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.

Dec 272018
 
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Mike Shula, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Mike Shula – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Thursday were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad), wide receiver Russell Shepard (ankle), tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion), defensive end Mario Edwards (calf), and linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion).

Linebacker B.J. Goodson (foot) was limited in practice.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (hip), center Spencer Pulley (calf), and defensive end Kerry Wynn (thumb) fully practiced.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have placed tight end Hakeem Valles, who was on the team’s Practice Squad, on Injured Reserve with an undisclosed injury. The 26-year old, 6’3”, 250-pound Valles was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He also spent time with the Detroit Lions in 2017-2018. Valles has played in 15 regular-season games with one start, and has caught two passes for 11 yards.

The Giants have also re-signed left-footed punter Brock Miller to the Practice Squad. Miller went undrafted in 2014. The San Francisco 49ers signed him in January 2017 but cut him after the 2017 NFL Draft. Miller spent some time with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2017 AFC Championship Game, but he did not play. Miller also spent a few days on the Giants’ Practice  Squad earlier this month.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice again on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Nov 162018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Right guard Jamon Brown (ankle), fullback Eli Penny (back), linebacker Alec Ogletree (ribs), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (hip), and free safety Curtis Riley (shoulder) fully practiced on Friday. All five players are expected to be able to play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Sep 062018
 
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James Bettcher, New York Giants (August 1, 2018)

James Bettcher – © USA TODAY Sports

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR THOMAS MCGAUGHEY BATTLING CANCER…
New York Giants Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey revealed on Thursday that he is battling intestinal and lymphatic cancer.

“This past offseason, they found a growth in my bowel duct,” said McGaughey. “In that growth was cancer. They removed it. I had a very extensive procedure, called a whipple procedure. During the whipple, they found a cancer in one of my lymph nodes. I’ve been doing chemotherapy for about the last two months. I’m going on my fifth treatment, and it’s going good…I have a couple more treatments left. It is what it is…I had a scan, it was in Hackensack, three weeks ago. It was fine.”

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT – OLIVIER VERNON STILL NOT PRACTICING…
Not practicing on Thursday due to injury were linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain) and linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring). Linebacker Lorenzo Carter (illness) was limited in practice.

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

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Aug 272018
 
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Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (August 17, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS AND ODELL BECKHAM SIGN 5-YEAR, $95 MILLION EXTENSION…
The New York Giants officially announced today that they have signed wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to a 5-year contract extension (six years total), locking up the All-Pro receiver through the 2023 season. The NFL Network is reporting that the deal is a 5-year, $95 million contract extension that includes $65 million in guaranteed money. The contract makes Beckham the highest paid wide receiver in football.

Beckham had one year left on his rookie contract and was scheduled to make $8.459 million in salary in 2018. According to ESPN, the new agreement lowers Beckham’s salary to $1.459 million with a $20 million signing bonus, “saving” about $3 million against the 2018 salary cap.

“It’s a five-year extension, six years total,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “We got him until he’s 108. I never worried whether or not we would get it done. I’m pleased, because the litmus test for a contract is that neither side is ticked off before the ink can dry, and neither side should be ticked off. It’s a very fair deal.

“I learned a long time ago, you build the team you want. On offense, you got to have a quarterback, you got to have touchdown scorers. On defense, you got to have guys that sack the quarterback. Well, this guy’s a touchdown scorer. He can score from anywhere on the field, which is huge.”

“Honestly, I don’t even know how to explain it,” Beckham said. “I don’t know if it’s a relief, I don’t know – it’s a combination of everything. You’ve worked all your life to get to this point and it’s finally here. I have to thank Mr. Mara, Steve Tisch, Mr. Gettleman, coach (Pat) Shurmur, Eli (Manning), all the guys I played with in the past years. Everybody was really a part of this – my mom, my dad, my family, everybody who was supporting me through this. It’s just such an amazing feeling, I can’t even explain. Most importantly, I have to thank God for being able to put me back together mentally, physically, spiritually. This is just truly amazing; I don’t even know the right words to describe. It was just a time of patience and waiting and I knew that it would get done, it just was a matter of when and I’m just so happy that it is finally done now.”

While a super-productive football player, Beckham has had his ups and downs on and off the football field.

“As I have said, I think Odell personally is moving in the right direction,” said Giants President and CEO John Mara. “He came to camp with a tremendous attitude, with a smile on his face and worked hard and reminded us of his unique abilities. He’s ready to have a great season and we’re ready for him to have a great season.”

