Jul 252018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (July 25, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

VETERANS REPORT TO NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP…
New York Giants quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans reported to summer training camp last Sunday. The rest of the players reported today. Also, the first rookie practice open to the press (but not public) was held today.

“You got a chance to see the third day of our rookie camp; rookies, select vets and quarterbacks,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Very valuable time for those guys. I think I mentioned a little bit earlier, but they get a chance to get the first, second, and third installment before the veterans get here. That is very helpful for the rookies. Then the selected vets that didn’t get a bunch of work in the spring, that kind of gets them up to speed, so that’s the idea. As we move forward here, we’re certainly looking forward to the 2018 season. As the coach, I’m going to try and keep the focus on playing football, keep the focus on trying to determine who our initial 53-man roster is, and keep the focus on playing Jacksonville and beyond. So that’s the goal, for us to keep getting better and trained up for what we hope to be a very productive season.”

The first full-team training camp practice and the first practice open to the public will be held on Thursday. The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

WITH THOMAS MCGAUGHEY AILING, TOM QUINN RETURNS…
The New York Giants simply can not get rid of Tom Quinn. It appeared that the Giants had finally parted ways with Quinn, who served as the team’s special teams coordinator from 2007 to 2017, when they hired Thomas McGaughey to replace him in January 2018. But McGaughey has a medical issue and Giants have hired Quinn as assistant special teams coordinator. Anthony Blevins remains the team’s new assistant special teams coach. Ironically, McGaughey served under Tom Quinn from 2007 to 2010. Now their roles are reversed.

“Tom was in town and available and is back assisting us,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) had some health issues, so Tom is here to assist in anyway possible. Outstanding coach and was in town, so he’s here. So T-Mac is running things and will have two assistants.”

INJURY REPORT – SAM BEAL LIKELY DONE FOR THE SEASON…
Various media sources are reporting that cornerback Sam Beal, who the Giants selected in the 3rd round of the 2018 Supplemental Draft, will likely miss the entire 2018 season with a shoulder injury. While other options are being discussed, Beal will likely need surgery, which would end his rookie year.

Beal aggravated a pre-existing shoulder issue in Monday’s practice. NJ.com is reporting that Beal had shoulder surgery in February. Oddly, Beal did participate in practice on Wednesday before the injury was revealed to the public.

Defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown) remains on the Active/Non-Football Illness list and did not practice.

Linebacker Avery Moss (unknown) and safety Darian Thompson (unknown), who were sidelined during spring workouts, both practiced.

REPORT – DAVE GETTLEMAN’S CANCER IS IN REMISSION…
According to The New York Post, New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman’s lymphatic cancer is in remission. Recent scans have come back clean. Gettleman is expected to continue to undergo chemotherapy treatments for the time being.

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN IZAAH LUNSFORD, CUT TWO PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have signed free agent defensive lineman Izaah Lunsford. The 24-year old, 6’3”, 310-pound Lunsford was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Green Bay Packers after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent all of 2017 on the team’s Practice Squad.

The Giants also waived punter Taylor Symmank, who the team signed in June, and tight end Kyle Carter, who the Giants claimed off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings in January.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Quarterback Eli Manning was given the day off. He did participate in the first two training camp practices on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Veterans present included linebacker Avery Moss, safety Darian Thompson, and safety Orion Stewart.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb made two excellent deep passes.
  • Wide receiver Jawill Davis beat cornerback Grant Haley, but Davis let the ball pass through his hands.

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:

NY POST Q&A WITH DAVIS WEBB…
Davis Webb talks new mantra as he enters Year 2 with Giants by Steve Serby of The New York Post

BUFFALO BILLS SIGN KEENAN ROBINSON…
The Buffalo Bills have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent linebacker Keenan Robinson,who was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2017 with a quad injury. Robinson played in six games with three starts and had 32 tackles. He missed the season’s first two games with a concussion.

Robinson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, where he missed time in 2012 (four games with right pectoral tear), 2013 (entire season with left pectoral tear), 2014 (three games with a knee injury), and 2015 (four games with a shoulder injury). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016.

In 2016, Robinson officially only started 6-of-16 regular-season games, but he was second in playing time on the team among all linebackers (71 percent of all defensive snaps). Robinson finished 2016 with 83 tackles and seven pass defenses.

