NFC East: New York Giants

Giants Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • There seemed to be a lot more practice reps than usual for backup quarterbacks Ryan Nassib and Curtis Painter on Thursday, likely because those are the quarterbacks who'll get the most playing time in Sunday night's preseason opener in Canton, Ohio. Eli Manning was fine and worked with the first team, don't worry. But it seemed as though the guys more likely to play Sunday got on the field a bit more on Thursday.
  • Nassib had some nice throws, including one to running back Kendall Gaskins up the left side with linebacker Devon Kennard in coverage, one that Corey Washington high-pointed on the right sideline and one on which Travis Harvey shook Prince Amukamara in the open field and got clear for a long gain. Painter had a ball tipped in the air and intercepted by Jordan Stanton. And the last play of practice was a Manning pass that Jacquian Williams batted into the air and Jameel McClain intercepted near the goal line.
  • Tight ends continue to be everywhere. There was a play on which Daniel Fells was the receiver lined up wide left and Larry Donnell was in the backfield. Running back Peyton Hillis was the one who ended up with the ball on that play, but it's clear the Giants would like to use the tight end liberally, and in a wide variety of roles, in their new offense. Now they just need to find one they can consider a starter.
  • Wide receiver Rueben Randle, who missed Tuesday's practice with a sore hamstring, was back practicing Thursday and made a nice touchdown catch from Manning in the back of the end zone. He and the tight ends (who are all 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7) seem to be the primary and logical red zone targets since the rest of the receiving corps lacks height. Another reason they want the tight ends to step up. Fells caught a touchdown pass from Manning in goal-line drills, and Victor Cruz dropped one on the very next play.
  • Before he had to leave practice due to an illness, I thought left tackle Will Beatty was doing a good job dictating the action in his one-on-one matchups with Jason Pierre-Paul. Charles Brown got the bulk of the practice reps at left tackle, though. Beatty isn't likely to play Sunday, but he's done a good job so far in his recovery from a broken leg.
  • The Giants are scheduled to practice from 1:20 pm to 3:30 pm ET Friday and have Saturday off as they travel to Canton for Sunday night's game.

Giants Thursday injury roundup

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was a bit of a rough day out on the practice field at New York Giants training camp, as several players sat out due to injuries and quite a few more had to leave practice early. Running back David Wilson, who injured his neck Tuesday and is sitting out while he and the team await a verdict from his spine surgeon next week, stood off to the side and watched. Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who hasn't practiced since July 22 due to a hamstring injury, did his normal routine of catching balls off a JUGS machine and not running. Here's the rundown on the rest of them:
  • Cornerback Bennett Jackson, the team's sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame, could be the most serious one. He got his feet tangled up with those of wide receiver Corey Washington on a deep pass play and injured his ankle. The team sent him for X-rays, and coach Tom Coughlin said he hoped it was just a sprain. Washington also sat out the remainder of practice with a sore heel following that play.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers also injured his ankle during team drills and did not return, but that injury did not seem to be as worrisome as Jackson's.
  • Left tackle Will Beatty left practice early, but the team said that was due to an illness, and nothing to do with the leg injury from which he's been working his way back since he broke his leg in Week 17 of the 2013 season.
  • Defensive tackle Mike Patterson sat out practice with a shoulder injury.
  • Guard John Jerry, who had been doing some first-team work lately at right guard, missed Thursday's practice entirely due to some soreness in his surgically repaired knee.
  • Linebacker Spencer Paysinger sat out practice with a concussion. He has not practiced since Sunday.
  • Wide receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday missed another practice due to a hamstring injury.
  • On the good news front, wide receiver Rueben Randle practiced in full two days after missing Tuesday's practice with a hamstring injury.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was a day Stevie Brown remembers, back in January and February, when he was catching passes from New York Giants assistant trainer Leigh Weiss in the indoor facility here. Weiss threw one high, and Brown went up to catch it and came down hard on his left leg, which is the leg in which he'd had surgery last fall to repair a torn ACL in his knee. Brown landed hard and kept running as though nothing had happened, and when he looked up, Weiss was smiling.

"So," Weiss said. "I guess you're not worried about it anymore."

