Feb 012021
 
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Blake Martinez, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Blake Martinez – © USA TODAY Sports

As we covered in our defensive line review, the New York Giants defense significantly improved from 25th in 2019 to 12th in 2020 in terms of yards allowed. It was a remarkable achievement given the year-long personnel changes in the back seven on defense. There were no adjustments on the defensive line. The same three starters and two back-ups played in every game. The same could not be said for the linebackers and defensive backs.

In today’s 3-4 defenses, the outside linebackers are more of a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, increasingly commonly referred to as “edge” players. The two Giants who won the starting edge jobs (Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines) were both lost for the season in early October with 3/4ths of the season left to play. Their primary back-up (Markus Golden) was traded to the Cardinals a few weeks later with half the season left to play. The next man up (OLB/ILB hybrid Kyler Fackrell) missed four games due to a calf injury. The Giants were forced to rely on three rookies (7th rounder Carter Coughlin, 6th rounder Cam Brown, and undrafted free agent Niko Lalos) and two retreads (Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris).

There was chaos too at one of the inside linebacker spots. Devonta Downs started the season but was unimpressive and lost his job to rookie Tae Crowder, the very last player taken in the draft. But after starting two games, Crowder landed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury for five games. Downs was reinserted into the starting line-up, but now David Mayo, who missed the first five games of the season with a knee injury, also saw increased playing time and two starts. Crowder returned in late November and reclaimed the starting job.

Whew. Just typing that was confusing. The only constants were free agent godsend Blake Martinez and the coaching staff.

Martinez was the glue that held the defense together. He directed the defense, played virtually every defensive snap (97 percent), and was a tackling machine (team-high 151 tackles). Long story short, Martinez is the best inside linebacker the Giants have had since Antonio Pierce was cut a decade ago.

Inside Linebackers Coach Kevin Sherrer and Outside Linebackers Coach Bret Bielema did a marvelous job of mixing and matching on a week-to-week basis. Look no further than the edge position where the Giants were left scrambling. At one point, the available players to use were Sheard, Coughlin, Brown, and Lalos. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham, who coached linebackers with the Patriots and Packers, also employed defensive backs at linebacker in various packages. But there was a bit of chaos even in the coaching ranks when Bielema left the Giants with three games left to play to become head coach at the University of Illinois. Sherrer then handled both positions.

Aside from Martinez, what really stands out is that all four of the team’s late-round draft picks at linebacker made the team in addition to a rookie free agent. All five of these rookies played. The Giants were hammered by injuries at the outside linebacker position – down to their 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th options – and yet the coaching staff held the unit together. The biggest negative was the lack of pass rush, particularly from the edge spots. Of the team’s 40 sacks, 13.5 came from the linebackers (and four of them were from inside backers Martinez and Crowder). Fackrell led the linebacking corps with just four sacks.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

The Giants signed Blake Martinez as an unrestricted free agent from the Green Bay Packers in March 2020. He had a major impact on the defense, starting all 16 games and playing in 97 percent of all defensive snaps. Martinez finished the season with a team-high 151 tackles and also accrued nine tackles for losses, three sacks, six quarterback hits, five pass defenses, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. The 6’2”, 237-pound Martinez was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Packers. In four seasons with Green Bay, Martinez has played in 61 regular-season games with 57 starts, accruing 512 tackles and 10 sacks. Martinez lacks ideal size and range for the position, but he is a heady player who can make the defensive calls and gets in on lot of tackles. He is better against the run than the pass.

The Giants selected Tae Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly moved into the starting line-up in Week 5 and 6 before suffering a groin injury that landed him on Injured Reserve for five games. Crowder returned in late November, starting four of his final six games. In all, Crowder played in 11 games with six starts (37 percent of all defensive snaps), and was credited with 57 tackles, three tackles for losses, one sack, three quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery that he returned for a game-winning touchdown. The 6’3”, 235-pound Crowder was moved from running back to linebacker in college and thus is still learning the position. Only a 1-year starter in college. While Crowder lacks ideal size, he is a good athlete and seems to have good instincts for the position. He must improve his tackling consistency.

Devante Downs began the season as a starter, but saw his playing time give way to Tae Crowder. Downs played in all 16 games with eight starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 33 tackles, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’2”, 252-pound Downs was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings waived him in late September 2019 and he was then signed by the Giants to their Practice Squad and 53-man roster in October 2019. Downs played in seven games for the Giants in 2019 on special teams. Downs has good size, but he did not impress against the run or pass in 2020 despite his eight starts.

The Giants placed David Mayo on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery. He was activated from Injured Reserve in mid-October. Mayo ended up playing in 11 games with two starts (18 percent of all defensive snaps). He was credited with 29 tackles, two tackles for losses, and one forced fumble. The Giants signed Mayo in September 2019 after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers. He surprisingly ended up playing in all 16 games with 13 starts, playing in 57 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing with 82 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 pass defenses. The 6’2”, 240-pound Mayo was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. After four seasons in Carolina, Mayo signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2019. Before coming to the Giants, Mayo only had started four NFL games in four seasons. Mayo lacks ideal tools which limits his ability defend the run and cover receivers, but he plays hard.