ARTICLES…

Jun 282018
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (November 5, 2017)

Evan Engram – © 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: Tight Ends

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: The tight end position was one of the few bright spots in another wise dreary season for the New York Giants in 2017. Despite a bad case of the dropsies, rookie tight end Evan Engram led the team with 64 catches for a near team-high 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. Rhett Ellison may have been overpaid and underutilized, but he was solid contributor as a blocker and receiver. He caught a career-high 24 passes, which made him the 7th-highest receptions leader on the team. Jerell Adams was the third tight end and finished the year with eight catches.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The top three tight ends from last year – Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerell Adams – all return. The Giants also retained late-season addition Ryan O’Malley. The newcomers are January waiver-wire pick-up Kyle Carter from the Vikings, ex-Raider and ex-Panther Scott Simonson, and rookie free agent Garrett Dickerson. Carter and Dickerson are built more like H-Backs than traditional in-line tight ends.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: While most of the eyes of the media and fans will be focused on Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, the development of Evan Engram will be one of the most important facets of the team to watch. One gets the sense that Engram just scratched the surface of his potential in 2017. On a terrible team with few weapons, Engram produced at a level that few rookie tight ends achieve. Now with hopefully better offensive coaching, a better offensive system, and a better supporting cast, Engram should be poised to become one of the more dangerous pass-receiving tight ends in the League. A couple of under-reported aspects from the offseason workouts were (1) Eli Manning’s favorite target appeared to be Engram, and (2) Engram didn’t drop passes.

What will also be interesting to see will be how important the tight end position is in Pat Shurmur’s New York Giants offensive scheme. Most Giants fans know that Ben McAdoo was particularly wed to the three-wide receiver, one-back, one-tight end formation (or 11 personnel). Will Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, or others get a chance to see the field more in 2018?

Also under-reported is that the Giants have a new tight ends coach. Lunda Wells was the assistant offensive line coach for the Giants under both Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo. He now shifts to a new position.

ON THE BUBBLE: Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are locks to make the team. Jerell Adams probably has an upper hand, but the team did bring in some players – including an ex-Viking who worked with Pat Shurmur in Minnesota – who could beat him out if he falters. At this point, it is impossible to know how important the tight end/H-Back position will be in terms of numbers of players kept on the roster. The role of fullback will be a factor too in whether or not the Giants keep three or four tight ends.

FROM THE COACHES AND PLAYERS: Tight Ends Coach Lunda Wells on Evan Engram: “He’s a guy that we all understand he has a unique skillset in terms of the pass game, but he’s a very sharp kid and he can do a little bit of it all. I can’t say that I can see him as just a guy that is split out because I think we’d be doing an injustice to him because he is a very sharp kid and a willing blocker and a guy that’s willing to do everything that goes into it. He’s a guy that we can play at the Y-tight end, we can split him out. I think you’re going to see some of that this year in terms of him being able to play in a lot of different spots.”

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Evan Engram: “The fact that we have a pass catching tight end is something that is very valuable to a team because now a defense has to decide when you have two tight ends and him being one of them, him being Evan, that are they going to stay base or play nickel? And then the chess game begins from there.”

Evan Engram on year two: “The thing I’ve noticed, just being out here, going full-speed, is that the game is a lot more slowed down. The game has slowed down a lot. And that’s allowing me to kind of dig deeper into my bag of route techniques, or getting open and being able to focus more on the run game and getting stronger and just getting more comfortable out there. Last year, I kind of was, head was on a swivel a lot, the game was so fast and I wasn’t used to it. But just having a year under my belt and kind of getting thrown into some tough situations last year definitely helps slow the game down and allowed me to kind of focus on a lot of the little things and enhance my talents to be a better player.”

PREDICTIONS: I think there is a good chance that Evan Engram once again leads the team in catches and touchdown receptions. I think he will also break the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: The same three from last year – Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerell Adams. The Giants could carry four tight ends which would help the chances of one of the other four players.

Jun 202018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (May 11, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © 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: Running Backs

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: The New York Giants have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw’s final season with the team in 2012. The Giants’ leading rushers since that time have been Andre Brown, Andre Williams, Rashad Jennings (twice), and Orleans Darkwa. More telling are the overall team rushing stats with the Giants finishing 29th, 23rd, 18th, 29th, and 26th in the NFL from 2013 to 2017. Last season was a continuation of this mediocrity with the Giants averaging 96.8 yards per game and scoring only six rushing touchdowns. There were four games where the Giants didn’t even rush for 50 yards and nine games where the team didn’t reach 100 yards rushing. The overall numbers are a bit inflated too by the meaningless season-finale against the Washington Redskins where the Giants rushed for 260 yards.

