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…

May 222018
 
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Russell Shepard, Carolina Panthers (September 10, 2017)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN RUSSELL SHEPARD, CUT TIM SCOTT…
The New York Giants have officially signed free agent wide receiver Russell Shepard, who was cut by the Carolina Panthers last week. The NFL Network is reporting that the contract is a 1-year, $1.3 million deal that could be worth as much as $2 million with incentives.

The 27-year old, 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 played in 72 regular-season games with nine starts (including three in 2017). Shepard has 47 career receptions for 634 yards and four touchdowns. He is a good gunner on special teams.

To make room for Shepard, the Giants waived cornerback Tim Scott, who was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Cowboys (2015), Cleveland Browns (2015), and Washington Redskins (2017). The Giants signed Scott in August 2017. He started the season on the team’s Practice Squad, was added to the 53-man roster for one game in November, cut, and then re-signed to the Practice Squad in December.

OTA PRACTICE #2 COMPLETE…
The Giants held their second voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Tuesday. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.

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

The eight remaining OTA practices will be held on May 24, May 29-31, and June 4-7. There will be media availability for the May 29 and June 4 practices. A mandatory mini-camp will be held on June 12-14.

ARTICLES…