon Halapio, right guard Patrick Omameh, and right tackle Ereck Flowers.
  • Second-team offensive line: left tackle Nick Becton, left guard John Greco, center Brett Jones, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Chad Wheeler.
  • Third-team offensive line: left tackle Malcom Bunche, left guard Nick Gates, center Evan Brown, right guard Chris Scott, and right tackle Jarron Jones.
  • First-team defense: defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson, nose tackle Robert Thomas, defensive end B.J. Hill, outside linebacker Kareem Martin, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, inside linebacker B.J. Goodson, outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, strong safety Landon Collins, free safety Darian Thompson, and cornerback Eli Apple.
  • Second team defense: defensive end Kerry Wynn, nose tackle A.J. Francis, defensive end Josh Mauro, outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, inside linebacker Mark Herzlich, inside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, outside linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerback B.W. Webb, safety Andrew Adams, safety Curtis Riley, and cornerback Donte Deayon.
  • Third-team defense: defensive end Josh Banks, nose tackle Tyrell Chavis, defensive end Kristjan Sokoli, outside linebacker Avery Moss, inside linebacker Calvin Munson, inside linebacker Thurston Armbrister, outside linebacker Jordan Williams, cornerback Grant Haley, safety Michael Thomas, safety Orion Stewart, and cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris.
  • Quarterback Kyle Lauletta underthrew a deep ball, allowing cornerback Eli Apple to recover and punch the ball out from the intended receiver, Amba Etta-Tawo, who had beaten Apple deep.
  • Cornerback Janoris Jenkins blanketed wide receiver Cody Latimer twice in a row. Then quarterback Eli Manning underthrew Latimer deep and Jenkins picked it off.
  • Tight end Evan Engram blew past safety Landon Collins, made a one-handed catch, and scored. The Giants had Engram lining up quite a bit outside.
  • Tight end Jerell Adams also made a one-handed reception on a crossing route.
  • Returning punts were wide receivers Kalif Raymond and Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris broke up a few passes in 11-on-11 team drills.
  • Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. saw quite a few snaps from the slot position.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb threaded the needle on a pass to tight end Jerell Adams.
  • Linebacker Alec Ogletree was very active, including defending a number of passes.
  • After practice, Odell Beckham, Jr. worked with fellow wideout Cody Latimer. Quarterback Eli Manning also threw passes to Beckham after practice.

NEW YORK GIANTS PRESIDENT/CEO JOHN MARA…
The transcript of John Mara’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Thursday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com. Coach Shurmur also sat down with Bob Papa for an exclusive Giants.com interview (video).

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

ARTICLES…

Jul 092018
 
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Alec Ogletree, New York Giants (June 12, 2018)

Alec Ogletree – © USA TODAY Sports

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Linebackers

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: As previously mentioned in our defensive line preview, one of the reasons why 2017 was such a huge disappointment was that a defense that was supposed to be the strength of the team fell from 10th in yards allowed in 2016 to 31st. Scoring defense fell from 2nd in 2016 to 27th. New York’s run defense was 27th in the NFL, allowing over 120 yards per game on average. Pass defense was 31st, allowing over 250 yards per game on average.

The problems were across the board. The defensive line and secondary were supposed to very good. They weren’t. At best, the linebackers were supposed to be average. They weren’t even that. An entire generation of New York Giants fans has now grown up without witnessing a good linebacking corps on their team. Jessie Armstead and Antonio Pierce were anomalies during the last three decades.

One would be hard-pressed to remember ANY plays made by Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard, Calvin Munson, and Kelvin Sheppard in 2017. Injuries were a major issue as Casillas, Robinson, and Goodson missed a ton of games.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: There was a much-needed house-cleaning. Of the 13 linebackers currently on the roster, only four played with the team at that position in 2017 (B.J. Goodson, Calvin Munson, Mark Herzlich, and Ray-Ray Armstrong). And re-signing Herzlich was somewhat surprising.

The Giants showed zero interest in re-signing former starters Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, and Kelvin Sheppard. It’s quite telling that all three STILL remain unemployed. The Giants also did not attempt to re-sign Akeem Ayers, Curtis Grant, and Deontae Skinner, who remain unsigned as well. Devon Kennard signed with the Detroit Lions.