The Giants selected T.J. Brunson in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Brunson spent most of the season on the inactive list, but he did play in five games, almost exclusively on special teams. He was credited with three tackles. The 6’1”, 230-pound Brunson is an undersized inside linebacker with decent but not ideal athleticism. He is very physical and aggressive.

EDGE

The Giants placed Lorenzo Carter on Injured Reserve with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon that he suffered in Week 5 in October 2020. He underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season after starting all five games and finishing with 14 tackles and one sack. The Giants drafted 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. In 2019, Carter started 12 of the 15 games he played in, finishing the year with 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Carter is a tall, athletic, disruptive forward mover. Carter looks the part, combining good size (6’5”, 255 pounds) and overall athletic ability. He flashes the ability to disrupt, but must do a better job of disengaging from blockers and making more plays. Versatile, he can play with his hand in the dirt.

Oshane Ximines was placed on Injured Reserve in early October 2020 with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 4. He returned to practice in late November, but his season ended when it was determined he would need rotator cuff surgery. Ximines started three of the four games he played in and finished the season with just four tackles. The Giants drafted Ximines in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He played at end in college. Ximines had a mixed performance in his rookie season in 2019. He received significant playing time, playing in all 16 games with two starts, playing in 45 percent of all defensive snaps, and accruing 25 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and one pass defense. Ximines has a nice combination of size (6’4”, 254 pounds) and overall athletic-ability. Ximines flashed at times as a pass rusher, but he must become a more physical run defender and more consistent, dynamic performer when rushing the passer. He also needs work in coverage.

2020 was an odd year for Markus Golden. Coming off of a superlative debut season for the Giants as a 1-year free agent rental in 2019 (career-high 72 tackles and team-high 10 sacks), Golden did not receive much interest in 2020 free agency. He re-signed with the Giants very late in the offseason in early August, but did not regain his starting position when the season started. The Giants then traded him to the Cardinals in late October. Golden ended up having a much bigger impact with the Cardinals than the Giants in 2020. With the Giants, he played in seven games with one start (16 percent of all defensive snaps) and finished with just 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. After rejoining the Cardinals, Golden started the final eight games, including a 1-sack, 1-fumble recovery performance against the Giants in Week 14. 

The Giants placed Kyler Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury and activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021. In all, Fackrell played in 12 games with nine starts. He played in 56 percent of all defensive snaps and finished the season with 34 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, two pass defenses, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, and one forced fumble. The 6’5”, 245-pound Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. In four seasons with Green Bay, Fackrell played in 61 regular-season games with nine starts, compiling 111 tackles, 16.5 sacks, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Fackrell’s best season was in 2018 when he started seven games and accrued 42 tackles and 10.5 sacks. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020. Although not a dynamic athlete, Fackrell is a big, versatile linebacker who can play outside or inside linebacker. He flashes as a pass rusher.

The Giants signed Jabaal Sheard off of the Practice Squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars in October 2020. He ended up playing in nine games for the Giants with three starts (24 percent of all defensive snaps), and finished with 19 tackles, two tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. The 6’3”, 268-pound Sheard was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2011-2014), New England Patriots (2015-2016), Indianapolis Colts (2017-2019), and Jaguars (2020). Sheard has played in 144 regular-season games with 106 starts. While not a dynamic performer, Sheard is a steady, veteran presence who is solid against the run and will occasionally make some noise as a pass rusher.

The Giants selected Carter Coughlin in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played in 14 games as a rookie with two starts (18 percent of all defensive snaps). Coughlin finished the season with 17 tackles, two tackles for losses, one sack, and two quarterback hits. The 6’3”, 236-pound Coughlin is not a top athlete, but he is a tough, competitive, and reliable linebacker who plays hard.

The Giants selected Cam Brown in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played in 15 games as a rookie with no starts (8 percent of all defensive snaps). Brown finished the year with 12 tackles, three quarterback hits, and one forced fumble. The 6’5”, 233-pound Brown is a tall and lanky outside backer with long arms and decent speed. His size and solid athletic ability assist him coverage but he needs to improve his run defense at the point-of-attack and overall tackling consistency.

The Giants signed Niko Lalos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. Lalos spent most of the season on the Practice Squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster in December. He played in six games with no starts as a rookie (7 percent of all defensive snaps). Lalos finished the season with six tackles, one interception, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’5”, 270-pound Lalos played defensive end in college but was moved to the outside linebacker position by the Giants. He has good size for the position, but is not a dynamic athlete. Over-achiever who plays hard.

