Aug 152021
 
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Rodarius Williams, New York Giants (August 14, 2021)

Rodarius Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

INJURY UPDATE – T.J. BRUNSON TEARS ACL, JOSH KALU TEARS PEC…
There was bad news on the injury front coming out of Saturday night’s game against the New York Jets. Inside linebacker tore the ACL in his left knee. His season is unofficially over. Safety Josh Kalu also tore his pectoral muscle. No word yet on if his season is also over.

QB Clayton Thorson also continues to be evaluated for an undisclosed injury. “We’re going to wait to see what the doctors say about him.,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “He spent time with the medical team today. We’re going to find out his final status. Obviously, we’ll make more of a decision on that. Hopefully it all comes out for the best, he’s been working hard for us. If there’s an injury at quarterback, we’ll look to bring in an additional player to help us go ahead and function for the remainder of training camp or however long someone’s out.”

AUGUST 15, 2021 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Sunday to discuss his team’s 7-12 loss to the New York Jets:

Q: Just looking back now and taking a look at what that first group did, the first 18-20 snaps. Obviously, you didn’t have a lot of your marquee quarterbacks, receivers and running backs out there, but just the work of the offensive line in their 18 snaps, what did you see from them?

A: There’s definitely some positives out there to build on. First time action is always enough to get a clean up and focus on the meetings today and going through, starting with fundamentals, going through the assignments, communication to make sure we’re all on the same page. There were enough positives right there to really get a look in terms of what we can do to keep helping these guys and put them in the right position, and maybe some things you want to stay away from in the future in terms of play calling or snaps. But this is the time of year you really find out about that. In practice, you find out about some things. When you see a foreign opponent, you find out a little bit more about it right there. In terms of how they worked, how they responded on the sideline, the adjustments they made, that was encouraging. We’ve got to keep making progress and moving forward.

Q: Obviously, you have some injuries on the offensive line and you probably would bring some guys in basically to have a look. On the offensive line, is it just a matter of communication and a matter of getting used to each other. Realistically, how quickly can new guys coming in get up to speed to do what you need them to do in your offense?

A: First part of the question I’d say is we’re talking to personnel today and tomorrow on the entire roster. Obviously, there’s some moves we have to make with league rules. We’re looking at the week going into Cleveland, but then also just building our own depth on all parts of the roster. In terms of bringing some players in, we’re looking at guys at all positions around the league. There’s going to be a lot of guys that are available, so it’s our job to do our due diligence to make sure we know who’s out there and available in the league. On the offensive line, you’ve got to have a lot of bodies to operate, so in terms of bringing somebody in, there’s a good chance that we’re going to look to bring somebody in before going to Cleveland. In terms of how fast somebody can get caught up, I’d say that it’s really independent to the individual and their experience level, but I would say as coaches it’s our job to get them caught up with what we’re going to ask them to do. You don’t start with the entire playbook, you start with the install they have to operate with, harp on the technique and the calls they’re going to have at the line of scrimmage to make sure they can go out there and operate with your guys.

Q: Two things, how did (Quarterback) Clayton Thorson come out? And if he’s banged up, do you need another quarterback just to operate a practice?

A: We’re going to wait to see what the doctors say about him. He spent time with the medical team today. We’re going to find out his final status. Obviously, we’ll make more of a decision on that. Hopefully it all comes out for the best, he’s been working hard for us. If there’s an injury at quarterback, we’ll look to bring in an additional player to help us go ahead and function for the remainder of training camp or however long someone’s out.

Q: Strange note on the game snaps, it seems that (Linebacker) Cam Brown didn’t play any defensive snaps. Was there a reason he didn’t get in defensively? Is he down the depth chart or is something holding him back?

A: No, actually it had nothing to do with that at all. The focus for him was going to be play special teams last night. He got in, did a good job for us, I saw what I needed to see. In terms of defense, we had some other guys we wanted to evaluate who have been doing a good job for us in practice. Him not playing last night really doesn’t reflect specifically anything on his status defensively. I really wouldn’t read too much into that at all, to be honest with you, but he did a good job for us on teams last night.