“It was not a distraction because of the way we handled it,” Gettleman said. “The way he handled it, the way we handled it. I was thrilled when he spoke to the media at training camp. I was thrilled he said it’ll get done when it gets done, because that’s what it is. You can’t force things, it’s a negotiation. It’s a back and forth, both sides have to be intentional and thoughtful, which we were. It was great negotiating, it was a very good give and take with Kevin (Abrams, the assistant general manager) and Zeke (Sandhu, Beckham’s agent). We got to the right answer as far as I’m concerned.”

“It’s a great day for our franchise and our fans,” said Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch. “I am excited about our future, especially with Odell and Eli and their teammates operating in Pat’s (Shurmur) offense. We have seen Odell grow. His enthusiasm and work ethic are contagious, and my hope for him and for us – and I know he feels the same – is for him to be remembered as one of the great Giants of all time.”

Beckham says he is excited about the team moving forward and that the money will not change the way he approaches the game.

“The offense seems to be amazing,” said Beckham. “I feel like we’re going to be able to put up a lot of points and do it in a bunch of different ways. We have so many explosive playmakers on this team. Evan Engram, (Sterling) Shep(ard), Cody (Latimer), Saquon (Barkley). The O-line is playing at a high level, they look very together, and it’s time for Eli to bring us home. It’s time for him to bring us back to what we all dream of doing, which is winning a Super Bowl, so the goals are never going to change, it’s just that time to go is now.

“This just kind of secures you and your family, and the ones that are going to come along after you in your family. For me, it’s not going to change my goals that I have on the field. If anything, it just increased them even more. I just want to be able to come out and play football the way that I’ve always played, the way that I love it and have some of my best years that I’ve ever had in my entire life. This is nothing but more motivation to go even harder and to do even better.”

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Monday due to injury were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), tight end Evan Engram (concussion), offensive guard Nick Gates (foot), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring).

Linebacker Calvin Munson (concussion) practiced but was still wearing a red, non-contact jersey. Linebacker Connor Barwin (knee) performed in some individual drills.

“(Barwin) was out there today,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Probably did the most in practice he’s done in a while and so we’ll just see how the knee responded when we go in here this afternoon.”

There are conflicting reports on the severity of Vernon’s ankle injury. One ESPN report claimed said it was a high ankle sprain. Other sources reported it is a deep bruise on the upper part of his ankle.

“Ankle like we talked about yesterday and so he’s day-to-day,” said Shurmur when asked about Vernon… He was checked out. The MRI didn’t show any breaks so he’s just day-to-day with that ankle. He got checked out pretty thoroughly.”

Shurmur said he did not know if it was the same ankle that sidelined Vernon last season for four games.

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…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players will practice on Tuesday. There is no press availability to the team on Wednesday.

Aug 102018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (August 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND BROWNS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
Although the starters did not play long, the New York Giants were clearly out-played in a preseason match-up between the NFL’s two worst teams last season. The Giants fell to the Browns 20-10 on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The highlight of the night for the Giants came on their very first offensive snap when rookie running back Saquon Barkley broke off a 39-yard run, demonstrating vision, shiftiness, power, and speed. (Barkley’s other four carries picked up a total of four yards before he was pulled for the evening). Despite the big initial gain, the Giants’ first drive stalled at the Cleveland 23-yard line as New York settled for a 42-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas.

The Browns responded with a big play of their own, a 32-yard strike from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to wide receiver Jarvis Landry over cornerback Janoris Jenkins. But Landry was flagged for taunting on the play. The defense then held and Cleveland punted.

The Giants’ first-team offense only played one more series (and two overall). The drive ended when with a 10-yard sack on quarterback Eli Manning by a free blitzing linebacker coming up the middle. Manning finished the night 4-of-7 for 26 yards.

Taylor carved up New York’s first-team defense on his second series, completing a 21-yard pass against cornerback Eli Apple and then burning inside linebacker Alec Ogletree on a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku. Browns 7 – Giants 3.

Quarterback Davis Webb entered the game with the second-team offense on the third series and played into the 3rd quarter. The jittery Webb was awful, completing just 9-of-22 passes (41 percent) for 70 yards. The Giants’ offense ground to a halt. In six straight possessions with Webb at the helm, the Giants punted five times and watched the clock expire before halftime at the Cleveland 21-yard line.

Meanwhile, the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the game and put on a show, completing 11-of-20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including a second touchdown catch by Njoku (from 10 yards out, 2-point conversion attempt failed). Mayfield also completed a 54-yard catch-and-run score to wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who got away from cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Orion Stewart, early in the 4th quarter.

The Giants’ only other score in the game came early in the 3rd quarter after defensive end Kerry Wynn forced a fumble on a punt return that was recovered by long snapper Zak DeOssie at the Cleveland 14-yard line. Three plays later, running back Jalen Simmons scored from five yards out. This was Webb’s last possession and his sole contribution here was a 6-yard scramble.

