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Standout players from OTA practice (6/8)

sterling-center-6817.jpg names three impact players from the team's ninth OTA practice:

View the best images from Thursday's OTA practice

Nine down. One to go.

The New York Giants returned to the practice fields at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center today for OTA No. 9. They wrap up organized team activities tomorrow leading up to next week's mandatory minicamp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday.


The competition to back up Eli Manning is on, and Josh Johnson is doing all he can to hold onto the role for another season. Today, Johnson threw a pair of touchdowns in the red zone and connected with undrafted wide receiver Travis Rudolph for the longest play of the day. Rudolph got a step on the coverage, and Johnson dropped one perfectly into his hands as he kept his stride. Originally a fifth-round draft pick in 2008 by Tampa Bay, Johnson has spent time with the Buccaneers, 49ers, Browns, Bengals, Jets, Colts, Bills, Ravens, and Giants, who signed him shortly before the opening of the 2016 regular season.

"You could see last season that Josh is a pro," quarterbacks coach s Frank Cignetti Jr. said. "Josh has been in the league. What do I mean by that? He knows how to prepare, he knows how to study, he does a great job in the classroom, he does a great job in the locker room. On the field, he does what he's asked to do, and does it well. The nice thing is to see Josh go through the offseason program now because he wasn't here the last offseason."


Once again, Manning came out firing to his second-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who made a handful of nice catches today. The two hooked up for a touchdown during team drills at the goal line. That's an area the Giants are looking to improve this season. They were 21st in the NFL in goal-to-go touchdown efficiency after finding the end zone 70.0 percent of the time in 2016.

"The thing is we just have to create matchups, and him playing outside a little bit more could be in the cards," wide receivers coach Adam Henry said. "Right now he has been working hard and he has been out there and he looks really good right now."


The Giants went heavy with the red zone drills today, and Evan Engram showed he can be an asset near the goal line. The first-round draft pick made a tough grab in the end zone on a pass that Manning needled through a group of defenders, which included All-Pro safety Landon Collins. Yesterday, tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said Engram has a "good knack for [catching the ball] in the fact that he understands coverage. He understands how the leverage of the coverage is going to change how he needs to run his route. He came in with that, and it's continued to progress from there."

Honorable mentions: rookie quarterback Davis Webb had a big day in the red zone, throwing touchdowns to undrafted wide receiver Keeon Johnson (twice) and tight ends Matt LaCosse and Will Tye; cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie saved a touchdown by breaking up a Geno Smith pass in the end zone; cornerback Michael Hunter had a friendly rivalry going with wide receiver Brandon Marshall today and prevented a touchdown pass intended for the 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran; cornerback Janoris Jenkins once again came close to a pick-six but couldn't hold onto the ball.

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