Giants News

Giants Trade Winds: Reese Should Move James Jones


The Giants are not the only team that suffered injuries during this preseason. The Carolina Panthers lost wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL last week, while the Green Bay Packers will be without wide receiver Jordy Nelson in 2015 due to the same injury. Benjamin suffered his injury during a training camp practice, while Nelson collapsed while planting his leg to turn up field following a catch in the Packers preseason game yesterday afternoon with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While these injuries are unfortunate, they create an opportunity for Jerry Reese, who has a surplus of wide receivers and needs along the offense line and in the secondary.

With Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, and Geremy Davis on the roster, the Giants are stacked at wide receiver. Tom Coughlin is also fond of veteran Preston Parker, and Corey Washington, while not performing at as high a level as he did in the 2014 preseason, has enough talent to warrant another season of development. Veteran James Jones leads the team this preseason with 7 receptions for 94 yards and demonstrated that he has plenty of gas left in his tank. He’s a luxury to the Giants, and one they can afford to trade. As a veteran receiver familiar with the Packers offense, he would have particular value to Green Bay, but shopping him to both wide receiver needy teams would be prudent.

While a draft pick would be a viable return for Jones, it’s unlikely he would bring back more than a fifth round pick, given his age (31) and the one year contact he signed with the Giants. An offensive lineman or a safety would more valuable and provide an immediate return on investment for Reese, rather than waiting until the 2016 season for satisfaction.

Lane Taylor is a third year player from Oklahoma State University. Backing up guard Josh Sitton, Taylor sees little playing time for the Packers, but has rated out well this preseason according to Pro Football Focus. By adding another guard to the Giants offensive line mix, Geoff Schwartz could be moved to right tackle and it would give Offensive Line Coach Pay Flaherty another young veteran lineman to work into the mix. In addition, it would allow both Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry to return to backup positions, where they are best suited to reside.

Kurt Coleman is a 27 year old backup free safety for the Carolina Panthers. Having signed with the Panthers as a free agent after spending four season with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Kansas City Chiefs, Coleman is an experienced coverage safety who would fill the Giants need for a veteran at the position. With Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, and Corey “Philly” Brown as the next men up for the Panthers to replace second year receiver Benjamin, the Panthers need at wide receiver is significant. Jones is not as familiar with the Panthers’ offensive system as he is with the Packers’, but a saavy veteran will pick up any offense in short order.

Reese needs to strike while the iron is hot and make his move early this week before another General Manager beats him to the punch. Jones has shown he can still play at a high level in the NFL and both the Packers and Panthers would benefit from his services. The Giants need help along the offensive line or at safety more than they need Jones to play third or fourth wide receiver. Trading him just makes sense, so Jerry, pick up the phone and start dialing.

Giants Practice Reports: August 20, 2015

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On another hot and humid day in New Jersey, the Giants held their last practice prior to Saturday night’s second preseason game with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his pre-practice press conference, Tom Coughlin announced that wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is battling a minor calf strain, will “Probably not” play in the game.

The Giants starting offensive line will be unchanged, with John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse making up the right side, despite the frequent substitutions during this week’s practices. Coughlin did say that Geoff Schwartz would “Get his opportunities” to play at both the right guard and right tackle positions.

Coughlin declined to comment on who would start at the safety positions against Jacksonville, but did say that new arrival Brandon Meriweather was still learning terminology and would see limited action in the same. With Prince Amukamara back at practice, the secondary received some reinforcements, but it is unclear if he would play against the Jaguars. Nat Berhe has been limited to individual drills only while continuing to recover from a calf injury.

Expect the starters to play into the second quarter on Saturday night, as Coughlin said they will “Go a little longer than they did the other day.” Asked that he wants to see from the team in this game, Coughlin answered succinctly, “Improvement.”

As practice started, the list of players sidelined continues to grow, starting with Cruz, Landon Collins (knee), Cooper Taylor (toe), Jayron Hosley (concussion), Rueben Randle (tendinitis), Julian Talley (walking boot), Will Beatty (pectoral), and George Selvie (knee) were all absent from practice. Shortly after the session, in which the team wore uppers, began, Chandler Fenner limped off the field and was examined by trainers. Collins is improving, and did some individual drills and sprinting on the sidelines.

With multiple receivers sidelined, James Jones and Geremy Davis were given some snaps with the starters. Jerome Cunningham took some snaps with the first team at tight end. Odell Beckham caught a crossing route and took it 85 yards for a touchdown, thrilling his teammates and the crowd. Cunningham also caught a touchdown over linebacker Mark Herzlich.

Schwartz started the day with the second team offensive line, taking snaps at right guard. Towards the end of practice, he took some snaps with the first team at right guard.

Jon Beason intercepted Ryan Nassib running the first team defense against the scout team offense. The practice is doubling as a Jaguars scouting session in advance of Saturday’s game.

Ben McAdoo, Offensive Coordinator: Go Out and Make Plays

Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo was disappointed that the productivity the Giants offense had in practice didn’t translate into the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He thought the team came out flat, but have made progress in this week’s practice. McAdoo wants the offense to come out against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night and execute. It’s not about numbers, but about making plays, protecting the football, and putting points on the scoreboard.

McAdoo has set the goals for the season “High,” but won’t share them publicly, although he did say there is only one ultimate goal in the NFL. If the media and fans want insight into the offense’s goals, McAdoo suggests trying to get it from the players.

Don’t blame the offensive line for the Giants offensive woes, said McAdoo, who believes the unit is in a much better place than they were a year ago. That includes right tackle Marshall Newhouse, who McAdoo called “An athletic guy and a smart guy, and a player who is growing comfortable with the guys around him and growing into the role. He did hedge his statement by pointing out that other players are being tried at the position, but showed confidence in Newhouse.

The Giants offense won’t be looking for penalties are part of their strategy for moving the ball. McAdoo says that fundamentally the players need to fight through contact and make plays on the field. While he’s willing to accept the benefit of a flag for pass interference or illegal contact, it’s up to the players to make plays and “Not rely on the zebras.”

When asked again about the offense line, McAdoo said, “We aren’t where we want to be, but thank God we’re not where we used to be.”

Tom Coughlin: What Passing Game?

Coughlin is concerned about the Giants lack of practice time together, as Beckham missed time yesterday due to dental work, Cruz due to a calf strain, and Randle due to knee tendinitis. He’s concerned that without practicing together, the elite passing game that’s been predicted for the team will not materialize on the field. While their absence has provided opportunities to develop the younger players, Coughlin wants his top players on the field. And he wants it to happen soon.

Orleans Darkwa impressed Coughlin last season with his special teams play last season, and has continued to impress with his work on offense this year in camp. Despite their depth at running back, capturing the head coach’s attention is a good way to fight for a roster spot. Playing well on special teams is another.

Dwayne Harris caught Coughlin’s eye as he was game planning against him when he played for the Dallas Cowboys. His work as a gunner on special teams, kick and punt returning, and blocking on offense showed Coughlin a versatility that made him a target for the Giants in free agency. Pointing out that Harris is an “Obvious special teamer,” Coughlin says he takes pride in that role and it shown.

Davis needs to take a page from Harris’ playbook and concentrate on his special teams work. While he’s impressive as a receiver in camp, the Giants depth at the position means his future playing time will depend on his versatility. Coughlin would like to see him as part of the gunner rotation as he has the size, strength, and speed to excel in that role.

Coughlin expects the Giants offense to improve in all areas this season. With teams having to decide which of teams weapon to defend, he expect the offense to be excellent. The offensive line needs to be settled and the team needs to find the five guys that work best together. With Schwartz and Newhouse missing time, it’s given the team a chance to bring some of the younger players along. Bobby Hart is one of those players and had been given playing time at both right guard and right tackle. Coughlin said he’s had good and bad days, but has improved.

Speaking at length about the revised extra point rules, where the conversion is the equivalent of a 33 yard field goal, Coughlin said he thinks is just as important to practice the extra points as it is to run two point conversion plays from the two yard line. Where strategy comes into play, he said, is when there is a defensive penalty, and the ball will move to the one. Pointing out the he expects the Giants extra point success rate to remain at 100%, Coughlin said that wind and other weather factors will be monitored as always, and be incorporated into this game day decisions.

