Feb 052021
 
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Riley Dixon and Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Riley Dixon and Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

It is exceptionally rare for a special teams coach to become an NFL head coach. So when John Mara hired Joe Judge as the next head coach of the New York Giants, it shocked many in the media and fanbase. However, Judge quickly won over many with his fiery inaugural press conference and the composition of his coaching staff. That initial luster began to dim after an 0-5 start, culminating with a Dallas Cowboys come-from-behind victory.

Judge and the Giants began turning it around in mid-October. Their first victory came against Washington, and was followed by two very close, heart-breaking losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers in games where the Giants also held 4th-quarter leads. Then came the high-point of the season, a 4-game winning streak against Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Seattle. The Giants were 5-7 and remarkably still very much alive for the division title. Judge began receiving praise from all quarters.

The emotional high of soundly defeating the Seahawks was immediately dampened by a 3-game losing streak against clearly better teams. At 5-10, the Giants needed to beat the Cowboys and pray that the Eagles would upset Washington. The Giants accomplished the former, but the Eagles laid down like dogs against Washington and the 6-10 Giants missed the playoffs.

Through all of this, the irony is that the New York Giants special teams did not improve under Judge. To be fair, the special teams unit under Thomas McGaughey had actually been the strength of the team in recent years. Judge smartly decided to retain McGaughey. The team was also left scrambling when 2018 Pro Bowl/All-Pro place kicker Aldrick Rosas was cut in July after a hit-and-run arrest. The Giants decided to sign 32-year old Graham Gano who had missed 2019 with a knee injury. Unexpectedly, Gano ended up having one of the greatest seasons in franchise history as a kicker.

Overall, the Giants special teams played decently during the first half of the season, and there was a feeling that Judge, McGaughey, and the special teams unit were improving and building to a stronger second half. The reverse occurred. Against the Bengals, the Giants allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 29-yard punt return that almost cost them the game, and a fake punt conversion for a 1st down. Seattle blocked a Riley Dixon punt for a safety and Gano missed his first extra point of the season. Against Arizona, Dion Lewis fumbled away a kickoff return that set up a touchdown. Judge decided to run an odd fake field goal attempt against the Browns that failed miserably when the score was still 0-0. The Ravens hurt the Giants with both punt and kickoff returns.

Statistically, the Giants finished:

  • Field Goal Percentage: 3rd (up from 30th in 2019)
  • Kickoff Returns: 16th (down from 10th in 2019)
  • Punt Returns: 6th (down from 3rd in 2019)
  • Kickoff Coverage: 16th (down from 1st in 2019)
  • Punting: 26th (down from 23rd in 2019)
  • Punt Coverage: 21st (down from 6th in 2019)

As you can see, other than field goal percentage, the Giants were down in every other special teams category. The team was significantly worse in kickoff and punt coverage. The Giants never really replaced Cody Core, their extraordinary punt/kick coverage specialist who tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

The star of the entire unit was clearly Gano. He only missed one field goal all season and was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards.

KICKERS

The Giants signed Graham Gano in August 2020. Gano had a superlative season for the Giants in 2020, converting on 31-of-32 field goal attempts (96.9 percent – second highest in team history) and 21-of-23 extra point attempts (91.3 percent). He was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards out (single-season franchise record), with a long of 55 yards. Gano converted on 30 consecutive field goals, which also was a franchise record. Thirty of his 73 kickoffs (41 percent) resulted in touchbacks. Gano spent most of his NFL career with the Washington Redskins (2009-2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-2019). However, he missed the last four games of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season with a knee injury. The Panthers released him in late July 2020. Gano made the Pro Bowl in 2017.

Punter Riley Dixon saw his gross (44.8 yards per punt) and net (38.8 net yards per punt) fall in 2020, with 28 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line and one blocked. The 6’5”, 226-pound Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick.

Ryan Santoso spent 2020 on the Giants’ Practice Squad after the team signed him in early September. Santoso was originally signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Montreal Alouettes (2019, 2020), and Tennessee Titans (2019). Santoso has only played in three NFL games, solely as a kickoff specialist.

LONG SNAPPERS

The Giants signed long snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

The Giants signed long snapper Carson Tinker in early September 2020. He spent the year on the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’0”, 237-pound Tinker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 69 regular-season games for the Jaguars from 2013-2018. The Jaguars cut him in March 2019 and he did not play that year.

RETURNERS

The Giants did not return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The leading punt returner was Jabrill Peppers, who only returned 15 punts all season, but who averaged a very respectable 12.5 yards per return and came close to breaking a couple. His long return was 20 yards. On the flip side, some of his decision-making on when and when not to field a punt was questionable.

Dion Lewis did not impress on his 24 kickoff returns, fumbling three (two of which he lost). He averaged 22.4 yards per return with a long return of 48 yards. Corey Ballentine also returned nine kickoffs before he was cut.

LEADING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS SNAP COUNT PERCENTAGE

  • S Nate Ebner: 74.27%
  • LB Cam Brown: 70.87%
  • FB Eli Penny: 59.47%
  • LB Devante Downs: 57.77%
  • LB David Mayo: 46.36%
  • S/CB Julian Love: 42.96%
  • CB Corey Ballentine: 34.47%
  • TE Levine Toilolo: 34.22%
  • DL Dexter Lawrence: 33.74%
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 33.50%

Nate Ebner had a quiet year despite playing 3/4ths off all special team snaps. The Giants signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020 to a 1-year, $2 million contract strictly to be a special teams stud. The leading special teams tacklers were David Mayo (8), Eli Penny (7), Cam Brown (6), and Devante Downs (6).