The Giants signed Trent Harris to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2020; he was re-signed to the Practice Squad in December after playing in four games with two starts (6 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished they year with five tackles and 0.5 sacks. The 6’2”, 255-pound Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad of the Patriots. The Miami Dolphins claimed Harris off of waivers in September 2019. He played in 11 games with three starts with the Dolphins, accruing 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Dolphins cut him in early September 2020.

Oct 152020
 
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Kyler Fackrell, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Kyler Fackrell – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 15, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Darius Slayton (foot), DL Dexter Lawrence (knee), LB Kyler Fackrell (ankle), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice on Thursday.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:30AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Aug 102020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (August 2020)

Markus Golden – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 10, 2020 EVAN ENGRAM CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Moving into a new system with Jason Garrett, have you watched any Cowboys film? Have you spoken with Jason Witten on how to elevate your game in this system?

A: I haven’t gotten the chance to speak to Jason or any of the tight ends that have been in the system. I’m just showing up to work each and every day, diving into the offense, diving into film work to help learn the scheme, learn things. You see the impact that it has, you see the greatness in Jason Witten, the attention to detail he had and the success in the offense he had. I’m just trying to do my best to learn as much as possible and to pick up the offense as quick as possible.

Q: Is there some trait in your skill set that makes you think you can really elevate your game?

A: I’m just coming in and I’m going to be me for the offense. I think just getting in and trying to learn it right now is the biggest thing. Try to limit the mistakes, iron out the details and get the offense down.

Q: How are you feeling health wise? How big of a point is that for you? I know whenever someone talks about your capabilities, it always starts with whether or not he can stay healthy. How much do you want to prove that that’s not the only thing people need to be talking about?

A: I feel great. I’ve had a very blessed offseason. I’ve been working my butt off in rehab and getting back. Right now, I am just going out and doing everything I can for the team and what practice is with the trainers. I’m not really worried about what all the other people are saying. I can only control what’s in front of me each and every day. That’s coming in, working hard during training camp and learning this offense and being a good teammate and a good leader.

Q: You were one of the guys rehabbing at the facility before covid-19, correct? How did you manage your rehab and keep yourself on schedule? Was it as challenging as it might appear to keep it going?

A: It was an adjustment. Just being comfortable up here with our facilities and our trainers and then everything going south and shutting down. Our training staff did a good job of making connections where I was at, I was in Atlanta. I got set up with a rehab facility not too far from my house, so I was able to kind of pick back up. They were able to pick up all the details that I needed, things that I needed, and we were able to keep things in motion. We definitely had to make some adjustments, but our training staff here did a great job helping me stay on track.

Q: Did you ever doubt that you would be ready for training camp? How ready are you?

A: I had no doubt. I had my mind set. I had a very strong, very aggressive rehab. Each and every day, I was trying to find ways to get better. Right now, I am blessed to be back out there running around with my teammates. I’m having fun running around catching the ball and learning offense and getting ready for this new season.

Q: This is your third new offense in four years with the Giants. How difficult is that for a still young player to have no continuity at all? How much has the losing during that made it difficult also?

A: I wouldn’t say difficult, I would say some perseverance involved and being flexible with adjustments. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult with the losing, I think it has been very motivating to learn this new system and keep finding ways to get better each and every day. Start ironing out the things and getting better at the things that are going to turn around and win on Sundays. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it’s just been attacking an adjustment.

Q: What is the challenge of each year not being able to build on what you did previously because it’s not the same system?

A: That speaks to how hard you work right now, in this training camp and learning the offense. Having that continuity might help, but also honing in and honing in on the details and trying to find ways to get better each and every day. Right now, that’s all I can do and that’s all I can worry about. I’m not really worried about the past or what the circumstance is. Right now, we’re in this offense and we have an opportunity to come in each and every day and get better at it.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you in training camp under these circumstances?

A: Honestly, I’m just glad to be back in the building. I’m glad to be back around football with my teammates. It’s definitely different wearing masks and social distancing. The logistics of everything, going back and forth to the field and the stadium and this and that. I take it as a blessing just to be back around my guys. Another opportunity for a football season to go out there and compete.

Q: Do they have you limited, are you full go? How is that working?

A: We’re not allowed to get into the details, that’s a Coach Judge rule. I’m out there with my teammates, I’m running around doing good, trying to get better each and every day.

Q: They picked up your fifth-year option. How much do you view this as a make or break year? This could determine where your future is going and what you contract looks like.

A: I’m not really too worried about that right now. We have a lot on our plate with the offense and all the different things around training camp. All that stuff will take care of itself. Right now, my focus is I am coming in each and every day finding ways to get better. Fixing mistakes and trying to get ready for the season.

Q: Based on what you know so far, how much of this is a change from what you have been asked to do in the past? How do you like the role that is being carved out for you in this offense?

A: It’s a good offense in my eyes. All the details we have to know and things like that is going to help us when we get them all down. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Garrett and Coach Kitchens and all the other coaches on the offensive side. We’re putting in a lot of hard work right now and just have to continue to do that. Keep working for the good things to happen.

