EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants announced this morning that offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has tested positive for COVID-19. He was immediately isolated, as were two potential close contacts. Coach Joe Judge said the contacts were "staff and coaches," not players.
The Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the Giants' headquarters, remained open and later this afternoon one of the potential close contacts was cleared to return. The other (not a coach) was deemed to be a high-risk close contact.
The Giants worked with the NFL's chief medical officer and the team followed its normal practice and meeting schedule today. They will host the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in a game that will determine if they remain in the race for the NFC East title.
"Immediately upon notification last night, we isolated all three (contacts)," Judge said on his daily Zoom call with reporters. "We've had no close contacts other than those three. We're going through all of the information. We went through it with the league this morning, went through all the players, went through all the coaches as well. We deemed it safe to open the building. We've been going through our normal protocols. All of our players have been masked up and wearing the protective shields and spaced our accordingly. We've continued with our meetings which are in our indoor facility and about as well of a ventilated space as can be. We've continued with our pre-practice walkthrough, an abbreviated version to make sure it's extra spaced out and avoid more close contacts."
The team held a standard Friday practice this afternoon.
"Really, we're trying to keep the day as normal as can be," Judge said. "We went through everything last night to make sure it was completely safe to open the building. All the information we've been given, we deemed it was. We've not been a club who's been slow to delay or change the schedule at any point this year based on a positive. But because we were out of the building on Monday and Tuesday and with the close contacts being very limited on Wednesday and having a virtual day yesterday, all information pointed us in the direction that today was safe to bring the players in the format we have and continue with normal Friday prep."
Of course, normal in the age of COVID differs from what would have been normal a year ago. So, while DeGuglielmo couldn't physically attend, he remained a visible and vocal presence at practice.
"He's already run several meetings this morning virtually," Judge said. "We actually just had a walkthrough, and it's a deal where they actually put the iPad behind the huddle and Guge can sit there and watch and have feedback in and out. It's a different deal but hey, it's something that we've become accustomed to. The players are able to communicate with the coaches through the Zoom app, and that's been something positive for us."
DeGuglielmo replaced Marc Colombo as the Giants' O-line coach during the team's November bye week. He is the third offensive coach to test positive since Dec. 17, joining coordinator Jason Garrett and assistant Stephen Brown.
Assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson will coach the unit in the game Sunday.
"My decision (to change coaches) a couple months ago was in no way reflective in any confidence or lack thereof of Ben Wilkerson," Judge said. "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Ben. He's a good coach. He's a good, young (38-years-old) coach. Draws from a knowledge of playing the game. He's a very good communicator. He has a very good passion for the game. The players respond to him very well. He's great on the field with technique instruction, and he's very good in terms of communicating and forming relationships off the field.
"When I got here last year, Ben was down at the East-West Shrine Game coaching. We had more requests put in for Ben Wilkerson last year while he was down there. This is a deal where I talked to him before he went down there, I said, 'I won't make any moves on the staff without talking to you first.' Then we agreed when he got back that I would like him to stay, he wanted to stay, we made some arrangements with the contract, and I'm glad to have him on our staff going forward. This is a guy that obviously we want in the program. He's going to help us going forward."
*The current protocols and uncertainty about players' and coaches' availability for games has required the Giants and all teams to prepare multi-layered contingencies.
"What we do is we stress making sure every player is ready," Judge said. "That's every player on the roster, practice squad. Making sure they're all prepared. They get reps in practice. Some guys have to get it through the practice looks of the other team. We work our techniques. Other guys may have to get extra work through walkthroughs and extra meetings. From a coaching standpoint, we always make sure we have people within the system that understand the big picture of what we're doing. Guys like (tight ends coach) Freddie Kitchens, (quarterbacks coach) Jerry Schuplinski, these are guys that are very fluent within our offensive line. Because of the use of protections as a tight end or a quarterback of how they tie-in, there's multiple guys that are always talking anyway.
"This is a situation like you see Jerry a lot of times talking with the offensive line if they have a question about a Mike ID or how we're going to handle something. He may go to Guge and they reference together. All of our guys work together. In terms of the coaching system, we've built it so we have multiple coaches who can handle multiple positions at any time if we're shorthanded in something like this, also with just the development of our staff as a whole. In terms of the personnel piece with the players, it's our job to get everybody ready. It's their job to stay ready mentally and physically."
*The Giants today declared Eli Penny out of Sunday's game because of an illness. Penny was inactive last week against Baltimore, ending his streak of 44 consecutive games played.
*Wide receiver Golden Tate (calf) is doubtful. He also did not play last week.
*Rookie linebacker Cam Brown (illness) did not practice and was added to the injury report as questionable.
*Tight end Evan Engram (calf), safety Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (rib) remain limited in practice.
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