New York Giants: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After Week 1 of OTAs
The New York Giants are about to get started on the second of four weeks’ worth of OTAs at their training headquarters in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
While there is a long way to go before decisions have to be made regarding roster spots and the depth chart, quite a few players have jumped out in their quest to impress the coaches after three noncontact practices.
Here is a look at five players who are off to a strong start.
Tight End Adrien Robinson
Now entering his third season as a pro, it’s do-or-die time for tight end Adrien Robinson, who was once dubbed the “Pierre-Paul of tight ends” by general manager Jerry Reese.
Robinson, who two weeks ago told reporters that he’s now doing the little things he needs to do to become a better pro, is “doing” his thing.
“I stay extra every day and get extra film,” he said. “I’m on the elliptical every day trying to get my weight down more so I’m just doing a lot of things differently. I feel like I am more mature. I’m more of a professional now, so I have that approach.”
So far, it seems to be working for Robinson, who also revealed that he’s five pounds away from achieving his goal weight of 265.
Robinson, who’s running with the starters, has looked smooth catching the ball and doesn’t seem to be overthinking situations, which means he's playing faster.
He is using his body well to shield the ball against defenders, and in the one OTA practice that was open to the media, he didn’t have any dropped passes.
John Schmeelk of Giants.com selected a picture-perfect catch-and-run by Robinson on a pass thrown over the middle as he ran down the seam during last Thursday’s workout as one of the highlights of that day.
It remains to be seen whether Robinson brings anything as a blocker—we won’t know that until summer training camp when contact and pads are allowed.
However, so far so good for Robinson in his quest to show people that he can indeed be the Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends.
Safety Stevie Brown
Two seasons ago safety Stevie Brown signed a one-year “show me” deal with the Giants.
Initially thought to be camp fodder, he moved into the starting lineup once it became evident that Kenny Phillips' knee wasn't going to cooperate.
Tendered as a restricted free agent in 2013, Brown hoped to build off his impressive 2012 season. However, a torn ACL suffered in the third preseason game shelved him for the season.
Fortunately for him, his surgery and rehab have gone extremely well—so well in fact that with Will Hill, who took over the starting job midway through last season, now having to serve a six-game league-imposed suspension—Brown has been getting the bulk of the reps with the starters during the OTAs.
"Stevie’s had a good winter. He’s been in here rehabbing the whole time," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "He’s gone through both the first and second phases very well. He’s running very well so we’re very happy with that."
Brown said he took an open mind when he came in to begin work in the offseason program.
“I knew that I was going to work and wherever I fell on the depth chart is where I fell," Brown said. "I know what I can do; it’s just continuing to prove it.”
For as well as Brown has performed in the first three OTAs, he acknowledged that he still has a ways to go before he’s playing at the level he needs to be.
“I just know I feel good right now. For what we’re doing right now, I feel like I can do what I need to do, but I know I still need to do better.”
Quarterback Ryan Nassib
After spending his rookie season sitting behind veterans Eli Manning and Curtis Painter, quarterback Ryan Nassib, now in his second year, is looking to emerge as the No. 2 quarterback on the team.
During the second OTA, which was open to the media, Nassib—who two weeks ago told reporters that the new offense has “some carryover" from the system he ran at Syracuse—took the majority of the second-team snaps.
“Getting the ball out quick, having a good running game and playing fast, which is something that I think I do pretty well and something that I fit pretty well into,” Nassib said.
So how is he doing so far? He didn’t exactly connect on many of his throws, but not all of those appeared to be his fault.
Last week's showing by him might have been enough for the team to have confidence in waiving Josh Freeman, who was thought to be right there in the mix for the No. 2 spot, on Friday.
That transaction leaves Nassib to challenge Curtis Painter, who last year’s No. 2 behind Manning.
Head coach Tom Coughlin praised Nassib's work so far.
“He’s worked hard. He’s worked very hard,” Coughlin said. “He studied hard and he can direct traffic out here. We just need to get the execution where we need it to be.”
Inside Linebacker Dan Fox
The competition at backup middle linebacker is quickly moving to the top of the list of the "must-see" summer battles to watch this summer.
Currently, Mark Herzlich, who made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011, is the understudy to starter Jon Beason.
However, the Giants drafted Devon Kennard in the fifth round. He told reporters two weeks ago that the coaches want him to focus on learning the middle linebacker position.
Another contender who has emerged to challenge Herzlich happens to be an undrafted free agent—rookie Dan Fox out of Notre Dame.
According to Dan Salomone of Giants.com, Fox grabbed the coaches’ attention on the very first day of OTAs (the practice was closed to the media) by coming up with an alert pick-six of a pass over the middle.
That kind of play should come as no surprise, given Fox’s history. Last season he led the Irish in total tackles (95), solo stops (tied, 44) and assisted tackles (51), per UND.com.
His NFL.com draft profile noted that Fox, who never missed a game in his collegiate career, is a player who “generally keys, diagnoses and locates” and is “smart and aware.”
Alert plays such as the one he made on the first day of OTAs will go a long way toward earning a rookie increased snaps in practice.
If Fox can continue to find himself around the ball and break up plays and excel on special teams, he could end up with a roster spot once the dust settles.
Receiver Rueben Randle
During the 2013 offseason, receiver Rueben Randle took full advantage of the absence of the two guys ahead of him, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, by making some solid and consistent plays and taking charge of the receiver group.
He continued to build on that momentum in training camp after Nicks and Cruz returned, as the former LSU standout's daily battles against cornerback Prince Amukamara were one of the highlights of last year's training camp.
When the season got underway, Randle struggled to maintain the consistency he had showed in the offseason.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he was the target on eight of Eli Manning’s career-high 27 interceptions.
Randle also had five dropped passes and one fumble and finished the last six games of the 2013 season without scoring a touchdown, let alone getting open with any consistency to help take some of the defense's attention away from Cruz.
All of those factors contributed to him earning a pedestrian 2.4 overall grade from PFF.
This year, a seemingly more mature Randle apparently realizes the opportunity that's in front of him now that Nicks has moved on.
According to reports from Giants.com as well as my observations from the one OTA practice that was open to the media last week, Randle has done very well so far with running different routes called for in Ben McAdoo’s new offense.
If Randle finally understands what it takes to be a “more mature player,” as general manager Jerry Reese said was necessary of the third-year receiver back in February at the combine, per Pro Football Talk, the former LSU star will make quite a receiving trio with Victor Cruz and rookie Odell Beckham Jr.