New York Giants' projected roster

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
8:00
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Projecting the New York Giants' 53-man roster after the first week of training camp:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
The Giants didn't like carrying three quarterbacks last year. They did so because they drafted Nassib as a fourth-round project with the thought that he wouldn't be active for any games as a rookie. But this year, they've come out and said that Nassib needs to win the No. 2 job. He worked as the clear No. 2 ahead of Curtis Painter in OTAs and minicamp, and I think he'd have to fall flat on his face in order to lose the job. He's looked terrible so far, but so has the rest of the work-in-progress offense. If Manning goes down, the Giants are cooked anyway, whether it's Painter or Nassib behind him. So they might as well keep developing the kid unless he's totally incompetent.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Five running backs feels like a lot, so Hillis or 2013 seventh-rounder Michael Cox had to go. It's possible the Giants carry five and Williams could start out as this year's Nassib -- a fourth-rounder who's inactive for at least a little while as he gets his feet wet in the NFL with an eye toward a contribution further down the road. If someone gets hurt, Cox or Kendall Gaskins could find his way onto the team.

FULLBACK (1)

It's a camp battle between Hynoski and John Conner, but the Giants won't keep both. And they've been lining tight ends up in the backfield enough early in camp that you start to wonder whether they'll keep a fullback at all. If they do, my hunch is that Hynoski has shown enough ability to produce with the ball in his hands that he'll get the edge in Ben McAdoo's new offense ahead of Conner as long as he's healthy.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Trindon Holliday doesn't offer much in the passing game, and it's possible he could get squeezed out if the team decides Beckham, Quintin Demps and either Randle or Jernigan are enough to handle return responsibilities. The Giants signed Holliday before they drafted Beckham, after all. At this point, guys like Corey Washington, Marcus Harris and Preston Parker have shown more than Holliday as receivers, and Parker is another guy they feel they can use on returns.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

In spite of the lack of quality experienced options, McAdoo's offense does appear to want to use the tight end a lot. Some Giants fans are hoping an outside name or two can replace some of the ones on this list, but as of now, this is what they have, and they'll hope something decent comes of it. They are eager to see what Robinson can do if he can ever keep himself healthy, and they love what Donnell showed them last year on special teams and think he deserves the reward of an opportunity here.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are injury and health concerns with Beatty and Jerry, but both have been on the field a bit early -- Beatty moreso than the team expected. The Giants signed Brown and Jerry as veteran backups. They like Mosley's upside, and right now he's running with the first team at right guard. He could lose that spot to Jerry or Richburg, but the valuable camp reps will likely make him a useful backup at the very least.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

I thought about undrafted Kelcy Quarles for one of the defensive tackle spots, but the Giants love what they're seeing from Kuhn and Patterson early in camp. Patterson and Jenkins project as starters right now, with Kuhn and Hankins in the rotation behind them.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Kennard's been so good so far that, if they only keep five, you wonder about Paysinger's spot a little it. Williams looks like the starter at the weakside spot, even in the base defense, as long as he can stay healthy. And Kennard is a first-teamer right now on the strong side with McClain manning the middle in place of the injured Beason. Herzlich is on the team for special teams, where he has great value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

It helps the numbers that Jayron Hosley will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a drug violation. If he does make the team, the Giants will have to clear a spot for him in Week 5. This group could also swell if the Giants decide they need to keep sixth-round pick Bennett Jackson and/or Charles James for special teams. It's going to be tough to make the Giants' roster as a corner this summer. If one of those guys makes it.

SAFETIES (5)

It's going to be tricky to get fifth-round pick Berhe on this roster, but the Giants like him enough to make room at the expense of someone like Brewer on the offensive line or Charles James at cornerback.

SPECIALISTS (3)

The kicker competition is legitimate between Brown and Brandon McManus, and McManus has looked great so far on field goals and kickoffs. I thought about flipping them, but I'll give it another week before making that move. The other two spots here are in stone barring injury.

