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10 takeaways from Giants offseason practices

Posted Jun 19, 2015

Giants.com's Dan Salomone discusses 10 things we learned during OTAs and Minicamp

1. Giants unveiled a new-look offensive line.

After starting left tackle Will Beatty suffered a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery, the team lined up rookie Ereck Flowers in his position with Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, Geoff Schwartz at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.

>> O-LINE DEBUTS AT OTA'S

While some of the pieces are the same, the configuration is completely different from 2014.

2. Cruz progressed; no intent to start on ‘PUP’ list. 

Rehabbing back from a season-ending knee injury that he suffered in Philadelphia last October, wide receiver Victor Cruz continued to take steps toward his return that included running routes with trainers.

While he was unable to practice with the team in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, Cruz said his expectation is to return for training camp, which begins July 30 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

>> TIMETABLE FOR CRUZ AND BECKHAM

“It is my understanding that he will be ready to participate,” coach Tom Coughlin added. “How limited, I can’t tell you. We will see. We aren’t going to throw him right out there, I can tell you that.” Asked if Cruz could start on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), Coughlin responded, “That is not the intent.”

3. Odell was hamstrung.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year who was recently voted No. 32 by his peers on the NFL’s list of top 100 players, missed most of spring with a hamstring issue.

>> BECKHAM NAMED TO TOP 100

But the plan is to have him back on track for the start of camp. “He feels better, but he needs to feel a whole lot better,” Coughlin said.

4. JPP did not attend practices.

Tagged as the team’s franchise player in March, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has not signed his one-year tender and did attend OTA or minicamp practices. He is technically not on the roster, which meant he was not fined for skipping “mandatory” minicamp.

>> COACHES UPDATE JPP'S STATUS

However, he has been in touch with his coaches as the team installs a new scheme under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. 

5. Eli’s arm is ‘lively’ as ever.

Entering his 12th season, quarterback Eli Manning is not slowing down.

A focus on improving his arm strength coupled with a year under his belt in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system led to a strong spring for the two-time Super Bowl MVP, despite not having two of his biggest weapons in Cruz and Beckham.

>> WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM MINICAMP

“He overthrew me twice and I don’t ever recall that happening,” wide receiver Rueben Randle said. “That is something we noticed down at Duke working with him. We noticed that his arm got stronger and that is exciting for us.”

6. Coaches threw their first two draft picks in the deep end. 

Flowers, the ninth overall draft choice from Miami, and Landon Collins, the All-American safety out of Alabama whom the Giants traded up to select with the first pick in the second round, were expected to compete right away and did so.

As mentioned above, Flowers was the first-team left tackle in OTAs and minicamp (he even took additional reps with the second unit) while Collins was part of the top safety tandem playing opposite Cooper Taylor.

7. Video department used a drone to film practice.

During the second day of minicamp, the Giants became the latest team to test the use of drones to tape practice.

>> DRONE USED AT PRACTICE

Hovering 50-60 feet above the line of scrimmage, the DJI Phantom 3 gave the coaches the ability to evaluate practice from a straight overhead angle as opposed to sideline and end zone cameras atop hydraulic lifts.

8. Spagnuolo force-fed the defense.


While installing a new scheme, Spagnuolo has preached the defensive tradition of the organization to his current players, showing them videos of iconic games, including the 1986 NFC Championship Game.

>> SPAGS SETS GOALS FOR 2015

“The idea there was that if they could embrace the tradition, the great tradition of New York Giants defense, then they could be proud of it,” Spagnuolo said. “If you are proud of something, then you tend to protect it.”

9. The 2015 motto: ‘Embrace the Grind.’

The 2015 season is right around the corner, which meant it was time for this year’s motto. Players and coaches were given shirts printed with the slogan “EMBRACE THE GRIND.”

Sneak Peak: #Giants players were given this t-shirt which showcases 2015 motto! #GiantsPride

A photo posted by New York Giants (@nygiants) on



10. Coughlin impressed by ‘seriousness’ this spring.

After the final practice of minicamp, Coughlin was asked what is the one thing he learned about his team over the last two months of the offseason program.

>> WATCH COUGHLIN MIC'D UP

“I was impressed by the seriousness this spring,” he said. “I thought that they came here with the idea of what they had to work on and how they needed to accomplish it, but we will see. Everything has to connect. What I learned about, we don’t have any pads on and we are playing against each other, so let’s see what we can do when we are playing against somebody else.”