[+] EnlargeStevie Brown
AP Photo/Seth WenigStevie Brown appears to be back to full strength after an ACL injury cost him the 2013 season.
That's the moment to which Brown points when asked when he stopped worrying about his knee and knew he could once again be the player he used to be. The Giants' safety collected eight interceptions in a breakout 2012 season and was poised to begin 2013 as a full-time starter when he tore up his knee in a preseason game. After that, he said, he had to re-learn everything.

"You're forced to take a step back, and you have to rebuild your game as you're getting healthier," Brown said before Giants practice Thursday. "There are some things that I excelled at in the past that took a while to get back before I could just break-and-cut, break-and-cut. I had to start off with the little things -- coming downhill, addressing myself like I was going to be in the run game, just basic football patterns rather than going out right away and getting in deep thirds and breaking off. I had to start by making sure I could come to balance, breaking down in the tackling game, shifting one way, shifting the other way, things like that.

"Just a big, gradual process to get back to where I am now."

Where he is now is on the practice field, doing everything he would normally be doing to get ready for a football season if he'd never injured his knee in the first place. Brown said there's extra work that goes on off the field -- he has to do extra leg workouts to make sure to keep the muscles around his left knee strong. But once he's on the field, he said he believes he's able to do everything he used to be able to do.

"He worked really hard," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He was here every day in the summer and throughout the entire offseason. So he's worked hard to get himself back on the field, and the work has obviously paid off. But the process of making him stronger, getting him to the games is still going to be important."

With Will Hill suspended and released, the Giants are a bit thin at safety. Brown and Antrel Rolle project as the starters, with Quintin Demps behind them and a pair of fifth-round picks from the past two seasons -- Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe -- behind him. If Brown weren't able to play at full strength, the Giants would suddenly have a big problem at the position. Fortunately for them, at this point, he feels as good as ever.

"I'm able to do everything right now," Brown said. "No limitations to anything. I take all the reps that they want me to take and just go out there and do everything I need to do."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was a whole lotta hootin’ and hollerin’ at the end of the New York Giants' practice Tuesday, from one group in particular.

The defensive backs were all gathered in a circle around reserve cornerback Charles James, bobbing up and down as James regaled them with some sort of song-and-dance routine.

Amukamara
But that’s probably about as much noise as you will hear from the Giants’ secondary this summer. Unlike their counterparts based in Florham Park, Big Blue’s style is not to boast.

“At the end of the day Coach Coughlin is still our coach, and his motto is, 'Talk is cheap, play the game,'" cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “So I think if anyone starts to open their mouth a little too much, I think he’ll shut it for us real quick.”

Amukamara was responding to a question regarding the Giants’ high-profile additions to the secondary this offseason, and whether there’s an added boldness or brashness to the unit this season.

Cornerback Walter Thurmond, who the Giants signed away from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, did make one eyebrow-raising statement back in April, saying the Giants’ secondary was at least as good if not better than the Seahawks’ so-called Legion of Boom.

But a week into training camp, no Giant has said anything in the same ballpark as the New York Jets' Dee Milliner, who pronounced himself the best cornerback in the NFL a few days ago.

Amukamara did say the Giants’ defensive backs are playing with a little more swagger.

“I would say during this camp we are starting to tune to our swag,” Amukamara said. “With the addition of Walter and DRC, they definitely bring a different dimension to our defensive backfield, and it’s pretty contagious.”

DRC, otherwise known as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Thurmond certainly should help the Giants this coming season. So too could the fact that the defense is facing a faster-paced offense in practice under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

“Reps against the no-huddle with our offense, it does help,” Amukamara said. “Going against guys like Philly, their offense is very, very fast. And I think the Redskins, they do the same thing, too. So that’s only [going to] prepare us for the season.”

But if you’re looking for chest-thumping or self-aggrandizement, East Rutherford is not your best bet -- except maybe right after practice, in the defensive back huddle.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After a week of watching New York Giants training camp, it's clear the new offense is a smart, well-designed scheme. Ben McAdoo might be a first-time coordinator, but he has a plan and he's communicating it effectively, and the same goes for the new coaches he brought in and the ones he inherited. That Tom Coughlin oversees everything can only help matters, and if you want to be excited about the fresh, new ideas infusing the Giants offense in 2014, you're absolutely justified. It has a chance to be fun.

