The Giants were at MetLife Stadium on Friday for their annual Fan Fest and Blue-White Scrimmage.
Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney spoke with the media in the afternoon before heading over to the stadium, while head coach Brian Daboll spoke after the festivities.
Here is what we learned Friday.
DJ 'getting more comfortable every day' with new offense
Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka were brought in this offseason to help pump life into the Giants' offense, a unit which struggled in 2021. Games have obviously not yet begun, but we have gotten a taste of the offense's creativity in practice, with a ton of pre-snap motion and skill players lining up all over the field.
The most important piece to the unit's success is Daniel Jones. The fourth-year quarterback has seen growth in himself over the last few months as he works on mastering Daboll's playbook, and he is confident that the entire offense is improving each day.
"I think a lot of it is specific to this offense, to the scheme we are installing and plays we are running," Jones stated. "I think every day you make progress with that kind of stuff as a group. Personally, you've got things you are working on, but I think collectively as a unit in the pass game and the run game, you're getting on the same page. I'd say from a chemistry standpoint, from an overall understanding of the offense, of seeing things the same way, I think that's where we've made the most progress and that's what we'll continue to focus on…
"I'm getting more comfortable every day, I think. We're still early in the process. We've got a lot of work to do. That's certainly my mindset, I think that's (Head) Coach (Brian) Daboll's mindset and the whole group's mindset. We've got a lot of work to do and we're eager to do it. I'm comfortable and continuing to work to get more comfortable."
Jones has been putting in a ton of hard work with the new playbook, which has not gone unnoticed with his teammates.
"He comes to work every single day. He's out there making plays for us," Barkley said about the QB. "It's his third offense in how many years, it's year four or something like that. I would say he's coming in every single day trying to get better. He's continuing to do a great job leading and rallying the guys up. Getting us ready to practice, and eventually when we're out there to go out and play a game, he'll do the same thing."
Saquon getting his confidence back
Saquon Barkley's comeback from a torn ACL was derailed last season when he sprained his ankle against the Cowboys in Week 5. Following the freak play in which he stepped on a defender's foot, causing him to miss the next four games, Barkley did not truly look like himself as the offense as a whole struggled to move the ball down the field.
Barkley is now another year removed from the torn ACL that sidelined him for almost the entire 2020 campaign. Heading into the 2022 season, the fifth-year running back is once again confident in his strength and burst.
"Trusting yourself when you are making that cut and how athletic you can be in and out of your cuts," Barkley said when asked about his explosiveness. "Something I probably lacked last year. I mean, most of last year. I kind of felt like I had it back especially after the (New Orleans) Saints game and had the weird step on someone's foot. But that's the way I train to be strong, to be explosive, and I feel like that I'm getting that confidence back. But it's one day at a time, and this is where you experiment, try new things and try to add to your game in camp."
Neal's 'athletic ability is insane'
When the Giants selected Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, many expected Barkley to be one of the biggest beneficiaries. While it's still early in camp, the running back is already impressed with the 6-foot-7 rookie tackle.
"I'm excited to play not only behind him but the offensive line and continue to work with (Offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) and all of the offensive guys," Barkley exclaimed. "Evan's been doing a great job coming to work every single day. He's a freak. He's athletic ability is insane and how big he is. When he walks in the room, you notice when he walks in the room. Like I said, for all of us, every single day we've just got to keep improving and keep getting better. I really think he can have a great future, but we just have to keep the main thing the main thing and keep building brick by brick and day by day."
Neal excelled in both run and pass protection at Alabama last season, earning 80.4 run block and 83.6 pass block grades from Pro Football Focus. This helped him register an 85.8 overall grade from the analytics site, one of the highest marks among O-linemen in this year's draft.
View the top photos from Friday's Fan Fest and Blue-White Scrimmage at MetLife Stadium.
McKinney believes defense can be 'very effective'
Xavier McKinney injured his foot during his first NFL training camp, leading to him missing the first 10 games of the 2020 season. But the young safety was healthy for the entire 2021 campaign and ended up being one of the team's biggest bright spots. McKinney registered a team-high five interceptions and finished third on the team with 93 combined tackles.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the defense this season was the hiring of Wink Martindale as the unit's coordinator. Martindale led the Ravens to Top-5 finishes in both points and yards allowed in three of his four seasons as DC, leading to the third-year safety having high expectations for the Big Blue defense this year.
"Very effective, like I said before we've got a lot of playmakers on our defense, a lot of guys that can do a lot of things very well," McKinney said when asked how effective he thinks the defense can be. "We've got a great defensive coordinator calling the calls so, it's going to be fun, you're going to see a lot of guys flying around, a lot of guys making plays and getting after the ball. That's something we pride ourselves on as a defense, so it's going to be fun. We're still working, we're still getting better and improving, but you know we're going to have a lot of fun with it."
Notes from Blue-White Scrimmage
The Giants' preseason will kick off next Thursday against the New England Patriots, but the team held a Blue-White scrimmage Friday night at MetLife Stadium. Here are some quick notes from the session:
*Jones found rookie TE Andre Miller in the end zone for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line. The other score of the game also came on a 4th-and-goal, as Tyrod Taylor connected with WR Richie James from five yards out for the score.
*Yusuf Corker intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone and returned it 60+ yards. The other turnover came on a Michael Jacquet III forced fumble, which Jarrod Wilson picked up and brought the other way for a solid gain.
*Rookie OL Marcus McKethan went down with an injury during the scrimmage. Daboll told the media after that the team should know more tomorrow.