Confidence in the Giants defense is growing, but Coughlin wants to see the unit prove themselves on the field against the Jaguars. As a tough team that wants to run the ball and defend the run, Coughlin sees them as a good test for the Giants.

Tom Quinn, Special Teams Coordinator: Need to See Improvement

Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn manages the workload for his kickers to keep their fresh. They have to kick through the long season and he doesn’t want them to “Kick their legs out.”

Harris, was signed for primarily for his special teams play, and Quinn looks forward to seeing him play on “The Big 4 special teams.” Rookie Akeem Hunt may challenge for the kick return job, but Quinn thought he should have taken his big kick return against the Bengals back for a touchdown. The players are learning and it’s all part of the process.

Davis, who did not play special teams in college, is progressing, according to Quinn, who confirmed he’s being trained as a gunner. It’s different getting free against two defenders on the line, but Quinn tries to keep it simple for the rookie.

The new extra point will not be a big deal, as it meant that the field goal team started their practices from the 15 yard line instead of the two. There will be more of a defensive rush, but Quinn is not worried about it.

Zak DeOssie is a leader, and a football player rather than just a snapper. When the rules were changed to not allow defenders to line up over the center on punts, it allowed DeOssie to get down the field faster and has unleashed the linebacker in the veteran.

Quinn expects the Giants to improve in both net punt and punt return yards based on their off season acquisitions and the work they have done in camp. Their work on the punting and punt coverage team has always been significant, but Quinn said they increased their workload on punt returns. They investments and hard work should pay dividends in September.

Eli Manning: I Don’t Know Where That Came From

Sweeping the internet like a Khardassian magazine cover, a statement attributed to Eli Manning that he wants to be the NFL’s highest paid player is completely false, according to the Giants quarterback. Not only did he not make the statement, but neither did his agent. He’s uncertain if it was a reporter “Trying to make a name for himself,” or if it came from anther source, but Manning said it’s not true and declined to comment on his contract negotiations.

Manning learned of the report fro his father, Archie Manning, and immediately contacted the Giants Vice President of Communications, Pat Hanlon. Assuring him that the source was unreliable, Hanlon told Manning not to concern himself and to focus on practice and preparation for Saturday’s game against the Jaguars.

Plays that have been made in practice need to translate onto the field, said Manning, in response to how the offense can improve it’s performance. In their second season in McAdoo’s system, Manning expects the offense to be faster in the early part of the season, with adjustments made more rapidly, and fewer mental errors. Having gotten more practice reps with Beckham and Cruz, Manning expects to hit more plays with them as well.

In the game on Saturday night, Manning wants to sustain drive and put point on the board. If the offense plays fast and gets into a rhythm, he sees that happening.

Victor Cruz: A Small Hiccup

Coughlin called it a product of dehydration. Cruz called is a “Little tweak” from running around and his increased practice reps. The topic, of course, is the calf strain that kept Cruz out of practice yesterday and will most likely keep him out up to and including Saturday’s game.

Pointing out that the strain is not in the leg that suffered the torn patellar tendon, Cruz assures all concerned parties that it’s completely unrelated to his knee injury and it’s minor. Feeling “Light years better” than when it happened on Tuesday, Cruz is certain he will be able to return to practice next week and play in the Giants third preseason game against the New York Jets.

“It’s not going to be a huge hindrance,” said Cruz, “It’s not related to the knee and is just a small hiccup on the road to recovery.”

Expecting the offense to be considerably better in the second year of McAdoo’s system, Cruz said that “If we can get everyone out on the field at the same time, we can be a force.” Speaking with confidence about the talent on the team, and be sure to mention that it’s on both sides of the ball and special teams, Cruz said he sees the Giants as ready to take the next step.

Giants Training Camp Notes: August 17, 2015

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On another host, steamy, humid day in New Jersey, the Giants took to the practice field while four player rode stationary bicycles on the sideline. Safeties Landon Collins (knee) and Cooper Taylor (toe) were joined by left tackle Will Beatty (torn pectoral) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) on the bikes. Rueben Randle (knee tendonitis) and Nat Berhe (calf) missed practice, while Prince Amukamara (groin) started out the day working with trainers on the sideline.

There was some good news for Hosley on the injury front as tests on his neck came back negative. Hosley is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will need to be cleared before he can resume practicing. Victor Cruz declared himself 100% healthy and expects to play against Jacksonville on Saturday night. He will likely be on a very limited snap count. General Manager Jerry Reese echoed Cruz’s optimism regarding playing in Saturday’s preseason game.

Collins being able to ride the exercise bicycle as well as do some light jogging on the sideline is an excellent indicator that his strained MCL is starting to heal. This is on top of yesterday’s day-to-day injury designation rather than the expected week-to-week. Last season, an MCL injury forced running back Rashad Jennings to miss 4 games. Cruz caught a touchdown pass early in the practice session. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas returned to practice today after missing yesterday with a stiff neck.

The first team offensive line again featured John Jerry at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. After three plays, Geoff Schwartz rotated in for Newhouse at right tackle. Later in the practice session, Jerry kicked out to right tackle for a few snaps. Adam Gettis was flattened by Kenrick Ellis in a late drill. Rookie Bobby Hart also took some snaps at right tackle with the second team.

At the other position of great concern, Jeromy Miles and Bennett Jackson lined up as the first team safeties. New arrival Brandon Meriweather rotated in with the first team early in the session. After finishing his work with trainers, Amukamara took part in some defensive drills. Amukamara and Collins took part in the defensive walk through.

Defensive end George Selvie walked off the field gingerly, seemingly favoring his ankle, and spent some time getting examined by the trainers.

Odell Beckham went up high again Jackson to snare a pass and came back later to catch another touchdown. One of the NFL’s top receivers, Beckham is giving the Giants banged up secondary all they handle on a daily basis.

Preston Parker went to the sideline and had his thigh wrapped. Julian Talley, who had a strong game on Friday, caught a sideline pass against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Talley has had a strong camp, but is swimming upstream with the Giants deep receiving corps.

Coughlin gathered the team for a long speech after practice and they cooled down before going in for the evening.

Tom Coughlin, Head Coach: Teach and Make Corrections

Tom Coughlin addressed the media in advance of this evening’s practice. He spoke of Meriweather, whom he called a physical safety who comes down in the box well. He also said that Meriweather will add a degree of toughness to the secondary, which is something you want. Regarding Meriweather’s penalties and “Other issues,” Coughlin said you obviously don’t want those, but believes that the competitive Meriweather will be open to coaching.

Asked why Meriweather was available in August, Coughlin revealed that he has a toe issue that was corrected and that the Giants, among other teams were monitoring it. The timing was perfect, given the team’s need. At 31 years of age, Coughlin considers nine year veteran Meriweather a young man who is “Not ready to be put to rest, yet.” The sarcastic side of Coughlin emerged when Meriweather’s fit on the team was asked as he replied, “He’s a safety, we need safeties.”

Coughlin again emphasized that he expects a big season from Eli Manning, citing his preparation, physical condition, and drive. In a great state of mind, Coughlin said Manning, “Is prepared to be better than he’s even been.”

Cruz went through yesterday’s entire practice and is ready to be back out on the field again today. While he has to do things gradually, Cruz has shown he can increase his workload and is moving well. Coughlin did not reveal a timetable for Cruz to appears in a preseason game.

Schwartz took some snaps at right tackle yesterday when Newhouse overheated and had to go into the training center. Coughlin said Schwartz has played on both sides of the line and will play where ever the team needs him. Despite the time he’s missed with his foot/ankle issues, Coughlin assumes that he is available until told otherwise, without restrictions. With his return to practice, Coughlin needs to see him on the field to know Schwartz can be counted on.

Coughlin said the offense, defense, and parts of the special teams need to improve based on Friday night’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals. The coaches have looked at the tapes, will teach the players, and make corrections. While it seems like an over simplification, it’s the way of the NFL world. There’s no panic or overreaction to one preseason game.

Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator: Play More Physical and Faster

Steve Spagnuolo joined the chorus of voices that says the Giants didn’t start out Friday’s game with the Bengals the way the team had hoped. But he points out that they went into the game without a game plan and played a very vanilla defense. The long run plays given up are something Spagnuolo believes can be corrected, and he was encouraged be how the young players performed in the red zone, where Cincinnati was often held to field goals. Spagnuolo did add that he’s prefer that opponents not be allowed to get into scoring range in the first place.

One of the issues, offered Spagnuolo, is that players were thinking too much, causing them to be delayed in reacting. We wants them to think fast and react, to chase perfection, and to make up for the lack of it with relentlessness. Spagnuolo takes responsibility for the first touchdown surrendered, and would have played the formation differently in the regular season if a game plan had been in place.

Of new safety Meriweather, Spagnuolo called him an aggressive talented player. He knows Meriweather would prefer not to change his playing style, but believes time away from football may soften his stance in that regard. The NFL’s safety rule has forced aggressive players to lower their strike zone, and Meriweather needs to follow suit. One can assume this was a conversation before his signing and one that will be a frequent topic while he’s remains with the team.

Trevin Wade, who has an interception in Friday’s game, is a player who deserves recognition according to Spagnuolo. He’s always around the ball, makes plays, and has stepped up when other players have been injured. Spagnuolo said that Wade is a player that no one knew about when camp opened.

Of Miles, who is fighting for a starting safety job, Spagnuolo said he’s viewed as a career special teams player and backup, but is a hard worker. He was signed because he’s a known quantity, but has “A ways to go, like we all do.”

Speaking of the defensive ends, Spagnuolo said they will be moved around and inside as long as the defense puts them in position to do so. Asked about Kerry Wynn, Spagnuolo said he’s a solid football player who made some uncharacteristic mental errors on Friday. He added that Wynn is getting better as a football player every day.

Collins’ knee injury will set him back, but he’s standing with Spagnuolo at practice to stay in tune with the defense. On field experience is invaluable to a rookie, especially one that who will have responsibility for making defensive calls, and missing time mean he has to play catch up. Spagnuolo would prefer to never start a rookie, but Collins experience at Alabama made him an exception to that rule. Losing time to his MCL sprain may offset his advantage.

Spagnuolo said he can’t really miss Jason Pierre-Paul because he’s never worked with him. Wishing him good health and a speedy recovery, Spagnuolo said he’ll for an opinion about his abilities when he returns to the Giants.

Devon Kennard is a good football player who is a versatile strong side linebacker. He can play off the line or line up with his hand in the dirt. Spagnuolo wants to keep him healthy and take care not to overload him, but is challenged because Kennard wants “More and more.” Spagnuolo describes these as “All good qualities.”

As far as improving the defense’s performance, Spagnuolo wants to see his players be more physical and play faster. He said that “You can make up for a lot of mistakes if you do that.”

Geoff Schwartz: No Different at Tackle

Schwartz doesn’t feel 100%, but he won’t expect to until next season. He says that no players ever feels 100% after the first day of camp and that the best players overcome it over the course of the season. Schwartz practiced yesterday and is practicing again today and does not expect to miss any more practice due to his ankle.

Playing tackle is not a big adjustment for Schwartz, who says that most of the adjustments are made off the field. When you’re in a game and the coaches say, “Go play right tackle, you have no time to think about it. Your training takes over,” explains Schwartz. There are different angles, but I’ve played all over the line and it’s not that different.

As for playing Saturday against the Jaguars, Schwartz doesn’t see why not. “If I practice all week, I don’t know why I wouldn’t play. I’m approaching this week as if I’m playing on Saturday.”

Robert Ayers: Something to Build On

Robert Ayers is learning and getting better every day and while he admits to making some mistake, he also knows he’s doing some things well. Working on being a leader on the Giants defense, Ayers is also trying to become a better person, leader, and teammate. And he is enjoying learning from new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

When reviewing film, Spagnuolo point out nuances on opponents formations. “He puts you in a position to be successful,” says Ayers, “It’s football 102.” Ayers goes on to say that Spagnuolo makes little comments when he’s explaining plays that allows him and others to gain a greater understanding of how offenses are attacking them.

“I expect to completely dominate whomever we play. I expect it of myself and of my teammates,” said Ayers in response to a question whether the Giants poor performance against the Bengals on Friday was the expected outcome. He added that no matter how they played, corrections would be needed.

In good performances, there are things to correct, and in bad performances there are things to correct. It’s something to build on, explained Ayers. He also said he doesn’t remember anyone’s preseason records from last season.

Trevin Wade: Aggression with Technique

Wade worked with his college strength and conditioning coach to get ready for camp as he believes Corey Edmond knows his body best. Wade is having a solid camp, so there must be something to it. Edmond texted Wade after Friday night’s game, but not to congratulate him on his interception, but to point out that he should have held on to the one he dropped. Wade laughed as he relayed the story and said he will find Edmond where ever he goes to work out with him during the off season.

When on the field, whether with the first team defense or not, Wade is focused on the defensive call, reading the offensive formation, and making a play for the team. He wants to do his job or, as Wade puts it, “Coach says Do your job plus.” He didn’t specify which coach, but it’s likely cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.

At the conclusion of yesterday’s practice, Wade defenses a pass to Beckham that resulted in an interception by Bennett Jackson. It was after Beckham has made a leaping catch on Wade and he was mad about that play. Assuming the offense would test him again, Wade was resolved to better defend the Giants top receiver and did, making a highlight sensational play with Jackson’s assistance.

Wade said he was aggressive which, it was pointed out, the coaching staff has said will cover up mistakes. Wade corrected the statement, saying that it must be “Aggression with Technique,” because without technique, the unbridled aggression will only result in busted plays.

Giants Training Camp Notes: August 16, 2015

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Prior to practice, the Giants released a lengthy injury report that contained some good news. Jameel McClain (stinger) and Geoff Schwartz (ankle) both returned to practice, bolstering the linebackers and offensive line, respectively. Landon Collins (MCL sprain), Trumaine McBride (hamstring), Rueben Randle (tendinitis), Nat Berhe (calf), and Prince Amukamara (groin) are listed as day-to-day, indicating that their absences are not expected to be long term.

Chykie Brown (LCL sprain) is listed as week-to-week and Jayron Hosley is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, indicating a potential longer term absence. Additionally, Hosley has a cervical issue in his neck that is still being examined. It was reported yesterday that rookie Mykkele Thompson would miss the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The team held private free agent tryouts prior to practice and Giants360 will bring you the names of the players that attended and those signed as soon as they are available. Jonathan Casillas also missed practice with a stiff neck.

The Giants signed veteran safety Brandon Meriweather, who spent four seasons with the New England Patriots, including his rookie season with the team that lost Super Bowl 42 to the Giants. Meriweather also spent a season with the Chicago Bears and three seasons with the Washington Redskins. Know more for being a big hitter than a coverage safety, Meriweather’s Pro Football Focus ratings bear this reputation out. Meriweather has been fined four times by the NFL for helmet to helmet hits and it was his 2010 hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap that caused the NFL to start suspending players for these infractions.

Meriweather was suspended for such a hit on Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall during the 2013 season, which caused Meriweather to say, “I guess I just got to take people’s knees out. That’s the only way. I would hate to end a guy’s career over a rule, but I guess it’s better other people than me getting suspended for longer. You just have to go low now, man. You’ve got to end people’s careers. You got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees. You can’t hit them high anymore.”

As practice started, the Giants secondary was made up of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trevin Wade at the corners and Bennett Jackson and Jeromy Miles at safety. If and how quickly Meriweather ascends into the starting lineup will be a storyline over the next two weeks. Wade had an interception in Friday night’s game and is a young player to watch. He appears to be carving out a role for himself on the team.

The offensive line shuffling continues, as Schwartz took some snaps at both right guard and right tackle. The right side of the line was an issue against the Bengals and exploring options to sure it up will be one of the objectives for the coaching staff this week. John Jerry and Schwartz were a frequent combination at right guard and tackle, respectively, with Marshall Newhouse rotating out of the first team. Rookie Bobby Hart also took some snaps at right tackle. Newhouse was missing towards the end of practice, having left practice “Overheated.”