By the 4th quarter, both teams were playing their third and fourth teamers, with both Kyle Lauletta (6-of-9 for48 yards) and Alex Tanney (3-of-7 for 49 yards) seeing time at quarterback for the Giants. Neither team scored after Mayfield’s last pass early in the 4th quarter that went for the 54-yard touchdown.

Overall, the Browns out-gained the Giants in total net yards (372 to 310) and net yards passing (322 to 176) while the Giants were superior in first downs (19 to 15) and net rushing yards (134 to 50). The Giants did not turn the football over. Defensively, nose tackle Robert Thomas accrued New York’s lone sack on the night.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Not playing for the Giants due to injury were wide receiver Travis Rudolph (unknown), tight end Ryan O’Malley (foot/ankle), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), safety/cornerback William Gay (hamstring), and cornerback/safety Curtis Riley (hamstring).

Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and safety Mike Basile were healthy scratches.

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

GIANTS SIGN SAFETY MIKE BASILE….
The New York Giants have signed undrafted rookie free agent Mike Basile (Monmouth University). The 6’1”, 185-pound Basile lacks ideal speed, but he is a hard-working, tough, smart, and instinctive football player with good foot quickness.

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday, the same day the team’s summer training camp officially ends. The players will practice on Sunday and Monday (no public access) before traveling to Michigan to practice against the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (open to public).

Jul 292018
 
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Curtis Riley, New York Giants (July 26, 2018)

Curtis Riley – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 29, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their fourth full-team summer training camp practice on Sunday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

SAM BEAL PLACED ON IR; GIANTS RE-SIGN KENNETH DURDEN…
The New York Giants have placed cornerback Sam Beal (shoulder) on Injured Reserve, ending his season. Beal aggravated an existing shoulder issue during the first training camp practice on Monday, requiring surgery and a 5-month recovery period. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the 2018 Supplemental Draft.

To fill that roster vacancy, the Giants re-signed cornerback Kenneth Durden, who the team waived on July 11th. 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. The Giants signed Durden in June 2018. Durden has not played in a regular-season game.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Sunday were defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (unknown – Active/Non-Football Illness list) and tight end Garrett Dickerson (hamstring).

Cornerback Donte Deayon left practice early with an apparent hamstring injury.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Quarterback Eli Manning fired a pass between two defenders to tight end Evan Engram during 7-on-7 drills. Manning followed that up with a touchdown throw to wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. during 11-on-11 drills.
  • Cornerback Donte Deayon had excellent coverage on wideout Amba Etta-Tawo and picked off a deep sideline pass from quarterback Davis Webb.
  • Michael Thomas started at safety along with Landon Collins. Darian Thompson, Curtis Riley, and Andrew Adams have worked with the first-team with Collins on previous days.
  • Cornerback Grant Haley came up aggressively to prevent running back Robert Martin from scoring in the red zone. Martin did show some nifty moves during practice today.
  • Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a touch pass to tight end Rhett Ellison, who made the catch in the end zone for a score.
  • Linebacker Alec Ogletree ran by left tackle Nate Solder to “sack” quarterback Eli Manning, whose subsequent pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was deflected by cornerback Eli Apple and intercepted by linebacker Olivier Vernon. (Apple was flagged for pass interference on the play).
  • Running back Saquon Barkley caught a pass in the flat and badly juked out cornerback William Gay.
  • Linebacker Mark Herzlich nearly sacked quarterback Davis Webb, who rolled out to his right and fired a 40-yard bomb downfield to wide receiver Kalif Raymond.
  • Wide receiver Kalif Raymond beat safety Michael Thomas for a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning and tight end Evan Engram continue to make plays together. Manning connected on another touchdown to Engram and also threw a nice touch pass over safety Landon Collins to Engram.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley stymied safety Landon Collins on a safety blitz, allowing quarterback Eli Manning to find wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a sizable gain against cornerback William Gay.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple broke up a pass intended for wideout Travis Rudolph.
  • Wideout Kalif Raymond stretched out to catch a pass from quarterback Davis Webb off of a rollout. Quarterback Eli Manning then found Raymond against cornerback William Gay.
  • Linebacker Olivier Vernon was able to push right tackle Ereck Flowers back into the quarterback on one rush and later beat left tackle Nate Solder for a “sack.”
  • Linebacker Kareem Martin gave both Nate Solder and Ereck Flowers problems on a couple of plays. Flower also stonewalled Martin on one rush.
  • Linebacker Connor Barwin beat right tackle Chad Wheeler for a “sack.”
  • Wide receiver Russell Shepard has quietly been making quite a few plays.
  • Saquon Barkley, Cody Latimer, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard, and Jawill Davis all worked as kickoff returners.

