Jul 282021
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (June 10, 2021)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 28, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants held their first full-team summer training camp practice on Wednesday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Practices are not open to the public this year.

“There’s a ramp-up period, so we really won’t be in pads until next Tuesday,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before the first practice. “So it’ll be helmets and shorts for the next couple of days, we’ll go into shells Friday and Saturday, shells the following Monday and then we’ll be in pads. We’ll be in pads as much as we can be, even when it’s not a live contact day. Just get used to wearing the equipment, moving around, getting our players used to being out there.”

GIANTS CUT KELVIN BENJAMIN…
The Giants have cut Kelvin Benjamin, who the team was converting from wide receiver to tight end. The Giants signed Benjamin as a tryout player during the team’s rookie mini-camp in May 2021. The 6’5”, 245-pound Benjamin was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. As a wide receiver, Benjamin has spent time with the Panthers (2014-2017), Buffalo Bills (2017-2018), and Kansas City Chiefs (2018).

INJURY REPORT…
The following players remain on various PUP and reserve lists:

  • Reserve/COVID-19 List: LB Blake Martinez, S Joshua Kalu, and TE Rysen John
  • Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: RB Saquon Barkley (knee), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), RT Matt Peart (back), OC Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), LB Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and CB Aaron Robinson (core muscle)
  • Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Reggie Ragland (hamstring) and LB Ryan Anderson (back)
  • Injured Reserve: RB Taquan Mizzell (hamstring)

RB Sandro Platzgummer, who was on the NFL List with a hamstring injury, passed his physical and practiced.

TE Rysen John was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List today.

WR Kadarius Toney, who came off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List yesterday, worked with trainers on the sideline, but did not practice. “He’s going to ramp up with our trainers,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We’ll see where he is physically before we kind of bring him back completely.”

PRACTICE NOTES…
Some snippets from various media sources:

  • Devontae Booker and Corey Clement received the bulk of the work at running back.
  • QB Daniel Jones had some trouble connecting with his targets in red zone drills. He did connect with WR Darius Slayton on two red zone touchdowns as well as one each to WR Sterling Shepard and WR David Sills.
  • WRs Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay made some nice catches.
  • QB Mike Glennon threw a touchdown pass to WR C.J. Board.
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson, DB Julian Love, and S Logan Ryan were active defending passes. CB Madre Harper picked off a pass. S Xavier McKinney also broke up an end zone pass intended for WR Kenny Golladay.
  • WR John Ross impressed on special teams with his speed (both returning and in coverage).
  • QB Daniel Jones and WR Kenny Golladay stayed after practice to work on end zone fade routes under the guidance of Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice Thursday morning (9:30-11:30AM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media.

Jan 222021
 
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Dave DeGuglielmo, Indianapolis Colts (August 9, 2018)

Dave DeGuglielmo – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS SEARCHING FOR NEW OFFENSIVE LINE COACH…
The New York Post is reporting that the New York Giants are searching for a new offensive line coach. The team fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo in mid-November and replaced him with Dave DeGuglielmo for the final eight games of the season. DeGuglielmo’s contract expired earlier this month. The Athletic is reporting that the Giants wanted DeGuglielmo to return, but the two sides could not reach an agreement on a new deal. That could still happen according to The Post, but for now, the Giants are searching for other options.

GIANTS SIGN THREE MORE TO RESERVE/FUTURE CONTRACTS…
The New York Giants have signed defensive end Breeland Speaks to reserve/future contract. The 25-year old, 6’3”, 285-pound Speaks was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. As a rookie in 2018, Speaks played in all 16 regular-season games, with four starts, and was credited with 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He missed all of 2019 with a knee injury and was cut by the Chiefs in early September 2020. Speaks then spent time on the Practice Squads of the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.

FOUR GIANTS RECEIVE SALARY INCREASE…
Due to the Proven Performance Escalator (PPE) in the the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the following four Giants will receive additional compensation that will count against the team’s 2021 salary cap. PPE is is based on how much playing time a drafted player earns through their first three seasons of their rookie contract. If a player meets the threshold based on where they were drafted, the player will receive a salary increase in their fourth year.

  • OG Will Hernandez: Salary increase from $1,496,010 to $2,183,000 ($686,990 increase)
  • DE B.J. Hill: Salary increase from $1,025,329 to $2,183,000 ($1,157,671 increase)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter: Salary increase from $1,036,839 to $2,183,000 ($1,146,161 increase)
  • CB Isaac Yiadom: Salary increase from $750,000 to $2,183,000 ($1,433,000 increase)

ARTICLES…

Jan 182021
 
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Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates, New York Giants (November 2, 2020)

Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates – © USA TODAY Sports

New Head Coach Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in early January 2020. After an atypically long vetting process, the team announced its complete staff a month later in early February. The extremely well-organized new head coach was all set to initiate his program to turn the franchise around. Then disaster struck. COVID-19 forced the league to shut down in the spring and much of the summer. The challenges for a new head coach trying to rebuild most of the roster seemed almost insurmountable.

Probably the position most affected by these developments was the offensive line. The Giants entered 2020 knowing they would have to have new starters at center and at least one of the tackle spots. That quickly became three starters when left tackle Nate Solder decided to sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Right tackle Mike Remmers had already signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The only free agent addition was journeyman swing tackle Cam Fleming. It was obvious that most of the help would have to come from the draft, where the Giants selected Andrew Thomas in the 1st round, Matt Peart in the 3rd round, and Shane Lemieux in the 5th round. Despite those additions, there was still a glaring hole at center, with no obvious candidate to start other than the disappointing Spencer Pulley and talk of possible conversion projects.

With the desperate need to sort all of this out, Joe Judge was being told he could have no mini-camps, no Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices, a dramatically scaled back training camp, and no preseason. Teams were told they could only hold 14 padded practices before the season. 14 practices to get rookie Andrew Thomas ready at left tackle. 14 practices to find and name a starting center. 14 practices to figure out who to start at right tackle. 14 practices to build cohesion and chemistry for a group largely unfamiliar with each other.

The early returns were predictable. The line struggled. Converted guard/tackle Nick Gates was moved to center, a position that he had never played, and he had a rough start. Andrew Thomas did not look like the 4th player taken in the draft and fans began to question the pick, arguing the team drafted the wrong lineman. There was no time for Matt Peart to seriously challenge Cam Fleming for the right tackle job, and Fleming continued to demonstrate he really wasn’t an ideal starter. All of this was made worse by the fact that the two guys who the team needed to rely on, guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez, were once again not playing as well as expected.

Saquon Barkley was lost in Week 2 and the Giants had no ground game early in the season outside of Daniel Jones running for his life. No Giant had more than 30 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 50 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. Jones was also getting sacked early and often, something that never really totally abated as he was sacked 45 times and NYG quarterbacks sacked 50 times on the season (or over three per game).

Despite all of this negativity and an 0-5 start, something began to change in October. A hodgepodge group of backs and Jones began to hurt teams on the ground as the offensive line began playing better. In eight of their next nine games, the Giants ran for over 100 yards or more. In seven of these games, they ran for over 130 yards or more. The high point was a 190-yard rushing effort against the Seattle Seahawks on December 6th. The line appeared to be developing into a physical, smash-mouth unit almost overnight.

Why? First, Nick Gates made a miraculous transformation from an undrafted tackle to a big, feisty, physical presence at center. In just a few games, he clearly became the team’s best offensive lineman. Second, Andrew Thomas settled down and started playing much, much better. Third, the Giants replaced Will Hernandez with Shane Lemieux at left guard, and while that created some pass protection issues, Lemieux’s presence seemed to be an upgrade in the run-blocking department. Finally, Kevin Zeitler started to play better. Matt Peart did receive increased playing time, receiving significant snaps in half of the games, but right tackle remained a bit of a sore spot with Cam Fleming.

