Giants Camp Report: Day 7

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Unfortunately, the news of the day was injuries, headlined by running back David Wilson's neck burner. The Giants sent Wilson to New York and the Hospital for Special Surgery for a full battery of tests because they want to be as careful as possible with his neck as he's coming off spinal fusion surgery and only last week was cleared for full practice. It's possible this turns out just to be a low-level scare, but it's important to take every possible precaution given the recent history with Wilson and his neck. By comparison, the nagging hamstring troubles that kept Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Xavier Grimble and Trindon Holliday sidelined seem like minor issues.
  • Interesting practice for Larry Donnell, who's still No. 1 on the team's tight end depth chart and possibly in the coaches' hearts. He fumbled a ball near the goal line after one catch, but then got back up and made a leaping, one-handed touchdown grab in the back right corner of the end zone on the next play. All of the tight ends (except the injured Grimble) are getting lots of run, and they're all getting their share of first-team reps. There are a lot of formations the Giants are using in practice in which two tight ends are on the field at the same time, and they're lined up all over the place. They really need one or two guys to step forward from this group.
  • Jerrel Jernigan dropped three punts that my "NFL Insiders" colleague Field Yates and I counted during punt-return drills. That's not good, and with Beckham and Holliday unable to return punts we're seeing a lot of David Wilson (before he had to leave), Victor Cruz (who's not going to do it in games) and Charles James on the punt return unit. Maybe that's a way for James to sneak onto the roster, who knows? It was good to see Field, regardless.
  • Humorous highlights included a halfback pass from Peyton Hillis to Donnell that, shockingly, fell incomplete and a Trumaine McBride interception of Curtis Painter that he ran back for a touchdown with fellow corners Prince Amukamara and Walter Thurmond rushing off the sidelines and accompanying him home. I also thought it was funny that Jason Pierre-Paul joined in the defensive backs' post-practice huddle but left because their motivational chants are growing too complicated. Pierre-Paul continues to look fantastic in practice, by the way.
  • And I haven't been charting each and every rep, but it seemed to me that John Jerry got more time at first-team right guard Tuesday than he has been. Brandon Mosley's still the main guy there, and certainly has an opportunity to hold off Jerry and claim the spot for his own. But they do like Jerry and want to give him a look as his surgically repaired knee allows.
  • The Giants are off Wednesday and return to practice Thursday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's hard to imagine a less visually appropriate nickname for a defensive tackle than "Gumby," and when the New York Giants' Mike Patterson heard that it had been applied to him, he gave a deep chuckle that sounded nothing like anything that little green stretchy character had ever uttered. But he's heard it before and he takes pride in it.

[+] EnlargeTerrell Thomas
AP Photo/Michael PerezDefensive tackle Mike Patterson's ability to twist out of tough blocks has landed him atop the Giants' depth chart.
It was Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty who said it last week, describing Patterson as "Gumby" for his ability to bend and twist his way through blocks. It is clear from talking to teammates that the nickname has been used before, and that they think it's a good one.

"I've seen him recover from positions that you wouldn't think would be possible," fellow defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "I've seen him lose a step and go down to almost a knee and a hand and then be able to fight back out of it and make a play. He's a great athlete."

Patterson doesn't resemble a great athlete any more than he resembles Gumby. He's 6-foot-1 and, by his own count Tuesday morning, 316 pounds. But he was, back in 2005, a first-round draft pick. And even if you're a defensive tackle, you need to be more than just a big, chubby guy to get picked in the first round.

"I'm able to pretty much have a good bend in my hips," the genial Patterson said after he got done chuckling. "A lot of guys are still and not able to get down low and stay low and take on double teams and move around like that. It's most definitely a technique learned over time and something I didn't get right off the bat. But I kept working on it and it became natural."

Frankly, Patterson's just thrilled about where he is right now, in life and in football. Three years ago, Patterson collapsed on a practice field at Lehigh University during training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played the entire 2011 season once he recovered, but the following offseason he was diagnosed with a rare brain condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM). That required an extensive surgery that involved removing a part of his skull.

Patterson played only five games in 2012 while recovering from the surgery and then signed with the Giants prior to 2013. He performed well enough in a reserve role last year that the Giants re-signed him when they decided to let Linval Joseph leave as a free agent. And when the first depth chart of training camp hit last week, you'd better believe Patterson enjoyed seeing himself listed as a starting defensive tackle next to Jenkins.

"I'm very excited and very thankful that this opportunity wasn't cut down or cut short for me," Patterson said before Giants practice Tuesday. "Since I've been able to get back to that starting role, I'm taking it very serious and very personal to keep it. I want to go out there and do my best to show them I'm still a good player."