Dwayne Harris dropped a pass from Ryan Nassib that hit him in the hands. Later, when the first team offense was back on the field, Odell Beckham caught another touchdown from Eli Manning.¬† The large crown assembled for this evening’s practice roared it’s approval. Manning then fired touchdowns to Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell on this next two passes, giving himself a camp hat trick. Towards the end of practice, Beckham made a leaping catch over Wade and to again thrill the crowd.

Jerome Cunningham was the target on back to back plays. One was broken up by J.T.Thomas, and the tight end hauled in the second. Corey Washington made a diving catch, showing the concentration he lacked in the Bengals game on Friday night. Cunningham later blocked Thomas completely out of of relevance on a running play.

Practice ended with Wade defending a pass intended for Preston Parker and Jackson making a diving interception on the play.

Geoff Schwartz: No Setback, But I Need the Reps

Schwartz was upset that he missed the joint practices with Cincinnati as it was a team bonding event that everyone was looking forward to for the entire off season. Calling his absence from practice “Frustrating,” Schwartz said it wasn’t a setback, but part of the process of getting his body back into shape from last year’s injuries. He’s excited to be returning to practice today.

It’s expected that his ankle will need to be managed on an ongoing basis, but Schwartz does not expect to miss significant practice time between now and the regular season. “Everyone’s goal is to be ready for week one,” said Schwartz, “But honestly, I need the reps.” Saying that he missed out last week, Schwartz added that he had no doubt moving forward that everything will be ok.

The offensive line’s performance in the preseason opener, “Didn’t go how we wanted,” according to Schwartz, but he won’t blame it on the injuries and moving players around. He said that’s part of training camp – rotating players around. He did concede that it’s difficult to build chemistry as an offensive line if you don’t have the same five players on the field. Hopefully his return marks the upswing in the offensive line’s play for 2015.

Odell Beckham: We Have to Play Better

Those five simple words summed up Beckham’s take on the review of the game film from Friday Night’s preseason opener with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants have noted their mistakes, will learn from them and move forward starting with today’s practice. Beckham said his statement applies to the wide receiver group and the team as a whole. Employing a 24 hour rule after games, the team does not dwell on their performance. They review, they learn, and they correct. Those corrections start today.

Beckham sees the talent running deep in the Giants receiving corps, and admits that there will be a tight competition for roster spots next month. “Everyone can play,” says Beckham. But the competition is friendly, and the receiver push each other and want to the one another succeed.

Jim Herrmann Linebackers Coach: Block Destruction

The Giants linebackers coach, Jim Herrmann saw the team’s linebackers getting off blocks and getting to the ball on Friday night. Called “Block Destruction” on the meeting room, Herrmann was pleased with what he called “Quite a few plays” made by the linebackers and liked how they knocked back the Bengals on numerous occasions.

Asked about Uani Unga, the middle linebacker who caught everyone’s eye on Friday night, Herrmann said he “Did a great job for a young player.” Having suffered a knee injury as a senior at BYU, Friday night was Unga’s first game in a year and three quarters. Herrmann likes his development, saw him make quite a few plays, and saw him take over as the “Mike” linebacker and line up the Giants defense. Herrmann added that for a stocky player, Unga moves well.

Jon Beason was also seeing his first game action in almost a year, and Herrmann thought he had a good command of the defense. “He made the calls and I liked what I saw in his limited snaps,” said Herrmann.

Pressed as to whether Devon Kennard would take over for Beason should he suffer another injury, Herrman pointed out that due to roster limitations, the five or six linebackers on the 46 man game day roster all play dual positions. What positions they cover changes due to injuries and the week to week situation. Kennard has played middle linebacker in practice and done well in the role, but it currently an outside linebacker.

Having done a good job in his increased role as a blitzer, Herrmann called the balance between practicing the blitz and practicing coverage skills a “quandary.” He added that you need to get the reps in when you can in both roles.

Free agent acquisitions Thomas and Casillas are both speedy linebackers who run well and have range. Herrmann says that helps in coverage and in backside pursuit. Currently, the team in still installing defensive packages, and the linebackers that will be used in the defense will be ultimately determined on a week to week basis by the individually tailored game plans. Herrmann added that each linebacker’s unique abilities will be taken into account when making those decisions and that the flexibility is nice to have as a coach.

Craig Johnson, Running Backs Coach: Competition

The Giants running back rotation is far from set. Running backs coach Craig Johnson is putting the backs in different situations to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each man. That process will continue until it’s time to prepare for the season opening game in Dallas on September 13th. Once that date draws near, a rotation will be determined, giving each player touches and also put the team in the best position to win games. Translation: Don’t read too much into who gets snaps, and draft a Giants runner on your fantasy team at your own risk.

Johnson relishes the competition, and says he’s yet to meet a coach that doesn’t. He speaks of the strengths of each player. Shane Vereen, the smart, touch veteran who can make plays on early and late downs. Rashad Jennings, who trains hard and will do more in his second year in the McAdoo offense. Andre Williams, a tireless worker who spent the off season trying to improve his weaknesses.

In the Bengals game, Johnson said the running backs did “OK” and added that they didn’t lost the game, but also didn’t help the team win. He wants to see the running backs “Pick it up as a unit.” The one exception is Orleans Darkwa, who Johnson said was good in all three phases, running, pass blocking and running routes, but he added that he doesn’t want any “One week wonders.”

Of Darkwa’s performance, Johnson said he had speed to the hole, set up his blocks well, was in good timing with the offensive line, and finished runs well. The last point, finishing well and forward on tackles, is key, as it can turn 3rd & 6 into 3rd and 2. Of the other backs, Johnson said they’ve performed at a high level in practice and he wants to see it in the games.

Williams came out of Boston College not having caught a pass in his senior year. Johnson said he is nothing like the player scouted at the combined in February 2014. Pointing to the screen pass he caught on Friday night, Johnson said that the old Williams would have dropped that pass because of sight lines, but because of this work, he caught it for a 16 yard gain. A blind ball drill, catching countless tennis balls, and game situation drills in practice have made Williams a better receiver. Johnson said the results are evident on the field.

When giving advice to his backs, Johnson sums it up succinctly, “If there is something there, make more of it. If there’s nothing there, make something of it.” If they heed those words, their part of the rotation will increase accordingly.

Rashad Jennings: Chemisty

Jennings is not alarmed by Friday night’s loss. “It’s game one,” he said, adding that the team didn’t perform, but they’ve been productive in practice and in the joint practices with the Bengals. They just need to transition that to the games.

Calling their deep group of runners a “Stable,” Jennings admires the differing skill sets and points out that the team will need every body going down the stretch. Emphasizing the body, in everybody, Jenning’s play on words was a commentary on their running back injuries, including his own, in 2014.

Urging patience regarding the loss in the preseason opener, Jennings said that you can’t get on an emotional roller coaster. “Win, Lose, or Draw,” said Jennings, there are things we have to learn from the day. He also said that the offensive line is building chemistry after having players moved around. “Chemistry is a word you never see on a trophy,” said Jennings,” but it’s the reason you win one.”

As far as he and his fellow running backs, Jennings said what they need to work on is common sense. “Breaking more tackles and other common sense items.” Adding that it applies to all the team’s positions, Jennings added that “Excellence is in the details.” He is starting to sound more like Coughlin every day.

Cooper Taylor: Getting the Details Down

Each of the safeties in Giants camp, all nine of them, or the eight remaining with Thompson out for the season, is comfortable and confident that he can perform at this level, according to Taylor Taylor. But he also sees every rep taken in practice as a chance to get better.

Jeromy Miles, having been exposed to Spagnuolo’s methods previously, is a great leader, and has been a great asset to the young safeties. Working in tandem, but in constant changing rotation in practice, the Giants safeties have built a rapport with each other. It’s stronger with some of their backfield partners than others, admits Taylor, but they all built it with each of the other safeties.

