New York Giants Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report
The competitions in the New York Giants training camp are heating up, as the team has now completed two practices in full pads.
There are plenty of players who are making a strong case for not only a roster spot but for significant playing time in the regular season.
Those players, along with players whose performances thus far have been iffy, are mentioned in this special “Stock Up, Stock Down” analysis.
Stock Up: Tight End Larry Donnell
Prior to the start of training camp, the feeling was that tight end Adrien Robinson, the team’s 2012 fourth-round draft pick, would begin camp as the leader for the starting job.
That has not been the case, as according to the unofficial depth chart released by the team, it’s Larry Donnell, an undrafted free agent, who is listed as the starter.
As I noted in my article on Donnell from last month, he has a little more upside than Robinson at this point because he has been able to stay healthy, and he has some experience.
Despite the experience, tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride told me that Donnell is still a work in progress.
“I think anytime you get experience playing in the course of a game and being in the limelight, so to speak, as far as the atmosphere, the intensity of it, going against a player with a different color jersey on, it’s great experience for you,” Gilbride said.
“So it does, it helps and there’s no doubt about it, but he is still a very young player in that regard as well. It’s not like he had a ton of reps through the course of the season last year so the development still needs to continue there as well for his poise, for his execution, in the course of the games.”
Last year, Donnell’s biggest issue wasn’t so much his run blocking as it was his route-running—he often rounded out his routes and thus was not where the quarterback expected him to be.
So far in training camp, he seems to have corrected that issue, running crisper routes with the starting unit, and taking advantage of the experience gained in the previous offense where he was asked to line up as an in-line blocker, an H-back and a fullback.
For his part, Donnell told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that the depth chart doesn’t mean anything right now.
"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," he said. "I just want to do the best I can to show I'm worthy of being here."
Stock Down: Quarterback Ryan Nassib
The Giants really seem to want to hand Ryan Nassib the No. 2 quarterback job. However, he’s not making it very easy for them.
As noted by Inside Football, Nassib’s performance has been all over the map. He’s taking far too long to set up some of his throws, which is odd considering he told reporters back in May that he ran a similar offense at Syracuse.
“Yeah, my system in college was primarily West Coast so there was some carryover from college to Coach (Ben) McAdoo’s system,” Nassib said.
The most frustrating thing, though, is that he can’t seem to connect with receivers during seven-on-seven drills, which do not have a pass rush.
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com recently spoke to Nassib, who told him that he expected to experience growing pains in the early part of camp.
Quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf told reporters that he’s seen Nassib take some steps forward, but that it hasn’t always been a smooth ride.
“I think already in training camp he’s had some excellent throws, much better than the spring,” he said.
“Now there’s been some things he’s missed. He’s had a couple turnovers and some bad throws at times. But overall, I’m really pleased at how he’s been throwing the ball as a whole in training camp.”
Perhaps in another week Nassib will start to get into a groove—there were some instances in Sunday’s practice, for example, where he shined.
However, the Giants will need to see more consistency from him and to see it soon if they plan to keep two quarterbacks, as Raanan noted.
Stock Up: Receiver Rueben Randle
Perhaps no receiver was happier to see Kevin Gilbride’s old offensive system go away than Rueben Randle.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Randle was the target on eight of Eli Manning’s 27 interceptions.
Randle, who spoke with Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, claims that the majority of those interceptions targeted to him were a result of a miscommunication.
"Maybe some were not being competitive or open a lot on my part,” Randle said. “But at least 80 percent of (the interceptions) are miscommunication—not being on the same page."
Thus far in camp, there have been fewer miscommunications between Randle and Manning. At 6’2”, 208 pounds, Randle provides a nice-sized target in traffic and is not afraid to outmuscle the defender going for the ball.
Randle’s comfort level in the new offense has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"I think he's getting more and more polished every year, and out here it seems like he catches everything," cornerback Prince Amukamara told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. "I would say he's going to be one of our big big-play guys this season."
Stock Down: Receiver Trindon Holliday
After an impressive showing in the spring in which it looked as though he might have a place in the offense, receiver Trindon Holliday’s performance has returned to earth.
Thus far, he has been good for at least one drop per practice. What’s more, he has had some issues separating from cornerbacks applying press coverage.
Holliday could still make this team as a return specialist, a role in which he has yet to excel since signing with the Giants this offseason as a free agent.
As a receiver, there’s a reason why thus far he’s only had two career receptions as a pro. It probably would not be a stretch to assume it has something to do with his inconsistency in hanging onto the ball.