The Giants traded away 4th and 6th round picks to the Rams for Alec Ogletree. The team’s first major signing in free agency was Kareem Martin from the Cardinals. Lorenzo Carter was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The team also signed street free agent Thurston Armbrister and rookie free agent Tae Davis.

And by transitioning to the 3-4 defense, the Giants have now shifted their best pass rusher – Olivier Vernon – from defensive end to linebacker. Defensive ends Avery Moss, Romeo Okwara, and Jordan Williams are also now at linebacker.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: After a quarter of a century of playing in the 4-3 defense, the New York Giants are shifting back to the 3-4. There is now an emphasis on acquiring linebackers as well as a new type of linebacker. It is no coincidence that Dave Gettleman traded away two picks for a linebacker. Or that Kareem Martin was the first player signed in free agency. Or that the Giants drafted Lorenzo Carter in the 3rd round (and tried to trade up into the 2nd round to draft him). In addition, the shift to the 3-4 led the Giants to trading away Jason Pierre-Paul and moving Oliver Vernon to outside linebacker. This defense is now predicated on the linebackers being the play makers. This is foreign territory for an entire generation of Giants fans. In 2018, the team’s leading sacker should be a linebacker. Linebackers are now expected to lead the team in tackles for losses and impact plays. Mark my words, it is only now a matter of time before the Giants draft a linebacker in the 1st round, something they haven’t done since 1984.

Perhaps the biggest issue on defense is the successful transition of Oliver Vernon from defensive end to linebacker. For this defense to be effective, Vernon has to become the team’s best pass rusher from the outside linebacker spot. While he will mostly be moving forward, and at times will be shifted to defensive end in some pass-rush packages, he needs to be able handle playing in space or opposing teams will target him. Vernon has some experience in this role from his days with the Miami Dolphins, but this is a big adjustment. Vernon also has to stay healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do since joining the Giants in 2016.

There are some people who feel Alec Ogletree is best suited for outside linebacker, but he has already been designated as the defense’s leader from one of the inside linebacker spots. A mobile athlete, Ogletree will be complemented by the more physical thumper B.J. Goodson right next to him. Ogletree could thrive with 1,000 pounds of defensive linemen in front of him. Goodson needs to stay healthy and improve his pass coverage.

Flying under the radar is Kareem Martin, whose overall stats in Arizona were unimpressive. But James Bettcher loves the former defensive end and thinks he is just scratching the surface of his ability as a linebacker. Regardless, he could be pressed by Lorenzo Carter, who has rare athletic ability.

Long story short… the linebackers are back baby!

ON THE BUBBLE: There is a decent chance that the Giants will now carry as many as eight linebackers. Barring the unforeseen, Olivier Vernon, Alec Ogletree, B.J. Goodson, Kareem Martin, and Lorenzo Carter make the team, leaving probably two or three spots for Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Jordan Williams, Mark Herzlich, Calvin Munson, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Thurston Armbrister, and Tae Davis.

FROM THE COACHES AND PLAYERS: Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on the team’s defense: “I think each and every down we might look different on defense. But again, I’ll tell you what – I can’t tell you today who we’re going to be on defense and really what we’re going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don’t just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program. Until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we’re striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we’re really going to look like. But yeah, there are certainly some 3-4 principles if that’s a term we want to use. There are certainly some 4-3 principles if that’s a term you want to use. At the end of the day, it’s about playing hard with a relentless mindset, playing fast, playing physical and being a smart football team.”

Kareem Martin on the team’s defense: “We’re gonna have a lot of exotic schemes, a lot of guys coming, mixing up the fronts, just so guys won’t get a bead on where we’re coming from and it’s gonna I think cause for a lot of havoc in the backfield.”

Alec Ogletree on James Bettcher: “He’s definitely a linebackers coach, for sure. That’s what he started as. So, for us, he definitely puts it on us to lead the group, and we put it on ourselves as well to be that leader and be that dominant voice out there and get everybody ready and set to run the plays. We definitely take that responsibility.”