Having surrendered 428 yards to the Bengals, Taylor admits that there is a lot of room for improvement at the safety position. Keeping in mind that it’s the first time this new Giants defense went against “Live bullets,” Taylor said they team needs to get the details down and perform better. The details are the alignments and techniques that will make the defense more effective on the field and practice reps along with game experience will make that a reality.

Five Positions to Watch in Tonight’s Preseason Opener

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It’s Only Preseason, But…

It may only be a preseason game, but the Giants take the field for the first time since last December for a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals. Position battles are raging, and Tom Coughlin reminded his players through his post practice press conference on Wednesday that starting jobs and roster spots are still up for grabs. Here are the five most interesting position battles to watch when you tune in at 7:30 tonight. The real fun starts after the established starters sit down sometime late in the first quarter or early in the second.

Giants Training Camp Notes: August 12, 2015

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The second day of joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals featured both teams wearing shells – upper pads with shorts. It’s done in low contact drills and allows the coaching staff to emphasize technique with the players

The joint practice again started with special teams, but unlike yesterday, the Giants did not look crisp. Geremy Davis did have some strong moments from the gunner position.

With Geoff Schwartz still sidelined, the first team offensive line remained unchanged. John Jerry stepped in for Schwartz, and the other four starters are the men presumed to be in place on opening day. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg showed the ability to work effectively in tandem, holding Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins at bay on consecutive plays. Marshall Newhouse was not as solid, allowing penetration several times during the team drills.

Bennett Jackson, who appears to be recovered from his weekend quad injury, was practicing with the cornerbacks, displaying his versatility. Along with Trumaine McBride and Josh Gordy, Jackson lined up as a nickel corner. Jeromy Miles lined up with Landon Collins as the first team safeties with Jackson playing corner. Jayron Hosley remained in the starting lineup with Prince Amukamara still sidelined.

Bengals running back Jeremy Hill made a one handed catch in front of Jon Beason that was reminiscent of Odell Beckham. On a later play, Hill was flattened by defensive end Brad Bars. Unappreciative of the hard hit, Hill threw the ball at Bars, drawing a penalty flag.

Beckham ran for a touchdown on a reverse during the early part of team drills. Victor Cruz was allowed to work against the Bengals defense during these reduced contact drills. He was held out of yesterday’s full contact practice.

Davis made a leaping catch for a touchdown over Adam (formerly Pacman) Jones and drew praise from his teammates on the sideline.

Collins had his ankle looked at by trainers and Mykkele Thompson stepped in for him during part of the drills. After testing his ankle, Collins returned to finish the drill with the first team defense.

Ryan Nassib threaded a pass to Adrien Robinson between three Bengals defenders. Robinson made a great catch for a touchdown on the play. The two connected again during the two minute drill portion of practice on a pass over the middle.

There were some breakdowns in the secondary resulting in deep completions over Thompson and Collins. There will be kinks in the secondary that need to be worked out and it’s unlikely they will be resolved until the first part of the regular season.

In his post practice press conference, Coughlin revealed that Cruz will not play on Friday night. As is traditional in the first preseason game, the starters will play one or two series, including Eli Manning and Beckham. Coughlin did not know if Rueben Randle would be available for the game.

Asked about the safety competition, Coughlin said he hopes it will resolve itself on the practice field before the regular season starts. He also said that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is dealing with a “A little bit of a groin,” but he’s playing through it.

In Friday’s game, Coughlin wants to see the rookies give a great effort and play hard. He pointed out that there are plenty of roster spots up for grabs.

Jeromy Miles: Undrafted Free Agent Mentality

Enjoying some time in Cincinnati this week, Miles played there from 2010 to 2013 before signing with Baltimore. As an undrafted free agent, he felt overlooked and carries that chip with him to his day. Every time Miles steps onto the field, whether it be for practice or in a game, he wants to prove he belongs there.

Practicing against the Bengals is a good test, says Miles. Players like A.J. Green, his former teammate, test your abilities. And with his past, he never takes them for granted.

Robert Ayers: Attacking Defense

List Robert Ayers among those current Giants who have joined the Steve Spagnuolo fan club. Appreciating how the Giants defensive coordinator trusts his players knowledge of the game and puts them in position to make plays has impressed Ayers. Seeing the defense as much more aggressive, he says that Spagnuolo wants the Giants to attack and be relentless, and do damage on their way to the ball carrier.

Ayers also sees Spagnuolo as a good teacher, as he not only explains the defense, but tell you why, how, and what he is trying to accomplish with each play. Also explaining how an offense might try to counter the defense’s tactics, Ayers like that Spagnuolo in not content to allow opponent to dictate the game and manipulate them. Admitting that Spagnuolo’s defense is complicated, Ayers said he’s simplified it to make easier for the Giants players to digest.

Practicing against he Bengals has been a good measure of progress for the Giants defense, and Ayers believes they “Held their own” against a good Bengals offense. He identified Owa Odighizuwa, Jay Bromley, and Damontre Moore as players who performed particularly well, and beamed with pride while describing their accomplishments.

Ayers is particularly impressed with Odighizuwa, who he predicts will be a “Monster” once he refines his game, given how quickly he picked up the defense.

Shane Vereen: Leadership Qualities?

One of the reasons the Giants signed Shane Vereen is because he came from the world champion New England Patriots, and Vereen realizes the team would like to them to spread that winning attitude throughout the locker room. But Vereen said he first need to “Get my feet on the ground and know what I’m doing.”

Seeing the Giants as a new team and a new page in his story, it sounds as if Vereen doesn’t see himself as a natural leader. He did admit that his winning pedigree was discussed when he visited the team during free agency, but may not be a role he’s comfortable in. If he starts converting critical third down, the coaching staff and front office might not care.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: I Just Play Ball

Staying back and letting the young safeties make their mistakes has been one of the most challenging parts of training camp for Rodgers-Cromartie, who realizes it’s part of the learning process. He praises Miles, who he’s seen help his young counterparts make strides in their play since he arrived two weeks ago.

Asked how his role has changed under new coordinator Spagnuolo, Rodgers-Cromartie says it’s the same as he’s “Still on the outside covering guys,” but did conceded that the scheme is much more aggressive. The attacking style puts pressure on the cornerbacks as the smallest little things leads to an opponent’s touchdown. Rodgers-Cromartie doesn’t worry too much about it, as he says the cornerbacks just have to “Go out and compete.”

Paired with Amukamara, Rodgers-Cromartie would not rank them as a tandem in comparison with others in the NFL. When pressed, he simply said, “I don’t know. I just play ball.”

With the defensive line getting a good amount of pressure on Bengals quarterbacks yesterday, Rodgers-Cromartie sees a potential Jason Pierre-Paul return as just adding on to the talent. He believes the defense will be scary if, and when, the defensive end returns to the Giants.

Geremy Davis: Improving

Rookie wide receiver Davis describes going against the Bengals in practice as “Fun” because it feels like a game. He’s also appreciative of the opportunity to see how different cornerbacks play coverages and work against opposing receivers. Davis believes the joint practices are making him and the team better.

Seeing the Bengals defense this week will make him better able to match up against them on Friday night, says Davis. Rookie often experience a sort of culture shock in their first preseason game as they are only practicing again teammates. This week has exposed him to different players, but also those he will see on Friday. His first true test against a blind opponent will come next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Davis appreciates the coaching he is receiving as both a wide receiver and special teams player and sees himself improving in both areas. He says that assistant special teams coach Larry Izzo has “over-coached” him due to his limited college experience. It’s made him think about special teams more and improve his techniques. Given his standing on the wide receiver depth chart, special teams play will determine if he makes the team in September.

Giants Depth Chart Has Some Surprises

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The Giants released their first “Unofficial” depth chart for 2015 and there were some surprises on it. Take a look at how Tom Coughlin would present his team if the season opened today:

Brett Jones is the third team center. Jones, the Canadian Football League import, has not climbed up the depth chart yet. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said that Jones has had “More peaks than valleys” in this time with the Giants, but he’s stuck in a valley behind Weston Richburg and Dallas Reynolds at the moment.

