With Odell Beckham Jr. making his long awaited return to the field–and the podium–during Tuesday’s opening events, the contingent gathered in the Quest Diagnostics Center media room significantly decreased, perhaps further driven away by fellow OTA absentee Oliver Vernon, QB Eli Manning and head coach Ben McAdoo likewise making remarks (and the latter flaunting his new haircut) on Day 1.
Even the weather, peaking in the mid-90’s yesterday, eased up, partly cloudy skies and a breeze making for comfortable settings on Quest’s back patio offering views of the practice field.
Though the newly coifed McAdoo did not speak on Wednesday (he is slated to do so after Thursday’s walkthrough), his trio of coordinators, Steve Spagnuolo, Mike Sullivan and Tom Quinn, did take the podium, as did Landon Collins and Justin Pugh, the latter of whom did not practice for the second consecutive day.
Coming off a campaign that put him in consideration for the “Defensive Player of the Year” award, Collins expressed no satisfaction with his breakout season.
Instead, the third year safety wants to go further, establish himself as not just one of the NFL’s best defensive players, but the NFL’s best defensive player.
The longing to become more was evident when Collins was asked about the NFL Network’s Top 100 of Players of 2017, on which he came in at No. 28. Though he was honored by the accolade, the first time he has appeared on the yearly series, he’d very much like to decrease that number when the network airs the 2018 edition one year from now.
“It’s a blessing. It’s definitely an honor to be on there,” Collins said. “I’m looking forward to going a little lower next time. Me and (secondary coach) Dave Merritt talk all the time about what my ultimate goal is. I tell him my goal is that (Hall of Fame) gold jacket. At the end of the day, at the end of my career, that’s my ultimate goal.”
In non-Collins news, Spagnuolo praised the development of linebacker B.J. Goodson, last year’s fourth-round selection. The Clemson product is expected to take on a larger role in the Giants defense this season, perhaps as the starting middle linebacker, and Spagnuolo said that Goodson has responded very well to the challenge.
“He has really taken this thing on. It is important to him and he takes it seriously,” Spagnuolo said. “I don’t believe that he was the signal caller at Clemson–at least that’s what he told me. So this is a little bit new and yet I think that everyday when we get out there, the guy is getting more and more confidence.”
Veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie agreed, saying Goodson could be “very vocal” in the huddle, adding that the linebacker is “very good.”
On the offensive side of things, coordinator Mike Sullivan, in his energetic fashion, was most pleased to have his unit together as a whole.
“It was nice to get everybody here,” Sullivan said. “(I’m) excited about where we are at. We’ve got work to do. We are at a good point right now in terms of where we want to be in terms of who we’re playing and getting ready to start getting ready for training camp.”
The reason they weren’t whole at OTAs, of course, was the absence of Beckham.
Like everyone else the team, Sullivan expressed no issues with Beckham’s absence from the voluntary OTAs.
“Odell was great,” he said. “(We’re) happy that he was here and excited about the possibilities moving forward.”
Finally, on a day when Super Bowl winning punter Steve Weatherford was on hand to work out and bid farewell to Giants brass (he and his family are moving to California), special teams coordinator Tom Quinn was on hand to discuss his unit’s progress.
He praised the development of Aldrick Rosas, a first-year man projected to be the Giants’ kicker this season. Rosas, who would be the Giants fourth kicker in their last 18 games if he makes it, has displayed consistency during offseason.
Quinn did not fully shut down the idea of the team bringing in another kicker for training camp, but as he did lat month, he offerd another strong endorsement of Rosas.
“Aldrick has done well. He’s really progressed from when we first put hands on him and started working with him,” said Quinn.
“He’s gotten better every day, so that’s really been encouraging. He’s been consistent. Big guys–we try to tighten them up a little bit, and he’s done really well. Very coachable, very strong leg, and he’s had good accuracy this spring.”
Pugh, who was not present at the last two OTAs open to the media, stated he was dealing with a back issue. Though it will keep him out of minicamp, Pugh confidently stated that the injury will not affect his status for training camp.
Guard D.J. Fluker left the practice field early, accompanied by trainers. An offseason free agent signing after his release by the Chargers, Fluker’s right arm seemed to be the issue. There was no update provided on his status after practice by the coaches.
Left tackle Ereck Flowers, once again dressed in his trademark red hoodie under his practice jersey, spent most of practice either on a knee or with his helmet off. Sullivan said Flowers was “just feeling sore”.
Receiver Jerome Lane briefly left practice after injuring his ankle during a drill. After having it taped up by the training staff, he returned to action and partook in the rest of the day’s activities.
Cornerback Eli Apple and safety Darian Thompson, both of whom were held out yesterday due to an unidentified illness, were not seen, nor was defensive back Mykkele Thompson (undisclosed).
Tight end Evan Engram was also limited Wednesday with soreness. The first-round selection was thus limited for precautionary reasons, though he did take part in punt drills on coverage.
The Giants’ first team offensive line took on a different look with Flowers and Pugh sitting out. Adam Gettis took over for Pugh at left guard, while Flowers was replaced at tackle by rookie Chad Wheeler.
Sullivan was pleased with the way the two reserves rose to the occasion.
“I think they stepped up nicely,” he said. “From an assignment standpoint, they didn’t miss a beat. From a willingness and effort standpoint, they both did a great job.”
Brad Wing got in a few punts after special teams were mostly cast aside in the first session. Fielding said punts was a bit of a diverse cast, including Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Shane Vereen, Travis Rudolph and Dontae Deayon.
Dwayne Harris, the incumbent also took part.
“We’re always trying to build a stable of guys back there,” Quinn said. “When you do get to the 46-man roster, you have one guy, that guy gets hurt, you need another guy to go in and it’s still critical to have the ball possession, be able to catch the ball and advance it.”
Quinn was particualrly impressed with what he’s seen fro Rudolph.
“Travis is very smart and he’s very efficient with his movements,” he explained. “Probably more so than I thought when I watched him on tape. So, he’s done a good job, he didn’t really get the opportunity to return at Florida State but he’s done a nice job for us up to this point.”
Media viewing came from the aforementioned patio, offering a distance, but wider, view of Wednesday’s proceedings.
Beckham, who was limited in his first day back on Tuesday, got more reps on the Wednesday sessions, and scored his first unofficial touchdown of the season during a team red zone drill. Eli Manning, rolling out to his right, found a sliding Beckham for the score. The receiver clearly was able to get his knee down first, getting the highly sought after raised arms from officials.
Prior to Beckham’s score, the defense had the upper hand early. On the first play of the drill, new defensive end Devin Taylor knocked down Manning’s first pass, while safety Andrew Adams dropped an interception in the end zone immediately after.
During red-zone 7-on-7’s, cornerback Janoris Jenkins made two excellent plays in a row, first taking away another Beckham score with a last second knockdown, before swiping another score from tight end Jerell Adams.
The offense took their revenge on the other side of the end zone, as Manning found Brandon Marshall, who made a one-handed grab in the left corner of the end zone, besting defensive back Valentino Blake.
The undrafted defensive end Evan Schwan continued to wreck havoc on the line, breaking through on a team drill for another “sack.”
Geno Smith threw an interception during team, victimized by rookie DaShaun Amos, but made up for it during red zone, firing touchdown throws to Matt LaCosse, Wayne Gallman and Kevin Norwood.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
Call for Mailbag Questions
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