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What are the biggest surprises of Giants offseason?

Posted Jun 20, 2016

Giants.com writers discuss the biggest surprises during the team's offseason program:  

It’s the first day of summer, and the Giants won’t be back until reporting for training camp on July 28.

Over the last nine weeks at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the team held its annual offseason workout program, which was conducted in three phases: (I) strength and conditioning, (II) on-field workouts, and (III) team drills. The final stage included 10 organized team activities (OTAs) and last week’s mandatory minicamp.

>> READ: FACT OR FICTION

With that in the rearview mirror, we asked our Giants.com staffers to weigh in on the biggest surprise of spring football:

ROOKIES EXCEL EARLY ON
BY JOHN SCHMEELK

I always try to measure my expectations for rookies. The jump from the college to the pro game is huge, whether you are talking about the playbook, caliber of players, or the simple change in culture from being a student to being a professional. It can be daunting. Players who excelled right away like Odell Beckham Jr. are few and far between.

With that said, I was surprised by how quickly this Giants rookie class has taken to the pro game. Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, and Darian Thompson all quickly moved their way up the depth chart and took snaps with the first team by the end of minicamp. B.J. Goodson showed the smarts you need from a middle linebacker, and Paul Perkins, despite not being here much, appears to be a diligent student. We’ll see how they do at training camp and in preseason games, but the speed of their early progress is a pleasant surprise.

REVAMPED SECONDARY IMPRESSES
BY DAN SALOMONE

Do you mean aside from the theme songs played during the “TV timeouts” at practice? If so, I’m going to point you in the direction of the secondary then and how quickly it could turn around.

Sure, the defensive backs have been in only shorts with no pads so far this season. But they frustrated last year’s No. 7 passing offense at times this spring, most notably at the hands of cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He’s looked as good as advertised since coming over and will make a dynamic duo with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Those two are big-time playmakers.

>> READ: BREAKOUT PLAYERS AT PRACTICE

Throw in Eli Apple, the No. 10 overall pick who will only continue to improve when the pads come on, and that’s a formidable group of corners. At safety, I expect Landon Collins to make a huge leap from Year 1 to Year 2, which is what he did in high school and college. Opposite him could be the most pleasant surprise of spring, Darian Thompson. The third-round draft choice turned heads at rookie minicamp and never looked back. Meanwhile, the big acquisitions in the front seven and the return of Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins will only help those players come along.

CRUZ TAKES BIG STEP
BY LANCE MEDOW

The biggest surprise of spring football was, by far, Victor Cruz getting some reps during team drills at minicamp.  Leading up to the three-day camp it seemed the team wasn’t going to have him participate in team drills until training camp.  Instead, he would continue to do individual work on the side, most notably conditioning drills with the training staff. 

That plan changed as Cruz ran routes and caught passes against air as well as defenders during jog-through.  This was yet another physical step in the right direction as he works his way back from knee and calf injuries but, most important, it was a positive from a mental standpoint in terms of building confidence in what he’ll be able to accomplish during training camp.