As spring practices rolled on, coach Brian Daboll, quarterback Daniel Jones, tight end Darren Waller, safety Xavier McKinney, left tackle Andrew Thomas, and linebacker Bobby Okereke checked in with the media.
Here's everything you need to know from their pressers:
Coach Brian Daboll
🔹 Daboll began by congratulating cornerback Deonte Banks, the Giants' first-round selection, on graduating from Maryland this week. "It's an awesome accomplishment for him."
🔹 After the team made strides physically with the strength and conditioning portions of the offseason program, the third phase – i.e. OTAs – is really a camp for "learning" and "teaching," Daboll said. "That's how we approach it. No one is going to make the team off of performance at this camp. There are certain rules and things that we with try to coach and make sure that our guys are on top of. As always, I think there's a few guys out that had prior engagements for today. They will be back next week. We have really good attendance. There will be some guys working their rehab stuff, and throughout practice each of those guys are kind of at different stages. Just trying to get them as healthy as we can. I'm not going to get into specifics of any of them."
🔹 On Saquon Barkley, Daboll said "that situation is going to be between Saquon and the organization. I'm not going to get into detail of any of the discussions we've had."
🔹 The biggest thing for rookies is "taking it from the classroom to the field. I would say they are behind considerably, which is the same every year I've been in the NFL, so our job as a coaching staff is to try to get them up to speed as quickly as we can. Lay a foundation for training camp so when we get to training camp which I think is in about two months, is today the 25th? Yeah about, two months. They have a lot to learn in a short amount of time and try to get them as prepared as we can, so in training camp they can go out there, and again, there's players slowdown when they are thinking a lot. When you are just learning a new system, maybe not playing as fast as you'd like to play because you're thinking about a lot of different things, so just try to get them acclimated to our systems, our calls, to how we do things, but a long way away from training camp, actually. They will get reps, learn from those. There will be a lot of mistakes on everybody's end, including mine, so try to get better so we can be ready to go for training camp."
🔹 All of the players coming off injuries are at "different stages" in their rehab.
🔹 Linebacker Darrian Beavers, whose promising rookie year was cut short by injury, is "working hard. He'll be one of the guys on the rehab [field]. Once we get out to training camp and preseason games, that's really when the evaluation part comes in. He's done a great job, everything we've asked him to do, so whenever he gets back, look forward to working with him."
🔹 The reigning AP NFL Coach of the Year isn't getting too confident or comfortable based off last year's success. "I think it all starts over. There are great challenges that lie ahead, but staying in the moment is where we want to be. There are things I've learned like everybody's learned. A new team, a lot of personalities to deal with, we've got a lot of work to do, a big hill to climb and let's take it one day at a time."
🔹 Daboll loves "every part" of being a head coach. "But it's great when you come out here and get an hour and a half of practice in and go back to the meeting rooms and teach them some of the things that -- again, we make mistakes as coaches, too, so this is a great time of year. None of us have really been out here at practice for a while now. A lot of things we can get better at and that's what we're trying to do."
🔹 The Giants are looking at a "variety of things" with newcomers like Darren Waller and Parris Campbell. "Just kind of see how they move around and some of the things they are good at. It's a work in progress."
🔹 What has he learned about Waller? "He's a true pro. He's been really good for us in the meeting rooms. Gives good input. Good communicator. Has some leadership skills. He's been a good guy to work with."
View photos from OTA practice No. 3 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
QB Daniel Jones
🔹 Jones had nothing but good things to say about Waller, who was acquired via trade with the Raiders. "I think as soon as you walk on the field, you can see he's a big guy. He can run. He can run every route. Catches the ball really well, great body control. He's been really fun to work with. A really smart guy. He's picked up things really quickly too."
🔹 Some players are listed at 6-6, but they're really 6-4 or 6-5. But Waller? "He's a true 6-6. He's a true 250, 260, and can fly, can run, can run all the routes. He's just an impressive athlete. He's just been locked in. You can tell it's important to him. He's put a lot of effort into learning the stuff and getting caught up. … He can do a lot. He's obviously a tough matchup for people, for defenses, with a guy who can run like that with that kind of size, and how you play him in man and how you account for him in zone coverages. He definitely gives something for a defense to worry about or to game plan for, and we can move him around and put him in different spots. Just a super versatile player."
🔹 Jones has also been impressed with rookie center John Michael Schmitz, the All-American out of Minnesota taken in the second round. "He's a smart guy. Been in here working hard. He's on it every day, working to learn and understand what we're doing in protections, what we're doing in the run game. Obviously, this is more of a passing camp. So, a lot of that run stuff's happening in meetings and then walkthroughs out here. But he's doing a great job, and it's been fun working with him."
