- COUGHLIN: THROW A LOT AT THEM AND SEE HOW THEY HANDLE IT.**
A year after not having a rookie mini-camp because of a late draft, coach Tom Coughlin opened the Giants' 2015 rookie camp on Friday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Entering his 12th season with the franchise, this was his first hands-on opportunity to mold this year's crop of NFL newcomers, which include 65 players ranging from draft picks to rookie free agents and tryout prospects.
"You would like to take the draft choices and college free agents that have been signed and accelerate their learning," Coughlin said when asked about his goals. "Throw a lot at them and see how they handle it. For the invited players, you are evaluating. You are trying to see if they can help you and what capacity they might help you versus some of the opportunities you have here. You have a lot of things in mind for this."
2. CARRYING ON THE DEFENSE'S LEGACY.
Coughlin revealed today an early theme of reaching back in time to help the players understand the tradition of New York Giants defense. After already having stressed the point to the returning veterans, the staff showed a movie to the rookies on the night before the first practice. "The tradition. The passion. The Giant tradition. The great defenses that have been played here in the past," Coughlin said. "The idea that we have to get back to that."
3. THE ROBUSTELLI NAME CARRIES ON.
Among the rookie tryouts at mini-camp is wide receiver Andrew Robustelli, the grandson of the late, great Andy Robustelli. The elder Robustelli is a Hall of Fame defensive end who played with the Giants from 1956-1964.
"Just to get this opportunity and my grandfather being who he was, it is definitely an honor just to be in this locker room, especially when you look up and see his name inside here," Robustelli said, referring to the Giants Ring of Honor names imprinted on the walls of the football-shaped locker room.
"It is really truly amazing and something that I really can't understand. I was really young and didn't know that well, but obviously he was a great man and did great things and this is a great opportunity."
4. GIANTS' SAFETY DANCE.
Bennett Jackson, a 2014 sixth-round draft choice who spent last season on the practice squad/injured list, changed positions and numbers to kick off the new season. Hinted at earlier this offseason, Jackson has officially moved from cornerback to safety, where he played alongside this year's second-round pick Landon Collins to start rookie mini-camp. Jackson also changed his number to No. 24, previously worn by Walter Thurmond III.
"They said, 'How do you feel about moving to safety? We are thinking about having you learn safety and get the ball rolling,'" Jackson recalled. "I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"
5. DRAFT PICKS PRIMED TO PRODUCE.
All eyes were on Collins and first-round pick Ereck Flowers today at mini-camp. That includes the coaches, who have high expectations for the class, especially with their first two selections. "That is why we drafted them," Coughlin said. "We need the help. Today brought a lot thrown at them and certainly a lot of questions about them having to get their nose back into the playbook. I am still excited about that."
6. CANADIANS EVERYWHERE.
As many have noticed, there are plenty of Canadians on the Giants' tryout list. Coughlin was asked if it's a personal high for most in a mini-camp. "We tried to set the record, and I think we got it," he responded.
7. LOCAL STAR LANDS WITH GIANTS.
Meanwhile, most tryout prospects didn't need a passport to get to mini-camp. For a few like quarterback Gary Nova, they didn't even need to leave the state. A New Jersey native from Elmwood Park, Nova, 6-2, 220, finished his Rutgers career ranked first in school history in touchdowns (73) and second in passing yards (9,258) completions (689) but went undrafted last week.
"Obviously, you want to hear your name called in the draft, but as soon as that doesn't happen, you have to get your mind ready for whatever comes next," said Nova, who was a two-year starting quarterback for head coach Greg Toal at Don Bosco Prep, where he owned a perfect 24-0 record for the Ironmen and led his team to two state titles. "This is it right here. I am blessed to be a part of this organization right now and for the opportunity and I have to make the most of it."