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What advice do last year's rookies have for 2017 newcomers?

Posted May 11, 2017

Giants's second-year players offer advice to the incoming rookies:

The 2017 New York Giants Rookie Minicamp starts on Thursday when more than 50 players arrive in East Rutherford to get their first taste of the NFL. It will be three of the most challenging days of these players’ lives.

“Rookie minicamp is more of a mental test,” said defensive end Romeo Okwara, who went undrafted out of Notre Dame. “They throw a lot at you, the whole playbook, and in a two-day span. You just have to maintain level and come in and learn every day. They don’t expect you to learn everything, so just take it day by day.”

“Stay relaxed,” wide receiver and 2016 second-round pick Sterling Shepard added. “You aren’t going to learn everything in three days. Take in what you can handle and stick to a few key things to learn.”

>> WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR ROOKIE MINICAMP

There are three different types of rookies that will be participating in the minicamp. There are the team’s draft picks, undrafted rookie players that received contracts from the team shortly after the draft, and tryout players who are hoping to earn a place in the team’s offseason program.

Okwara, one of the Giants’ undrafted free agent signees shortly after the 2016 draft, offered a bit of sage advice.

“It’s still the same football you played since you were little,” he said. “Just come in here and work. Bring that same work ethic you had in college to try and get better.”

For the draft picks, like Shepard, rookie minicamp is a way to get off on the right foot with your new organization.

“Just be yourself,” Shepard said. “Don’t try to come in here and be something you’re not. Do what you’ve done to get here and be yourself.”

Linebacker B.J. Goodson, the team’s 2016 fourth-round pick, also stressed that players shouldn’t try to do too much.

>> EXPERTS PREDICT BIG THINGS FOR GIANTS

“Come in and do what the coaches ask you to do,” Goodson said. “They won’t ask you to do anything they don’t think you are capable of doing. Put your head down and just work. Nothing is going to be given to you.”

The Giants’ sixth-round pick last year, tight end Jerell Adams recalled that it was an opportunity to prove to your coaches that you have the right attitude.

“Be willing to learn and don’t have a big head,” Adams said. “Always try to make progress and don’t make the same mistake twice. Show the coaches you are willing and able to learn.”

Evan Engram, the Giants’ 2017 first-round pick, will be joining Adams in the tight end room. Adams had this piece of advice for his new teammate: “Don’t be satisfied with being a first-round pick. Continue to work and grind no matter what. Keep working.”

No matter if a rookie is a draft pick or went undrafted, they will be expected to play special teams. Sometimes special teams is the only place a first-year player can make an impact. Goodson got the majority of his snaps on special teams last year.

“It’s really big,” Goodson said about rookies dedicating themselves to special teams. “You have the 53-man roster, once you take those special teams guys off you are down to 45 or 42, so being able to play special teams is very, very, important.”

After playing well on special teams, Goodson earned some rotational snaps on defense late in the year. Despite the fact some of the highly drafted players didn’t play special teams in college, they will likely be asked to do so on the pro level.

Another new experience for the rookie class is the way practice is run. It isn’t just game speed that takes a tick up in the NFL.

“The speed was a little different,” Okwara said. “The practice pace was a lot faster than what I was used to in college. That was one thing that stuck out to me.”

Perhaps the best advice was put very succinctly by safety Darian Thompson: “It’s going to come fast. Get ready to work.”

We’ll see the rookie class do just that for the first time this weekend.