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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Throughout the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings spent ample time on third-down conversions in the red zone and goal-line situations, both on offense and defense.

New Orleans made it inside the Vikings’ 10-yard line on four different possessions on Monday. Three of those ended in a field goal. On the other, Drew Brees converted for an 8-yard touchdown that wouldn’t affect the outcome of the game.

Minnesota’s defense should be quite pleased with how it faired against the third-best red zone scoring offense from 2016. Slowing down Brees wasn’t going to be an easy task, but the unit found ways to apply pressure.

“I think Drew Brees was having to get the ball out of his hands before he really wanted to,” Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison said after the game. “We blitzed well and we were able to rush with our front four pretty well.”

What’s more, the Vikings won the battle on defense by not forcing a single turnover and registering a sack.

“We didn’t anticipate we were going to get a whole bunch of sacks because [Brees] gets the ball out quick,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday. “He’s a tough quarterback to defend. They’ve got a Super Bowl-winning coach over there. We were just trying to fight, scratch and do what we could.”

The defense could be taking a similar approach in Week 2, given the difficulty in containing who’s under center.

Minnesota goes from Brees to Ben Roethlisberger in back-to-back weeks when it faces the Steelers, the top team in ESPN’s power rankings, in Pittsburgh this Sunday. Like Brees, Roethlisberger is notoriously difficult to bring down. He was sacked a total of 27 times last season and was only sacked three or more times twice last season.

The Vikings faced Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning, all Super Bowl or MVP-winning quarterbacks, in a three-week stretch early last season en route to a 5-0 start.

While facing quarterbacks of the caliber of Brees and Roethlisberger certainly provides the defense with an early-season measuring stick, Zimmer is more focused on what the team will learn from its game plan for the entirety of the Steelers’ offense.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to play a lot of potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks as we continue to go forward. Just trying to take one week at a time. This week is a different week. The offense is going to be different. The preparation is going to be different. It’s going to be about how we prepare defensively for this offense. This offense is different than the other offense we just played, even though the quarterbacks are both excellent.”

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NEW YORK — Phil Simms is headed to the studio.

A fixture as a game analyst at CBS for two decades, Simms will join the network’s “NFL Today” cast for the upcoming season.

Simms recently was replaced as the top game analyst at CBS by Tony Romo after the Cowboys quarterback retired. Simms and CBS Sports president Sean McManus had been discussing Simms eventually moving to “NFL Today” for several years. He has experience in a similar setting from his work on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL.”

“When Sean told me he wanted me in the studio, I thought about it a bit,” Simms said Wednesday. “I told him I would like to do [games] a bit longer. I love doing the games, meeting during the week with coaches and players, getting the inside info. It is the best.

“But I also thought that I will work in New York and watch all the games instead of prepping for two teams, and will have all week to study the league, and that really intrigued me.

“There are a lot of things I don’t get to say on games I have a chance to say now. There are a lot of things I would like to talk about that I never would have talked about during games.”

Simms joins Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Bart Scott and James Brown as part of the program. He says he’s more than comfortable being part of that lineup, and looks forward to some pointed conversations among the group.

“James and I get along really well,” he said, adding with a laugh, “on ‘Inside the NFL,’ we’re always playing footsie because I want him to send it back to me so I can challenge something someone said, or make a comment.

“Boomer and I have known each other for years and we do not have thin skins, so we can say anything with each other.

“Of course, Coach Cowher, well, he’s the coach, and we are going to disagree a lot because we were players and he was a coach.

“We all love football, and I think that will come across, and I hope we talk about the aspects of the game I have opinions about that are different from what you hear on some other [shows].”

McManus is certain that will be the case. His network received criticism for the Romo announcement that seemed to leave Simms in the cold. Instead, McManus believes the former quarterback who was part of two Super Bowl titles with the Giants is entering a new and productive phase of his broadcasting career.

“When the news hit that Tony Gonzalez would not be back on the show, this seemed logical,” McManus said. “We had a number of discussions about it and I was excited about it, and [Simms] was excited.

“This will be good for viewers. Anyone who has watched just 30 seconds of ‘Inside The NFL’ will know that.

“One of the things I like best, Phil has strong opinions, but he has a way of doing it in a very respectful way. And you see the interaction they have on ‘Inside The NFL.’ It’s really good stuff, a really good mix.”

Mixing in Thursday night games to Simms’ schedule made viewers wonder if the workload had become too heavy. Simms strongly disputes that, noting that he felt last season was the best on Thursday nights for the network.

