*Five takeaways from the Giants media availability following Thursday's practice: *
The New York Giants wrapped up their first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Thursday with their longest practice of the week.
The indoor practice session was highlighted by a long sideline catch from Brandon Marshall and several pass breakups from an aggressive Giants defense. With three OTA practices completed, the Giants have seven more remaining over the next two weeks before mandatory minicamp.
Here are five things we learned during media availability after practice:
1. Eli Manning and Brandon Marshall building chemistry
In what's hopefully a sign of things to come, the biggest play by the offense on Thursday came when Eli Manning hit Brandon Marshall in single coverage deep down the left sideline for a big gain. The quarterback-wide receiver combo is quickly building chemistry according to head coach Ben McAdoo.
"Brandon [Marshall] has been a breath of fresh air for us," coach McAdoo said. "He comes out and works hard at football. You can see that he loves football. It's refreshing to have a guy that's been as productive as he has over his career and played as long as he's played being out here working the way he works. You can really see that he loves the game."
2. Marshall excited about opportunity with Big Blue
Over the course of 11 NFL seasons, Marshall has 941 receptions, 12,061 receiving yards and 82 touchdowns. He's the only player in NFL history with six 100-reception seasons. Despite the impressive resume, the Winter Park, FL native has never played in the postseason. The wide receiver, who has played on four different teams in his career, sees a special opportunity with the Giants.
"A rich history and probably a top three organization in the National Football League and maybe one of the best organizations in all of sports," Marshall said. "You hear about it and it is a known thing across the league, but when you are in here, you can feel it. I had an opportunity to sit at the desk with Phil Simms for a few years at Showtime, Inside the NFL, and he is always talking about it. I thought that he was just blowing smoke up my butt, but this truly is a special place."
3. Defense has a chip on its shoulder from last season
2016 was a renaissance season for the Giants defense. They allowed a league-low 25 offensive touchdowns, and only allowed two 100-yard rushers all season. This season, the defense return 10 of their 11 core starters from a year ago. They want 2017 to be a special season.
"I think that everyone has a chip on their shoulder," cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. "An even bigger one than last year knowing that we understand the scheme and the situation, so we just have to come out here and get better."
4. Geno Smith making progress
The Giants signed quarterback Geno Smith back in March as a free agent. The four-year veteran is now part of a group behind Eli Manning that includes Josh Johnson and 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb. Smith is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered with the Jets last October. He says so far the rehab is coming along as planned.
"As of right now, I haven't taken any team reps," Smith said. "I feel like I can do everything, it is just getting the trainers to give me that access. But I fully believe in what they are doing and just taking our time and when I get out there I will be ready."
"Geno is still on a limited role right now," added coach McAdoo. "He had some reps in 7-on-7. We put him through some jog thru reps at the end of practice. He's chomping at the bit, he wants to get out there, but we have to do right by the player."
5. Sterling Shepard ready to take the next step
Safety Landon Collins made a big jump from his first season with the Giants to his second. He earned AP All-Pro honors and made his first Pro Bowl appearance. A year later, wide receiver Sterling Shepard is confident he can make a similar-type jump in his second season in the Giants offense.
"I look at it the same way as in high school," Shepard said. "You make a big jump from your sophomore year, and then college the same way. Sophomore year, you get a lot more comfortable. I think it is just adjusting to the speed. I feel a lot more comfortable out here running routes. I know the play system now, so it helps me be a little more comfortable."