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Cover 3: Takeaways from spring, questions for summer


Spring football is nearly complete. The Giants wrapped up OTAs on Friday, and all that stands between now and summer break is this week's minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

With that in mind, the crew discussed biggest takeaways from the spring and also biggest questions for when the team returns for training camp in late July.

John Schmeelk: There's only so much you can learn from spring workouts. As Brian Daboll pointed out each time he spoke to the media over the last couple months, OTAs are more about teaching and less about competition. Because contact isn't allowed, I wouldn't draw any firm conclusions from what I've seen on the practice field in terms of player performance. That doesn't mean there wasn't anything to learn. Here are a few bullet points:

* Barring a setback, Daniel Jones is going to be ready to play in Week 1, and I would be shocked if he is not a full participant at the start of training camp. He looks great moving around and throwing the football.

* Jermaine Eluemunor looks primed to be a guard. There was some question whether he would just be a swing tackle, but the team seems very happy to use him inside.

* Wide receiver Malik Nabers looks just as explosive as he did at LSU, and tight end Theo Johnson's testing numbers match what I have seen in terms of his athleticism on the field during OTAs.

* Based on what Daboll said to the media, it seems like Tyrone Tracy Jr. has picked up a lot of the small details of the running back position quickly, despite his lack of experience there as a converted wide receiver.

* Outside linebacker Brian Burns is just as impressive in person as he is on video. He looks and plays the part.

* It looks like Cor'Dale Flott is first up at outside cornerback across from Deonte Banks. He had played both slot and outside in his first two seasons, but in Shane Bowen's system, his role has been outside.

When the pads come on for the first time in training camp, the group I'll be watching is the offensive line. They will have a great test in practice every day against a strong pass-rushing defensive front. I want to see how they hold up in 1-on-1 and team drills. I also want to see how they communicate and handle the defense's blitz packages and various twists and stunts.

View all of the top photos from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.

Dan Salomone: My biggest takeaway from this spring is that the Giants are going to rely on their front four getting after the quarterback, and if they can do so, that has been a good formula throughout franchise history. Led by newcomer Brian Burns, fellow two-time Pro Bowler Dexter Lawrence, and Kayvon Thibodeaux, fresh off his first double-digit sack campaign, the group has the potential to be not only the strength of the defense, but also the identity of the team.

All under the age of 27, they will lead Bowen's new defense for the foreseeable future. Despite the non-contact rules, we've seen and heard them start to develop the chemistry that will be necessary across the board.

"I think last year the interior and the edge weren't cohesive," Thibodeaux said. "Now it's going to start to work like clockwork. That's the maturity. That's where I'm growing as a player and we're growing as a defense, being able to play as a unit."

Underscoring its importance, the Giants even have defensive line coach Andre Patterson working with the edge rushers this spring.

"It's just us hearing the same things, not being independent contractors," Lawrence said. "We're all hearing the same things. We're all hearing, what's going to happen in this situation? Or what's going to happen in this situation? I think obviously it just makes sense, when you bring that thing together, everything starts clashing a little better. We mold into each other. Learning each other's tendencies. Learning who's next to you, learning talking, learning lingoes. It's just, when you bring the two groups together, it's just what's supposed to happen."

Now for my biggest question, which is tied to my biggest takeaway: How will the offensive line handle this front when the pads come on? Team president John Mara agreed with a reporter at the NFL Annual Meeting that it is "ridiculous" to be going on a decade of questions about the offensive line. But with two top-seven draft picks at tackle (Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal), a second-rounder at center (John Michael Schmitz) and free-agent investments at guard (Jon Runyan and Jermaine Eluemunor) to go along with a new position coach in Carmen Bricillo, the Giants are confident in where the group can go this season and beyond. As they are fully aware, though, the real test has not begun.

View photos of the New York Giants' 2024 active roster as it currently stands.