Q: What about the changeover in your role? Is it much different than what you have been asked to do in the past? Have they added some new things to your responsibilities?

A: Tight end in general is a very detail specific position. I don’t really want to compare it other offenses. There is definitely a lot of things we have to learn, a lot of things we need to iron out, a lot of details we have to perfect. Like I said, it’s a process that we have to come in each and every day and keep working at it.

Q: Can you share with us the timeline of how long you were in the boot, when you got out of the boot, and when you got to top speed as far as running?

A: I honestly can’t even tell you. It was a long process, especially with everything going on. With COVID and this and that. I’m just glad to be where I’m at right now. It was just a process that was happening. Right now, I’m feeling good and running around.

Q: You said you want to be the best version of yourself in the offense. How would to describe your game at its top level, how do you open up an offense?

A: Just being myself, using my speed, being physical. Being a durable player, being available. Coming in each and every day and improving on things that need improvement. I think that’s the best way to improve, that’s the best way to help your team. The best way to help your team win games, each and every day getting better at something. That’s my goal and that’s what I plan to do for this season.

AUGUST 10, 2020 WILL HERNANDEZ CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants offensive guard Will Hernandez addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: I have a couple questions for you. Number one, you were training part of the offseason with Nick Gates, who of course is in the mix at offensive tackle, he’s in the mix at center. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that training, what you saw from Nick, especially since there’s a possibility he might be lining up next to you this season?

A: Yeah, Nick Gates and I spent a heavy amount of time training together in the offseason. We’re both from Las Vegas, Nevada, we’re really good friends. Yeah, we got after it in the offseason. I’ve always thought he was a great player. I’ve always thought he has what it takes to play. As far as where he goes, whether he lines up next to me or any of the other spots, I honestly think Nick Gates could play any spot on the line. He’s good enough to play anywhere on that offensive line.

Q: I wanted to ask you about Coach (Marc) Colombo. Obviously, he’s a recently retired NFL player. He’s been a coach for a few years. What kind of value does having a former NFL player, a guy who’s not that far removed from the game, as your coach? What does that bring to you as a young player still trying to learn the game and get better at your craft?

A: Coach Colombo is great. It’s awesome having somebody who’s actually been there, done that, 10-plus years playing. He definitely has a lot of inside information as a player himself that he can pass on to us. As far as being there with us, he’s one of us. He’s one of the guys. Of course, you separate that title. When he’s coach, he’s coach. You have that respect line. But it’s cool having somebody who is very similar to everybody in that room and kind of gets it. He just gets it. That’s something that any offensive lineman appreciates, a guy that understands you. It’s a very unique position. You don’t meet too many offensive linemen. There are not too many offensive linemen. It’s a unique position. To have somebody that actually played there, it definitely helps us out a lot. We really like having him here.

Q: It seems like it was just a couple of days ago we were asking you about being a rookie and coming in and what you can lean on and learn from Nate Solder next to you. Now, you might be in a position where you’re going to have a rookie next to you on your left, Andrew Thomas, if he winds up there, and you’ll be the veteran that kind of has to support him. First of all, how crazy is that timeline? Second of all, do you feel like you’re ready for that role?

A: Yeah, you’re right, it really does seem like just yesterday that I was a rookie behind Nate. Now, I might have the chance to do the same. All I’m going to say about that is I’m not sure who’s going to land in that position. I’ll leave that up to the coaches. As far as having that, I learned from the best. Nate Solder really taught me a lot on and off the field. But he also taught me unconsciously how to treat a rookie. I felt like I got treated by him with the utmost respect, with the utmost attention to detail, wanting to help me to get better. It’s just all those things I picked up from him looking back at it now. It’s the same things that I would instill in anybody who was brand new coming in and playing next to me. I would take a lot of the same things he did with me and add my own personality to it. But I definitely learned a lot of valuable points from Nate.

Q: What’s been your impression so far of Andrew? Obviously, you haven’t really been on the field to do much in pads and hitting and stuff, but what have you seen from the first round pick?

A: First, he’s a great guy. He can sing. He can really sing. He has a voice. He’s a really smart guy. He gets things right away. He picks up on a lot of the stuff that coach talks to him about. He’s able to absorb it and pick it up right away, which I think is very good. He just has that demeanor. You can see it through his note-taking, through his playing, through his practices, that he wants to get better. He wants to do good. That’s just some of the things I’ve seen from observing him lately. I think he’s going to be just fine. He’s doing great right now.

Q: What’s his best song? What does he sing for you guys?

A: He sang one song. We made him get up there for the rookie song. I don’t remember the song name right now. All I know is it was good. I was snapping my fingers the entire time. It was a good song.

Q: How do you view how your season went last year? In what ways do you feel like you need to improve? And a follow-up on the singing, did you know Marc Colombo was in a heavy metal band when he was a player?

