Monthly Archives: August 2017

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants defensive end Owa Odighizuwa has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Monday.

Odighizuwa will be eligible to return Oct. 2.

This is the latest news in a bizarre year for the 2015 third-round pick. Odighizuwa said on Twitter in March that he needed some time away from the game. He was at the Giants facility for the start of the team’s offseason workout program, but then missed most of the spring as he dealt with personal issues.

The Giants excused Odighizuwa from mandatory minicamp in June. He arrived for the start of training camp on July 27 but has declined all interview requests.

Odighizuwa, 25, has played in only 18 games and is still in search of his first career sack. His first two professional seasons had been injury-plagued.

It was hardly a guarantee that Odighizuwa would make the Giants’ final roster this year. He has spent most of this summer working with the third-team defense.

“He’s fighting and battling to catch up,” coach Ben McAdoo said several weeks back. “He has a ways to go; he’s not where he wants to be just yet, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get there.”

The Giants could potentially move Odighizuwa onto an exempt list when the season begins and re-evaluate his standing when he’s reinstated.

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The experts say looking at the sun for too long could burn your retinas. During Monday’s solar eclipse, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was not scared. He was calling their bluff.

What the experts didn’t mention was whether the same warning still applied if viewing the eclipse through a hotel window, which Beckham was doing from Cleveland as the Giants readied for their preseason game against the Browns.

Beckham and punter Brad Wing were having fun with their Instagram followers during the eclipse on Monday afternoon. They were joking about how there was this seemingly once-in-forever event, but wait — don’t look at it.

Beckham didn’t seem to care. He was taking his Ray-Ban sunglasses on and off.
No worries, though. Beckham claims his eyes were working fine. After staring intently into the camera, he joked: “You know what’s crazy. Even after looking at the eclipse, I still can see all these haters.”

This was followed by some laughter. We’ll see if it turns into a non-laughing matter.

Beckham better hope his eyesight really is fine for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener or, better yet, when the playoffs come around.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The laughs coming from the New York Giants’ wide receivers room often can be heard from down the hallway at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. That’s the result of an overflow of personalities at the position.

There’s the energetic Odell Beckham Jr., known as the lead jokester, who has the strongest personality. He’s followed by Sterling Shepard, who is always smiling and singing. Tavarres King contributes with charisma and zingers, Roger Lewis will join in any conversation, and Dwayne Harris is the old sage who commands respect and dishes out the fines. They all do more than their share of dancing, on the field and during the locker room dance parties.

Brandon Marshall is the new guy in the mix, a rare combination of professionalism and personality without the flair or dancing. He should be used to changing teams by now: The Giants are his fifth in 12 professional seasons. That means getting acclimated to new surroundings and becoming comfortable with a different set of teammates while learning an unfamiliar scheme and system. It’s his biggest task this summer.

So far, Marshall is blending in quietly. He has been the older student soaking in all the jokes and noise. The six-time Pro Bowl receiver has taken a backseat in more ways than one. He sits next to his position coach, Adam Henry, in the back of the wide receivers room and, more often than not, allows the bigger personalities to carry the conversation.

“Brandon is real quiet. He’s learning, so he’s quiet,” Harris said. “He’s soaking in all this information because there is so much stuff.”

Harris, in his third season with the Giants and seventh in the NFL, is the ringleader of the group. He dishes out the fines with more regularity than any other member. Shepard said that Harris seems to pick on Marshall and Beckham a little more than the others, although Harris believes he’s harder on the rookies. And it’s hard to fight back. Harris has been known to be quick with the double-fine. This all takes some getting used to, no matter how long a player has been around.

Marshall, 33, has slowly become familiar with the Giants wide receivers’ ways in recent weeks. He’s started to open up to some degree, although he’s still nowhere near the dominant voice in the room.

“Brandon is just accepting that and he’s starting to get people on the fine board, too,” Shepard said. “He’s starting to get up to Dwayne’s level. You better not do anything wrong, Brandon or Dwayne will get you. He’s getting more comfortable.”

It has been showing on the field as well. Marshall had some of his most productive practices this week as the Giants prepare for the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. He noted on social media that increased confidence played a significant part.

What has impressed quarterback Eli Manning most is a player who is constantly trying to improve.