Feb 032021
 
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James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants pass defense improved from 28th in 2019 to 17th in 2020. This 11 spot jump is quite the accomplishment given the year-long swirling personnel changes at linebacker and defensive back. The Giants were tied for 4th for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed with 22 and tied for 12th in yards per passing attempt with 6.2. New York was also 2nd in red zone scoring defense. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham and his defensive assistants deserve a lot of credit for getting both units to play at a respectable level despite significant personnel issues.

Tied in with the pass defense is the pass rush. Remarkably, despite no viable outside edge rushers, the Giants somehow finished tied for 12th in sacks with 40. Much of that had to be schemed, including blitzes from defensive backs. On the down side, the Giants only picked off 11 passes on the year, with only one player (CB James Bradberry) intercepting more than one pass.

Only three of the team’s five primary defensive back positions were set throughout the year. Free agent acquisition James Bradberry was arguably the team’s best player, locking down one corner spot. He did miss one game due to COVID-19. Rookie Darnay Holmes won the nickel slot position, but missed four games due to injury. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers missed one game due to injury, but was also a fixture in the defensive backfield, often being utilized as a hybrid linebacker.

The other two spots were revolving doors. At corner opposite of Bradberry, Corey Ballentine (Weeks 1-2), Isaac Yiadom (Weeks 3-4), Ryan Lewis (5-7), Yiadom again (Weeks 8-16), and Julian Love (Week 17) all started. At free safety, Love started the first two weeks, followed by Logan Ryan for the bulk of the season, until rookie Xavier McKinney started in the final weeks.

Graham and Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson were hampered by a number of early personnel hits. 2019 1st-round cornerback Deandre Baker was cut after his legal troubles in Florida surfaced. That was a major blow to the team as Baker was being penciled in to start opposite of Bradberry. 2018 3rd-round pick Sam Beal then surprisingly decided to sit out the season due to COVID-19. Rookie 2nd-round pick Xavier McKinney broke his foot before the season started and wasn’t available until almost December.

The primary play-makers were Bradberry, Peppers, and Ryan. Despite many teams not throwing in his direction, Bradberry led the team with interceptions (3) and pass defenses (18). He also forced two fumbles and recovered one. Peppers was third on the team in tackles (91) and second in pass defenses (11). He picked off one pass, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, and led defensive backs with 2.5 sacks. Ryan was second on the team in tackles (94) and third in pass defenses (9). He picked off one pass, forced three fumbles, and recovered two. He also had one sack.

Bradberry was the stud of the group. Peppers improved as the year progressed with the coaching staff seemingly having a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses. He remained an inconsistent player however. Ryan quickly became a team leader and his tremendous versatility was desperately needed at safety and corner. That said, he missed plays against the run and pass at times.

It was an up and down year for the rookie Holmes. He did help to settle the secondary and his absence was noticed during the four games he missed due to injury. But his five penalties in coverage always seemed to come at the most inopportune times and he didn’t make many plays on the football (contrary to his collegiate reputation). The other corner spot was a a bit of a mess. Ballentine simply couldn’t handle the job and was eventually cut. Yiadom and Lewis were up-and-down, with Lewis missing most of the season due to injury. Love was a bit of an enigma. His playing time varied wildly on a game-to-game basis. He started the season at safety and finished at corner.

THE CORE GROUP

The Giants signed James Bradberry as an unrestricted free agent from the Carolina Panthers in March 2020. He had a major impact on the defense, arguably being the unit’s best player, and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Bradberry started 15 games, missing one game due to COVID-19, and finished the year with 54 tackles, 18 pass defenses, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He played in 94 percent of all defensive snaps. The 6’1”, 212-pound Bradberry was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Panthers. Bradberry is a big corner (6’1”, 212 pounds) with good speed and agility. He plays a physical game both against the run and pressing opposing corners off of the line. Outstanding in coverage, Bradberry can erase even top receivers.

The play of Jabrill Peppers improved markedly as the 2020 season progressed as he seemed to become more comfortable with the team’s new defensive schemes and the coaches learned better how to use him. At times, he was a real difference maker on the field. However, there was still some annoying inconsistency in his play, particularly in coverage. Peppers played in 15 games with 14 starts (84 percent of all defensive snaps), missing one game with an ankle injury. He finished the season with 91 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, 11 pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Peppers also served as the team’s primary punt returner, returning 15 punts for 187 yards (12.5 yards per punt). Peppers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Giants as part of the Odell Beckham deal in March 2019. He started 11 games for the Giants in 2019 before being placed on Injured Reserve with a transverse process fracture in his back. Peppers combines good size (5’11”, 215 pounds) and overall athleticism. Still a better athlete than football player, Peppers flashes signs of being an impact safety, but he must become a more consistent player, especially against the pass. He does his best work when moving forward and attacking the line of scrimmage.

The Giants signed Logan Ryan in late August 2020. He ended up being a very important, jack-of-all-trades defensive back who was used at both safety and corner. Ryan also quickly became a team leader and solid presence in the locker room. In all, Ryan played in all 16 games with 15 starts (96 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 94 tackles, one sack, nine pass defenses, one interception, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. The 5’11”, 195-pound Ryan was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has spent time with the Patriots (2013-2016) and Titans (2017-2019), playing 109 regular-season games with 85 starts. Ryan has spent most of his career at corner, but now prefers to play safety. While Ryan has history of being an instinctive, play-maker, he also still misses too many tackles and can be exposed in coverage at times.

