EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Professional athletes often say no one is harder on them than they are on themselves.
Evan Engram this week personified that statement.
The Giants' fourth-year tight end was displeased with his performance in the season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though targeted seven times, he caught just two passes and gained only nine yards. He dropped two throws, including one on the game's first series. A 24-yard completion to Engram that would have given the Giants a first down at the Pittsburgh 20-yard line was negated by his own offensive pass interference penalty. Engram's blocking was not up to his personal standard.
As the Giants prepare to face the Chicago Bears Sunday in Soldier Field, Engram vows to have a more pervasive and positive impact on the game.
"The expectations I have for myself, I definitely want to and need to be better on all phases," he said today. "I definitely hold myself accountable to improving this week and to come out with more better details and things like that against Chicago."
And how will he accomplish that?
"Just fixing some details that I needed to get fixed," Engram said. "Just some small things in the game that I could have been better at. When we broke down the film, we highlighted those and I added that to the emphasis of my practices throughout the week, and then we moved on."
That "we" includes the Giants' coaches, who are convinced Engram's opening-night outing was an anomaly and he will be a consistent contributor throughout the season. Joe Judge all but guaranteed it.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Evan," Judge said. "This guy fights his butt off. I don't want to take a few isolated plays and try to magnify that into being the total picture of the guy. I'm going to tell you something right now, he's a guy that hits the field every day and this guy goes 100 miles an hour. In the passing game, the run game, pass blocking, whatever's asked of him, when he's on special teams, this guy goes full out to the wall for us every day.
"Look, we have a lot of confidence in Evan. He's an integral part of our offense. He's a key part to our team. I look forward to having him for the rest of the season. Look, this guy, he works too hard not to improve on a daily basis. I'm very pleased with how he comes to work every day."
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has a long history of featuring tight ends in his offense, most notably Jason Witten, who was selected to eight Pro Bowls playing for Garrett in Dallas.
Garrett is excited about Engram's abilities and potential.
"We believe Evan can be a complete tight end," Garrett said. "He's demonstrated that at different times throughout his career, and certainly during our time together in training camp up to this point We don't see him as a one-dimensional player who's only a receiver. Obviously, he has very good receiving skills, he has great speed to get vertically down the field and can be a very good route-runner. But we also see him as someone who's willing to do the stuff that tight ends do. Play on the ball with his hand on the ground, block the different ways that we'll ask him to block.
"Obviously, a big challenge in the game the other night was blocking their edge guys, 90 (T.J. Watt) and 48 (Bud Dupree), for our tight ends and for our tackles. I thought there was good evidence of us being able to do that at different times collectively as a group, and other times it wasn't good enough. We don't see Evan as a one-dimensional player. We see him as a guy who can do all the things necessary to play tight end in this league, and his willingness to do that is something I think is really positive for our team."
Injuries forced Engram to miss 14 total games in his first three seasons, but he averaged 4.5 receptions and 52 yards a game when he did play. Engram didn't approach those averages on Monday night. He is determined to lift his game – and the team – starting Sunday.
"It's always the next play mentality for me," Engram said. "Bad plays are going to happen, things are going to happen, and that's kind of part of being a football player. You have to play the next play. That's kind of my mentality going forward."
*Defensive back Adrian Colbert has been declared out of the game with a quad injury. Colbert played five snaps on defense and 15 on special teams in his Giants debut vs. Pittsburgh.
Wide receiver Golden Tate and rookie linebacker Carter Coughlin are questionable with hamstring injuries. Tate did not play in the opener.
*The Bears listed linebackers Khalil Mack (knee) and Robert Quinn (ankle) as questionable.
"We're fully anticipating seeing those top end defensive players, especially the edge players, going as hard as they can for 60 minutes," Judge said.
*The Giants are one of the most successful teams in NFL history in road openers:
HIGHEST WIN PERCENTAGE IN ROAD OPENERS
Dallas Cowboys 37 24 0 .607
Green Bay Packers 57 41 2 .582
New York Giants 50 40 5 .556
MOST WINS IN ROAD OPENERS
Green Bay Packers 57
New York Giants 50
Chicago Bears 47
*When left tackle Andrew Thomas and defensive back Darnay Holmes started against Pittsburgh, it marked the eighth consecutive year at least one of their rookie draft choices started the season opener. That is tied for the NFL's longest streak with Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
*Last week, the Giants were home and the Bears played in Detroit. Every team that traveled to open the season in Week 1 is home for Week 2. And every team that hosted its season-opener in Week 1 is traveling for Week 2. Since the NFL merged with the American Football League in 1970, this is the first league schedule in which no team will have played two home games or two road games through Week 2 of the season.