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What We Heard: Rookies soaking up first camp


Training camp continued on Monday as the Giants took the practice field for the final time before pads come on.

Coach Brian Daboll met with the media in the morning before linebacker Bobby Okereke and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins spoke at the podium after practice.

Here is what we heard on Monday:

Hyatt soaking everything up like a sponge

Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt has put together some impressive performances in the first week of training camp. The rookie has gotten behind the defense for a few deep touchdown receptions, in addition to some eye-opening grabs on the sideline. Isaiah Hodgins told the media Monday that the 21-year-old rookie has been absorbing as much information as he can from the veterans, which has seemingly helped him on the practice field.

"He's been doing great," Hodgins said about the rookie receiver. "He's doing everything a rookie is supposed to be doing, he's asking all the right questions. He's soaking everything in like a sponge, he comes up to me and (wide receiver Darius) Slay(ton) and (wide receiver Cole) Beas(ley), he's always asking questions, trying to watch film and do all the right stuff. I think he definitely brings just that explosive part to our offense. He's one of those pieces who helps stretch the field vertically for us. I'm excited for him to keep taking it step by step and learning this game, getting all those bumps out of the way, which it seems like he has, and just keep taking the top off of defenses."

After being claimed off waivers during the middle of the 2022 campaign, Hodgins is enjoying his first training camp with the Giants this summer. The former Buffalo Bill caught touchdowns in four of his last five regular season games, along with another in the Wild Card win over the Vikings. Of course, Hodgins spent the first two seasons of his career with Brian Daboll in Buffalo, something that allowed the receiver to integrate himself into the offense quickly.

"I think he made the most of his opportunity," Daboll added about Hodgins. "He's out there, he'll compete right now. He plays multiple spots as well, not just one spot. But, obviously, having a relationship with him and him understanding some of the things we did offensively, not exactly the same, but I think it allowed him to pick it up a little bit quicker. He made the most of his chances."

Catch up on all the action from training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Okereke impressed by Beavers

One of the Giants' biggest offseason additions came in the form of linebacker Bobby Okereke. The veteran signed with the Giants following four seasons with the Colts and now looks to anchor the middle of Wink Martindale's defense. One of the linebackers battling for the starting spot next to Okereke is Darrian Beavers, who has impressed the 27-year-old.

"He's a big, athletic guy that's very physical and can run," Okereke said about Beavers. "He's got smooth hips. He's a really good athlete."

Beavers was one of the standouts of training camp last year before a torn ACL ended his rookie campaign before it truly began. The 6-foot-4 linebacker is now healthy, as he did not begin training camp on the PUP list, and has looked good through the first week of practices.

"I'd say it's not his first year because he knows how we run things, our program," Daboll said about the second-year linebacker. "But obviously being out here after that injury that happened in training camp. Still a young player, still has a ways to go. He's done a good job since he's been out here. Obviously fighting through that rehab and now getting an opportunity, he's done some nice things. We'll see when we get going here."

Giants throwing a lot at Banks

Cornerback is notorious for being one of the toughest positions for rookies, as the transition from college to the pros can be difficult. This is why it should come as no surprise that the Giants have thrown Deonte Banks right into the fire this summer, allowing the rookie to take as many reps as possible as he prepares for his first NFL season.

"I think he's done a good job," the head coach said. "A young player, competitive. We kind of throw a lot at them, whether that is throw a lot at them on defense, throw a lot at them on offense. He's a good young player. But he falls into the category of all the young players that we talked about…That's what this time of year is for."

Banks recorded a nice pass breakup in during team drills on Monday, one day after he did the same during 1-on-1 drills.

DJ put the NFL on notice last year

Daniel Jones put together the best season of his four-year career in 2022, which led to him garnering praise from people and media members around the NFL. However, according to Hodgins, the 26-year-old quarterback could not care less about what's being said about him outside of the confines of 1925 Giants Drive.

"I know one thing, he definitely doesn't worry about that, so that's all credit to him," Hodgins said about Jones' perception around the league. "Whether he has a good game, or a bad game or people praise him or not, he keeps the same mindset of working every day, so that's something that influences the entire locker room. That's what you like to see from your quarterback."

Hodgins has played just 10 games with the Giants (eight in the regular season, two in the postseason), and this summer is his first training camp with the team. However, the 24-year-old receiver has already seen more than enough to know that Jones is the perfect quarterback for this Giants team.

"He's the full package, and I think he's a great quarterback, so I'll ride or die about him," Hodgins said.

Wink 'does a great job of interacting' with players

Perhaps the most important move made for the Giants defense this offseason was not the addition of any one player. Instead, it was defensive coordinator Wink Martindale remaining with the team after garnering some head coaching interest.

In his first season leading the defense, Martindale's unit ranked fifth in both third down defense (35.1 percent) and red zone defense (49.2 percent). A big reason for the defense's success is the veteran coordinator's ability to connect with his players, something that Daboll expressed his gratitude towards on Monday.

"I think he does a great job of interacting," Daboll said about Martindale. "He's honest, he tells the players what they need to work on. He's a good communicator and has good leadership about him. So, it's not just with Banks, it's the veteran players, too. He just got a really good way about him that the players respect. He's been doing this a long time, so he's been through a lot of different experiences, probably a lot of different conversations with a lot of different players, so it's good to have him."



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