Q: Just wanted to check on (Linebacker) Blake Martinez because there was a group of inured players that we didn’t see and I didn’t realize he was injured. Did he get injured during the week?

A: I glanced over it last night and someone said something to me. He actually had a non-football injury, so he’s actually back in the building with us today. It was one of those things that sprung up. We just wanted to get him away from our players and just make sure everything is good before having him in the building. It had nothing to do with football and, to be honest with you, if it was a regular season game, he would’ve been able to go ahead and tough on through it. We just wanted to make sure he had time to rest and put him away.

Q: And (Cornerback) Rodarius Williams. Obviously, you want a guy to get a ton of reps like that. How did you evaluate how he performed? And you played him inside – I don’t know that you’d done that in camp at all. How much of a challenge do you think that is to throw him in that situation?

A: To start with the question on him playing inside, there was a function of that that was due to where we were at in the game with who we wanted to play and keep on the field and really evaluate. A lot of these younger guys you want to see them through some extended play and see how they can handle the volume of the game and some of the things that come up. To be honest with you, we’re always looking to build up a player’s versatility. He’s done a little bit of that in practice for us through spring, a little bit through training camp, but it was an opportunity to put him in there and see how he functioned. So, he showed some things he did well and some things we’ve got to keep on building with him. In terms of just the overall volume, he’s a young player. He’s done a good job for us in practice making plays. We’ve got to keep bringing him along. I think for any guy in the first game, I don’t care if it’s regular season or preseason, there’s always an adjustment. It’s not unique or different for him as well, so there’s definitely some things we will show him that he did well and other things that we’re going to correct, whether it’s communication-wise, technique-wise, going forward. I was pleased he was able to go out there and play a lot of football last night. That was a lot of experience in a game that will help him going forward.

Q: Last night you mentioned (Wide Receiver) Matt Cole and (Wide Receiver) C.J. Board as standouts for their special teams work. At that position, how important is it for guys to be able to contribute on special teams? On the flip side, I know (Wide Receiver) David Sills (V) didn’t get any special teams time, so is that something that could be held against him when you have to make decisions?

A: No, and Sills contributes on special teams for us, so again, everyone’s plan last night in the game was very unique and different to them. Some of it’s for the function and how to operate offensively and defensively throughout the game and the majority of it was really to see certain players and evaluate them for extended periods of play. In terms of Sills, we made a decision last night just to play him on offense. In terms of C.J., he was going to carry a heavier load in the kicking game, so the decision was to play him in the first half on offense and have him alive for the entire game on special teams. That’s where it was at in terms of C.J. and Sills and how that goes. I’d say for any player, you’ve got to do more than one thing. It’s something our players understand. If you can only do one thing, you better do it at an absolutely elite level, but everyone’s got to contribute to the team in multiple ways. You only take 46 guys to a game, 47 now, but you only take a certain amount of guys to the game, so you’ve got to be able to play multiple roles. Whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player, the kicking game’s a part of your job description and everyone has a role whether that’s playing on field goal protection if you’re a defensive lineman at times. Whether that’s part of the hands team if you’re a skill player who’s not necessarily a coverage specialist. Everyone has to have a role and both those guys have carved out nice ones. They’ve competed throughout training camp at a high level for us. C.J. and Matt last night went out there and their strength is their speed and that flashed on tape right there for us when we watched the game today. They’re both guys that are quiet. They just do their job every day and come to work and are fun to be with.

­­Q: Do you intend to take injured players with you to Cleveland and specifically (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney), do you think he will be on that trip and able to participate in those practices?

A: Yeah, right now we are planning to take injured players with us. The purpose being going out there and letting them do some of their rehab and recovery while we’re out there either at Cleveland’s facilities or on the field while we’re practicing, so that will be the plan right now. If something changes or someone has a unique situation that could include a person, two people, whatever may come up right now that we don’t have listed as an issue. But as we go through medical meetings today and tomorrow, that’s something we’ll have to address.

Q: What’s the next step for (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) in the progression here?