A: As far as last year, what’s in the past is in the past. I’ve learned a lot since then. I really have been focusing on this new offense, new techniques, kind of like a new attitude for everything. I think that we’ve gotten a lot better since the offseason, at least me personally. I’ve been able to look back on a lot of things that I did wrong or I didn’t do as best as I could, and I’ve been able to correct them. Now, I’m just focused on the future and what I’m doing now. And I was aware of it. I heard something about it or saw something about it on social media, checked it out and watched his video. Yeah, it was awesome.

Q: Since you’ve been here, now you have a second regime change. You’re a guy who we all can say losing wears on you. It doesn’t run off your back. You can feel it affects you. How much do you think it has affected you the last two years, and how much do you think ‘Enough of this? We have to move on. We have to start succeeding on the field here’?

A: I think a more appropriate word, rather than affect me, I think it’s motivated me. Every single little thing that I do now is geared towards winning, towards ‘How is this going to help me win? Is this going to help me win? Yes or no. No? Ok, I’m not doing it.’ I just feel like every single thing that I do now, whether it’s on the field or off, I either do it or not with the purpose of winning.

Q: Is that a change? In the past, were you maybe doing some things that weren’t totally geared towards that?

A: No, it wasn’t intentional. It’s just a lot of things I realized from experience, from things that I did. I was just learning and learning and learning about the mistakes that we all make, and learning from those mistakes. The motive has always been the same: win. But I think more than anything, what I did was learning from my own mistakes. That same factor of wanting to win was always there, but now, it’s like ‘Ok, I can’t make those mistakes again because I still want to win.’

Q: What does the scheme change mean for you guys as an offensive line? We look at it and we see Jason Garrett in Dallas and all the success they’ve had running the football. I’m just curious, as someone who’s part of that offensive line, how are you guys viewing it?

A: We love it. We’ve always just took the plays and the schemes that have been put in front of us and tried to do it to the best of our abilities. I’ve always loved running the ball. I personally like it. I’ve been trying my hardest to be able to get everything down so we can execute. But as far as liking it, I love it.

Q: Do you expect it to be much more run heavy? Not much more, but at least more run heavy? That seems to be the perception at least.

A: I’m not really expecting anything or wanting a certain… Whatever the coaches throw at us, whatever plays they put on that call sheet at the end of the day for the game, that’s what we’re going to run. I’m going to be going just as hard whether it’s run, pass, play action, whatever it is.

Q: In my experiences with you, you’ve always taken your job so seriously. I’m just wondering, as you head into this season, how much responsibility, or how would you describe the responsibility this offensive line has to be better, to help this offense really become much more explosive?

A: That’s exactly right. The offensive line has a big, big role in our success. We proudly carry the workload. We’ll proudly get to work and get things done. We know it starts with us and we’re definitely going to do everything it takes to get after it and make it happen.

AUGUST 10, 2020 MARKUS GOLDEN CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants linebacker Markus Golden addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Had you ever heard of the May 5th tender before they gave it to you, and what was your reaction when you found out you were getting it?

A: I really hadn’t heard of it. I had never heard of it. But my reaction was surprised, of course. For me, it was business as usual. It’s a business at the end of the day.

Q: You don’t feel like you come back with any hard feelings?

A: No, because business is business. I know how this stuff goes. I’ve been having that mindset since my rookie year. Really since college. I have a business mindset. You have to have that mindset because that’s exactly what it is. Yeah, it’s football, a game we’ve been playing since we were kids. But when you get on this level and the college level, you start to realize that it’s a business. That’s the mindset I keep just so I’m ready for when different stuff like that happens.

Q: Was the way free agency went frustrating for you at all? I know a lot of the edge rushers haven’t been signed yet and maybe the pandemic had something to do with that. But was it frustrating having to wait as long as you did to kind of know where you’d end up this year?

A: Of course. Of course, it was. You put in a lot of work during the season. This is a game where they say if you put the work in, the hard work pays off, the game will pay you back in different ways. Of course, it was frustrating. But then again, after a while, you go back to that ‘business is business’ mindset, as it is. That’s the mindset you need to have in this business. Like I said, it was a little frustrating, but you just need to work hard and use everything as motivation.

Q: What do you think about coming back to the Giants? It’s obviously almost a new look team from last year. A lot of new players, completely new coaching staff. How do you feel about being back here?

A: I feel good. I feel good about being back. It’s a good place. It’s a good place to be able to come back and be able to compete and be able to play ball. At the end of the day, I love playing ball and that’s what I’m about. I love playing ball, I love competing. This is the situation I’m in right now. I can’t sit back and complain and fuss about it. I have to go out and get it no matter what. That’s the mindset that I’m going to keep. That’s just who I am. That’s how my parents raised me to be. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep my mindset and if I get the opportunity to do what I need to do, I’m going to be ready to compete no matter what.