Emmett Cleary is the backup left tackle. Right now, you are asking yourself “Who is Emmett Cleary?” He’s a first year tackle out of Boston College who stands 6’7″ and weighs 324 pounds. Changes are, if something happened to Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh would slide over to left tackle, as has been the case in practice, but according to the depth chart, Cleary is the next man up.

James Jones is running with the fourth team. Perhaps the biggest shock on the offensive depth chart, Jones is listed behind the likes of Juron Criner and Geremy Davis among the wide receivers. Having signed for the veteran minimum, Jones will truly have to earn his way up the ladder to garner a spot on the opening day roster.

Daniel Fells is the starting tight end. Fells, not Larry Donnell is the starter at tight end. This is likely a function of Donnell’s Achilles injury and Fells veteran status, but it’s surprising nonetheless. Jerome Cunningham has been one of the stars of training camp, but he’s still listed as fourth string behind Adrien Robinson.

Kerry Wynn is the starting left defensive end. Wynn has also been one of the stars of camp, but unlike Cunningham, his play has apparently impacted his standing on the defensive line. Wynn must have truly impressed the coaching staff to have risen to the top this quickly.

Robert Ayers is the starting right defensive end. The implication is that Damontre Moore is limited to a reserve role, most likely as a situational pass rusher at this point. George Selvie, thought to be one of the starters is third string behind the aforementioned three and rookie Owa Odighizuwa.

Nat Berhe is third string safety. Absolutely a function of his calf injury, Berhe has hardly practiced and had no chance to work his way up the depth chart. At the rate his summer is going, Berhe is looking at a season on injured reserve.

Landon Collins and Bennett Jackson are the starting safeties. No surprise here, as this has been the most common first team combination in practices for the first week and a half of camp. The real test will come when the preseason games start and opposing receivers challenge them deep. The severity of Jackson’s quad injury will also affect the depth chart for this position. If he misses significant time, one of the other safeties will pass him, like Berhe has been passed.

No surprises at linebacker. Devon Kennard, Jon Beason, and J.T. Thomas are the starters. It’s been that way since minicamp and will likely stay that way through opening day, barring injury.

It’s important to note that this depth chart is unofficial, and training camp practices and the preseason games will give players and opportunity to change it. Coughlin often uses devices like this to send messages and motivate players to reach their potential. It does, however, provide a glimpse into the coaching staff’s mindset and give us some insight into who has the advantage in the early going. True answers won’t come until cut down day on on September 1st (To 75 players) and September 5th (To 53 players).




Giants Training Camp Notes: August 8, 2015

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On another mile summer day in New Jersey, the Giants had a fully padded practice in advance of an off day prior to traveling to Cincinnati for join practices with the Bengals. Their injury list swelled again with safety Bennett Jackson (Quad) and linebacker Cole Farrand joining Prince Amukamara (groin), Nat Berhe (calf), Geoff Schwartz (ankle), and Jameel McClain (stinger) on the sidelines. Jackson has been one of the superstars of camp and seemed to be on track for one of the starting safety positions.

Ereck Flowers and Weston Richburg returned to the practice, moving Justin Pugh back to left guard and somewhat stabilizing the offensive line. With Schwartz still sidelined, John Jerry took with first team reps at right guard, with Marshall Newhouse remaining at right tackle.

Damontre Moore was extremely active along the defensive line, enjoying one of his best practices to date, often penetrating and disrupting the offense’s rhythm. Jeromy Miles took first team snaps at safety beside Landon Collins, taking the place of Jackson, who has been a fixture in the defensive backfield.

The offense made some plays in 11 on 11 drills, with both Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz catching touchdown passes from Eli Manning. Odell Beckham enjoyed a spectacular practice, beating both Chykie Brown and Josh Gordy with athletic catches, one for a long touchdown down the left sideline.

Brown is taking first team snaps for Amukamara after Jayron Hosley received the majority of the snaps in Thursday’s fully padded practice. Hosley appeared to give up on a play, surrendering a long play and drawing the ire of the coaching staff. After Johnathan Hankins dove and landed on him, Brown went down, holding his right knee and screaming profanities. After having his knee tested for stability, he got up and walked off, obviously hobbled, with trainers. Hosley took Brown’s place with the first team defense.

Ryan Nassib showed off his strong arm, overthrowing both Geremy Davis and Corey Washington.

Cornerback Trevin Wade registered the first official interception of Manning in camp with a leaping interception on a pass intended for Randle. A potential interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Thursday’s practice was “Overturned” when coaches reviewed practice videos. Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Manning later in practice, giving the quarterback two on the day. Manning later found James Jones for a touchdown. Jones has been especially impressive with his downfield blocking during camp.

Owa Odighizuwa was one of the stars of today’s practice, making several plays int he backfield and showing a quick first step. He beat tackle Brandon Mosley, the former guard, several times.

Coughlin spoke with Jason Pierre-Paul and said it was good to hear his voice, but he’s no clearer on when the defensive end might report that prior to the conversation. He declined to speculate on a time frame.

Cruz will travel to Cincinnati, according to Coughlin, but it’s unclear if he will practice or play in the preseason game. He’s “Moving along very well,” per the coach.

Coughlin has already addressed the team in the wake of the brawl that broke out in the Washington/Houston joint practices. Coughlin wants “Good, hard practices, but none of that.”

Pat Flaherty, Offensive Line Coach: This Will Be a Good Offensive Line

Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty knows that all of his offensive linemen want to be on the field, but can’t because they are injured. As a coach, he doesn’t spend time worrying about things he can’t control, and injuries are among those items. Flaherty disagrees with former Giants center Shaun O’Hara who called the player’s toughness into question. Saying it’s an issue if injury, and not mere soreness, Flaherty cites daily discussions with Tom Coughlin. Flaherty calls O’Hara’s statements “One man’s opinion.”

Flowers and Richburg took part in yesterday’s jog through, bolstering the line, and their availability for today’s more strenuous practice, left up to trainers, was a welcome sight.

Players are being shuffled about in different positions, all part of the effort to identify the best starting five combination and foster versatility among the linemen. It’s a plan that Flaherty has used successfully in the past. With so many linemen sidelined, it’s given a chance for veterans and rookies alike to make an impression on the coaches.

While he’d like to see the five regular season starters identified before training camp ends, Flaherty cautions that it won’t end the competition for positions. “You want coordination, communication, and chemistry among the linemen, but the attitude from the players that I’m going to get a job is something you always want to see,” says Flaherty.

Regarding Flowers, Flaherty says it’s always bad when a young player misses time, but his attitude is great, and that he was “Chomping at the bit” to get back onto the field. Flaherty also noted that Flowers pass protection skills are improving.

Pugh appears to be a man in flux, as he’s taken snaps at both left tackle and left guard in camp and Flaherty was remarkably non-committal about his future. What’s important, said Flaherty, is that Pugh win his position, run or pass, on every play. There are technique differences between the two positions, varied angles, and subtleties. Flaherty thinks it’s good for Pugh’s development to know both and mentally consider the differences as he takes reps.

Of Brett Jones, the Canadian linemen who won every award imaginable in the CFL, Flaherty said, “He’s developing every day, and has had more peaks than valleys.”

Calling this group of linemen a talented group, Flaherty says they are far from having arrived, but that’s why the team practices. He believes there are enough linemen in camp to form a good offensive line. It’s appears that the coach is not looking to add Jake Long or Evan Mathis any time soon.

Landon Collins: First NFL Game

Even though it’s a preseason contest, Collins sees next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals as his first in the NFL, and he’s exciting. It follows a week of joint practices, that will feature the unknown, and that’s fine withe Collins as well. Seeing players in helmets other than blue will help the defense measure their progress, and it’s important to know where they stand.

Adjusting to the depth of his backpedal is the biggest change for Collins, who lined up deeper in Alabama. He’s closer to the line of scrimmage in the Steve Spagnuolo scheme, and that changes how far and fast he has to backpedal.

The safeties also control the secondary, and reading their keys and lining their teammates up correctly will prevent “Bomb plays and wide receiver running free.” While Collins adjust to the new scheme, he’s also trying to communicate with a rotating group of teammates and win a starting job. Chemistry is important, and he believes the secondary will have it, once the dust settles and the starters emerge. He plans to be one of them.

