Players signed in the offseason now expect to make a key impact during the Giants' postseason run:
Damon Harrison has a lot of postseason experience.
He makes it every time on Madden NFL and actually just won the Super Bowl last night with his controller. So if Eli Manning needs some tips heading into Sunday's NFC Wild Card Game at Lambeau Field, he can lean on the 350-pound defensive tackle.
But this isn't virtual reality.
The Giants signed Harrison, Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins to get the team back to the playoffs, but the ironic part is that not one of them had ever been, playing in a combined 224 games without an appearance.
Nevertheless, they helped turn the ship around together, guiding the defense to a No. 2 finish in scoring as the Giants earned their first playoff berth since 2011. Now the second season begins with the big-ticket free agents set to make their debuts.
"For a guy like myself, who is a younger older guy or an older younger guy – whatever you want to call it – I listen," said Harrison, who led all NFL defensive linemen this season with 86 tackles. "I'm a sponge. I soak everything up. So I'm always picking people's brains to try to get an idea what something is like."
Added Harrison: "J.C. [Jonathan Casillas], Eli, Victor [Cruz], Zak DeOssie, they do a real good job of informing us on what it's going to be like, as well as our defensive line coach, Pat Graham, who's won a championship – letting us know what it's going to be like, especially on the road, taking that way to get accomplished what we want to accomplish."
Whether you're a two-time Super Bowl MVP, a veteran who's never made it before, or a rookie making it in his first season, no one knows when the next time will be. So the Giants will try to capitalize on this run.
"I wouldn't say [there are] any butterflies," Vernon said. "There is a lot of guys that are excited just to have the opportunity. You don't get too many chances to be in the postseason. You just have to make the most of the opportunity." Here's what else was going on at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Thursday:
For the Giants, DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) did not practice. CB Janoris Jenkins (back), TE Jerell Adams (shoulder), S Nat Berhe (concussion), DE Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring) and CB Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) were limited. RT Bobby Hart (forearm) was full-go.
For the Packers, CB Quinten Rollins (neck/concussion) and RB James Starts (concussion) did not practice. OT Bryan Bulaga (abdomen), WR Randall Cobb (ankle), LB Jayrone Elliott (hand), G T.J. Lang (foot), LB Julius Peppers (not injury related), LB Nick Perry (hand), OT Jason Spriggs (shoulder) and LB Joe Thomas (back) were limited. LB Clay Matthews (shoulder), CB Damarious Randall (knee), FB Aaron Ripkowski (hamstring) and OL JC Tretter (knee) were full-go.
>>EYE ON THE PACKERS
SULLY KNOWS BEST
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan has won two Super Bowls with the Giants, the first as the receivers coach and the most recent one as the quarterbacks coach. So he knows what people mean when they talk about Playoff Eli.
"There's no specific trait or a magic button," Sullivan said. "There's nothing specific that I can point to other than the fact that I think when anyone approaches their work with the level of consistency and they don't get caught up in the setbacks, they don't get caught up in the negativity, the criticism, nor do they get caught up in the praise.
"It's just this laser, steady focus that he has. And I would imagine that being able to do that is what allows him to kind of get the negative out of the way and he doesn't get caught up in the positives and be able to be at his best. So hopefully that'll be the case on Sunday."
SPAGS PRAISES ASSISTANTS FOR SUCCESS
Naturally, Steve Spagnuolo has received much of the praise for the defense's success this season, but the defensive coordinator today turned the spotlight on the rest of the defensive staff, a group that is a mixture of new and old faces in 2016. More than ever, Spagnuolo leaned on them to make sure the unit never blinked, even when injuries arose.
"The guys, in my opinion, that get lost in this whole thing are assistant coaches on defense," Spagnuolo said. "The players go out and play, and one person that happens to be the coordinator gets some credit. Look, our assistant coaches that we have on defense have done as good a job as anybody I've been around.
"With new players coming in, within a certain group making them gel, you've got a young guy, you've got an older guy, a guy who knows the system, a guy that hasn't been exposed to the system. And I've sat back many times during this season and just let the assistant coaches go. And that's been a joy. I told them a couple weeks ago in front of the whole group that one of the joys I've had this year is being able to just step back and watch them gel with their coaches and just player-to-player. When you can start to do that, that's when it really works."
Photos from memorable Wild Card Games for the New York Giants