Jan 252021
 
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Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

The potential trajectory of New York Giants’ 2020 season changed on September 20th. On that day, the team lost its best player, and arguably one of the top 10 players in the NFL, for the season. Many fans still don’t fully understand what a massive loss that was for the team. Saquon Barkley changes the way other teams defend an entire offense. He was the only player on the Giants who was a threat to score every time he touched the football as a runner or receiver.

Unfortunately, there is a growing group of fans who argue that Barkley was not worthy of the #2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft based on talent alone. This is revisionist thinking. Very few were saying that after his historic rookie season where he gained over 2,000 yards on an offensive team otherwise devoid of talent, especially on the offensive line. Before we proceed further, please watch his rookie highlights. Now one can argue that a rebuilding club should not take a running back with the #2 pick, that the Giants should have traded down for more picks, or selected a position with a longer shelf life, but there is no disputing Barkley’s talent. Once he was removed from the 2020 New York Giants line-up, the entire complexion of the team’s offense changed for the worse.

The franchise seemed somewhat unprepared for the potential loss of Barkley. They did not seem enamored with the other options on the roster and immediately signed Devonta Freeman off of the street. In Week 3, Freeman, Wayne Gallman, and Dion Lewis embarrassingly carried the ball 10 times for 17 yards. The coaching staff instantly favored Freeman over Gallman. Freeman carried the ball 11 times for 33 yards in Week 4, 17 times for 60 yards in Week 5, and 18 times for 61 yards in Week 6. Then Freeman hurt his ankle early in Week 7 and was also effectively lost for the season. The Giants signed Alfred Morris off of the scrapheap and were forced to turn to Gallman, who started each of the final nine games.

Gallman’s story is a curious one. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, Gallman fell out of favor with Pat Shurmur and then early on with Joe Judge. But when Judge finally turned to Gallman, the 4th-year pro responded by rushing 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. This despite only carrying the ball more than 12 times in a game just four times and more than 18 times just once. Indeed, it seemed as if Gallman was being underutilized for much of the second half of the season.

After Gallman’s 147 carries, quarterback Daniel Jones was the second leading rusher on the team, both in terms of carries (65) and yardage (423). The over-the-hill Alfred Morris become Gallman’s primary backup, averaging six carries per game in the final nine games. He finished with 55 carries for 238 yards and one touchdown, surprisingly averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Dion Lewis served as the 3rd-down back, carrying the ball just 29 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Fullback Eli Penny only played in seven percent of all offensive snaps, touching the ball just eight times.

Overall, the Giants finished 19th in rushing, averaging 110.5 yards per game. The ground game was abysmal to start the season and improved markedly as the year progressed until December. No Giant had more than 28 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 49 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. When the Giants ran for over 100 yards in a game, their record was 6-3. When the Giants ran for less than 100 yards, their record was 0-7, including the 0-3 stretch in December. Long story short, when the offensive line played well, the Giants were able to run the football and won football games. When the offensive line faltered, the Giants lost. Team running backs only scored nine rushing touchdowns.

One thing to keep in mind as we move forward: since Gallman, Morris, and Lewis are all now free agents, it is quite possible that none of New York’s top three running back ground gainers in 2020 will be on the roster in a few months.

THE DEVASTATING LOSS

The Giants placed Saquon Barkley on Injured Reserve in late September 2020 after he tore the ACL, partially tore the meniscus, and sprained the MCL in his right knee in Week 2. He finished the season with 19 carries for 34 yards (1.8 yards per carry) and six catches for 60 yards. The Giants drafted Barkley with the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He became only the third rookie in NFL history to accrue 2,000 yards from scrimmage and breaking a number of franchise records. He also was voted to the Pro Bowl and named “Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”, “FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year”, “Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year”, and “Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.” Barkley started all 16 games, rushing 261 times for 1,307 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Barkley also led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. The latter figure is the highest single-season total by a Giants player since the 1970 merger. All of this despite playing behind a subpar offensive line.