Trumaine McBride: It’s Like a Preseason Game

Cornerback Trumaine McBride compares the join practices with the Bengals to another preseason game. He expects the players to be fired up and things to be “Chippy” because they are practicing against player that are not their teammates. But because it’s a practice, and it will be controlled, he’s not worried. McBride calls it a mindset, seeing different receivers and formations and not knowing what to expects. It’s exciting for the players to see something new after lining up against the same men day after day.

McBride is not worried about where he ranks on the cornerback depth chart, but rather he concentrates on making the team first. That’s his focus every summer and this year is no different. What is different is his position, where McBride is playing nickel corner rather than outside, and is learning the nuances of that position.

Also different is taking direction from the young safeties who will be calling the signals in the secondary. McBride is not concerned as he says is incumbent upon the cornerbacks to know they their jobs.

Lining up against the Giants wide receivers gives McBride a unique perspective on Cruz, who the cornerback says looks good. “He’s fast, still quick, and his hands are there. He’s the same,” says McBride.

Roster Shuffle

The Giants signed rookie safety Justin Halley. To make room on the roster, wide receiver Chris Harper was waived with an injury designation. Halley is the ninth safety on the roster as the team continues to try out seemingly unlimited combinations to find the best starting combination for opening day and the best four to keep on the final 53 man roster.

Giants Training Camp Notes: August 7, 2015

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It was a mild summer day with low humidity, and the Giants enjoyed what Tom Coughlin called a “Mental, learning day,” following two days of fully padded practices where the team went all out. Ereck Flowers, Weston Richburg, and Prince Amukamara returned to the field, while Nat Berhe, Geoff Schwartz, and Jameel McClain did not. It was short, uneventful practice, where two sets of offensive and defensive teams squared off simultaneously before scurrying off the field.

Justin Pugh: Giants Line was the NFL Standard

One of the story lines of the early part of training camp is the Giants offensive line injuries, and Justin Pugh would like to see his teammates back on the field. Pugh qualified his statement, however, adding that he wants them back healthy, and not too soon making them prone to re-injury or aggravating the injury that’s kept them out of the lineup.

Getting the camaraderie going on the offensive line is important, and seeing the five regular season starters gel as a group is important, say Pugh, but not at the expense of their regular season fitness to play. In that regard, Pugh disagrees with former Giants center Shaun O’Hara, now a NFL Network commentator, who called out the injured player this week. Pugh and O’Hara have talked, and while the men disagree, Pugh knows that O’Hara’s statements come from his loyalty to the Giants organization.

“He wants to see those guys out there because he knows it’s important for us to win games,” explains Pugh. Adding that he respect O’Hara and what he accomplished as a Giants player. He added that Geoff Schwartz told the Giants linemen that when he was with the Carolina Panthers, they studied the Giants offensive line, calling it the NFL standard at the time. Something Pugh would like to see happen again with this generation of Giants linemen.

Asked if his playing left tackle in Flowers absence is hurting his development at left guard, Pugh said it still allows him to work on his left side technique and he is logging time at the guard position as well. The Giants value flexibility, and Pugh wants to be able to play left tackle, if needed, and know practice time at the position will give the coaching staff a comfort level with using him in that capacity.

The injuries on the line has opened the door for the younger players in camp to get additional practice reps, something that Pugh things is a great opportunity for them. “It’s huge for those guys to show the coaches what they’ve got,” says Pugh.

As for the joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals next week, Pugh doesn’t know what to expect as the Giants have not held joint practices during his time with the team. He believe they will be more intense, with players anxious to put their best performances on for their respective coaching staffs. He knows they will pull back to avoid injuries but says the practices will be as close to game intensity as possible without being an actual game.

Odell Beckham: It’s Going to be a Great Year for All of Us

Odell Beckham sees the offense as starting to click and sees it as a harbinger of a great year for the team. Despite limitations on his practice time, Beckham is feeling good, has opened up at times, but is also taking is slower. “I’m just trying to make it through as many practices as possible,” says Beckham, who missed almost all of training camp in 2014.

Don’t ask Beckham what his practice limitations are, however, as he will tell you that’s up to the trainers. “I’m feeling pretty good,” he explains, but his hamstrings are on his mind constantly. “Ask anyone who’s run track or pulled a muscle,” says Beckham. Adding that no matter how hard you try to put prior injuries out of your mind, they are always there.

Beckham doesn’t understand the NFL’s rules on what constitutes a catch any better than the rest of us. His advice to his fellow receivers, “Don’t let the ball hit the ground. Don’t let it go. Just don’t give them an opportunity to review it.”

Expect Giants receivers to line up in many different spots in their offensive formations this season. It’s something they started doing last year and have expanded in 2015. It’s designed to prevent defenses from playing coverages designed for specific receivers and limit their ability to game plan.

Beckham was surprised by the autograph incident last week at Giants training camp where fans mobbing him in an effort to get his autograph caused bleachers to collapse. Saying that he never wants to see children in harm’s way, Beckham added that he hopes there will never be a similar incident.

Robert Nunn, Defensive Line Coach: Each Defensive End Does Something Well

Many of the questions for defensive line coach Robert Nunn centered around on of his star pupils, absent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. But Nunn can offer little about Pierre-Paul’s injury, saying multiple times that he only knows what he’s read about it and has no idea when Pierre-Paul might return to the team.

“I’ve spoken to him, and texted with him frequently,” says Nunn, “His response has been: Coach, I’m good, I’m going to get myself right and I’ll be back.” Nunn added that most of what they talk about is unrelated to football and a favorite topic is how Nunn misses “Busting his chops in meetings.”

Of most concern for Nunn, and everyone in the Giants organization, player, coach, and front office, is Pierre-Paul’s mental and emotional well being. Everyone has let him know that they are there for him, and will help him in any way we can, Nunn added.

As far as the Giants defense is concerned, they are proceeding as if Pierre-Paul won’t be back, and haven’t changed their plans in light of his absence. Steve Spagnuolo’s system is being installed, adjusted, and tweaked, the same way it would if all the defensive ends were present. Nunn is impressed with the players he has to work with and says each one has something to offer and does some things better than the others.

Kerry Wynn has stepped up when given the opportunity, and “Is a different player with the pads on then when they are off.” Owa Odighizuwa is “Off to a good start, but we need to get him into better condition.”

When speaking about George Selvie, Nunn calls him a hard working professional who shows up every day and does what’s asked of him. Selvie’s attitude “Bleeds through the whole room.”

Johnathan Hankins, who earlier this week said he’d like the opportunity to rush the passer in obvious passing situations, may get that chance, if he earns it, according to Nunn. The coach was impressed with his work on pass rushing and wants to see him continue to develop.

The NASCAR package that features four defensive ends may not be used exclusively in a passing situations as it is vulnerable to the run. The coaching staff is evaluating their options at this point in camp. Stopping the run is a challenge that’s been issues to the defense and the players are rising to the challenge. Nunn knows they won’t be able to gauge their progress until they face opposing offenses in live games.

Markus Kuhn is a player who has improved each season, and Nunn sees him as one who didn’t have a lot of production, but caused a lot of production on the field. Working to improve his foot quickness and agility, Kuhn needs to stop leaving plays on the field to increase his playing time.

Giants Training Camp Notes: August 6, 2015

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On another warm New Jersey day featuring low humidity, offensive linemen are dropping like flies at the New York Giants training camp. Left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor), center Weston Richburg (knee tendonitis), and right guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle) were all missing from today’s practice. If you add in original left tackle Will Beatty (torn pectoral muscle), that’s 80% of the Giants presumed starting offensive line on the sideline in today’s fully padded practice. It’s the team’s second consecutive full contact day.

The “Starting” line for today’s practice, from left to right, was: Justin Pugh, Adam Gettis, Dallas Reynolds, John Jerry, and Marshall Newhouse. Disaster would not begin to describe the situation if this were the opening night line in Dallas on September 13th. Fortunately, none of the injuries, save Beatty’s, sound serious, and the player’s absences can be attributed to training camp conservatism. As we learned in 2013, offensive line issues can stymie and offense.