“Brandon’s been great. Every day trying to learn, always has questions for me and we’re trying to figure out what he can do better, how we can get on the same page,” Manning said. “So I think he’s been dialed in and been a great leader and just setting the example for how to be prepared for every practice.”

How Marshall fits in with the Giants has been a question since he signed as a free agent in March. This is the first time since early in his career that he’s not the clear No. 1 receiver. His targets and role are sure to decrease. Beckham remains the Giants’ star.

Marshall’s had his problems in the past (see: Sheldon Richardson and the Jets) and admitted in the spring that some of it was self-inflicted, especially early in his career. He claims to have grown and learned from the past, and since joining the Giants has consistently taken the high road in the one-sided feud with Richardson.

 

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His early reviews — notably with the Giants still undefeated — have been positive.

“For me, he’s been cool,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. “He’s funny, a nice guy, respectable, and I think he’s just enjoying his time here.”

Marshall’s communication skills sold coach Ben McAdoo on the receiver’s ability to be an asset to the team and locker room. McAdoo is big on adding what he calls “talented men of integrity.”
Marshall apparently fit that description, and his role with the Giants is expected to include helping some of the younger wide receivers fine-tune their games. Veterans are expected to lead by example. King described Marshall as “super-vet” while Beckham is a “young-vet, baby-vet.”

Marshall’s ability to teach is something the Giants noticed from the start. He takes his job seriously. He has helped the young receivers refine their technique by giving tips about getting off the line of scrimmage and running certain routes.

“Great teacher, honestly,” Shepard said. “He’s been in the game a long time.”

McAdoo called Marshall a “breath of fresh air” in the spring because of the way he went about his business, which included FaceTiming with Manning during their summer break and keeping in constant contact with Beckham throughout the offseason.

Marshall’s been with the Giants for only five months. He hasn’t even played a game in his latest uniform. His assimilation into the Giants’ wide receivers room and the offense remains a work in progress.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Matt LaCosse has been on the field for the New York Giants, the results have been positive. The problem is that LaCosse hasn’t been on the field often enough his first two professional seasons because of injuries to his right side.

There has been a hamstring problem and knee injury, which ruined his 2016 season. But LaCosse is back and not completely lost in the shuffle despite the Giants drafting Evan Engram in the first round and signing of Rhett Ellison in free agency.
“He is a big target down there in the green zone,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said of tight end Matt LaCosse. “He has a nice skill set.” William Hauser/USA TODAY Sports
LaCosse was the unequivocal star of Friday’s OTA No. 6 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Every time you turned around, he was making another grab over the middle or tip-toeing in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. He caught a pair of fades on finely threaded passes from rookie quarterback Davis Webb. A third red-zone score came on a bullet from veteran Josh Johnson.

“Yeah, he made some nice plays,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “He is a big target down there in the green zone. Matchup-wise he gives you that length that you are looking for, he can run and he is a functional blocker. So he has a nice skill set.”

LaCosse, 24, is in a crowded tight end room with Engram, Ellison, Will Tye, Jerell Adams and several undrafted rookie free agents. But he shouldn’t be overlooked.

When LaCosse (6-foot-5, 261 pounds) was healthy during training camp last year he was receiving first-team reps along with Tye and Adams. Yet he’s sort of become a forgotten name after the offseason additions.

It’s probably a mistake. LaCosse has the talent and versatility to earn a spot on the roster and in the lineup.

“I’m whatever they need me to be. I can be the Y tight end, stick me in-line and I’ll block, I can be split out or if they want me to play fullback, I can play fullback,” he said. “Wherever they need me, wherever they want me to be, that is where I’ll be at.”

Other OTA notables

• With seven projected starters either not attending or sidelined with minor injuries, snaps were plentiful for some younger or unheralded Giants. Second-year defensive end Romeo Okwara continues to receive first-team snaps in place of Olivier Vernon. He flew off the edge on one snap and into the backfield.

With Janoris Jenkins missing the workout and Eli Apple rehabbing on the side, it opened the door for offseason acquisition Valentino Blake and Donte Deayon. Blake knocked down several passes.

Safety Darian Thompson also was more involved as he comes back from a foot injury that ruined his rookie season. He moved well, showing flashes of ability.

