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What We Heard: Rookie corners 'exciting to watch'


Following a day off, the Giants were back on the practice field Thursday.

Prior to practice, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey met with the media for the first time this summer. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt spoke to reporters after the training session.

Here are the top highlights from Thursday's press conferences:

Wink impressed with rookie cornerbacks

Wink Martindale spoke to reporters for the first time in almost two months. The defensive coordinator touched on several topics, one of which was the strong play of cornerback Tre Hawkins III at training camp. Despite his draft status as a late sixth-round pick, the rookie CB has impressed his defensive coordinator.

"He's had a great camp," Martindale said about Hawkins. "It's amazing to me as you go back and you think about the different guys and where they come from. It doesn't matter where you come from once you get here because the resources and people that they have to work with at this level and the guys that are productive, you can see the confidence just build in them. I really think he's done a nice job but he's got a lot of things to work on, just like we all do."

Of course, Hawkins was one of two cornerbacks selected by the Giants in this year's draft. The team made a trade in the first round, moving up a spot to take Deonte Banks. The rookie out of Maryland has come in and competed each and every day, something Martindale has enjoyed watching.

"I think he's been great," the defensive coordinator said about Banks. "It's one of those things – corners are on the island. You know what I mean? When you see, he's on the island and this is the NFL. It's 50/50 on the edge. He still has that mentality that if he gets knocked down nine times, he gets up 10 and doesn't flinch. (He) listens, learns (and) Rome's doing a great job with him, (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome Henderson and I think both of those young corners have come in here and competed and they're exciting to watch."

Hyatt has eyes set on OROY

Throughout the first week of practices, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt has made some eye-opening catches. The rookie wideout has shown off his tremendous speed in team drills, getting behind the defense for some deep touchdown catches. The speedster had two long touchdown catches Thursday, and following practice, he shared with the media what he hopes to achieve this year.

"I always set high goals for myself," said Hyatt. "A high goal is I want to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. I think that's the biggest thing I want to do. But we're going to get there. It's going to be day by day, we're going to stack days, and even if it's a good day or a bad day, we're going to learn from it and get better."

The rookie has impressed players and coaches alike on both sides of the ball. While Hyatt has looked good on the field thus far this summer, his offensive coordinator told reporters that he's also doing everything right off the field.

"He's doing a nice job," Mike Kafka said prior to Hyatt's big practice. "He's doing a nice job in the in the classroom, studying, prepping, making sure he's prepared for practice. On the field, he's working, and working through all the fundamentals and techniques that we want him to work through. Obviously, he's made a couple plays, and he's got to just take it day by day. I think that's where, not only just him, but the entire offense can take that approach."

Jackson: 'It's all about helping the team'

The impressive play of some of the young cornerbacks has led to Adoree' Jackson seeing some snaps in the slot over the first week of camp. While this is a shift from where he's played the last few seasons, the veteran corner is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

"I don't mind," Jackson said about playing in the slot. "It's all about helping the team at the end of the day. Seeing where you can be put and placed and just do different things. As a guy who's been doing well, he's getting the opportunity to get reps at corner, I don't mind that at all. It just lets me hone in on my craft and just make sure I'm doing what I can do in my reps when I go in at the slot, I'm just trying to make myself more valuable and versatile."

Although Jackson has primarily lined up outside for the Giants over the past two seasons, he saw limited snaps at the nickel position last season. Pro Football Focus had Jackson down for 53 snaps in the slot last year and 365 total snaps in the slot throughout his first six NFL seasons. Jackson made it clear that he's not worried about where he lines up this year.

"I did it before in college, I did it in high school, (and) I did it a little bit in the league, when I was in Tennessee," Jackson said about playing in the slot. "I wouldn't say I played there a lot but at the end of the day, I feel like just playing football if you know the scheme and what the defense is, if you know what your leverage is and know what you need to do, you just play to the strengths of the call and you figure out where to go from there."

View photos from Thursday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

McGaughey excited to have Adams on staff

The 2023 coaching staff primarily stayed the same as last season, led by the return of all three coordinators. The most recent change on the staff came on special teams, as assistant special teams coach Anthony Blevins left to become the head coach of the XFL's Vegas Vipers. The Giants filled Blevins' spot with former Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams, a move that special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey has enjoyed through the start of training camp.

"It's been great," the special teams coordinator said about Adams. "We have a history together, I coached him in Carolina. He was awesome as a player. He's great to have in the room, great leader, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. He's been really good so far and again, it's new to him, it's a new area for him as far as coaching is concerned but he's doing a great job of picking it up and learning at the same time."

Adams, a New Jersey native, played 16 seasons in the NFL where he was twice selected to the Pro Bowl. Following his retirement after the 2019 campaign, Adams served as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears in 2021. 

Hodgins 'a true professional'

Hodgins erupted onto the scene for the Giants last season. After joining the team as a mid-season waiver claim, the 6-foot-4 receiver caught four touchdown passes in his five regular season games, tying Richie James for the most touchdown receptions on the team last year. Hodgins then went off for eight receptions (on nine targets) for 105 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card win over the Minnesota Vikings.

After playing in Buffalo for two seasons with then-Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Hodgins has plenty of experience in the offensive system. The 24-year-old has grown even more comfortable in the scheme this summer, and has helped guide some of the younger receivers. Hodgins' performance both on and off the field has Mike Kafka fired up.

"Isaiah's a true professional," said Kafka. "He comes to work every day, has his routine, goes through the process of being a pro, brings young guys along with him as well. So, he's always trying to coach them up and give them his experiences. Being in this offense for several years now, you can see his comfortability in it and his understanding of it. So, he's continuing to grow. Just like everybody, I think he's just working on those fundamentals that we talk about, and he's not going to shy away from the work, which is awesome as a coach."



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