In mid-November, Joe Judge surprisingly fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo, bringing onboard outsider Dave DeGuglielmo, who ironically had served under Tom Coughlin from 2004 to 2008. DeGuglielmo would later miss the last week of the season due to COVID-19.

The line struggled in three-game stretch in December before finishing strong in the season finale against Dallas. In those three games, New York never rushed for more than 80 yards and Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 13 times. Nevertheless, the overall impression was despite all of COVID-19-related handicaps, the Giants actually finally made progress in rebuilding the offensive line in 2020. There appears to be a young, talented foundation to work with.

THE STARTERS

Despite having no prior experience at playing the position, and after a rough start, Nick Gates not only solidified the center position for the Giants but rapidly became the team’s best lineman. Gates started all 16 games at center. He was flagged with five penalties (two holding, one false start, one unnecessary roughness, and one illegal block). The Giants signed Gates as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He missed all of 2018 with a foot injury that caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve before the season started. In 2019, Gates was active for all 16 games with three starts (two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard). Gates is a versatile player, able to play tackle, guard, and center. He has good size and brings toughness and attitude to the offensive line. Gates is a solid pass and run blocker.

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Thomas started 15 games at left tackle despite playing on a left ankle injury that required offseason surgery in January 2021. Thomas was benched for the start of one game for being late to a team meeting. In terms of his overall play, Thomas struggled early, but markedly improved as both a pass and run blocker as the year progressed. He was flagged with five penalties (three false start and two holding penalties) on the season. Thomas has a big frame (6’5”, 315lbs) and long arms. He is a strong, physical run blocker who can get movement at the point-of-attack. He is athletic enough to get to the second level and works to finish his blocks. Thomas is a good athlete and he flashes excellent pass protection skills, but he needs to improve his overall technique and consistency in that department.

The Giants signed Cam Fleming as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in March 2020. He ended up starting all 16 games at right tackle, by far the most in his career in a single season. But Fleming was arguably the weak link up front, regularly missing blocks. Fleming was also credited with four false starts and two holding penalties. The 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After four years in New England, he played two seasons with the Cowboys. In seven NFL seasons, Fleming has played in 91 regular-season games with 42 starts. Fleming is versatile lineman who can play both tackle spots. He has good size. However, Fleming seems better suited to a reserve, swing-tackle type role than starter.

While the overall play of Kevin Zeitler improved in his second season with the Giants, he still did not meet expectations in 2020. Zeitler started all 16 games at right guard. He was flagged four times on the year (one holding, three false starts). Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. The Giants acquired Zeitler by trade from the Cleveland Browns in March 2019 in exchange for linebacker Olivier Vernon. In eight seasons, Zeitler has started 134 of the 135 regular-season games he has played in. Zeitler has good size (6’4”, 315lbs). Once regarded as one of the best guards in the game as both a run and pass blocker, Zeitler’s play in recent years has been more inconsistent. Nevertheless, he is still a solid, steady, veteran presence up front.

The Giants drafted Shane Lemieux in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He surprisingly ended up playing in 12 games with nine starts starts at left guard, stealing Will Hernandez’s position. He was only flagged once (false start) all year. The 6’4”, 310-pound Lemieux started an incredible 52 games in college, never missing a game. He is a tough, feisty, blue-collar lineman with some athletic limitations. Lemieux needs to get stronger, but he is a physical presence in the ground game with a feel for blocking angles. He struggled at times as a pass protector.

After starting every game in his first two years in the league in 2018 and 2019, Will Hernandez lost his starting left guard job to Shane Lemieux after the seventh game of the season. Hernandez missed two games in early November due to COVID-19. He was flagged only once (one holding penalty) all year. The Giants selected Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was named named to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Hernandez has good size, strength, and toughness for the guard position, but he appears to lack ideal lateral agility. This hampers his play as a run blocker on the move and as a pass blocker when isolated against quick defenders. He can move defenders with his strength and power.

THE RESERVES

The Giants selected Matt Peart in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Peart played in 11 games with one start at left tackle. He did play in 15 percent of all offensive snaps, receiving some quality playing time. He missed one game in late November due to COVID-19. The 6’7”, 318-pound Peart was a 4-year starter in college with experience at both tackle spots. Peart combines excellent size, long arms, and good overall athletic ability. He has the frame to get bigger and stronger. As expected, Peart was inconsistent as a rookie and needs more technique refinement.

Spencer Pulley spent all of 2020 as the team’s primary reserve center, but he did not play. Pulley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers after the 2016 NFL Draft. Spencer started all 16 regular-season games for the Chargers in 2017 at center. The Giants claimed Pulley off of waivers from the Chargers in September 2018. That season, Pulley was inserted into the starting line-up in late October. He struggled in his nine starts at center and missed one game due to an injury. In 2019, Pulley played in four games with one start in which he again struggled. He also is able to play guard.

The Giants claimed Jackson Barton off of waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs in early September 2020. Despite remaining on the 53-man roster all season, Barton never played in 2020. The 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. He has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.

The Giants signed Kyle Murphy as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He was signed to the Practice Squad in early September and then signed to the 53-man roster in mid November. Murphy did not play in a regular-season game in 2020. Murphy was a 3-year starter in college with experience all along the offensive line.

The 6’5”, 315-pound Chad Slade was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Houston Texans after the 2015 NFL Draft. Slade spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve, and the 2016 and 2018 seasons on the Practice Squad of the Texans. In 2017, Slade played in five games with three starts (two at right guard and one at tight end) for the Texans. The Giants signed Slade to a reserve/futures contract in January 2019. While he surprisingly made the team, he wasn’t active for any game. Slade spent all of 2020 on New York’s Practice Squad.

The 6’6”, 315-pound Kenny Wiggins was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2011), San Francisco 49ers (2012-2013), San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2013-2017), and Lions (2018-2020). The Lions cut Wiggins in late October 2020. The Giants signed Wiggins to the 53-man roster in November, cut him 10 days later, and then signed him to the Practice Squad for the remainder of the season. Overall, Wiggins has played in 79 regular-season games with 38 starts.

COVID-19 OPT-OUT

Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 issue. In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles. The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in. He is a long, lean tackle with good overall athleticism. However, off-the-field issues with a sick child could understandably be affecting his focus and play.

Nov 182020
 
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Marc Colombo, Dallas Cowboys (November 5, 2018)

Marc Colombo – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS FIRE MARC COLOMBO, HIRE DAVE DeGUGLIELMO AS OL COACH…
In a shocking move, the New York Giants have fired Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo and hired Dave DeGuglielmo to replace him. According to press reports, Head Coach Joe Judge was planning to hire DeGuglielmo to work with Colombo, but Colombo’s reaction to that change is what led to his dismissal from the team. Ben Wilkerson will continue to serve as the assistant offensive line coach.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” said Head Coach Joe Judge in a written press release.

The 42-year old Colombo had previously served as assistant offensive line coach (2016-2018) and offensive line coach (2018-2019) of the Dallas Cowboys before being hired by Judge this year.

The 52-year old DeGuglielmo is well-traveled, including serving as an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants under Tom Coughlin from 2004-2008. In recent years, he has coached offensive lines with the Miami Dolphins (2009-2011, 2017, 2019), New York Jets (2012), New England Patriots (2014-2015), San Diego Chargers (2016), and Indianapolis Colts (2018).