Giants Camp Report: Day 5

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
7:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Much better day for the offense Sunday, the team's first day in full pads. They ran a couple of nice short screen passes from Eli Manning to Rueben Randle early in the team period. Victor Cruz made a tough diving catch along the sideline. Rookie Andre Williams looked good slipping through the line on a couple of carries. Tight end Kellen Davis made a nice catch in coverage from Ryan Nassib, who also threw a touchdown to Marcus Harris and was generally much more accurate than he'd been so far. As coach Tom Coughlin says, it's slow progress and there's a lot to learn. But after the way the defense dominated Friday, it was nice for the Sunday crowd of about 3,500 to watch the offense have some fun.
  • Cornerback Walter Thurmond is on Cruz a lot, possibly because he's the slot corner and Cruz is the slot receiver. But Thurmond can stay with guys on the outside as well. I had a scout tell me during the spring that Thurmond is "elite" as a slot corner but more than capable if he has to fill in as a starter as well, and you can see why. He doesn't give up in coverage. When the quarterbacks were throwing deep balls and it was corners vs. wide receivers one-on-one, he knocked the ball away from Cruz. In that same drill, I saw Dominque Rodgers Cromartie break up a long pass to Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan catch one against Prince Amukamara.
  • First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) fielded some punts but did no running and did not practice with the team otherwise. Coughlin is growing frustrated with the situation. In addition to Beckham, WR/KR Trindon Holliday sat out with some sort of leg injury and TE Xavier Grimble sat out with a hamstring injury.
  • Andre Williams got through the line again later, delivering a shot to linebacker Mark Herzlich along the way. But defensive tackle Markus Kuhn was waiting for him and laid him out without even leaving his feet. Kuhn is quite large.
  • Brandon Mosley continues to take all of the first-team snaps at right guard. Coughlin grumbled a bit when asked about the progress of John Jerry from spring knee surgery, saying "I hope today was better than Friday," but Jerry is still quite limited and you have to think all the reps Mosley is getting set Mosley up well if it's a competition for the spot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The NFL wasn't the first place Rashad Jennings found himself overlooked. By the time he'd been a seventh-round pick and a backup to Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville and Darren McFadden in Oakland, Jennings had already made his peace with the idea that nothing was going to come easy for him.

"I've never stopped growing," the New York Giants' new starting running back said before a practice last week. "I had to, because when I was a little, short, fat, overweight kid, dorky with glasses, I had to figure something out. It's a blessing not to be the most talented guy when you roll out of bed, not to be the fastest guy. It keeps that chip on your shoulder."

Jennings
Signing the 29-year-old Jennings was one of the first things the Giants did in their incredibly busy free-agent season. Rather than let the market sort itself out, they jumped to get Jennings, who tore them up a bit as Oakland's starter in Week 10 last year and impressed them as someone who hasn't yet had a chance to showcase his full range of skills because he's played behind others. They see him as a do-everything type of back, who can carry a starter's workload, can catch the ball out of the backfield and can be used at the goal line as well.

Now, he may not have to do all of those things, because right now they have David Wilson and Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis as options as well. And if everyone stays healthy, the running back group should be deep enough to help the coaches keep everyone fresh and put them in the best possible positions to succeed. But Jennings is ready for whatever they want to throw at him.

"This opportunity is great," Jennings said. "I have prepared to start every day since I've entered the league. I've been like that since college. I am not taking this for granted. I'm humble."

He looks good on the field so far in training camp in a variety of roles. He seems to have fit in quite nicely in the locker room. He has an engaging personality and a great deal of confidence, which he says is brought on by his devotion to year-round training and nutrition.

"What separates guys as they continue to play is what they do in the offseason," Jennings said. "I train year-round. And the way I eat, the way I sleep, the nutrition, massage, M.A.T., chiropractor, all those little things. If it works a little, I want a lot of it."

I had to look up M.A.T., but I'm pretty sure he's referring to muscle activation techniques, which is a process that measures and develops the efficiency of a person's muscle contraction. This is a dude who is paying attention to his body and making sure it's in the best possible condition to take advantage of the opportunity now in front of him. He said sitting behind Jones-Drew and McFadden gave him time (and motivation) to work on his fitness, nutrition and wellness techniques, and that the timing of his opportunity to be a full-time starter has therefore actually worked out well.

"I got a chance to mature," Jennings said. "I got a chance to learn how to take care of my body, and I've been blessed to have a chance to allow my body to catch up with my maturity."