Stock Up: Linebacker Devon Kennard
The last time the Giants really hit a home run with a Day 3 draft pick in general manager Jerry Reese’s era was in 2007 when he picked up running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
The last time Reese hit a home run on a drafted linebacker? Well, you might be able to make a care for Jacquian Williams, though thus far he’s turned out to be more of a double than a homerun.
Reese’s batting average in both departments could very well be changing thanks to the play of former USC linebacker Devon Kennard.
The 6’3”, 251-pound linebacker, who has seen his practice reps increase thanks in part to Jon Beason being on the PUP list, has amazed teammates and coaches with his intelligence and aggressive style on the field, a style that has seen him lay several solid hits on those who dare to get in his way.
“I am excited to see that guy in pads,” safety Antrel Rolle told reporters about Kennard before the team took part in its first padded practice on Sunday.
“You always have young guys who you look forward and pinpoint to see what they will do when the pads come on. I am anxious to see Kennard in pads. I think (he) will be some (a) pretty good run stopper.”
Kennard, who has been working at outside linebacker, apparently also has what it takes to be a middle linebacker, according to what linebackers coach Jim Herrmann told reporters.
“That’s why you play preseason games, we’ll find out a lot about him, but he played at USC which is pretty good football, so he’ll probably have a pretty good idea,” Herrmann said.
Stock Down: Defensive Tackle Jay Bromley
The Giants are projected to keep five defensive tackles on their roster, this year.
While Jay Bromley, the team’s third-round draft pick, should be one of the projected five, it would not be surprising if he spends most of his rookie year on the inactive list.
Bromley is a big, eager kid who doesn’t stop fighting when he’s out there.
However, it’s clear that his technique is well behind that of his teammates, an observation validated by Robert Nunn, the Giants’ defensive line coach.
“He’s real raw. Really needs to work on his technique and he needs every rep he can get,” Nunn told reporters.
“But he’s very eager, has a great attitude, good personality (and) fits in the (defensive line) room. He’s off to a good start but he needs time.”
Stock Up: Kicker Brandon McManus
Kicker Brandon McManus, who also has punting experience, was supposed to be an extra leg in training camp, a guy who would relive incumbents Steve Weatherford and Josh Brown during the preseason.
Instead, McManus, Temple University’s career leader in field goals and punting according to NFL Draft Scout, has turning his short stay with the Giants into a competition, with an eye on Brown’s job.
Competition is nothing new for the 23-year-old McManus. Last year, he competed with veteran Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts only to lose that job.
That occurrence taught McManus a valuable lesson that he’s taken into this year’s battle against Brown.
“When I kicked at Temple, I was able to start as a freshman and they never had a competition guy come in to push me and I think that competition definitely drives people to become better,” McManus told reporters when asked what his competition against Vinatieri taught him.
“My practice habits in college were, I wouldn’t say lazy, but I didn’t have someone pushing me every single day. Every day you have to make every single kick whereas in college I didn’t have that pressure behind me.”
So far so good for McManus, who unofficially has missed just two of his field goal attempts thus far in camp.
“I would definitely say I have a strong leg. I think that’s what people notice about me the most,” he told reporters when asked what his best asset was.
“I’ve been working on my accuracy, field-goal wise and that’s shown through my offseason hard work.”
Stock Down: Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s never a good thing for a player to have to miss training camp practices with an injury—especially if that player happens to be a rookie first-round draft pick.
Yet that’s the position that Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is currently in after aggravating in the team’s first full training camp practice the same hamstring that caused him to miss time in the spring.
His absence, which as of Monday stretched to a fifth day, isn’t exactly sitting well with head coach Tom Coughlin, who seem to be growing more and more frustrated with each day the rookie is unable to work.
"It's more than that," Coughlin told reporters after Sunday’s practice when he was asked if he’s disappointed that Beckham had missed his fourth straight practice.
"We're trying to put a team together. We saw too much of that in the spring."
Since reaggravating his hamstring, Beckham has been limited to fielding punts while standing still. He’s also done some work with the Juggs machine on a separate field to keep his receiving skills as sharp as possible.
"He actually looks pretty good out there moving around," Coughlin said. "We just hope it's a real short period of time."
In the latest development, Beckham was not at Monday's practice. Coughlin revealed that the rookie had gone to see the doctor to have tests done to determine the extent of his injury. According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, the tests on Beckham were negative.
Despite his frustration with the rookie's absence, Coughlin realizes that his hands are tied and that he can’t rush Beckham back on the field.
"We're not going to let him go if he's in danger of hurting himself, that's all there is to it," Coughlin told reporters. "I can stand here and fight all I want; it's not going to matter."