RILEY DIXON AND CASEY KREITER PLACED ON RESERVE/COVID-19 LIST…
The New York Giants have announced that punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter have been placed on the the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Place kicker Graham Gano was also placed on this reserve list on Tuesday after he tested positive for the disease. It is not clear if Dixon and Kreiter tested positive or merely being quarantined due to contact with Gano.

NOVEMBER 18, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Wednesday to discuss the state of his team heading into the bye weekend (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: I know you don’t like the term starter, so I’ll use bulk of the reps. The cornerback opposite James (Bradberry), you’ve used a bunch of different guys. (Isaac) Yiadom, (Corey) Ballentine when he was here, Ryan Lewis. Is it sustainable to just keep kind of having a different guy there at cornerback two all the time, or do you guys need to settle on one guy?

A: No, I expect all the guys to play, I really do. There may be certain matchups that we may favor a certain guy for a skillset. There may be certain positions on the field, whether it’s red area versus backed up or in the field, that may be more of an early down guy or a third down guy. Every game brings a little bit of a different element on how you’re trying to match up the opponent. To me, I have no issue at all playing guys at any position and rotating them on through. As long as we’re getting production, we’re keeping guys fresh, we expect everyone at the game to contribute. In terms of the way I view the game, no, I have no issue with that at all.

Q: How do you think Ike (Yiadom) has played these last couple of games? He went from playing a lot to playing not much at all to now playing a lot again. How do you think he’s performed this second stint?

A: I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Ike. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s really worked tirelessly at practice. He’s really competed hard for us and shown a lot of things at practice. Then he got a shot in the game and he went out there and he’s been making plays for us. Yeah, he’s done a lot of really good things right now that have helped us. He’ll keep playing for us as well, as will (Madre) Harp(er), we get Ryan Lewis back and a number of other guys.

Q: When you made the decision to transition (Nick) Gates to center, that was probably with the thought that you’d have a full offseason, a full training camp, and preseason games. I’m curious were there any reservations about throwing him right in the way he had to get thrown in? How do you feel like he’s developed through the season?

A: I’ll start with the backend part first. I think he’s developed really well. I see a lot of improvement on a weekly basis from Nick. Look, going from playing guard and tackle into center is a completely different animal. The multiples on your plate, the command you have to have, the calls, even just the different mechanics of having to snap before you block, these are things you have to learn how to do. There’s a reason a lot of guys play center throughout their entire career up through high school, college and then in the NFL. It is a different type of position. I think he’s done a really good job of advancing in that. I see a lot of promise going forward with him. I’m pleased with how he’s playing, I see improvement every week. Now to the first part of it in terms of yes, obviously, initially we saw that as having a full offseason, full training camp. But like with everything else, that wasn’t going to waver when the pandemic hit. It wasn’t going to change our course of action in terms of how we were going to get this team ready. We just decided, hey, we’re going to adapt or die. We’re going to get ready. There are going to be some growing pains with a lot of guys, we have to move forward.

Q: On Monday, you talked about one of the things you’ve learned is to juggle time so you have enough time for your defense and offense. I tend not to be the most organized guy in the world. Why would you put yourself through that, or is that just how you have to be to be a coach?

A: I think as far as being the head coach, I have to know what’s going on with all three sides of the ball. I can’t know what’s going on without putting in the tape and time to learn the opponent on the frontend, and I can’t know what’s going on without really watching our teams at practice and studying what we’re doing and reviewing all the practice tape and the game tape, and understanding our personnel and how we’re using them. To me, it’s just part of the responsibility of what you have to do to be effective. I don’t know how I could help the team if I don’t know what’s going on. That’s just an emphasis for me.

Q: What’s your message to your players during this bye week? How do you balance staying focused and keeping the momentum going with taking a much-deserved break?

A: I’ll go back to the momentum question first. I don’t really believe that exists, to be honest with you. Nothing that we did against Philadelphia or Washington is going to help us against Cincinnati. We have to learn from what we did wrong and make corrections, but we have to come back on Monday and have a good, strong practice. To be honest with you, obviously, we’ve gone virtual this week with some of the COVID protocols going back to the intensive protocols. That’s changed a little bit of our plans with what they were going to be on the field. Initially, we were going to do more of a walkthrough (on Tuesday). Some of the younger guys, practice squad and some of the younger rookies, we’re going to have a more intensive practice when the walkthrough was over. Then today, Wednesday, would have been an on the field, padded practice for the entire team to get out there, popping around, work on some new schemes, concepts, make sure we correct some things that came up through the season. Now we’re working virtually to go ahead and have meetings and address those things right there. But we have to have a good day on Monday. In terms of the momentum, the only momentum I think we’ll be able to go ahead and transfer and create is how we practice and how we play. We have to come back next week ready to go.

Q: I’m curious 10 weeks into the season, after watching the tape of all these games and coaching through them, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about your team and what do you guys have to get better at down the stretch?

A: We have to continue improving across the board on fundamentals. I think that’s something you always have to improve on. You can never think ‘we’ve arrived’ there. I think sometimes the mistakes you make as a team as you get to a certain point in the season and it’s very scheme-oriented, and you fall away from what you worked hard on in training camp in terms of fundamentals and basics. Ultimately, that’s really what always makes the difference anyway. We talk about turnovers, penalties, mental errors, those are the things that are going to be the true deciding factors within games. In terms of our team, we hoped early on that we could develop a tough culture without knowing these players early on, and I’ve seen that with our guys. Our guys, it’s a team full of resilient guys, very mentally tough guys. I’ve seen these guys come to work week in and week out, no matter what the noise on the outside was. They come in focused, they come in determined, and they play together. I’ve seen a group of guys moving in the same direction, make a lot of improvement. I’m proud of how they practice, I’m proud of how it’s shown up on tape in games, and I think that transfers directly from how we practice to how we play.

Q: It seems like that’s really kind of taken off over the last two or three weeks, especially on defense. It seems like you’re playing a more physical brand of football than maybe you started. Why do you think that is, and do you think maybe that’s just kind of snowballing with wins and confidence beget more wins and confidence or is there more to it than that?

A: I think when you practice with good execution and you’re confident with what you’re doing schematically, you can play more aggressive. When you demonstrate across the board that you have 11 guys on the field who truly understand the schemes, the concepts and what we’re doing, then you can play aggressive by not worrying about the guy next to you and what he’s doing. I think right now, we’re at a point where our guys have really learned and progressed within the schemes and concepts that we’re working. They’ve really done a good job week by week adapting to different game plans and how they fit, and understand not only their responsibility, but how the guy next to them has to play as well. When you understand that, you can play more aggressive. That’s probably why some of that is starting to show up the way we want it to on tape.

Q: Do you look into the data, how teams come into a bye, how teams go out of a bye? This is your first time being a head coach with this. Is there something that you can do maybe better than someone else taking your team out of a bye that could give you an advantage?

A: Yeah, I think you have to look at what you do well, what you’re deficient on and what you have to improve on. I think the biggest thing coming out of a bye, other than maybe getting some guys back health wise or getting some things adjusted schematically, is you just need to come out and correct things that you’ve made mistakes on and go forward with. You may have a new wrinkle you try to work in here or there. We do look at teams coming out of byes. Obviously, the last two weeks we played teams coming off of byes. To me, it’s important to look at those teams based on what they’ve done in the past coming out of a bye. What kind of adjustments do they use? What does their game plan look like that game out of a bye? Different than it was the previous games before the bye? How many schematic differences do they have? Is it a more aggressive mindset? What do they do? You want to put all of those things into account just to anticipate what your opponent may do against you. For us specifically, I think the biggest mistake is people think when you’re coming out of a bye, you’re automatically fresher and faster and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s a myth. You have to come out and all that matters is how you play on that Sunday. You have to wake up and you have to knock off those cobwebs because the one thing is, these guys will have four solid days off without being around us as coaches or hearing our voices. Four days, again this season, is like four months. It just is. You come back, and that Monday practice we’ll have, that’s very necessary to go ahead and just make sure everybody gets woken up, knocks off some rust, has a good day on the field, and that that can transfer going forward.