Now, those things are intersecting with opportunity. Jennings has a chance to be the man in the ground game for a Giants offense that's ready to look at lot different than it did last year. He's been waiting -- and working -- for this chance for a long time.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Damontre Moore is something of a wild card on the New York Giants' defensive line this year. The 2013 third-round selection played little on defense last year as he worked to pick up the playbook, but he was a terror on special teams, showcasing his athleticism while blocking punts and laying out return men.

Moore
If Moore can make a big jump this year as a pass-rushing defensive end, it would be a significant boost to a Giants pass rush that's working to replace stalwart Justin Tuck and the team-leading 11 sacks he had last year. Moore is in the mix with veteran Mathias Kiwanuka and free-agent signee Robert Ayers for the defensive end spot opposite Jason Pierre-Paul, but if Moore develops quickly he offers more explosiveness and a higher ceiling than Kiwanuka and Ayers do.

At least one of Moore's defensive linemates has noticed major progress.

"His athleticism is hard to compare," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "But from where he was last year, technique-wise and some of the things he was doing to how he's come back in this camp, it's been amazing. How he's setting the edge in the run game. How he's transitioning to the pass, working on some of the techniques that he didn't have last year. He's really working hard and really improving."

That's the key for Moore, who's loaded with natural ability but needs to refine it if he's to be trusted with significant snaps on defense. What Jenkins said about setting the edge in the run game is especially important, since that was a huge part of Tuck's game and is also a strength of Ayers' game. If Moore is getting those techniques down, in addition to being able to fly to the quarterback, that could be a big surprise benefit.

"Yeah, he's taken a major step," Jenkins said. "He's just a lot more physical and holding his ground. You look at him now and he's a completely different player than you saw last year."

Could be just camp hype, but Jenkins volunteered this. He wasn't asked directly about Moore. Jenkins seems to legitimately think Moore stands out in terms of the amount of work he's done and the quality of it. Since those were the lingering questions about Moore after his rookie season, it has to be encouraging for the Giants and their fans to hear it.
[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham Jr.
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham Jr. has been mostly a spectator at Giants training camp due to a hamstring injury.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants' first-round pick from this year's draft, missed his fourth straight training camp practice Sunday with a hamstring injury. For coach Tom Coughlin, it's not just disappointing.

"It's more than that," Coughlin said after Sunday's practice. "We're trying to put a team together. We saw too much of that in the spring."

Beckham missed several of the team's OTA and minicamp practices due to a hamstring injury. He showed up ready to go when training camp opened last week, but during the first practice of camp Tuesday, he got tangled up with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and felt a tweak in the hamstring again. He has not practiced since.

Sunday, he fielded some punts in special-teams drills but did not run after he caught the ball. And he has spent some time on a back field the past two practices catching balls off a machine but, again, not running. While the team practices, he stands off to the side, flipping a ball up in the air to himself and talking to coaches and teammates.


(Read full post)


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants were happy with what they got from kicker Josh Brown in 2013. Happy enough that they signed him to a two-year free-agent contract in March. But the life of a kicker in the NFL is not a secure one, as Brown knows, so he was not surprised when the Giants signed former Temple kicker Brandon McManus to come into camp and compete with him for the job.

 McManus has looked good so far. Brown has too, but McManus has uncommon leg strength and the kind of ability that could win him the job if he keeps hitting all of his field goals. He offers more on kickoffs than Brown does, because he's more likely to kick the ball out of the end zone reliably. And while it's still too early to handicap this, and much will come down to what happens in the Giants' five preseason games, the competition is legit.

"You're not over here hugging each other," Brown said before Giants practice Sunday. "There's things more important than football. There's no Tonya Hardings out here. It is cordial. But there's an understanding that, 'You're trying to take something from me. And I have three kids you're trying to take it from too.' And that's personal. But it's not his fault he's here. He's good. And they chose to bring him in. So it's up to me to be efficient and try to apply the pressure to him."