But it also has a chance to flop, at least in its first year, and not because of any fundamental flaw in design or planning. The biggest question isn't whether the new offense can work -- it's whether the Giants have good enough players to run it.

The focus will always be on the quarterback, but I think Eli Manning is the least of this team's concerns. He's 33, which is still a prime age for a quarterback in 2014, and there's no reason to think his mental or physical skills have eroded. The issue is the group around him, and the more you look at it compared with its chief competition, the more it starts to look substandard.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz, Jarvis Jenkins
Brad Mills/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz is a proven commodity, but besides him and Eli Manning, the Giants' offense is filled with question marks.
Where does the Giants' running back group rank in the NFC East? Even if you assume David Wilson can stay healthy (and everyone's holding their breath on that after Tuesday), you can't rank them any better than third. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy/Darren Sproles group is a clear No. 1, followed by Alfred Morris/Roy Helu in Washington. You can argue Rashad Jennings vs. DeMarco Murray, but you could argue it either way. The Giants' running back corps is either third- or fourth-best in the NFC East.

Wide receivers? Again, can't give them anything better than a No. 3 ranking in the division. I think Victor Cruz is fantastic, but he doesn't have enough help for anyone to consider ranking him with Washington's terrifying Pierre Garcon/DeSean Jackson/Andre Roberts trio. Cruz isn't as good as Dallas' Dez Bryant, and Terrance Williams has shown more as a No. 2 receiver than anyone else on the Giants has. So it's down to the Giants and Eagles for the No. 3 spot, and if you want to pick the Giants because Cruz is better than Jeremy Maclin or Riley Cooper, you're welcome to do so. Maclin's coming off injury, and Cooper is no sure thing to repeat 2013. But you'd like to see something out of Rueben Randle or Odell Beckham Jr. to help your argument.

We don't even want to talk about tight ends, where the Giants clearly have the fourth-best group in the division. They might have the 32nd-best group in the league, mainly because they've decided to expend no real resources on the position. If the Giants find a productive tight end from the group they have in camp, everyone will be surprised.

The offensive line is certainly not in a class with the ones in Philadelphia and Dallas. And while Washington is undergoing some change on theirs as well, the Giants' case here falls apart on the Trent Williams/Will Beatty left tackle comparison, which isn't close. Until it proves otherwise, you have to rank the Giants' offensive line fourth-best in the division.

Now, predictions in July aren't worth the bandwidth they occupy, and surely some of the players we've discussed here will outperform expectations, just as others will underperform. But this is a ton of question marks at nearly every single offensive position, and to think the Giants will answer all of their offensive questions satisfactorily is pure folly.

Should they give up? Of course not. This is the NFC East, which hasn't had an 11-game winner or multiple playoff teams since 2009. You could make a case for the Giants to win the division with a solid defense, a stellar secondary, strong coaching and a bounce-back season from Manning in spite of the group around him. You're not crazy. Last year showed us the Giants' floor is generally pretty high. They had one of the worst rosters in the league last year, and Coughlin still got them to 7-9. Positioning the Giants as contenders is never insane.

But if you're looking for this new offense to operate the way the Giants hope it can, I think there's a pretty good chance you're going to have to wait a year or so. The amount of change and the number of question marks are just going to be too much to overcome in one offseason. Given the issues they're facing up and down their depth chart, this new Giants offense is likely to remain a work in progress well into this season, and maybe even next.

Giants Camp Report: Day 7

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
7:30
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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. -- 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.

Giants Camp Report: Day 6

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
8:00
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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. -- 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.

Robinson
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"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.
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.

Manning
"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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants' first-round draft pick, still hasn't practiced since last Tuesday due to a hamstring injury. But at least he'd been attending practices and moving around on the field a bit. That changed Monday, when Beckham didn't show up at all for the Giants' shorter-than-usual practice.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Monday's practice that Beckham spent the day with team trainers and was being sent to New York for tests on his injured hamstring.

