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Giants Now: Azeez makes ESPN's top 10 rookies list


Azeez Ojulari makes ESPN's list of top 10 rookies

It's been a good week for Giants rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Following his dominant performance against the Falcons in Week 3, Pro Football Focus named the rookie to its Team of the Week. The next day, Ojulari was nominated for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award.

The praise continued Thursday, as ESPN named the Giants' second-round pick to its list of top 10 rookies this season.

"Ojulari leads all rookies in sacks and is the first player in Giants history to have a sack in each of his first three career games," writes ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "He has transferred a fiercely competitive approach from college to his first NFL season and has shown more polish in the pass rush than some had expected. His 17.5% pass rush win rate trails just (Dallas' Micah) Parsons and Tampa Bay's Joe Tryon-Shoyinka among rookies."

In addition to being the first Giants rookie to pick up a sack in his first three NFL games, Ojulari is also the first rookie since Cleveland's Myles Garrett (2017) to accomplish the feat. His sack in Week 3 forced Falcons QB Matt Ryan to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Lorenzo Carter.

Ojulari has earned a 77.5 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus through the first three weeks of the season, good for the 23rd-highest mark among all edge defenders. His pass rush grade is the highest among edge defenders from the 2021 draft, and the third-highest among all rookies. Ojulari leads the rookie class with three sacks.

"I'm just doing whatever they want me to do," Ojulari told reporters Monday. "Playing my heart (out), playing my best, playing my heart out (out) there. Just whatever comes to me, make the plays that come my way. I'm just trying to do what I've got to do and do my part...

"Everyone in this league is good and athletic. The tackles are bigger, stronger, faster. Everyone is athletic in this league and they can adjust to different things. You basically, really (have) to bring your A-game every single time. Every rep you get, every rush you get, you've got to bring your best out there."

The Giants selected Ojulari with the No. 50 overall pick in the second round of this year's draft after trading down from No. 42 and acquiring a third-round pick from the Miami Dolphins.

Giants look to shore up play in key situations

Joe Judge often responds to reporters' questions about specific players, position groups and strategic decisions with general answers. Asked earlier this week about Jason Garrett's play-calling, Judge said, "We're going to stay consistent with what we're doing and keep improving as a team. There's a lot of things we need to clean up coaching-wise, execution-wise, but we're going to stay on the track with it and make sure we get those things right before making any radical changes."

But executing well in situational football has become a frequent determinant of success or failure in the NFL, and Judge this week acknowledged the Giants have two areas in which they must improve: red zone offense and two-minute defense. Shortcomings in each have contributed to the Giants' 0-3 start. They will again attempt to win their first game of the season Sunday against the 2-1 New Orleans Saints in the Caesars Superdome.

The Giants advanced inside the opponent's 20-yard line three times in each of the first three games. They scored one touchdown a game, kicked four field goals and twice surrendered the ball on downs. And one of the touchdowns was Daniel Jones' four-yard run on the final play of the opener, a largely cosmetic score in a 27-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. The New England Patriots' 25% touchdown rate is the only one lower than the Giants' 33.3% (the Jets are tied with the Giants but have made just three trips inside the 20).

"We'll obviously dive into a couple of focal points to make sure that we finish in the red zone," Judge said Monday. "That's been something we have to do obviously better as a team."

It is a repetitive issue. In 2020, the Giants scored touchdowns on 19 of 41 red-zone possessions, a percentage of 46.3 that left them 31st in the league. They also kicked 15 field goals, which is often a frustrating finish after advancing close to the goal line. The Giants finished 31st in the NFL with an average of 17.5 points per game.

"Obviously, we need to score more points," Garrett said Thursday. "The red zone, I think we've been one out of three in each of the three games. Got to get down there more. Then we've got to convert. Some of that is self-inflicted wounds. Last week, we had a good opening drive. We had the sack on the play that put us behind the sticks on that first drive – hard to dig out of that 11-yard sack. Then, we had the fumbled exchange on the next drive when we were down there. The third time we were down there, we scored the touchdown. We certainly want to evaluate every aspect of what we're doing running it, throwing it and in all situations. We've got to do a better job scoring points."

📽️ Watch the premiere of "The Eli Manning Show"

In the premiere episode of The Eli Manning Show, Eli and his co-host Shaun O'Hara welcome in Michael Strahan, along with his brothers Peyton and Cooper Manning.

The hijinks don't quit as Peyton and Cooper constantly poke fun at their younger brother, challenging him at every moment. Michael, Eli, and Shaun reveal some behind-the-scenes, never-before-told stories of what occurred off the field during their Giants years. Eli then flips the script on Michael by playing game show host in a twist on Michael's own show, The $100,000 Pyramid.

Giants sign OT Isaiah Wilson, former 1st-rd pick, to practice squad

The Giants announced yesterday they have signed tackle Isaiah Wilson, a former first-round draft choice, to their practice squad.

Wilson, 6-7 and 330 pounds, was the 29th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. As a rookie, he played just three snaps on offense and one on special teams, at Indianapolis on Nov. 29.

On March 9, Wilson and a 2022 seventh-round draft choice were traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2021 seventh-round selection. Wilson was waived by the Dolphins on March 20.

Wilson has had off-the-field issues and was suspended by the Titans for one game last season.

The Giants' offensive line has been unsettled early this season. They started three different line combinations in their first three games and could start a fourth on Sunday when they will try to win for the first time this season in New Orleans.

View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.

📸 Behind the Scenes of The Eli Manning Show

Check out the gallery below to take a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Eli Manning Show.

Take a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Eli Manning Show.

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Single Game Tickets

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