Bettcher on Oliver Vernon: “OV, we know is a dynamic guy. A guy that can rush from different angles, a guy that you can move around and put in different match-ups. And he’s embraced everything that we’ve done to this point. I’ve loved working with him and I think he’s making some great progress, not just in this scheme, but I think as I’ve looked at him as a player, he’s sharpening his tools right now.”

Kareem Martin on Olivier Vernon: “Real smooth football player. He’s just a natural, just really fluid player. He does some things I haven’t seen guys do before, one of the strongest linebackers I’ve played with, and just to see him be able to do some of the things and contort his body has just been amazing.”

Bettcher on Alec Ogletree: “You watch his play and I’m not just talking about his ability to make tackles or run down things on the sideline, I’m talking about his play, his mindset, his physicality at which he plays the game, how hard and passionate he plays the game. Those were some of the first things that jumped off the charts for me when we had a chance to get him here. Certainly excited about him as a leader and a guy that is going to bring a ton of energy to our room.”

Bettcher on Kareem Martin: “One of the most improved players that I’ve ever been around.”

PREDICTIONS: While this is going to be more of a hybrid defense than pure, old-fashioned 3-4, this is still going to be a bit of a culture shock for any fan under 40 years old. Linebackers setting the edge, getting into the backfield, creating turnovers, sacking the quarterback. Linebackers actually making plays! If everyone can stay healthy (ahem Vernon and Goodson), on paper, this looks like a potentially strong group. The two inside linebackers complement each other well. Olivier Vernon is no LT, but he will be expected to take on that type of pass-rush role while Kareem Martin does more of the dirty work (à la Carl Banks). Both will also be employed from the down position quite a bit. The wild card is Lorenzo Carter who I am willing to bet will press for pass rush snaps fairly early, either from a standup or down position.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Olivier Vernon, Alec Ogletree, B.J. Goodson, Kareem Martin, and Lorenzo Carter are the obvious ones to make it. Avery Moss looks the part of a 3-4 pass-rush linebacker, but missed the spring rehabbing an injury. Word has it that Romeo Okwara looked pretty good in the spring workouts. Is there room for both? Finding depth inside could be a challenge. The leading candidates are Calvin Munson, Ray-Ray Armstrong, and possibly even Mark Herzlich. A waiver-wire pick-up here might be in the cards. Special teams ability will be key for anyone looking to make the final 53.

Jun 052018
 
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Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (December 29, 2017)

Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

DAVE GETTLEMAN DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in lymphatic cells that are part of the body’s immune system.

“Recently, I underwent an annual physical, during which it was discovered I have lymphoma,” said Gettleman in a prepared statement. “Over the past week, I have undergone more testing to determine the course of treatment, which is scheduled to start in the very near future. The doctor’s outlook for the treatment and the prognosis is positive, and so am I.

“I will continue to work as much as the treatment process will allow, and as they know, when I am not in the office, I will be in constant communication with (Head Coach) Pat (Shurmur), (Assistant General Manager) Kevin (Abrams) and the rest of our staff.

“I am thankful to John Mara and Steve Tisch and our organization for their support and encouragement, and to Ronnie Barnes for his guidance and assistance. And, of course, to my wife Joanne and our children for their love and support.

“And I want to thank you in advance for respecting my privacy and that of my family as we work our way through this. I look forward to being back at full strength and devoting all my energy to helping make this 2018 New York Giants team the best it can be.”

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN PUNTER TAYLOR SYMMANK…
The New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent punter Taylor Symmank. The 25-year old, 6’2”, 195-pound Symmank was not drafted in 2016. The Minnesota Vikings signed him in January 2017 and waived him in early September of that year. Symmank punted nine times during the 2017 preseason, averaging 42.9 yards per punt.

NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICE #8…
The Giants held their eighth voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practices on Tuesday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

The practice was not open to the media, but Giants.com provided the following summaries of the action:

The two remaining OTA practices will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. A mandatory mini-camp will be held on June 12-14.

ARTICLES…

Apr 252018
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (May 6, 2016)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

APRIL 25, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day “voluntary” mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Like on Tuesday, the only players under contract who appeared to be missing were offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and safety Landon Collins (who had surgery on Monday), and offensive lineman Laurence Gibson. The mini-camp will conclude on Thursday.