“A lot of people said it wore on me, and I am not going to say it physically was easy,” Simms said. “I told everyone over the years, man when that game is ready to start, I never felt I was not completely prepared, and I couldn’t wait for them to turn the camera on.

“So that stuff is not true, it was never to the level where I couldn’t handle it.”

What about handling being absent from the broadcast booth after so many Sundays (and Thursday nights) behind the microphone?

“Yeah, the excitement of just being there, hearing the crowd, the prep and talking to the coaches and players who are such a part of it,” he said. “But I will probably get over that pretty quick.”

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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.

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The New York Giants open training camp on July 27 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Eli Manning, Josh Johnson, Davis Webb

The plan is to carry three quarterbacks after selecting Webb in the third round. He’ll likely serve as the third-string QB this season. The question is whether Johnson or Geno Smith wins the backup job behind Manning. It could hinge on how quickly Smith picks up the offense.

RUNNING BACKS (5): Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman, Orleans Darkwa, Shaun Draughn

Perkins has already been pegged the starter and Vereen remains the passing-down back after missing most of last year with a torn triceps. Darkwa and Draughn stick because of their all-around skill set, including their ability to play special teams.

FULLBACK (1): Shane Smith

The Giants want to have a fullback, despite not carrying one last season. It’s between Smith, a rookie out of San Jose State, and converted running back Jacob Huesman. The more experienced blocker and natural fullback, Smith earns the job.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris

This is going to be among the fiercest competitions. Roger Lewis and Darius Powe can contribute as receivers, but they miss out because the Giants see Harris as their special-teams ace. King, meanwhile, proved late last season that he was underutilized and deserves more opportunities to make plays. He looked good again this spring.

TIGHT ENDS (4): Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Matt LaCosse, Jerell Adams

The Giants have depth at tight end with Engram being selected in the first round, Ellison signed as a free agent and LaCosse returning from injury. Something tells me Will Tye becomes expendable (via trade) late this summer, as long as this group can remain healthy. His pass-catching skills aren’t needed with Engram on the roster.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, Adam Bisnowaty, Chad Wheeler, John Jerry, D.J. Fluker, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Adam Gettis

Not a lot of change in this group from last year. Only a sixth-round pick (Bisnowaty) and undrafted free agent (Wheeler) are added to the mix. It’s a risky approach considering the line’s struggles in 2016. Pressure is on Flowers and Hart, especially with mostly inexperienced options in reserves. Guard/center Brett Jones is the odd man out in this group. Gettis’ ability to play center allows him to serve as Richburg’s backup.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Devin Taylor, Avery Moss, Romeo Okwara

The Giants’ roster is heavy on defensive ends. As a result, Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa, who spent the spring handling personal issues, aren’t on the list. The Giants are especially high on Okwara and Moss, and if Taylor proves to be a quality rusher from the interior on passing downs, he’ll have a spot. Pierre-Paul and Vernon are the unequivocal starters and rarely come off the field.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Corbin Bryant, Jay Bromley

It comes down to Bromley or Robert Thomas for the final spot. This is a make-or-break season for Bromley, a third-round pick in the 2014 draft. Thomas was claimed off waivers last year and was active for eight games. Bryant’s ability as a run-stuffer makes him more likely to stick after Johnathan Hankins left as a free agent this offseason.

LINEBACKERS (5): Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson, Keenan Robinson, Mark Herzlich

Herzlich will face competition from rookie Calvin Munson and Deontae Skinner for a special-teams role. But it’s hard to bet against the veteran at this point. Herzlich seemingly finds a way to stick every season, and this year is no different. The rest of the Giants’ linebacking corps is set. Casillas, Kennard, Goodson and Robinson are locks.

CORNERBACKS (5): Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Valentino Blake, Michael Hunter

The top three are set. Jenkins and Apple start on the outside and Rodgers-Cromartie has settled into a nickel role. Behind them it’s a free-for-all. Hunter looked solid this spring and should make a jump in his second season, and the Giants seem to like Blake. Donte Deayon could earn a backup nickel role, but his lack of size (5-foot-9, 158 pounds) hurts on special teams. It is possible the Giants will add another veteran corner this summer.

SAFETIES (4): Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe

Safety, like tight end, has suddenly become a deep position for the Giants. The fourth spot will have Mykkele Thompson — because of his ability to play nickel corner — Berhe and Eric Pinkins in the mix. Watch out for Pinkins. His special-teams ability makes him a threat. Berhe sticks as long as he’s healthy, because he’s still the best contingency plan in case anything happens to Collins. But Berhe has missed 25 games the past two seasons with injuries and was sidelined for more than half of last season with a concussion.