Q: Coaches very often and sometimes you hear players say ‘he’s not a rookie anymore’. Are your rookies still rookies? What is that mindset? Do you subscribe to that mindset?

A: You can kind of phrase that two different ways on that. I know what you’re saying with that. I expect marked improvement from our team along the way. The so-called rookie mistakes, I don’t care if it’s a rookie making it or a vet making it, I just don’t expect to see it repeated. That’s what we’re really holding everyone accountable for. Things are going to happen, we just have to learn from them and move forward. I think at this point right now, our young players obviously have a different perspective and a different taste for the speed of the game and what goes in week by week. You hear a lot about these rookie walls. We talk to our rookies a lot about them. I’ve talked to rookies in the past about it as well. To me, it’s important to have these rookies understand that really right now we’re at a point where the college football season is winding down and about to be over. At least in a normal year, it would be. Your season is very much still going. We’ve got a lot of ball left to play. In a normal season, by the time you get to Week 8, that is a college season. That’s four preseason games. It’s eight games, you’re looking at 12. Maybe you play a bowl game after that. Go get a Little Caesar’s pizza bowl thing and go back home for Christmas and stuff. This season here, you’ve got to refuel and get going. You’ve got to make sure that you handle your routine throughout the season effectively. Physically, you don’t break down and mentally you don’t fatigue. To me, that comes into having a good established routine but then also some point in the year changing up your routine to change the stimulation. If you’re a guy that’s always watching tape mid-afternoon, okay maybe it’s an early morning thing and you get your workout in mid-afternoon. You have to change things up a little bit throughout the season not to have that monotony that kind of wears you down to the point where you think you’re being productive just because you have activity. You’ve got to make sure you’re actually taking steps forward every time you do something. We’re not writing a pass for any of guys, whether they are rookies, vets, whatever they are. In terms of repeat mistakes, we have to make sure as coaches we do a good job of eliminating those.

Q: I wanted to ask about Will Hernandez and everything he has gone through the last couple of weeks. You come into Sunday, it seemed clear you had a plan that he wasn’t necessarily going to get snaps. What did you see from Will in the game? Is it a challenge this week knowing you’re not in the building with these guys? How can you gauge how he is coming out of this weekend, first opportunity being out there on the field?

A: The best feedback we get as far as how he came out of this weekend is from the trainers and the strength coaches. We’re not in the building, but what we have done is we’re doing very small group workouts that are going to be available to our players, that they want to come and get something physically. Obviously, we’ve had to do a lot of maneuvering to make sure it’s very limited people in the field house working out or running. The field is very spread out, we’re taking precautions in that. The feedback I’ll get from the trainers and strength coaches will be the most valuable feedback I can get on those guys. What I saw when he went in the game is a guy who was ready. I saw when Will went in there, he was mentally, physically and emotionally ready to go. Obviously, two weeks off from a game, it’s a lot to ask anyone to jump right back in the swing of things and go through an entire game. When we needed him, he came through. He played well, he played tough. That’s just kind of Will’s personality. Coming out at the end of the game right there. He kind of goes in as the enforcer when we needed him right there. I was pleased to see Will at the game. It’s good to have him back in the building. He’s always a dude that makes everyone smile when he’s around. It’s just good to have him back with us.

Q: Do you feel like when you come back on Monday that the last couple weeks are behind him?

A: I think it’s still wait and see to see him on the field Monday, to be honest with you. To be fair to him, if we had practiced the last two days, if we were out there today, I think I’d have a much better view on that and an answer for that. Not being able to see with my own eyes when we put him through a practice, that’s a tough thing to evaluate and gauge. He says he’s feeling better. I don’t want to speak for the player, I guess I just did. I want to make sure that we make the right evaluation for him at all times. These guys are tough guys, they are competitive guys. Sometimes they say things and you have to make sure you really gauge it and make the best decision for them.

Q: You have a bunch of guys on the verge of returning from injured reserve. What’s their status coming off the bye. Tae Crowder, (Oshane) Ximines, (Xavier) McKinney and Ryan Lewis.

A: That falls back on Art’s (Stapleton) question. I was really counting on seeing a little bit of those guys this week. Obviously, we can’t see them on the field football wise this week. Monday will be an important day for us to kind of take a look at a lot of these guys moving around. We still have to make a declaration on a couple of these guys in terms of their clock. We’re going to have to evaluate these guys next week and see where they are going into Cincinnati. We’re optimistic we should see the majority of those guys if not all of them at some point down this stretch. They’ve all made progress, they’re all working very hard with our trainers. I know they are a lot further ahead than they were when they initially went on IR. We just have to see how close they are to game action for us.

Q: For you personally, do you decompress? Do you take any time off at the end of this week? Do you just plow through and worry about that after the season?

A: I’ll definitely structure good family time this weekend. I’ve got a laundry list of stuff right now that I am loading up on and making sure I stay ahead on. I’m using a lot of this time right now not only to self-scout and catch up on things that we’ve done throughout the season. The coaches have done a lot of really good research and reports and giving me good feedback on where we have to go going forward. That’s been very valuable. I’m trying to jump ahead on all of our opponents to get a head start which will help me down this final stretch. As far as watching some tape. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when this weekend rolls around there is going to be a point where I have to dive in and be dad again. I’ve got to dive in with the kids and give them all my undivided attention. I’ll probably be way more worn out from that than I am from a week of game prep. It’s something we’re looking forward to. That will kind of reset the motor for us and get us moving through the final six.

Q: Have you talked to Graham (Gano)? How is he feeling? What can you tell us about (Ryan) Santoso?

A: Ryan’s a guy who has a huge leg, he’s shown a tremendous amount of improvement since he’s been here. It’s a unique skillset that he does all three, field goals, kickoffs and punts. He’s shown a lot of improvement in all three phases through being. I think Tom (Quinn) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) do a tremendous job of working with this guy. This guy is a mentally tough guy, too. He’s one of my favorite guys on the practice field. He kicks for us in kicking periods, obviously. He does a lot of his field goal operational work on Friday with the team. Me and him normally have some kind of side bets going on as he is kicking, kind of put a little pressure on it. I think he’s a little bit better in terms of roping that thing through the uprights when I’m talking a little smack behind him. We have a lot of confidence in Ryan. He’s definitely a developing player. I think he has a big upside in this league for a long time, I really do. I’m pleased he’s been in our program and we’ve been able to hold onto him through this point. I’m really pleased with the work Tom and T-Mac have done with him. If he’s got to go, we have a lot of confidence he will be able to go out there and do the job effectively. Graham has talked to Ronnie (Barnes) today. I touched based with him yesterday. I don’t want to speak for him in terms of how he may feel with this. I don’t know all the stages of this virus personally, so I don’t know if this is something that increases, decreases. I don’t want to speak for any of the players. I know obviously our trainers are communicating with him on a regular basis to make sure his welfare is okay. I’ll touch base with him later today like I do with most of the players.

Q: Do you expect to have him back in time for the next game?

