The Giants’ defense underwent a facelift this offseason, completely retooling the line and adding some interesting players to their back seven.
Yesterday, Sam reported on the D-line’s new faces and the plan to seal up the interior of the line. (READ) Everyone was involved yesterday with the exception of second-year DT Markus Kuhn, who is still rehabbing a knee.
The linebackers have a new look, too. Jacquain Williams (knee), is finally expected to start on the outside. He only worked individual drill yesterday and did not participate in team drills. He says he’s taking it slow and is still not quite 100%. No need to rush.
The team started yesterday’s drills with Mark Herzlich in the middle, flanked by Keith Rivers and Spencer Paysinger. The seconds were Dan Connor at MLB with free-agent Aaron Curry and UDFA Etienne Sabino on the outside.
Rookie DE Damontre Moore is being used as a ‘joker’ this season, taking over the role previously held by Mathias Kiwanuka. Having Moore playing standing up and in space could be an interesting dynamic for this Giant defense going forward.
In the secondary, Corey Webster appears to have picked up right where he left off. He was beaten several times. Not the same can be said for Prince Amukamara, however, who defended a long pass against WR Jerrel Jernigan. No question, he’s the Giants’ new No.1 corner.
Terrell Thomas (knee) did not practice, but is hopeful to be healthy to compete for a spot in the secondary. He told reporters yesterday he was not rushing his return to the field as to avoid another setback. He has not played since 2010 as he was injured in each of the last two offseasons.
John Fennelly, Executive Editor
Wide receiver, perhaps the most talented and deepest unit on the Giants’ roster, is suddenly riddled with questions. Victor Cruz is not attending OTAs, still seeking to avoid playing for his tender price while hoping to score a new, long-term contract.
Now comes a report that his counterpart, Hakeem Nicks, may be planning to go a similar route. Nicks is in the final year of his rookie deal and will be a UFA after this season. Although his representatives refute the notion that his absence at yesterday’s OTA was not contract-related, Giants pundits and fans’ imaginations are running wild this morning.
The Giants’ front office is way ahead of curve on the situation. They drafted Jerrel Jernigan in the third round of the draft three years ago, and by all indications, is ready to step into a role. So is last year’s second-rounder, Rueben Randle.
Perhaps the most impressive receiver in camp these days is the speedy Louis Murphy, the free-agent pickup who can get downfield in a hurry. Yesterday, we learned Ramses Barden was coming in for a physical and, if all goes well, could be back in Blue by sundown.
Jerry Reese is taking no chances. Cruz and Nicks will be Giants this season, but how long they stay in Blue beyond that is still uncertain. The Giants may be able to find a way to keep both of them. The odds are, only one of them stays. Reese knows he needs to prepare for a loss here. Looks like he’s doing that.
Keep in mind, players come and go in this league and with the Giants’ WRs it’s no different. QB Eli Manning has had several groups over the years. He started with Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard. Then came Steve Smith, Plaxico Burress, David Tyree and Domenik Hixon. Mario Manningham came and went. Now Nicks and Cruz. The list will surely go on.
Not that we want to see Nicks and Cruz playing elsewhere, but reality and a little thing called the salary cap will have a lot to say about their futures.
GEICO SportsNite has the latest from Giants OTA’s as Hakeem Nicks surprises the team by holding out in hopes of a new contract.
A busy day out at TPC yesterday, with another one on tap for today. Here’s what you need to know:
- Did Nicks stage a “mini-holdout” with absence on Wednesday?
- Hynoski undergoes MRI of injured left knee
- Ramses Barden taking physical, could re-sign with Giants
- Thomas eager to return to field, position notwithstanding
- Curry prepared to give Giants “everything I have”
No word on Hynoski’s knee as of yet, but he is the only pure FB on the team’s roster. There is major concern at this point we are told. Our cameraman was on site yesterday and captured the below image. The injury occurred when Hynoski and RB Andre Brown banged knees in the backfield. A freakish injury by all accounts.
Jim Mancari, Contributor
Though nothing is imminent, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN at the spring owners meeting in Boston that both issues are currently being discussed.
Two games would be shaved off the preseason, and the regular season would become 18 games. The specifics about extended playoffs were not mentioned.
Frankly, the NFL should just keep things the way they are. The current 16-game schedule is plenty, and adding two more games would just be a ploy to make more money.
Sam Spiegelman, Contributor
Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered during the 2012 season.
The weakside linebacker missed six games last year due to the PCL injury is expected to help fill the void left by the now-departed Michael Boley — arguably the most vital position among the linebacking unit.
