EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Johnathan Hankins starts playing games for the Giants he's going to wonder why his workload is so light.
And "light" is not a word often appearing in the same sentence as Hankins, a second-round draft choice who is 6-4 and 320 pounds.
The Giants frequently rotate their defensive linemen on and off the field to prevent fatigue and to keep everyone on the front strong through the fourth quarter. It's a different philosophy than what Hankins experienced last year at Ohio State, where coach Urban Meyer sent his starters onto the field and kept them there. The result was that Hankins, a tackle, experienced the mayhem on the line of scrimmage for virtually every defensive snap in the Buckeyes' 12-0 season.
"He (Meyer) didn't like his starters coming off the field, so I had to make sure I was in good enough shape to stay on the field and contribute to the team," Hankins said today between practices at the Giants' rookie minicamp.
Hankins was asked about draft analysts who said he tired toward the end of games.
"Other people have their opinions and what they think, so I can't really comment about that," Hankins said. "I know what I'm capable of doing and I'm going to go out there and work hard.
"Of course, you're going to get tired out there playing every single snap, but it's just mental. I expect just to stay focused and try to win. Do as much as you can to help the team win. I did a pretty decent job at that."
So how did he feel after a long Saturday afternoon in the trenches?
"I felt good because we won," he said.
It's difficult to make a comprehensive evaluation of linemen in this minicamp because the players aren't permitted to wear pads. Tom Coughlin did note at his news conference that Hankins "made a nice play today."
Hankins expects to make a lot of them in the fall. At Ohio State, he had 138 tackles (58 solo), 16.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks. He said the Giants' defensive scheme is similar to the one he excelled in with the Buckeyes.
"We ran the same kind of front," Hankins said. "I don't think it's pretty different from college to the NFL. We've got some really good defensive ends. It's going to be great playing with the guys that we have.
"The first day I was kind of thinking a little bit too much, but I'm starting to relax and starting to get comfortable within the scheme of the defense and just be confident and go out there and make plays. I'm not trying to make plays that I can't make. Just make the plays that come to me."
And taking a little breather when given the opportunity.
*Ryan Nassib, the quarterback from Syracuse selected on the fourth round of the draft, continues to impress. He threw pinpoint deep passes this morning to Brandon Collins and Jeremy Horne, the latter who is in camp on a tryout basis.
"I think probably that one of the things that continue to grow on you is the way the quarterback (Nassib) is," Coughlin said. "He responded to a new system – first time ever and was showing some ability to lead in the huddle and the huddle pays attention to him."
Nassib has been getting the vast majority of the camp snaps. The other quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Wil Masoud, are trying out.
"I definitely felt a little bit more comfortable as these practices have been going on," Nassib said. "I'm starting to get the terminology down. I'm sure it's not anywhere near as much as what the whole playbook is, but I'm getting the baby steps really and I'm just glad I got this extra time and going with the rookie minicamp to actually study it."
*Nassib's Syracuse teammate, first round draft choice Justin Pugh, is also getting more acclimated in his adjustment from left to right tackle. He was the Orange's starter the last three seasons on the left side, but has lined up exclusively on the right side in this camp.
"The whole thing is protect the inside," Pugh said. "Before I was right hand, right foot and now it's just left hand, left foot. So it's just getting used to that and just feeling more comfortable in that stance and it's something that I feel really comfortable with now and just need to keep building on it over the summer."
*The other offensive lineman drafted by the Giants, seventh round selection Eric Herman, is lining up next to Pugh at right guard.
"Justin and I are going with each other throughout all of the practices, and really clicking," Herman said. "I'm excited to see what we can do with this great offense."
At Ohio University, Herman was credited with 131 knockdowns, 128 pancakes and three de-cleaters. Which begs the question – what exactly are they?
"Knockdown is a total number," Herman said. "And then we have de-cleaters – like more of a cut style. And then pancakes are actually physically taking the opponent to the ground."
*Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn believes David Wilson can continue to be the Giants' kickoff returner even if the second-year pro is the No. 1 running back. Wilson set a franchise record with 1,533 kickoff return yards on a team record-tying 57 returns last season.
"I think he can do both," Quinn said. "We'll see how it all plays out. Obviously, he's tremendous at doing that and with his expanded role, we'll see where it leads and hopefully someone else does step up. We like to have depth in those positions. We'll see."
*Coughlin is eager to see how linebacker Aaron Curry will perform in the Giants uniform. Curry, the fourth overall selection by Seattle in the 2009 NFL Draft, was signed yesterday.
"He worked out well for us," Coughlin said. "Of course, he was the fourth pick in the draft. I looked at some of the grades, and the grades were outstanding. So he is anxious to have an opportunity and we are anxious to provide him with one. Hopefully, the two will meet and we will get a very talented player who can come into the Giant organization and play the way he was graded coming out of college."
Curry won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker in his final season at Wake Forest. Coughlin was asked if he has seen that player during Curry's four NFL seasons.
"Not really, but I didn't study him," Coughlin said. "We studied him coming out, then, 'Okay, he is drafted, he is playing in Seattle.' But he is definitely a talented kid. He worked out well. He will get down a little bit. The weight was a little bit up but he had warmed up well before he worked out. He probably lost a couple or three pounds while he was running."
*Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell did not attend today's sessions because of a death in his family. The defensive position coaches assumed Fewell's duties.
"Something like this – which is very, very basic, the coaches just pick it up and go with it," Coughlin said. "Organizationally it is the same thing. The signals are made by (linebackers coach) Jim Herrmann and the calls come from the sideline that way. (Secondary/cornerbacks coach) Pete (Giunta) runs some of the pass drill-type things. So they just kind of jump in. What happens in a camp like this … the players are very much involved with their position coach. Coordinators start the meetings off, but then quickly – boom – they are in to their individual rooms. That is where they are going to learn the most. So it is just a continuation of that.
"We all feel very badly for Perry and his family. Perry did the best he could this week under difficult circumstances and then left out of here Friday."