The Giants were back on the field today and held their final full practice before Friday’s preseason game against the Bears.
Here are five things we learned:
1. Giants will adjust, move on from Golden Tate suspension. The NFL announced yesterday that wide receiver Golden Tate has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Tate, who said he took a fertility drug that included a substance banned by the league, had appealed the ruling and appeared at a hearing last week. The effort was unsuccessful.
“It is what it is,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “This isn’t the first time a player has been suspended. He went through the process to try to appeal it and all. We just won’t have him for four weeks, so you move on. You make adjustments, and then wait for him to get back in Week 5.”
After releasing a statement yesterday, Tate spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time since the decision and further explained what happened.
“A few weeks after my test, I went back and spoke to the doctor. Initially, the doctor said it was not a banned substance. In fact, he had given it to other NFL players, which is why I trusted it and kept living my life. I was out to dinner one night with a guy who worked for me and he started talking about another player who was getting suspended for something completely different. A light went off in my head and I said let me call the doctor to make sure, to make myself feel better. I asked him what the active ingredient was and he looked it up right then and there and sure enough it was a banned substance.”
Tate added: “It’s very frustrating. I have no problem with accepting the punishment. I’m responsible for what’s put into my body, ultimately. The tough thing I am dealing with is I’m letting down a lot of people. My family, the guys in the locker room, the people in the organization that brought me here. That’s kind of what’s been crushing me with this whole situation. I’m taking it day by day, the Giants have been overly supportive of this situation and worked with me throughout. I’m just ready to move on and get back to playing football. I guess my wife put it into perspective for me, although these times are very, very hard on me because I love this game and I take it very, very seriously. I think I’ve had a clean slate for the majority of my career. She put it into perspective yesterday. She said I played 182 games in my career, four games is a small part of that. Although right now it’s very hard to swallow and hard to deal with, she kind of put it into perspective.”
2. WR TJ Jones isn’t just a “camp body” – especially now. After Corey Coleman suffered a torn ACL at the beginning of camp, the Giants bolstered the position by signing veteran TJ Jones, who spent his first four seasons with the Lions. He immediately made an impact in practice and carried it over to the preseason opener, when he had a game-high 72 yards on six catches, including a 31-yard touchdown.
“If you come in leaving here just a camp body, then that’s what you put out on film,” Jones said. “You won’t believe you have a shot, so you won’t put your best foot forward, but if you come in with the mindset that I’m here to earn a spot, to earn a job whether it’s here to put out good film or if I were let go for someone else to see good film. That’s on you, so I came to make the best of the opportunity and to definitely not let the timing of it affect the way I approached it.”
“We signed him because we liked him, regardless of moving forward,” Shurmur said. “We felt like he was a guy that could come in, compete, and make our team, regardless of who we had on the roster. It was more of replacing Corey at that time. When you have a player that’s going to miss a month, then it kind of elevates the guys behind him. One of those guys may be a guy that’s here for a month until Golden gets back.”
3. Daniel Jones looks to build more confidence in second preseason game. Team president John Mara said yesterday in his annual training camp meeting with reporters that in an “ideal world”, the sixth overall draft choice wouldn’t see the field all year. Why? That would mean Eli Manning was having a great season. None of what Mara said came as a surprise to Jones, who has now answered these types of questions going as far back as the Senior Bowl in January. His response hasn’t changed all these months later.
“I think my job right now is to prepare, to improve as much as I can, and control what I can control,” Jones said today for the umpteenth time. “How that plays out, I certainly hope we’re winning a whole lot of games, too.”
Jones made his NFL debut last week, and it couldn’t have gone much better. He completed all five of his passes for 67 yards and a touchdown on his first and only drive against the Jets. So what’s next?
“I think for everyone, it’s just to build off what we’ve done, what we did in that first game, and what we've done since then, and kind of taking the next step as a team,” Jones said. “I think with each group, it’s just building off what we’ve done.”
4. Shurmur plans to play all 4 QB’s on Friday night. Coaches don’t like to reveal playing time before preseason games, but Shurmur clued everyone in on his plan to play all four quarterbacks this week, just like he did in the preseason opener. Between the opening three-and-out and a weather delay, however, Manning and Jones didn’t play as much as Shurmur wanted. That should change on Friday night, and Jones could again see some time with the first-team offensive line.
“I think Daniel’s going to play throughout (the preseason),” Shurmur said. “We’ll just have to see how it plays out. I think it’s important for him to compete in all four of the games, and certainly you’d like him to get as many reps as you can as he gets himself ready to play.”
5. Trio of defenders likely out vs. Bears; Giants tempted to rest Saquon Barkley? When the Giants host the Bears on Friday night in their second preseason game, they “probably” will play without linebacker Alec Ogletree (calf) and cornerbacks DeAndre Baker (sprained knee) and Sam Beal (hamstring), according to Shurmur.
As for Saquon Barkley, Shurmur just wants to be smart with the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Barkley’s only preseason action last year was in the opener, which he did not play in this time around.
“He’s a valuable player, so we’ll just have to see as time goes on if he’s going to play in these games,” Shurmur said. “I gave you a clue on the quarterbacks this week. I’ll let that reveal itself. … I just want to be smart. I want to do what’s best. I think as we go through it, you see the good work he’s getting in practice. We just want to continue to do that.”
Check out the top action shots from Wednesday's Giants Camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center