A: We’re going to sit down with the doctors later today and go through that. He responded well last week to the volume and the load. I thought the plan of obviously putting him through a couple of days, backing him off, ramping him back up, so obviously they have a really good feel for his body working with him throughout these last few months through the rehab process. At this point, the focus is really to kind of get him moving more and more within the football movements. In terms of what that’s going to mean for him this week in Cleveland, we’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t anticipate him being in any kind of live drills this week. As of this point, that would be the plan, but we’ll see where it goes as we go on down further and further when his body is ready for all the football.

Q: What have you seen from (Linebacker) Reggie Ragland? He obviously wasn’t active for the first week of training camp, but he seemed to be pretty active last night in making some plays and getting off blocks.

A: Reggie’s a real smart, instinctive player. He’s a thick bodied and physical player, which is big to play in that inside linebacker role. He definitely makes plays with awareness, a good communicator. He’s got a lot of fire to him and Reggie’s fun to have around. He’s a real straight-shooter and he’ll tell you what’s on his mind, which is good to have around the building. He’s not afraid to have a tough conversation with you, so I’m really glad he’s a part of our team right now.

Q: We haven’t had cuts like this – it’s been 90 to 53 the last couple of years – will you just cut from the bottom of the roster? Washington cut some veteran guys to maybe to let them see if they can catch on somewhere else. How will you approach the cuts?

A: We’re looking to keep the best 53 players when we make our final roster decisions. We’ll talk through the roster over the next couple of days before we have to make our official moves. We’ll keep all of that in mind. In terms of releasing vets for any specific reason, that’s not something that’s been a part of our conversations at any point. Everyone we have in our program we have a plan to work with and develop and have a role on this team. We’ll just have to talk through what’s best for the team going forward.

Q: One of the strangest reactions on the bench last night was seeing (Running Back) Sandro (Platzgummer) run 50 yards, everybody exploded. What happened with that?

A: You know what, everyone likes Sandro. Best way I can put it. Everyone likes him. He works hard. Everyone was glad to see his opportunity, and everyone was happy for him when he got in and made the most of it. I think you can boil it down right there. He’s a guy that the players really respect and like. These guys in the program he’s in, as far as some of the overseas players, it’s always a different path for these guys, a different background. I think these guys understand and recognize he’s from Austria, he’s far away from home. There’s some unique things about Sandro. He’s really finishing up and finalizing being a doctor over in Europe, so there’s a lot of things to him. He works hard. He doesn’t say boo. He doesn’t ever complain. He just comes in and does his job and the team respects the way he works. When anybody has success like that, I think everyone shares and enjoys it.

Q: Did you say Kadarius is coming with you guys to Cleveland to rehab out there?

A: Yes, all plans are to have him out there. There’s no conversations at this point of anything different. That will be the same for all of our players. The only thing is if maybe some of these injuries coming out of the game that may be something different for those players. In terms of everything prior to this game, the plan is to have all those players with us out in Cleveland.

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

 

Mar 292021
 
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Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 28, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

Teams were officially able to begin negotiating with free agents from other teams on March 15. So although it seems as if free agency has been going on for quite some time, we’re only still at the 2-week mark since it began. More signings will continue through the spring and summer, especially as players are cut. That said, the initial free agency rush is over and we can start to make some snap opinions on what the New York Giants have and have not accomplished.

The “need” level I reference was addressed in my March 12th Free Agency Preview for the team.

QUARTERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Medium): For at least one more season, Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starter. The expectation was that the team would re-sign Colt McCoy. However, the Giants surprisingly went in another direction by signing the well-traveled Mike Glennon as Jones’ back-up. Glennon is much bigger (half a foot taller) than McCoy with a much stronger arm. Both complete around 61 percent of their passes and both have started roughly the same number of NFL games. There were media whispers too that McCoy wanted more money than the Giants were willing to pay. On the surface, this appears to be a wash, although the coaches said McCoy was a very good influence on Jones in the meeting rooms. (Mike Glennon YouTube Highlights)