The Giants drafted Darnay Holmes in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Serving as the team’s primary slot corner, he played in 12 games, with five starts, missing four games due to injuries (neck and knee). Holmes finished the season with 30 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, one interception, and one fumble recovery. He played in 41 percent of all defensive snaps. Holmes lacks ideal height, but he is well-built with good speed and quickness. He is overly aggressive at times, as indicated by his five penalties in coverage. While Holmes had a solid rookie season in coverage, he needs to make more plays on the ball. Holmes can also return punts and kickoffs, but did not do so in 2020.

THE UNFORTUNATE INJURY

The Giants placed Xavier McKinney on Injured Reserve in early September 2020 with a fractured left foot that required surgery. The team activated him off of IR in late November 2020. McKinney ended up playing in six games with four starts (19 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 25 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception, and one pass defense. The Giants drafted McKinney in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The 6’0”, 201-pound McKinney is versatile performer, who is capable of playing multiple positions. He is a good athlete with fine instincts for the position, but he needs to become a more consistent tackler. Most of his rookie season was a wash due to his broken foot.

IN-AND-OUT OF THE STARTING LINE-UP

The Giants traded a 7th-round pick to the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yiadom in early September 2020. Yiadom eventually won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry, playing in all 16 games with 10 starts (58 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 46 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five pass defenses, and one forced fumble. The 6’1”, 190-pound Yiadom was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Broncos. In two years with Denver, Yiadom played in 29-regular season games with nine starts. Yiadom has good size and plays a physical game. However, after some decent performances, his play really deteriorated down the stretch, and he was benched for Julian Love in the regular-season finale. Yiadom also did not make many plays on the football.

Julian Love spent most of 2020 playing safety but was shifted to cornerback late in the year, starting two of the final three games at the position (one in the slot). He also saw his playing time dramatically fluctuate on a per-game basis. In all, Love played in all 16 games with six starts (66 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the year with 64 tackles, three pass defenses, and one interception. A collegiate corner, the Giants drafted Love in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft and moved him to safety. He played in 15 games with five starts as a rookie. A bit of a cornerback/safety tweener, Love lacks ideal physicality for safety and ideal speed/quickness for cornerback. But he is a versatile performer who played well at the corner spot late in 2020. Love needs to improve his tackling and make more plays on the football.

The Giants placed Ryan Lewis on Injured Reserve in early November 2020 with a hamstring injury. Before that, he had played in five games for the Giants, starting three (25 percent of defensive snaps). Lewis finished the year with 13 tackles and one pass defense. Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). The Giants signed Lewis to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and to the 53-man roster two weeks later. Lewis has played in 25 NFL regular-season games with nine starts. Lewis had a mixed performance in his three consecutive starts in October, playing well at times and struggling in one game.

The Giants placed Adrian Colbert on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in early November 2020 and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He ended up playing in six games with two starts (10 percent of all defensive snaps) and finished the year with 13 tackles. The 6’2”, 205-pound Colbert was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Colbert has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Kansas City Chiefs (2020). The Giants claimed Colbert off of waivers from the Chiefs in early September 2020. He has played in 33 regular-season games with 19 starts, accruing 74 tackles and eight pass defenses. Colbert has also played cornerback and is a good gunner on special teams. He had mixed reviews in his two starts in 2020.

The Giants drafted Corey Ballentine in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Ballentine played in 13 games with two starts, receiving 27 percent of all defensive snaps. He finished with 26 tackles and two pass defenses, often struggling in coverage. Ballentine won the starting corner spot opposite of James Bradberry to start the 2020 season, but was benched after just two games. He played in seven more games, returning 10 kickoffs, before the Giants waived him in November. He spent the rest of the season with the New York Jets.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed Nate Ebner as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020. Almost exclusively a special teams player, Ebner only saw limited snaps on defense in five games, finishing with eight tackles and one pass defense. The 6’0”, 215-pound Ebner was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons in New England, Ebner has played in 111 regular-season games with no starts.

The Giants signed Madre Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Las Vegas Raiders in late September 2020. He was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. The Giants activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021, but he did not play in the season finale. Harper ended up playing in just three percent of all defensive snaps and was credited with five tackles and one fumble recovery. The 6’1”, 196-pound Harper was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

Montre Hartage alternated between the Giants’ Practice Squad and the 53-man roster a number of times in 2020. He only played in two games (two percent of all defensive snaps) and was not credited with a single tackle or pass defense. Hartage originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants claimed Hartage off of waivers from the Dolphins in April 2020. Hartage has played in six NFL games.

The Giants signed Jarren Williams in early August 2020 after he was waived by the Arizona Cardinals. He spent most of the year on the Practice Squad, but did play in two games exclusively on special teams. The 5’10”, 187-pound Williams was signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Giants signed Quincy Wilson to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 6’2”, 193-pound Wilson was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He has spent time with Colts (2017-2019) and New York Jets (2020). Wilson has played in 32 regular-season games with 11 starts, accruing 59 tackles, 8 pass defenses, and 2 interceptions.

The Giants placed Brandon Williams on Injured Reserve in late September 2020 with a groin injury and reactivated him to the 53-man roster in early November. The team cut him a month later. In all, Williams played in six games, exclusively on special teams. Williams was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants signed him in late August 2020.

The Giants originally signed Sean Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent all of 2018 and parts of 2019 on the team’s 53-man roster. He began 2020 on the team’s Practice Squad, but was activated for three games, playing almost exclusively on special teams. The Carolina Panthers signed him off of the Giants’ Practice Squad in October.

The Giants selected Chris Williamson in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad until he was cut in December.