Q: Was there any point before they put that tender on you that you thought you would be back with the Giants?

A: You never know. You never know how it goes. I’ve been through free agency before, and it didn’t go my way the first time around. I’m the type of guy that remembers that. When I go through something once, I remember everything that happened during that time. I really just was open to whatever was going to happen. Whatever was going to happen, I was going to be able to go with it. That was my mindset really, like I said, because I have been through this before. I know this stuff can be up and down. It can be good for you in one moment, then the next minute it can change on you. That’s just how my mindset is. That’s how it is in St. Louis where I’m from. You just never know. You have to take it and go with it. I really wasn’t hoping for nothing. Of course, you just go with the flow. This is how it ended up, so this is what I have to roll with.

Q: But did the Giants show any interest in you early in free agency? Were there any talks about coming back on a long-term deal?

A: Of course, of course. You’ve seen what I’ve done for the Giants. Of course, you want a player to come back and be able to help your team and be able to get out there and help your team because I showed what I can do. But it didn’t work out like that. It didn’t work out like that, but I’m back now and I’m back on different circumstances. But I’m back and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day. At the end of the day, no matter what, I’m going to be me. I’m going to go out and compete. I’m going to lay it on the line because at the end of the day, I play the game for a different reason. I play the game for my family. I play the game to win. I know what I need to do to be able to play for my family, be able to make my family proud. I know what I need to do to be able to win and help my team.

Q: You’re back with a group that is pretty similar in terms of the edge guys to what it was last year. Most people would have said the pass rush wasn’t quite good enough, do you see reason for optimism with some of these guys as to why you guys can be better? Maybe specifically with Lorenzo and Oshane? Is it too early to judge any improvement from those guys?

A: They’re working hard. Zo and X work hard, that’s all those guys do. Since they were young last year, they have always been working hard. You have to respect those guys and the work they put in. Me, myself, I expect big things from them. I know they are working hard. They expect things from themselves, but at the end of the day it’s another year in the league and you can always come back better.

Q: Is there another level you think you can get to that maybe people haven’t seen yet?

A: I don’t really think about that. I know one thing I’m going to do and that’s come out and compete. I’m going to come out and compete. This offseason I worked really hard to get better. I’m working hard in these workouts to get better and that’s what I am going to do every day. At the end of the day, it’s football. You are going to pad, you are going to put your helmet on, go out there and go to war, that’s what football is. I look forward to getting out there and competing, that’s what I do. I look forward to getting out there and competing.

Q: What do you like about the schemes Coach Graham is bringing to the table that might differ from what you guys did last year?

A: I’ll still be playing a little bit of linebacker and defensive end in nickel. It’s football at the end of the day. The plays can be this, you can call whatever you want to call, but at the end of the day you have to know your job and know what you have to do out there. I’m not really worried about last year or comparing the two, I’m really just focusing on learning these plays and getting locked on these plays and then going out there and doing my job. At the end of the day, its’s football. You can’t make it that difficult. You have to get the play, line up, and know what you have to do. That’s what I’m focusing on, learning what I have to do on the defense. Going out every day and working hard to get better.

Q: It seemed like last year you were trying to prove the injury was behind you and you could get back to that double digit sack level. How does that change not only with your training but your motivation that you can kind of pick up where you left off after kast year?

A: It’s simple, with all my years in the league, I have been going hard and competing to make sure I make plays to help my team win. The only time that didn’t happen was when I hurt myself. I’m feeling healthy and I don’t really worry about everybody else. I don’t worry about, oh, I have to go prove this to this guy, I’m not worried about it. If you don’t know what I can do by now, then you are not worth proving anything to. I focus on proving it to myself. I have a lot of people back home in St. Louis that believe in me. I focus on making them proud. They are the same people that have been with me this whole way. That’s where my focus is, really proving to myself that I’m going to keep working hard and getting better.

Q: How much more productive was this offseason since you were not rehabbing an injury and you could hit the ground running?

A: It was really productive. I’m a guy that likes to work pass rushing by myself. I like to go out and work pass rush by myself a lot. I got to do that a lot by myself. That’s what really felt good. Just being able to go to a local park and just have my cones and have all the stuff I need and just be out there working pass rush by myself. I worked at PEP out in Arizona, I got a lot of great work there. It was a normal offseason for me besides being able to get out there and really work pass rush and overwork every day. That’s what I got back to and that felt really good to be able to get back to working pass rush all the time as much as I want.

Aug 042020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Markus Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN MARKUS GOLDEN…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed free agent linebacker Markus Golden. The NFL Network is reporting that the deal is a 1-year, $5.1 million contract.

Back in late April, the New York Giants placed the seldom-used “May 5” tender on Golden, who had been an unrestricted free agent. Unless Golden signed with another team by July 22, the tender would enable the Giants to maintain exclusive signing rights until the 10th week of the 2020 NFL season. That deadline passed without Golden signing.

