Feb 192019
 
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Scott Simonson, New York Giants (December 23, 2018)

Scott Simonson – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN SCOTT SIMONSON…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed tight end Scott Simonson, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. NJ.com is reporting that the contract is a 1-year deal.

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

BENGALS INTERVIEW LOU ANARUMO FOR DC POSITION…
NFL.com is reporting that New York Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo will interview with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday for their defensive coordinator vacancy. Anarumo is supposedly the front runner for the position. Anarumo joined the Giants staff last year after serving as the defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2012 to 2017.

Feb 132019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Giants drafted Saquon Barkley in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft, many pundits and fans believed the Giants now had the best RB-WR-TE trio in football in Barkley, Odell Beckham, and Evan Engram. After all, despite a bad case of the dropsies, Engram was coming off an impressive rookie season in which he had led the team in receptions and touchdowns despite often being the center of the opposing defense’s attention. It was thought that the return of Beckham from a serious injury that had caused him to miss most of the 2017 season, and the addition of the explosive Barkley, would leave Engram in many extremely favorable one-on-one match-ups.

However, Engram significantly regressed in the first half of the 2018 season. Whether it was due to a knee injury that caused him to also miss three games before the bye week, or the learning curve between the new coaching staff and the second-year tight end, Engram was a virtual non-factor in the passing game until November. Through the midway point, Engram had only caught 17 passes for 145 yards. Worse, Engram’s size and power limitations as a blocker were ill-suited to a team looking to focus more on the ground game and Saquon Barkley. It began to look like team and player were mismatched.

Things changed after the bye despite the fact that Engram missed two more games, this time with a hamstring injury. It was not so much the improvement in receptions from 17 to 45, but the number of big plays Engram began to make. There were two 50+ yard run-and-catch gains and a number of 30+ yard receptions. This was the type of explosive impact that had been expected all year.

Rhett Ellison actually saw more on-field action than Engram in 2018. Ellison played in 54 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, while Engram saw the field 46 percent of the time. Ellison’s numbers were very similar to his initial season with the Giants, catching 25 passes for 272 yards and just one touchdown. Unfortunately, his blocking was inconsistent and not up to the level one would expect from a supporting-cast-type tight end.

The surprise player was Scott Simonson, a no-name tight end signed from the Carolina Panthers in June. Simonson played in 28 percent of all offensive snaps. And while he only had nine catches, at times, Simonson appeared to be the team’s best blocking tight end.

Overall, it is fair to say that more was expected from this unit because more was expected from Engram and Ellison. Engram began to redeem himself in the second half after his horrific pre-bye play. Ellison still has not lived up to his 4-year, $18 million contract.

THE PLAYERS

It was a tale of two seasons for Evan Engram in 2018. Before the bye week, Engram missed three games with a knee injury and caught just 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. After the bye, Engram missed two games with a hamstring injury, but his productivity increased to 28 catches for 432 yards and one touchdown, with a number of game-changing plays. The Giants drafted Engram in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Other than too many dropped passes, Engram had a very solid rookie season for the Giants in 2017, playing in 15 games with 11 starts, and finishing with a team-high 64 catches for 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. Engram is not built like a traditional tight end, more like an H-Back/wide receiver ‘tweener. The strength of Engram’s game is catching the football. He creates mismatches because of his combination of size and athletic ability. Engram is quick and fast. He runs good routes and is a natural pass receiver with a good catch radius. While Engram works hard at his blocking, he lacks the frame to ever be a significant factor as an in-line blocking tight end.

Rhett Ellison’s 2018 season was remarkably similar to his 2017 campaign, catching 25 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown. Ellison was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Vikings. He suffered a serious patellar tendon injury in December 2015. The Giants signed Ellison as an unrestricted free agent in March 2017. The 6’5”, 255-pound Ellison is versatile, having the ability to play tight end, H-Back, and fullback. While Ellison lacks ideal speed and quickness, he is a very sure-handed receiver who runs good routes. He is an adequate-at-best blocker.

Scott Simonson had his best season in 2018 after being signed by the Giants in June 2018. Simonson played in all 16 games with four starts, finishing with nine catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. The 6’5”, 255-pound Simonson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Raiders waived him in June 2015 and he was then signed by the Carolina Panthers. He spent all of 2017 on Injured Reserve with a back injury. Simonson has played in 34 regular-season games with five starts. He had one catch in his NFL career before 2018. While he does not excel at either, Simonson can block and catch.