The Giants rotate their defensive tackles routinely, and Patterson knows that he and Jenkins will share playing time with Markus Kuhn and 2013 second-round pick Johnathan Hankins. He knows that Hankins may ultimately be ticketed to replace him as a starter, maybe even by the end of this camp if Hankins shows enough. But in the meantime, Patterson's pride in having re-established himself as an NFL starter is evident -- and justified.

"The AVM stuff, I'm just happy to finally put that behind me and just move on," Patterson said. "I've had a lot of questions. People were wondering if I was going to be able to play, things like that. But all that's behind me. Now I'm here, a fresh new year and I'm just excited to be out there with nothing to worry about."

Coughlin gushes about Michael Strahan

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are not traveling to Canton, Ohio, this weekend just to play in the Hall of Fame game.

They're also going there to celebrate one of their own.

Former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan is one of seven players being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin had plenty of praise for Strahan following practice Tuesday afternoon.

"Incredible pride, just incredible pride," said Coughlin, when asked to share his thoughts on Strahan's upcoming enshrinement. "Michael Strahan was a great football player. He had that ability -- he was taught right in the very beginning. He practiced hard, he ran to the ball, he was a great example for all the younger guys about doing that.

"He was excellent in the classroom. He was a dynamic leader -- he had one of those magnetic personalities, everyone was attracted to him. He was a superb player on the field against both the pass and the run."

Coughlin coached Strahan for the final four seasons of Strahan's 15-year career. But the two did not get along at the beginning. Strahan rebelled against Coughlin's strict style of team management. In fact, Strahan has admitted he "hated" Coughlin at the start.

But by the time Strahan retired in 2007, following the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over the New England Patriots, the five-time All-Pro said he wouldn't have played for any other coach again.

"We didn’t necessarily see eye to eye right away, but thank goodness we won Michael over when we spent some time together and went through some times that were good and bad," Coughlin said. "I think that he appreciated the fact that what we were trying to do was in the best interest of everybody and our team being the best it could be. And he became an outstanding captain, very good in the leadership council, did a great job with us that way."

Strahan, who continues to hold the NFL's single-season sacks record (22.5 in 2001), and is fifth in career sacks with 141.5, will become the 17th Giants player enshrined in Canton, not including former owners Tim and Wellington Mara and former coach Bill Parcells.

Coughlin is planning to take the current Giants through the Hall of Fame on Saturday, the day before their preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, and then stay for the enshrinement ceremony in the evening.

"It's a wonderful feeling," Coughlin said of having a former player going into the Hall. "Shared by our whole staff, but a great feeling."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Daniel Fells did not play in the NFL in 2013, but not by choice. Thirty-two teams with 53-man rosters had zero room for the seven-year veteran.

One year later, he might be the starting tight end for the New York Giants.

That doesn't speak well of the Giants' depth at that position. But it's an incredible opportunity for the 30-year-old from Anaheim, California, who sat at home on Sundays last season, wondering if his football career had come to an end.

"It’s hard. It’s very hard," Fells said Tuesday about sitting out last season. "Personally I felt like I had the skill set to be in the league and be able to play. But certain things dictated differently."

Undrafted out of California-Davis, an FCS program, Fells spent his first two seasons as a member of the practice squads of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, respectively. He finally saw his first real action with the St. Louis Rams in 2008, playing in 12 games, starting one, and catching seven passes for 81 yards.

He remained with the Rams in 2009 and 2010, playing in 30 of 32 regular-season games, starting 10, and scoring five touchdowns. In 2010 he posted a career-high 41 receptions for 391 yards.

The Denver Broncos signed Fells as a free agent, and he started 15 of 16 games for them in 2011, with 19 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Then the New England Patriots signed him in the spring of 2012.

Fells played in 13 games for the Patriots in 2012, with four starts, but had just four catches for 85 yards. He was still with the team last summer but was cut at the end of training camp.

A couple of teams brought him in for tryouts in the first few weeks of the regular season, but things didn't pan out either time. Fells continued working out at home, but admits he had begun seriously contemplating life after football.

"I thought about owning a business," Fells said. "My father-in-law is a business broker, so he brings different businesses out in California to my attention, just things that he thinks that I would be pretty successful in. So I kept an eye towards certain things like that, but at the same time, football is where my heart is."

The Giants brought Fells in for a tryout just a few days after their disappointing 2013 regular season ended, and signed him on Jan. 7. Six months later, he's getting some reps with Eli Manning and the rest of the starters during the first week of training camp, and he caught a touchdown pass from Manning on Monday.