“I thought, for the most part, the guys competed (yesterday),” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur before Wednesday’s practice. “There were some good plays, there’s some bad plays. I thought their attention to detail was pretty good. We did some good things throwing and catching. I thought the defense defended and stripped a couple of balls, which was good. When you watch a practice, I think sometimes you’ve got to be careful assigning blame to the good, the bad and the ugly because as you go through practice, there are mistakes that get made and there are reasons for it and that’s why you practice. So that you can go back in and clean them up and attempt to get better the next day. So, a good first day. As you just watched, we had our walk-through. The attention to detail has been good and we’ll try to add to it a little bit today. We’re going to add some high red zone stuff. The red zone is certainly, in my opinion, the most important part of the field. So, we get it going and all of the preparation early, so we’ll do it today and tomorrow.”

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Wednesday were wide receiver Odell Beckham (recovering from ankle surgery), safety Landon Collins (recovering from arm surgery), running back Paul Perkins (arm in a sling), and linebacker/defensive end Avery Moss (unknown).

“(Perkins has) got a sore arm,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Cody Latimer received first-team reps at wide receiver.
  • Michael Thomas and Curtis Riley started at safety. Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams were the second-team safeties.
  • Wide receiver Sterling Shepard made a nice catch between defenders on a strike from Eli Manning.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb rolled out and connected with wide receiver Keeon Johnson on a nice sideline catch.
  • Cornerback Donte Deayon made a diving attempt at an interception on a pass from Davis Webb, but the ball passed through his hands.
  • Running backs Jonathan Stewart and Wayne Gallman dropped passes.
  • Davis Webb continues to have accuracy issues on deep passes, but he also threw three red zone TD passes, two to tight end Jerell Adams and a third to wide receiver Travis Rudolph.
  • Linebacker Alec Ogletree intercepted a tipped pass from Eli Manning.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Cody Latimer in the corner of the end zone. Apple had a good 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:

DEE HARDISON PASSES AWAY…
Dee Hardison, who played defensive end for the New York Giants from 1982 to 1985, passed away on Saturday of heart failure at the age of 61.

ARTICLES…

Mar 162018
 
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Curtis Riley, Tennessee Titans (October 1, 2017)

Curtis Riley – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN CORNERBACK CURTIS RILEY…
The New York Giants have officially signed unrestricted free agent cornerback Curtis Riley (Tennessee Titans). The 25-year old, 6’0”, 190-pound Riley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Titans after the 2015 NFL Draft. Riley spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. He played in four games in 2016 and seven games in 2017 with no starts. Last season, he accrued 12 tackles, two pass defenses, and one interception. Riley has some experience at safety.

NATE SOLDER MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL…
The transcript of Friday’s media conference call with New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder is available in The Corner Forum section of the website.

KAREEM MARTIN MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL…
The transcript of Friday’s media conference call with New York Giants linebacker/defensive end Kareem Martin is available in The Corner Forum section of the website.

Mar 162018
 
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Kareem Martin, Arizona Cardinals (December 10, 2017)

Kareem Martin – © USA TODAY Sports

NATE SOLDER SIGNING OFFICIAL…
The New York Giants officially announced the signing of unrestricted free agent left tackle Nate Solder (New England Patriots) on Thursday. The contract is reported to be a 4-year, $62 million deal that includes $35 million in guaranteed money. The 29-year old, 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In seven seasons, Solder has started 95 of the 98 regular-season games he has played in, including 81 games at left tackle.

“Nate has been a quality left tackle in this league since the day he entered,” General Manager Dave Gettleman said. “He’s physically matured and he’s become as good a run blocker as he is a pass blocker. We’re just very, very pleased that he wanted to come here. He’s genuinely excited about it, which is important to me, obviously. Every decision that comes out of the GM’s office sends a message and I think this is a very strong statement.

“The biggest thing about winning as a player is understanding what it takes to win, and the understanding that the guys on the other side of the field are getting paid to play, too. That is one thing that Nate definitely understands. The Patriots have a very demanding culture up there, which we’re going to have as well. So it won’t be any surprise to Nate. At the end of the day, he certainly can show people what is required, the preparation and the work to win.”

The inconsistent and oft-criticized Ereck Flowers, who has started the bulk of the games at left tackle for the Giants during the last three seasons, will now be moved to the right side of the line.

