5 New York Giants Who've Turned Heads in Offseason Workouts
While New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has spoken about the progress he's seen this spring, it must be remembered that drills have not been done in full pads or at full speed.
These factors have made it difficult to gauge the progress of the linemen and the blocking by the tight ends and fullbacks, but there are still some players who have stood out by stringing together a series of solid plays.
In the following slides, we'll look at five Giants who have had strong showings this spring.
All videos are from Giants.com unless otherwise noted. Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.
Adrien Robinson, Tight End
The Giants decided to pass on drafting a young tight end in part because they are looking for third-year man Adrien Robinson to step up.
So far, Robinson, who two weeks ago told reporters that he recognizes the “huge opportunity” that is in front of him, has been solid.
In the two OTA practices to which the media was given access, Robinson made some nice receptions in the seam, such as this leaping reception of a pass thrown by quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Overall, Robinson has looked about as comfortable in an offense as I can recall, which is largely due to his realization that this year is probably his last chance to live up to the “Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends” moniker given to him by general manager Jerry Reese after New York picked Robinson in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.
“I’m doing extra stuff, watching extra film, because I do feel that pressure and I know this is my third year,” Robinson told reporters two weeks ago.
“It’s going to be now or never. That’s just my mentality that I’m taking every day.”
Charles James, Cornerback
If you haven’t heard much about cornerback Charles James, be sure to keep an eye on this 5'9", 179-pound spark plug this summer, because he has a way of making people notice him—in a very good way, of course.
James, who shared his inspiring story with me last year, is the very definition of "resilience." He not only went undrafted but also survived a car accident that could have ended his career.
Last season, James was good enough to land on the Giants' practice squad, where he sat for four weeks before being added to the 53-man roster on October 5 after the Giants put cornerback Aaron Ross on injured reserve with a back ailment.
James went on to play in 12 games, mostly on special teams, where he finished with seven tackles (five solo).
In 2014 he'll be fighting for one of the last roster spots at cornerback, where his competition will include veteran Zack Bowman and sixth-round draft pick Bennett Jackson.
So far, James is off to a good start in his quest to secure a roster spot. In the two practices open to the media, he had a pick-six on this play in which he did a nice job of reading the quarterback and stepping in front of the receiver.
He also very nearly came up with another pick-six on an underthrown ball by Nassib; however, the ball short-hopped into James' arms and was ruled incomplete.
Still, he did a nice job of staying on the receiver's hip and turning with him just as the ball was released, putting himself in a good position to come up with an interception had the ball been higher.
James also offers value as a punt returner, where he’s in the mix as well. If he continues to make the plays on defense he’s really going to help himself this summer.
Eli Manning, Quarterback
The 2014 season is going to be a big one for two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning, who will be looking to rebound from an abysmal year in which he threw a career-high 27 interceptions.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Manning, who had very little help from his supporting cast, also threw his second-lowest touchdown total (18) since his rookie season in 2004, when he threw six in nine games.
He also completed 57.5 percent of his pass attempts, finishing under 60 percent for the second year in a row, his 2013 figure declining from the 59.9 percent he posted in 2012.
The good news is that his ailing ankle, for which he had surgery in mid-April, has healed to where Manning hasn’t missed a beat during the critical OTA period.
Manning has also shown no signs of being limited in his movement and in fact has looked quick and light on his feet when asked to roll out on some plays.
New quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf has also been working with Manning to improve his deep-ball accuracy.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) Manning completed 21 of 70 attempts (30 percent) for 725 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2013.
This year, Manning and the rest of the Giants' quarterbacks have been doing a target-practice drill in which they attempt to throw the football into a small circular net that’s at least 30 yards away, something at which Manning was seemingly successful.
As for learning Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which is vastly different from the system Manning ran for the first 10 years of his career, Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required), in his look at offensive-coordinator changes around the NFL, spoke to a source who opined, “Learning the new offense isn't going to be a problem for Eli Manning even after a decade in the system Kevin Gilbride coordinated for the Giants.”
Trindon Holliday, Receiver
When the Giants signed Trindon Holliday, a receiver by trade, initially it was believed that he would be focusing on competing to be one of the return specialists.
However, with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. nursing some tightness in his hamstring last week and Mario Manningham not able to work this spring due to lingering knee issues, Holliday has made the most of his opportunities on offense.
Standing just 5’5” and weighing 166 pounds, Holliday has used his size to his advantage, slipping behind defenders and coming up with receptions in between the zones.
He has also showed that blazing straight-ahead speed and elusiveness necessary to scoot away from defenders and pick up yards after the catch.
What’s interesting is that in four years as a pro, Holliday, who in 31 games has just two receptions (both in 2012) for 17 yards, has never really been thought of as a receiver.
If Manningham’s knee continues to be an issue once training camp opens, there could very well be some more offensive snaps on offense in Holliday’s future if he continues to make plays.
Victor Cruz, Receiver
Receiver Victor Cruz has made a practice of making defenders look foolish with plays such as this deep reception from Manning for a touchdown and this picture-perfect sideline reception in which Cruz, fully aware of where he was, made sure to drag his toes in bounds before his momentum carried him out.
Want another nice play made by Cruz? Check out this video (about 12 seconds in), in which Cruz tips a pass to himself and then jukes cornerback Jayron Hosley out of his sneakers to pick up yards after the catch.
Of all the players I've seen so far in the two OTAs, Cruz probably looks the most ready to start the season right now.
But then again, is that any surprise given how Cruz always brings his A-game no matter if it’s in practice or in a game?