Joining the linemen on the sideline were safety Nat Berhe (calf), cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), and linebacker Jameel McClain (stinger). While this sounds like an abundance of injuries, the Giants have avoided any of the season ending variety thus far, which is better than a lot of teams and puts them ahead of last season’s league leading 22 season ending injuries pace by a wide margin.

Victor Cruz dropped a pass in an early individual drill and went right back for another rep where he caught it, drawing cheers from the crowd. Later, in the team portion of practice, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie challenged Cruz on a play and the wide receiver was able to use his quickness to beat him. Making moves like that at this point in camp is a very encouraging sign from the still rehabbing Cruz.

Odell Beckham beat Rodgers-Cromartie on a play shortly thereafter, but the cornerback got his revenge, registering the first training camp interception of Eli Manning on a pass intended for Cruz. Considering that this is the sixth camp practice, it’s encouraging that Manning is protecting the ball so well. Scrambling right on the play, Manning appears to still struggle with his accuracy when on the move.

Bennett Jackson made his fourth straight “Start” at safety in today’s practice. The converted cornerback would appear to have captured the coaching staff’s eye and is making the most of his opportunities. Jackson registered a “Pick-6” on a pass from third string quarterback Ricky Stanzi as he logged some extra work with the reserves.

Owa Odighizuwa racked up a virtual sack, showing speed off the edge by beating backup (backup, backup) tackle Emmett Cleary and getting to Ryan Nassib before the ball was away. Michael Bamiro, the resident pugilist, was pushed into the backfield by Mark Herzlich, who then made a stop on a running play.

Damontre Moore beat Newhouse with pure speed consistently throughout practice, which is particularly concerning given that Newhouse is currently slated to be the opening day starter at right tackle.

Shane Vereen and Andre Williams alternated as the starting running backs with Rashad Jennings logging his reps with the second team. Vereen was sprung on a long run behind strong blocking by Henry Hynoski and Pugh

The minor injuries continue to mount as wide receiver Preston Parker is having his hamstring wrapped and tight end Adrien Robinson is flexing his left shoulder repeatedly. There is some good injury news, however, as tight end Larry Donnell appears to be moving well and recovering the the Achilles issue that has slowed him during the spring and early part of camp.

Practice ended with a field goal kicking competition between the offense and defense. The offense won this round, compelling the defense to do pushup before heading inside.

Tom Coughlin’s post practice press conference was an extended injury report given the rash of them that the team has suffered of late. Schwartz has a situation that will “Have to be managed,” said Coughlin, and he hopes that he will be able to practice hard a couple of days per week.

Jameel McClain will be out for a while, given the nature of his injury and his history. McClain has spinal stenosis, the same condition that forced David Wilson to retire before last season. Berhe has a torn muscle in his calf and Coughlin could not provide a time frame for his return.

Coughlin could not provide a time frame for Flowers or Richburg returning. He said, “When I hear day to day, I don’t know what to expect. They seem to be doing ok.” Coughlin noted that Flowers was running on the sideline and thinks he could be back soon. He also praised Dallas Reynolds for his work in Richburg’s absence.

Amukamara has a groin injury, and Coughlin said his return time frame is complicated by the position he plays. The good news among these reports  was about Donnell, who Coughlin said is gaining mobility every day. He also noted that the tight end has been making some nice block, an area where he struggled last season.

Finally, Coughlin spoke about Eli Manning’s best football being ahead of him despite him being 34 years old. He bases this assessment on Manning’s off season, strength, the success he has in the spring, and his knowledge of the offense. The coach expects that 2015 will be Manning’s finest season.

Eli Manning: Feeling Good

Manning did not know what to expect from Cruz when camp opened, but is pleased with the receiver’s progress and says he looks great running routes and coming in and out of his breaks. Everything is not smooth, as Cruz is still learning Ben McAdoo’s offense, but Manning says their timing and communication is improving and he sees no issues with Cruz getting back into the flow of things.

Next week’s joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals will be a great break in the monotonous training camp routing, and Manning is looking forward to it. Different from a game, because there will be minimal film study and no game plan, Manning knows that the Bengals have a strong pass defense and looks forward to facing it. “We will have to adjust based on what we see and what they do,” explains Manning. He is anticipating the new routing, the travel day, and even the bus rides. The pace of practice will also be picked up with different players on the other side of the field.

Manning is not concerned about his missing offensive linemen, saying the backups have done a good job with their assignments and picked up the blitz well. He’s focusing on making good reads and good decisions on a play by play basis and trust his linemen to handle the protections.

The return of Mike Sullivan as quarterback’s coach is just fine by Manning, who worked with him a lot when he was wide receiver’s coach, and developed a great respect for him during Sullivan’s first stint with the team. He did point out that the spring was a bit different when Manning has a better grasp of the new offense than Sullivan, but that the coach has caught up. Manning did reveal that there are times when both need assistance from McAdoo in understanding some nuances of the system.

Manning feels better now than he did at the same point last season, and credits a new nutrition and workout regime. He’s also focused on preserving his arm strength so it’s as strong in December [and January] as it is now. “It’s important not to get stuck in your ways,” says Manning, adding that Coughlin preaches that frequently. As he ages, Manning has been listening to his body and adjusting accordingly.

Johnathan Hankins: A New Leader Emerges

Listening to defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins speak, it’s easy to be reminded of George Martin, a stalwart of the great Giants defenses of the 1980’s. Talented, but humble, Hankins doesn’t take his position on the team for granted despite having a breakout season in 2014, where he recorded an impressive seven sacks from his defensive tackle position.

“Last season, I had to prove myself, and I think I had a pretty good year,” explains Hankins, “But this year, I still have to prove myself.” While Hankins is earning his spot on the roster, he’s also helping the new faces on the Giants defense assimilate. He’s sees camp as harder this season as the team is learning the Steve Spagnuolo defense and everyone is working together to get on the same page.

With the coaching staff trying multiple combinations to find the one that works the best, Hankins just wants to make the most of his opportunities and prove that he belongs on the field for three downs. Spagnuolo often moves defensive ends inside in passing situations, making Hankins compete with defensive ends, as well as tackles for playing time. He’d like Spagnuolo to know he’s up to the challenge of rushing the passer and allowing the ends to get additional rest in passing situations.

Asked about his 2014 season, Hankins said he thinks he did “Pretty good and held his own,” but when you look at the Giants defense’s ranking and statistics, it tells a different story. Measuring performance in the NFL is more than looking at one guy, explains Hankins, who wants to see the defensive line step up and stop the run more consistently this season.

Asked about Jason Pierre-Paul, Hankins says he will be missed as his mere presence on the field causes offenses to adjust. He texts frequently with his absent teammate because “He’s our
brother,” and Hankins wants to keep him informed about what’s going on with the Giants. It’s another way Hankins is stepping up as a team leader.

Pressed about his Pierre-Paul is faring, Hankins said he is doing well, rehabbing his hand, and he’ll be back when the time is right. As with seemingly all Giants players, coaches and staff, the message is the same, wishing the best for Pierre-Paul, hoping he’s back with the team soon, and reserving further comment.

Nat Berhe: A Frustrated Man

Berhe thought he was fully recovered from his spring calf injury and then when going through some drills realized something was still off. After consulting with trainers, he’s been out of practice for several days and has no idea when he will be able to return.

“You get frustrated,” says Berhe, about missing practice time, “Especially with this great opportunity that we have.” Berhe is referring to the open competition for starting roles at his safety position. By missing practice time, he falls further and further behind in his quest to secure on of the starting spots.

He know if he pushed too hard, he’ll have a setback, and Berhe said that his type of injury is not like a broken bone that has a set healing time. He plans on taking this day by day and seeing what happens. Meanwhile his frustration remains.

To keep his mind occupied and active, Berhe get a printout of the defense’s play sheet and follow along from the sidelines, offering teammates his observations and helping them if he sees something that they may have missed. The coaches are also asking Berhe to talk to teammates at times, keeping him mentally engaged while his calf heals.

Berhe has an MRI taken today, but is still awaiting the results.