SPECIALISTS (3): Kicker Aldrick Rosas, punter Brad Wing, long-snapper Zak DeOssie

No surprises here. The Giants don’t even have another kicker on the roster. It’s Rosas’ job to lose. And if he does lose it, his replacement is coming from the scrap heap. DeOssie and Wing are set in their roles.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One of the biggest competitions for a starting job with the New York Giants this summer will be at the last level of their defense. The free safety position is up for grabs, and second-year players Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams are both in the mix. Thompson was slated to start last season before injuries ruined his rookie year. Adams was an undrafted free agent who did enough in 13 games and this offseason to garner serious consideration for a starting spot come September. “Yes, that is the thing,” secondary coach/safeties David Merritt said. “That is what I’m saying about him and Darian Thompson. To sit up here and say that Darian Thompson is going to be the starter with Landon … Andrew Adams has proven that he at least has a chance to compete for that job. And that is what he is doing every day. I’m excited.” The Giants have always had high hopes for Thompson, taking him in the third round of last year’s draft and expecting him to contribute immediately before a foot injury spoiled his rookie season. Merritt raved about the way he plays and take notes. If Thompson’s performance this offseason mirrors that of last spring and summer, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be opposite Landon Collins in the starting lineup come Week 1. Thompson’s skills complement Collins well: The former is known as a natural center fielder, while the latter plays all over the field and thrives in the box and near the line of scrimmage. “Darian’s skillset is suited really for the pass,” Merritt said. “But he has come so far in understanding run fits and understanding gap schemes. But I think he’s more suited for the pass. So that kid understands route concepts, he understands a leverage position, so he does a very nice job with that.” Thompson’s chances at starting hinge on his ability to stay healthy. While he’s been practicing pain-free at OTAs this spring, he has to last through the summer, because Adams’ skillset extends well beyond his Herculean softball talents. The Giants coaches believe he went to work this offseason and added quickness. “That is one thing I’ve seen already, his transitional skills,” Merritt said. “His ability to stick his foot in the ground and transition from a break. He actually has worked on that and gotten better.” The Giants spent several years searching for safeties. Now it appears they have several starting-caliber players. Nat Berhe, when healthy, has also shown flashes of brlliance over the past few years. But Collins is the secondary’s centerpiece. He’s coming off an All-Pro season where Merritt believes he played at a 9-9.5 out of 10. The Giants are hoping for something similar this year. Finding the right complementary piece to patrol the secondary alongside Collins will be a goal for the Giants’ coaching staff this summer. Thompson and Adams both have their upsides. “Any guy out there with Landon right now will be an asset,” Merritt said. “Landon’s skillset, we’re going to always constantly make sure that Landon is in a position where it is going to be best suited for him. Is it suited for Darian Thompson to go down and play as a linebacker in the box? Maybe or maybe not. We have to see him on the field and see what he can do. “Right now, Landon’s skillset will, no matter who the safety is, it’s going to be a complement to his ability to roam around where the other guy can play a little more deeper, a little more centerfield.” Thompson is the more natural center fielder. Regardless, the Giants feel they are in a no-lose situation with the Thompson-Adams competition. “Either guy back there,” Merritt said, “is going to be an added bonus for our defense.”

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The six-week summer respite between the end of minicamp and start of training camp can be handled with varied approaches. This is the time of year when players are allowed to stray from the team’s organizational structure and create their own programs, which ultimately provide different paths to the same summer finish line.

The New York Giants, like the rest of the teams in the NFL, have 90 players spread across the country, going about their business of preparing for the season and/or taking time off to reboot. That many variables can be dangerous, keeping coaches up at night thinking about the possibilities of what could go wrong.

But it’s the offseason. This is summer break. There is no right or wrong approach. Only … different.

Here’s how a few Giants will spend their break:

WR Odell Beckham Jr. — Some Giants returned to their offseason homes and began training on Monday, several days after minicamp ended. Beckham is one of them. He returned to Los Angeles to work with his trainer, Jamal Liggin. He will grind until a “taper down” phase later in the summer that is designed to keep his body fresh heading into training camp.

Beckham held his second-annual Citi camp on Saturday in New Jersey. That night, he hopped a flight home and was preparing for the season less than 48 hours later. He views it as a continuation of the work he put in earlier this offseason.