COVID-19 OPT-OUT

Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. Beal has had a rough start to his pro career. The Giants selected Beal in the 3rd round of the Supplemental Draft in July 2018. He missed all of his rookie season when he was placed on Injured Reserve in July 2018 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Giants placed Beal on Injured Reserve again in September 2019 with hamstring and groin injuries, but added him to the 53-man roster in early November. Beal missed the last game with another shoulder issue. In all, Beal played in six games with three starts, receiving 26 percent of defensive snaps, and accruing 26 tackles and one pass defense. Beal combines good size (6’1”, 177 pounds) and overall athleticism. Stating the obvious, Beal needs to stay healthy. But he flashes the ability to be a solid coverman when he does play.

Sep 082020
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS WAIVE DEANDRE BAKER…
The New York Giants have waived cornerback Deandre Baker, who has been on the Commissioner’s Exempt List since July 27th due to his legal troubles. At the team’s request, Baker had not participated in any team workouts this offseason. Baker was charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm from an incident that occurred in Florida in May. If convicted, Baker faces a minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to life.

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

GIANTS VOTE FOR TEAM CAPTAINS…
New York Giants players voted six of their teammates to represent the squad in 2020:

Offense: QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley

Defense: DL Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Blake Martinez

Special Teams: S Jabrill Peppers, S Nate Ebner

GIANTS SIGN TWO, CUT ONE FROM PRACTICE SQUAD…
The Giants have signed RB Rod Smith and CB Ryan Lewis to their Practice Squad, and terminated the Practice Squad contract of WR Derrick Dillon.

The 28-year old, 6’3”, 236-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He was released by Seattle in October 2015. The Cowboys claimed him off of waivers and he played with the Cowboys until the end of the 2018 season. The Giants signed Smith as an unrestricted free agent in May 2019 and waived him from Injured Reserve in September 2019. He then spent time with both the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders in 2019. Smith has played in 55 regular-season games with two starts, rushing 101 times for 364 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He also has caught 30 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown.

The 26-year old, 6’0”, 195-pound Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). Lewis has played in 20 NFL regular-season games with two starts, accruing 43 tackles, eight pass defenses, and one interception.

The Giants signed Dillon as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Wednesday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Aug 232020
 
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Dion Lewis, New York Giants (August 23, 2020)

Dion Lewis – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 23, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP MEDIA PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media and team sources:

  • Light practice today in helmets and shorts. It was more of a fast-paced walk-through.
  • The Giants provided a 20-minute video on today’s practice on YouTube.

INJURY REPORT…
Fullback Eli Penny (unknown), linebacker Ryan Connelly (unknown), and cornerback Prince Smith (unknown) did not practice.

Head Coach Joe Judge was asked about Connelly missing Friday’s scrimmage and today’s light practice. “You know what, first off, I’m not going to go into any specific injuries really at any time,” replied Judge. “But I’ll say this, we had several players that we kind of managed a little bit different today. We came off a long, hard week, a hard scrimmage the other day. We gave them a day off yesterday. Today was really a day to mentally take a step forward, physically get our bodies right, then we’re going to hit the field again tomorrow. We’ll see where everyone’s at tonight after a couple days off. We’ll approach practice tomorrow accordingly for everyone individually.”

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Giants practice on Monday morning (9:45-11:45AM). Head Coach Joe Judge and several assistant coaches and players will also address the media.

ARTICLES…

 

Jun 222020
 
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Nate Ebner, New England Patriots (February 3, 2019)

Nate Ebner – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Special Teams

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: For the second year in a row, the New York Giants special teams unit was arguably the strongest part of the team. The Giants were tied for 3rd in the NFL in punt returns (9.8 yards per return) and 10th in kickoff returns (23.5 yards per return). The Giants were 6th in the NFL in covering punts (5.67 yards per opponent return) and 1st in covering kickoffs (18.05 yards per opponent return). Cody Core (8 tackles) and Michael Thomas (7 tackles) were particularly active in covering punts and kicks. For the second year in a row, the Giants did not return a punt or kick for a touchdown and they did not allow a punt or kick to be returned against them for a touchdown. The Giants did block a punt for a touchdown.

The return game was by handled by committee. Golden Tate, T.J. Jones, Da’Mari Scott, and Jabrill Peppers returned punts while Cody Latimer, Corey Ballentine, Darius Slayton, and Da’Mari Scott returned kicks. Jones was cut during the season.

Punter Riley Dixon had a solid season, averaging 46.1 yards per punt (13th in the NFL) and 42.3 net yards per punt (9th in the NFL), with 29 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. However, two of his punts were blocked.

After a stellar sophomore pro season in 2018, place kicker Aldrick Rosas regressed in 2019. Rosas was 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) on field goal attempts and missed four of his 39 extra point attempts (89.7 percent). Seventy percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. In 2018, Rosas made the Pro Bowl after making 32-of-33 field goal attempts, including a team-record 57 yarder.

The Giants placed long-time long snapper Zak DeOssie on Injured Reserve in late November 2019 with knee and wrist issues. He was replaced by Colin Holba for the last five games.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: It appears Zak DeOssie’s tenure with the Giants is over as he remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent. Colin Holba was cut in late April. The Giants signed long-snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April.

Special teamers Cody Latimer (Washington Redskins), Michael Thomas (Houston Texans), and Antonio Hamilton (Kansas City Chiefs) signed elsewhere while the Giants added special teams ace Nate Ebner (New England Patriots). The Giants also drafted and signed a bunch of rookie linebackers and defensive backs who could significantly contribute on special teams.

