Blake Martinez off to stellar start with Giants
Blake Martinez has been one of the most consistent tacklers in the NFL over the last few years. In his final three seasons in Green Bay, Martinez led the league with 443 total tackles while starting all 48 regular season games. The linebacker was the NFL's tackling co-leader in 2017 when he recorded 144 tackles.
In 2019, Martinez registered 155 total tackles (97 solo), three sacks, five tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, one interception, two passes defended and one forced fumble.
When the Giants signed Martinez in the offseason, they were hoping they would be getting the dominant, tackling machine that anchored the middle of the Packers defense for so many years.
Through the first two weeks of the 2020 season, Martinez has lived up to the bill and then some.
Heading into Week 3, Martinez has registered 21 total tackles (14 solo), 1.0 sack, two tackles for loss and one quarterback hit. But according to Pro Football Focus, his strong performance goes far beyond the box score.
Martinez has earned an 87.4 overall grade from the analytics site through the first two weeks of the season, good for the second-highest mark among all qualified linebackers. According to PFF, Martinez leads the NFL with 12 run stops, helping him earn an elite 92.0 grade in run defense.
"Blake's trying to get better every day and he loves to be coached," Assistant Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham said Thursday. "I think Blake is playing at a good level in terms of getting to the ball, controlling the defense, manipulating the front, he's being physical at the line of scrimmage...
"The beauty about Blake is he usually knows when it's not good enough so he works hard to get better. If it is good enough, he thinks he can do it even better. I couldn't ask for more as a coach."
Notebook: Devonta Freeman runs hard, speaks softly
The veteran running back was signed this week by the Giants after Saquon Barkley suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday in Chicago. Because he's a former Rookie of the Year, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, team captain and one of the NFL's most visible and popular players, Barkley will continue to cast a long shadow even when he's out of uniform. And that's fine with Freeman, whose first public comments today since joining the team oozed of humbleness and gratitude without even a hint of swagger.
"(I'm) just a guy that wants to come in and contribute as much as I can, work hard, gain these guys' respect and trust," said Freeman, who will make his Giants debut Sunday in MetLife Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers. "Just whatever I'm asked to do, do it to the best of my ability. Just continue to take advantage of the opportunity. I think that's the most important thing.
"There's a lot of ball left. There are a lot of games to be played. I'm fortunate and blessed to be on this team. It's a young team. I'm happy about the opportunity. I just think it's a lot of growth for this team, for myself. I'm just here to help contribute as much as I can and be a part of this team. Just come in and do what I can do, do my best, and just help out these guys as much as I can. I think that's the main thing."
Freeman arrives with a production-laden resume. He played six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons for whom he amassed 3,972 rushing yards, 257 receptions, 43 touchdowns and two Pro Bowl appearances. And that doesn't include his postseason contributions, including 235 yards on the ground, 16 catches and five scores, including one in Super Bowl LI vs. the New England Patriots.
"We're happy to have Devonta," coach Joe Judge said. "The thing I see with him is he's a ball guy. You can tell this guy has a lot of passion for the game, he has a lot of experience, he plays hard, he practices hard. I was very impressed yesterday out at practice with the fire he practiced with, the attention to detail, how fast he picked up on a lot of our system. He's an experienced guy, but sometimes experience in other systems doesn't always translate over to knowing the alphabet of what you're doing. But he really did a good job of understanding what we're doing in practice, being able to get in the huddle, break the huddle, know what to do and do it very effectively. It was very encouraging on day one."
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has seen Freeman play at a high level. In two games against Garrett's Dallas Cowboys, Freeman totaled 196 yards from scrimmage, averaged 4.5 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns.
"For us to be able to sign a guy like Devonta Freeman is a real bonus for us," Garrett said. "He came in and had a good workout the other day and practiced well yesterday. We want to see how he handles the work as the week goes on. He's obviously been a really good football player in this league for a while. He's a smart guy, he's a football guy, he's instinctive. We'll try to get him up to speed as quickly as we can and just keep going back to work.
Injury Report: Latest statuses for Giants vs. 49ers
New York Giants
DB Adrian Colbert (Quad) - Wednesday: Limited participation, Thursday: Limited participation
LB Carter Coughlin (Hamstring) - Wednesday: Full participation, Thursday: Full participation
San Francisco 49ers
RB Tevin Coleman (Knee) - Wednesday: Did not participate, Thursday: Did not participate
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Ankle) - Wednesday: Did not participate, Thursday: Did not participate
DE Dee Ford (Back) - Wednesday: Did not participate, Thursday: Did not participate
RB Raheem Mostert (Knee) - Wednesday: Did not participate, Thursday: Did not participate
TE George Kittle (Knee) - Wednesday: Limited participation, Thursday: Limited participation
LB Dre Greenlaw (Quad) - Wednesday: Limited participation, Thursday: Did not participate
CB Jason Verrett (Hamstring) - Wednesday: Full participation, Thursday: Full participation
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
Practice Photos: Giants ramping up for Sunday
Check out the gallery below to view photos of Thursday's practice as the Giants ramp up for Sunday's game against the 49ers.
View photos of Thursday's practice as the Giants ramp up for Sunday's game against the 49ers.