“As soon as we announced the signing of Nate, (Head Coach) Pat (Shurmur) spoke with Ereck,” Gettleman said. “He called him on the phone to talk to him and said, ‘Listen, we’re going to move you to right, and at the end of the day, the five best offensive linemen play.’ That’s where they left it, and Ereck was fine on the phone… He’s a big, strong powerful kid and it’s just a matter of getting used to playing over there.”

KAREEM MARTIN SIGNING OFFICIAL…
The New York Giants officially announced the signing of unrestricted free agent linebacker/defensive end Kareem Martin (Arizona Cardinals) on Thursday. The contract is reported to be a 3-year, $15 million deal that includes $7.25 million in guaranteed money. The 26-year old, 6’6”, 272-pound Martin was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cardinals as a defensive end. The Cardinals moved him to linebacker after his rookie season. Martin had his best season in 2017, playing in all 16 regular-season games with 10 starts and finished the year with 24 tackles, one sack, three pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. Martin played under new Giants’ defensive coordinator James Bettcher in Arizona.

“I’m really excited,” Martin said. “My agent called me the other day and told me that New York had extended an offer. With Bettch being the defensive coordinator, that played a big role in my decision. After playing in that defense for the last four years, three with him being the (defensive coordinator), I learned a lot and I was able to grow a lot. I wanted to continue that maturation in this defense under him, so that played a big role in my decision to come here.

“(Bettcher) is an attacking coordinator. He likes to blitz a lot, which is always helpful for guys like me. I like the versatility of the system. I’ve played a little bit of everywhere. I’ve played outside standup, I’ve played a little bit of inside pass rushing. Being able to be all over the field, it’s not a one-time thing, so it doesn’t get boring. It’s a fun and exciting defense, especially for the position that I play.

“(The Giants are) getting a guy who is going to come in here and work hard every day. He’s going to know his job, he’s going to be accountable. That’s a big thing in this defense and in this league in general, being accountable and getting the trust of your teammates, knowing that I’m going to get the job done. When my number is called, to blitz, to drop, to do whatever I’m going to get it done.”

“When you get into free agency, in the ideal world you want a guy who is healthy and young,” General Manager Dave Gettleman said. “Kareem is a 26-year-old guy that has some pass rush to him, has movement skills, has good instincts and just seems to be getting better and better all the time. He started as a part-time rotational guy and he built himself up to a point where he had 10 starts last year with Arizona. Obviously the familiarity with the system will be huge for him and I’m just very excited. Watching him on film, I think he’s got the ability to continue to improve. He’s 6-4, he’s 260, he runs a 4.75 and Bettch had him covering tight ends down the field; he’s running down the seam with these guys. We’re excited to have him.

“(Adding players who know the system) always helps. Kareem can share information. He’ll be playing with O.V. (Olivier Vernon) and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and obviously his familiarity and comfortability with the system will help him share knowledge and share the tips and things that he has learned. Same thing with (running back) Jonathan Stewart. The protections will be the same, the protections that (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Shula) and (Head Coach) Pat (Shurmur) are going to install will be the same. He can help share his knowledge from Carolina, so he will be able to help those guys as well. The short answer is yes, it’s a big help.”

PAT O’DONNELL RE-SIGNS WITH BEARS…
The Chicago Bears have re-signed unrestricted free agent punter Pat O’Donnell. The Giants were reportedly interested in O’Donnell. The 27-year old, 6’4”, 217-pound O’Donnell was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Bears. In four seasons with the Bears, he has averaged 44.9 yards per punt (39.2 yard net). Last year, he averaged 47 yards per punt (39.7 yard net).

Mar 142018
 
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Patrick Omameh, Jacksonville Jaguars (January 21, 2018)

Patrick Omameh – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORT – GIANTS SIGN GUARD PATRICK OMAMEH…
The New York Giants have reportedly signed unrestricted free agent offensive guard Patrick Omameh (Jacksonville Jaguars). The 28-year old, 6’4”, 327-pound Omameh was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Francisco 49ers after the 2013 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the 49ers (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2014), Chicago Bears (2015), and Jaguars (2016-2017). He has started 45 regular-season games in the NFL, including all 13 he played in last season with the Jaguars at left guard. Omameh is a big, physical player who did a respectable job with the Jaguars.