Aldrick Rosas (1-year, $3.259 million), Cody Core (2-years, $4 million), and Corey Coleman (1-year, $1.1 million) were re-signed in the offseason.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: After John Harbaugh in Baltimore, Joe Judge became the second special teams coordinator in NFL history to make the jump directly to head coach. And almost all of Judge’s coaching experience is limited to special teams. Obviously, his heart and soul will likely remain with that part of the team and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has on the unit. Judge rewarded Thomas McGaughey for his solid work as special teams coordinator under Pat Shurmur by retaining him in the same position. Tom Quinn, who has been with the Giants since 2006, was also kept on as assistant special teams coach. McGaughey’s other assistant, Anthony Blevins, was moved to assistant defensive backs coach.

A major wrench was thrown into things when Aldrick Rosas, currently the only place kicker on the roster, was arrested in June for allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run accident and driving with a suspended license. Police also report Rosas was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Rosas was arrested in 2016 for also driving under the influence. At best, Rosas is likely facing suspension from the NFL. At worst, he could receive jail time and/or the team may simply decide to let him go. The Giants had just re-signed him to a 1-year, $3.259 million contract as a restricted free agent.

Once again, the Giants do not have a clear-cut favorite to return punts and kickoffs. Potential candidates include WR Golden Tate, WR Darius Slayton, WR Corey Coleman, WR Da’Mari Scott, WR Alex Bachman, RB Dion Lewis, RB Javon Leake, CB Darnay Holmes, CB Corey Ballentine, and S Jabrill Peppers. The Giants could also try WR Derrick Dillon as a returner.

In the punt and kick coverage department, the Giants gave Nate Ebner a 1-year, $2 million contract simply to play special teams. Cody Core’s stellar special teams play in 2019 was reminiscent of past Giants special teams studs Reyna Thompson, Larry Flowers, and David Tyree. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate and even improve on his gunner skills.

ON THE BUBBLE: Aldrick Rosas. What a dumbass!

PREDICTIONS: Don’t discount the impact special teams can have on the win-loss record. Thomas McGaughey has done a fine job with this unit the past two years, but Joe Judge was so impressive as a young special teams coordinator that he is now the head coach of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises. A stellar special teams unit can turn a 6-10 team into a 10-6 team with timely blocked punts/kicks, big returns, winning the field position war, and the kicking game.

Even though on the surface CB Deandre Baker’s legal charges are far more serious, I think Aldrick Rosas’ roster spot with the Giants is in more jeopardy. Even in the best-case scenario, I have a hard time seeing Rosas avoiding a 4-game suspension. The NFL’s policy on “substances of abuse” includes alcohol-related incidents. If that is the case, he won’t begin the season on the 53-man roster. Do the Giants use a roster spot on him in training camp? Rosas may just have kissed $3 million goodbye.

Trying to predict who will be the primary kick and punt returners in June from among the existing list of candidates is probably an exercise in futility. But I’m going to guess Corey Coleman is the kickoff returner and Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes will split the punt return duties.

Keep an eye on Cody Core. He deserved more attention than he received last year for his special teams play. Also, the Giants added seven rookie linebackers and six rookie defensive backs. Not all of them will make the team, but many of them could form the core of the specials units.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Barring some unforeseen event, Riley Dixon will be the punter and Casey Kreiter the long-snapper. I already predicted in my wide receiver overview that Corey Coleman will make the team; if so, he has a good shot to be the kickoff returner. Golden Tate and Darnay Holmes are the obvious candidates to return punts. It’s pretty obvious that Nate Ebner was signed by Judge to lead this entire unit.

I don’t think the team’s opening-day place kicker is on the roster. I think Rosas will be suspended and may not even be a New York Giant. It depends on whether the team wants to wait out the likely suspension.

Jun 152020
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (September 29, 2019)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully 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. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2019, fans were generally upbeat about a secondary that was clearly in transition. The Giants had heavily invested in the position by drafting corners Deandre Baker (1st round), Julian Love (4th round), and Corey Ballentine (6th round) in the 2019 NFL Draft. At safety, the team had effectively swapped out Landon Collins (signed by Washington Redskins) and Curtis Riley (signed by Oakland Raiders) for Jabrill Peppers (part of Odell Beckham trade) and Antoine Bethea (signed after he was cut by the Arizona Cardinals). It was expected that Janoris Jenkins would rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2018 season and that Sam Beal (who missed his rookie season due to a shoulder injury) and Grant Haley (who started nine games as an undrafted rookie) would develop and improve. Michael Thomas provided depth and special teams value.

But it was a case of the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Once again, the Giants were one of the NFL’s worst in pass defense, finishing 28th. In the “you can’t make this shit up” category, the team’s best defensive back, Jenkins, was cut in December after calling a fan a “retard” on Twitter. Baker started 15-of-16 games as a rookie, but was very inconsistent with his work ethic being questioned. Nickel corner Haley regressed and was eventually benched. The injury-prone Beal was placed on IR in September with hamstring and groin injuries, added to the 53-man roster in early November, and missed the last game with another shoulder issue. Ballentine had to deal with being shot right after he was drafted and then being thrust into a nickel corner spot that he was clearly ill-suited to play.

At safety, despite being told by team officials that Bethea still had it, he clearly did not and was a significant liability at free safety both against the pass and the run. Peppers did not make much of impact and was lost for the season in November as his overall play was improving. Michael Thomas played in all 16 games with two starts but clearly wasn’t the answer. Julian Love was moved from cornerback to safety early. He ended up starting five games late in the season, flashing at times but also experiencing growing pains as a rookie.

