Rounding Up the Latest New York Giants Offseason Buzz
The New York Giants will conclude their offseason preparation this week with a mandatory three-day minicamp set to begin on Tuesday.
Despite a couple of bumps along the way—the disappointing outcome of former safety Will Hill’s appeal of his suspension that led to his release from the team and, more recently, the broken foot suffered by middle linebacker Jon Beason—there is still a lot of optimism filling the halls of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center where the team is headquartered.
That’s because new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has been installing an offense that, based on the feedback from some of the players, is quicker and more tailored to the the skill players' strengths.
Meanwhile, on defense, New York vastly upgraded its defensive secondary, adding cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to start opposite Prince Amukamara and bringing in Walter Thurmond III to play the slot.
Later this week I will have a wrap-up on the Giants’ spring activities, but for now, let’s look at the latest buzz as the team prepares for its minicamp.
Jameel McClain Will Fill in for Jon Beason at Middle Linebacker
For the third offseason in a row, the Giants suffered a significant injury that is threatening the availability of a key starter for opening day.
This year, it’s middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was injured during the team’s ninth OTA defending a pass play.
The team announced the injury as being a ligament tear and a small fracture to the sesamoid bone in his right foot.
While the Giants didn’t list a recovery time or what the next step was for Beason, NFL Network’s Kim Jones tweeted that Beason’s injury requires surgery and that he’s facing a “12-week recovery” period.
That time frame would put him right up to the start of the regular season, assuming he has the surgery this week.
In the team’s announcement, Beason didn't hedge any bets on being ready for the team’s September 8 opener at Detroit.
“I expect to be back [for that game]. If not, I’ll be back as soon as I can," he said. "That’s really how you have to look at it. If it’s not 16 [games played], maybe it’s 15 or 14. Whatever it is, you want it to be that number as opposed to one.”
So where do the Giants go from here now that Beason will almost certainly begin the summer on the PUP list, as Jones noted?
The other player to keep an eye on during Beason’s absence is fifth-round draft pick Devon Kennard, the rookie out of USC who might otherwise have seen fewer snaps this summer had Beason not been injured. Kennard has been in the mix for a depth role at middle linebacker.
"If you know what you're doing, you can play fast," Kennard told reporters last week.
"That is what I'm using this time for and all the reps I'm getting out there every day. I'm getting more and more comfortable and taking control of everything more and more. So far it's going smooth."
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Hopes to Return for the Minicamp
It’s not exactly known just how many OTAs first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. has missed since joining the Giants following the draft.
While no one is pushing the panic button yet regarding his battle with a hamstring strain, which first came to the media’s attention during OTA No. 6, the missed practice time can’t be good.
Although Beckham has been present for the practices, practice is a two-part step which includes taking what one learns in the classroom and then working on it on the field.
For those who might believe that there is plenty of time for Beckham to catch up once training camp comes around, the question of just how much he’s missed so far is a legitimate one to ask.
Remember last summer how receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz got off to slow starts after missing the spring workouts? These two veterans, remember, were already familiar with the offense at the time but took some time to get back into a rhythm.
The good news is that Beckham told reporters that he is feeling a lot better and believes he will be back in action for this week’s minicamp.
However, when pressed for specifics, he said: “I don’t know. [The decision is] still in the training room.”
Left Tackle Will Beatty's Return Date Remains a Mystery
The Giants have already declared that starting left tackle Will Beatty, who has been rehabbing from a broken leg suffered in last year’s regular season finale, will miss this week’s mandatory minicamp.
Will he be ready for the start of training camp? Beatty, who last spoke to reporters at the end of April, indicated that there isn’t a set date regarding his return to the field.
“[Head coach Tom Coughlin] would know more of the ins and outs of the days,” Beatty said. “We haven’t sat down and been like: ‘OK, this date right here, you’re doing this.’ It's: ‘You did this today, let’s improve on it tomorrow and the next day. Let’s come back, let’s move forward and not have any setbacks.’”
Coughlin, in his most recent press briefing, sounded unsure about Beatty being ready for training camp.
"He seems like he’s making progress,” Coughlin said, adding that the goal was to have Beatty for training camp.
However, he continued to sound like a man who had doubts that his starting left tackle would be ready for the team's first practice on July 22.
"He’s building himself up, and so that’s basically where he is," Coughlin said. "He’s doing all the rehab, but on paper, he wasn’t scheduled to go until training camp.
"[When] we started out, he was doing some of the jog-through stuff and actually did pretty well, but a lot of that was on air.”
The Giants have been rotating James Brewer and Charles Brown at left tackle in Beatty’s absence.
There Is No Front-Runner in the Tight End Battle Yet
Although Giants general manager Jerry Reese likes to keep all of his options open regarding possible personnel moves, there are instances when word gets out that he's looking at certain players at specific positions that tell you that he's still not satisfied with what he has.
One position he apparently was looking at earlier this month was tight end. According to a joint report by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com and Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger, New York had former Green Bay tight end Tom Crabtree in for a visit last week as part of a group of 10 free agents looking to latch on to a team for the summer.
New York ended up not signing Crabtree, who broke the news himself via Twitter.
That the Giants continue to explore their options at tight end is interesting. In the three OTAs that have been open to the media, the Giants have given the bulk of the snaps at the position to different guys—first it was Adrien Robinson, then Daniel Fells and, last week, Kellen Davis.
That “rotation” would seem to indicate that no one has really jumped out in the race to claim the starting job, an observation validated by head coach Tom Coughlin.
“Pretty much it’s another day-by-day [situation],” Coughlin told reporters last week when asked if anyone has jumped out to the front of the pack at that position.
“Somebody will do something well one day and then someone else on another day.”
Who will be the star of the group, which also includes Larry Donnell and rookie Xavier Grimble, this week during the minicamp? Stay tuned to find out.
Safety Stevie Brown Is Projected to Replace Will Hill in the Starting Lineup
Even before the Giants waived Will Hill, a talented safety that just couldn’t stop drawing suspensions, New York had reduced him, a starter last year, to the second team behind Stevie Brown.
With Hill gone, Brown, who is recovering from ACL surgery, is currently the front-runner for the starting job.
To his credit, Brown hasn’t looked much, if all, like a man who was less than a year ago left in a crumpled heap on the MetLife Stadium turf. That's left head coach Tom Coughlin very encouraged.
“He’s been pretty much right on target [in his rehab], but he hasn’t missed anything, which is great,” Coughlin told reporters.
Brown, who had a team-leading eight interceptions in 2012, said last month that his surgically repaired knee hasn’t given him any issues. “So far, mine’s responding well with me doing what I can,” he said.
To help ease his transition back, Brown, who signed a one-year deal with the Giants to return this season, said he came into 2014 with no expectations regarding his role on the team.
“I knew that I was going to work and wherever I fell on the depth chart is where I fell," he said. "Right now they have me next to ‘Trel (Antrel Rolle) so I’m staying next to ‘Trel.”
While his spring has been impressive, Brown thinks he has a lot more to show before he is back to being the player he was before his injury.
“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.”