A: There’s a timetable with that. There’s an opportunity for that, but there are some other things that go into that as well. Are there any setbacks in that time window? Where does the physician clear him? There’s a ramp up period. Him, like everybody else, we have to be fair to this guy. He’s sitting in a hotel room for a couple weeks. Is it fair to him to put him on the field and ask him to go ahead and do his job? These are all things we have to account for. In fantasy football, yeah, plug him in and we’re good to go. In reality, are we doing the fair thing by him individually and the team collectively to take someone who hasn’t had two weeks of an opportunity to prepare to put him out there to do a job?

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video/audio 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 from November 19th to November 22nd.

Nov 112020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Will Hernandez and Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

WILL HERNANDEZ COMES OFF OF COVID LIST; COREY BALLENTINE WAIVED…
New York Giants left guard Will Hernandez was activated off of the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 List on Tuesday. He had missed two games after testing positive for the disease. To make room, the Giants waived cornerback Corey Ballentine.

The Giants selected Hernandez in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Until his positive COVID-19 test, Hernandez had started 39 consecutive games at left guard. The Giants drafted Ballentine in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The past two seasons, he has played in 22 games with four starts, including two starts this year.

NEW YORK GIANTS ASSISTANT COACHES ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
A video clip compilation of the media sessions with the following New York Giants assistant coaches on Tuesday is available at Giants.com:

  • Quarterback Coach Jerry Schuplinski
  • Running Backs Coach Burton Burns
  • Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert
  • Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens
  • Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo
  • Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer
  • Outside Linebackers Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema
  • Inside Linebackers Coach Coach Kevin Sherrer
  • Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Wednesday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Oct 292020
 
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Will Hernandez, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Will Hernandez – © USA TODAY Sports

WILL HERNANDEZ TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID…
New York Giants left guard Will Hernandez has tested positive for COVID and been sent home. He was also officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Seven other players and two coaches were also sent home as a precaution.

The Giants issued the following written statement:

“Late last night, we were notified that a Giants player tested positive for COVID-19. The player was immediately self-isolated, and the contact tracing process was initiated. All of the player’s close contacts were identified and were informed to remain home today. Those individuals will participate in meetings remotely. We are working closely with the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer regarding next protocol steps. Quest Diagnostics Training Center will remain open, and the rest of the team will follow their normal practice and meeting schedule.”

The two coaches are reported to be Outside Linebackers Coach Bret Bielema and Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson. Aside from Hernandez, offensive linemen Nick Gates, Spencer Pulley, Shane Lemieux, Cam Fleming, and Andrew Thomas did not practice and were sent home. The other two players were not identified by the team, but are believed to be Practice Squad players offensive lineman Chad Slade and wide receiver Binjimen Victor.

“We’ve been fortunate in that there’s really no high-risk guys within the tracer contacts,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We have some precautions we have to take as a team. We’re optimistic to get all these guys back. We’re operating that we’re going to have them back right now.”

OCTOBER 29, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Officially, RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), OG Will Hernandez (positive COVID test), OC Nick Gates (COVID quarantine), OC Spencer Pulley (COVID quarantine), OG Shane Lemieux (COVID quarantine), RT Cam Fleming (COVID quarantine), and LT Andrew Thomas (COVID quarantine) did not practice on Thursday.

WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe), WR C.J. Board (concussion), CB Darnay Holmes (neck), and S Adrian Colbert (shoulder) were limited in practice.

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

NEW YORK GIANTS ASSISTANT COACHES ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
A video clip compilation of the media sessions with the following New York Giants assistant coaches on Wednesday is available at Giants.com:

  • Quarterback Coach Jerry Schuplinski
  • Running Backs Coach Burton Burns
  • Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert
  • Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens
  • Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo
  • Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer
  • Outside Linebackers Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema
  • Inside Linebackers Coach Coach Kevin Sherrer
  • Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Oct 152020
 
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Kyler Fackrell, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Kyler Fackrell – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 15, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Darius Slayton (foot), DL Dexter Lawrence (knee), LB Kyler Fackrell (ankle), and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were limited in practice on Thursday.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube/Giants.com:

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Friday (11:30AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Sep 182020
 
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Golden Tate, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Golden Tate – © USA TODAY Sports

SEPTEMBER 18, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
S Adrian Colbert (quad) did not practice on Friday and has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

WR Golden Tate (hamstring) and LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring) were limited in practice and are “questionable” for the game.

LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) fully practiced and is expected to play.

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

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

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants travel to Chicago on Saturday in advance of Sunday’s afternoon game against the Bears.

Aug 102020
 
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Markus Golden, New York Giants (August 2020)

Markus Golden – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 10, 2020 EVAN ENGRAM CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Moving into a new system with Jason Garrett, have you watched any Cowboys film? Have you spoken with Jason Witten on how to elevate your game in this system?

A: I haven’t gotten the chance to speak to Jason or any of the tight ends that have been in the system. I’m just showing up to work each and every day, diving into the offense, diving into film work to help learn the scheme, learn things. You see the impact that it has, you see the greatness in Jason Witten, the attention to detail he had and the success in the offense he had. I’m just trying to do my best to learn as much as possible and to pick up the offense as quick as possible.

Q: Is there some trait in your skill set that makes you think you can really elevate your game?

A: I’m just coming in and I’m going to be me for the offense. I think just getting in and trying to learn it right now is the biggest thing. Try to limit the mistakes, iron out the details and get the offense down.

Q: How are you feeling health wise? How big of a point is that for you? I know whenever someone talks about your capabilities, it always starts with whether or not he can stay healthy. How much do you want to prove that that’s not the only thing people need to be talking about?

A: I feel great. I’ve had a very blessed offseason. I’ve been working my butt off in rehab and getting back. Right now, I am just going out and doing everything I can for the team and what practice is with the trainers. I’m not really worried about what all the other people are saying. I can only control what’s in front of me each and every day. That’s coming in, working hard during training camp and learning this offense and being a good teammate and a good leader.

Q: You were one of the guys rehabbing at the facility before covid-19, correct? How did you manage your rehab and keep yourself on schedule? Was it as challenging as it might appear to keep it going?

A: It was an adjustment. Just being comfortable up here with our facilities and our trainers and then everything going south and shutting down. Our training staff did a good job of making connections where I was at, I was in Atlanta. I got set up with a rehab facility not too far from my house, so I was able to kind of pick back up. They were able to pick up all the details that I needed, things that I needed, and we were able to keep things in motion. We definitely had to make some adjustments, but our training staff here did a great job helping me stay on track.

Q: Did you ever doubt that you would be ready for training camp? How ready are you?

A: I had no doubt. I had my mind set. I had a very strong, very aggressive rehab. Each and every day, I was trying to find ways to get better. Right now, I am blessed to be back out there running around with my teammates. I’m having fun running around catching the ball and learning offense and getting ready for this new season.

Q: This is your third new offense in four years with the Giants. How difficult is that for a still young player to have no continuity at all? How much has the losing during that made it difficult also?

A: I wouldn’t say difficult, I would say some perseverance involved and being flexible with adjustments. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult with the losing, I think it has been very motivating to learn this new system and keep finding ways to get better each and every day. Start ironing out the things and getting better at the things that are going to turn around and win on Sundays. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it’s just been attacking an adjustment.

Q: What is the challenge of each year not being able to build on what you did previously because it’s not the same system?

A: That speaks to how hard you work right now, in this training camp and learning the offense. Having that continuity might help, but also honing in and honing in on the details and trying to find ways to get better each and every day. Right now, that’s all I can do and that’s all I can worry about. I’m not really worried about the past or what the circumstance is. Right now, we’re in this offense and we have an opportunity to come in each and every day and get better at it.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you in training camp under these circumstances?