"Anytime you get your hands on the ball, it always feels good," Fells said Tuesday, smiling.

There are five tight ends on the Giants' roster, and Fells' main competition appears to be Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, who were both with the team last season.

The Giants also have free-agent addition Kellen Davis, formerly of the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, and undrafted rookie Xavier Grimble.

But Fells, despite sitting out last season, has the most NFL experience of the five. And probably the most appreciation of this opportunity, too.

"I’m not looking at it as a last chance, but at the same time, [I know] it can be taken from you at any moment," Fells said. "So I wake up every single morning and I go out every single day, I try to give my all, I try to do everything that I can to be the best athlete that I can, the best Giant that I can be."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The good news is that the regular season is still nearly six weeks away, but the New York Giants really don't need any more wide receivers with hamstring problems.

Rueben Randle sat out Giants practice Tuesday with a hamstring injury, joining rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., rookie tight end Xavier Grimble and wide receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday among those missing practice with the same injury.

"He was sore in the hamstring, so we held him," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Randle.

It didn't sound like a serious problem, but we will see. The Giants are off Wednesday and return to practice Thursday. It's possible Randle returns after missing just this one day, but if he doesn't, there's obviously a strong chance they won't play him Sunday night in the preseason opener against the Bills in Canton, Ohio.

David Wilson suffers 'burner'

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back David Wilson left Tuesday's practice with what coach Tom Coughlin called a "burner" -- an alarming diagnosis for a player who only last week was cleared to return to the field following neck surgery.

"We were all praying that it would not be an issue, that he would be able to come back and go to work," Coughlin said. "But we'll see."

A team spokesman said Wilson was taken for tests, but the team didn't expect any update on Tuesday.

"Given his history, David has been sent over to Hospital for Special Surgery for a battery of tests and a complete workup to determine the effects of the burner he suffered today," the spokesman said in a statement.

According to the team's daily practice report, Wilson "caught a shovel pass from Curtis Painter, turned upfield with his head down and ran into the back of guard Eric Herman. Wilson was surrounded by several defensive players and when the scrum separated, linebacker Mark Herzlich had the football and two athletic trainers were running toward Wilson."

Wilson left the Giants' Week 5 loss vs. Philadelphia last year with a burner and ended up missing the remainder of the season and having spinal fusion surgery to correct a disk problem in his neck. It's possible that this injury isn't that severe, but given that it's the neck again, it's a troubling sign for Wilson and the Giants.

Wilson was excited July 21 when doctors finally told him he had been cleared for contact, and he has been practicing as normal with the team. 

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[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham Jr.
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham Jr. has missed six training camp practices and is day-to-day because of an injured right hamstring.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has made it clear he's frustrated by the right hamstring injury that's keeping first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. off the practice field. On Tuesday, Beckham met with Coughlin to make sure the coach knew he was frustrated about it as well.

"He wants me out there as bad as I want to be out there," said Beckham, who missed his sixth camp practice Tuesday. "I'm new and we don't know each other that well yet, and your first impression is one that lasts forever. So you don't ever want to leave a bad impression, but at the same time [I'm] trying to reassure him how hard it is for me not to be practicing.

"I'm a high-energy guy. I always loved practicing at LSU and I love practicing now. So for me, it's never been about days off, just about getting better each and every day."

(Read full post)


Chris Chavez hits the streets to ask fans if they think Giants QB Eli Manning can meet the 70-percent completion goal set by QBs coach Danny Langsdorf.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The results of Monday's tests on the injured hamstring of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were a good news/bad news mix for the New York Giants.

According to a source close to the situation, the tests were to determine whether the injury that has kept Beckham out of practice for the past week was more serious than originally believed. They determined that it was not, which is a good thing in and of itself, but it doesn't help anyone figure out when the Giants' first-round pick might return to the practice field.

The team hopes Beckham will be back in a week, but it maintains its stance that it will not put him on the field until it's certain he's not at risk of further injury. What that means is a waiting game. The Giants and Beckham will continue to monitor the hamstring on a day-by-day basis, and once it feels better to the point of allowing him to practice, he'll practice.

What that means is that Monday didn't change anything at all with regard to Beckham, who missed minicamp and has now missed five straight training camp practices with hamstring problems.