After that stellar rookie season, Barkley endured a forgettable sophomore season as a pro. The high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 3 nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Barkley is a complete three-down back who can make an impact running and catching the football. If healthy, he has an outstanding combination of size, quickness, and speed. A home-run threat every time he touches the football, Barkley has great vision, instincts, and balance. He makes defenders miss and can accelerate to full speed in a heartbeat. Barkley is big enough to run through and athletic enough to leap over tackle attempts. Barkley is a very good pass receiver who can hurt a defense down the field in the passing game. He has only fumbled the ball once in his career. His biggest negative is that he will sometimes try to do too much and dance around instead of taking what the defense gives him. Excellent intangibles. Team leader with a good work ethic. It remains to be seen if he can regain his old form after his serious 2020 knee injuries. And after two injury-plagued seasons in a row, Barkley needs to prove he can stay healthy.

THE STAND-INS

The Giants placed Devonta Freeman on Injured Reserve in November 2020 with ankle and hamstring injuries. He was also placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List in December. The 5’8”, 206-pound Freeman was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In six years with the Falcons, Freeman played in 77 regular-season games with 59 starts, rushing 951 times for 3,972 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 32 touchdowns. He also caught 257 passes for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns. Freeman missed most of the 2018 season with knee and groin injuries. His productivity fell to 656 yards on 184 carries (3.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons cut Freeman in March 2020 and the Giants signed him in late September 2020. Freeman played in five games with the Giants, starting four, and finished 2020 with 54 carries for 172 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 58 yards.

In his fourth NFL season, Wayne Gallman had his best campaign despite starting the season as an afterthought. It was only after injuries to Saquon Barkley and the newly-signed Devonta Freeman that the coaching staff turned to Gallman. He ended up playing in 15 games with 10 starts, carrying the ball 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per rush) and six touchdowns. Gallman also caught 21 passes for 114 yards. Gallman was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, Gallman played in 13 games with one start and carried the football 111 times for 476 yards (4.3 yards per carry). But Gallman saw his playing time drop significant during Pat Shurmur’s reign, carrying the ball only 80 times for 286 yards in 2018-2019. Gallman is a well-rounded cutback runner with decent vision, elusiveness, strength for his size, and speed. He has good hands as a receiver, but he will fumble (seven career fumbles).

The Giants signed Alfred Morris to the Practice Squad in late September 2020 and the 53-man roster in November 2020. Morris ended up playing in nine games for the Giants with no starts, carrying the ball 55 times for 238 yards (4.3 yards per rush). The 5’10”, 222-pound Morris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He has spent time with the Redskins (2012-2015), Dallas Cowboys (2016-2017, 2019), San Francisco 49ers (2018), and Arizona Cardinals (2019). Morris has played in 114 regular-season games with 70 starts. Morris was second-team All-Pro in 2012 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. Nearing the end of his career, Morris has good size and power, but what movement skills he once had have clearly faded. He is not used much in the passing game.

Dion Lewis played in all 16 games for the Giants in 2020 with no starts. He finished the year with 29 carries for 115 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for for 127 yards and one touchdown. Lewis served as the team’s primary kickoff returner, averaging 22.4 yards per return and fumbling twice. The 5’8”, 195-pound Lewis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Lewis has spent time with the Eagles (2011-2012), Cleveland Browns (2013), Indianapolis Colts (2014), New England Patriots (2015-2017), and Tennessee Titans (2018-2019). The Giants signed Lewis in March 2020 after he was cut by the Titans. Strictly a smaller, 3rd-down-type back, Lewis has good quickness but lacks the overall dynamism for the role he plays. He also had an issue with fumbling in 2020.

THE LONELY FULLBACK

Eli Penny was placed on Injured Reserve in early January 2021 due to an undisclosed illness. The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts. Though Penny lacks classic fullback size, he is a well-rounded player who can block, run, and catch the football.

PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed Taquan Mizzell to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 5’10”, 185-pound Mizzell originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2017), Chicago Bears (2017-2018), and New Orleans Saints (2019-2020). Mizzell has played in 12 regular-season games, serving as a running back, wide receiver, and kick returner.

Sandro Platzgummer was allocated to the Giants in April 2020 as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which also allowed him to remain on the team’s Practice Squad in 2020 without counting towards the Practice Squad limit. Platzgummer played for the Swarco Raiders Tirol of the Austrian Football League.

The Giants signed Rod Smith to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and cut him three weeks later. The 6’3”, 236-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Seahawks (2015), Dallas Cowboys (2015-2018), Giants (2019), Tennessee Titans (2019), and Oakland Raiders (2019).