Overall, the unit was a collective disappointment and a major reason the overall defense finished 25th in yards and 30th in points allowed.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: As mentioned, Janoris Jenkins was waived in December. S Michael Thomas was signed by the Texans and CB Antonio Hamilton was signed by the Chiefs. Safety Antoine Bethea remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent.

Grant Haley was re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent in January. The first player the Giants signed in free agency in March was CB James Bradberry (3-year, $43.5 million contract). S/special teams player Nate Ebner (UFA from Patriots) and CB Dravon Askew-Henry (cut by Steelers last year) were also signed.

The Giants drafted S Xavier McKinney (2nd round), CB Darnay Holmes (4th round), and CB/S Chris Williamson (7th round) in the 2020 NFL Draft. After the draft, rookie free agent additions included CB Christian Angulo, CB Malcolm Elmore, and S Jaquarius Landrews. S Montre Hartage was claimed off of waivers from the Dolphins after the draft as well.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: There is a lot going on here and thus each fan probably has their own top story line. Clearly, one is the offseason drama surrounding 2019 1st-round draft pick Deandre Baker, who may or may not make it to training camp depending on the outcome of his offseason legal troubles (four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from a bizarre incident in Florida). My personal belief is that the Giants were counting on Baker to form a solid starting CB duo alongside high-priced James Bradberry. Will Baker even be a Giant in 2020? If he is, will he be suspended by the team or the NFL? Did he get scared straight and will he commit himself to the game? If Baker is not part of the equation, the pressure increases to find his replacement among Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, and possibly Julian Love. Are they up to the task? Can Beal stay healthy? Is Love athletic enough to handle corner at the NFL level? Will Ballentine shine more at outside corner rather than inside at nickel?

Speaking of the nickel spot, one would think the Giants would want Holmes to nail down the position if the rookie can handle it. But there are others possibly in the equation, including Love and maybe Williamson.

At safety, it would appear that Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney will have the inside shot at starting, but the coaches may want to configure packages to get Love on the field as either a third safety or additional corner. Depth is still needed here with Sean Chandler (holdover from 2018/2019), Rashaan Gaulden (added late in 2019), Montre Hartage, Chris Williamson, and Jaquarius Landrews all competing to make the roster.

Big picture is this: for the past three seasons, the Giants have invested a tremendous amount of resources into the defensive backfield, including a trading for a former 1st-round pick (Peppers); spending $43 million on a corner in free agency (Bradberry); and drafting players in the 1st (Baker), 2nd (McKinney), 3rd (Beal),  4th (Love, Holmes), 6th (Ballentine), and 7th (Williamson) rounds. It’s time for the investment to deliver returns and for the Giants to get out of the NFL basement in pass defense.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 18 defensive backs on the roster. Probably only nine or ten will make the final roster. The only sure bets are probably Bradberry, Holmes, Peppers, Love, and McKinney. Baker obviously isn’t safe. Beal has to prove he can be a reliable player.

PREDICTIONS: So much here depends on the new coaching staff, not just Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham but Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson, the latter coming from Atlanta where his unit struggled at times. It’s also interesting to note that Pat Shurmur holdover Anthony Blevins was moved from assistant special teams coach to assistant defensive backs coach. These three men have to develop all of the talent that been acquired in recent years.

In addition, so much depends on the legal and emotional status of Deandre Baker. He was (and still may be) and important piece of the puzzle. The expectation is that versatile Xavier McKinney, who many felt was the best safety in the draft, will be able to handle the starting free safety spot as a rookie.

My prediction is that if Baker is available and truly focused (two big ifs), this unit could be poised for a big turnaround. There were games last year where Baker did shut down his opponent. He can do it. But how important is the game to him? Usually you can’t count on a person to change their ways, but if anything was going to scare Baker straight, facing a long prison sentence might do the trick. Bradberry should be able to more than adequately handle the other corner spot, replacing Jenkins with less drama. The nickel corner should improve with Holmes, Love, or maybe Williamson an improvement over Haley and Ballentine.

At safety, the closer Peppers plays to the line of scrimmage, the more impact he makes. The drafting of McKinney should enable the coaching staff to play Peppers in a role best suited to his skills. I would not be shocked to see packages that get Peppers, McKinney, and Love all on the field together.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: James Bradberry, Deandre Baker, Sam Beal, Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner, Chris Williamson

I’m making some bold assumptions here: Baker being a Giant, Beal staying healthy, and Ballentine and Williamson showing enough to stick. Ebner is strictly a core special teams player who Joe Judge obviously targeted in free agency to lead his unit.

Mar 312020
 
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Nate Ebner, New England Patriots (February 3, 2019)

Nate Ebner – © USA TODAY Sports

CONFERENCE CALL WITH SPECIAL TEAMER NATE EBNER…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with safety/special teams player Nate Ebner, who the New York Giants signed on March 19th:

Q: What made Joe Judge a good special teams coach and what about your experience with him makes you think he will be a good head coach?
A: Joe works extremely hard, I’m probably going to say that a couple more times. He is an extremely hard worker, he pays attention to the details. He really pays attention to the details. He comes to work with a lot of energy and he did that consistently over the eight years that I’ve known him. I think that is a genuine part of him. I think he is going to bring that same energy and hopefully that same attention to detail and work ethic. At the end of the day, he cares a lot about his guys, I can’t say that about a lot of coaches. I think that’s special and I think that’s hopefully going to want to make a lot of players play for him.

