Sep 272019
 
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Jon Hilliman, New York Giants (August 16, 2019)

Jon Hilliman – © USA TODAY Sports

JON HILLIMAN SIGNED TO 53-MAN ROSTER…
On Thursday, the New York Giants signed running back Jonathan Hilliman to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad. To make room for Hilliman, the team placed wide receiver Russell Shepard (foot) on Injured Reserve.

The Giants originally signed Hilliman as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. This year, Shepard played in all three games, catching three passes for 25 yards. Shepard was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Eagles (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2016), and Carolina Panthers (2017). The Giants signed Shepard in May 2018 after he was cut by the Panthers. He ended up playing in 12 games in 2018, with no starts, catching 12 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), and linebacker Tae Davis (concussion) did not practice on Friday. All three players have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

Wide receiver Bennie Fowler (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis, but he he is expected to play on Sunday.

Wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion), defensive end Olsen Pierre (knee), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (elbow) fully practiced. All three players are expected to play.

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…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The Giants play the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Sep 112019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants claimed linebacker Tuzar Skipper off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. The 24-year old, 6’3”, 246-pound Skipper was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. Skipper had five sacks, seven quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles in four preseason games.

“We’re going to get him out there,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur of Skipper. “He’s a pass rusher, edge pressure guy. Edge player… so he’ll play.”

Although not official, there are also media reports that the Giants will place linebacker Kareem Martin (knee) on Injured Reserve and re-sign wide receiver T.J. Jones.

The Giants signed Martin as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March 2018. Though not a standout, Martin has his most productive season as a pro, playing in a 16 games with seven starts, and finishing with 48 tackles (twice as much as his previous high), 1.5 sacks, and 2 pass defenses. The 6’6”, 272-pound Martin was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cardinals as a defensive end. The Cardinals moved him to linebacker after his rookie season. Martin injured his knee in the season opener against Dallas.

The 6’0”, 190-pound Jones was originally drafted in the 6th-round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. In four seasons with the Lions, Jones played in 42 regular-season games with nine starts, catching 64 passes for 814 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants signed Jones in July 2019 and cut him at the end of August.

The team also cut running back Rod Smith, wide receiver Brittan Golden, tight end Scott Simonson, offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, offensive guard Victor Salako, and linebacker Jonathan Anderson from Injured Reserve with injury settlements. Even if interested, the Giants are ineligible to re-sign any of these players for six weeks. However, other teams can sign them now.

The 6’3”, 235-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. Smith has played in 49 regular-season games with two starts, carrying the ball 101 times for 364 yards and five touchdowns. He also has caught 30 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown.

The 5’11, 186-pound Golden was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2012 and 2013), Jacksonville Jaguars (2012), and Arizona Cardinals (2013-2017). The Giants signed Golden to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019.

Simonson had his best season in 2018 after being signed by the Giants in June 2018. Simonson played in all 16 games with four starts, finishing with nine catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. The 6’5”, 255-pound Simonson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Raiders waived him in June 2015 and he was then signed by the Carolina Panthers. He spent all of 2017 on Injured Reserve with a back injury. Simonson has played in 34 regular-season games with five starts. He had one catch in his NFL career before 2018.

Wheeler was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. Not only did he make the team, but he ended up playing in 11 games with four starts, three at right tackle and one at left tackle. In his second season with the Giants in 2018, Wheeler was promoted to the starter at right tackle when the team decided to bench Ereck Flowers after the second game. Wheeler ended up starting 14 games at right tackle. 

The Giants claimed Salako off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns in August 2018 and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. The 6’5”, 316-pound Salako was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Practice Squads of both the Eagles and Browns in 2017.

The 6’1”, 237-pound Anderson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Chicago Bears after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Bears (2015-2017) and Arizona Cardinals (2018). The Giants signed Anderson to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion), wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), tight end Garrett Dickerson (quad), and linebacker Kareem Martin (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.

“Kareem Martin, that will be an extended deal probably,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “Weeks more than days. Then (Shepard) is in the concussion protocol. Those are the two that are probably the biggest right now.”

Right guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder), defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (shoulder), and linebacker Markus Golden (hip) were limited in practice.

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.

Jul 272019
 
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Golden Tate, New York Giants (July 25, 2019)

Golden Tate – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 27, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their third full-team summer training camp practice on Saturday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The complete public training camp schedule is available at Giants.com.