“Just kind of taking my time with it,” Williams said. “It is a day to day thing. It is getting better. Definitely better than it was. That’s all.”
Victor Cruz’s contract negotiations continue to keep the wideout away from the field and Hakeem Nicks opted not to attend voluntary organized team activities, but Eli Manning remains unmoved.
Following Day 1 of OTAs Wednesday, the Giants quarterback displayed no concerns about not having his No. 1 or 2 receivers out there with him on the field. In fact, Nicks’ absence should have been expected, Manning said.
“There was no reason to think he wasn’t going to be here,” Manning said. “Right now I’m just worrying about myself going out there executing, the guys who are here, trying to make everybody better, up to speed on what we’re trying to do and get the young guys involved and get them caught up to speed on everything going on and try to get better. That’s all we’re working on.”
In place of Nicks and Cruz was free-agent addition Louis Murphy, second-year wideout Reuben Randle and third-year pro Jerrel Jernigan, who last week earned praise from Manning and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
The stalwart of the Giants defense for recent memory has been the defensive line — while the pass rush garners the most attention, it’s the tackles who allow it to come to fruition.
During the first day of organized team activities Wednesday, the team revealed a new defensive tackle rotation amid off-season signing and draft picks.
With Chris Canty now a member of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens and Rocky Bernard gone, Linval Joseph is one of only a few veterans who remain on the roster from last season.
Also returning is Shaun Rogers, who missed much of 2012 due to a blood clot. Markus Kuhn, the team’s seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, is also expected to have a role as he recovers from a torn ACL.
The team added former Eagles Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins via free agency, and drafted Johnathan Hankins in the second round out of Ohio State.
Looking to make amends for the 2012 unit that finished 28th in the NFL and allowed 4.6 yards per rush, this year’s squad appears younger, deeper and more talented.
“This is a new year,” Joseph said. “(Coach Tom Coughlin) always talks about (stopping the run) every year. But he just said it’s a clean plate, and let’s just start off the year the right way and finish the right way. But especially, begin the right way. Get rid of last year and that’s dead to us.”
Joseph has been a starter for Big Blue each of the past two seasons and the fourth off-season for the the team’s second-round selection from the 2010 NFL Draft.
Last year, Joseph finished with 59 tackles and four sacks, double the production from the year prior. In addition to improving on the field, he hopes to grow as a leader for the young defensive tackles.
“You have new faces all over the whole team … You just bring them in, treat them as family, and try to get as much accomplished as you can,” Joseph said.
“You just (tell them) to come in, get in your book, learn, do what everybody tells you to do and try to make plays. Just try to better the team.”
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Sam Spiegelman, ContributorThe New York Giants and guard Eric Herman have agreed to terms on a four-year contract, according to reports.
Herman, the No. 225 pick in the draft out of Ohio, will likely begin the year on the Giants practice squad. In time, however, he could find a position on the aging offensive line.
At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Herman had 36 bench-press reps during the NFL Combine. The Giants’ seventh-round draft pick earned All-MAC second team honors for the second straight year his senior season after recording team-highs in pancakes and knockdowns.
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The Giants are preparing for their next reality check. You know, the one that will see how deep their WR corp is. With Victor Cruz still exercising all his options in his contract negotiations and Hakeem Nicks still rehabbing from foot and knee injuries, the Giants are using these early workouts to gauge the ability of their other receivers.
So, did Eli Manning like what he saw today from the back of the depth chart?
“Yeah. I hit Louis (Murphy) on a deep one. I got Rueben (Randle) in there. I got (Jerrel) Jernigan some catches. We’re getting everybody in there getting them a lot of reps, getting on time with them. We’re always going to get better. Whoever is on the field, we’re going to expect them to go out there and play at a high level. So I think the more guys you have who are experienced and ready to play different positions, the better off we’re going to be.”
Jernigan, entering his third season, has played little and produced less. He was pinpointed recently by OC Kevin Gilbride as one of the players the Giants would be seeking to turn the corner on their career this summer.
“I’ve been here three years. I know the offense and it’s time for me to go out there and make some plays and contribute to my team. I understand where he’s coming from,” Jernigan said.
He was asked if he felt any pressure to produce, especially with Victor Cruz’ Giant future still uncertain.
“No. I don’t think it’s pressure. I’m going into my third year. I agree with him. It’s time for me to go out there and start making plays and start helping my team out besides just special teams…I know all the offense. It’s time for me to step up, make plays and help Hakeem and Cruz when I’m out there…Until he (Cruz) comes back, I’ll be a Z out there making plays.”
Louis Murphy is in his first season with the Giants. He is early in the process of learning the Giants’ offense.