September 19, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Thursday were CB Corey Webster (hip), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), OG Brandon Mosley (back), OT David Diehl (thumb), and QB Ryan Nassib (foot). Webster, Mosley, and Nassib were new additions to the injury report. Robinson did not practice after practicing on Wednesday.
New York Giants Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of Thursday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:
September 11, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report – David Baas Returns to Practice, but Da’Rel Scott Injures Knee: Not practicing on Wednesday were CB Prince Amukamara (concussion), LB Dan Connor (neck), OT David Diehl (thumb), and TE Adrien Robinson (foot).
“(Amukamara) does feel pretty good, but he’s got to follow the protocol,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.
OC David Baas (knee) and DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) were limited in practice. This was Baas’ first action since injuring his MCL in the second preseason game.
Baas was asked if he might play this weekend. “That’s my plan,” Baas said. “Today was a big step forward and we’re just going to keep monitoring it day by day. Last week, it didn’t work out, I prepared myself like I was going to play. This week, I’m going to do the exact same thing…I feel like we definitely made some progress today.”
RB Da’Rel Scott left practice early with a knee injury. According to press reports, the MRI showed no structural damage, but Scott will be monitored for swelling in the knee.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday press conference are available at Giants.com.
Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Wednesday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:
Notes: On Tuesday, the Giants worked out linebackers Aaron Maybin (ex-Bengals), Tavares Gooden (ex-49ers), and Emmanuel Acho (ex-Eagles). As previously reported, the Giants signed Acho to the Practice Squad.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Henry Hynoski, and Damontre Moore Make Trip to Texas: FB Henry Hynoski (knee), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back), and DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) all traveled with the team on Saturday to Texas for the Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys. All three are officially listed as “questionable” for the game.
The only players to not make the trip – OC David Baas (knee), OT David Diehl (thumb), and TE Adrien Robinson (foot) – have already been ruled out of the game.
CB Prince Amukamara on ESPN Radio: The audio of Friday’s ESPN Radio interview with CB Prince Amukamara is available at ESPN.com.
New York Giants Must Reduce Roster to 53: By 6:00PM on Saturday, the Giants must make at least 22 roster moves in order to reduce their roster from 75 to 53.
August 30, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report: Various press sources are reporting that RB Andre Brown, who fractured his left leg in the preseason game against the Patriots, will miss 4-6 weeks. Head Coach Tom Coughlin was less definitive. “Not really (any timetable), said Coughlin. “Not until I hear some more information. There’s MRI’s and that type of stuff going on so, when we know, you’ll know.”
Coughlin was asked if Brown could be placed on Reserve/Designated-to-Return List (temporary Injured Reserve). “He could be. Yeah. Sure,” replied Coughlin. If Brown is placed on the Designated-to-Return List, he would be ineligible to return until for eight weeks. And the Giants could only put him on temporary IR after he is first on the 53-man roster, meaning another player would have to lose a roster spot first. Teams can only use the temporary IR option once per season.
TE Adrien Robinson sprained his left foot in the preseason game against the Patriots. “Supposedly a sprain,” said Coughlin. “At this point in time and, again, you could come back in five minutes and I could say it’s a different story. There’s no surgery or anything like that to talk about…It’s not exactly mid-foot (sprain), it’s off to the side a little bit. I think he tried to turn around at halftime and go last night, but he couldn’t really get up on his toes well enough to be able to do that. ”
LB Dan Connor suffered a burner in the preseason game against the Patriots, but is not expected to miss any time. “Just shoulder tightness, nothing terrible,’’ Connor said. “I could play today, I could have played a lot more (against the Patriots).’’
S Tyler Sash suffered a concussion in preseason game against the Patriots. No word yet on how much time he might miss.
WR Victor Cruz, who suffered a heel contusion in the preseason game against the Jets, says he hopes to be able to play in the season opener against the Cowboys but is unsure if the team will let him. “I hope so,” said Cruz. “We’re still going to gauge it throughout the weekend. I’m still going to be coming in for treatment or whatnot, so we’ll see how it goes. Still doctors that have to say it’s OK. The training staff is taking it slow, but I’d like to practice and get some live work in on Monday if possible.”