RUNNING BACKS (Previous Need Level – High to Desperate): Some chided my prediction that all three running backs behind Saquon Barkley may not return in 2021, but that appears in fact to be the case. As of this moment, Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis remain unsigned. So much of the team’s upcoming success will depend on how well Barkley returns from a major knee injury and whether he can stay healthy for a full season. It’s quite telling that the very first player the Giants signed in free agency was the relatively-unknown Devontae Booker to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Fan reaction was immediately negative. But it appears the coaching staff simply wanted a veteran back who was a more reliable blocker and receiver than Gallman. Depth behind Barkley still remains shaky as the only other halfbacks on the roster are NFL cast-offs Taquan Mizzell and Jordan Chunn. The Giants also added another fullback/special teams player in Cullen Gillaspia to compete with Eli Penny. (Devontae Booker YouTube Highlights)

WIDE RECEIVERS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): The Giants have significantly upgraded this position with the addition of one player to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million contract. Kenny Golladay is not only a true #1 receiver, but he fills a desperate need that this team had for a physical receiver with size. His presence also allows Darius Slayton to become the #2 and Sterling Shepard the slot receiver, roles that both are far better suited for. From Golladay’s style of play to the team’s extended wooing period to satisfy personality issues, this signing is highly reminiscent of the Giants’ signing of Plaxico Burress in 2005. And Golladay is quite capable of having a Plaxico-type impact on this team. In addition, before the Giants signed Golladay, they signed the 9th overall player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, John Ross. While Ross did not live up to expectations in Cincinnati, he brings true deep speed to a team that desperately needs it. It would not be shocking to see Ross get cut, but it also would not be shocking for him to press for a starting job opposite of Golladay. In addition to wanting to prove doubters wrong, Ross will rejoin his old college receiving teammate, Dante Pettis, on what had been an explosive University of Washington receiving corps. Overall, the make-up of this unit is far different now than it was just two weeks ago. (John Ross YouTube Highlights)

TIGHT ENDS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Right or wrong, the front office and coaching staff appear willing to continue to hope Evan Engram develops into the player hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. But the team decided to team him with a mentor. Kyle Rudolph has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the past 10 years. While not an explosive player, he can catch and block. Just as importantly, he is reliable, something Engram is not. The downside is that Rudolph turns 32 in November and is coming off a foot injury (The Athletic is reporting it is a Lisfranc injury) that required surgery AFTER the Giants signed him. Much depends on how well he recovers. On paper, if he is healthy, this looks like a major addition both in terms of helping out Daniel Jones and the offensive line. (Kyle Rudolph YouTube Highlights)

OFFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Medium): This is one area where it is debatable if the team has improved in free agency. The Giants were able to force Nate Solder to take a big pay cut to remain with the team. He will now compete against Matt Peart for the starting tackle spot opposite of Andrew Thomas. The Giants somewhat surprisingly simply cut Kevin Zeitler without approaching him about a pay cut. To fill that void, they signed right guard Zach Fulton, who had an inconsistent stay with the Houston Texans. Fulton will compete with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux for a starting spot. Fulton does not feel like an upgrade over Zeitler. Where the team probably did get better is at back-up center with the signing of Jonotthan Harrison back in January. He is a better player than Spencer Pulley. Look for the team to continue to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Low to High Depending on Tomlinson): Undoubtedly, the biggest loss the team suffered in free agency was losing nose tackle Davlin Tomlinson to the Minnesota Vikings for what appeared to be a reasonable 2-year, $22 million contract. The Giants re-signed back-up nose tackle Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million deal in anticipation of the loss. Johnson will now have to start at nose tackle or the team will be forced to move Dexter Lawrence from end, or sign a veteran or draft a player. Moving Lawrence seems like an obvious option, but that would have a domino effect in that B.J. Hill would probably then become the new starter at end opposite of Leonard Williams. Thus, what had been a somewhat shaky depth situation becomes even more dubious. The team was extremely fortunate in 2020 that no one got hurt up front. The only back-ups on the roster right now are R.J. McIntosh, David Moa, and Breeland Speaks, the latter signed by the Giants in January. Speaking of Williams, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a 3-year, $63 million deal. There will be tremendous pressure on him to live up to that contract.

(Late Note: The Giants signed 6’2”, 335-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton today. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shelton was cut by the Detroit Lions and will help fill the void created by the departure of Tomlinson).