Special teams coach Tom Quinn said during minicamp that he really liked McManus and that the youngster's experience kicking in adverse Northeast weather conditions while at Temple was part of his appeal. McManus was in camp with the Indianapolis Colts last year and theoretically in a competition with Adam Viantieri, an all-time great kicker who beat him out without too much trouble. But McManus said last year's experience helped him.

"Just knowing that every day, you had to make every single kick," McManus said. "So just learning how it's a game situation every day, and then learning everything about film study and how each individual prepares. I definitely wanted to be a sponge."

Last year, the Colts had Vinatieri kicking field goals but were using punter Pat McAfee on kickoffs, so that was a different dynamic for McManus. With the Giants last year, Brown handled both responsibilities, and so McManus has to beat him out in both areas. If they both look reliable on field goals, the competition could tilt McManus' way due to the advantage on kickoffs, but he's got to show that under game conditions, and both guys know it.

"Going into a game, pressure's different, perception's different, situations are different, and I'm going to have a massive advantage because I've been in all of these situations," Brown said. "A lot of people have asked me, 'You just had the best year of your career. How does that make you feel?' It doesn't change the business aspect of this sport. So I just hope that what I'm doing and what I did last year and also the other attributes I bring through experience and wisdom, that those things will also weigh in my favor."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants drafted a wide receiver in the first round, and even though they'd lost one in free agency that's not the kind of thing that necessarily conveys a ton of confidence in the quality of in-house options. They know what they have in brilliant slot receiver Victor Cruz, and they think that first-round pick Odell Beckham can handle the split end spot if he gets over his hamstring problems and gets on the practice field.

[+] EnlargeRueben Randle
AP Photo/Bill KostrounRueben Randle is probably the Giants' biggest red zone target, but the receiver is focusing more on separation with a new offense in place.
But Rueben Randle, the third-year receiver out of LSU ... he's still something of a mystery. He led the Giants with six touchdown catches in 2013 but got just as much attention (if not more) for mistakes and miscommunications that helped lead to Eli Manning interceptions. The third year is supposed to be a big one for wide receiver development, and the Giants hope this is the year Randle blossoms.

Only thing is, they're changing offenses this year under new coordinator Ben McAdoo. And while they liked Randle enough as a vertical threat in Kevin Gilbride's system to pick him in the second round in 2012, one wonders whether he'll fit in the new passing game, which operates closer to the line of scrimmage.

"I don't think we have to throw it deep much," Randle said this week, talking about the new offense. "It's going to be on us to create separation, make the catch and make a few guys miss."

Creating separation in short-range areas isn't easy. Cruz is a master of it, with his speed and shiftiness. Randle is a big, tall long-strider who seems best suited to operate down the field. But if he can't use what Cruz has to create that short-range separation, his size (6-foot-2, 208) offers him a tool that can help.

"Sometimes you're not going to get that separation that you want, and with my size, that's something we talked about, creating separation with our arms when there's tight coverage," Randle said. "Especially using my basketball frame to go up and get the ball."

Randle has shown an ability to use his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make plays in traffic. He's likely the best red-zone target Eli Manning will have, as he's the biggest of the wide receivers and also has shown an ability to out-fight a defender for the ball in the air. But perhaps most importantly, Randle has a handle on what he needs to do better than he did last year.

"Create more separation," Randle says, beginning a mental checklist that's clearly right there in the front of his mind when he's asked. "Keeping my body language positive so Eli will know what I'm going to do. And just running out there fast and making plays."

The Giants believe Randle has the ability to be a big-time player for them at wide receiver. Coaches and teammates say he seems newly dedicated and focused this offseason. He may not be an obvious fit in the new offense, but if he can find ways to use his physical gifts to his advantage, there will be a large part for him to play.

"I think he's getting more and more polished every year, and out here it seems like he catches everything," Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "I would say he's going to be one of our big big-play guys this season."
The New York Giants are getting the day off Saturday, so it's a fine time to sit down and take a few questions. Long as they came complete with the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter, that is.

@DanGrazianoESPN: I would say it's a surprise that Larry Donnell seems to have emerged as a more likely candidate for starting tight end than Adrien Robinson based on performance so far. But we knew there'd be a battle at that position, and it will continue, with Daniel Fells likely forcing his way into the mix as well.

