The Giants.com crew puts a bow on the offseason workout program and gives final takeaways on the last nine weeks, which included minicamps and OTAs at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Players won’t be on the field again until training camp at the end of next month.
John Schmeelk: I have written about the different positon groups, new arrivals and rookie class a million times, so I hesitate to be repetitive and talk about them again here. Instead, I am going to go with something I have mentioned at the end of some of my practice reports, something I have a unique point of view on given I observe practices from the sideline.
I’ve been watching spring workouts since 2008, and I’m not sure I have ever seen a better level of on-field chemistry and consistent energy from a group of players. The atmosphere and mood at practice is terrific. No one is loafing or complaining that they have to be out there. Both the offense and defense really care about how well they do and are constantly rooting for their teammates. Everyone wants to be there and is having fun while enthusiastically working their tails off.
There is trash talk between players on offense and defense, which is no different than in years past, but the tenor is. The talk is fun, encouraging and motivating. The vibe is positive. That’s not to say coaches aren’t still getting on their players if they make mistakes because they are, but the activity between the players is very positive.
Finally, Saquon Barkley is emerging as the leader of this team. He is not just leading by example anymore. He is more vocal and taking an active role during practice. He is going to be the spokesperson for the team sooner rather than later, a role that suits his personality. When Dave Gettleman talks about culture, I have to imagine that this is the stuff he is talking about. The guys on the team are easy to talk to and work with. They often have smiles and are very easy-going, all the while being very serious about the work they’re doing. They’re just good people. There’s no guarantee this translates to wins, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Dan Salomone: Spring football is like the trailer for an action movie. It usually starts with slow-motion shots of star actors leaping through the air or sliding to avoid something about to hurt them. Then you have quick cuts of supporting actors who make you say, “What’s he from again?” or ‘Oh, I liked him in that one other movie.” Throw in a little plot, add a quick joke, cue a song to get you hyped, and just like that you’re in the theater three months later. Sometimes that movie turns out to be amazing. Sometimes it’s a box office bomb.
If you’ve been following along on Giants.com, you’ve seen our trailers (i.e. highlights) and read our reviews (i.e. practice reports). They probably got you excited, and they should. There were a lot of positives and strides made. That’s what this time of the year is about. Players haven’t gotten hit yet, and coaches haven’t had to answer postgame questions after a loss. Right now, everything is awesome. The teams that turn out to be special are the ones who can take the licks when they inevitably come, can answer the questions, but can keep on improving. I think that’s what you saw from the Giants last year. Everything went wrong in the first half, but things looked promising down the stretch – the opposite of every horror movie plot. They’re hoping to build off that ending. Some of the cast has changed over the offseason, but producer Dave Gettleman and director Pat Shurmur think they have plenty of up-and-comers to complement the seasoned actors. That’s typically a good formula for success in any industry.
Lance Medow: Every year when the offseason program wraps up, I always look to answer the following question: where will there be the most competition during training camp? It serves as a preview for what we can anticipate once they put the pads on and the real position battles begin. From what we’ve seen over the last few months, it’s safe to say cornerback and the third wide receiver job are two spots to keep close tabs on. There’s such a young nucleus of players at corner that a number of them have a legitimate shot to win starting jobs, including DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Julian Love, Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine. It’s the complete opposite at wide receiver with several veterans in the mix highlighted by Cody Latimer, Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and Brittan Golden. You also can’t overlook rookie Darius Slayton.
The other position to watch is running back behind Saquon Barkley. Last season, Wayne Gallman established himself as the number two back, but could Paul Perkins or Rod Smith push him for that spot? And what about Eli Penny? He can play running back and fullback, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his versatility influences how many backs are kept. The same can be said for the offensive line where a handful of players have the ability to line up at center and guard, including Jon Halapio, Spencer Pulley and Evan Brown, all of whom were on the 2018 roster. Getting Nate Solder and Mike Remmers back on the field will be key as the offensive line continues to build chemistry and solidify roles. If the offseason program showed us anything, it’s that there are several jobs up for grabs across the board and, as always, the pads will separate the men from the boys.