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Cover 4

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Cover 4: What to look for in spring football


On Monday, players reported for the start of the offseason workout program. The next nine weeks are intended to provide training, teaching, and physical conditioning for players. The program is broken up into three phases, building up to 10 organized team practice activities (OTAs) beginning in late May and minicamp from June 13-15.

In this week's edition of Cover 4, the crew discusses what they're looking for in that span:

John Schmeelk: I want to see who lines up as the second starting outside cornerback opposite Adoree' Jackson. Does Nick McCloud maintain his first-string status or does a youngster like Cor'Dale Flott, who is entering his second year, step up and take the reins. Or does a free agent like Amani Oruwariye, who has all the traits of a press-man cornerback get an opportunity there? Or does Rodarius Williams, coming two years off a torn ACL, emerge? I also want to see how they play against an improved group of wide receivers. There are no pads worn during spring practice, so I stayed away from players that do most of their work in the trenches. Watching these positions at training camp will be far more telling.

Dan Salomone: Eyes are always on the new draft class, but don't forget about the 2022 crop. And I'm not just talking about Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. Joe Schoen admitted there were "some ups and downs, which you're always going to have with rookie classes." The downs were largely due to injuries, and spring will be a time to see their progress. Far be it from me to give my breakdown of the class when the general manager did just that in his season-ending press conference. Here's what he said:

"Kayvon got injured in that Cincinnati game in the preseason and then kind of got healthy throughout the season and hit his stride. Evan same deal – had some ups and downs and battled through injury. (Wide receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) was really coming along. He had over 100 yards through three quarters in the Detroit game, so, he would've been a big-time contributor, especially down the stretch, if he would've stayed healthy. So, a lot of big contributions without going through everyone.

"(Cornerback Cor'Dale) Flott made some big plays, made a big play in the Minnesota game. Has a high ceiling; we're excited about him. (Offensive lineman Joshua) Ezeudu started some games and then got injured. When these guys get healthy next year, I think that's going to provide depth. And some of those guys are going to compete for starting spots.

"(Tight end Daniel) Bellinger, we thought, had a really good season. Again, he got injured. I think they all got injured except for (inside linebacker Micah) McFadden at some point unfortunately. (Safety) Dane Belton, same deal. When he was out there, he played well. Had two interceptions for us. (Defensive lineman) D.J. Davidson, unfortunately, had an ACL in London but was a contributor in a rotational role. (Inside linebacker Darrian) Beavers. in the preseason, he was competing to start at Mike. Excited to see him when he comes back. And then, (offensive lineman) Marcus McKethan was having a really good camp for us before tearing his ACL. So, when healthy, I think there's going to be some really good contributors out of the class and then some other guys that will be really good depth players for us. But smart, tough, dependable players that we're happy we have."

View photos from the Giants' offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Lance Medow: There's no contact during the offseason program, so there's only so much you pick up on from an Xs and Os standpoint. With that being said, I think you can tell a lot about how the new faces are meshing with the rest of the roster and who is emerging as a vocal presence. The Giants lost two notable leaders in free agency in safety Julian Love and center Jon Feliciano. I'm curious to see who may fill the void there as well as how new arrivals such as Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Bobby Okereke assimilate. Love was one of the team's 10 captains in 2022, and Feliciano was an established veteran in both the trenches and the locker room.

When you lose personnel, which is the nature of the business, the dynamics can easily change within the roster. Although the Giants still have nine of their 10 captains from last year in the mix and several strong leaders, it's not unusual for a new voice to emerge, especially one that will play a prominent role on defense such as Okereke. The spring presents opportunities to observe some of these changes.

Matt Citak: John spoke about the cornerback position above, so I'm going to focus on another key area – the linebackers.

Bobby Okereke was the Giants' biggest addition in free agency, while veteran Jarrad Davis, who joined the team late in the 2022 campaign, was re-signed. The two are joined by Micah McFadden, one of last year's fifth-round picks, along with Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin, who played very limited snaps on defense last year. One player that could end up winning the other starting inside linebacker spot next to Okereke is Darrian Beavers. The second-year linebacker tore his ACL during the second preseason game last year, but prior to the injury, Beavers was one of the standouts of training camp. The Giants could add more linebackers before camp opens in late July, whether it be through the draft, undrafted free agents or even veteran free agents.

The run game was the defense's biggest issue last year. The best way to improve that area is to add some athletic linebackers that get after the football. Okereke certainly fits that mold, but the Giants could use another one or two players like that.

View photos of the Giants arriving for the start of the offseason workout program.


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