A: Honestly, I’m just glad to be back in the building. I’m glad to be back around football with my teammates. It’s definitely different wearing masks and social distancing. The logistics of everything, going back and forth to the field and the stadium and this and that. I take it as a blessing just to be back around my guys. Another opportunity for a football season to go out there and compete.

Q: Do they have you limited, are you full go? How is that working?

A: We’re not allowed to get into the details, that’s a Coach Judge rule. I’m out there with my teammates, I’m running around doing good, trying to get better each and every day.

Q: They picked up your fifth-year option. How much do you view this as a make or break year? This could determine where your future is going and what you contract looks like.

A: I’m not really too worried about that right now. We have a lot on our plate with the offense and all the different things around training camp. All that stuff will take care of itself. Right now, my focus is I am coming in each and every day finding ways to get better. Fixing mistakes and trying to get ready for the season.

Q: Based on what you know so far, how much of this is a change from what you have been asked to do in the past? How do you like the role that is being carved out for you in this offense?

A: It’s a good offense in my eyes. All the details we have to know and things like that is going to help us when we get them all down. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Garrett and Coach Kitchens and all the other coaches on the offensive side. We’re putting in a lot of hard work right now and just have to continue to do that. Keep working for the good things to happen.

Q: What about the changeover in your role? Is it much different than what you have been asked to do in the past? Have they added some new things to your responsibilities?

A: Tight end in general is a very detail specific position. I don’t really want to compare it other offenses. There is definitely a lot of things we have to learn, a lot of things we need to iron out, a lot of details we have to perfect. Like I said, it’s a process that we have to come in each and every day and keep working at it.

Q: Can you share with us the timeline of how long you were in the boot, when you got out of the boot, and when you got to top speed as far as running?

A: I honestly can’t even tell you. It was a long process, especially with everything going on. With COVID and this and that. I’m just glad to be where I’m at right now. It was just a process that was happening. Right now, I’m feeling good and running around.

Q: You said you want to be the best version of yourself in the offense. How would to describe your game at its top level, how do you open up an offense?

A: Just being myself, using my speed, being physical. Being a durable player, being available. Coming in each and every day and improving on things that need improvement. I think that’s the best way to improve, that’s the best way to help your team. The best way to help your team win games, each and every day getting better at something. That’s my goal and that’s what I plan to do for this season.

AUGUST 10, 2020 WILL HERNANDEZ CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants offensive guard Will Hernandez addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: I have a couple questions for you. Number one, you were training part of the offseason with Nick Gates, who of course is in the mix at offensive tackle, he’s in the mix at center. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that training, what you saw from Nick, especially since there’s a possibility he might be lining up next to you this season?

A: Yeah, Nick Gates and I spent a heavy amount of time training together in the offseason. We’re both from Las Vegas, Nevada, we’re really good friends. Yeah, we got after it in the offseason. I’ve always thought he was a great player. I’ve always thought he has what it takes to play. As far as where he goes, whether he lines up next to me or any of the other spots, I honestly think Nick Gates could play any spot on the line. He’s good enough to play anywhere on that offensive line.

Q: I wanted to ask you about Coach (Marc) Colombo. Obviously, he’s a recently retired NFL player. He’s been a coach for a few years. What kind of value does having a former NFL player, a guy who’s not that far removed from the game, as your coach? What does that bring to you as a young player still trying to learn the game and get better at your craft?

A: Coach Colombo is great. It’s awesome having somebody who’s actually been there, done that, 10-plus years playing. He definitely has a lot of inside information as a player himself that he can pass on to us. As far as being there with us, he’s one of us. He’s one of the guys. Of course, you separate that title. When he’s coach, he’s coach. You have that respect line. But it’s cool having somebody who is very similar to everybody in that room and kind of gets it. He just gets it. That’s something that any offensive lineman appreciates, a guy that understands you. It’s a very unique position. You don’t meet too many offensive linemen. There are not too many offensive linemen. It’s a unique position. To have somebody that actually played there, it definitely helps us out a lot. We really like having him here.

Q: It seems like it was just a couple of days ago we were asking you about being a rookie and coming in and what you can lean on and learn from Nate Solder next to you. Now, you might be in a position where you’re going to have a rookie next to you on your left, Andrew Thomas, if he winds up there, and you’ll be the veteran that kind of has to support him. First of all, how crazy is that timeline? Second of all, do you feel like you’re ready for that role?

A: Yeah, you’re right, it really does seem like just yesterday that I was a rookie behind Nate. Now, I might have the chance to do the same. All I’m going to say about that is I’m not sure who’s going to land in that position. I’ll leave that up to the coaches. As far as having that, I learned from the best. Nate Solder really taught me a lot on and off the field. But he also taught me unconsciously how to treat a rookie. I felt like I got treated by him with the utmost respect, with the utmost attention to detail, wanting to help me to get better. It’s just all those things I picked up from him looking back at it now. It’s the same things that I would instill in anybody who was brand new coming in and playing next to me. I would take a lot of the same things he did with me and add my own personality to it. But I definitely learned a lot of valuable points from Nate.

Q: What’s been your impression so far of Andrew? Obviously, you haven’t really been on the field to do much in pads and hitting and stuff, but what have you seen from the first round pick?

A: First, he’s a great guy. He can sing. He can really sing. He has a voice. He’s a really smart guy. He gets things right away. He picks up on a lot of the stuff that coach talks to him about. He’s able to absorb it and pick it up right away, which I think is very good. He just has that demeanor. You can see it through his note-taking, through his playing, through his practices, that he wants to get better. He wants to do good. That’s just some of the things I’ve seen from observing him lately. I think he’s going to be just fine. He’s doing great right now.

Q: What’s his best song? What does he sing for you guys?

A: He sang one song. We made him get up there for the rookie song. I don’t remember the song name right now. All I know is it was good. I was snapping my fingers the entire time. It was a good song.

Q: How do you view how your season went last year? In what ways do you feel like you need to improve? And a follow-up on the singing, did you know Marc Colombo was in a heavy metal band when he was a player?

A: As far as last year, what’s in the past is in the past. I’ve learned a lot since then. I really have been focusing on this new offense, new techniques, kind of like a new attitude for everything. I think that we’ve gotten a lot better since the offseason, at least me personally. I’ve been able to look back on a lot of things that I did wrong or I didn’t do as best as I could, and I’ve been able to correct them. Now, I’m just focused on the future and what I’m doing now. And I was aware of it. I heard something about it or saw something about it on social media, checked it out and watched his video. Yeah, it was awesome.

Q: Since you’ve been here, now you have a second regime change. You’re a guy who we all can say losing wears on you. It doesn’t run off your back. You can feel it affects you. How much do you think it has affected you the last two years, and how much do you think ‘Enough of this? We have to move on. We have to start succeeding on the field here’?

A: I think a more appropriate word, rather than affect me, I think it’s motivated me. Every single little thing that I do now is geared towards winning, towards ‘How is this going to help me win? Is this going to help me win? Yes or no. No? Ok, I’m not doing it.’ I just feel like every single thing that I do now, whether it’s on the field or off, I either do it or not with the purpose of winning.

Q: Is that a change? In the past, were you maybe doing some things that weren’t totally geared towards that?

A: No, it wasn’t intentional. It’s just a lot of things I realized from experience, from things that I did. I was just learning and learning and learning about the mistakes that we all make, and learning from those mistakes. The motive has always been the same: win. But I think more than anything, what I did was learning from my own mistakes. That same factor of wanting to win was always there, but now, it’s like ‘Ok, I can’t make those mistakes again because I still want to win.’