Sep 062020
 
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Adrian Colbert, Miami Dolphins (December 1, 2019)

Adrian Colbert – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS CLAIM THREE PLAYERS OFF OF WAIVERS…
The New York Giants have claimed the following players off of waivers:

  • WR Damion Ratley (from Cleveland Browns)
  • OT Jackson Barton (from Kansas City Chiefs)
  • S/CB Adrian Colbert (from Kansas City Chiefs)

The 25-year old, 6’2”, 200-pound Ratley was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Browns. In 2018-2019, Ratley played in 26 regular-season games with six starts, accruing 25 catches for 344 yards and one touchdown.

The 25-year old, 6’7”, 302-pound Barton was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs signed him off of the Colts’ Practice Squad in 2019. Barton has not played in an NFL game.

The 26-year old, 6’2”, 205-pound Colbert was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Colbert has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Chiefs (2020). He has played in 27 regular-season games with 17 starts, accruing 74 tackles and eight pass defenses. Colbert has also played cornerback and is a good gunner on special teams.

To make room for these three players, the Giants released wide receiver Corey Coleman and offensive lineman Chad Slade, and waived safety Sean Chandler.

The Giants signed Coleman to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2018. He missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL knee injury. The team signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. The Giants originally signed Chandler as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft.

GIANTS PLACE XAVIER McKINNEY AND DAVID MAYO ON INJURED RESERVE…
As expected, the New York Giants have placed safety Xavier McKinney (fractured left foot) and inside linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus in his left knee) on Injured Reserve. Both players recently underwent surgery. Both are also eligible to return to the 53-man roster this year once healthy.

To fill their roster spots, the Giants re-signed tight end Eric Tomlinson and cornerback Brandon Williams. Both were with the Giants in training camp this summer and both were cut by the team on Saturday. The Giants signed Tomlinson as an unrestricted free agent from the Las Vegas Raiders in March 2020. The team signed  Williams in late August 2020.

GIANTS SIGN 14 PLAYERS TO THE PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have signed the following players to the team’s Practice Squad:

  • QB Cooper Rush
  • RB Sandro Platzgummer
  • WR Johnny Holton
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • WR Derrick Dillon
  • WR Austin Mack
  • WR Binjimen Victor
  • OL Tyler Haycraft
  • OL Kyle Murphy
  • DL Niko Lalos
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • S/CB Chris Williamson
  • P/PK Ryan Santoso
  • LS Carson Tinker

All of the players except for Santoso were with the team in training camp.

The 25-year old, 6’5”, 258-pound Santoso was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Tennessee Titans (2019), and Montreal Alouettes (2019 and 2020). He has not punted or kicked in NFL games other than being used as a kickoff specialist with Titans in 2019.

The Giants receive an exemption for Platzgummer because they were one of four teams chosen to carry an additional overseas player on their Practice Squad in 2020 as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. However, Platzgummer is ineligible to join the active roster this season.

The Giants have three open slots remaining on their Practice Squad. Although not officially signed, according to media reports, the Giants also intend to sign cornerback Ryan Lewis to the Practice Squad.

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

NOTES…
Linebacker Ryan Connelly, who the Giants cut on Saturday, was claimed off of waivers by the Minnesota Vikings. In addition, defensive lineman Chris Slayton was signed to the Buffalo Bills’ Practice Squad while offensive lineman Eric Smith was signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ Practice Squad.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Sunday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on Giants.com.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Monday.

 

Sep 052020
 
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Ryan Connelly, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Ryan Connelly – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS REDUCE ROSTER TO 53 PLAYERS…
On Saturday, in order to meet the NFL’s 53-man roster limit, the New York Giants made the following 29 roster moves:

Waived or contracts terminated:

  • QB Cooper Rush
  • QB Alex Tanney
  • RB Tavien Feaster
  • RB Sandro Platzgummer
  • WR Johnny Holton
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • WR Derrick Dillon
  • WR Austin Mack
  • WR Binjimen Victor
  • TE Eric Tomlinson
  • TE Garrett Dickerson
  • OL Jon Halapio
  • OL Eric Smith
  • OL Tyler Haycraft
  • OL Kyle Murphy
  • DL Chris Slayton (2019 7th-round pick)
  • DL Daylon Mack
  • DL Niko Lalos
  • LB Ryan Connelly (2019 5th-round pick)
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa
  • CB Grant Haley
  • CB Brandon Williams
  • CB Dravon Askew-Henry
  • CB KeiVarae Russell
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • CB Prince Smith
  • CB/S Chris Williamson (2020 7th-round pick)
  • S Montre Hartage (waived/injured with hamstring injury)
  • LS Carson Tinker

On Friday, the Giants also placed WR David Sills (fractured right foot) on Injured Reserve. Players placed on Injured Reserve before the cut-down date are done for the season.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants will establish their 16-man Practice Squad on Sunday. The players are off on Sunday and return to practice on Monday.

Jul 282020
 
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Shakial Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (October 20, 2019)

Shakial Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports

ALL OF NEW YORK GIANTS 2020 NFL DRAFT CLASS SIGNED…
The New York Giants announced late yesterday that all 10 of their 2020 NFL Draft picks have officially signed. This includes offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), safety Xavier McKinney (2nd round), offensive tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), cornerback Darnay Holmes (4th round), offensive guard Shane Lemieux (5th round), linebacker Cam Brown (6th round), linebacker Carter Coughlin (7th round), linebacker T.J. Brunson (7th round), defensive back Chris Williamson (7th round), and linebacker Tae Crowder (7th round).

ROSTER MOVES – GIANTS CLAIM CORNERBACK SHAKIAL TAYLOR…
The New York Giants have claimed defensive back Shakial Taylor off of waivers from the Denver Broncos. The 23-year old, 6’0”, 181-pound Taylor was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2019 NFL Draft. He was then claimed off of waivers by the Broncos in November 2019. Taylor played in five games and accrued seven tackles and one pass defense as a rookie.

The Giants have also waived undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Malcolm Elmore, who failed his physical due to a non-football injury.

Wide receiver David Sills was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, which means he either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did. While he remains on the list, Sill does not count against the team’s 90-man roster limit. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by the Bills. The Giants then signed him to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He did not play in a game however.

Quarterback Alex Tanney was placed on the Non-Football Illness List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. The 6’4”, 220-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). He surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game.

Linebacker Tae Crowder was placed on the Non-Football Injury List with an undisclosed issue. He counts against the 90-man roster limit. The Giants selected Crowder in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

In other moves, the team officially announced that they have waived place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The signing of international player running back Sandro Platzgummer also became official.

GIANTS DECIDE TO GO SPLIT-SQUAD ROUTE…
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, NFL teams had to decide whether they wanted to reduce their training camp rosters on July 28 or August 16. The Giants have chosen the latter. But in doing so, the team must be split into (1) veteran and (2) rookies/first-year players/rehabbing players/select quarterbacks contingents until August 16. Teams will be allowed to begin practicing on August 17.

NEW YORK GIANTS VETERANS REPORTS TO CAMP…
As scheduled, the bulk of New York Giants players reported to training camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Tuesday. Quarterbacks, rookies, and rehabbing players reported on July 23.

Actual practices are not expected to be held until mid-August due to COVID-19 restrictions. All preseason games have been canceled. The Giants’ regular-season Monday night home opener is currently scheduled for September 14th. For the players who arrived on Tuesday, the current schedule looks like this:

  • July 28: Report and receive first test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 29: Report and receive second test; return home/hotel and participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 30: Stay at home/hotel and only participate in virtual meetings.
  • July 31: Report and receive third test; participate in virtual meetings.
  • August 1-2: Players who test negative receive physicals and equipment fitting.
  • August 3-16: Strength and conditioning and on-field walk-throughs.
  • August 17: Helmet and shells practices begin, slowing being ramped up to full-padded work (14 padded practices maximum).

According to media reports, the Giants will conduct most training camp functions at MetLife Stadium in order to be better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The home and away locker rooms at the stadium will allow for greater social distancing. The Giants will also have access to suites inside the stadium in order to hold team meetings. However, the Giants will still practice at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Practices will not be open to the public.