🔹 Schmitz uses the "dead ball" snap that has become popular in college. A center tips the ball on its nose, puts his hands over the laces, and snaps it back. It comes back to the quarterback nice and easy, straight up and down – kind of like a rainbow. Jones said he is "good with it. He's accurate. I'm good with it. … He asked me, and I said yeah."
🔹 More on Waller: "He's a real deep-thinking guy. You can tell he cares about the relationships he has with guys on the team and is extremely humble and authentic in who he is. I have a ton of respect for that and who he is as a person, as a teammate. For all the reasons I said before and all those reasons, it's been a lot of fun working with him."
TE Darren Waller
🔹 The respect is mutual between Waller and Jones. "I've been very impressed with Daniel. Arm talent, intelligence, funny guy. He's got a lot of personality that you really get to see once you get to know him some more. It's been fun, man. Getting extra throwing sessions in, workout in the weight room. A lot of jokes. Just having lunch together. You can tell guys are really close around here, and he kind of leads that energy."
🔹 Wait a minute … he's funny? "He's got jokes, man. He's got like a low-key sense of humor. He's a little more introverted guy kind of like myself. I'm like that too. I feel like we have similar sense of humors."
🔹 Waller enjoys the "challenge" of learning this offense. "It requires you to know everything that's going on on the field, not just have yourself fixed in one spot, like you need to know the whole picture of the offense. Why the quarterback's looking in a certain direction, why you need to be in a certain window at a certain time. It forces you to move fast, think fast, and I love challenges. That's what I like the most about it."
🔹 Waller views this season as an "opportunity to get back to having fun and just being available for my teammates every and each week. That's something I haven't been able to do the last couple years, and I'm fully aware of that. I'm doing everything in my control to be able to be out there and be accountable, be reliable, by just being out there every day. I'm excited about that challenge. I've done it before, and I'm ready to do it again."
🔹 How does it feel different with his new team? "I'm on my third now. There are different cultures everywhere you go, different types of energy. This is a really light place, a really fun place, really empowering place in a way, where you just be yourself in all ways. As long as you're not putting the team at risk by getting a flag or things like that, you can really let your personality show. That's what I love about being here. It's just been fun, and it's also been challenging. Guys holding me to a high standard since I got here, and I try to reciprocate that."
🔹 Waller said they value opinions at the Giants. "As a player, I feel like a lot of places I've gone, you're told to do things a certain way, and you do those things. But here, they ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you're thinking, what do you like to do more. So, to offer input is a really cool thing because coach and players have got to be in partnership. We're all together. We shouldn't be clashing with each other. We're all going the same direction."
View photos of OTA practice No. 2 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
S Xavier McKinney
🔹 Defenses need to be aware of where Waller is "at all times" because he puts "a lot of pressure" on them. It will be a good challenge for Wink Martindale's unit. "He's one of the best tight ends in the league that we have. Obviously, it's a lot of pressure just him being out there on the field. You can feel his presence. Like I said, you've got to be aware of where he's at. He's able to make plays inside, outside, against the corner, against the safety, it doesn't matter. For me, I like to see it as a challenge. It's fun to go out there and compete with him every day that he's been here. It's just been fun to have him, see him make plays, and be able to work and compete with him."
🔹 McKinney has seen a lot of growth from the young safeties. "They're showing a lot of just willing to listen, willing to get better, willing to work to compete. I try to kind of get on them a little bit from time to time just to make them go a little harder, try to see what buttons I can push. But it's been fun having them out there. Obviously, you're able to -- even though they're young guys, you're still able to learn from them, and they're able to learn from us as well. It's been fun just having the unit as one and being able to just work with these guys every day."
🔹 Asked about handling raised expectations for the team, McKinney said, "We're just here to work at the end of the day. It's a new year for us, a new season. We're just taking it day by day. Being in this league, I know that the previous year does not matter. You've seen the worst teams be the best teams. You've seen the best teams become the worst teams. We don't worry about last year. We just focus on today. Then each and every day we'll come in here and get better."
LB Bobby Okereke
🔹 The veteran addition has been one of the players wearing the green dot on his helmet, meaning he can relay the communication from the coaches. "Whatever is best for the team. I don't have an ego about it. I know a couple different guys are wearing it throughout this process."
🔹 Okereke is joined by a lot of young players in the linebacker room. Who has stood out to him? "I love Micah McFadden. I think he's a technician, great player, smart guy. Obviously Jarrad Davis is a great leader. And Darrian Beavers is a guy who has a lot of potential."
LT Andrew Thomas
🔹 It's a "blessing" to have his fifth-year option picked up by the Giants. "I'm excited. Just working on getting better every day."
🔹 Thomas said Schmitz has done a good job learning the complicated system. "There's a lot to learn in our offense. We have a lot of code words, different things that he has to do. The center makes most of the calls up front. We're just encouraging him to be confident. Whatever he calls, that's how we approach the game. He's doing a good job for us, and I'm excited to see him play."
View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 offseason.