Inside the matchup of Ereck Flowers and Olivier Vernon

Posted Aug 5, 2016

Ereck Flowers and Olivier Vernon match up daily at Training Camp practice:  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After the Giants defeated the Dolphins in Miami last Dec. 14, Ereck Flowers and Olivier Vernon exchanged jerseys. It’s become a fairly common postgame practice in the NFL, particularly for two players with the shared connections of Flowers and Vernon, South Florida natives who each played at the University of Miami.

Eight months later, the two players are Giants teammates. And each day in practice, Flowers, the team’s second-year left tackle, grapples with Vernon, the right defensive end who joined the team as a free agent in the offseason.

“Flowers is going to be a really good player, man,” Vernon said today. “Right now, it is all about getting each other better. He helps me out just as far as when it comes to the pass rushing. As young as Flowers is, he is ahead of the game as far as what he knows and his athletic ability. Once he starts getting more knowledge of the game and he puts it with his athletic ability, he is going to be even better. I like going against Ereck, just to get each other better.”


The feeling is mutual.

“He is a great player,” said Flowers, the Giants’ first-round draft choice in 2015. “His all-around game - it is going to be pretty good getting that work in practice.”

Flowers and Vernon are physical contrasts. The former is 6-6 and 329 pounds and can muscle defenders away from Eli Manning. Vernon is 6-2, 275 and excels with speed and quickness, in part because he concedes about 50 pounds each time he goes one-on-one against a tackle like Flowers.

“Ereck is strong,” Vernon said. “He is a young kid, but he is strong. He has strong hands and when it comes down to it, that left side is where the best tackles are, so you have to be stronger at the point, you have to be able to bend a little bit but not fold.”

The two players have adjacent lockers and share information that each can use to improve.

“We are just looking to get each other better,” Flowers said. “Every day we go out there and work. We talk about some of the stuff I need to work on in order to get better.”

“We speak every day,” Vernon said. “It is funny because when I was in that same position, going into my second year, I was trying to learn everything I can. That is what he is pretty much doing. He is always asking questions and is always sharing knowledge.

“He has great athletic ability. He kind of reminds me of Branden Albert (one of the Dolphins’ tackles) a little bit with how athletic he is. He is also very strong. When it comes down to it, we tidbit and share a little bit about what we have going on.”

Before they shared practice field insight, Vernon and Flowers traded jerseys. Vernon has a collector’s item. Flowers’s rookie jersey number was 76, but he now wears No. 74, which was his number with the Hurricanes.

“It is still down there in Miami right now,” Vernon said of the shirt. “I am just waiting to get it framed up.”

• Tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride might be unique among the Giants’ assistant coaches – he believes each one of his players has a chance to still be here when the season opens.

The six players working with Gilbride are Larry Donnell, Will Tye, Will Johnson, Matt LaCosse, sixth-round draft choice Jerell Adams, and rookie free agent Ryan Malleck.

“Each person in that room brings something different to the table,” Gilbride said. “I feel like that all six of them are candidates for the 53-man roster. It's just a matter of who emerges. Who emerges and are they better than the other positions. Coach (Ben) McAdoo had mentioned that the best players will play. It's not a certain number of tight ends in the group, it's just a matter of who's the best football player.”


• The Giants held an hour-long jog-through today, a warmup for their full-pads practice tomorrow, which is scheduled as the longest and most physically-challenging of camp to date.

“Today was a teaching day, so we dialed it back a little bit,” McAdoo said. “We talked to them last night that this was the plan all along. We call it a REM Friday. We had a little bit more REMs (sleep) last night, brought them in a little bit later. Had a chance to hydrate them and bring it back down. We recovered this morning, and we're starting that launch back up and tomorrow is going to be a great day.”

Because today was more of a mental day, the music that normally blares at practice was noticeably lower.

“The music and the intensity were tied together,” McAdoo said.

Practice tomorrow will be different.

“We're going to build up, McAdoo said. “Tomorrow is going to be long, it's going to be physical, it's going to be fast.”

• Odell Beckham Jr. participated in the light workout. He suffered a laceration on Sunday when Janoris Jenkins inadvertently stepped on the back of his leg in practice. McAdoo, who said Beckham was “bouncing back,” was not ready to commit him to practice tomorrow.

“He was fine,” McAdoo said. “He was out there today. Involved in the rotation today. We'll take a look tomorrow morning for tomorrow.”

• Cornerback Leon Hall took part in his first practice, one day after joining the team.

“He's getting his feet wet in the system, he's learning,” McAdoo said of the 10-year veteran. “He's played a lot of football. So we expect him to make a quick transition.”

• McAdoo had no issues with wide receiver Victor Cruz twice getting knocked to the ground yesterday.

“I think that’s great, that’s healthy,” he said. “That's a part of it (his comeback from a year off).”

Cruz was mostly a spectator today.

“Again, just a part of his program,” McAdoo said.