Q: What does the scheme change mean for you guys as an offensive line? We look at it and we see Jason Garrett in Dallas and all the success they’ve had running the football. I’m just curious, as someone who’s part of that offensive line, how are you guys viewing it?

A: We love it. We’ve always just took the plays and the schemes that have been put in front of us and tried to do it to the best of our abilities. I’ve always loved running the ball. I personally like it. I’ve been trying my hardest to be able to get everything down so we can execute. But as far as liking it, I love it.

Q: Do you expect it to be much more run heavy? Not much more, but at least more run heavy? That seems to be the perception at least.

A: I’m not really expecting anything or wanting a certain… Whatever the coaches throw at us, whatever plays they put on that call sheet at the end of the day for the game, that’s what we’re going to run. I’m going to be going just as hard whether it’s run, pass, play action, whatever it is.

Q: In my experiences with you, you’ve always taken your job so seriously. I’m just wondering, as you head into this season, how much responsibility, or how would you describe the responsibility this offensive line has to be better, to help this offense really become much more explosive?

A: That’s exactly right. The offensive line has a big, big role in our success. We proudly carry the workload. We’ll proudly get to work and get things done. We know it starts with us and we’re definitely going to do everything it takes to get after it and make it happen.

AUGUST 10, 2020 MARKUS GOLDEN CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants linebacker Markus Golden addressed the media on Monday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Had you ever heard of the May 5th tender before they gave it to you, and what was your reaction when you found out you were getting it?

A: I really hadn’t heard of it. I had never heard of it. But my reaction was surprised, of course. For me, it was business as usual. It’s a business at the end of the day.

Q: You don’t feel like you come back with any hard feelings?

A: No, because business is business. I know how this stuff goes. I’ve been having that mindset since my rookie year. Really since college. I have a business mindset. You have to have that mindset because that’s exactly what it is. Yeah, it’s football, a game we’ve been playing since we were kids. But when you get on this level and the college level, you start to realize that it’s a business. That’s the mindset I keep just so I’m ready for when different stuff like that happens.

Q: Was the way free agency went frustrating for you at all? I know a lot of the edge rushers haven’t been signed yet and maybe the pandemic had something to do with that. But was it frustrating having to wait as long as you did to kind of know where you’d end up this year?

A: Of course. Of course, it was. You put in a lot of work during the season. This is a game where they say if you put the work in, the hard work pays off, the game will pay you back in different ways. Of course, it was frustrating. But then again, after a while, you go back to that ‘business is business’ mindset, as it is. That’s the mindset you need to have in this business. Like I said, it was a little frustrating, but you just need to work hard and use everything as motivation.

Q: What do you think about coming back to the Giants? It’s obviously almost a new look team from last year. A lot of new players, completely new coaching staff. How do you feel about being back here?

A: I feel good. I feel good about being back. It’s a good place. It’s a good place to be able to come back and be able to compete and be able to play ball. At the end of the day, I love playing ball and that’s what I’m about. I love playing ball, I love competing. This is the situation I’m in right now. I can’t sit back and complain and fuss about it. I have to go out and get it no matter what. That’s the mindset that I’m going to keep. That’s just who I am. That’s how my parents raised me to be. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep my mindset and if I get the opportunity to do what I need to do, I’m going to be ready to compete no matter what.

Q: Was there any point before they put that tender on you that you thought you would be back with the Giants?

A: You never know. You never know how it goes. I’ve been through free agency before, and it didn’t go my way the first time around. I’m the type of guy that remembers that. When I go through something once, I remember everything that happened during that time. I really just was open to whatever was going to happen. Whatever was going to happen, I was going to be able to go with it. That was my mindset really, like I said, because I have been through this before. I know this stuff can be up and down. It can be good for you in one moment, then the next minute it can change on you. That’s just how my mindset is. That’s how it is in St. Louis where I’m from. You just never know. You have to take it and go with it. I really wasn’t hoping for nothing. Of course, you just go with the flow. This is how it ended up, so this is what I have to roll with.

Q: But did the Giants show any interest in you early in free agency? Were there any talks about coming back on a long-term deal?

A: Of course, of course. You’ve seen what I’ve done for the Giants. Of course, you want a player to come back and be able to help your team and be able to get out there and help your team because I showed what I can do. But it didn’t work out like that. It didn’t work out like that, but I’m back now and I’m back on different circumstances. But I’m back and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day. At the end of the day, no matter what, I’m going to be me. I’m going to go out and compete. I’m going to lay it on the line because at the end of the day, I play the game for a different reason. I play the game for my family. I play the game to win. I know what I need to do to be able to play for my family, be able to make my family proud. I know what I need to do to be able to win and help my team.

Q: You’re back with a group that is pretty similar in terms of the edge guys to what it was last year. Most people would have said the pass rush wasn’t quite good enough, do you see reason for optimism with some of these guys as to why you guys can be better? Maybe specifically with Lorenzo and Oshane? Is it too early to judge any improvement from those guys?

A: They’re working hard. Zo and X work hard, that’s all those guys do. Since they were young last year, they have always been working hard. You have to respect those guys and the work they put in. Me, myself, I expect big things from them. I know they are working hard. They expect things from themselves, but at the end of the day it’s another year in the league and you can always come back better.

Q: Is there another level you think you can get to that maybe people haven’t seen yet?

A: I don’t really think about that. I know one thing I’m going to do and that’s come out and compete. I’m going to come out and compete. This offseason I worked really hard to get better. I’m working hard in these workouts to get better and that’s what I am going to do every day. At the end of the day, it’s football. You are going to pad, you are going to put your helmet on, go out there and go to war, that’s what football is. I look forward to getting out there and competing, that’s what I do. I look forward to getting out there and competing.

Q: What do you like about the schemes Coach Graham is bringing to the table that might differ from what you guys did last year?

A: I’ll still be playing a little bit of linebacker and defensive end in nickel. It’s football at the end of the day. The plays can be this, you can call whatever you want to call, but at the end of the day you have to know your job and know what you have to do out there. I’m not really worried about last year or comparing the two, I’m really just focusing on learning these plays and getting locked on these plays and then going out there and doing my job. At the end of the day, its’s football. You can’t make it that difficult. You have to get the play, line up, and know what you have to do. That’s what I’m focusing on, learning what I have to do on the defense. Going out every day and working hard to get better.

Q: It seemed like last year you were trying to prove the injury was behind you and you could get back to that double digit sack level. How does that change not only with your training but your motivation that you can kind of pick up where you left off after kast year?

A: It’s simple, with all my years in the league, I have been going hard and competing to make sure I make plays to help my team win. The only time that didn’t happen was when I hurt myself. I’m feeling healthy and I don’t really worry about everybody else. I don’t worry about, oh, I have to go prove this to this guy, I’m not worried about it. If you don’t know what I can do by now, then you are not worth proving anything to. I focus on proving it to myself. I have a lot of people back home in St. Louis that believe in me. I focus on making them proud. They are the same people that have been with me this whole way. That’s where my focus is, really proving to myself that I’m going to keep working hard and getting better.

Q: How much more productive was this offseason since you were not rehabbing an injury and you could hit the ground running?

A: It was really productive. I’m a guy that likes to work pass rushing by myself. I like to go out and work pass rush by myself a lot. I got to do that a lot by myself. That’s what really felt good. Just being able to go to a local park and just have my cones and have all the stuff I need and just be out there working pass rush by myself. I worked at PEP out in Arizona, I got a lot of great work there. It was a normal offseason for me besides being able to get out there and really work pass rush and overwork every day. That’s what I got back to and that felt really good to be able to get back to working pass rush all the time as much as I want.