Q: Do you think if Joe Judge is not the coach of the Giants that you are still with the Giants? How much of a pull did he have to get you there?
A: I’m not going to play out a bunch of different scenarios. I’m not going to act like he didn’t have a part in coming here. I obviously have built a good relationship with him and a rapport with him. Obviously (him) being a special teams coach, me being a special teams player over nearly a decade on the same team. We do have a relationship that definitely played a part in me being a Giant. Outside of that, it is a great organization that I am extremely excited to get to. It’s a great team, within a great city, with a great fan base that I’m juiced about. Obviously like everyone else, you wish you weren’t quarantined. I am extremely excited to get there and be a part of the organization first and foremost.

Q: Talk about your background as a rugby player. I know you were an Olympian in 2016 and how does that transfer over to football, particularly special teams? Also, what have you been doing to stay in shape during these challenging times?
A: That first question is a big question. I could talk about that for a while. The second question, though, I have been working out. I have a private place I can go to and I can get my workouts in that coach has sent us, do my running and all that stuff. I’m good on that stuff, I’m back in Ohio, that’s kind of my home base. I went to Ohio State and I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Rugby played a big part in me being able to transition to football. There are some similarities, the tackling, that aspect of both sports. You do a lot of tackling but even the tackling can be very different when you look at the details of it. They are both very different sports. I think the mental side of football versus the flow and feel of rugby. Rugby can be very like basketball, you have to feel out the situation. Is it a fast break or is it a half court set piece, that’s kind of how rugby is. Football is very studied and you need to recognize something that has come up before or a formation or this or that and remember checks. It’s a very different head game. They’re obviously two very physical sports, but at the end of the day they are very different as well. Like I said, I could go on and on about that for a while.

Q:  Along with the rugby question, you are a part owner of the New England Free Jacks. With that season being cancelled, what has it been like being in the owner seat as well? Not just a player who is being robbed of workouts.
A: Obviously it’s unfortunate for the guys and the fans. Especially this being the first year for the Free Jacks. I feel bad for the fan base and the people that have been waiting to see them go out there and play. I feel bad for everyone in the country. Everyone has a situation that they are having to deal with. It’s been cool, I wish I could tell you more about it. It was a good opportunity for me to help with exposure to the game, but also go full circle in my life. I think not having a professional future in the United States to play rugby was a major reason I’m playing football. I was just fortunate enough to still make it in the NFL and still be here. That, to me, was a major part of my decision when I decided to walk on at Ohio State. Knowing that a younger Nate that might have the aspirations of being a professional rugby player, that they have the ability to play professionally here in the United States and not have to go to a different continent, that’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty awesome that I have seen it in the last 10 to 15 years. To be an owner, like I said, it’s awesome that it’s come full circle. I haven’t gotten to do too much because obviously I am still playing football. That’s my number one priority without question. There will come a day when football is done, and I can dive into that a little bit more and give you a better answer as to what being an owner is like. From a personal note, it’s pretty cool.

Q: You have spent your whole career in New England. What’s it like to leave there and was there an option to go back? How did that play out?
A: Obviously there was a lot of different scenarios that could have played out. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of that. Looking forward, I am a part of a great organization and I’m excited. There comes a time in everyone’s career where they are free agents and like you said, I have spent my entire career in New England. Every year you have to assess what’s the best thing for you and this is the best for me. It hasn’t happened in my career up until this point, but it’s something I have always assessed and at this point this is what’s best for me and what I need to do. Unfortunately, it is a business and there are things that happen that you don’t necessarily like but you have to deal with them. That goes on both sides of it and ultimately you have to do what’s best for you. I’m looking forward to coming to a great organization. Like I said earlier, a great organization with a great team and great fan base. I’m super excited about it.

Q: You mentioned the ability to be able to stay in shape doing workouts. You were on the 2016 Olympic team for rugby. I just want to get your thoughts on the Olympics being postponed and the challenges that go into training. For the Olympics, you are talking about a high level of training just as you would for football.
A: I hope things settle down and everything goes back to normal. I definitely hope the Olympics are held in 2021 like they are saying. My heart would be absolutely broken for those who have fought so hard to get to this point and then have it ripped away. I can personally speak about across the board all the athletes. The rugby players that I had personal experiences with, trying to make the 2016 team. They were young and coming for this opportunity, to have it taken away. I have seen personally the work they put in and the years before that, trying to get in in 2016. To have it potentially be cancelled and then the next opportunity be in 2024, my heart would just break for those guys and girls. I hope that doesn’t happen. Right now, they just need to figure out things on a weekly basis, on a daily basis like the rest of the world is, like the rest of the country is. Until that time, the Olympics have been postponed for a year so they can settle things down. They were finishing up what’s called the world series. They would have finished that, taken a break and then gone into Olympic training camp. With that being on pause, they need to just make the most of what the situation is and that’s rest. Take the opportunity to rest and get their bodies right and hopefully get everybody healthy. It’s tough but hopefully everything works out in a year from now.

Q: Most of the time when head coaches come in, new coaches, they try to bring a player or two from where they were to help spread their message, help spread their culture. Do you think you can be that player for Joe Judge, and what would his message and his culture be, do you think, with this new team?
A: I’m going to let Joe speak for himself on what his message and culture and all that stuff that he wants to do. I can tell you this, whatever that will be, not only from Joe but the rest of that coaching staff, I’m going to do the best that I can to do it to the best of my ability. Like I said, the best that I can. Whatever capacity they need me in, whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to do it the best I can. That, to me, is what I kind of watched in New England some great players do. That’s kind of a mindset that as a team, if we can all buy in together, then we’ll be in there playing for each other. That’s what great teams do, is play for each other. At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s asked of me and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.

