Before Thursday’s practice, head coach Pat Shurmur and players spoke to the media. This is what you need to know from the pressers:
1. Bouncing back following the bye week. The Giants started the season not expecting to be 1-7 at their bye week, but that is the current reality for the organization. The break came at a good time, though, and the team came back refreshed mentally and physically heading into Monday night’s matchup against the 49ers.
“We’ve got eight games left, but we’re pointing toward one game and that’s always been the case,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said it all along, I feel like we can go in and beat every team we play if we play the right way throughout the game. That’s no different, and the practices last week were terrific in terms of guys getting better. When they came back this week, we obviously had an extra day because of the Monday night game, practice was great. We’re getting a lot of guys back, they seem like they were refreshed physically and mentally, so that’s really the mood.”
Safety and defensive co-captain Landon Collins was excited to be back on the field with the opportunity to flip the script in the second half of the season.
“Honestly, the momentum has picked up,” Collins said. “We had Tuesday practice, practice was really fast. Attention to detail was there, everybody was keyed in, tuned in, and ready to go honestly. There was nobody out here just lollygagging it, it felt really awesome to be out there.”
2. Getting Evan Engram going. Tight end Evan Engram has flashed at times that he can be one of the more difficult tight ends to cover in the league. His mix of size and speed makes him a threat wherever he is on the field. One thing that Engram has struggled with, though, is dropped balls, including a key one in the last game against the Redskins.
“I think all along, he’s one of the guys that really works hard at catching the football,” Shurmur said. “He will just continue to do that, put [it] behind him and move on. That’s really the nature of it. If I had a guy who was dropping balls and didn’t work at it, then the rubber’s going to hit the road on that; but with Evan, we have lots of drills that he does, he works hard at trying to catch the ball constantly, and he’s just got to trust and believe himself, and go out and do it. As long as he’s a Giant and he’s out there playing, we’re going to do everything we can to help him.”
Quarterback Eli Manning backed up those sentiments about Engram, who has played in the last two games after missing three with a knee injury.
“Evan, he works hard,” Manning said. “He want to do everything right. He puts a lot of work into it. He’s going to make some plays for us. He’s too good of a player and athlete. We got to get him going in helping out this offense.”
3. Improvements on the offensive line. For a unit that was a constant through training camp, the offensive line saw its share of changes once the season began. Center Jon Halapio was lost for the season due to injury, right tackle Ereck Flowers was released and replaced by Chad Wheeler, and John Greco is playing at right guard in place of Patrick Omameh while newcomer Spencer Pulley took over at center. And just last week, the Giants added former Rams guard Jamon Brown.
“We’re putting him in there and getting him ready to go like he’s going to start, just like we do every player,” Shurmur said of Brown. “From what I’ve seen already, we’ve spent a lot of time with him already, he’s a fast learner, he’s a big man – a really big man, which I’m fond of in linemen – and he can move his feet. He was a starter last year on a team that won more than 10 games, so we were glad he was available. What we’ve seen to this point, we’re excited about getting him going.”
Meanwhile, Pulley, a former Charger, has started the past two games at center with the third coming up against the 49ers. Shurmur praised how quickly he has picked up the offense.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Shurmur said. “He’s a natural center, he’s a little leaner than guys that play guard. He started last year the whole season at center, so he’s got experience. He’s smart, you need more than a fishing license to get into Vanderbilt. He’s a smart guy, he understands football, and he’s doing a good job of direction us. Typically centers, you’re giving help or getting help, and for what he’s asked to go in and do what he’s doing, he’s done (a good job).”