GOLDEN TATE FACING 4-GAME SUSPENSION…
It was revealed on Saturday that New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is appealing a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing (PED) Substance policy. His appeal is currently scheduled to be heard during the first week of August. If Tate loses the appeal, he will miss the first four games of the regular-season. He will be able to continue to practice with the team this summer and play in the preseason.

Tate issued the following statement on Saturday:

       This past April, during the off-season, my wife and I decided to see a specialist for fertility planning. I started the treatment prescribed to me and just days later I discovered it contained an ingredient that is on the league’s banned substance list. I immediately discontinued use, I reported the situation to the Independent Administrator of the NFL Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances, and I spoke with my coaches and general manager. I did all of this well before a failed test was even confirmed.

Per NFL protocol, an initial suspension was imminent, but myself and the Giants organization are confident in the fact, and eagerly await my appeal to put this behind us.

During the entirety of my 10 year career I have taken great pride in playing this game the right way, have been an ambassador for the NFL and have never had any issues with the league’s policy. The treatment this past April had no effect on the upcoming season, and I did not, and could not have undergone this treatment in April for any competitive advantage. I deeply appreciate the support from the New York Giants Organization, and will continue to hold the highest level of character and integrity, while being a leader in the locker room.

In respect to the team and my teammates I won’t be speaking on this again until after the appeal. I’m focusing on football, and will not let this be a distraction.

“I think he’s going to have an appeal,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur before practice on Saturday. “I think he released a statement, so I really have nothing to add to that. We’ll just see what happens with it… When this situation arose, he’s been very honest with us.”

GIANTS SIGN AMBA ETTA-TAWO AND T.J. JONES…
The New York Giants have signed wide receivers Amba Etta-Tawo and T.J. Jones. To make room on the roster, the team placed wide receiver Corey Coleman on Injured Reserve and cut place kicker Joey Slye.

The 6’1”, 208-pound Etta-Tawo was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time on the Practice Squads of the Jaguars (2017), Kansas City Chiefs (2017), Giants (2017-2018), and Houston Texans (2018). Etta-Tawo also played for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football in 2019.

The 6’0”, 190-pound Jones was originally drafted in the 6th-round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. In four seasons with the Lions, Jones played in 42 regular-season games with nine starts, catching 64 passes for 814 yards and four touchdowns. Jones also has experience returning both kickoffs and punts.

Coleman tore an ACL in one of his knees on Thursday. Coleman was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. An explosive athlete but an injury-plagued bust in Cleveland, Coleman has also had brief stints with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in 2018. The Giants signed Coleman to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2018. He ended up playing in eight games with one start, finishing with five catches for 71 yards. Coleman’s primary contribution came on special teams as as kickoff returner (averaging 26 yards on 23 returns).

The Giants signed and waived Slye in May 2019, and then re-signed him in July 2019. Slye graduated from Virginia Tech and did not play pro football in 2018. As a senior, he converted on 15-of-22 field goal attempts (68 percent) and 37-of-37 extra point attempts.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receivers Darius Slayton (hamstring), Brittan Golden (groin), and Alex Wesley (PUP List – unknown) did not practice on Saturday. Cornerbacks Sam Beal (groin) and Henre’ Toliver (unknown) also did not practice.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (fractured thumb) was limited to individual drills in practice, not catching any passes. “Hopefully in a couple weeks I get out of this deal (splint) and I will be able to catch the ball,” said Shepard on Saturday.