OC David Baas, who sprained the MCL in one of his knees in the preseason game against the Colts, says he is improving but Baas is not sure if he will be ready for the season-opener against the Cowboys. “It’s responded really well,” Baas said. “My doctors have said they are very happy with my progress. And, like I said, this is something that we’re just going to continue to work on and keep pushing it to its max and hope for the best. We’ll take it day-to-day.”
Surgery for S Stevie Brown, who tore the ACL in his left knee in the preseason game against the Jets, has not yet been scheduled. “It’s very disappointing,” said Brown. “You work all summer getting ready for the season and just a freak accident like that to happen definitely sucks.”
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Friday press conference are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.
Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Friday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:
Injury Update – Jason Pierre-Paul Activated Off of the PUP: Not practicing on Monday were WR Victor Cruz (heel), WR Louis Murphy (leg), OC David Baas (knee), OT David Diehl (thumb), CB Jayron Hosley (ankle), and DT Markus Kuhn (PUP – knee).
Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Cruz, who is no longer using crutches and the walking boot. “From my understanding, he is getting better but it’s certainly not tomorrow morning (that he will practice),” said Coughlin.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back) was activated off of the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list and he practiced on a limited basis (individual drills) on Monday.
“Get him going,” said Coughlin. “Get him out there. Get him running around. He’s just going to do individual for now, but it won’t be long.”
“I’ve been working hard for the past couple of months since I’ve gotten my surgery,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’m taking it day-by-day and that’s all I can do. I’m not trying to rush. A back is a serious thing, a back surgery is a serious thing and you can’t try to come back too early, you’ll mess it up even more.”
“I don’t have that pain that I had before I had the surgery,” said Pierre-Paul. “That pain is all gone. At times it can get sore but that’s a regular thing; it’s not uncommon, so I feel good about it.”
“I’m not playing in any preseason games and I don’t even know about Dallas,” said Pierre-Paul. “I’m just trying to get better and test (the back) out, see how it is, taking on double teams and all of that. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
S Antrel Rolle (ankle) and FB Henry Hynoski (knee) practiced on a limited basis. “(Rolle) managed fine,” said Coughlin. “He’s one of those guys that you’re not going to keep him down for long.”
DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), who has been out for two weeks, also practiced on a limited basis (individual drills). When Coughlin was asked if Moore was close to returning to team drills, Coughlin responded, “I hope so. My God…He came out and he was excited to be out here.”
CB Corey Webster (knee/groin), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring), and WR Ramses Barden (knee) returned to practice.
Giants May Be Re-Shuffling Offensive Line Again: At practice on Monday, the first-team offensive line had Will Beatty at left tackle, James Brewer at left guard, Kevin Boothe at center, Chris Snee at right guard, and Justin Pugh at right tackle. In a nutshell, Boothe was moved from left guard, Brewer was promoted to the starting line-up, and reserve OC Jim Cordle was sent to the bench.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Monday are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.
Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:
Stevie Brown and Jayron Hosley Injured in OT Loss to Jets: In an ugly game, the New York Giants fell to the New York Jets 24-21 in overtime on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Other than one big play by RB David Wilson, the Giants’ offense and QB Eli Manning struggled.
“What happened tonight was we fought like heck throughout the entire game on defense and on special teams,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We really didn’t have anything to help us on the offensive side of the ball…There was no consistency whatsoever. We’ve got work to do on the offensive side of the ball. Whatever is going on, we’ve got to solve it and we’ve got to solve it fast. We don’t have much time.”
Worse for the Giants is that S Stevie Brown (knee) and CB Jayron Hosley (ankle) left the games with injuries. The preliminary diagnosis on Brown is a sprained knee, but the injury looked pretty bad. Brown could not put any weight on his leg and Coughlin did not sound positive about Brown after the game. An MRI will reveal the true extent of the damage. Hosley will also undergo an MRI. TE Adrien Robinson also injured his right thumb but x-rays were negative. CB Prince Amukamara rolled one of his ankles but continued to play and said he was fine.
The game started off well for the Giants as the Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out. Then on the Giants’ first offensive play of the game, RB David Wilson broke off an 84-yard touchdown run.
But a mistake-prone Giants’ defense quickly allowed the Jets to tie the game as the Giants’ defense was flagged for four straight penalties for 33 yards and then left a receiver wide open for a 22-yard touchdown.