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

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

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 202018
 
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Kevin Abrams, New York Giants (June 12, 2018)

Kevin Abrams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS FRONT OFFICE AND SCOUTING CHANGES…
The New York Giants have announced the following personnel changes to their front office and scouting departments:

  • Kevin Abrams, a member of the organization since 1999 and the assistant general manager for the last 16 years, has added the title of vice president of football operations.
  • Mark Koncz, brought in by Gettleman as a consultant prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, is now the director of player personnel. Koncz was a member of the Carolina Panthers organization from 1994-2017 and was their director of pro scouting from 2000-2017. He worked under Gettleman when the latter was the Panthers’ general manager from 2013-2016.
  • Chris Pettit has been named director of college scouting after spending the previous 13 years as an area scout. He joined the Giants’ scouting staff in 2005 after spending the 2004 season as a scouting intern for the team. Pettit first worked for the Giants as a training camp pro personnel intern from 1998-2000.
  • Patrick Hanscomb has been named an area scout whose concentration will be the Mid-Atlantic area. Hanscomb spent the previous 10 seasons in the team’s pro personnel department.
  • Marcus Cooper has been hired as an area scout who will focus in the Southeast. Cooper spent the previous seven seasons with the Buffalo Bills, first as a player personnel assistant, then as an area scout, and last year as the team’s scout in the BLESTO Scouting Combine.

Beginning this season, each area scout will concentrate on a specific region. In addition to Hanscomb and Cooper, the Giants’ area scouts are D.J. Boisture (west), Jeremy Breit (regional), Steve Devine (Midwest), Donnie Etheridge (southwest), Ryan Jones (northeast), Michael Murphy (west), Steve Verderosa (regional), and Chris Watts (midlands). These eight scouts have all served with the Giants for a number of years.

Jeremiah Davis and Marquis Pendleton will continue to serve as executive scout and BLESTO scout, respectively.

“We talk all the time about the importance of working together and communicating effectively and efficiently,” said General Manger Dave Gettleman. “These appointments and promotions are well deserved, and we feel like we are well-positioned to move forward with the group of people we have in player personnel and football operations. All are collaborators and communicators and understand the significance of self-improvement to make the organization the best it can be.”

A complete listing of these positions is available in the New York Giants team administration section of the website.

NY POST Q&A WITH DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JAMES BETTCHER…
James Bettcher, the blue-collar guy now leading Giants defense by Steve Serby of The New York Post

ARTICLES…

Jun 132018
 
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Landon Collins, New York Giants (June 12, 2018)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 13, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The second day of the New York Giants 3-day mandatory mini-camp was held on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. All 90 players on the current roster were present.

The mini-camp will conclude with a practice on Thursday.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (recovering from ankle surgery) has been cleared to practice. On Wednesday, he participated in individual and walk-thru drills, but not team drills.

Safety Landon Collins (recovering from offseason arm surgery) did not participate in full-team drills.

Defensive end Josh Mauro (unknown), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown), linebacker Avery Moss (unknown), and safety Darian Thompson (unknown) did not practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • For the second day in a row, the first-team offensive line was left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez, center Jon Halapio, right guard Patrick Omameh, and right tackle Ereck Flowers.
  • The starting safeties again were Andrew Adams and Curtis Riley.
  • Cornerback Donte Deayon intercepted a pass in early passing drills.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Cody Latimer during redzone drills, beating cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Latimer was active catching the football.
  • Safety Andrew Adams nicely broke up an endzone throw to tight end Evan Engram.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb made an excellent throw to wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. on a fade route. Lewis made a one-handed catch but his second foot was out of bounds.
  • Place kicker Marshall Koehn was 7-of-8 on field goal attempts; he missed his shortest attempt.
  • Linebacker Lorenzo Carter flashed a nice burst off the edge on a blitz.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning overthrew wide receiver Sterling Shepard deep over the middle.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley demonstrated outstanding quickness and acceleration after catching a pass in the flat from quarterback Eli Manning, splitting two defenders, and then streaking downfield for a touchdown. Linebackers have had a very hard time covering Barkley.
  • Wide receiver Kalif Raymond received some first-team reps. He dropped a pass but also caught a touchdown on a fly pattern from quarterback Davis Webb.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb demonstrated nice touch on a wheel route to running back Wayne Gallman.
  • The defensive front batted down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage.
  • Notes and observations from minicamp practice (6/13) by John Schmeelk of Giants.com
  • Who stood out at Giants minicamp? (6/13) by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

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

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

ARTICLES…