Linebacker Mark McLaurin (foot stepped on) left practice early.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team wide receivers were Golden Tate, Cody Latimer, and Bennie Fowler.
  • Julian Love saw reps at second-team safety along with Michael Thomas. Julian Peppers and Antoine Bethea remained the first-team safeties.
  • RB Rod Smith cut back against the second-team defense for a decent gain.
  • DL Jake Ceresna broke through the third-string line to “sack” the quarterback.
  • WR Da’Mari Scott turned around CB Corey Ballentine for a deep catch over the middle on a pass from QB Alex Tanney.
  • DB Julian Love punched the ball out of TE Scott Simonson’s hands for a fumble that LB Kareem Martin recovered. Love then broke up a QB Daniel Jones to WR Russell Shepard.
  • George Asafo-Adjei received first-team reps at right tackle.
  • S Jabrill Peppers had a “sack” and tackle for a loss against RB Wayne Gallman.
  • CB Corey Ballentine picked off QB Kyle Lauletta on an obvious miscommunication between quarterback and receiver. Ballentine returned the interception for a touchdown.
  • Spencer Pulley received some first-team reps at center.
  • CB Grant Haley broke up a low pass from QB Eli Manning. Haley had a good day, playing both in the slot and outside.
  • In the red zone, S Antoine Bethea made a nice break-up on a pass from QB Eli Manning to RB Wayne Gallman.
  • LB Nate Stupar made a diving break-up of a QB Daniel Jones pass intended for RB Paul Perkins.
  • QB Daniel Jones was 8-of-13 with an impressive deep sideline throw to WR Alonzo Russell (Russell couldn’t get his second foot in-bounds). Jones has not thrown an interception at camp thus far. Jones also threw two touchdowns in the red zone, including one to TE Garrett Dickerson.
  • QB Eli Manning had a strong practice and connected a number of times with WR Golden Tate and WR Cody Latimer. Manning finished 10-of-14 with two touchdowns, including one to TE Evan Engram and another to Tate.
  • QB Kyle Lauletta threw two red zone touchdowns, one to TE C.J. Conrad and another to WR Russell Shepard.
  • DLs R.J. McIntosh and Dexter Lawrence were active.
  • LB Oshane Ximines received some first-team snaps.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Saturday 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:

Jun 192019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 22, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: Things did not going exactly according to plan at the wide receiver position in 2018. Injuries hit the position hard, thus beginning a revolving door of players coming and going to not only serve as pass receivers but also returners. In the end, the only receiver to play all 16 games was Sterling Shepard. Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard were responsible for 76 percent of the wide receiver receptions (143) with no other wide receiver catching more than 16 passes. Instead, the Giants threw more to the backs (113 catches) and tight ends (79 catches).

The headliner – Beckham – missed four games. While he remained productive when he played, the explosive big plays seemed to be lacking. And despite playing all 16 games, Shepard still could not crack the 1,000-yard mark. Free agent acquisition Cody Latimer only played in six games, catching a total of 11 passes. It is fair to say more was expected from these three.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants decided to re-sign all of their free agent wide receivers, including Corey Coleman, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and Russell Shepard. A year before he was due to become a free agent, the Giants also extended Sterling Shepard with a 4-year, $41 million contract.

The big offseason move was the trade of Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. His New York career began with fireworks and died with a whimper. The Giants also cut Quadree Henderson and Jawill Davis in the offseason.

The Giants surprisingly signed free agent Golden Tate away from the Eagles to a 4-year, $37.5 million contract. Street free agent journeyman Brittan Golden was signed in January. The Giants drafted Darius Slayton in the 5th round of the draft and signed rookie free agents Reggie White, Jr. and Alex Wesley after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Fan and media attention will be on how the departure of Odell Beckham, Jr. will affect the overall offense and whether or not that trade was a huge mistake. Contrary to what the Giants say publicly, it is clear the organization felt Beckham was a detriment to team culture. As dynamic as he was, Beckham was exhausting to deal with. It will be interesting to see how the team performs without him, and how Beckham does in Cleveland.

Unless someone like Darius Slayton and Corey Coleman comes on like gangbusters, the Giants appear to lack a true deep threat who can take the top off a defense. Good offenses can survive without a true deep threat, but it does make things more challenging. It appears the Giants will rely more on the short-to-intermediate passing game and run-after-the-catch yardage. This is where Golden Tate excels. The team desperately needs Sterling Shepard to become a more productive player. They are paying him more on potential than productivity to date (he’s averaged 63 catches, 762 yards, and 4-5 touchdowns per season in his first three years in the league). Tate and Shepard are viewed more as slot receivers by some.

To be frank, the other veterans on the roster have been unimpressive journeymen to date. Cody Latimer is capable of making contested circus catches, but may not be able to separate from defensive backs on a consistent basis. The same concern exists with Bennie Fowler and Russell Shepard. Both have spent time with three other teams. Corey Coleman is a former first rounder and has the speed to get deep, but three other teams have let him go since 2016.

That all said, Coleman, Fowler, and newcomer Darius Slayton did flash during Spring workouts. It remains to be seen if they can build upon this success and push for regular-season playing time.

ON THE BUBBLE: Only Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are really safe.

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Golden Tate: “You can see that he has the ability to break tackles. He is nifty. Obviously, before the ball is thrown and then once he catches it, he has a way of breaking tackles or making them miss. I can see that is going to be a part of his game already… He is a pro… He fit in immediately. He is smart, has picked up what we are doing offensively and finds a way to make plays. He is a real veteran presence. He has made a heck of an impact.”