May 142020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 29, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Coming off an incredible debut season in 2018, where he earned “Offensive Rookie of the Year” honors and led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, much was expected of Saquon Barkley in 2019. However, his second pro season quickly became forgettable after he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. The injury caused him to miss three games and nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns behind an offensive line that did not block very well. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

The game that best epitomized Barkley’s frustrating season was the Week 14 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants led 17-3 at halftime, yet the team’s offensive brain trust only called for seven runs by Barkley in the second half. Three weeks later, the Giants faced the Eagles again, this time in the Meadowlands. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter tied the game at 17-17. Yet the Eagles went on to win comfortably as Barkley only touched the ball twice before the score became 34-17 in the 4th quarter. One was left with the sense that the coaching staff simply did not use Barkley to full effect.

Unbelievably, and especially when you consider the fact that Barkley missed three games and played hurt in the final 10 games, no other running back on the roster gained more than Wayne Gallman’s 110 yards. To put this in perspective, Daniel Jones rushed for 279 yards. Gallman’s stock plummeted, falling from Barkley’s primary back-up to being a healthy scratch from the game-day roster in the last five contests of the season. Gallman carried the ball only 29 times all year. Jon Hilliman only carried the ball 30 times for 91 yards. Eli Penny 15 times for 39 yards. Javorius Allen 10 times for 36 yards. In other words, all of the other backs combined only gained 276 yards, or three less than Daniel Jones (who only played 12 games).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The team decided not to re-sign unrestricted free agent Javorius Allen, but did re-sign fullback Eli Penny to a 2-year contract. Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jon Hilliman, and practice squad fullback George Aston also return.

Newcomers include Dion Lewis (signed by Giants after he was cut by Tennessee Titans), Javon Leake (undrafted rookie free agent), and Sandro Platzgummer (Austrian from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Saquon Barkley is a generational talent. His presence on the roster had to be an immense appeal to coaches like Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Burton Burns, the latter coming back to coaching at the age of 67. But as we saw with Odell Beckham, talent guarantees nothing. And it is up to Judge, Garrett, and Burns to get the very best out of Barkley. Burns is an under-the-radar addition. He’s an old-school, demanding hard-ass, but running backs love playing for him.

Judge has stated numerous times that New York’s offensive game plans will change weekly depending on the opponent, to the point where he said there may be games where the Giants almost exclusively run or pass the football. Given the fact that Barkley is a superb receiving target and that Garrett had the Cowboys throw a ton to Ezekiel Elliott, Barkley should be heavily involved in any game plan. At the same time, the pressure is on all of the new offensive coaches, including offensive line coach Marc Colombo, and the blockers up front to simply give Barkley a chance to do his his thing. Too many times, Barkey was having to avoid tacklers in the backfield. Barkley also needs to touch the football, particularly in the clutch. When he does, good things happen.

There were a couple of red flags with Barkley last year. He still dances around a bit too much instead of taking what is there. And after he got hurt, Barkley looked tentative and indeed soft at times. That changed in December as his ankle got stronger. Hopefully that was only an anomaly. Other than that, Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight.

The other story line of camp is the depth situation behind Barkley. Gallman has not developed as hoped. Penny is more of a fullback. Hilliman didn’t impress as a rookie. The Giants added Dion Lewis, a smaller, elusive journeyman who did his best work in New England.

ON THE BUBBLE: Honestly, I don’t think anyone other than Barkley is totally safe. This is an area where the Giants may be actively scanning the waiver wire before the season starts. Given Judge’s familiarity with Lewis and his versatility as a runner, receiver, and returner, Lewis also has a good shot to make the roster.

PREDICTIONS: I’m a little bit wary of piling on the previous coaching staff, but I just don’t get the impression that they were terribly imaginative in using Saquon Barkley in the passing game (there was an odd, overreliance on the wheel route). The run blocking obviously wasn’t good either. Talent? Coaching? Scheme? Probably a combination of all three. When something worked, the Giants moved away from it, and just when you thought the opponent should be hit with a heavy dose of Barkley, he was nowhere to be seen.

