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5 things we learned at Giants minicamp

Posted Jun 16, 2016

Giants.com highlights five takeaways from the team's three-day minicamp practice:


Enjoy the summer vacation now because the Giants hope their next break won’t be until February.

The team wrapped up minicamp on Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, thus concluding the nine-week offseason workout program that spanned the 2016 NFL Draft, veteran minicamp, rookie minicamp, organized team activities, and a whole bunch of hours in the weight room and film room.

Players return from their break on July 28 for the start of training camp, and then it’s off to the races. Meanwhile, vacation is a relative term for coaches.   

“This is a key time for every club in the league right now— you build to this point,” Ben McAdoo said. “We feel that we could put pads on, give them a couple days off, put pads on, go out and practice for a couple weeks and be ready for the first game. But that’s not the case— they have a little ‘prep-cation’ coming up. They can prepare for what’s coming down the road and we hope they all make smart and wise decisions.”

Here are five things we learned at minicamp:

1. McADOO ESTABLISHED TEAM IDENTITY

With no contact and no pads, spring football is a time to stress fundamentals on the field and in the classroom. That goes double for a team transitioning to a new coaching regime, which is something the Giants have not done since 2004.

>> READ: PROGRESS MADE THIS OFFSEASON

“We started to establish our identity— without pads— but sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise,” McAdoo said, echoing the vision he laid out during his introductory press conference in January. “We know what it looks like now. We had a chance to sit down, we had a chance to define it and lay the foundation for when we do get the pads on.”

2. CRUZ TOOK FIRST REPS

To a lot of people’s surprise, wide receiver Victor Cruz participated in individual drills and took reps during jog-through periods at minicamp. It was the first time he did so this spring as he tries to return to game shape for the first time since October of 2014. Cruz was originally targeting training camp for his return to practice.

“I think I was ready,” Cruz said. “I think the training staff thought I was ready, and I think that I personally wanted to do something this spring/summer. And they agreed— they saw that I was doing everything right and there were no setbacks after a while, and they agreed with me that I wanted to do something before this offseason program ended. So I’m happy they somewhat listened to me and I listened to them.”

3. THOMPSON LOCKING DOWN SAFETY SPOT

For the second consecutive year, a rookie could be starting at safety for the Giants. Last season, it was Landon Collins. This season, it could be Darian Thompson. The third-round pick out of Boise State first caught the attention of the coaching staff in rookie minicamp and carried that throughout the spring. Thompson lined up with Collins on the first team for most of OTAs and minicamp.

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“That kind of probably says a lot that he is up there with those guys,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said of Thompson. “I said this before, he is still doing it, he is assertive, he is vocal, he is not afraid to make a mistake. I think the first thing that you need to do at that position when we ask you to make calls is not to be afraid of making a mistake and to be vocal.”

4. APPLE OPENING UP POSSIBILITIES AT CB

If you have two corners, you’re short one. That was the thinking that went into the Giants’ first-round choice of cornerback Eli Apple of Ohio State. The rookie had his best day yet during Wednesday’s minicamp practice, the team’s last full-speed outing before Thursday’s jog-through. That’s opening up options for different packages, which include veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins seeing time in the slot.

“We are trying to find that out right now,” Spagnuolo said. “Now, Trev Wade plays in there as well. We have played a lot of guys in there in the OTAs. [Cornerbacks coach] Tim Walton has done a great job and we decided to do that right from the beginning. Let’s find out which guy plays best in there and then go from there because we know they can all pretty much play outside and have played outside.”

5. UDFA'S SET TABLE FOR INTRIGUING CAMP

Every year, dozens of players slip through the cracks and go on to make NFL rosters. The Giants are no different, and there are a handful of undrafted rookies who made their case at minicamp. Most notably, cornerback Donte Deayon, a former teammate of Thompson at Boise State, stood out from the pack and notched the lone interception of minicamp. Tight end Ryan Malleck of Virginia Tech and wide receiver Roger Lewis of Bowling Green also made their share of plays.

“[Deayon] is 150 pounds or whatever, but I reminded him that power is mass times speed, so if he goes really fast, he is just as powerful as anyone,” Spagnuolo said. “He is a joy to work with. He made another big play down in the end zone [on Wednesday]. He has been making plays all year. He loves football, he gets football, he has what I call the football ‘get-it’. He is really smart and he competes, so he’s got a chance, no question.”