Shurmur on Darius Slayton: “Darius has done a really good job. I think he is the most improved in my eyes. We expected a lot out of him when he got here. The rookie mini-camp was unremarkable, but since that time… He is very fast. He is practicing punts and kicks. He has done a nice job playing receiver. I really think he has done a nice job during OTA’s and mini-camp.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard: “I think (Tate) is going to bring productivity because he is really good with the ball in his hands, versatility, and flexibility. You can put him inside, you know, we know with Shep that Shep can play both inside and out. Now, we have two guys that can do that. I think when you have two guys who can do that, you become less predictable and I think it gives you another guy when the ball is in his hands, he’s pretty good… (Tate) provides the experience, the knowledge, the route awareness, sudden changes that you might not have to make that are kind of hard to cover all of the time with some of the younger guys. He is going to bring that to the table. And like I said, he is really good with the ball in his hands, so getting him the ball, he can lower his shoulder at times and make guys miss. Not necessarily defensive linemen, but DBs that are trying to tackle him. I think he is going to be a good weapon for us on all downs. ”

Shula on Darius Slayton: “I think Slayton has been pretty consistent. He’s been a really good pick for us. As long as he stays on track he’s got good speed, he uses his hands you can see. He’s got more confidence in his hands, he’s catching the ball more consistently. I think he’s a good route runner, that was one thing kind of coming out of the draft I was anxious to see how he did with maybe our routes, which were maybe a little bit different that the routes he ran at Auburn. He does a good job at the top end of those routes.”

Shula on how defenses will change with Odell Beckham now gone: “I think kind of based on last year, not as much as you might think. I mean, there might have been certain teams that had an all-out double team, but other than that, there really wasn’t much, and part of that probably was because of Saquon. I mean you got to be careful doubling receivers when you’ve got a back like that.”

Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert on Darius Slayton: “Slayton, I saw what we saw on tape. I saw a guy who has some pretty good size, who can run. His first practice, you know, he was trying to figure a lot of stuff out in the first half of the first practice, had a couple of drops, for the second half of that practice he made some good catches in traffic and had two good remaining days. So looking for explosive plays from Darius Slayton, he’s an explosive player who’s made a lot of plays, 21 or 22 yards a catch, something like that in college and I’m looking forward to him bringing that to the Giants.”

Tolbert on Corey Coleman: “It is a big opportunity, especially him being in the offseason program with us. He’s getting the whole gambit if you will: from the very first install to the whole, you know, all the way through. Last year when he came in we were his fourth offense he’s been in, in maybe the span of 3 months. Now it’s just our offense the whole time so he can grasp what we’re doing and have a solid contribution. He’s doing well this year. He’s doing much better than he did last year.”

PREDICTIONS: After Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, it’s difficult to predict what the make-up of this unit will look like. Darius Slayton has obviously caught the attention of the coaches, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact he can make as a rookie. One gets the sense that Eli Manning’s main targets will be Shepard, Tate, running back Saquon Barkley, and tight end Evan Engram (a de facto year-on-year change of Beckham with Tate). The good news is the Giants will have the ability to move Shepard, Tate, Barkley, and Engram all over the place, keeping defenses on their toes.

As previously stated, unless Coleman or Slayton surprise with significant playing time, we are not likely to see many 40+ yard touchdowns on deep routes by this group. But the run-after-catch damage could be significant. And as a group, most of the receivers are good run blockers who could have a significant impact on the ground game. In my mind, the guy on the hot seat is Shepard. He needs to justify his $41 million contract, be more productive, and make more big plays.

The wild cards here are numerous, but it is unwise to count on Cinderella stories. Can the talented Corey Coleman turn his career around? Have Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler finally found a home? Did the Giants find small school gold in Reggie White, Jr. or Alex Wesley?

Don’t discount the importance of special teams in determining who makes it. A guy like Russell Shepard was a core special teamer last season. Slayton and Coleman can also return.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Russell Shepard

Apr 112019
 
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Russell Shepard, New York Giants (December 9, 2018)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN HENRE’ TOLIVER…
The New York Giants have officially signed cornerback Henre’ Toliver. The 22-year old, 6’0”, 190-pound Toliver originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts after the 2018 NFL Draft. He was waived before the season started in early September. He has spent some time with the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN RUSSELL SHEPARD…
Although not officially announced, the New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Russell Shepard. The Giants signed Shepard in May 2018 after he was cut by the Carolina Panthers. He ended up playing in 12 games, with no starts, catching 12 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. The 6’1”, 195-pound Shepard was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. Shepard has spent time with the Eagles (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2016), and Panthers (2017). He has 57 career catches for 822 yards and six touchdowns. Shepard is a good gunner on special teams.

