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Notebook: Blake Martinez returns; Todd Davis joins LB room in series of roster moves

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today welcomed back one inside linebacker who is one of their most productive defensive players and added another who has played more than 100 NFL games (including postseason contests).

Blake Martinez, the team's leading tackler in 2020, returned to the team for the first time since being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He will not participate in the Giants' practice this evening in Eddie Moraes Stadium in Newark, part of the NFL's "Back Together Saturday" initiative.

Todd Davis, an eight-year veteran who has played for three teams, signed with the Giants.

"Blake is back with us in the building today, he's his normal self, smiling ear to ear, happy to be with the team," coach Joe Judge said. "He's always a lot of fun to have around, he's always got a good comment, but definitely a guy who communicates a lot in the meetings, so that's been beneficial having him back already.

"In terms of where he'll be on the field with us, the plan right away is to get him with the trainers and continue his kind of ramp up and build him back physically. When we know he's ready to go, we'll get him back on the field."

Martinez joined the Giants as a free agent in 2020 and immediately became one of the team's most prominent players. He was elected a team captain, started all 16 games and led the Giants and was third in the NFL with 151 tackles (86 solo).

Davis, 6-1 and 230 pounds, was with New Orleans, Denver and Minnesota in his first seven NFL seasons. He has played in 96 regular-season games with 69 starts and played in five postseason games. His career totals include 492 tackles (305 solo), 3.0 sacks, one interception, 15 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He also has 13 special teams tackles.

Davis has six tackles (three solo) in the postseason. He played 25 special teams snaps and one on defense in the Broncos' victory against Carolina in Super Bowl 50.

"We're really looking forward to getting him on the field," Judge said "He just signed with us, so we're excited about that and he'll come in and compete with the other linebackers at his position and work through his defensive responsibilities, as well as his role in the kicking game. Got to meet with him today, sit down face to face and have a good conversation, liked his energy. I've known him as a player in the league for some time but made a good first impression personality-wise and I'm excited to get him on the field."

In 2020, Davis played in 11 games with six starts for the Vikings. He made 34 tackles (15 solo), 1.0 sack and two passes defensed.

Davis' most productive season was 2018, when he started all 16 games and led Denver with a career-high 114 tackles. On Oct. 18, he intercepted a Josh Rosen pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, the first score in the Broncos' 45-10 rout of Arizona.

View photos of new Giants linebacker Todd Davis.

*The Giants are exercising caution with outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. He has an injury that Judge declined to specify, other than to say, "it's not a reaggravation of anything he's done before." That is significant, because Carter missed the final 11 games of the 2020 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in Dallas on Oct. 11.

"We're just going to be careful with a few things right there," Judge said. "With anyone coming off an injury like he was, we're just making sure that we have a plan entering training camp and how to handle him throughout it. With him and several other guys coming off injury, there are going to be periods in this training camp that you're going to see a little bit less of them at times and then you're going to see a lot of them. Right now, he's in one of those periods accompanied with something else that happened in practice."

Though limited, Carter is happy to be back. That was evident when asked the most difficult aspect of sitting out the majority of last season.

"Missing that team bonding they had," Carter said. "It's nothing like being on the field with your guys. Working through stuff, going through the game plan, all that. There's nothing like doing that, that's probably the thing guys miss the most when they retire and being injured, out for the season. It's like, man, it makes me really miss all of them and want to take advantage of the time I do have.

"It's fun, it's exciting just getting a chance to be out there. Last year, I missed a whole lot of experiences, a whole lot of time with the guys. All that time I spent in the training room or at home by myself with my dog, I get to spend it with my real dogs now like (defensive lineman Leonard Williams), get to be out there with all them, all the other guys, the linebackers. We're just building that bond right now."

*Yet another linebacker, Carter Coughlin, is working extensively inside after playing outside as rookie last year – when he recorded a memorable first career tackle when he sacked seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady for an eight-yard loss in a Monday night game vs. Tampa Bay.

"Carter is a young player who we're looking to go ahead and find as much versatility as we can from him," Judge said of the 2020 seventh-round draft choice. "Last year, he gave us some contributions on the edge, worked on special teams for us, did a good job there. We talked in the offseason about working him some in the stack as an inside linebacker. That's something we've challenged him with. He still has some outside responsibilities as well based on the package and call we're in, but Carter has actually flashed pretty positively these first few days. I think a lot of the guys have done some positive things and that builds on how we can use different guys and their skill sets.

"Being a new position for Carter, we understand that there's going to be a learning curve at times, but one thing he does is he plays aggressive and he plays instinctual and he puts himself in position to be competitive on every practice. So, we're just looking for constant improvement from him day by day, but so far everything that (Linebackers Coach) Kevin (Sherrer) has asked him to do as an inside or outside linebacker, he's embracing."

*Second-year tackle Matt Peart passed his physical and has been removed from the physically unable to perform/active list and can begin practicing. In his absence, Nate Solder has taken most of the practice reps at right tackle.

Five players remain on PUP/active: running back Saquon Barkley (knee), center Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot), linebacker Oshane Ximines (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson (core muscle), the team's third-round draft choice.

*The Giants' signed wide receiver Damion Willis, who was released by Denver on July 20. Willis, 6-2 and 204 pounds, played in 10 games with two starts for the 2019 Cincinnati Bengals. He caught nine passes for 82 yards. Willis spent the final month of the 2020 season on the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad. He was signed by the Broncos on May 19.

View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands heading into Week 1.

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