The Giants signed undrafted rookie free agent Garrett Dickerson in June 2018. He spent a couple of stints on the team’s Practice Squad and 53-man roster during the year. Overall, Dickerson played in four games with no starts and did not have a catch. The 6’2”, 244-pound Dickerson is a versatile player who can play a variety of positions including tight end, fullback, and H-Back. Though he lacks ideal size, he is a good athlete with fine hands.

Jun 282018
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (November 5, 2017)

Evan Engram – © 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: Tight Ends

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW: The tight end position was one of the few bright spots in another wise dreary season for the New York Giants in 2017. Despite a bad case of the dropsies, rookie tight end Evan Engram led the team with 64 catches for a near team-high 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. Rhett Ellison may have been overpaid and underutilized, but he was solid contributor as a blocker and receiver. He caught a career-high 24 passes, which made him the 7th-highest receptions leader on the team. Jerell Adams was the third tight end and finished the year with eight catches.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The top three tight ends from last year – Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerell Adams – all return. The Giants also retained late-season addition Ryan O’Malley. The newcomers are January waiver-wire pick-up Kyle Carter from the Vikings, ex-Raider and ex-Panther Scott Simonson, and rookie free agent Garrett Dickerson. Carter and Dickerson are built more like H-Backs than traditional in-line tight ends.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: While most of the eyes of the media and fans will be focused on Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, the development of Evan Engram will be one of the most important facets of the team to watch. One gets the sense that Engram just scratched the surface of his potential in 2017. On a terrible team with few weapons, Engram produced at a level that few rookie tight ends achieve. Now with hopefully better offensive coaching, a better offensive system, and a better supporting cast, Engram should be poised to become one of the more dangerous pass-receiving tight ends in the League. A couple of under-reported aspects from the offseason workouts were (1) Eli Manning’s favorite target appeared to be Engram, and (2) Engram didn’t drop passes.

What will also be interesting to see will be how important the tight end position is in Pat Shurmur’s New York Giants offensive scheme. Most Giants fans know that Ben McAdoo was particularly wed to the three-wide receiver, one-back, one-tight end formation (or 11 personnel). Will Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, or others get a chance to see the field more in 2018?

Also under-reported is that the Giants have a new tight ends coach. Lunda Wells was the assistant offensive line coach for the Giants under both Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo. He now shifts to a new position.

ON THE BUBBLE: Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are locks to make the team. Jerell Adams probably has an upper hand, but the team did bring in some players – including an ex-Viking who worked with Pat Shurmur in Minnesota – who could beat him out if he falters. At this point, it is impossible to know how important the tight end/H-Back position will be in terms of numbers of players kept on the roster. The role of fullback will be a factor too in whether or not the Giants keep three or four tight ends.

FROM THE COACHES AND PLAYERS: Tight Ends Coach Lunda Wells on Evan Engram: “He’s a guy that we all understand he has a unique skillset in terms of the pass game, but he’s a very sharp kid and he can do a little bit of it all. I can’t say that I can see him as just a guy that is split out because I think we’d be doing an injustice to him because he is a very sharp kid and a willing blocker and a guy that’s willing to do everything that goes into it. He’s a guy that we can play at the Y-tight end, we can split him out. I think you’re going to see some of that this year in terms of him being able to play in a lot of different spots.”

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Evan Engram: “The fact that we have a pass catching tight end is something that is very valuable to a team because now a defense has to decide when you have two tight ends and him being one of them, him being Evan, that are they going to stay base or play nickel? And then the chess game begins from there.”

Evan Engram on year two: “The thing I’ve noticed, just being out here, going full-speed, is that the game is a lot more slowed down. The game has slowed down a lot. And that’s allowing me to kind of dig deeper into my bag of route techniques, or getting open and being able to focus more on the run game and getting stronger and just getting more comfortable out there. Last year, I kind of was, head was on a swivel a lot, the game was so fast and I wasn’t used to it. But just having a year under my belt and kind of getting thrown into some tough situations last year definitely helps slow the game down and allowed me to kind of focus on a lot of the little things and enhance my talents to be a better player.”

PREDICTIONS: I think there is a good chance that Evan Engram once again leads the team in catches and touchdown receptions. I think he will also break the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: The same three from last year – Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerell Adams. The Giants could carry four tight ends which would help the chances of one of the other four players.