LINEBACKERS (Previous Need Level – High): On paper, the Giants lost one free agent (Kyler Fackrell) and signed three (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson). All three newcomers were relatively inexpensive, 1-year deals. Ragland will likely compete with Tae Crowder for the inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. He has started 38 regular-season games in the NFL and is a former 2nd-round pick so he has a good shot to win that job. Anderson is another former 2nd-round pick who was stuck behind a plethora of outstanding outside linebackers in Washington. He is known more as an overachiever who saw most of his playing time on special teams, but he could surprise as his competition will be Lorenzo Carter (coming off of a torn Achilles), Oshane Ximines (coming off of shoulder surgery), and last year’s rookies (Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos). What about Odenigbo? Good question. He was the first defensive player the Giants signed in free agency. He played exclusively on the defensive line in Minnesota, primarily at end, but also shifting inside in pass-rush packages. However, his lack of size (6’3”, 258 pounds) strongly suggests he will be used like “linebacker” Jabaal Sheard was used by the Giants last year, that is, an edge rusher in 4-man pass rush packages. The Giants could also push him inside like the Vikings did in obvious passing situations in 4-man fronts. It is doubtful that he should be considered a true outside linebacker because he simply does not have experience dropping into coverage. Because of that, one could actually argue he should be included in the defensive line review. Also, the Giants did re-sign inside linebacker Devonta Downs, who started at inside linebacker for the Giants in 2020 until Tae Crowder beat him out. He will have to fight just to make the team however.

CORNERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Like the wide receiving position, the make-up of this position completely changed with the addition of one free agent, adding Adoree’ Jackson to a 3-year, $39 million contract after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. Opinions on his play vary, but Jackson is clearly a major upgrade over everyone else on the team’s roster with the exception of Pro Bowler James Bradberry. The former 1st rounder is a physical and aggressive press corner who plays with a lot of confidence. Depth is still a concern, but on paper, the Giants now look like they have one of the better secondaries in the NFL as long as Darnay Holmes continues to develop at slot corner.

SAFETIES (Previous Need Level – Low): While Adrian Colbert and Nate Ebner remain unsigned, the Giants still look to be in decent shape at this position with Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love – the latter two who can also play corner. Depth will be added later in free agency or the draft.

KICKERS/LONG SNAPPER (Previous Need Level – Low to Average Depending on Kreiter): When the Giants re-signed long snapper Casey Kreiter, this position was largely settled other than camp bodies. The only real question is are the Giants looking to upgrade at punter at some point.

SUMMARY: In my March 12th article, I argued this roster was a train wreck. Two weeks later, with the addition of 11 free agents and counting, it feels vastly different. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality. Keeping Leonard Williams was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson were two of the best, if not the very best, players available at desperate need positions.  If healthy, Kyle Rudolph could be a major addition as a security blanket for both Daniel Jones and the offensive line. Golladay and Jackson will start. Rudolph will be a quasi-starter. John Ross (1st rounder), Reggie Ragland (2nd rounder), Ryan Anderson (2nd rounder), and Zach Fulton might start. Devontae Booker is now the primary back-up behind Saquon Barkely, Ifeadi Odenigbo will add to the pass rush.

The risk? The money. While most of the deals were relatively cheap, the team did dole out $174 million on three players – Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, and Adoree’ Jackson. If they are wrong about any of these three, the team will be paying for it for years. We’ve seen that before and it’s one of the major reasons why the Giants have been mired in the basement of the NFL for a decade. One could also argue that the team should have allocated its resources a bit differently in order to keep Dalvin Tomlinson, extending his contract even last year.

Mar 192021
 
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Reggie Ragland, Detroit Lions (September 27, 2020)

Reggie Ragland – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN REGGIE RAGLAND
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (Detroit Lions) to 1-year contract. The Athletic is reporting that the deal is worth $1,127,500 with $137,500 in guaranteed money.

The 27-year old, 6’2”, 252-pound Ragland was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He missed his rookie season after tearing the ACL in his left knee and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2017 season. Ragland has spent time with the Bills (2016), Chiefs (2017-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020). He has played in 58 regular-season games with 38 starts, accruing 203 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Ragland played in all 16 regular-season games for the Lions in 2020 with six starts and was credited with 49 tackles and one sack.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.