If you count Chris Snee's retirement early this week as a surprise, then that's probably your answer -- there's now a position battle at right guard. Brandon Mosley looks to be getting the first shot at it while John Jerry works his way back from his springtime knee surgery, but Jerry is a guy they believe can start, and if Mosley doesn't wow them and Jerry gets healthy, he's the favorite. I am curious to see whether rookie Weston Richburg could play his way into that starting right guard spot. He was drafted as a center, but they're impressed so far with what J.D. Walton has shown them, and Walton and Richburg both look great, they could end up starting next to each other at center and right guard, respectively.

Also, while it's not the sexiest position battle in the world, it's interesting that Brandon McManus is getting a chance to win the kicker's job from Josh Brown, who was re-signed as a free agent. McManus is a favorite of special teams coach Tom Quinn, who pointed out during minicamp that he's got experience kicking in bad Northeast weather from his college days at Temple.

Finally, rookie Devon Kennard is really in the mix at linebacker, and I wonder if he can claim the strongside spot for his own while Jon Beason is out and Jameel McClain is manning the middle. Everybody loves Kennard, even McClain, who said Friday that he doesn't like to compliment rookies and then went on to compliment Kennard for about four different things. @DanGrazianoESPN: I think there's a chance the Giants could use the rookie Andrew Williams right away as a goal-line back, because in the past they've liked a power back in that role, and Williams can certainly be that without any further development. But outside of that, no, I would say he's well behind David Wilson, Rashad Jennings and even Peyton Hillis on the depth chart. The Giants love what Williams did in college, but they absolutely need to see more from him as a pass-catcher and, most importantly, a pass-blocker before he could start taking reps away from those other guys. The way their running back group is structured right now, barring injury, they won't feel the need to rush a rookie before he's ready. And while there's a lot to like about Williams, he's far from a finished product. @DanGrazianoESPN: First-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. has a hamstring injury he aggravated in the first practice of camp Tuesday, and he hasn't practiced since. I agree with you that Eli Manning and the offense need him. They drafted him because they believed he could play the "X" receiver spot on the outside and beat press coverage with his speed. They don't have another strong candidate for that role. Mario Manningham may be the best fill-in, but he himself is dealing with knee problems and is still limited in practice. Beckham didn't practice in minicamp either because of a hamstring problem, so it's clearly become a big concern. They don't want to turn a July injury into a September injury, and they still have plenty of time to be careful with him. But there's no doubt they would like him to start getting his reps with the offense. The longer he sits out, the more of his development seeps into the regular season. @DanGrazianoESPN: Stevie Brown looks just fine at safety. He says he still has to monitor his knee from the ACL surgery that cost him the 2013 season, but he's moving around fine on the field. What he delivered as a surprise fill-in starter in 2012, with the eight interceptions, will be difficult to repeat. The key for Brown is being a more consistent and versatile player than he was that season. He believed he was ready last August to play safety the way the Giants want him to play it -- able to seamlessly switch off with Antrel Rolle between the box and the post -- but the knee injury cost him and them a chance to see for sure. But he's working his way back, and he believes he can take that next step he was ready to take last year before he got hurt. Enjoy your Saturday. 

MNF moments, No. 44: Can't stop Randall

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
9:30
AM ET
Randall CunninghamAP Photo/Sean Kardon
To celebrate the 45th season of "Monday Night Football," a panel of ESPN.com contributors has selected the 45 most memorable moments in MNF history. Follow along as we reveal one per day and count down the number of days to this season's MNF debut.


No. 44: Eagles 24, Giants 13 | Oct. 10, 1988


The Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants -- coached by Bill Parcells and assisted by Bill Belichick -- behind quarterback Randall Cunningham's highlight play.

Cunningham rolled right after play-action at the Giants' 4-yard line only to be met by linebacker Carl Banks. Banks hit Cunningham low, toppling the Eagles quarterback. But the resilient Cunningham kept himself up using his left hand and found Jimmie Giles at the right corner of the end zone.

In the win, Cunningham completed 31 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns for the home crowd at Veterans Stadium.

Prior to this victory, the Giants had won six straight and 12 of their previous 14 matchups against the Eagles. Cunningham's heroics triggered four straight Eagles wins over the Giants and a stretch of nine victories in 10 matchups between 1988 and 1992.