The Giants signed Golden as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. Golden had a strong debut season with the Giants in 2019, starting all 16 games, playing 83 percent of all defensive snaps, accruing a career-high 72 tackles, and team-high 10 sacks.

The 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

ALEX TANNEY PASSES PHYSICAL…
Quarterback Alex Tanney has passed his physical and has been activated off of the Reserve/Non-Football Illness List. He was placed on that list on July 28.

The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. The 6’4”, 220-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018).

He surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game. Tanney has only played in two regular-season games, coming off the bench for the Titans in 2015 and the Giants in 2019. He did not play well during the 2019 preseason, completing only 52.2 percent of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

JOSIAH TAUAEFA PLACED ON RESERVE/COVID-19 LIST …
Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, which means he either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did. The Giants originally signed Tauaefa as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. They then signed Tauaefa to the Practice Squad in September 2019 and the 53-man roster in October 2019. He played in 12 games with no starts as almost all of his playing time came on special teams.

Meanwhile, the first and only other Giant who was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, wide receiver David Sills, has been cleared and has returned to the team. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by the Bills. The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He did not play in a game however.

Aug 012020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Markus Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

MARKUS GOLDEN REPORTS TO NEW YORK GIANTS CAMP…
Although he has not yet been officially signed, free agent linebacker Markus Golden has reported to New York Giants training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey. According to media reports, Golden is currently being tested for COVID-19 by the team. (He has to pass three tests over a 4-day period).

Back in late April, the New York Giants placed a seldom-used “May 5” tender on Golden, who had been an unrestricted free agent. Unless Golden signed with another team by July 22, the tender would enable the Giants to maintain exclusive signing rights until the 10th week of the 2020 NFL season. That deadline passed without Golden signing. Golden is expected to sign his 1-year, $4.125 million tender (which is 100 percent of his 2019 salary).

The Giants signed Golden as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. Golden had a strong debut season with the Giants in 2019, starting all 16 games, playing 83 percent of all defensive snaps, accruing a career-high 72 tackles, and team-high 10 sacks.

The 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN NICK GATES TO CONTRACT EXTENSION…
The New York Giants have signed offensive lineman Nick Gates to a contract extension. The deal is reportedly 2-contract, $6.825 million contract that could increase to $10.325 million and includes a $1.5 million signing bonus. The Giants originally signed Gates as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He missed all of 2018 with a foot injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve before the season started. In 2019, Gates was active for all 16 games with three starts (two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard). Despite his inexperience, Gates played decently in those three games. He’s a versatile player with good size (6’6”, 318 pounds) and some athleticism. Gates may also be in the mix at center.

GIANTS CLAIM TONY BROWN OFF OF WAIVERS FROM CLEVELAND…
The New York Giants have claimed wide receiver Tony Brown off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns. The 22-year old, 6’1”, 192-pound Brown was signed as an unrestricted rookie free agent by the Browns after the 2020 NFL Draft.

CHANDLER CATANZARO OFFICIALLY SIGNED…
The Giants officially announced the previously-reported signing of place kicker Chandler Catanzaro on Saturday. Catanzaro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Arizona Cardinals after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2014-2016), New York Jets (2017, 2019), and Carolina Panthers (2018). Catanzaro retired from football in August 2019 after struggling in the preseason against the Giants. In five NFL seasons (2014-2018), Catanzaro was 119-of-142 (83.8 percent) on field goal attempts and 182-of-196 (92.9 percent) extra point attempts. Sixty percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

Jul 232020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Markus Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS BEGIN REPORTING TO CAMP…
Because the NFL and NFL Players Association were able to resolve COVID-19 testing procedure issues yesterday, the New York Giants gave the green light for quarterbacks, rookies, and injured players to begin reporting to summer training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Thursday, which was the day they were originally supposed to report. All other players are scheduled to report on July 28. Coaches began arriving on July 17.

According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.

The current NFL-NFL Players Association plan appears to require players to be tested on the first and fourth day of camp, with only virtual meetings being held in between tests. Players who pass both tests would then be allowed to congregate at the team facility for physicals. Meanwhile, daily testing would continue for at least the first two weeks of training camp. If the rate of positive tests remains below 5 percent at the 2-week mark, testing will occur every other day.

DEADLINE FOR MARKUS GOLDEN PASSES…
Back in late April, the New York Giants placed a seldom-used “May 5” tender on unrestricted free agent linebacker Markus Golden. Unless Golden signed with another team by July 22, the tender would enable the Giants to maintain exclusive signing rights until the 10th week of the 2020 NFL season. That deadline has now passed without Golden signing. Golden’s options now are to holdout until Week 10 (at which time he will have to sit out the remainder of the season) or sign his 1-year, $4.125 million tender (which is 100 percent of his 2019 salary) with the Giants.

