Calendar watching was a common theme for the New York Giants in their minicamp finale Thursday.
With the practice portion of the session limited to walkthrough-like activities, players available for comment afterwards were questioned about both the six-week sabbatical to training camp, set to open on July 27, as well as the much publicized whirlwind that was minicamp and organized team activities over the past few weeks.
“The spring is about teaching and learning and jockeying for reps in training camp and in the preseason games,” said head coach Ben McAdoo. “(It’s about) putting yourself in a better position so that you can go out and compete for a job in training camp. So it is more about teaching and learning.”
Next up on the docket is the late July reporting, but the Giants officially ended their spring activities with a strong sense of optimism and determination as they enter a rare dead zone on the NFL calendar.
Minicamp, as well as the OTAs that preceded them, showed the Giants the potential of what this season could be, as well as what they need to work on to improve on an 11-5 campaign last season.
“I think (spring activities are) a place where you bond with your teammates,” said Jason Pierre-Paul. “You start to get better, you start to create chemistry with one another. Everyday that we came out here we work, we work, we work, we work, and we work.”
The stretch will inevitably give way to an endless stream of evaluation from both coaches and media alike, and much has already been dedicated to Ereck Flowers, the scapegoat for the problems the Giants’ offensive line struggles over the past few seasons.
The scrutinized first-round pick met with reporters, delivering brief responses.
For example, when asked why he chose to remain in New Jersey for the offseason instead of returning home to Miami, Flowers replied only “Why not?” and used the one word answer of “no” when he asked if he had any regrets to the start of his career.
The confidence and determination to improve after a tough start to his career, however, were present.
“I’m continuing to go out there and work. That’s all I thinking about,” Flowers said. “It’s a grind, but I love it.”
Flowers also noted that despite several additions to the offense, the line remained mostly in tact, and he praised the attempt to keep the chemistry going.
He also praised his relationship with linemate and locker room neighbor Bobby Hart, saying the two are always competing, though they “always have fun with it.”
McAdoo would double down on the confidence he showed in Flowers in the days after the Giants’ playoff elimination loss in January.
“We have seen Ereck make progress and we just need to continue with that progress,” McAdoo said. “(He has been) lighter on his feet, playing with better bend, but we have to see it when the pads come on and that is the next step in the process.”
Both McAdoo and Pierre-Paul were also aware of the future, knowing that the spotlight and grind of the NFL, particularly that of a New York Giant, never lets up, even during an upcoming six-week stretch of inactivity.
“What you do behind closed doors it shows on the field,” Pierre-Paul said. “If you’re out partying and all that then you come here and you will be out of shape. If you choose to go by it the right way, it shows.”
His head coach agreed.
“Six weeks goes by pretty quick. You just don’t want any phone calls late at night, that’s all,” McAdoo said.
“But I trust the players in the locker room, I trust the staff, we are going to put ourselves in good situations and we understand that NYG never comes off. It’s always with us, always a part of us, the name on the back of the jersey and the letters on the front always stick with us.”
Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker spent the entirety of practice on an exercise bike. McAdoo declined to give a deep update on Fluker, saying he got “nicked up” in yesterday’s practice, which Fluker left early. McAdoo did mention that Fluker “bounced back” on Thursday despite soreness.
Linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) and defensive back Mykkele Thompson (knee) continued to work out to the side, as part of their respective rehabs.
Tight end Rhett Ellison (calf), who spent a majority of the OTAs and minicamp working to the side, emerged from the field house about halfway through the session to join his fellow tight ends for blocking drills.
After sitting out for precautionary reasons due to soreness the day before, tight end Evan Engram returned to action.
So too did Flowers, who rejoined lineman activities after being Wednesday limited due to soreness yesterday. Flowers did sit out the brief team drills.
For a third straight day, neither cornerback Eli Apple or safety Darian Thompson (both with illnesses) were seen.
As expected, left guard Justin Pugh (back) sat out of action, standing to the side with his helmet off. Pugh said Wednesday that he does not expect the injury to be a long term issue and fully expects to be ready for training camp.
Undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler once again subbed in for Flowers during the brief team period . Adam Gettis again stood in Pugh’s spot, but he was later spelled by another rookie, sixth-rounder Adam Bisnowaty.
Odell Beckham Jr., Shane Vereen, Sterling Shepard and Travis Rudolph all fielded punts today. Kevin Snead briefly got some work in on the side.
Media was once again positioned on the back patio. Practice was a mostly quiet and quick affair, lasting just over an hour.
Call for Mailbag Questions
We’ll have one last mailbag to wrap up the spring. If you have a question you’d like to ask, please send it below. The mailbag will publish Friday late afternoon, so please submit your questions no later than noon Friday.