Giants Camp Report: Day 4

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
8:30
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:


  • Man, the Giants' offense looks like hot garbage right now. Eli Manning threw a ball so badly to Jerrel Jernigan that Antrel Rolle and Prince Amukamara almost killed each other as they collided to try to intercept it. Ryan Nassib (to Charles James) and Curtis Painter (to Mark Herzlich) also threw picks. There was a play in which Manning tripped over the feet of running back Rashad Jennings and fell to the ground. (He got right up, don't worry.) Kendall Gaskins fumbled a ball and coach Tom Coughlin began screaming and cursing at the top of his lungs, wheeling on the offensive players who were standing on the sideline and not in the drill and yelling, "Hang onto the [bleep-bleep] ball!" over and over. Mario Manningham beat Walter Thurmond on a slant route for a nice catch, but Thurmond stayed with the play and knocked the ball out of his hands. I mean, ugly. Still way early, but tough to watch.
  • This was the first day they practiced in shoulder pads, and the first thing I saw when I went out to the field to watch was rookie running back Andre Williams absolutely lay out linebacker Justin Anderson in a one-on-one kick-return drill. It was as though Williams was taking out all of his frustrations about Thursday's dropped passes on poor Anderson. But everyone was feisty. At the end of one drill, linebacker Dan Fox playfully tackled GM Jerry Reese, who was watching by the goal post.
  • Things that are real that you wouldn't have expected: Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard is a guy the coaches and other players continue to rave about, and Brandon McManus remains a threat to take the kicker's job from Josh Brown. McManus is 8-for-8 on field goals so far, was making them easily from long distance Friday and looks more powerful on kickoffs, which ends up mattering to coaches in a big way when these decisions are made. If it's close on the field goals, they take the guy who can kick it out of the back of the end zone. Field position matters.
  • Still no Odell Beckham Jr., and no word on when his hamstring will allow him to practice. Yes, the Giants are frustrated that their first-round pick is not on the field.
  • Keep an eye on Preston Parker, a third-year wide receiver out of Florida State who had legal trouble in college and has bounced around. The Giants are using him a lot with the first-team offense and on returns.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We got to talk to New York Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty on Friday, and it was excellent. He told us a story about how his father taught him to play center by having him practice in front of a huge oak tree that he'd have to jump up and hit every time he snapped the ball. It was horrifying and awesome all at the same time. I would like to talk to Pat Flaherty every day if possible, but it's not, so we enjoy what we get.

Also, I know most of you would rather hear about what is going on with the New York Giants' offensive line than what Flaherty did to that oak tree (or what that oak tree did to him). So here's a spot-by-spot breakdown of some stuff Flaherty said Friday:

Left tackle

Beatty
Beatty
Will Beatty has practiced a lot more than anyone expected he would coming off the broken leg he suffered in Week 17 last season. Beatty also has a bit more of an edge to him when he talks to you this summer. Not a ton, mind you. He's still mild-mannered Will. But he definitely seems extra motivated to get back out on the field and show what he can do. And the coaches have noticed.

"Will Beatty's working, and anytime you're at work playing football and putting the pads on, you're going to get better," Flaherty said. "The thing we don't have to have happen is regression with his rehab, but he's handling both things very well, as expected. He's got a ways to go, but he's progressing more now than he would by standing on the sidelines talking to me."

Beatty is coming off not just a broken leg but a rotten 2013 season in general. He signed a long-term contract extension with the team prior to last season and admitted late in the season that the pressure of it affected him.

Schwartz
"He's not that player," Flaherty said of the 2013 version of Beatty. "That starts with me coaching. To be able to coach somebody, he has to be out there on the practice field. If he's not out there practicing the day-to-day drills, then that sets him back and affects your technique on Sundays. Your flaws get magnified. That's what happend last year. This year, we'll see. He's attacking and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Left guard

Geoff Schwartz is a proud, beaming father who misses his newborn baby but looks forward to seeing him again when the family comes to town following the Aug. 3 Hall of Fame Game. The free-agent signee projects as one of the few sure things on this line. Flaherty didn't address him to any significant extent during his news conference.