JUSTIN PUGH VISITING THE CARDINALS…
The NFL Network is reporting that New York Giants unrestricted free agent offensive tackle/guard Justin Pugh will visit the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday. Pugh was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2017 with a back injury that caused him to miss half the season. Pugh was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team after starting all 16 games as rookie at right tackle. Pugh has had injury issues every year since, including missing two games in 2014 with a quadriceps injury, two games in 2015 with an ocular concussion, and five games in 2016 with a knee injury. Pugh was shifted to left guard in 2015, but played five games at right tackle again in 2017.

KAREEM MARTIN’S CONTRACT…
ESPN is reporting that the contract the New York Giants signed unrestricted free agent linebacker/defensive end Kareem Martin (Arizona Cardinals) to was a 3-year, $21 deal that included $7.5 million in guaranteed money.

Mar 142018
 
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Nate Solder, New England Patriots (February 4, 2018)

Nate Solder – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORT – GIANTS SIGN LEFT TACKLE NATE SOLDER…
Multiple media sources are reporting that the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent left tackle Nate Solder (New England Patriots) to a 4-year, $62 million contract that includes $35 million in guaranteed money. The Giants outbid both the Patriots and Houston Texans for his services. The 29-year old, 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In seven seasons, Solder has started 95 of the 98 regular-season games he has played in. Solder has been a solid player since drafted but has had issues at times in pass protection.

REPORT – GIANTS SIGN LINEBACKER/DEFENSIVE END KAREEM MARTIN…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent linebacker/defensive end Kareem Martin (Arizona Cardinals). The 26-year old, 6’6”, 272-pound Martin was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cardinals as a defensive end. The Cardinals moved him to linebacker after his rookie season. Martin had his best season in 2017, playing in all 16 regular-season games with 10 starts and finished the year with 24 tackles, one sack, three pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. Martin is a ‘tweener who does his best work moving forward rather than moving backwards in space.

JONATHAN STEWART SIGNING OFFICIAL…
The New York Giants have officially signed unrestricted free agent running back Jonathan Stewart, who was cut by the Carolina Panthers at the end of February. The NFL Network is reporting that the contract is a 2-year deal that could be worth as much as $8.4 million with $6.9 million in base salary and $2.95 million in guaranteed money.

“I am very pleased that we were able to make Jonathan a New York Football Giant,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “He is a quality runner with power and speed and brings a veteran, professional presence to our locker room. He’s a terrific addition for us at this time.”

The 30-year old, 5’10”, 240-pound Stewart was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Panthers. In 10 seasons with the Panthers, Stewart rushed for 7,318 yards and 51 touchdowns. He also caught 162 passes for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2017, Stewart started 10 games but saw his rushing totals fall to 680 yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. Injury prone, Stewart has not played a full season since 2011.

GIANTS TENDER BRETT JONES AND ROBERT THOMAS…
As previously reported, the Giants have officially tendered restricted free agent center/guard Brett Jones at the 2nd-round ($2.91 million) level. That will provide the Giants with the right to match any offer another team makes for Jones. If they do not, the Giants would receive that team’s 2nd-round pick as compensation.

The Giants have also tendered exclusive rights free agent Robert Thomas, ensuring that Thomas will remain with the team.

Jones took over the starting center spot for 12 games in 2017 after Weston Richburg was lost for the season. Jones was originally drafted by the CFL Calgary Stampeders in 2013. 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.

Thomas played in 15 games with no starts in 2017 and finished the season with 16 tackles. Thomas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Washington Redskins after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Redskins (2014-2015), Seahawks (2015), Patriots (2015), Dolphins (2015), and Panthers (2016). The Giants claimed Thomas off of waivers from the Panthers in September 2016; he played in eight regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with five tackles and one sack.

TENNESSEE TITANS SIGN DION LEWIS…
The Tennessee Titans have signed unrestricted free agent running back Dion Lewis (New England Patriots) to a 4-year contract. ProFootballTalk.com had reported that the New York Giants were one of several teams that have expressed interest in Lewis.

ARTICLES…