“I’ve really been training,” Beckham said after noting he never felt better entering a season. “And to have these next six weeks to get another opportunity to train, it’s going to be great.”
Other than during the Fourth of July holiday, Jason Pierre-Paul is planning on being in the gym nearly every day until training camp. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire
DE Jason Pierre-Paul — Pierre-Paul was also in the gym Monday. He is in South Florida with his long-time trainer, Mike Alessi. There are few off days scheduled for Pierre-Paul this summer, aside from a trip out of the country for the July 4th holiday. That became a tradition after he lost his right index finger and parts of several others in a fireworks accident two years ago. Once he returns, he will jump right back into his routine.

“I work out every day, mostly,” Pierre-Paul said. “I probably take one day off, probably, in all the days I work out, but then I start unloading when training camp is about to start.”

LB Devon Kennard — He started his offseason with a cruise to the Bahamas. Some players need this downtime. They find it cathartic.

“I need this time away before camp starts to really clear my mind to get things back in order and just spend some time with my loved ones, because once the season comes, it’s grind all the way until September,” Kennard said over the weekend in a FOX Sports PROCast while on the cruise.

Kennard was back training at Parabolic Performance and Rehab in New Jersey by the middle of the week.

Former Giants and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Victor Cruz has a similar approach. He spent time in Paris this week, and seems to travels to Europe just about every offseason for some downtime.

WR Brandon Marshall — After minicamp, Marshall returned to his home in Florida, where he plans to work out at a Fit Speed Athletic Performance facility that he owns. Marshall is spending his first week post-Giants offseason workout program getting his body in alignment. At 33 years old, he handles the time away differently from some of the younger players. Marshall spends an inordinate amount of time attending to his body.

QB Davis Webb — Webb doesn’t think he can afford to take more than a few days off. He planned to help out at former roommate Bradley Marquez’s football camp over the weekend in Odessa, Texas, before returning to New Jersey to spend the rest of his summer digesting the Giants offense.

Webb, the Giants’ third-round pick out of Cal, still hadn’t moved into a permanent apartment as of late last week. That was on his “Things to Do” list. Webb was in a temporary residence studying furiously to bridge the gap between the Air Raid offense he ran in college and the West Coast offense he must master with the Giants.

That will continue over the next six weeks. Webb is taking his summer break business seriously. His schedule includes a lot of work on and off the field.

“This month is huge. … I plan on studying the script and playbook just about every day,” Webb said. “This is important to me, like I’ve said plenty of times. This is obviously a good time to get away, but for me I’m in no situation to do that. I can take a couple days off here and there, but I don’t really plan on doing that.

“I plan on learning as much as I can and grabbing this playbook by the bull of the horns and running with it.”

OL John Jerry — Jerry isn’t a rookie like Webb, but he also believes the time between minicamp and training camp is vital to success. The veteran offensive lineman committed to LeCharles Bentley’s O-Line Performance last offseason and considered the offseason program “career changing.” He had one of his best professional seasons.

The program includes working through the summer in Arizona. Jerry, who recently celebrated his 31st birthday, flew there with his family over the weekend and began training again alongside center Weston Richburg this week with barely any time off. This is what he believes is best for his body, his technique and his overall game.

“I just think I felt stronger throughout the whole season with no fatigue and wearing out and those things,” Jerry said. “At the same time, staying in shape, that was probably the biggest thing for me. Not taking too much time off and coming in and ready to roll.”

S Landon Collins — The third-year safety isn’t resting on his laurels after an All-Pro season. Next week he is headed back to Ryan Clark’s Traction Sports Performance in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he works out in the offseason. Collins plans to drop almost 10 pounds over the next six weeks because he wants to be even lighter than during his breakout season. Collins, who wants to play in the 210-pound range, was close to 220 pounds at minicamp.

“I want to work on my muscle endurance and I want to run all over the field and definitely keep my weight down,” he said. “I’ve got to keep my weight down so I can fly. Working out, eating right, dieting right and film study. Film study is the biggest key of it all so we recognize formations and stuff like that. That would be the biggest thing to take my play to the next level.”

Coach Ben McAdoo — For most, summer break isn’t exactly a break, and that’s true for coaches. Like his players, McAdoo has a goal to improve this summer. He doesn’t believe that happens by sitting on the beach or hitting the club (can you imagine?) with his new slicked-back hair.

The Giants head coach is going to work on preparing for training camp and the season.

“I don’t shut it down very easily,” McAdoo said. “I am going to stay engaged and get a little bit done each and every day, whether it is on the offensive side of the ball, reflecting on the pieces that we added, or taking a look at the defensive side of the ball and what we can do to help the defense there. Looking at players and personnel and taking a look at the schedule and looking at how we can tweak things and make them a little bit better.

“You never really shut it off; you just work from a different place.”