Center

Walton
J.D. Walton is getting the first-team snaps ahead of rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg, and the sense I get is that the Giants are happy with Walton so far. The center is tasked with more responsibility in the new offense this year in terms of making the protection calls, and Walton told me it's been the toughest thing for him to learn. But Flaherty seems to think he's made a breakthrough. Walton missed the past two seasons with an ankle injury, and Flaherty was asked whether Walton was still shaking off rust.

"If he was rusty, I think he's had some WD-40, because he's out there greasing pretty good, each and every day," Flaherty said. "Was there mental rust? Was there physical rust? Probably. But I don't see rust anymore. He just has to go out and play. He's excited about the opportunity."

So is Richburg, who has been working at both center and right guard but is a rookie. The Giants think he's great, and drafted him in large part because of their belief that he could handle the center's responsibility in their new offense. But 2013 Justin Pugh notwithstanding, they don't rush rookies here.

"If and when Weston continues to develop, he's going to be a very good offensive lineman," Flaherty said. "But he's got to get in there and grow into that position. There's a sense of urgency about being able to grow into a position, and the only way you're going to be able to do that is if you have an opportunity to play."

Hence, all of the extra reps for the rookie at two positions. If Richburg dazzles the Giants at both, he improves his chances of winning one of the two starting spots.

Right guard

Mosley
With Chris Snee having retired Monday, this is wide open. Flaherty is a fan of John Jerry, but Jerry is still quite limited as he works his way back from knee surgery. So Brandon Mosley has been running with the first team at right guard.

"He has to be consistent," Flaherty said. "Somewhere in your career as a player, you have to get off the waves, and that's the point he's at. There will always be peaks and valleys, but you need to have more peaks than valleys. You have to be consistent as an offensive lineman. (Thursday) I saw more consistency. Those guys are pretty good that we're blocking in practice -- Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins. They're as good as there are in the league, and that's a great challenge for a guy like Brandon Mosley."

Guys like Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the defensive tackles who await the Giants in Week 1 in Detroit, might dispute Flaherty's assessment. But if Mosley takes advantage of his opportunity, he could get a shot at those guys Sept. 8.

Right tackle

Pugh
After starting 16 games as a rookie in 2013, Pugh projects as the starter at right tackle once again. Flaherty says he's told Pugh that he believes he wasn't 100 percent physically last season and that he needed to get into the weight room and hit it hard this offseason. Pugh apparently took that advice.

"It started in the weight room," Flaherty said. "His approach these past few months, starting back in February, has been a difference. I saw it for the first time when he came back. He was stronger. He weighs more, but more importantly he's stronger. And what he has between his ears in terms of wanting to be good, that's always going to be there. He wants to be the best at his position."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I have no idea whether Larry Donnell will be the starting tight end for the New York Giants this season, because no one has any idea, and if anyone did know for sure on July 25 it wouldn't be me. What I do know is that the Giants' coaches really, really like Donnell and don't have any clearly superior options. So the fact that Donnell was listed first at the position when the team handed out its first unofficial depth chart of training camp Thursday wasn't the most shocking thing we've ever seen.

Donnell
As far as Donnell's concerned, it neither means nor changes anything.

"I'm just trying to do everything I can do to show the coaches I can do all of the right things as a player, so if that role comes my way, I can handle it," Donnell said before Giants practice Friday. "I just want to do the best I can to show I'm worthy of being here."

Those are common-sounding words, but Donnell lives them, and that is how he has caught the friendly attention of Giants coaches over the past two years. He was a willing and eager special-teams player in 2013, and Giants coaches say his dedication and work ethic were such that they looked for opportunities to involve him more in the offense. He is 25 years old. At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds he is the second-largest of the five tight ends on the Giants' roster after the 6-7, 265-pound Kellen Davis. Donnell was an undrafted free agent in 2012, one full year out of Grambling State, where he began his career as a quarterback and caught only 38 passes in four years once he moved to tight end during his freshman year.

