Rookie minicamp is the start of hopefully long careers for players gathered this weekend at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
A mixture of draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents and tryout players, the new Giants are coming off the first practice of their NFL careers with more on the way. Here is what we learned from Day 2 during media hour:
1. Jones read formations, not headlines, after first day. After practicing for the first time as a Giant in front of the assembled media, sixth overall pick Daniel Jones didn’t wake up Saturday morning and run to read what they wrote about him. Rather, he opened the second install in the playbook.
“I thought it went well,” Jones said. “It was a good first day, a lot to learn, for sure. I think the challenge for all us young guys is to be consistent through practice, to not be too high or too low at any point. I think that’s what I’m focused on and showing improvement from the first day to the second day.”
2. Shurmur picks up where Cutcliffe left off. The college coach who garnered the most ink over the last few weeks was not Clemson’s Dabo Swinney or Alabama’s Nick Saban. It was Duke’s David Cutcliffe. A mentor of Eli and Peyton Manning, Cutcliffe also brought along Jones. Now it’s Pat Shurmur’s turn.
“David has done great work with a lot of quarterbacks,” Shurmur said. “I have always admired Coach Cutcliffe and what he has done. He is an outstanding quarterbacks coach, first. That is sort of where we all start when you get involved in all this. He has been an outstanding coordinator and an outstanding head coach, as well. I think some of the things that he teaches you certainly see in Day 1 of minicamp. That is partly why all of his quarterbacks have success -- they are well-coached.”
After wrapping up minicamp this weekend, the rookies get the next week off and then jump into the offseason program with the veterans. Jones will travel back home to North Carolina and train on the Duke campus while burying his head in the tablet to watch film.
“When he comes back here, he will get it all,” Shurmur said of the playbook. “This weekend we will just give him a portion of it. The important thing this weekend also is for the guys to be able to come out and get enough scheme where they can still function and we can see them and their movement skills. That is important, too. We have all been doing this long enough where you go to rookie minicamps and it doesn’t even look like football. Balls are on the ground and it is hard to evaluate the players. We have given him a lot of schemes, but I think it is important to run a camp here where you can see everyone function and see what they can do.”
3. Love getting look at safety. Cornerback Julian Love, a fourth-round pick, left Notre Dame as the school’s all-time leader in pass breakups. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound rookie might be putting those skills to use at safety for the Giants, who acquired a pair of high-profile players at the position this offseason in Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea, as Landon Collins signed with the Redskins. After the draft, Shurmur said Love “can play in the slot. He can play high. He's kind of got that tweener kind of corner/safety ability, which makes him a unique player for us.” Love is open to playing free safety. He has some experience at the position, starting there against the triple-option offenses of Army and Navy. The Giants moved him around “quite a bit” on Friday from corner to nickel to safety. He was ready for it.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I think my skillset kind of fits that of a free safety – smart, physical, and range on the field.”
Love is currently rooming with cornerback DeAndre Baker, whom the Giants picked near the end of the first round after trading up for him. They previously knew each other from college awards banquets, which included Baker winning the Jim Thorpe Award over Love as the best defensive back in college football.
“I think he kind of has that dog mindset,” Love said of Baker. “He’ll tell you that he’s very confident, very physical, likes to attack. And I like that in players. I need that next to me because that inspires people, that helps people grow, helps people go fast as well.”
4. Big George competing for right tackle job. From left to right, the Giants have overhauled their offensive line over the last two offseasons. They signed left tackle Nate Solder, drafted left guard Will Hernandez, re-signed centers Spencer Pulley and Jon Halapio, and acquired veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler in the trade with the Browns. The incumbent at right tackle is Chad Wheeler, but the Giants added competition to his position in the draft when they selected George Asafo-Adjei in the seventh round. The Giants liked the Kentucky product’s toughness while playing in the SEC, including practicing against teammate Josh Allen, who was picked right after Jones by the Jaguars. Nothing changed the Giants’ thinking from then until now. He is lining up at right tackle and will compete for the job.
“He is a powerful guy that has very good length,” Shurmur said Saturday. “You can tell he is a very physical style player. That is important at the position.”
5. Eli staying in the moment; “no response” to draft. Just as the pre-draft hype reached its peak in April, Manning and the rest of the veterans reported for the voluntary offseason workout program. When the Giants made the pick at No. 6, Shurmur got on the phone with Jones while general manager Dave Gettleman dialed up Manning. After that, there hasn’t been much said about the matter.
“He has had no response,” Shurmur said of Manning. “I will say this again: I have never been around a person that can stay in the moment better than Eli. That is something that is really unique about him. He is staying in the moment and training to have a terrific season. He looks really good out here throwing, moving and doing all the things necessary. It is his second year in the system, so he knows what we are doing.”