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2023 Spring Football

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First taste of postseason motivates Leonard Williams


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After enjoying his first taste of postseason football, Leonard Williams is eager to savor it again.

The Giants' veteran defensive lineman played 124 regular-season games across eight seasons before finally getting his first opportunity last season to line up in a playoff game – actually two, because the Giants defeated Minnesota in an NFC Wild Card Game.

His goal is to see more postseason action in the coming seasons.

"It motivates me a lot," Williams said Thursday when the Giants concluded their two-day minicamp. "Last year shows me we have everything it takes right here in the building to go even further. We made it there. We added some more additions to our team. Just got closer, built more and more camaraderie.

"That was my first time going through the playoffs. We got a win in the playoffs. I'm getting closer toward the end of my career. That is something that really motivates me, is getting the (Super Bowl) ring."

Despite all his experience, Williams is still a relatively young player; he will turn 29 next week. He is getting closer to his career's end in the sense that every player is. But closer doesn't mean close.

"I'm definitely not feeling older," Williams said. "We have this chart with our GPS trackers that shows our high-end speed, short 10-yard sprints. I pride myself always being first on that list. You know what I mean? I still have my explosiveness; I still have my power. Honestly, I feel like I'm knowing the game more, I have a lot more years in me. I joke around about (my) age because this is a young team."

This will be Williams' fifth season with the Giants after he arrived in a midseason trade with the Jets in 2019. Dexter Lawrence, his linemate and close friend, signed a four-year contract extension last month. Williams would like to continue partnering with Lawrence and the Giants.

"There haven't been many talks about (my contract) this offseason," Williams said. "I'm obviously open to staying here. I think I have a good camaraderie with my teammates. I would love to keep playing with Dex. I would love to keep playing with these coaches that I've gotten to know.

"I'm also not one of those type of players that wants to bounce around team to team. I want to be able to be here. Been through the grind and the struggle of being with the Giants since I've been here, coming out on the good end, eventually getting a ring with them."

Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

*Second-year tight end Daniel Bellinger said he is "excited" the Giants acquired Darren Waller, one of the NFL's best players at his position. Waller, a former Pro Bowler who caught 107 passes in 2020, was obtained in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

"He's one of the best tight ends in this league," Bellinger said. "In my personal opinion, he's top three, and not three. He's not just a great overall player, he's a great guy. I'm excited to learn from him. I was already watching film on him before we got him. Then Coach Bisch (tight ends coach Andy Bischoff) had a relationship with him before that. I had a good talk with him before, got to connect with him, just learning a lot from him."

What has he learned?

"A lot of different things I can see on film, how he attacks guys leverage-wise on defense, stuff like that," Bellinger said. "Things I could see off film, but now I could actually pick his brain, really talk and sit down, what were you thinking on this play, things like, where I could see his thought process on a play."

Despite missing five games, including four with an eye injury, last season, Bellinger finished fifth on the team with 35 targets and 30 receptions. Because Waller is a speedy tight end who is building a rapport with Daniel Jones, Bellinger's targets could decrease in 2023.

"Honestly, I'm not even worried about it," he said. "I'm going to do what I can to help the team win. He's a unicorn of a player. Whatever it takes to help us win, whether that's if I get more or less, doesn't matter to me. Whatever helps."

*Bellinger wasn't the only player who was asked today by the media about Waller. Wide receiver Parris Campbell, who played his first four seasons in Indianapolis, said Waller belongs in any conversation of the Giants' speed in the passing game.

"This is definitely the fastest total complete group that I've played with in my career," Campbell said. "I mean, we've got speed all across the board. It's speed that can do a lot of different things. It's not just guys running in a straight line fast, it's ball in the hands fast. In their routes fast. We complement each other. I'm excited for what's to come."

Does Campbell put Waller in that group?

"Oh, 100%," he said. "Not too many tight ends in this league (are) moving like how he moves. He's just an athletic freak. He's definitely in that group, for sure."

*The Giants will next take the field when training camp opens late next month. What does coach Brian Daboll expect from his players in the next six weeks?

"I would just say for those guys to come back ready to go," he said. "Be in shape. Make sure they're being safe out there over the couple of weeks. Rookies have a little less time than the vets. But come back ready to go, both mentally and physically."

Daboll will follow his own advice.

"As far as myself, I get a little bit of downtime, but then you're right back at it," he said. "Making sure you're reviewing schedules and training camp practices and getting a head start on some of the opponents. So, get a little bit of downtime. Don't do a whole bunch.

"You get away a little bit, but it's a different position than being a position coach or coordinator. There's always stuff that comes up. So, I think it's important to take a little bit of downtime, but you can't get too far away from it."

*Former Giants coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Parcells attended the Giants' practice yesterday and at Daboll's invitation, spoke to the team at its conclusion.

"Oh, it was great," Daboll said. "He's obviously an NFL legend, a Giant legend, and just to have him out here I think was great for everybody.

"(The players) were definitely listening. I think all the coaches were. It was great to have coach Parcells here. He talked a little bit about accountability and adversity. Good message for the team and for the coaches."

Pro Football Hall of Famer and legendary former Giants head coach Bill Parcells addressed the team at minicamp Tuesday.



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