Monthly Archives: June 2017

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants completed seven weeks of strength and conditioning, which began in mid-April. They ran through four weeks of OTAs, then concluded with a mandatory three-day minicamp.

The Giants accomplished some stuff this spring. The coaches taught, and the players worked, learned and refined their craft. Coach Ben McAdoo considered it a success.

“The spring is about teaching and learning and jockeying for reps, really, in training camp and in the preseason games, just putting yourself in a better position so that you can go out and compete for a job in training camp,” he said. “So it is more about teaching and learning. … Yeah, we taught well and we learned well.”

After speaking with coaches, players and sources in and around the team, these are the players who stood out most:
Even coming off a strong rookie season, Sterling Shepard was the Giants’ most improved player this spring. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire
WR Sterling Shepard — He was the Giants’ most improved player this spring. That’s saying a lot, since the 2016 second-round pick is coming off a promising rookie season. Shepard’s route-running is probably the best on the team, and he added some power and speed to an already strong, compact frame.

WR Darius Powe — He returned after a year on the practice squad with more confidence and explosion. Powe (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) already had the size. Now he’s just more refined. He has a realistic shot at earning a spot on the active roster with a strong summer and preseason.

WR Travis Rudolph — He’s an undrafted rookie who made his mark in the spring. Rudolph flashed as a wide receiver and even showed some promise as a returner. He caught the coaches’ eyes.

TE Evan Engram — The first-round pick stood out with that 4.42 speed in the spring practices, which McAdoo describes as being in “underwear with their helmets.” Engram flashed an ability to get down the middle of the field and make plays. His body control as a receiver was also noticeable.

TE Jerell Adams — He made a massive jump in the mental part of the game this spring. Adams was a rookie lost at sea at this time last year.

TE Matt LaCosse — Whenever he’s been on the field over the past three years, he’s impressed. This spring was no different. The Giants have high hopes for LaCosse as a receiver and blocker if he can remain healthy.

OL Adam Gettis — He continues to impress the Giants with his work ethic and fit in the offense. Gettis received first-team reps when starting left guard Justin Pugh was sidelined. That wasn’t an accident.

OT Chad Wheeler — The undrafted rookie free agent didn’t appear overwhelmed by the NFL game. He showed enough athleticism and physical ability to provide the Giants hope he can develop into a capable left tackle.

OL Jon Halapio — He had a strong spring and helped his cause by showing versatility with his ability to play center.

DE Romeo Okwara — He built on the momentum from a strong rookie season in which he went from undrafted free agent to late-season starter. It wasn’t an accident that he was working with the first-team defense at OTAs this spring.

DE Avery Moss — The Giants are high on their fifth-round pick. They saw Moss’ size and movement skills in practice and are more confident than before that it can translate at the NFL level. One source insisted to me that Moss was going to be a serious player in the league.

LB Calvin Munson — The undrafted rookie opened some eyes in the spring. He could be an immediate special teams contributor if he earns a roster spot.

LB B.J. Goodson — The second-year middle linebacker made the jump the Giants were hoping to see this spring. Goodson received rave reviews for the way he handled the huddle with authority and moved fluidly around the field. He has the inside track to be the starting middle linebacker. It’s his job to lose.

CB Michael Hunter — His name came up first when defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was asked who impressed this spring. He worked his way into first-team reps and “really stood out,” according to Spagnuolo. Hunter is more confident and stronger. He’s in prime position to be the team’s fourth cornerback after making a ton of plays this spring.
S Jadar Johnson — The undrafted rookie proved he belonged this spring. It’s not exactly a surprise, coming from a program like Clemson. He flashed impressive ball skills and instincts. That was expected. How he tackles this summer may determine his fate, though.

K Aldrick Rosas — The Giants are so pleased with the way Rosas kicked that it’s unlikely they’ll bring in competition for him this summer. They knew about his strong leg, but Rosas also opened some eyes with his accuracy.

FB Jacob Huesman — The former Chattanooga quarterback put on weight and worked with the first-team offense this spring. He also showed well on special teams.

FB Shane Smith — The undrafted rookie out of San Jose State quickly made the adjustment to the pro game and a new offense. With Smith and Huesman having strong springs, expect the Giants to have a fullback on the roster this season.

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The New York Giants added a veteran piece to their defensive line with the signing of tackle Corbin Bryant on Thursday. He had spent the past four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

Center Kahled Holmes was released to create room on the roster. Holmes had been with the Giants since January, but they are comfortable at center with Weston Richburg and Brett Jones as the primary options, and guard Adam Gettis is also capable of stepping in at the position.