In their next five offensive possessions, the Giants only managed one first down. And the Giants’ first-team offense, which played the entire first half, only added one more field goal, despite three interceptions by the Jets. In the Giants’ last two possessions of the first half, the G-Men gained five first downs, but missed a 53-yard field goal and turned the ball over on downs.
The offensive line – missing David Baas at center and David Diehl at right tackle – struggled, as did QB Eli Manning (8-for-20 for 83 yards). Wilson gained 84 yards on his first carry and the Giants netted 97 yards the rest of the first half (76 passing and 21 rushing yards). Once again, the Giants also struggled in the red zone. Facing a 1st-and-goal from the Jets’ 4-yard line, the Giants came away with zero points.
The Giants’ first-team defense, after the Jets’ scoring drive, did perform fairly well against an anemic Jets’ offense and a rookie quarterback, picking him off three times and forcing four punts in the first half. Amukamara, Brown, and DE Justin Tuck all picked off passes. Unfortunately, Brown injured his knee untouched on his interception.
“I feel bad for Stevie Brown,” said Coughlin after the game. “He’s been a tremendous addition to our team. The guy has another interception and then has that happen. I don’t really understand how it happened. I couldn’t see it, but evidently he just got his foot planted the wrong way. I don’t think it was a contact injury.”
At the half, the Giants led 10-7.
In the second half, the Giants began to play their reserves as the Jets continued to play some of their starters even into the fourth quarter. Curtis Painter played the rest of the way for the Giants at quarterback, finishing 13-of-29 for 140 yards.
The Giants had eight possessions in the third and fourth quarters, and on six of those possessions they could not pick up a first down. The second-team offense did go 71 yards in 12 plays on their second possession of the second half, setting up a 33-yard field goal. Another field goal was set up by a Jets’ fumble. The Giants could not move the ball, but PK Josh Brown hit a 50-yard field goal. The last Giants’ points of the game came late in the fourth quarter as the Giants drove 64 yards in 10 plays to tie the game at 21-21 on Brown’s 40-yard field goal.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets’ first-team offense easily drove down the field on their first possession of the second half, going 57 yards in seven plays to take a 14-10 lead. On the Jets’ next four possessions, the Giants’ defense forced two turnovers on fumbles, caused a safety, and forced the Jets to punt. But after a poor punt by Steve Weatherford, the Jets drove 37 yards in four plays to take a 21-18 lead late in the fourth quarter.
In overtime, the Giants received the ball first but RB Da’Rel Scott fumbled the ball away on the first play. However, the Jets missed the 39-yard field goal. The Giants drove to the Jets’ 46-yard line on their second possession in overtime, but a 12-yard sack pushed the Giants back and stalled that drive. The Jets then drove 81 yards in six plays to et up the game-winning 32-yard field goal.
Post-Game Notes: The following injured Giants did not play in the game: FB Henry Hynoski (knee), WR Victor Cruz (heel), WR Louis Murphy (leg), WR Ramses Barden (knee), OC David Baas (knee), OT David Diehl (thumb), DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), CB Corey Webster (knee/groin), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP – back), and DT Markus Kuhn (PUP – knee).
Active but not playing were QB David Carr, QB Ryan Nassib, WR Terrell Sinkfield, WR Kevin Hardy, TE Chase Clement, OT Austin Holtz, and S Cooper Taylor.
August 14, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: The Giants held their 14th training camp practice on Wednesday afternoon at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The next practice is on Friday from 1:30-3:45PM. For a complete training camp schedule and Giants.com Q&A guide, see the Training Camp section of the website.
Injury Update: Not practicing on Wednesday were RB Da’Rel Scott (shoulder), WR Jerrel Jernigan (soreness), WR Brandon Collins (hamstring), OT Chris DeGeare (ankle), DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring), FB Henry Hynoski (PUP – knee), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP – back), and DT Markus Kuhn (PUP – knee).
