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Daily Blitz - Apr. 17: No longer rookies

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Not quite rookies anymore. Not quite sophomores yet. The Giants' class of 2011 walked through the doors yesterday at the Timex Performance Center feeling somewhere in between.

"A little bit," linebacker Greg Jones said Tuesday morning when asked if he felt like a second-year player. "Right now, I kind of still feel like a rookie. Just getting to know the guys, I'm not as nervous – it's not like you need to be because everybody is cool around here. You've got to get out of your shell a little bit, and as a rookie at the time, you always want to watch what you say. But it's just all about jelling with everybody overall. I feel really good about my situation."

One thing they were certain about, however, was the benefit of a traditional offseason. Last year's rookies had an expedited welcome to professional football with the lockout lasting until late July.

That won't be the case this season for the 10 "rookies" on defense entering their second campaign.

"We need it," Jones continued. "All of us, we wanted to have that fair shot. Vets came in who already knew what to do and were able to communicate effectively on defense. As rookies, we weren't able to do that because we only had part of the defense in our brain, and while we're learning the defense, we're trying to learn and get ready and prepare for the offense of the opposing team. So it was hard. It was hard, but I think this will definitely help out a lot."

And it all starts this week.

"Then my big thing, for myself, is to learn this defense," he said. "I think that was the one thing that really held me back – that I was unable to learn the defense completely. I had bits and pieces, but now I can learn it completely."

The last we heard from Jones was following the Super Bowl when he proposed to his girlfriend on the field. The two set a date in July of next year.

"We got a lot of planning out of the way," he said. "We've still got a little left, but we're just finishing up things now. I got a lot of feedback. It was all positive, which is all I can ask for."

**QUICK HITS

**>> The 2012 schedule will be released tonight, and NFL Network will be going live at 7 p.m. ET to bring it to you.

How to build NFL champion franchise in six easy steps [Sporting News]

From finding a franchise quarterback to not banking on free agency, Clifton Brown breaks down the keys to success in the NFL and says Jerry Reese is the best general manager at using the draft.

*"Teams that consistently draft well have the best chance to sustain success, to avoid long periods of futility," Brown writes. "New York Giants GM Jerry Reese makes excellent draft-day decisions. Four of the Giants' first-round picks since 2007 have become starters — Jason Pierre-Paul (2010), Hakeem Nicks (2009), Kenny Phillips (2008) and Aaron Ross (2007). And, not coincidentally, the Giants have won two Super Bowls in that time."

*>> Paterson crowds cheer hometown Super Bowl hero in parade. [The Star-Ledger]

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