On paper, Garrett, Colombo, Burns, and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens are major upgrades in the coaching department. I think they will know how to use Barkley. I also expect Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Nate Solder to play much better and for Andrew Thomas and possibly Shane Lemieux or Nick Gates to make an impact. Provided he stays healthy and focused, Barkley should hit the 2,000 yard mark again. He’s clearly one of the very best players in the entire League.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny

After Barkley and Lewis, this is a bit dicey. Gallman is on the bubble. Penny is replaceable. A guy like Javon Leake could easily press for a roster spot, especially given his kick return skills. Hell, a guy like Sandro Plazgummer probably couldn’t have picked a better team to compete on. My guess is Gettleman and Judge will be actively scanning the waiver wire here. Don’t be shocked to see running back a priority area next offseason. The Giants need better insurance behind Barkley.

Apr 272020
 
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Binjimen Victor, Ohio State Buckeyes (October 6, 2018)

Binjimen Victor – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN 15 UNDRAFTED ROOKIE FREE AGENTS…
The New York Giants have officially announced the signing of the following 15 undrafted rookie free agents:

QB Case Cookus, 6’3”, 221lbs, 4.83, Northern Arizona University (Video)
Cookus had a promising collegiate career derailed with season-ending injuries in 2016 and 2018. Gunslinger who has been super-productive when he plays.

RB Javon Leake, 6’0”, 215lbs, 4.71, University of Maryland (Video)
Leake was a junior entry and rotational starter at Maryland. He is much faster than he timed at the Combine. Slashing, cut-and-go running back with good size. He is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. Leake is not a physical runner and he was rarely used in the passing game in college. Leake also returns kickoffs. He has had fumbling issues.

WR Binjimen Victor, 6’4”, 198lbs, 4.56, Ohio State University (Video)
Victor was a 4-year rotational player at Ohio State. Tall and slender, Victor can leap and has a huge catch radius. He is a natural athlete and pass catcher who can make big plays and highlight-reel catches. He needs to play with more consistency. He also has to prove he can defeat NFL press coverage.

WR Austin Mack, 6’1”, 208lbs, 4.59, Ohio State University (Video)
Mack was a rotational player at Ohio State. Muscular wideout with good size. He is more of a possession receiver, but he is a natural pass receiver who can make the tough grab.

WR Derrick Dillon, 5’11’, 185lbs, 4.47, LSU (Video)
Dillon is a smaller, speedy wide receiver with limited collegiate production. He has had some big plays in big games.

WR/TE Rysen John, 6’7”, 237lbs, 4.65, Simon Fraser University (Video)
John has an intriguing combination of size and athletic ability. He could be used at a number of different positions including wide receiver, tight end, and H-Back.

TE Kyle Markway, 6’4”, 252lbs, 4.79, University of South Carolina (Video)
Markway has a good frame and long arms. Better blocker than receiver. Markway won’t threaten a defense as a receiver due to his athletic limitations, but he can catch the football.

OC/OG Kyle Murphy, 6’3”, 316lbs, 5.34, University of Rhode Island (Video)
Murphy was a 3-year starter in college with experience all along the offensive line. Team leader. Murphy moves well with good agility.

OC/OG Tyler Haycraft, 6’3”, 295lbs, University of Louisville (Video)
Tough, gritty, smart player with decent athleticism.

DE/LB Niko Lalos, 6’5”, 268lbs, 4.82, Dartmouth College (Video)
Lalos played defensive end in college but could project to outside linebacker at the pro level.

LB Dominique Ross, 6’4”, 228lbs, University of North Carolina
Ross played a hybrid nickelback/linebacker role in college where he was used both in coverage and as a blitzer.

LB Dana Levine, 6’3”, 235lbs, 4.82, Temple University (Video)
Levine played defensive end in college but projects to outside linebacker at the pro level. Tough guy who flashes explosiveness, but he needs to play off of blocks better.

CB Malcolm Elmore, 5’11”, 186lbs, 4.48, Central Methodist University

CB Christian Angulo, 6’2”, 190lbs, Hampton University (Video)

S Jaquarius Landrews, 5’11”, 196lbs, 4.43, Mississippi State University (Video)

NEW YORK GIANTS ADD AUSTRIAN RUNNING BACK…
As part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, the New York Giants have added Austrian running back Sandro Platzgummer to the roster. Platzgummer played for the Swarco Raiders Tirol of the Austrian Football League. He will not count against the 90-man roster limit and if the Giants decide to keep him on the Practice Squad, they will receive a roster exemption to do so.