*Tight End Matt LaCosse is making big plays at Giants OTA practice: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Matt LaCosse was one of the standouts today in the Giants' organized team activity. But no one knows better than he that eye-opening plays in June can carry you only so far when you're trying to earn a roster spot in September.
LaCosse twice leaped high in the back left corner of the end zone to catch passes from rookie Davis Webb, then deftly kept his feet inbounds to complete the highlight.
"He made some nice plays," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He is a big target down there in the green zone. Matchup-wise, he gives you that length that you are looking for, he can run and he is a functional blocker, so he has a nice skillset."
This is the third year in a row LaCosse has hoped to use that skillset as a regular contributor. But he has played in only two games and caught just three passes.
In 2015, the tight end was signed as a rookie free agent from Illinois. He suffered a pulled hamstring and was waived on Aug. 4, spent five days with the Jets, joined the Giants' practice squad on Nov. 4 and the active roster on Christmas Day. On Dec. 27, he caught three passes in his NFL debut in the Giants' loss to the Vikings in TCF Bank Stadium.
"My first college catch was in that stadium and my first NFL catch was in that stadium, so that was pretty cool," LaCosse said.
Last year, LaCosse was competing for a roster spot when his right foot stuck to the turf in a preseason game in Buffalo. His right lateral meniscus tore, and a cyst was subsequently removed from his knee.
View the best images from Friday's OTA practice
"It was just an unfortunate thing," LaCosse said. "It was a freak thing, unfortunate, but you have to go with the cards you were dealt."
LaCosse spent the season on injured reserve and tried to progress as much as possible without being on the field.
"Last year was definitely hard," LaCosse said, "but I am fortunate they let me stay around and go to meetings and be with my teammates and everything, which was nice. But I would be lying if I said it wasn't tough coming in and watching film and being like, 'Dang, I wish I was out there playing with my teammates.' It was difficult. You are on the team and you are a part of the team, but you are really not a part of the team. It was interesting. It took some getting used to and my teammates were great and my coaches were great. Everyone was so nice to me and I made some really good relationships. It was tough, but it was the best of the worst-case."
Despite two years of almost complete inactivity, LaCosse showed the Giants enough to keep him for a third spring. This time, he is determined to get to the fall.
"As much as I love practice, love OTAs and love training camp, it is time to play in some games," LaCosse said. "I have to play well in OTAs. I know that I am not guaranteed a roster spot and I have to play well in OTAs, have to play well in camp, have to play well in the preseason games and hopefully there is a spot for me. I just have to keep playing hard and whatever happens, happens."
Although he retains a positive attitude, LaCosse knows his challenge is daunting, simply because of the numbers and talent in the tight ends room. On March 10, the Giants signed free agent Rhett Ellison, the former Vikings. With their first-round draft choice the Giants selected Evan Engram of Ole Miss, the first time they used their initial choice on a tight end since taking Jeremy Shockey in 2002. And incumbents Will Tye and Jerell Adams remain on the roster.
"You see it as a competitive situation," LaCosse said. "The owners and the G.M. and the coaches are just trying to make the team better. They thought that Evan was the best player at that draft pick and they took him. They are just trying to make the team better. My job is to just compete, push everybody and try to solidify my job. Whoever is here, it happens and you just play hard and play tough.
"Whatever the Giants want me to do, I will do. If they want me to be an in the goal line blocking tight end, I will do it. If they want to split me out, I will do it. If they want me to play fullback, I will do it. I think that I bring that versatility to the offense. I have shown the ability to make plays, but I haven't shown the ability to stay healthy. I think they see potential, but I have to stay healthy first."
For LaCosse, that lesson has been learned the hard way.