Feb 152019
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 New York Giants were a top heavy team, with some elite talent at a number of positions but with the overall quality of the rest of the roster rapidly falling off. And the wide receiver position was just one example of this issue. Coming out of training camp, the team’s top wideouts were Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Kaelin Clay, and Russell Shepard. Injuries hit this position hard, including Beckham (4 games), Latimer (placed on IR and later returning, missing 10 games), and Clay (only playing in two games before being placed on IR and later waived). Thus began a revolving door at the position for much of the season at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th receiver spots. Those who later saw playing time at wide receiver and/or special teams included Bennie Fowler, Corey Coleman, Jawill Davis, Quadree Henderson (also ended up on IR), and Stacy Coley (waived after one game).

There was no better indicator of the sharp divide between Beckham (77 catches) and Sterling Shepard (66 catches) and the rest of the wide-receiving corps than the reception totals. No other wide receiver on the roster had more than 16 catches. And combined, the other receivers had a total of just 46 receptions. Part of this was a function of Eli Manning having other options, including running back Saquon Barkley (91 catches) and tight ends Evan Engram (45 catches) and Rhett Ellison (25 catches). But it was obvious that opposing defenses did not concern themselves too much with the other wideouts.

Of course, the primary headliner was Beckham, who was coming off a very serious fractured ankle that required surgery and which caused him to miss 12 games in 2017. While some contend that Beckham did not appear to be quite the same player, statistically-speaking, his numbers were on par with his 2016 season if adjusted for the four games he missed in 2018 due to a somewhat mysterious quad injury. What was missing were the eye-opening, huge, explosive plays. The good news is that despite the media’s goal of turning him into a click-bait lightning rod, Beckham did seem to mature and did not sulk as more team and fan attention shifted to Barkley.

Sterling Shepard is a very solid, complimentary piece as a slot receiver, but it has become pretty clear that he is not a consistent vertical threat. He has averaged 63 catches, 762 yards, and 4.7 touchdowns per year in his first three NFL seasons.

Overall, it is fair to say that more was expected from Beckham, Shepard, and Latimer than a total of 154 catches and just 11 touchdown receptions.

THE HEADLINERS

Despite missing the last four games of the season with a quad injury, Odell Beckham, Jr. accrued 77 receptions for 1,052 yards (13.7 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. It was Beckham’s fourth 1,000-yard season in his first five years in the NFL (Beckham missed 12 games in 2017 with a fractured ankle that required surgery). Beckham’s accolades already include Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year” (2014), second-team All-Pro (2015, 2016), and Pro Bowl (2014, 2015, 2016). All of this despite constant double teams by opposing defenses. Beckham was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. While Beckham lacks classic size, his long arms, big hands, and tremendous jumping ability give him a very good catch radius. Beckham is an explosive athlete with excellent speed, quickness, and agility. Beckham runs good routes, is very quick out of his breaks, adjusts exceptionally well to the football, and regularly makes the circus catch. He is very dangerous with the football in his hands after the catch. Competitive, passionate, and hard working.

In his third season with the Giants, Sterling Shepard started all 16 games, finishing with 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Shepard was selected in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Giants. Shepard started all 16 regular-season games as a rookie, but missed five games in 2017 with various ailments. Shepard lacks ideal size and speed, but he is a fluid athlete with good quickness. Shepard runs good routes, is tough going over the middle, and adjusts well to the football. He is guilty of the occasional drop. Shepard is not a consistent deep threat, but more of a move-the-chains underneath target. He needs to make more big plays.

THE MISFIT TOYS

The Giants signed Cody Latimer as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in March 2018 and placed him on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury in October 2018. The Giants activated him from IR in December. Latimer ended up playing in six games with two starts, catching just 11 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. However, he really flashed in the regular-season finale with two spectacular, one-handed catches. The 6’2”, 215-pound Latimer was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Broncos. In four seasons with the Broncos, Latimer played in 45 regular-season games with three starts. He’s a big receiver who will fight for the football. Latimer is a good gunner on special teams and has experience returning kickoffs.

