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Giants Now:'s most pivotal rookies of 2020


Lance Zierlein picks Matt Peart as Giants' most pivotal rookie

The Giants head into the 2020 season with one of the league's younger rosters

Only five players on the team's current 80-man roster are 30+ years old: quarterbacks Colt McCoy (33) and Alex Tanney (32), wide receiver Golden Tate (32), defensive back Nate Ebner (31) and guard Kevin Zeitler (30). On the other hand, 50 members of the Giants' roster are under 25, including many of the team's key starters.

Due to the young age of the roster, it should not come as a surprise that several of the team's rookies could be looking at extended roles this season. No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas was said to have been firmly in the competition for one of the starting tackle positions along the offensive line as soon as he was drafted. Following the opt-out of Nate Solder, the likelihood of the former Georgia Bulldog winning one of the starting tackle spots increased tenfold. But with both tackle spots now up for grabs, could another rookie end up cracking the starting lineup?'s Lance Zierlein chose one rookie that he believes could be pivotal for each team's success this season. For the Giants, his selection was third-round pick Matt Peart.

After redshirting at UConn in 2015, Peart started all 48 games in his four-year college career – 24 at right tackle in his first two seasons and 24 at left tackle in his final two years. The 6-foot-7 lineman was named First-Team All-AAC last season after serving as one of the Huskies' team captains.

As Zierlein writes, "No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas is a steady talent who should do fine at left tackle, but with Nate Solder opting out, it looks like Peart will have to prove he can withstand the heat as a starting right tackle. The third-rounder is long and athletic with plenty of upside, but getting him ready against NFL rushers could be a challenge in his rookie year."

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

Jason Garrett admires Evan Engram from other side

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has seen firsthand how productive tight end Evan Engram can be.

In his first three seasons with the Giants, Engram played six games against Garrett's Dallas Cowboys. He caught 37 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns, his highest figures against any single opponent (in second place are his 15 catches vs. Washington, 241 yards against Tampa Bay and two scores against Detroit).

Now that Garrett is working with Engram every day as the Giants' offensive coordinator, he is even more impressed by the fourth-year pro.

"Obviously, spent a lot of time on him coming out of the (2017) draft and really liked him a lot," Garrett said yesterday. "I admired him in that evaluation process. Then we played against him, and obviously, with the Cowboys and Giants going against each other a couple times a year, a tremendous amount of respect for him from afar. He's one of those players you're always concerned about having to defend in a game when you're going against him.

"It's been even better getting to know him. I heard great things about him. Talk about a guy who loves football, wants to work at it and wants to refine his craft and everything he does. He's done an outstanding job from minute one with us. He loves it. You can see it every day. He's engaged in meetings, he works hard at practice. There's this idea that, hey, this is a receiving tight end, this is a play-making tight end. I don't think there's any question about that. But he's also someone who's willing to be a complete tight end and block, block in line and do the things he needs to do to be an every down player for us. He's been fantastic. He has a great thirst for knowledge, a great thirst for trying to understand what we're asking him to do and it shows up in his work every day."

Kicker Graham Gano brings stability to Giants

Nineteen seasons working in the NFL and major college football has taught Thomas McGaughey that lineup consistency is a rare luxury for a special teams coach.

"Any time you can create continuity, that's what you want," McGaughey said yesterday. "Sometimes you have to make do with what you have. For me as a coach, that's my job. As special teams coordinator, that's my job. That's the essence of my job, to make the gumbo every week. Sometimes it might be chicken gumbo, sometimes it might be shrimp gumbo. Whatever I have, that's what you have to work with. You have to work it out, that's the process of being the special teams coach in the NFL."

McGaughey might have to reach into his cabinet of gumbo ingredients this year.

Coaches commonly preach the virtues of player versatility, an attribute that could be particularly vital in a pandemic-era NFL season – even for someone with a very specific responsibility.

Graham Gano joined the Giants last week with a decade-long track record as one of the league's most dependable kickers. But it's not inconceivable that he might be asked to expand his repertoire in 2020.

NFL players and coaches undergo COVID-19 testing daily and each team must have a contingency plan for anyone who tests positive and can't play or coach in a game. Those discussions began long before the opening of training camp and continue regularly.

"Actually, we sat down this spring and we talked about a lot of 'what if's,'" Giants coach Joe Judge said this week. "We put down basically a contingency plan for if any coach or staff member wasn't available on a daily basis, whether that's a practice day, whether that's a game day, how we would go ahead and make sure we made the adjustments. Along with that, it's not if just one person is missing. What if there are multiple people missing? Who handles each responsibility? We're going beyond the coaching staff right now to keep a lot of different people in the organization involved that if it was ever an emergency situation, we have people who are up to date on schematically and conceptually what we're doing football wise, to have as many hands on deck available for us.

"In terms of the players … it's our job to get everybody ready on the roster. It's our job to have plans in place, whether somebody gets disqualified due to a testing measure or somebody gets hurt on the first play. That's our job to have a plan on how to adjust. To answer your question, yes, we're always planning ahead. Those plans always change based on where we are internally with what we're doing."

Photos: Top pics from Tuesday at training camp

Check out the gallery below to view the best images from Tuesday's practice at Giants' training camp.

View the best images from Tuesday's training camp practice.


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