Two days after spraining his ankle, Rolle was out of his walking boot on Wednesday. “The boot is for whimps, man,” said Rolle. “I’m not a whimp. Nah, I mean I’m just taking it as it goes. The first day was obviously the worst and I’ve been grinding til about three in the morning, since it’s happened. Just trying to get better. The training staff here, the medical staff, have been doing an exceptional job of just keeping me up to date, keeping the mobility. Strengthening up, ice and stim. Everything they can do, to try to get me to a speedy recovery.”
“When it initially happened, definitely the worst (pain),” said Rolle. “I didn’t think anything could feel worse than me running into the camera against Carolina, but I think this definitely topped it. Once it happened, my foot was just trembling, shaking, I really didn’t know what to expect. Like I said, I heard a couple of popping sounds and it kind of scared me. I know myself and once I got the clearance of it, the x-rays were negative, it’s a low ankle sprain, then I know I can push myself.”
“I’ve never been the kind of guy that is going to milk an injury,” said Rolle. “If I can go, I’m going to go. If I can’t go, if I’m going to hurt myself, or I’m not going to give the team the best performance I can give them, I’m not going to go. Right now, like I said, it feels a million times better than it did initially.”
Hynoski says he his rehabilitation is still on schedule. “I’m still hopeful (for opening day),” Hynoski said. “I feel good, but ultimately that decision is not made by me. I’m still working to do everything in my power to make that happen.”
“It’s been going great,” said Hynoski. “I’ve been out here running and started to do some drills and agility work and that stuff so we’re picking up the progress every day, and I’m just excited for the next step and am just looking forward to what tomorrow brings. I feel good. Haven’t had any setbacks…I’m working my butt off in trying to rehab and trying to maintain the best condition as I can so when I get back I don’t have to play catch up as far as that’s concerned.”
OL James Brewer (concussion) and CB Corey Webster (soreness) returned to practice, but Brewer was limited to individual drills.
Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of Wednesday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:
August 13, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: The Giants held their 13th training camp practice on Tuesday afternoon at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The next practice is on Wednesday from 1:30-3:45PM. For a complete training camp schedule and Giants.com Q&A guide, see the Training Camp section of the website.
Injury Update – Low Ankle Sprain for Rolle: Not practicing on Tuesday were RB Da’Rel Scott (shoulder), WR Jerrel Jernigan (soreness), WR Brandon Collins (hamstring), OL James Brewer (concussion), OT Chris DeGeare (ankle), DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), CB Corey Webster (soreness), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring), FB Henry Hynoski (PUP – knee), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP – back), and DT Markus Kuhn (PUP – knee).
The good news on Rolle, who is wearing a walking boot, is that his ankle injury is not a high ankle sprain. However, the injury appears to be a significant sprain with no immediate timetable for his return.
“It’s a pretty good sprain,” said Rolle. “I always said that if I can’t get up and I can’t walk off on my own, then it’s pretty bad. For right now, just from yesterday (to) today, it feels 10 times better.”
“(I want to be back) as soon as possible,” said Rolle. “There’s no timeframe at the moment but as soon as possible. I’m a hard worker, on the field and off the field. I’m not a fan of injuries, I really hate to even speak about this, but it happens in this game. I’m just going to do the best I can, try to get out there before the preseason’s over with and take it one day at a time.”
When asked if he might miss the regular-season opener, Rolle responded, “Oh no. No, I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure. That’s not even a possibility.”
“It’s not a high ankle sprain, that’s for sure,” said Rolle. “I had a high ankle sprain before and there are no similarities at all. Thank God.”
Roster Moves: FB Ryan D’Imperio has decided to retire and the Giants have placed him on the Reserve/Retired List. To fill his roster spot, the Giants signed FB Ben Guidugli.
Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of Tuesday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:
New York Giants Return to Practice on Thursday: The Giants did not practice on Wednesday. The next practice is on Thursday from 1:30-3:45PM. For a complete training camp schedule and Giants.com Q&A guide, see the Training Camp section of the website.
Aside from the 6-game run to finish the 2011 season, and a game here or there, the New York Giants’ defense has been brutally bad the last two seasons. The statistics don’t lie. In 2012, the Giants finished 31st in total defense. The defense allowed 6,134 yards, or 383.4 yards a game, both the highest figures in franchise history. The defense also gave up 6,022 yards in the 2011. These are the only two seasons in which the Giants allowed 6,000 yards in their history.