After signing late with the Giants in October 2018, Bennie Fowler surprisingly played in 10 games with five starts, finishing the year with 16 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown. The 6’1”, 212-pound Fowler originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Denver Broncos after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Broncos (2014-2017), Chicago Bears (2018), and New England Patriots (2018). Fowler has played in 55 regular-season games with 10 starts. He has 72 career catches for 897 yards and six touchdowns.

The Giants signed Russell Shepard in May 2018 after he was cut by the Carolina Panthers. He ended up playing in 12 games, with no starts, catching 12 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. The 6’1”, 195-pound Shepard was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. Shepard has spent time with the Eagles (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2016), and Panthers (2017). He has 57 career catches for 822 yards and six touchdowns. Shepard is a good gunner on special teams.

The Giants signed Corey Coleman to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2018. He ended up playing in eight games with one start, finishing with five catches for 71 yards. Coleman’s primary contribution came on special teams as as kickoff returner (averaging 26 yards on 23 returns). The 5’11”, 185-pound Coleman was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. An explosive athlete but an injury-plagued bust in Cleveland, Coleman has also had brief stints with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in 2018. Coleman has played in 27 NFL games with 19 starts, accruing 61 catches for 789 yards and five touchdowns.

The Giants signed Jawill Davis as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad after the final preseason cutdown and then signed to the 53-man roster in September. Davis injured his knee during the last practice of the year and was placed on Injured Reserve before the last game. Davis has average size, but he is a good athlete with excellent speed. He played in seven games for the Giants, catching four passes for 40 yards. He also returned 12 punts (7.4 yards per return) and seven kickoffs (24.4 yards per return).

The Giants placed Quadree Henderson on Injured Reserve in late November 2018 with a fractured shoulder. The 5’8”, 192-pound Henderson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers waived him before the season started. The Giants signed Henderson to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2018, and then back to the Practice Squad and the 53-man roster again in November. Henderson played in five games for the Giants and returned five kickoffs (22.4 yards per return average) and nine punts (7.6 yards per return average).

The Giants signed Alonzo Russell after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2018 rookie mini-camp and then signed him to the Practice Squad in September. He was added to the 53-man roster before the last game of the season. The 6’3”, 206-pound Russell was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Bengals’ Practice Squad. The Bengals waived him in September 2017 and he was signed to the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in November 2017. Russell has not caught a pass in a regular-season game.

Dec 022018
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (December 2, 2018)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – CHICAGO BEARS 27…
The New York Giants blew a 10-point lead against the Chicago Bears with less than two minutes to play, but persevered to win the game in overtime, 30-27, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 4-8.

The Giants jumped out to a quick 7-0 advantage when linebacker Alec Ogletree intercepted a pass from quarterback Chase Daniel at the 8-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. Then both teams exchanged punts twice before the Bears tied the game by driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Daniel hit tight end Adam Shaheen for a 2-yard score.

Momentum continued to swing in the direction of the Bears as quarterback Eli Manning was picked off on the ensuing drive, setting up Chicago near midfield at the end of the first quarter. However, the Giants got the ball back when Ogletree intercepted his second pass, this one at the New York 14-yard line, returning it 20 yards.

After the Giants went three-and-out twice and the Bears once, Chicago took the lead on a 7-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The Bears now led 14-7.

The Giants punted for the fifth time in the first half on the ensuing possession. The Bears went three-and-out and New York received the ball with 1:14 before halftime. Although the Giants only picked up 18 yards, place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked a 57-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. It was the longest field goal in New York Giants’ team history.

At the half, the Bears led 14-10.

The Giants started the second half on a high note. After receiving the kickoff, the Giants picked up 26 yards on three plays. Then the Giants ran a trick play that had wide receiver Odell Beckham pass the ball to a wide-open wide receiver Russell Shepard for a 49-yard touchdown. The Giants now led 17-14.

After forcing the Bears to go three-and-out, the Giants put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a Manning-to-Beckham 1-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants were now up 24-14 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

The Bears picked up two first downs on their subsequent drive but were forced to punt. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Bears finally managed to put together a scoring drive by moving the ball 56 yards in seven plays to set up a 36-yard field goal. Giants 24 – Bears 17.

With just over nine minutes to go in the game, the Giants drove the ball from their own 8-yard line to the Bears’ 30-yard line. However, a 9-yard sack on 3rd-and-8 took the Giants out of field goal range. The ensuing punt was downed by the Giants at the 2-yard line. On Chicago’s first offensive snap, cornerback B.W. Webb forced wide receiver Taylor Gabriel to fumble, which was recovered at the Chicago 13-yard line by safety Sean Chandler.