Jun 122018
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (May 29, 2018)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

JUNE 12, 2018 NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants 3-day mandatory mini-camp was held on Tuesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. All 90 players on the current roster were present.

“All right, so first day of mandatory mini camp,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “I told the players this and really it’s the case, it’s really OTA 11 in my mind because anytime they come on the field with their helmets on, it’s about the ball, it’s about the ground and it’s about getting yourself better. They handled today just like they have the other OTAs, so good work, was very competitive. You saw at the end there – everyday we do a situation and today was the two-point play and the defense did a good job with those two-point plays today.”

The mini-camp will continue with practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

INJURY REPORT…
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (recovering from ankle surgery) has been cleared to practice. On Tuesday, he participated in individual and walk-thru drills, but not team drills. He also fielded punts after practice.

“He ran maybe three or four routes, but he looks good coming out of his breaks,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “From what I have seen, he looks sharp and ready to go.”

Safety Landon Collins (recovering from offseason arm surgery) wore a non-contact jersey and did not participate in full-team drills.

Defensive linemen Josh Mauro (unknown) and R.J. McIntosh (unknown) and linebacker Avery Moss (unknown) did not practice.

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • The first-team offensive line was left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez, center Jon Halapio, right guard Patrick Omameh, and right tackle Ereck Flowers.
  • The second-team offensive line was left tackle Nick Becton, left guard John Greco, center Brett Jones, right guard John Jerry, and right tackle Chad Wheeler.
  • The starting safeties were Andrew Adams and Curtis Riley.
  • Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Cody Latimer for a redzone touchdown against cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Curtis Riley.
  • Fullback Shane Smith made a nice catch in the flat, tipping the ball to himself and then heading up-field.
  • Quarterback Davis Webb overthrew wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. but then came back with a nice throws to wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Kalif Raymond.
  • Wide receiver Marquis Bundy made a nice play on an underthrown pass by quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
  • Place kicker Aldrick Rosas went 8-for-8 on field goal attempts, many of them from long distance.
  • Running back Saquon Barkley toasted linebacker B.J. Goodson on a wheel route and quarterback Eli Manning hit him downfield for the touchdown.
  • Wide receiver Sterling Shepard beat cornerback Eli Apple along the sideline and made a nice catch on a pass from quarterback Eli Manning.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple, cornerback Donte Deayon, linebacker Mark Herzlich, and defensive lineman D.J. Hill all broke up passes. Late in practice, safety Curtis Riley, safety Orion Stewart, and linebacker Thurston Armbrister broke up 2-point conversion attempts.
  • Defensive back Curtis Riley made a nice break-up of a sideline pass intended for wide receiver Hunter Sharp.
  • Wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo made a number of nice plays, including beating cornerback Eli Apple.
  • Notes and observations from minicamp practice (6/12) by John Schmeelk of Giants.com
  • Who stood out at Giants minicamp? (6/12) by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

B.J. HILL SIGNED…
The New York Giants have signed defensive lineman B.J. Hill, one of their two 3rd-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, to a 4-year contract. The only two remaining unsigned draft picks are running back Saquon Barkley (1st round) and defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (5th round).

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed free agents tight end Scott Simonson, offensive tackle Jarron Jones, and cornerback Kenneth Durden. The team also waived offensive tackle Tyler Howell and waived/injured cornerback Aaron Davis (hamstring) both rookie free agents who were signed after the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 26-year old, 6’5”, 255-pound Simonson was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Raiders waived him in June 2015 and he was then signed by the Carolina Panthers. He spent all of 2017 on Injured Reserve with a back injury. Simonson has played in 18 regular-season games with one start. He has one catch in his NFL career.

The 24-year old, 6’6”, 320-pound Jones was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. A collegiate defensive tackle, the Giants moved him to offensive tackle, but cut him in early September 2017. Jones then spent time on the Practice Squads of the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys in 2017. The Cowboys waived him in May 2018.

The 26-year old, 6’1”, 180-pound Durden was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Oakland Raiders after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Raiders’ Practice Squad before being cut in September 2017. The Tennessee Titans then signed him to their Practice Squad and cut him in October 2017. Durden has not played in a regular-season game.

GIANTS AND LIONS TO HOLD JOINT PRACTICES IN AUGUST…
The New York Giants and Detroit Lions will hold joint training camp practices at Detroit’s headquarters and training facility in Allen Park, Michigan on August 14-16. The two teams play a preseason game on Friday, August 17 at Ford Field.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…