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What We Heard: Micah McFadden 'definitely leading right now'


It was a wet and cloudy day at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, but that didn't stop the Giants from taking the practice field and continuing their preparations for Friday's preseason matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

Giants coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey met with the media before the team took the field, and quarterback Daniel Jones and cornerback Adoree' Jackson spoke to reporters after practice.

Here are the highlights from Tuesday's press conferences.

1. Micah McFadden 'definitely leading right now'

One of the biggest additions made on defense this offseason was the signing of linebacker Bobby Okereke. The Giants brought in the veteran to help anchor the middle of the defense, something he did as a starter with the Indianapolis Colts over the last two years. However, the starting spot next to Okereke has been up in the air.

After veteran Jarrad Davis got hurt right before the start of training camp, the competition for the starting inside linebacker spot came down to two primary candidates, both of whom were part of the 2022 draft class – Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers. McFadden played all 17 games with seven starts as a rookie last year and finished with 59 total tackles (36 solo), two sacks, six tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Meanwhile, Beavers missed the entire season after tearing his ACL during the preseason.

While the two are still battling it out for the spot in the starting lineup, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale did not did not shy away from sharing that one has pulled ahead of the other at this time.

"I'll tell you, I thought Micah played really well in the game," said Martindale. "He did a lot of good things. I think that this is truly Beavers' rookie year because of the ACL, and he's missed so many practices that Micah's got a year under his belt. It's a good competition and Micah is definitely leading right now. So, we'll see where that goes and where that takes it."

Catch up on all the action from Tuesday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

2. Two rookie corners possibly starting? No problem

The performance of the Giants' two rookie draft picks has been one of the biggest storylines of the summer thus far. Deonte Banks (first round) and Tre Hawkins (sixth round) have both played well over the first few weeks of training camp, which has opened the possibility of starting both rookies on the outside and moving Adoree' Jackson into the slot. Wink Martindale thought Banks and Hawkins both "played very well" against the Lions in the preseason opener. If it comes down to both rookies earning spots in the starting lineup over the next few weeks, Martindale is certainly open to the idea.

"You've got to play the best guys," the defensive coordinator said. "That's just, like I said, there's still a lot of competition going on out there. But it just so happens, they're both playing really well right now and they deserve the reps with the 1s. That's what this league is all about. That's what our organization, and Dabs and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) are all about. We're excited to see their growth. Every day is a new day for them as far as there's something else they find out, there's a different kind of shift, there's a different kind of movement. The faster that can become just natural to them instead of thinking while they're doing it, the faster you'll see them make more plays, and it's fun to watch."

Jackson has taken the two rookies under his wing, referring to himself as a "proud uncle" with the way the two young guys have played so far. The veteran noted Banks' athleticism, while also highlighting Hawkins' tenacity and willingness to learn. Similar to his defensive coordinator, Jackson is not worried about the defense starting two rookie cornerbacks.

"I don't really have any concerns about it at all," said the veteran. "Like I said, they always ask a lot of questions, they always communicate, and they're always willing and wanting to learn. At the end of the day, we meet as a group throughout the week, throughout the day to be able to try to be able to go through different looks and disguises and different things like that. Then obviously, with this offense that we have, it helps us out a lot at getting different looks. Not even looks as in plays, formations but different types of receivers, different body types and skillsets so being able to see all those different things, it helps us out a lot.

"At the end of the day, they know how to play ball. The other thing is they've got effort. You've got to teach some of those things, and the things that you can't teach, they have already, so they things that you can teach, you can live with that and just keep going day by day."

3. Schmitz progressing well

While many of the team's starters did not play in the preseason opener, the entire rookie class suited up against the Lions. This included center John Michael Schmitz, who was has been listed as the first team center on each of the first two unofficial depth charts. Schmitz was on the field for 19 pass block plays, according to Pro Football Focus, and did not allow a single pressure. The rookie made a good impression on offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

"It was good," Kafka said about the rookie center's performance in Detroit. "That's really – training camp, preseason is really for those young players and it's good for the young players to get in there and get in the mix on how the speed of an NFL game shows up, and it comes on you fast. I thought that those young guys did well, JMS (John Michael Schmitz Jr.), like you said I thought was one of those guys who – he got in there, he played hard and there's obviously a bunch of things that we can get better at and that's where we're working to improve on."

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor started the game, while Tommy DeVito took a majority of the snaps under center. Despite not playing in the first preseason game, Daniel Jones was encouraged by how Schmitz communicated with the rest of the offense.

"I think he did a good job," said Jones. "That's a big responsibility of a center, to make a lot of those calls and get everybody on the same page and communicate. As a young guy, learning the system and then having to communicate all that can be tough sometimes, but I think he's done a really good job with it."

4. 'Great competition' at guard

Another interesting positional battle is at guard, where the offensive coordinator told the media he's liked what he's seen from several young players.

"I'm seeing a great competition," Kafka said. "I'm seeing two or three tough kids – four tough guys that are really going after it in that core so they're doing a nice job and we're mixing them around and trying to give them as many different looks. In the run game, in the pass game, they're seeing a bunch of different looks from Wink's defense as far as pressure. So, all of those things and you go all the way back, really to the spring, you evaluate that part of it then you take the whole body of work and now you can get a clean picture of how he fits into your offense."

One of the players Kafka was referring to is second-year lineman Joshua Ezeudu. Last year's third-round pick (No. 67 overall) played 10 games with two starts as a rookie before a neck injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

"Josh is a really athletic guy," the offensive coordinator said. "He's really athletic, he can recover and he's aggressive. We're working him through our – again, like every young player, we work through that mental checklist. Going through that process, continuing to work on his fundamentals and techniques, just like everybody. We're talking to Josh the same way we're talking to (offensive tackle Andrew Thomas) AT about the same fundamentals and techniques, so all those guys are working to improve on it and Josh is right on pace."

5. WRs are in 'competitive mix'

With two weeks to go until the roster is cut down from 90 players to 53, all eyes are on the wide receiver position, which remains an open competition.

"It's a competitive deal so all those guys are in the mix, right?" Kafka said. "So, you try to put them in the best spot to show what they're about and give themselves an opportunity to make some plays. I think as a player – being a former player, that's all you really want is an opportunity. So, with the preseason, the training camp, kind of the whole scope of body of your work, that's really what goes on through the evaluation process. Then you get into the preseason games, and you get the opportunity to do it in front of our fans and in front of the whole organization."

"I think we've got a variety of guys who do different things and I think Dabs and Kaf and our whole offensive staff do a really good job kind of building what we're doing to our guys' skill set and what they're good at," Jones added. "We did that last year and we've done that this year as well so far. I think that's important."

One player in the mix is the longest-tenured Giant, Sterling Shepard. The veteran passed his physical and returned to practice on July 30, and Kafka has liked what he's seen from the 30-year-old over the last few weeks.

"Shep's continuing to put together really good days of work," the offensive coordinator said. "He's growing within the system; he's doing a good job with his rehab and prehab and running around. He looked really clean out there yesterday, so we'll just keep on working with him and as the week goes on, make a decision."

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 roster as it currently stands.


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