At this point, it appeared the game was all but officially won. But New York did not manage the clock well in the final 2:19 of the game. The Giants lost six yards and settled for three points after only taking 30 seconds off of the clock. Still, New York was up 27-17 with 1:49 left to play.

The Bears’ first score was aided by a 32-yard pass completion and 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Chandler. This moved the ball to the New York 8-yard line where Chicago was forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal with 1:13 left.

Then disaster struck when a less-than-aggressive Beckham did not handle the onsides kickoff. The Bears recovered at the Chicago 47-yard line. The Bears completed a 23-yard pass on 4th-and-3 down to the New York 9-yard line with 11 seconds to play. After two incompletions, Webb was called for pass interference, giving Chicago a 1st-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line with three seconds left in the game. The Bears then ran their own trick play, a halfback pass by Tarik Cohen to wide receiver Anthony Miller with no time on the clock.

The game was tied 27-27 and headed to overtime.

The Giants won the toss. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 29 yards on the first play of the drive. On 3rd-and-2, Manning found wide receiver Sterling Shepard for an 8-yard completion to the Chicago 30-yard line. The Giants only manged four more yards, but it was enough to set up a successful 44-yard field goal by Rosas. The Bears now needed to score on their ensuing possession or lose the game.

The Bears kept things interesting by gaining 10 yards on 4th-and-7. Then on 4th-and-8 from the Chicago 40-yard line, the Giants came with an all-out blitz. Daniel threw a deep ball to wideout Taylor Gabriel, but cornerback Janoris Jenkins had perfect coverage over the middle and knocked the ball away to win the game.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 19-of-35 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading receivers were tight end Rhett Ellison (4 catches for 42 yards) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 28 yards). Barkley rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries.

Defensively, the Giants forced three turnovers. Ogletree picked off two passes, one which he returned for a score. The Giants also accrued five sacks, three by defensive lineman B.J. Hill and two by linebacker Olivier Vernon. The Giants were also credited with 10 tackles for losses and seven pass defenses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were tight end Evan Engram (hamstring), linebacker B.J. Goodson (neck), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (hip), quarterback Alex Tanney, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ribs), linebacker Tae Davis (ankle), and safety Landon Collins (shoulder) were all dinged up in the game.

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Sep 282018
 
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Eli Apple, New York Giants (August 7, 2018)

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Friday due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), and linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain). All four players have officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. (And Stewart was placed on Injured Reserve – see story below).

Nose tackle Damon Harrison (knee), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin), and wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis. Apple has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Hamilton and Coley are “questionable” and Harrison is expected to play.

Linebacker Connor Barwin (knee) fully practiced and is expected to play on Sunday.

GIANTS PLACE JONATHAN STEWART ON INJURED RESERVE…
The New York Giants have placed running back Jonathan Stewart (foot) on Injured Reserve. Stewart, who signed a 2-year, $6.9 million deal with the Giants this offseason, had gained only 17 yards on six rushing attempts through three games.

To fill Stewart’s roster spot, the Giants promoted wide receiver Jawill Davis to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. The Giants signed Davis as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft.

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…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Jun 252018
 
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Cody Latimer, New York Giants (May 21, 2018)

Cody Latimer – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: It was widely expected that the wide receiving position on the New York Giants in 2017 was going to be a team strength. The opposite occurred. By early October, Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris had all been placed on Injured Reserve with season-ending injuries. Even replacements such as Darius Powe and Tavarres King ended up on IR. By the end of the year, the likes of Marquis Bundy, Travis Rudolph, and Hunter Sharp were starting. The leading receiver ending up being Sterling Shepard (59 catches for 731 yards and two touchdowns), who also suffered through an injury-plagued 2017 with ankle, migraine, and neck issues that caused him to miss five games. Roger Lewis was next with just 36 catches for 416 yards and two touchdowns. And despite missing almost three months of the season, Beckham was sadly third with 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns. No other receiver had more than 18 catches. Even before he was hurt, the highly-touted Brandon Marshall looked like a shadow of his former self. In the end, this was arguably the least productive wide receiving corps in the NFL with just 11 touchdown receptions.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants cut Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris in the offseason. The Giants also let Tavarres King walk in free agency. Newcomers include free agents Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, and Alonzo Russell. The team also signed rookie free agent Jawill Davis after the 2018 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: As long as he is with the team, Odell Beckham will always be the center of attention. Coming off a serious ankle injury and entering the final year of his rookie contract, expect daily stories on his health and contractual status. When will he practice? Will he be limited? Will he holdout? Will he play in the preseason? Is he still the same explosive player? Then of course will be the somewhat legitimate but often shit-stirring, click-bait media stories about his character. What will be interesting to see is the interpersonal dynamic between Beckham and the fan bases new darling, Saquon Barkley. The good news is that Beckham appears to very much get along with the rookie. With Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard on the roster, Beckham will most likely have to accept fewer touches if he truly wants to win more games.