The Giants’ top four rushers in 2017 were Orleans Darkwa (751 yards, 5 touchdowns), Wayne Gallman (476 yards), Shane Vereen (164 yards), and Paul Perkins (90 yards). The Giants’ sixth rushing touchdown came from Eli Manning. The receiving yards for the backs were from Vereen (253 yards), Gallman (193 yards, 1 touchdown), Darkwa (116 yards), and Perkins (46 yards). Darkwa and Gallman actually were respectable, averaging 4.4 and 4.3 yards per carry respectively. But on a team that finished 21st in overall offensive yardage, 26th in rushing yardage, and 31st in scoring, nothing on offense ever felt like a “strength,” including the running attack.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants decided not to re-sign Orleans Darkwa (who had a plate removed from his leg in May) and Shane Vereen (who also still remains unemployed). Paul Perkins tore his pectoral muscle in the offseason, was waived/injured, and placed on Injured Reserve. Thus the only returning halfback appears to be Wayne Gallman unless the Giants are keeping an eye on Darkwa’s health status.

The Giants signed street free Jalen Williams in January, veteran free agent Jonathan Stewart in March after his was cut by the Panthers, and rookie free agent Robert Martin in May. But the biggest offseason move the team made was drafting Saquon Barkley with the #2 pick in the entire 2018 NFL Draft. The Giants have only drafted two running backs in their entire history this high: Tucker Frederickson #1 overall in 1965 and Skippy Minisi with the #2 pick in 1948.

Shane Smith is the only returning fullback, though tight end Rhett Ellison can play the position in a pinch. The Giants also added a couple of H-Back types who can play fullback in ex-Viking Kyle Carter and rookie free agent Garrett Dickerson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: With General Manager Dave Gettleman throwing around phrases like “gold jacket” and “touched by the hand of God,” needless to say, the expectation level for Barkley has been set incredibly (perhaps unrealistically) high. And while the Giants have had some very good running backs in their history, including Frank Gifford, Tiki Barber, Tuffy Leemans, Rodney Hampton, Joe Morris, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw, given the team’s flagship franchise status, one would have to say that the list of top-notch running backs in team history is relatively short and a bit underwhelming. A Giants’ running back has only led the NFL in rushing four times, and that came in 1936, 1943, 1944, and 1951.

For the Giants to draft a running back with the #2 pick, and in the process pass over a number of potential “franchise” quarterbacks, Barkley needs to be damn good. No strike that. He needs to be great. It would be a disappointment if Barkley does not immediately become one of the NFL’s best backs and eventually challenge Tiki Barber’s 10,499 career rushing yards and Barber’s 5,183 career receiving yards.

The first step in doing that is staying healthy. Running backs get hit more than any other player in the NFL. Barkley is built like a tank, but in order to do the things he needs to do, he must stay on the field. Step two is keeping his head on straight and not letting the immense pressure get to him. That’s easier said than done. All eyes will be on Barkley. Every time he touches the ball, many will expect something special. Barkley readily admits he often tried to do too much on a given play during his career at Penn State. Take what the defense gives you. The big plays will come. In the meantime, eschew the bright lights of the big city and focus on football.

The good news is this: Barkley appears to be the real deal. The early returns from the OTAs and mini-camp is he is practically uncoverable by linebackers and even some safeties. At the very least, Barkley should be a major asset in the passing game, provided he can develop a rapport with Eli Manning, a quarterback not known for his screen and swing passes. What will be interesting to see is how effective he will be running the ball. The Giants really haven’t been a top-notch running team since 2008, when the team led the NFL in rushing. Can the Giants move out of the bottom tier into the upper tier of rushing in just one year? The expectation is that Barkley will finally force teams to respect the Giants’ running game, and thus open things up for Manning, Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard in the passing game. In the last three seasons, the Giants have scored a total of 17 rushing touchdowns, or an average of less than six per season. That needs to change too.

Finally, the temptation will be to keep Barkley on the field on every play. The Giants must constantly evaluate his wear-and-tear. They want him to last more than five years in this League.

ON THE BUBBLE: The key questions here are how many halfbacks will the Giants keep? And is there a roll for a fullback in Pat Shurmur’s offense? With Barkley likely to receive the overwhelming bulk of the playing time, the Giants may decide to go light at halfback and go with Barkley, Jonathan Stewart (who they paid big money to be a mentor), and Wayne Gallman. The players clearly on the bubble include Jalen Simmons and Robert Martin. It’s anyone’s guess at this stage if Shurmur is leaning towards a roster spot for a fullback like Shane Smith or Kyle Carter.

FROM THE COACHES AND PLAYERS: Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher on Saquon Barkley: “He’s a special player. Special player. Guy that, any single down, is going to create a lot of matchup nightmares for coordinators in this league and players in this league.”

Linebacker Alec Ogletree on Saquon Barkley: “A guy that comes to work the right way. He’s a true professional, even at a young age. He’s always asking questions and you can just tell he loves football and loves to learn and do the right thing.”

Tight End Rhett Ellison on Saquon Barkley: “He’s a humble guy. He just comes in and he works. Anytime you have a rookie, especially a first round pick like that, and they come in just ready to work with their head down, that’s the best you can ask for. Obviously, it’s hard to tell when you’re playing in underwear to see the physicality of the game. But I’d say his work ethic and just his humility is pretty cool.”

