Six Giants make CBS Sports' Preseason All-NFC East team
Six Giants were recently named to CBS Sports’ 2021 preseason All-NFC East team, including four defensive players. They were defensive lineman Leonard Williams, linebacker Blake Martinez, cornerback James Bradberry, and safety Xavier McKinney. Jabrill Peppers also made the list as a return specialist in addition to kicker Graham Gano.
It comes as no surprise after the Giants' turnaround last season featured dominant defensive play. Williams led the way up front with a career-high 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits in his breakout year.
"Williams pushed outside a bit more often last season," CBS Sports' Jared Dubin wrote, "but despite his protestations he is still largely an interior defensive lineman. He's a damn good one, which is why we included him here."
On the second level of New York's defense, Martinez led Big Blue's linebacker corps both statistically and in the locker room. The six-year veteran posted a career-best 75.9 PFF grade last season and became a first-year captain for the Giants.
"Martinez showed great improvement during his first season in New York, turning into exactly the kind of player Graham needed in the middle of his defense," Dubin wrote. "He's a great athlete, and that helps greatly in coverage."
The secondary featured multiple members selected to the preseason All-NFC East Team. Bradberry, who was selected to the NFL’s Top 100 Players list, was central to the defense's success last season, as he held quarterbacks to a 70.1 passer rating when targeted.
"Bradberry got a huge contract to come over to the Giants from Carolina, and proved himself worth every penny," Dubin wrote. "He was the foundation of Graham's coverage schemes on the outside."
At safety, Dubin believes that McKinney will build off a shortened rookie campaign because "he can move all over the place" on the field. Even though Peppers received this honor as a returner, he brings his electric play-making abilities to the safety position. He broke up 11 passes and accumulated eight tackles for loss last year.
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands heading into Week 1.
Giants take 'show on the road' to Cleveland
No matter what happened in the Giants' joint practice with the Cleveland Browns, coach Joe Judge would have said the team has a lot to work on. But the players seem unanimous in their excitement that for a couple of days they can work on it here, on an unfamiliar field in a different city against a team that isn't wearing the same uniform.
"It was great. It was great," safety Logan Ryan said. "I've been part of a few joint practices in my career. I think they're great, different stimulus, taking the show on the road, dealing with different pressures and stuff like that. (They're) kind of like the road games, so you've got to bring your own energy. I think we did a good job today. We won some, we lost some, but it's practice, you learn from it. Nobody was perfect today on both sides. Come back tomorrow and make the adjustments."
"I always say we could be better, but it was just good to get out here to compete against some other guys," said tight end Evan Engram, who was arguably the Giants' most productive offensive player. "Definitely higher intensity. Felt like more was on the line going into this. It's like a little mini game, getting live reps. I thought we did some things well. We've definitely got to get back to the hotel and look at the film and clean up the things that we need to clean up."
Safety Jabrill Peppers returned to the fields where he spent his first two NFL seasons after the Browns selected him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
"It felt good," Peppers said. "It felt good to compete against someone other than our team as well, so I'm glad about that."
Check out must-see photos from the joint practices between the Giants and Browns in Cleveland.