It's unclear what this means for the top pick's prognosis, but it's not a step in the right direction. It's possible an MRI and/or other tests could help the Giants determine the severity of Beckham's hamstring strain, which would help them figure out how to proceed with treatment or offer them a timetable on when they can expect him back. In the meantime, he continues to miss valuable practice time as the Giants install their offense.

The Giants drafted Beckham with the 12th pick in May's draft because they believed he offered them a significant speed threat on the outside from the split end position. But he missed a number of spring practices and minicamp due to a hamstring injury, and he pulled the muscle again in the first practice of training camp last Tuesday. He has not practiced since, and Coughlin's frustration over the injury has been evident.

"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."

But Coughlin went on to say that, of course, the team wasn't going to put Beckham on the field until it was sure he was no longer at risk of further injury. The Giants' first preseason game is Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Canton, Ohio. Their regular season opens in exactly six weeks, with a "Monday Night Football" game against the Lions in Detroit.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Look, I'm not saying he can and I'm not saying he can't. I have nothing but respect for Eli Manning's abilities and the things he can do. He can beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and if you didn't believe that after the first time, he did it again for good measure. The New York Giants' quarterback is largely underrated and underappreciated, and he's perfectly capable of having a great season even though he's coming off his worst season.

However.

If Manning completes 70 percent of his passes this year in Ben McAdoo's new offense, as quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf said Monday he'd challenged Manning to do, then McAdoo, Langsdorf and anyone else who had a hand in it should have their choice of NFL head-coaching jobs next January. And they can ride unicorns with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to the interviews.

Start with the very short list of quarterbacks who've ever hit that number in a full NFL season. It's basically Drew Brees (twice, in 2009 and 2011), Joe Montana (1989) and Steve Young (1994). Langsdorf said the list he gave Manning also included Sammy Baugh, Ken Anderson and Alex Smith. But Baugh played only eight games in the 1945 season in which he hit the mark (the league played a 10-game season that year). Anderson's 1982 season was only nine games long due to a players strike. And Smith put up his 70.2 mark in 10 games in 2012 before losing his job to Colin Kaepernick.

So if Manning is to hit this goal over a full season, he'll be doing something only three other players -- two of whom are in the Hall of Fame, and one of whom surely will be -- have done. The fact that it's a nearly impossible achievement is the first and best reason to doubt it. Manning's career completion percentage is 58.5, and his career high for a single season is 62.9, set in 2010. He would have had to complete an additional 69 passes in 2013 to get to 70 percent from the dismal 57.5 at which he finished. That's 4.3 more completions per game. Even in 2010, he would have needed 39 more completions, or 2.4 per game. May not sound like a lot, but it is when you think about what it means.

Secondly, as much as we've written about the Giants' new offensive scheme, there are still legitimate concerns about whether they have the personnel to run it effectively. The offensive line isn't set yet. Their wide receiver group is littered with question marks after Victor Cruz. They do not have a reliable pass-catching tight end on the roster. And as much as they want to stress high-percentage plays and completion percentage, it's tough to imagine they'll throw to the running backs all season.

Which kind of leads me to my final point: Eli Manning, risk-taker. Manning's calling card as a quarterback has always been, to me, his fearlessness. He has the confidence to try any throw, no matter how risky, because (a) he believes he can make it, and (b) he has an uncommon ability to put mistakes behind him and not let them affect his performance as the game goes along.

It's inconceivable to think that McAdoo and Langsdorf could change this about Manning even if they wanted to, and it's inconceivable to believe they would want to. Manning's ability to deliver an uncanny throw in a huge spot is one of the few things you can point to right now in this Giants offense that might have a chance to set it apart from others in the league. Their challenge is to install an offense that's more efficient and less turnover-prone while still making use of what Manning does best. So there's still going to be plenty of downfield stuff, and that stuff will come with more risk.

Now, OK. I understand about coaching and motivation. If Langsdorf sets a goal of 70 percent and Manning aims for it but falls 5 percent short, he'd still obliterate his career high and improve on last year by 7.5 percent. The Giants would surely take that. But hearing Langsdorf say this Monday brought home the ideas of (a) how much different this offense is going to be than it has been for the past decade, and (b) how hard it's going to be for the Giants to be proficient in their new offense in its first season.
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
PM ET
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.

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