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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Takeaways from first week of OTAs


The crew recaps the first week of OTAs and looks ahead to remaining questions for Big Blue:

John Schmeelk: My biggest takeaway from the first week of OTA is simple: Darren Waller is the real deal. He has the ability to gain 1,000 yards, lead the team in both receptions and receiving yards, and be Daniel Jones' go-to guy this season. He is huge, runs very well, and everyone has raved about his intellectual approach to the game. Both Jones and Waller have spoken about how much they respect the way the other approaches the game. This seems like a match made in heaven.

There are still questions that we won't get any answers to until we get to training camp. The pads will come on and we will start getting real competition for playing time and roster spots. Brian Daboll said last Thursday that no jobs will be won or lost in the spring. The biggest questions I'm still awaiting answers to are mostly health related. When will players like Sterling Shepard, Wan'Dale Robinson, Darrian Beavers, Aaron Robinson, and others be ready to play? How will they look when they return from injury? All have a chance to contribute, but there is no way to know what that looks like until we know their health status and when they will be on the field.

Dan Salomone: The biggest takeaway came from Darren Waller, but it's not about what he can do for the offense – which is a lot. The dynamic tight end broke some news last week: Daniel Jones is funny.

"He's got a lot of personality that you really get to see once you get to know him some more," Waller said. "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."

Everyone knew Jones is a leader and standup guy, but his humor? Funny how? What's funny about DJ?

"He's got jokes, man," Waller said. "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 senses of humor."

Jokes aside, this was a big spring for Jones whether or not he wants to admit it publicly. Four years ago, he opened OTAs as the heir apparent to Eli Manning. After a few bumps and twists in the road, it has come to fruition. Last week, Jones stepped on the field as the unquestioned face of the franchise after the Giants put their faith in him with a lucrative, long-term contract. It's his team now, and that has been evident on the practice field.

As for remaining questions, the biggest one will be how the new pieces fit in as the Giants set out to accomplish the toughest thing in the NFL – sustain success. From the top down, everyone knows they can't automatically pick up where they left off.

"We don't want to skip steps or look over anything during this time of the year," Jones said. "We're focused on continuing to evolve and change up what we're doing, experiment with different things that may be good for us. In that, we're always kind of learning. We're always adjusting and trying to work on new and different things."

View all the action from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.

Lance Medow: It seems as if Daniel Jones and Darren Waller haven't wasted any time getting on the same page, both on and off the field. Those two have developed a nice rapport, and there's clearly a mutual respect, which doesn't hurt well before the start of training camp and meaningful games. The true test will come on the field during the regular season, but this is the time of the year when you have the luxury to develop chemistry and it's important to capitalize on these opportunities. Waller was the team's biggest splash once the new league year began and could be Jones' favorite target in 2023.

As far as the one question remaining goes, I'll switch over to the other side of the ball and focus on the defensive backfield. Who will win the job opposite Xavier McKinney at safety? Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton both return from last season after seeing valuable snaps in 2022, but they also added veteran Bobby McCain, who has the flexibility to play both safety and corner based on his usage in Washington. I think that will be a position battle to watch given there's several options in the mix and not necessarily a clubhouse leader.

Matt Citak: Let me preface this by saying I was actually away on vacation during the first week of OTAs, so I was unable to attend each practice. That being said, Dan and John provided great coverage last week, which helped catch me up on everything I missed at practice.

From everything I read, one of the biggest takeaways from the first week of OTAs has to be the impact Darren Waller has already had on the offense. But since that has already been discussed, let's focus on the presence of another addition to the passing game. Parris Campbell joined Waller as some of the standouts from the first week of OTA practices as the receiver was a frequent target of Daniel Jones. Campbell is one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, and after playing all 17 games for the Colts for the first time in his four-year career last season, he showcased his skillset after setting career-highs in every category. If he can stay healthy again this year, Campbell has the chance to make a big impact on the offense.

As for one question remaining, this is not something that we'll gain much insight to during OTAs but who wins the competition for the starting left guard spot. Following the selection of John Michael Schmitz during last month's NFL Draft, it seems as if four of the five spots on the starting offensive line are likely now accounted for. While Schmitz will obviously still have to earn it before he's named the starting center, he is a second-round pick. But when it comes to left guard, the spot remains a question mark. Players such as Ben Bredeson, Joshua Ezeudu, Shane Lemieux, and Jack Anderson, among others, are all in the running. This is one battle to keep a close eye on leading up to the start of the season.

View photos from the 2023 Giants Town Hall presented by Verizon at the Beacon Theatre in NYC.