EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – They took the field wearing Giants uniforms for the first time today, but for Justin Pugh and Ryan Nassib, their initial big moment at the Timex Performance Center occurred yesterday. Soon after their arrival, they chatted with Eli Manning, who was leaving the facility after completing his workout.
Pugh and Nassib, who were teammates at Syracuse, will both work closely with Manning. A tackle selected on the first round, Pugh will learn to protect the Giants' franchise quarterback. Nassib, chosen on the fourth round after the Giants traded up to get him, is the Giants' highest-drafted quarterback since Philip Rivers in 2004. Rivers, of course, was immediately sent to San Diego in the trade that delivered Manning to the Giants. Nassib will spend long hours learning from Manning in meeting rooms, studying tape and on the practice field.
"I spoke with Eli a little bit," Nassib said. "He just gave me the heads up about some things and just getting to know each other a little bit and I'm really looking forward to working with him."
The brief locker room meeting wasn't the first time the rookies spoke with the Giants' longtime quarterback. Manning phoned Pugh and Nassib soon after they were selected in the draft.
"He was just telling us to come in and work hard," Pugh said. "If we need anything, just ask him for it. He's here for us and that just goes to show the type of leader he is. He was just saying, 'You guys are rookies. You got to do the rookie thing.' Then he kind of gave us what he went through when he got drafted and just asked us what we're up to. Ryan is heading to a rookie premiere in a couple of weeks. He was just kind of welcoming us in and just being a good guy. It just shows what kind of leader he is and it's definitely something that's good."
Pugh said having the two-time Super Bowl MVP reach out to them definitely eased their transition to the NFL.
"He's a great quarterback," Pugh said. "When he comes up and talks to you, you make sure you want to work hard for those guys because he's counting on us so that makes you want to come in and just get to work and get things going."
*Although Pugh was the Giants' top draft choice, Nassib is the most-scrutinized player in camp, which is what happens to quarterbacks selected reasonably high in the draft.
Despite throwing an early interception this morning, Nassib had a good overall day.
"He did well," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He was poised, picked it up well. You don't really have any meeting time, just this morning. Sometimes you have a little trouble just getting the cadence. But he did well. As time went on he got more comfortable and got better with it. Guys started to respond. He had better help. Huddle breaks - I don't know if you could tell from where you were - but he got some better huddle breaks."
Coughlin said Nassib's quick success resulted from factors other than the quarterback's intelligence and ability.
"He went to a great school. He had an excellent education," said Coughlin, who like Nassib, is a Syracuse graduate.
*Pugh proved he's a good listener before he even attended his first meeting. How? By getting a credit card.
Asked in an interview last week what advice he would offer to Pugh, 10-year veteran guard Chris Snee said, "Get a credit card." The longstanding tradition among Giants offensive linemen is for rookies, notably high draft choices, to provide food for the veterans. Pugh read Snee's quote and knew what he had to do.
"I did get a credit card," Pugh said. "I just got it last week. As soon as I heard that, I talked to my agent and said, 'I need to get a credit card just so I can make sure I can go out and buy the donuts and whatever.' I don't know what I have to do, but I'm ready for it. I've never had a credit card. As soon as I saw that - I was going to get one anyways, but that kind of expedited the process of me getting one.'"
*Pugh and Nassib each started every game for Syracuse the previous three seasons and are happy to be reunited with the Giants.
"It was pretty cool seeing a familiar face," Nassib said. "It was nice. We've always been constantly supporting each other and having that out there is definitely a bonus, because having a guy that has protected me the last three years is always a security blanket."
Pugh played left tackle at Syracuse, but is lining up at right tackle in this camp.
"I was like, 'Hey Ryan, now I got your front side as opposed to your backside.'" Pugh said. "He said, 'It's all good, man.' As long as I'm protecting him, he's good with it."
*When Damontre Moore looked into his new locker for the first time, the third-round draft choice saw his helmet, jersey and a note from fellow defensive end Justin Tuck, a two-time Pro Bowler.
"First day I got here there was a message at my locker saying, ''Hope you're getting ready to work,'" Moore said of the correspondence from Tuck, the Giants' defensive captain. "I was excited he took time out of his busy schedule to write me a personal message. At the same time, I know it's time to get to work, to come in and just listen to him."
*The Giants announced that Moore and three other draft choices have signed their contracts: defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins of Ohio State (second round), Moore of Texas A&M (third round), safety Cooper Taylor of Richmond (fifth round) and running back Michael Cox of Massachusetts (seventh round).
Three draft choices remain unsigned: Pugh (first round), Nassib (fourth) and offensive lineman Eric Herman (seventh) of Ohio University.
*The Giants also announced the signing of six rookie free agents: running back Jeremy Wright of Louisville, wide receiver Marcus Davis of Virginia Tech, linebackers Etienne Sabino of Ohio State and Charles Dieuseul of Mount Union, and defensive backs Alonzo Tweedy of Virginia Tech and Charles James of Charleston Southern.
*The Giants announced three non-player personnel moves today.
Joe Danos has been added to the coaching staff as a strength and conditioning assistant.
Danos, 32, comes to the Giants from Florida State, where he spent the previous three seasons as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the football team. Danos joined the Seminoles' staff in January 2010, following head strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria from SMU, where he spent the previous three years (2007-2009) serving as his top assistant.
Prior to his SMU stint, Danos spent two years as an assistant strength coach at LSU, working with football and several Olympic sports under the direction of Tom Moffitt. A graduate of LSU with a degree in kinesiology, Danos worked as a student assistant strength & conditioning coach with the Tigers from 2000-2004.
Danos also worked for five years as an assistant weightlifting coach to Gayle Hatch, the 2004 USA head Olympic coach. Before joining Hatch's staff, Danos competed on the national level for the Gayle Hatch Weightlifting Team in Baton Rouge, where he was a two-time national champion. Danos won the 1996 National Junior Championship and the 1996 AAU Junior Olympic Championship.
Danos was born on Jan. 2, 1981 – one day before Eli Manning. They each grew up in New Orleans, where Danos attended John Curtis Christian High School and Manning started at Isidore Newman School.
*Matt Shauger has been named the Giants' assistant director of pro personnel.
Shauger is entering his ninth season as a member of the Giants' pro personnel department and his 11th year in the NFL. He had held the title of pro scout.
Shauger assists pro personnel director Ken Sternfeld in the film study of NFL players and free agents, evaluation of current Giants players, scouting upcoming opponents and management of the team's pro scouting database. During the season, he assists the Giants coaching staff with advance scouting of opponents, including their personnel and tendencies. He contributed to both the Super Bowl XLII and XLVI championship teams.
*Tim McDonnell has joined the staff as a pro scout.
He spent the previous eight years working in the Notre Dame football program, the last two as director of player personnel. He previously served as the director of football personnel for four years. McDonnell covered a variety of football-related matters, including recruiting, serving as a liaison between the Irish and NFL personnel, assisting with recruiting efforts, and helping to coordinate the walk-on program.
McDonnell is a grandson of the late Wellington Mara, the former Giants president and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
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