Adam Gettis, meanwhile, filled in for starting left guard Justin Pugh. It’s been quite a turnaround for Gettis, who has rebounded to impress after a forgettable 2016 preseason game seemed to doom his Giants career.
• The Giants ran a trick play where wide receiver Dwayne Harris threw a pass to a wide-open Paul Perkins out of the backfield. Perkins was running down the right sideline with nobody within 15 yards of him; he dropped the pass despite it hitting him in the hands. It’s the second time in two practices with the media present that Perkins, whom the Giants have pegged as their starting running back, dropped an easy pass.

• Geno Smith is moving well despite still being (slightly) limited following knee surgery last year. The former New York Jets quarterback isn’t even wearing a knee brace, and is throwing the ball with plenty of velocity. It’s impressive. The Giants are still holding him back some, keeping Smith out of 11-on-11 drills.

• There have been skirmishes each of the past two weeks at Giants OTAs. This week it was rookie defensive end Avery Moss getting into it with offensive lineman Jon Halapio.

• Rookie wide receiver Jerome Lane made some plays one day after being added to the roster. He looked promising in his first action as a Giant.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There wasn’t a lot to glean from the New York Giants’ first practice of training camp. The crowd was somewhat muted as coach Ben McAdoo ran his team through a light practice that didn’t include any offense vs. defense drills. It was more walk-through than practice.

And that was by design.

“[Thursday] we went out and moved them around a little bit, it was good. [Friday] we saw how they responded,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “We didn’t do a lot of heavy work today, had about 3-4 speed periods out there. Dusted them off really, footballwise, and we will go in and take a look at it and we will go from there. We will open it up.”

One thing that was notable during the workout was who ran with the first- and second-team offensive and defensive units. Among those with the starting defense were safety Darian Thompson and middle linebacker B.J. Goodson. Both second-year players are expected to play a significant role this season.
Second-year player B.J. Goodson spent time at middle linebacker with the first-team defense. William Hauser/USA TODAY Sports
Defensive tackles Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas also were with the first-team defense as Damon Harrison was limited by what McAdoo termed as soreness in his lower legs.

The full first-team defense during the first practice of training camp:

DE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon

DT: Jay Bromley, Robert Thomas

LB: B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard

CB: Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple

S: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson

Thompson missed most of last season with a foot injury and was limited during parts of the spring. Safeties coach David Merritt has said he’ll compete for the starting job this summer with Andrew Adams.

But the Giants have high hopes for last year’s third-round pick, who would have started last season had he not been limited by injuries. Friday was an encouraging start.

“I felt good, just getting back out there on the field with my teammates and playing football again,” he said. “It was a long offseason, even the break between minicamp and OTAs and training camp seemed like forever. So it just feels good to get back in the groove again.”

Adams worked Friday with the second-team defense. He was alongside Nat Berhe.

The full second-team defense during the first practice of training camp:

DE: Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn

DT: Corbin Bryant, Jordan Williams

LB: Keenan Robinson, Mark Herzlich, Stansly Maponga

CB: Michael Hunter, Valentino Blake

S: Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe

Second-round pick defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson began with the third team. So did third-year defensive end Owa Odighizuwa after missing most of the spring as he dealt with personal issues.

McAdoo appears ready to make the rookies earn their spots. First-round pick Evan Engram also rotated in with the offense along with Rhett Ellison and Will Tye.

The full first-team offense during the first practice of training camp:

QB: Eli Manning

RB: Paul Perkins (Shane Vereen, during 2-minute offense)

WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard

TE: Rhett Ellison (Evan Engram and Will Tye)

OL: Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Bobby Hart

The full second-team offense during the first practice of training camp:

QB: Josh Johnson

RB: Orleans Darkwa

WR: Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris, Darius Powe

TE: Matt LaCosse (Jerell Adams)

OL: Chad Wheeler, Adam Gettis, Brett Jones, D.J. Fluker, Adam Bisnowaty

Injury update:

• Linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) joined running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) on the PUP list. Thomas still is recovering from an ACL tear last season. “We’ll see how it goes,” McAdoo said. “He is making progress. He is not where we want him to be yet. Hopefully it is not anything that takes too long.”

• Harrison’s lower-body soreness (possibly his knee?) isn’t expected to be serious. He jumped in to a drill late in practice. The Giants don’t seem overly concerned. “We are starting slow with Snacks,” McAdoo said. “He came in in good shape. He was a little bit sore, but we are starting slow with him.” Harrison also missed some time last year early in camp with a knee problem.