In 2012, the New York Giants allowed 60 passes of 20 or more yards (the NFL’s fourth-highest total), 29 passes of at least 30 yards (led the NFL), and 13 passes of 40 or more yards (second in the league).
The Giants have invested a lot of resources in terms of draft picks, free agent acquisitions, and salary cap space in the secondary. But the returns have not been good. The Giants were 29th in pass defense in 2011 and 28th in pass defense in 2012. Now to be fair, good pass defense encompasses all three levels of the defense: pass rush, linebacker coverage, and defensive back coverage. But there is no denying the New York Giants secondary has not performed up to expectations. Over-hyped and inconsistent players, questionable coaching, injuries, or a combination may be to blame, but quarterbacks on other teams have looked forward to throwing against this secondary.
Do the Giants have the players to improve their pass coverage? Can the coaching staff put these players in best position to succeed? The defense first needs to stop the run to get opposing offenses into more predictable passing situations. But to be blunt, the secondary has not done a good job of covering people. It’s scary to think just how much worse the pass defense would have been had it not been for New York’s 21 interceptions last season (more than a third of them from bargain-basement surprise safety Stevie Brown).
There are currently eight safeties on the Giants’ training camp roster. At most, the Giants will keep five on the 53-man roster. Former 1st-rounder Kenny Phillips signed a relatively cheap deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. While it’s clear the Giants were worried about the long-term health viability of his reconstructed knee, his departure is also a cause for concern. The Giants need to find an adequate replacement.
Antrel Rolle: Rolle was originally drafted as a cornerback in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. After three inconsistent seasons at corner, the Cardinals moved him to free safety in 2008, where he excelled. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move.
Rolle has never missed a game with the Giants. For the second season in a row, he finished with 96 tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He also had five pass defenses in 2012 (four in 2011). One of the better coverage safeties in the game, Rolle has good speed and range. Due to his experience as a cornerback, unlike most safeties, Rolle can play man coverage and has often been called upon to play the slot corner position. That said, Rolle hasn’t made a lot of plays on the football with the Giants (a total of five interceptions and 13 pass defenses in three seasons). Somewhat of a mouthy malcontent when he came to New York, Rolle has become one of the leaders of the defense.
“What’s helping ’Trel now is understanding the Giants’ way, the Giants’ system,’’ said DE Justin Tuck. “He wasn’t accustomed to that when he came in. He was more accustomed to (University of) Miami, things of that nature. Now I think he’s a lot smarter with some of the things he says in the media and some of the things he says in the locker room, and I think he’s gonna be a huge part of our leadership and success of the football team.’’
Rolle’s biggest problem? By far, he’s the highest paid defensive player on the team with $7 million in salary (and a $9.25 million overall cap hit) in both 2013 and 2014. In the latter year, only Eli Manning is currently scheduled to take up more cap space.
The Giants are hoping that they can play Rolle more at free safety this year. Injuries to other players have forced him to play both strong safety and nickel back.
“I truly believe that Antrel needs to get back to playing with great depth and vision off the quarterback,” said Safeties Coach David Merritt. “Because he’s not going to be down in that nickel role. I say that right now, but you know how that’s gone the past two years when he’s been forced down there with injuries. Hopefully Antrel can do what we paid him to come here to do, which is to play safety and be a playmaker back there for us.”
“We always shoot for (me concentrating on safety) each and every year,” said Rolle. “We always shoot for me to play the safety role and stay at the safety role but it’s never happened, unfortunately. At one point in time I would get frustrated…It’s a part of growing up, a part of being professional and most important a part of just being a team player and doing whatever you have to do in order for this team to be successful.’’
“With him wearing 15 different hats on the field and he’s able to make plays from all 15 spots, just imagine what he can do if he’s able to concentrate on one,” said Stevie Brown. “There’s no limit to what he can do.”
Perry Fewell is obviously counting on Rolle to be the leaders of the secondary. “He’s got to be the glue that keeps us together,” said Fewell.
“At safety I have to be a little more disciplined playing the position being that I’m the last guy in the line of defense so I just transfer my mind to understand my role and understand where my help is going to be and where I need to be the protector and where you can take those little slight chances and gambles,” said Rolle.