The New York Post is reporting that Golden plans to sign the Giants’ tender on July 28th, when most veterans are scheduled to report to training camp.

The Giants signed Golden as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. Golden had a strong debut season with the Giants in 2019, starting all 16 games, playing 83 percent of all defensive snaps, accruing a career-high 72 tackles, and team-high 10 sacks.

The 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

MATT PEART AND T.J. BRUNSON AGREE TO TERMS…
SNY is reporting that New York Giants 2020 NFL Draft pick offensive tackle tackle Matt Peart (3rd round) has agreed to terms. The Bergen Record is reporting that linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round) has done so as well. SNY had reported yesterday that cornerback Darnay Homes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), and linebacker Cam Brown (6th round) had also agreed to terms. Linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round) signed his contract in early May.

Remaining unsigned, but expected to sign shortly, are offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), and defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round).

Apr 282020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Markus Golden – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS CLAIM MONTRE HARTAGE OFF OF WAIVERS…
The New York Giants have claimed safety Montre Hartage off of waivers from the Miami Dolphins. Hartage played under new Giants Defensive Coordinator Patrick  Graham in Miami last season.

The 22-year old, 6’0”, 190-pound Hartage originally signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. Hartage played in four games with no starts, accruing eight tackles and one pass defense. He spent most of the season on Miami’s Practice Squad.

GIANTS PLACE “MAY 5” TENDER ON MARKUS GOLDEN…
The New York Giants have placed a seldom-used “May 5” tender on unrestricted free agent linebacker Markus Golden. If Golden does not sign the tender, he retains the ability to sign with another club only until July 22. After that date, he can only re-sign with the Giants (until the 10th weekend of the 2020 season). The tender is 110 percent of his 2019 salary, which was $975,000.

The Giants signed Golden as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2019. Golden had a strong debut season with the Giants in 2019, starting all 16 games, playing 83 percent of all defensive snaps, accruing a career-high 72 tackles, and team-high 10 sacks.

The 6’3”, 260-pound Golden was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. Golden’s break-out season was in 2016 at linebacker when he accrued 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. He missed 12 games in 2017 with an ACL injury. While he returned in 2018, he missed five games and saw his production slip to 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

HARLAND SVARE PASSES AWAY
Former New York Giants linebacker Harland Svare, who played for the franchise from 1955 to 1960, passed away on April 4th at the age of 89. Svare also served as defensive coordinator of the team from 1960-1961 and again in 1967-1968.

Dec 262019
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (December 15, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 26, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Right tackle Mike Remmers (concussion) and CB Corey Ballentine (back) did not practice on Thursday.

Wide receiver Darius Slayton (knee), tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion/non-contact), tight end Scott Simonson (concussion), offensive lineman Nick Gates (shoulder), LB Lorenzo Carter (knee), LB Alec Ogletree (back), cornerback Deandre Baker (knee), and cornerback Sam Beal (shoulder) were limited in practice.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
On Tuesday, the New York Giants terminated the Practice Squad contract of left-footed punter Sean Smith. The team also signed fullback George Aston to the Practice Squad. The 6”0”, 240-pound Aston was originally signed by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Broncos cut him in August 2019.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice again on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Oct 302019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (October 27, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 30, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Because they play on Monday, the New York Giants were not required to issue an injury report today. That said, everyone on the 53-man roster practiced. Although he is still in the concussion protocol, wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) fully practiced.

Cornerback Sam Beal (hamstring), who is currently on Injured Reserve, continues to practice and is eligible to be added to the 53-man roster. “He’s making good progress,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We have until next Wednesday to make a final decision on him, and so we’ll just see, again, what the next week brings.”

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
With the trade for defensive end Leonard Williams official, the New York Giants have waived linebacker Tae Davis, who was claimed by the Cleveland Browns today. The Giants signed 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 in 2018, accruing 33 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 pass defense. This year, Davis played in four games with one start, accruing six tackles.

The Giants terminated the Practice Squad contract of linebacker Jake Carlock. The Giants originally signed Carlock as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft.

GIANTS RESTRUCTURE RHETT ELLISON’S CONTRACT…
According to ESPN, the Giants have restructured the contract of tight Rhett Ellison in order to create more cap space for defensive end Leonard Williams. They did so by converting $1,876,765 of Ellison’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating $938,382 in cap space against the team’s 2019 salary cap.

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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday.

Oct 232019
 
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Rhett Ellison, New York Giants (October 20, 2019)

Rhett Ellison – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 23, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. He is still in the concussion protocol.

Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) practiced on a limited basis. Shepard remains in the concussion protocol, wearing a non-contact jersey.

“Saquon was limited today,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Just some game soreness. I expect him to play this week though.”

“(Shepard is) been out there practicing pretty much full,” said Shurmur. “But he’s still in the protocol.”

Wide receiver Cody Latimer (quad) and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (ankle) fully practiced.

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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday, with the team’s coordinators also addressing the media.