OTA 2017 – GIANTS FEEL BETTER PLAYERS EXPAND PLAYBOOK
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants might have a larger offensive playbook this season without adding any pages.
The difference will not be in the number of plays, but the larger number of talented and versatile players at the disposal of head coach Ben McAdoo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Last year, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard combined to catch 166 passes from Eli Manning. They accounted for 2,050 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Now, in addition to the three-time Pro Bowler and ascending second-year pro, the Giants have added Brandon Marshall, a 12-year pro with 941 career catches, and tight ends Evan Engram, the first-round draft choice from Mississippi, and Rhett Ellison, who played his first five seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
More plays? Probably. More players who can catch passes and gain a lot of yardage? Definitely.
“I think that the personnel groupings are at a point right now where we can have more multiplicity,” Sullivan said today after a minicamp practice. “We were at a high percentage of the Zebra personnel, 11 personnel, with three wide receivers, one tight end and one back, as people call it. With those additional tight ends and with having a couple of fullbacks (Shane Smith and Jacob Huesman) that we’re taking a look at, just to have those different groupings gives the defense more to prepare for and in terms of trying to do things that will give us that balance that we want, run and pass. We have a few more options when you run all of those different personnel groups and then some of the play-action passes, some of the shots that you take intentionally. But it is exciting with all of the additions we have. I’m really, really looking forward to training camp.”
It’s an understatement to say that Sullivan is pleased with the acquisitions of Marshall and Engram, the former who has played in 167 regular-season games and the latter who has played in none.
“I was very impressed with (Marshall) as a person, first and foremost,” Sullivan said. “Having played against him and having known his body of work over the years, you know what a dynamic player he is. All of the Pro Bowls (six) and all of the stats, that speaks for itself. But to me, his team-first attitude, his desire to come in here and say, ‘Hey, you know, I’ve never been in a playoff game. I want to be a part of something. I’d love to get that Super Bowl ring.’ You know, his attitude has come in and he has immersed himself and there’s a lot of things schematically that are different, and he is putting in an extra amount of time to try to get up to speed, if you will. And we are just very impressed with his attitude and with his professionalism.”
Engram not practice today due to soreness, but that hardly damped Sullivan’s enthusiasm about having the young man in his arsenal.
“We are very excited about what the young man brings to the table,” Sullivan said. “He has an excellent attitude, he is very smart, he is tough and I think from the practices that you guys have seen, we will all agree, he is very explosive and he is very fast. There is an added dimension to the pass game standpoint that we look forward to using in the season.”
*Add Sullivan to the growing group of people who are impressed by left tackle Ereck Flowers, the 2015 first-round draft choice.
“The first thing about Ereck that jumps out is how much leaner he is,” Sullivan said. “Both he and Bobby Hart have been committed to the work that they have put in throughout the winter, before we have even started the offseason program, and the time they spent preparing themselves physically. You can see that Ereck looks leaner. There is initial quickness that is there that is impressive. Obviously, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that here we are in just in our shorts and helmets, you are not going to get a true sense of where we are at from a pass protection standpoint, from a run blocking standpoint. But I think Ereck particularly, and I think Bobby as well, both you see the results of their work and getting them to this point.”
*The veteran offseason concludes tomorrow, and Aldrick Rosas, who has never kicked in a regular-season game, remains the only kicker on the roster.
“Aldrick has done well,” special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. “He’s really progressed from when we first put hands on him and started working with him. He’s gotten better every day, so that’s really been encouraging. He’s been consistent. Big guys (Rosas is 6-3), 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.”
Quinn is ambivalent about bringing in another kicker to compete with Rosas in training camp.
“If they’re good enough,” he said. “It’s tough now because the number of training camp practices have cut down. So the number of opportunities are cut down, and kicks. So if you start getting two guys in here, you start splitting kicks up, do you have enough to make an accurate evaluation. But I know we’re always looking for competition out there and if someone is good enough, I’m sure our pro scouts will identify them and bring them in.”