Q: You talked a little about your own journey in free agency leaving a team you were with for a while. Were you surprised to see Tom Brady leave?
A: Everybody has to assess their personal situation. Everyone becomes a free agent if they’re lucky enough to play long enough to see that day. Tom has to do what’s best for him, just like I have to do what’s best for me. I see players every year go to new teams, and they have to do what’s best for them. The timing may be different in everyone’s career, but that assessment of what is best for you as a player and your family and personally. You do that assessment. Everyone does. Everyone has to assess that and make that decision. That’s what he chose to do. We see countless other players do the same thing every year.

Q: You talked a little bit about Joe Judge’s attention to detail and some of those qualities. But in this specific instance now where he’s a rookie head coach dealing with such an unorthodox offseason, he doesn’t have his players in the building, what do you think makes him uniquely capable of handling a situation like this? Whenever this season starts, whether it’s delayed or whatever happens, that he can succeed against these odds?
A: Well, everyone has to succeed against it. This is not just a New York Giants problem. This is an entire NFL problem and an entire country as a whole all fighting against it. I think every team is going to have to overcome it, just as we will. You can argue that a team that has a system of things that they’re used to doing is going to run into problems, just as much as us being new to it. We’ll do what we need to do to overcome as we can and as we go and what we’re allowed to do as the time comes. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I know Joe is going to work as hard as he can and do everything in his power to the best of his ability to get us prepared as best as we can. Outside of that, we’ll do what we can that’s within our control.

Q: For years up in New England, you and Matthew Slater were like the Batman and Robin of the special teams up there, if you will. Now that you guys have separated, can you just reflect on the challenges ahead of building up that chemistry, that comradery, with a new set of teammates, and just what lessons you can take from having played with Matthew Slater for all those years and the rest of the special teams that you played with for a number of years, and just setting up a new core Giants special teams?
A: I have nothing but amazing things to say about Matthew Slater. He’s one of the highest-character people I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s a great, great football player to boot. I learned a lot from Matt coming in as a rookie. He was in his third or fourth year and already was a Pro Bowler. I just watched him work on a day to day basis, and kind of what I’ve spoken to throughout this phone call, just coming to work with a selfless attitude to do the work, to do it to the best of your ability, and whatever is asked of you, do it with a selflessness that puts the team’s priorities above your own. That’s what Matt did forever. He was extremely consistent, and that consistency, over time, really speaks to who you are as a person. Matt was among the most consistent people I’ve ever met. I could go on and on about the things that I’ve learned and how we’ve grown together. Matt as a person, I could literally go on and on about that. But ultimately, it’s about finding guys that want to put everything into their work every day, and when it comes to Sunday, they’re going to fight for each other. There’s a lot of selflessness, like I mentioned, and guys that are going to put it all on the line for one another. It sounds like there would be more to it. It sounds like some rah-rah stuff. But that’s the truth. Just a group of guys that really are tight-knit that want to fight for each other. That’s what it comes down to.

Q: Special teams, generally, are a young player’s sport, which is a stepping stone to becoming a starter. In your position, do you ever wonder, ‘Am I getting too old?’
A: No.

Q: What’s the attitude you have to bring to special teams, though?
A: To me, there are little intricacies within everything that I do, special teams or as a safety, that are very relatable, whether it be calling protections of the PP on punt protection, or just as you make checks on defense or offense or whatnot. No one really looks at those intricacies as much as they do offense or defense, but they’re out there and they’re happening every game. In the kicking game just as well. Those finer points can be the difference-maker, especially in a phase of the game that’s a one-play series. You don’t get four downs. You don’t have a bunch of opportunities. You get one chance. Sometimes, those opportunities can be game-changing opportunities. Every game, you’re going to get a handful of opportunities to change the game. Kicking and special teams plays truly do change the game. Touchdowns, blocked kicks, especially turnovers, momentum swings, they’re big parts of the game. Those details matter, and I think having played as long as I have, I hopefully can kind of build on what I’ve experienced. That’s why I love the kicking game. It’s a one-play series that’s balls to the wall for the entire time. It’s not like you get an incomplete pass and you’re back in the deep part of the field, and not covering grass and it’s a run play or something like that. Every single play in the kicking game is absolutely full speed and a dog fight. Every single one of them. It’s fun.

Q: Are you going to bring a haka for the special teams crew?
A: I don’t think so. I’m not Polynesian. I don’t think so. But that would be funny.

Mar 192020
 
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Cam Fleming, Dallas Cowboys (November 22, 2018)

Cam Fleming (75) – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS SIGN CAM FLEMING TO 1-YEAR DEAL…
Multiple media sources are reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Cam Fleming (Dallas Cowboys) to a 1-year contract.

The 27-year old, 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.  After four years in New England, he signed with the Cowboys. In six NFL seasons, Cameron has played in 75 regular-season games with 26 starts. He has experience at both tackle spots, where he has started 10 games at each position. Cameron has also played in 11 post-season games with two starts.

GIANTS SIGN NATE EBNER TO 1-YEAR DEAL…
Multiple sources are reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent safety and special teams ace Nate Ebner (New England Patriots) to a 1-year contract.

The 31-year old, 6’0”, 215-pound Ebner was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In eight seasons in New England, Ebner has played in 111 regular-season games with no starts, accruing 95 tackles and one forced fumble, mostly on special teams.

GIANTS DO NOT PICK UP OPTION ON ANTOINE BETHEA…
The New York Giants have announced that they will not picked up the final year on safety Antoine Bethea’s 2-year contract, effectively making him an unrestricted free agent. Bethea was set to make $2.475 million in salary and count another $400,000 in bonus money (pro-rated signing bonus, roster bonus, and workout bonus) against the 2020 NFL salary cap.