May 262020
 
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Andrew Thomas, Georgia Bulldogs (November 2, 2019)

Andrew Thomas – © 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: Offensive Line

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: The more things change, the more things stay the same. That could be the mantra for the New York Giants franchise and their almost decade-long effort to rebuild the offensive line. 2019 was no exception. Expectations were at least slightly raised by the offseason additions of seasoned veterans Kevin Zeitler at right guard and Mike Remmers at right tackle. It was expected that left tackle Nate Solder would rebound from a disappointing debut season with the team in 2018. Center Jon Halapio returned after missing 14 games with a broken ankle and we were told by management and coaches what an underrated player he was. Left guard Will Hernandez was coming off a decent rookie season and was expected to develop into a more consistent player.

Long story short is that the offensive line not only did not improve, at times it looked worse than the ad hoc group that finished the 2018 season. Nate Solder regressed even further. Hernandez stagnated. Halapio sucked and tore his Achilles’ tendon with only minutes left in the season. Zeitler dealt with a number of injuries that most likely affected his overall play. Mike Remmers played as expected as an only adequate, temporary placeholder. As a unit, their play did not exceed or equal the sum of its parts. It played at a lesser and very much disappointing level that did not meet expectations. To be blunt, it wasn’t pretty. Saquon Barkley and his fellow running backs were often facing penetration in the backfield and quarterbacks Eli Manning and Daniel Jones were regularly under siege.

The depth situation was also not good. Seventh-rounder offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei suffered a serious concussion early in camp and was lost for the season. For the second year in a row, back-up center Spencer Pulley did not look good when he played. Reserves Eric Smith and Chad Slade were non-factors. Only 2018 undrafted rookie free agent Nick Gates showed some promise in three starts, one at right guard and two at right tackle.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Dave Gettleman re-signed exclusive rights free agents Eric Smith and Chad Slade in late December before Joe Judge was hired. The team did not tender restricted free agent Jon Halapio and he remains unsigned. Team officials contend they could still re-sign Halapio, but it is somewhat telling that they already gave his jersey number away to another offensive lineman.

Mike Remmers signed with the Chiefs. George Asafo-Adjei was waived/failed physical in March.

Journeyman offensive tackle/tight end Nate Wozniak was signed to a reserve/futures contract in late December. Unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Cam Fleming (Dallas Cowboys) was signed in March. The Giants drafted three offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft, including tackle Andrew Thomas (1st round), tackle Matt Peart (3rd round), and guard Shane Lemieux (5th round). The team also signed rookie free agent guards Kyle Murphy and Tyler Haycraft after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: It’s the same as it has been for almost 10 years. Can the Giants field a respectable offensive line? The Achilles’ heel of the offensive team for the last decade has been the play of the offensive line. Every Giants fan knows that. Under two general managers and three head coaches, the team has spent high draft picks and spent a ton of free agent money to fix the problem with no improvement. The old maxim still holds true, football is indeed won and lost in the trenches. And the NFC East is filled with good front sevens. It’s no wonder why the Giants have become the punching bag for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Giants did not make a big splash this year in free agency (Cam Fleming), it certainly did in the draft by taking three offensive linemen in their first five selections, including the 4th player overall. On paper, things look much improved. The Giants appear to have four potentially adequate or more starters at tackle (Solder, Thomas, Fleming, Peart) and guard (Hernandez, Zeitler, Gates, Lemieux). The obvious sore spot is center. There is no reason to believe Spencer Pulley will develop into an adequate starter. Team officials have already publicly admitted that players such as Gates, Lemieux, and Kyle Murphy will cross-train at at both guard and center.

The hope here is twofold. First, the belief that Head Coach Joe Judge, Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, and Offensive Line Coach Marc Colombo are superior coaches to their predecessors. And not only will they implement more coherent and viable blocking schemes that fit the existing personnel, but they will develop each individual player better. Second, that the Giants have not only improved the level of talent, but also the level of depth.

In the short term, media and fan focus will be on the center position and the development of the rookie tackles. It doesn’t help that the COVID situation has prevented the team from holding on-field spring practices.

ON THE BUBBLE: A lot of fans want to cut Nate Solder now. While an argument can be made to do so, the COVID situation makes it more unlikely that a team would want to rely on untested rookies who missed spring practices. Just as importantly, the team already paid his $3 million roster bonus in March and would be penalized with a sizable cap hit in dead money (almost $10 million if cut after June 1st).

Barring a complete collapse by Solder and/or rapid development of Thomas and Peart, the Giants are likely to keep four tackles: Solder, Thomas, Peart, and Fleming. It would also seem like the Giants will keep at least five interior linemen with Hernandez, Zeitler, Lemieux, and Gates having the inside track. Pulley’s fate may depend on who is on the waiver wire and the cross-training status of Lemieux, Gates, and Murphy.

PREDICTIONS: Things may not be pretty in the short term (this season), but I think FINALLY the Giants made some moves that will settle this position down for the long term (beyond 2020). I’m thrilled with what the Giants did in the draft at this position. With all due respect to Brad Benson, Jumbo Elliott, and David Diehl, the Giants have have not had a left tackle with the skill-set of Andrew Thomas in my lifetime. Thomas has an ideal combination of size/length, athleticism, temperament, and work ethic for the position (Ereck Flowers lacked the latter two qualities). Matt Peart has many of the same characteristics but it is assumed he will take a little longer to refine because he played at UConn. Both started as freshmen. Both have have started at right and left tackle. It is not far-fetched to dream that the Giants may have selected two 10-year starters at tackle in one draft.

Furthermore, Shane Lemieux was one of the best guards in the draft. Like Thomas, he started as a freshman in a major program. Lemieux has the size, temperament, and work ethic you want at the position. I honestly think all three will eventually start for the Giants. I also would not sleep on rookie free agent Kyle Murphy, who has played at both tackle spots, guard, and center. Based on the limited tape I’ve seen of him, this former team captain plays the game you want your offensive linemen to play (VIDEO).

What’s hard to predict is what the starting line will look like in 2020. Nate Solder and Andrew Thomas are going to start at tackle, but we don’t know who will start on each side. If Solder continues to struggle, I would not completely discount seeing Peart or Fleming in there sooner than expected. Hernandez and Zeitler should start at guard, but neither should get too comfortable with Lemieux and Nick Gates looming in the wings. Joe Judge has repeatedly said the best guys will play, regardless of their draft position or paycheck size. Zeitler is one of the better guards in the NFL and should rebound. It will be interesting to see how Hernandez responds to the new coaching staff.

The huge question mark of course is center. Nobody really wants Pulley starting. The hope is that Gates, Lemieux, or Murphy impress enough in camp to quickly take the starting job. But there is not much time.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Cam Fleming, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Kyle Murphy

What? No center? No way! You’re right… I’m going way out on a limb here and predicting that Lemieux, Gates, and/or Murphy show enough potential at center for not only to have one, but BOTH centers on the team to be converted guards. Teams can also carry 10 offensive linemen and I wouldn’t discount that as a real possibility with Pulley (or a waiver wire pick-up) serving as insurance. Again, I don’t think things will be pretty in the short term. But sometimes you have to take your lumps early for it to pay dividends down the road.

The Giants rolled the dice in 1984 with a converted guard starting at center, Kevin Belcher. It worked out wonderfully for the team in the short-term. (Kevin’s career ended the following offseason with a car crash).

At the very least, the depth situation looks very much improved. There will be guys who can come off of the bench and play in this league.