“My defensive mantra is just to be more consistent,” said Rolle. “To be more consistent and have more dog in us on a daily basis, on an every down basis. There were times out there, I felt, that as a defensive unit we went out there and we played exceptional, we played like the Super Bowl caliber team that we were. Then there were times we went out there and played like the 9-7 team that we were. As a defensive unit you can’t have the ups and downs because we all know that defense wins the game. We all know that. With the quarterback that we have, with the offense we have, they are always going to put points on the board. We expect that. So we just have to make sure we limit (the other team’s scoring).”
Stevie Brown: Brown came out of nowhere and had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. Brown played in all 16 games, started 11, and finished with 76 tackles, 11 pass defenses, eight interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him the following year and he signed with the Colts. The Colts declined to tender him in 2012 and he then signed with the Giants.
Brown has excellent size and strength for a safety. He’s got pretty good speed for his size, but he lacks overall quickness and agility that you see in smaller safeties. In 2012, the ball just seemed to find its way into Brown’s hands. Sometimes it was a lucky bounce or bad throw, but to his credit, Brown also made aggressive plays on the football. The million dollar question is was 2012 a fluke? Right now, Brown is penciled in as the starting strong safety.
“I look at it as my spot,” said Brown. “It’s my spot to keep.”
Brown needs to become more consistent and avoid mental breakdowns that lead to big plays by the opposing team. As a big, physical safety, he should also be a bigger factor in run defense than he was in 2012.
“Stevie and I have been hanging out a lot more just outside of football, talking and communicating, whether it’s going to watch a basketball game or a movie,” said Rolle. “I’m just trying to get a feel for what kind of guy he is and he’s trying to get a feel for what kind of guy I am because at the end of the day, we’re going to be married back there, free safety and strong safety. We have to make this marriage last.”
“His study and his ability to take coaching, he was a sponge last year,” said Merritt of Brown. “His film study and understanding that the post safety plays at a certain depth and the post safety has to be able play between a certain parts of the field. I am very impressed with Stevie and I truly believe that he can continue making those types of plays for us.”
Ryan Mundy: Mundy was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March 2013. Mundy was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Steelers. After spending his rookie season on Pittsburgh’s Practice Squad, Mundy hasn’t missed a game in the last four seasons, and has started five times.
Mundy was an under-the-radar signing by the Giants. The word on him coming out of Pittsburgh is that he a very physical safety who hits hard and plays well on special teams, but who also struggled at times against the pass.
That said, David Merritt has talked about Mundy with great enthusiasm. Merritt says that Mundy is the leading candidate for the third safety position that Deon Grant played so well for the Giants in 2010-11. “Ryan Mundy, that’s a guy who I’m impressed with,” said Merritt. “With his ability and his smarts, he would be the third (safety).”
Merritt also likes Mundy’s leadership. “If the season at all starts to dip and players start to slack, I’m gonna lean on him,” said Merritt of Mundy.
“I think I’m a physical player,” said Mundy. “I like to get in the box and mix it up with the bigger guys, knock around a running back, the tight ends, fullbacks.”
Mundy says being with the Steelers has prepared him well. “I know how to work, I know how to practice, I know how to focus in meetings,” said Mundy.
“Mundy’s definitely a professional, definitely a student of the game also. He wants to learn,” said Rolle. “He’s another guy who asks a lot of questions because he’s not so familiar with this defense…I think he plays the safety position extremely well…I’m happy to have him here.”
Will Hill: Hill was a top-ranked athlete coming out of high school in New Jersey, but off-the-field issues at the University of Florida caused him to go undrafted and unsigned as a junior entry in 2011. The Giants invited him to the May 2012 rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and signed him after that camp ended. Hill not only made the 53-man roster last season, but he became an important reserve, despite being suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. Hill played in 12 games and finished 2012 with 38 tackles, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble.
Hill has average size for the position, but he is a very good athlete with fine speed and quickness. He is a physical player and tackles well. He also is a very good special teams player. Physically, Hill looks and plays like an NFL starter. The questions with him are mental. Can he stay focused on football? Can he keep his nose clean? That is looking more unlikely as it was announced on July 20 that Hill has been suspended by the NFL for four regular-season games again, this time for apparently using illegal drugs. Hill’s future with the Giants and the NFL is now very much in doubt.
