GIANTS ENGRAM BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND THE BIG BLUE SYSTEM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Evan Engram, the Giants’ first-round draft choice, has a friendly and expressive face – except when he’s unsure of his assignment on the field. Then the rookie tight end wears a different mask.
“Sometimes I got a blank stare on my face if I don’t know what’s going on,” Engram said today.
It happened more than he would have liked during the rookie minicamp two weeks after the draft. Now, not so much.
“They’re getting less and less each and every day,” Engram said. “Those first couple of days, there was a good amount, but as the practices went on, as the correction were made, they’re starting to disappear.”
Engram said the biggest leap he’s made since that introductory camp is in a vital intangible.
“Definitely with confidence,” he said. “Those first couple of days, the installs and everything, I was learning but I wasn’t really confident. I was thinking a lot, I was second-guessing myself. But really, digging in the film room, correcting my mistakes and not letting those same mistakes happen again. That really boosts my confidence. So, when I know what I’m doing and I could play fast, that’s the biggest leap I’ve taken during these OTAs.”
As the playbook has become less of a mystery and he’s been able to instinctively execute his assignments, Engram has made more plays in the Giants’ organized team activities. Teammates on both sides of the ball, and his coaches, are impressed by his increased production, and his businesslike approach to the task at hand.
“He is such a dynamic player at the tight end position,” linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “With his skillset, he is going to create a lot of mismatches, whether it’s between linebackers, safeties or corners. He is not a small guy. He runs routes just as good as any receiver we have on our team. He creates separation and he has great hands.”
“Evan works his butt off on and off the field,” said Rhett Ellison, the Giants’ senior right end. “He is one of the first guys in the building and one of the first guys in the meeting room. He is definitely approaching it the right way, and it is good to see young guys with that mentality.”
Like all players, Engram won’t get to display his full array of skills until the shoulder pads come on in training camp. But thus far, the Giants are pleased they took him with the 23rd overall selection in the draft.
“We are excited about the young man,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “He has a tremendous skillset to do a lot of different things for you. He shows that he is willing as a blocker. Now we have to get some pads on him and get his fundamentals right there. He is a conscientious young man, he works hard at football and seems to enjoy it, he does a nice job in the meetings at this point and I think that he will get better as time goes on. But a lot of times success in this business nowadays, meetings are pretty important. The good players do well in meetings and can take it on the field because there is just not as much time on the field as there used to be.”
*With the offseason departure of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen is the Giants’ senior running back.
“It’s weird being the oldest guy in the room,” Vereen said. “But, it’s a fun experience for me. I don’t feel old yet. Just trying to get all the young guys on board and try to teach them the right ways to do things.”
Vereen’s priority is not learning the ages of his fellow running backs, but returning to field in good health. His 2016 season was limited to five games, because he twice tore his triceps – on Sept. 25 vs. Washington, and following a stint on injured reserve, vs. Detroit on Dec. 18.
He has been a regular attendee in the Giants’ offseason program, but the team has limited his workload.
“I’m feeling good,” said Vereen. “The trainers and coaches are taking it day by day, and so am I. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to go by week one (Sept. 10 in Dallas).”
*Ellison, signed as a free agent on March 10 after five seasons with Minnesota, missed most of the spring work with a sore calf. He has been in all of the meetings, but laments not having the opportunity to run plays on the field.
“It is a lot different on paper than it is on the field, especially with how we run the offense here,” Ellison said. “A lot of stuff is changing on the fly. I’m caught up on the mental side of it, but you can never really catch up with the on field stuff unless you are on the field.”
“Rhett is sore, so we are being smart with him.” McAdoo said.
Ellison, however, is eager to fit in with his new teammates and show them what he can do.
“It is always frustrating when you have to sit out,” he said. “Especially when you are in a new place trying to learn a new system. But this training staff does a great job. They are just being real safe this time of year and smart about it and I am just trusting those guys that they have the best interest for me. It is frustrating, but it is football. Injuries are part of the game.”
*Left tackle Ereck Flowers worked out here the entire offseason, work that McAdoo said is paying off for the former first-round draft choice on the field.
“He is in tremendous condition,” McAdoo said. “You can see it as practice goes on and especially in a no-huddle period when the ones run back out there for a second time. He is in better condition, so his feet move a little bit better, his technique is a little bit better and, again, it is still early and we need to get the pads on these guys, especially the big guys, and see how they come along with their fundamentals, but it definitely shows.”
*The Giants held their final OTA today. Next week is the full-squad minicamp, the players’ only mandatory event of the offseason. The veterans will then be off until the beginning of training camp, while the rookies will stay here for one more week of work.
“I expect everyone to be here,” McAdoo said. “I am not spending time talking about attendance, but yeah, it is minicamp and we look forward to everyone being here next week.”