Giants Camp Report: Day 6

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Another short practice for the Giants, who cut it off after about an hour and 15 minutes and headed inside for another recovery stretch. The longer training camp this year gives them a chance to build in rest breaks as dictated by the GPS technology the players are wearing during practice, and they're taking advantage of it. The hamstring injuries to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Xavier Grimble are the only injuries that are holding people out of practices so far, and Beckham's was apparently a holdover from the spring. So I guess you could say it's working.
  • One interesting thing I saw in the 11-on-11 period: There was a play on which wide receiver Marcus Harris was lined up out wide to the right, and just before the snap he motioned a few steps to his left into a three-man "bunch" formation with fellow wide receivers Julian Talley and Jerrel Jernigan. Bunch formations are one possible technique the Giants could use to help offset the fact that their wide receiver group is made up of relative small players. Instead of asking a small wideout to beat a defender off the line, you bunch them up in order to try and create confusion at the snap in the hope that one or more of them gets loose.
  • For the second day in a row, Ryan Nassib completed a downfield seam throw to a tight end. Monday it was Larry Donnell, who had to go high in the air to catch the ball and then somersaulted foward in the air as he fell to the ground with it. Earlier in the practice, Daniel Fells caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning. It was Kellen Davis who caught the seam pass from Nassib on Sunday. The tight ends continue to rotate in and out of the practice reps as the coaches hope one or two of them start to distinguish themselves. It has not yet happened.
  • It was the second straight day in full pads, and there were some incidents. Fullback Henry Hynoski got into a very brief post-play scuffle with a defensive player. We couldn't see exactly who it was -- could have been Johnathan Hankins or Jameel McClain. But Hynoski's helmet went flying off, and the crowd got a kick out of it. Right at the end of practice, defensive tackle Jay Bromley made a big hit and full tackle on running back Kendall Gaskins, drawing a scolding from coach Tom Coughlin, who doesn't want his players tackling each other to the ground in practice.
  • The Giants mixed-and-matched some interesting defensive line looks, moving ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka inside on a couple of plays. And their NASCAR showed up, with pass-rushers Pierre-Paul, Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore all on the field at the same time.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's easy to say, after the worst season of his career, that New York Giants Eli Manning could stand to be "fixed," and that new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf are charged with that assignment. The Giants would dispute that, saying that the new offense and the coaches that come with it are here to "energize" Manning and tap into his natural excitement about learning new things.

All of that said, some things about the way Manning has played his entire career will have to change in this new offense, and the most significant may be his footwork.

"I think it's more kind of the footwork based on the route, and whether you're under center or in shotgun, just how it changes," Manning said. "There's more shotgun footwork and mechanics and kind of listening to your feet. You're going to take this type of drop out of the gun, and if it's not open on that first step you've got to listen to your feet, get through your progression so when you have to scramble you're in a good position.

"Some of those things are taught differently than what we've done in the past. I like it. I think it makes sense. You can rely on it, but it's not only remembering the play and the protection but also remembering, 'Do I take a step with my right foot first or my left foot?' Those things have to become second-nature."

Learning all of the details and minutiae of what the new offense asks him to do has been Manning's focus since his ankle healed from surgery and he was able to get on the field and practice in May. McAdoo's offense will demand that Manning get to the line of scrimmage more quickly, get the play off more quickly and work to dictate tempo to the defense. Part of the way that happens is that the footwork on the drops are in perfect sync with the routes and the play that's been called.

"We want our footwork to match what's going on downfield," Langsdorf said. "If our footwork is correct, it's telling you, 'Okay, it's time to throw the ball.' We want to trust our feet and know that it's time to either get rid of it or get out of there. We don't want him standing back there holding the ball, taking sacks. We want him to take his drop and make sure his feet are telling him it's time to do something."

The idea of asking a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback to change something as fundamental as his footwork in his 11th season in the league sounds daunting. But after a 27-interception, 18-touchdown season, Manning is open to change. And Langsdorf doesn't think it's all that cataclysmic anyway.

"Part of it is having an understanding and being comfortable with where to go with the ball," Langsdorf said. "He's got a receiver in progression when we're going to the first read, and in progression to the second, to the third, and his feet are telling him which time to move on. So there's some transition from what he's done in the past, but everybody has some sense of timing in their offense. It's just a matter of matching it philosophy-wise with what we're doing."

The timing is still a ways from being perfect, and a lot of that has to do with practice time. The Giants remain six days away from their first preseason game and six weeks away from their first real game. So there's time to get it all figured out. But get the footwork figured out and they will, because it's fundamental to the West Coast-style offense they're now committed to running.

"The very basis of this scheme is having your feet in position to make a play at the right time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's something this offense has relied upon since Bill Walsh."