“Will is an excellent talent,” said Merritt. “He’s athletic. He’s fast. He will strike you. Will brings a lot to the table. Hopefully he steps up. He is able to produce and we can put him in special roles that will help us out.”
Cooper Taylor: Taylor was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Taylor is a huge safety with very good timed-speed, agility, and overall athleticism for his size.
“He has played strong and free safety, and we are playing him as the WILL (weakside) linebacker in sub defense,” said Merritt. “Runs a 4.4. He is just a big man and very smart. Right now (his head) is spinning because he is playing multiple positions.”
“I think what he’s going to bring to it is a lot of special teams play hopefully, a lot of production for us on special teams,” said Merritt. “If he has to go in the game right now, he would be the fourth safety because Ryan Mundy is doing pretty well. But this kid is going to be good for us. I think he’s at that point right now where he’s overloaded because he’s trying to play safety and linebacker which is a lot, so it’s a little overwhelming for him but he has the metal capacity to where he can actually learn it and produce.”
Taylor says there are key differences when playing the weakside linebacker in the sub-defense and safety roles. “There’s definitely some differences in terms of the drops,” said Taylor. “Playing from top–down rather than bottom-up in terms of the safeties trying to read the quarterback; and coming from the topside where the WILL is doing something a little different reading route combinations and getting underneath routes. So it’s definitely two different learning processes. But it’s good. The coaches teach us to do stuff well, so it’s been a good learning curve so far.”
“More than anything, he’s shown that he’s a guy who’s eager to learn,” said Rolle. “He wants to learn. He’s a guy who’s very intrigued by this defense. He wants to understand this defense without making mistakes. And everyone is going to make a mistake. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a 15-year veteran. You’re going to make mistakes in this league. He is a guy who’s athletic and big. He moves around extremely well. So we’re definitely going to look for him to come in on certain kind of packages and just be a playmaker for us wherever they put him.”
“To be able to get a young man like that who also has the mental capacity and is very smart, that’s the type of guy we had a couple of years ago in Craig Dahl,” said Merritt. “(Dahl) was able to line up the defense, which is what Cooper Taylor is doing already. He can line up the defense. He understands rotations. It is James Butler all over again as well, yet he is a better athlete than those guys were.”
Tyler Sash: Sash saw his playing time significantly decrease in 2012. First, he was suspended for four games by the NFL for using Adderall. In early December, he suffered a hamstring and despite being able to return to practice, Sash did not play in the last four games of the season. Sash played in just seven games and finished with only eight tackles.
Sash was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, he played in every game and finished the regular season with 17 tackles and one forced fumble on defense. He also was one of team’s better special teams players. Sash is more of a strong safety-type who plays better closer to the line. He has good size, but lacks ideal speed and agility.
David Caldwell: The Giants signed Caldwell to a Reserve/Future deal in January 2013. Caldwell was originally signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. In 2011, he played in 16 games with 13 starts and accrued 67 tackles and four pass defenses. The Colts waived him in August 2012.
Caldwell lacks ideal height but he is well-built and a good athlete. He’s a smart player and a reliable tackler. Caldwell did not make many plays on the football when starting for the Colts.
Alonzo Tweedy: Tweedy was signed by the Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. Tweedy was a part-time starter in a linebacker/safety role at Virginia Tech. He has a nice size/speed combination, but was primarily known more for his excellent special teams play in college.
Summary: Until Will Hill’s suspension, the early favorites to make the 53-man roster were Rolle, Brown, Mundy, Hill, and Taylor. Rolle will obviously start at one safety spot, but one wonders if he will become a cap casualty in 2014. It’s hard to see Brown duplicating his turnover production again, but it may be more important for him to simply become a more consistent, reliable player on a down-to-down basis against the pass and the run. Mundy seemed like a ho-hum signing in March, but Merritt has been raving about him. Still, Steelers fans were underwhelmed. Hill and Taylor both have excellent physical tools. Taylor is extremely smart, but Hill’s second drug suspension raises serious questions about his future with the team. Hill’s troubles may have opened the door for Sash, Caldwell, or Tweedy, three players who are going to have to fight and scratch to make the team.