Bryant, 29, has appeared in 56 career games — 18 starts — with the Bills and Steelers. He was originally an undrafted free agent out of Northwestern in 2011.

The veteran has spent the past few years as part of the Bills’ defensive tackle rotation. He was used at times as a spot starter. He had a career high 10 starts and 45 tackles in 2015.

Bryant played in eight games last season before heading to the injured reserve list.

He comes to the Giants as much-needed depth on the interior of the defensive line. The Giants don’t have traditional run-stuffers behind projected starters Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas are more shoot-the-gap tackles.

Bryant (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) is a more natural run-stuffing 4-3 defensive tackle who was, at times, asked to play out of position as a nose tackle with the Bills. He should be a better fit in the Giants’ 4-3 scheme.

Bryant originally signed with the Steelers after the 2011 draft. He spent a chunk of his time in Pittsburgh on the practice squad, but eventually worked his way into the mix the following season with the Bills. Bryant became a permanent part of Buffalo’s defensive line rotation during the 2013 season. He has 84 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his six professional seasons.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The injury that sidelined New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for the final four games of the 2016 regular season and a playoff loss was more serious than originally disclosed.

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Pierre-Paul had four procedures — two on his groin, two on his abdomen — during surgery in December.

“Bet you all didn’t know that,” Pierre-Paul said Thursday.

All that was known at the time was that Pierre-Paul was having a sports hernia and abdominal issue repaired. It turned out to be a little more serious.

Still, Pierre-Paul said after the season he would have returned if the Giants had advanced to the divisional playoff round. He said he’s been running and training hard this offseason, and he has been a full participant during the first few days of the team’s offseason workout program.

“I don’t know. I’m just out here doing whatever I can,” Pierre-Paul said. “As of right now, I’m doing whatever I can to help the team. That’s all.”
Jason Pierre-Paul said he’s going to play at a lighter weight this season to increase his speed. “When you get older, you can’t stay the same,” he said. “You have to change things to get better.” Al Bello/Getty Images
The Giants re-signed Pierre-Paul this offseason to a lucrative four-year deal that includes $40 million guaranteed.

Pierre-Paul, 28, was set to become a free agent this offseason, but the Giants used the franchise tag to keep him with the organization that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. He likely would have attracted a lot of interest had he hit the open market.

When asked about a report that the Dallas Cowboys were interested, Pierre-Paul didn’t seem surprised.

“Yes. A lot of teams were interested in me I’m pretty sure,” he said. “I’m here. That’s the most important part.”

Pierre-Paul had seven sacks in 12 games last season. It was a significant improvement from the previous year, when he had one sack in eight games after having his right index finger amputated following a fireworks accident.

“Yes, definitely. I think the best is yet to come,” Pierre-Paul said. “Like I said, I love this game. I wouldn’t trade anything for it. Still blessed to be playing this game. I’m just ready to bring it. I feel much better. My weight is 265. I think I’m going to play at that weight. I came in at 290 my rookie year … 290 to now.”

He lost weight on his own volition, thinking he would benefit by being faster and what he considered stronger.

“I’m older. When you get older, you can’t stay the same,” Pierre-Paul said. “You can’t eat the same. You have to change.

“Football consists of changing. You have to change things to get better. That’s what I’m doing.”

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New York Giants running back Shane Vereen tore his triceps in Sunday’s 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins and is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.

Vereen started Sunday in place of Rashad Jennings and finished the game despite suffering the injury earlier in the contest. An intercepted pass in the final seconds was intended for Vereen.

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The Giants originally called it a season-ending injury on Monday, then backed off in the hope that Vereen could return from injured reserve late this season, if that is still an option.

“I think he was playing [with] it for a significant amount of time,” coach Ben McAdoo said of Vereen’s injury. “I know he’s a tough player, has a warrior mindset. Wish him a speedy recovery.”

It’s a substantial loss for the Giants. Vereen leads the team in rushing with 147 yards on 31 carries this season and is known for his receiving prowess out of the backfield. He had eight receptions in the first three games.

“Shane is a tremendous football player and our thoughts go to him with that tough injury,” McAdoo said. “I feel for the player. He’s a good football player.”

The Giants intend to fill the void “by committee.” Jennings, who has a thumb injury, thought he could’ve played on Sunday and Orleans Darkwa ran well (5.3 yards per carry). Veteran Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins could also see increased roles.

Rainey could see the most significant jump in playing time because his skill set is the most similar to Vereen’s. The Giants used Vereen as their pass-catching back.

Vereen signed a three-year, $12.35 million deal with the Giants last offseason. He’s signed through the 2017 season.

Vereen, 27, posted career-highs with 59 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Giants.