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Giants see Rhett Ellison as multi-tool tight end


TE Rhett Ellison is showing his versatility at Training Camp:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tight end Rhett Ellison joined the Giants as a free agent last March with the reputation as a player whose strongest skill was blocking.

His previous team, the Minnesota Vikings, apparently concurred with that assessment. In 73 games over five seasons, Ellison caught only 51 passes and scored three touchdowns. He never caught more than 19 passes in a season, and in 2016 he had only nine receptions in 15 games.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo has numerous outstanding receivers at his disposal, including first-round draft choice Evan Engram, another tight end. But he believes Ellison is capable of joining that group.

"I think he has been underutilized in the pass game," McAdoo said today. "We are going to use him a little bit more and give him some opportunities there. He has certainly shown he moves like a football player in space, so I don't see any reason why he can't be a contributor."

The Giants open their preseason schedule Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will be Ellison's first in-game opportunity to show McAdoo and his new teammates what he can do as a receiver.

"That's part of it," Ellison said. "Also, it's whatever coach McAdoo asks me to do. You don't get to pick what plays you do. It's whatever the coaches want you to do. It's whatever they think is going to put you in the best situation. That's the situation I want to be in."

In the initial depth chart released by the Giants this week, Ellison is listed as the No. 1 tight end, a designation that assures him of absolutely nothing.

"It's early right now; it's training camp," Ellison said. "Tight ends are very situation-specific when it comes to who's out there and what play it is and stuff like that. But it is exciting."

Because of his acumen as a blocker, Ellison has also frequently lined up at fullback.

"It's good," Ellison said. "All the tight ends, we've been getting in there at fullback. We want to be as versatile as we can be on offense. All of us should be able to play whatever role we need to play. It's definitely progressing."

Ellison's biggest adjustment hasn't been finding his role, but getting accustomed to his new team and surroundings.

"It's definitely different," he said. "I was with one team for a long time and with one college (USC) for a long time, so that shift takes some adjusting to. But everything has been positive since coming out here. I'm very excited to be out here.

"My wife (Raina) and I are expecting our first baby, so that was number one. We had to get a new OBGYN and figure out where we're going to have this baby. Then it's like, 'Where are we going to live? What are we going to do with our living situation in Minnesota?' And then it gets to the playbook, and that's where we are at right now. So there are adjustments in every aspect of your life when you change teams."

Ellison seems to be handling all quite well.

*McAdoo said rookie quarterback Davis Webb, the Giants' third-round draft choice, will see action against the Steelers. Webb directed a two-minute drill in practice today, his first 11-on-11 action in a while.

"He did a nice job,' McAdoo said. "It was a tough situation to come in, two-minute drill there. We needed a field goal to tie, a touchdown to win, came up short, but it was a good, productive drill."

Webb believes he's put himself in position to play well on Friday.

"I feel ready to go, studied my butt off, gotten every rep this entire camp," Webb said. "I might not be in there, but mentally I've been pretty into every single rep. So, I haven't missed one. I feel good about it, and just looking forward to playing again. It's been a while."

That didn't appear to the case when Webb was faced with a fourth down today. He evaded pressure, and calmly scanned the field before connecting with fellow rookie Jerome Lane for a first down.

"That was a good play," Webb said. "It's fourth down, you've got to make a play. Again, they brought it a little bit, Coach (Bobby) Blick (a defensive assistant) brought six guys. I had to move, I felt pressure in my face, got out of the pocket, and Jerome did a good job of coming back to the football on his little curl route, and put it on him. Getting out of bounds, that's a big first down. Especially getting out of bounds, that's a big thing. We did have one timeout then, but just getting out of bounds, getting us back in the huddle, regrouping so we can go onto the next play."

Against Pittsburgh, Webb hopes to make similar plays in his first NFL game.

*Chad Wheeler, a rookie free agent left tackle from USC, took his first reps with the first-team offense.

"He jumped in there and got beat like a drum on the first play," McAdoo said. "After that, he hung in there nicely. … I see a young, talented player. He's a physical player, but he's a young player that can bend well. He is working on the fundamental part of the game. Seems to get football."

*Former defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who is in the Giants' Ring of Honor, watched practice.

*Linebacker Keenan Robinson remains in the NFL concussion protocol. Linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (soreness), cornerback Mykkele Thompson (quad) and safety Ryan Murphy (lower body), and wide receivers Tavarres King (ankle) and Kevin Snead (lower body) did not practice.

*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who rolled his ankle a week ago, continues to increase his workload daily and participated in competitive drills today.   

*The Giants switched rookie offensive linemen on their roster, waiving/injured rookie Jessamen Dunker and signing Corin Brooks.

Brooks, 6-5 and 300 pounds, started every game at left tackle last season for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He was the only senior on the UTPB football team in its inaugural season.

Brooks began his collegiate career at Texas-El Paso and also played at Tarleton State before enrolling at UTPB. He has played guard, tackle, and defensive line. Brooks was with the Kansas City Chiefs from May 6 to June 15.

View photos from Giants Training Camp practice

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