New for Manning and the Giants, but Manning's hardly the first to have to learn it. The Giants have every expectation that he will, and that the results will show up in his play.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The crux of the New York Giants' tight end problem, with six weeks until the regular season begins, continues to be this: Their new offense wants to rely on the tight end to a significant extent, but it still doesn't really have a tight end on which it can rely.

"Right now, we're looking for that complete tight end who can do it all," Giants tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said Monday. "But we also need guys who are role players -- guys who can be specialists in certain areas. If he's best at executing a certain block, he's going to have the opportunity to make that block in the game. If he's best at running a certain route, he's going to have the opportunity to run that route in a game. So you need to have that all-around tight end, and then you also need to have specialists, guys who are great at a particular role."

The problem is that, to this point, no one from the group that includes Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Kellen Davis and Xavier Grimble has established himself as the all-around guy.

"I think right now, they've all got a shot at doing it," Gilbride said. "They're all very good in certain areas right now and not as efficient or as good in other areas. In order to become that all-around tight end, they need to continue to develop."

Gilbride wouldn't handicap the competition, but based on what we've seen so far at practice, Fells looks like the most capable pass-catcher. Donnell made an excellent leaping catch on a seam throw from Ryan Nassib in practice Monday, a short time after Fells caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning. Davis made a great catch on a seam-route throw from Nassib on Sunday. Robinson has always been a capable run-blocker and continues to show that. The Giants have tried their best to rotate all of the tight end candidates in with the first-team offense to give them all a chance to show what they can do. But it's too early for anyone to have separated himself.

"Every time they get on the field, they know they're being evaluated with everything that they do," Gilbride said. "When guys start to emerge, we'll know it."

So far in camp, we have seen tight ends lined up all over the formation -- in the slot, in tight, out wide... even in the backfield in a fullback or H-back role. Gilbride said that's not a case of experimentation; it's an integral part of the offense and something their tight ends will have to do. The new running game includes more zone and stretch concepts that will require the tight ends to be nimble and flexible as blockers. There is a lot to the job.

"I would describe it as 'Jack of all trades,'" Gilbride said. "Having them be in the backfield and playing a lot of that fullback role, splitting them out as the No. 1 receiver, the No. 2. An in-line tight end as far as the blocking and the pass receiving. It's a jack of all trades and they have to master them all. It's an exciting, fun position in this offense, but we need to continue to develop in order to be ready to help our team win football games."

The Giants could keep as many as four tight ends on their roster, especially if they wrap up the preseason with the same issue they have now -- guys who have disparate strengths and weaknesses and have to be mixed and matched in and out of the lineup depending on circumstances. But Gilbride made it clear that's not the ideal situation.

"I think you can get it done with the specialist-type thing, but that's not really what we're looking for," he said. "What we're really looking for is to develop a number of overall tight ends who can do it all."

The search continues.

Dan Graziano discusses whether the 70 percent completion rate target set by the Giants for Eli Manning is a realistic goal.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin hasn't decided yet who will play -- or how much they'll play -- in Sunday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills in Canton, Ohio. Coughlin said after Monday's practice that he'd wait until after Thursday's practice to decide. But you can expect to see quarterback Eli Manning out there for at least the start of the game, even though it's an extra preseason game for the team this year.

"I'll listen to what the coaches decide, obviously, but if you could you'd like to get out there for an extra series or so just to get your mechanics down, get into the rhythm of it," Manning said Monday. "The first preseason game, you don't really do a whole lot, but it'll be interesting to see the mechanics of everything, the game-planning and how it all works in this new offense."

New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who's never been a coordinator or a game-day playcaller before, will coach from the sidelines. Manning said he's been practicing with the radio in his helmet to get used to hearing McAdoo's voice calling the plays.

The Hall of Fame Game means the Giants will get five preseason games this year instead of the usual four. Manning usually sits out the final game of the preseason and likely will again this year. So if he wanted to get in his usual three, he could skip Sunday's. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo didn't play in the Hall of Fame Game last year, but Romo was coming off of back surgery and the Cowboys weren't installing a completely new offense. In this case, Manning will draw some benefit from playing an extra game.

"There are five games, and you approach it in different ways when you have five instead of four," Coughlin said. "But we are going to benefit from this, from more opportunities in the new offense."

Don't expect to see the first team at full strength Sunday night. First-round wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. still hasn't practiced in a week due to a hamstring injury, and it would be a huge surprise to see him on the field. Wide receiver Mario Manningham continues to be limited by a sore knee. And while left tackle Will Beatty has been taking the bulk of the snaps at left tackle in practice, the Giants may not be ready to expose him to game conditions just yet as he continues to recover from the broken leg he suffered in the 2013 season finale.