This is an unlikely path for an NFL starting tight end, and Donnell remains far from a sure thing. He still needs to refine his run-blocking, which is likely to be the most important quality the Giants look for when they decide on a tight end, and he's obviously also still evolving as a pass-catcher. He believes his progress in the offense last year could have been more significant if not for a foot injury he suffered in the spring, and he believes he's coming along quickly this camp as he competes with Davis, Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson and Xavier Grimble for the starting role.

Donnell is also cognizant of the importance of continuing to be an animal on special teams. While the Giants will surely pick the best tight end as the winner of the competition, if it's close, they're likely to select the guy who has made the most favorable impression on them in the dirty work.

"No change on that," Donnell said. "Still on special teams, still flying around, doing all those things. The more you can do, the better."

Giants GM Jerry Reese tends to downplay the need for an experienced, reliable tight end, pointing out that the tight end hasn't been a big pass-catcher for much of recent Giants history. But Donnell thinks that's changing this year under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

"The tight end plays a big tole in this offense," Donnell said. "We're a big part of it. We're main reads, No. 1 reads, so it's important to know where you need to be and how you need to get there. We're a big part of the offense."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When I was here for New York Giants minicamp in June, I noticed that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a collection of superhero cleats in his locker. Batman cleats, Flash cleats, Superman cleats, Captain America cleats... I even took a photo and tweeted it out. See?

Well, Rodgers-Cromartie came out and addressed the media today, and naturally one of the questions he got was about how he decides which pair of superhero cleats to wear on a given day. He said he has six of them. I only see four in the photo, so clearly more research is needed.

"It depends on the mood of the day," Rodgers-Cromartie said, confirming what I'd both assumed and hoped to be the case. "Some days, if we're playing a lot of man-to-man, I tend to put on the faster superheroes, because that's a day I feel like we'll have to do a lot of running. It just depends on my mood. You can tell by the type of cleats I have on what kind of day it's going to be."

From where I was standing for practice, I couldn't tell which hero Rodgers-Cromartie was wearing Friday. But like most of his defensive teammates, he looked like all of the superheroes combined out there against the Giants' work-in-progress offense.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin knows the question is coming every day, but he doesn't have to like it. When the New York Giants coach is asked for an update on first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., he shakes his head and usually his arms and conveys the most Coughlinian levels of exasperation.

"You'll know before I know," Coughlin said to the poor soul who felt he had to be the one to ask Friday about Beckham, who missed a third straight practice with a hamstring injury. "He seems like he's frisky out there. Today, he was catching the ball off the machine and moving around a little bit out there."

But that's it. While the Giants practiced in shoulder pads for the first time this training camp, their rookie wide receiver worked on a back field, catching short passes off a JUGS machine but not doing anything resembling real running. The Giants don't practice Saturday, and there's no indication as to whether Beckham will be back on the field when they return Sunday. At this point, they're waiting for him and the doctors to tell them he's OK to go, and no one seems to know how long it's going to be.

On the bright side, since there's no practice Saturday, at least Coughlin won't have to answer the Beckham question.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jon Beason can't practice with his New York Giants teammates right now because he is still working his way back from the broken foot he suffered in organized team activities. The middle linebacker, whose re-signing was such a high offseason priority, said Friday that he has been running on an underwater treadmill and trying to work out the parts of his body he can while letting the foot heal.

Beason
At the time of the injury, doctors gave Beason a recovery timetable that could have him back for the Sept. 8 opener in Detroit but doesn't guarantee that. Friday, Beason was asked how difficult it would be to play in the regular season without first playing in any preseason games.

"Unfortunately, I've done it before," said Beason, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career. "And I hate it, because you want to be in there getting those live reps with the guys. Preseason games, you don't put much stock in them, but you need them to get ready. The one thing you can't simulate, even out here in practice, is tackling -- live tackling to the ground."

For that reason, Beason hopes his foot will progress to the point of allowing him to play in at least one of the Giants' five preseason games.

"I would hope so," Beason said. "We want to be smart about it, and obviously I'm going to do what they tell me. But I hope to get in a game in the preseason and get some reps. I like to think I'm a little bit superhuman and I heal a little faster, but they gave me a timetable and I've got to stick with that."

In the meantime, veteran Jameel McClain has taken over for Beason in the middle and rookie Devon Kennard has moved into McClain's spot at strongside linebacker.

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