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Cover 3: What we learned in first week of OTAs


The crew talks about what they've learned so far at OTAs.

John Schmeelk: Daniel Jones is going to be ready in Week 1. Anyone who reads or listens to my takes knows I like to be very cautious, especially when it comes to things I don't know everything about, like injuries. But based on everything I have seen from Jones on the practice field and from what he has said about his knee, I'm now just going to assume he is going to be healthy in Week 1 and starting for the Giants at quarterback.

The second most important thing I have learned is how the Giants want to start working with these offensive linemen. As we suspected, Evan Neal will start working at right tackle as he continues to work his way back from last year's ankle surgery. Jon Runyan Jr. will begin at right guard with Jermaine Eluemenuor at left guard. I'm curious to see how much those players move around in the coming weeks and then at training camp, but for now it is good to know where the players will line up to start this process.

View photos from spring practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Dan Salomone: The new-look defense has been top of mind for me. We've gotten bits and pieces of what Shane Bowen wants to put together since he took over in February. At the NFL Scouting Combine, general manager Joe Schoen said the new coordinator's philosophy "is going to be a little bit more, let's get after the passer – like we'll stop the run on the way to the passer and going to look for more edge guys and ability to rush the passer versus stopping the run. Stopping the run is still going to be important, it's always going to be important, but in terms of how you're prioritizing those, you may flip those in the new scheme."

And what did the Giants do when free agency opened a few weeks after those comments? They acquired edge rusher Brian Burns, who teamed up with fellow two-time Pro Bowler Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux to give Bowen his coveted front.

"Ultimately you're talking about how you want to delegate resources, right," Bowen said. "Are you delegating them for the rush, or are you trying to delegate them for the back end? And some of that comes into play how good you are in the back end with less or how good you are rushing the quarterback with a little bit less. That will evolve as we go, but my history has been, if we've got four guys that can rush, we are going to let them go rush."

Fast-forwarding to OTAs, we're seeing the puzzle come to life. Admittedly, we won't get the full picture until the pads come on in the summer, but the structure is in place. We learned recently that defensive line coach Andre Patterson is also working with the edge rushers.

"He's a good coach," Daboll said. "I think him and [outside linebackers coach] Chuck [Bullen] do a good job, they work together. There's four-man rush patterns, games, things like that - they do a good job of working together, him and Chuck and BCox (Brian Cox, the assistant line coach) and Ben [Burress, the defensive assistant]."

We also learned that the Burns and Lawrence duo is going to be just as important as Burns and Thibodeaux.

"It is exciting, especially when you got four guys that can [rush the passer]," Burns said. "Allowing those guys to work is exciting, but it's earned. We have to show that we can get to the quarterback at a consistent rate by ourselves. That's going to take chemistry. It's going to take a form of a brotherhood. If I got Dex with me, just know if I got Dex with me, I got a plan. … From a football standpoint, his IQ is second to none as far as the D-linemen I've played with. I think he definitely knows ball, knows how to rush, knows how to get to the quarterback, and knows how to work together. There are certain things he told me I definitely wasn't in tune. Yeah, he's helping me, as well."

At the same time, any front four is only as good as the back four.

With veteran Adoree' Jackson still a free agent, the Giants put a lot of stock in Deonte Banks and Cor'Dale Flott on the outside. The Giants also drafted safety Tyler Nubin and Dru Phillips, who said he not only embraces the nickel corner role but "embodies" it. It will be interesting to see how all the new pieces come together with returning play-makers like Dane Belton, Jason Pinnock, and Nick McCloud.

See all the action from spring practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Matt Citak: The health of Daniel Jones is the biggest takeaway from the first week of OTAs, but since that's already been discussed, let's go with the explosiveness of Malik Nabers. Plenty of excitement surrounded the young wide receiver when the Giants selected him with the sixth overall pick in last month's draft, and so far the 20-year-old has lived up to the hype. During Thursday's practice, the rookie wideout did a double move before using his blazing speed to get 10-15 yards of separation from the nearest defender for a touchdown from 50+ yards out.

"I'm fired up to get Malik," Jones told reporters Thursday. "I watched some of his tape in college. He's a dynamic, dynamic player. I was fired up to see that we got him. It's been fun getting to work with him."

This might have been the biggest play we saw from the young receiver during the first week of OTAs, but it certainly wasn't the only one. Nabers had numerous nice catches during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills, constantly using his quickness and agility to create separation from the defender guarding him. Not only does he have the speed, but Nabers is also built like your prototypical NFL receiver. Listed at 6-feet and 200 pounds, the young wideout looks even bigger on the field than I expected. While contact is not allowed during OTA practices, I have no doubt that Nabers will be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. While his strength may be using his speed in order to create separation from defenders, Nabers should do quite well for himself when it comes to contested catches.

"He works really hard," head coach Brian Daboll added. "There's a couple different positions that he has to move around and learn, but that's why we drafted him. So, good young pro, works really hard at it."

See all the action from spring practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.


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