5 things we learned at Giants OTAs (5/20)

Coach Pat Shurmur and a handful of players, including quarterback Eli Manning, met the media following OTA No. 1 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Here are five things you need to know from the first day:

1. Manning good for Jones, and vice versa. Much has been made about what two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning can do for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. But what about the other way around? Coach Pat Shurmur thinks it is “good on both counts.” Manning and Jones, he said, are two competitive guys who work well together to create a healthy quarterback room.

“The way quarterbacks communicate, they are smart guys that are highly competitive and well accomplished players,” Shurmur said. “They are doing what they can to get ready to play. Eli is getting ready to play winning football and Daniel Jones is trying to learn the offense and get himself ready to play Week 1, like all the quarterbacks in the room. Because they have a general respect for each other and because that really is a healthy quarterback room, they can improve and get better. I think that is good.”

Asked about if he views it as an “open” competition, Shurmur responded: “I view the quarterback position as we have a starter in Eli and we have guys behind him, specifically Daniel Jones, that needs to do everything he can to be able to play week one. That is where we’re at.”

2. Eli knows he needs to “play well – and play well early.” In his first public comments since the draft, Manning shot down any notion of “awkwardness” in the quarterback room with Jones. “Don’t create it,” Manning said of how to avoid it. “It is not there. Don’t make something that is not there. It doesn’t bother me. It is not about being nervous or worried. I am treating it the same that it has been the last 15 years. Whoever is in the quarterback room, talk football. If someone is confused about something or not sure about something, we have a great communication system and a relationship.”

On if the presence of Jones will make him try harder, Manning said: “I don’t think so. I feel like I have always tried hard and worked hard. I have done everything possible to be in a position to be successful. I don’t think this has changed that. I understand the circumstances that I am in and sure, I need to play well and play well early. Just do my job. You want to do that. You have to be careful not to press and do too much when things aren’t there and force things. Just have to play to the best of my ability and make good decisions. Lead this team to wins.”

3. Secondary off to good start with Peppers, Beal. Safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Sam Beal are part of a new-look secondary. Peppers came over this offseason from Cleveland, and Beal is also looking to make his Giants debut after the supplemental draft pick missed all of his first year due to a shoulder injury. The two teamed up for the first interception of spring. Beal stretched out to tip a pass that Peppers intercepted in the front corner of the end zone and returned it up the left sideline.

“[Peppers] is the kind of guy that if you don’t know him, I always admired his style of play,” Shurmur said. “Super competitive, loves football and communicates really well. He is really good in coverage. He got his hand on a ball and almost got his hand on two more. He is out there and you can see he is excited about playing football. When you guys in the lineup like that, it rubs off on other guys.”

For Beal, the fact that he stretched to make the play was a good sign for his shoulder.

“I don’t even think about it,” Beal said. “With the rehab all offseason, I didn’t go home. I stayed here just to rehab. I don’t even think about anymore. I just go out there and get my feet wet. It’s all about footwork.”

4. Giants open OTAs without two OTs. Returning left tackle Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, who signed with the Giants last week and is expected to compete for the starting job on the right side, did not practice today – as expected. Brian Mihalik and Chad Wheeler, the incumbent right tackle, saw time with the first team.

“[Solder] just had a little clean up in his ankle,” Shurmur said. “Something that happens for guys. We felt like it started to flare up a little bit, and felt like we should take care of it. He will be back soon. He will be ready for training camp.”

Remmers, meanwhile, is returning from an offseason back surgery but said it was “not a big deal.” When will he see the field again? “Hopefully soon,” he said. “I feel great right now, so we'll see what they say.

5. Pio begins with first team at center. Over the offseason, the Giants re-signed Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley, two centers they trust and plan to compete for the starting job. Halapio opened last season as the starter before suffering a serious leg injury in Week 2, and Pulley, who was acquired off waivers days before the start of the 2018 season, eventually took over as the offense surged in the second half of the schedule. So there was some uncertainty about which one would line up on the first team at OTA No. 1. It was Halapio.

“He was really playing well for us before he got hurt a year ago,” Shurmur said. “So we had high hopes for him last season. It appears he has come back 100 percent and is back in there just like he was when he left us.”

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