Saquon Barkley on what it takes to be a good running back: “I think it is instinct. Actually breaking down film and watching the David Johnson’s and Le’Veon Bell’s, instinct is one thing, but also what (Jonathan Stewart) has been teaching me, it is how to set up your blocks. For me, I did it so natural in college that I didn’t even notice I was doing it. Now, understanding and seeing the play before it develops and seeing the linebacker overflowing, that is how you set up cutback lanes. A guy who does it the best is Le’Veon Bell. I was watching him this morning and how he was picking up blocks. I think you have to be versatile as a running back. Catch the ball in the backfield and be able to block. Be able to run in between tackles and outside of tackles. If you really think if the three backs, the top five backs, that is what they are able to do. They block, catch the ball in the backfield and are able to run the ball. Just the way they set up their blocks. That is what it takes to be a top back in the NFL. ”

PREDICTIONS: I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that is on the shoulders of Saquon Barkley. There are fans who didn’t want him who will mock him every time he doesn’t break off a big play. Gettleman has Hall of Fame expectations. But there is an aura about this kid. In the age of “look at me,” Barkley seems like an old-school throwback who knows he is good but is more interested in the overall success of the team. Veterans have been impressed with his humility, work ethic, intelligence, and skillset. I think there will be grumblings early from fans, especially since the NFL schedule makers have the Giants opening with the very tough Jacksonville Jaguars defense. But I look for Saquon to get better and better as the season progresses, with his earliest impact coming in the passing game as the new offensive line will take some time to build cohesion.

Overall, it’s extremely difficult to see an offense with Odell Beckham, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley not being explosive. As long as Eli Manning has some gas left in the tank and the offensive line can become somewhat respectable, then this should be a very fun offense to watch.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Stewart, and Wayne Gallman at halfback. Given the fact that the Giants keep adding H-Back types, I think it is safe to say they may keep one as a fullback candidate. I have no idea who that will be however.

May 072018
 
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Ryan Murphy, New York Giants (December 24, 2017)

Ryan Murphy – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS WAIVE FIVE PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have officially waived the following players:

  • RB Terrell Watson
  • WR Canaan Severin
  • OG Damien Mama
  • S Ryan Murphy
  • P Austin Rehkow

The Giants signed Watson to a reserve/futures contract in January 2018. Watson originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with Bengals (2015), Cleveland Browns (2016), Denver Broncos (2016), Philadelphia Eagles (2016), and Pittsburgh Steelers (2017).

The Giants signed Severin in August 2017 after he was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, waived him before the season started in September, and then re-signed him to the Practice Squad in late December. Severin was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Giants signed Mama off of the Practice Squad of the Kansas City Chiefs in December 2017. He did not play in a regular-season game. Mama was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chiefs after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Chiefs waived him in their final round of cuts in early September and then signed him to the Practice Squad.

Murphy was signed to the Practice Squad in September and the 53-man roster in December 2017. He played in the last three games of the season as a back-up and was credited with just one tackle. Murphy was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks waived him in their final round of cuts in September 2015. He spent time on the Practice Squad of the Denver Broncos in both 2015 and 2016. The Giants signed Murphy to the Practice Squad in late December 2016.

The Giants signed Rehkow to a reserve/futures contract in January 2018. Rehkow was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bills waived him in August that year.

ARTICLES…

Jan 232018
 
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James Bettcher, Arizona Cardinals (August 31, 2017)

James Bettcher – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORTS – GIANTS INTERVIEW JAMES BETTCHER FOR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR…
ESPN and The NFL Network are reporting that the New York Giants will meet with former Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher about the Giants’ defensive coordinator position at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday. The Tennessee Titans are also said to be interested in Bettcher. The 39-year old Bettcher became the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator in 2015 after serving as outside linebackers coach for the Indianapolis Colts (2012) and Cardinals (2013-2014).

ESPN previously reported that former Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio (2015-2017) is also a leading candidate to become the Giants’ next defensive coordinator. In recent years, the 54-year old Del Rio has also served as defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers (2002), head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-2011), and defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos (2012-2014).

GIANTS CLAIM KYLE CARTER OFF OF WAIVERS…
The New York Giants have claimed tight end Kyle Carter off of waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. Carter was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Carter spent most of the past two seasons on the Vikings Practice Squad, but he was on the 53-man roster for three games in December 2017. The Vikings waived Carter in January 2018. Carter is more of an H-Back than true tight end given his size (6’3”, 245 pounds). He is a good athlete who can catch the ball but an inconsistent blocker.

ARTICLES…