More diehard fans know that the bigger issue may be finding the complementary pieces to Beckham. Whether accurate or not, the current perception is that Sterling Shepard isn’t best suited for an outside position, but better suited for the slot. This is a big year for him. Shepard saw his touchdowns drop from eight in his rookie year to two in 2017. Ironically, those two long-distance touchdowns against the Eagles in 2017 were the first evidence that Shepard can make plays deeper down the field. Can he build upon that or is strictly a 10-12 yards-per-catch underneath guy? Being a really good slot receiver is no crime, but if Sterling is limited, then finding another outside target becomes imperative. The leading candidates are ex-Broncos Cody Latimer and Hunter Sharp, ex-Buccaneer and Panther Russell Shepard, and Roger Lewis. None of these players have to put up big numbers, but just present enough of a threat to draw some attention.

ON THE BUBBLE: Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard are the only two sure bets to make the roster. Cody Latimer is likely to make it simply because of his special teams ability as a gunner. Russell Shepard also has made plays as a gunner with the Buccaneers and that could help him. The Giants also are still need of returners which could be a factor in retaining Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond. The Giants did bring back Travis Rudolph, Marquis Bundy, and Amba Etta-Tawo from last year, but all three have to be considered long-shots at this point. Same with rookie speedster Jawill Davis and bigger target Alonzo Russell. Then there is the enigmatic Roger Lewis, who alternates between flashes of ability and frustrating lapses.

FROM THE COACH: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Odell Beckham: “I think we’re just still getting to know each other. But I’ve said it before, this guy loves to play football, and he gets it as well. So, when I see him in the meetings, when I see him on the field, regardless of what he’s doing, when I see him on the field he’s really engaged and you can see, just by him running routes versus air and some of the drill work we’re doing, that he can really help us.”

Shurmur on if there is a #3 receiver on the roster: “I don’t know. We’ll just have to find out as we go, but we’ve added some guys to the mix. You guys tell me who’s one, two, or three, or four or five and six or whatever. But Cody Latimer is here. We’ve got some young guys, Travis Rudolph has done a good job. So I think there are guys on our roster that we’re going to develop a trust in and put them out there and we expect them to produce.”

PREDICTIONS: Provided health and finances don’t become issues, the Giants appear to have an outstanding outside receiver and a quality slot receiver. But another outside starter and depth are very much concerns. The loss of Beckham or Sterling Shepard to injury would be significant. The other 10 receivers on the roster have flashed at times in the OTAs and mini-camps, but it’s a pretty hodgepodge group. The three ex-Broncos – Cody Latimer, Hunter Sharp, and Kalif Raymond – have the advantage that the team’s new position coach, Tyke Tolbert, coached them in Denver. My best guess at this time is that Latimer becomes the #3, but if he falters, it would not surprise me for the Giants to keep a close eye on the waiver wire. Don’t discount Roger Lewis if he can become a more consistent and reliable player. Also note that Hunter Sharp’s name has been consistently and positively mentioned throughout the spring.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Hunter Sharp, and Roger Lewis. Giants may carry six, but you could throw a dart at the roster trying to figure out who that may be. Again, don’t be shocked to see a waiver-wire pick-up here. This position is not as strong as some fans think it is.

May 312018
 
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Saquon Barkley and Eli Apple, New York Giants (May 29, 2018)

Saquon Barkley and Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS OTA PRACTICES #5 AND #6…
The Giants held their fifth and sixth voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practices on Wednesday and Thursday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

The practices were not open to the media, but Giants.com provided the following summaries of the action:

The four remaining OTA practices will be held on June 4-7. There will be media availability for the June 4th practice. A mandatory mini-camp will be held on June 12-14.

ARTICLES…