EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Rhett Ellison is a tight end who truly leads his peers by example.
A seven-year veteran, Ellison has played in 89 regular-season games with 55 starts. The five other tight ends on the Giants' roster – Evan Engram, Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson, Ryan O'Malley and Garrett Dickerson - have played a total of 64 games, starting 15. When the younger players have a question about an assignment, need a blocking tip or help running a pass route, Ellison is their answer man.
"He's like a walking teach tape," said Engram, who led the Giants with 64 receptions as a rookie in 2017. "You can pull up any play that he's on and that's exactly how the play is supposed to be done, whether it's a route, whether it's a certain blocking technique we have to execute. He's a really good professional, he's a really good technician. He's a perfect example to learn from.
"He's not the typical 6-5, 260 (pound) tight end, but he uses everything, he uses his leverage, he has a great toolbox. He's just a good example to learn from. Definitely, he's our vet in the room. I don't want to say he's the old guy, because he does a lot of stuff better than us young guys. He's definitely a good guy to have in our room."
Ellison will turn 30 in October and very much feels like the wizened veteran among the tight ends.
"You age fast in this league," he said. "Every year feels like seven years on your body. I definitely feel like the old guy in the room. It's such a good room. Very humble – humble group that's really willing to learn. It's awesome for a veteran, because they're willing to listen, I'm willing to listen to them and we kind of bounce ideas off each other. L-Dub (first-year tight ends coach Lunda Wells) is doing a great job kind of opening that up for us, that learning environment, so it's been good."
Ellison joined the Giants last year after five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. In his first season with the team, he played in all 16 games with 14 starts, and had 24 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He is also a physical and dependable blocker.
Although Ellison's priorities are doing what's necessary to earn playing time, he is cognizant of setting a good example.
"For me, it's always been having to be consistent where you – from college (at USC), I was never the best athlete in the room so I had to be the most consistent. That's where it kind of started. You want to be an example how to do it right, not just executing techniques on the field - trying to be a good person off the field as well. I'm not in the rep just to show them; it's my job to try and be as consistent as possible. It's good to know that the young guys are paying attention."
Ellison's teaching skills are particularly valuable in this camp, because he was in Minnesota in 2016, when Pat Shurmur was the Vikings' tight ends coach, as well as the offensive coordinator for the final nine games (after Norv Turner resigned).
"He was with Shurmur, he was in this offense before, so he's been a really good sound board for us, for the coaches, for coach Lunda," Engram said. "He's good to have, for sure."
"Having some familiarity with this offense is a huge help, because it's almost as opposite as you can get as the system you were running last year," Ellison said. "There's a lot of little nuances and details that make this offense work. It's definitely helpful that I've been in it. Sometimes, it's not great because something we did with Norv Turner, Pat's not doing it. So there's certain little details and tweaks that sometimes I screw up because I'm like, 'Oh, wait that's what we…' So everybody's learning."
When Engram is not taking a rep and Ellison is on the field, the second-year pro is watching his more seasoned teammate.
"We're all locked in to try and get as many mental reps as possible," Engram said. "Sometimes we'll be talking with coach, we might miss something. So every time we're in the film room and Rhett's up, we'll do installs and when we have an example of how each play is supposed to be run, Rhett's probably in there. When we're on the field, when we're in the film room, I pay attention when Rhett's in, for sure."
*Shurmur praised Eli Manning and Davis Webb, the top two quarterbacks on the team's depth chart.
"I think they have consistently performed well throughout the camp," Shurmur said. "I've watched it with a little different vision of what we want to get done, but they threw the ball well, they did some good things. What's good about our practice sessions is we get a lot of different blitz combinations and concepts. It's the real mental gymnastics that quarterbacks need to go through and I thought they did a good job of sometimes knowing if they were blocked properly, if there was an extra guy or making adjustments necessary to fix a problem."
*Rookie left guard Will Hernandez, the team's second-round draft choice this year, has quickly meshed with his veteran linemates.
"I feel like I've known these guys for a long time in the short period of time we have known each other," Hernandez said. "They've treated me like I was one of them. They started guiding me and showing me the ropes right away, and started the teaching process with me. These guys are great, everyone gets along pretty well. We are spending so much time with each other in camp, everyone gets to know each other real quick."
*Running back Jonathan Stewart did not practice.
"He's an 11-year veteran and we had planned for this," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We're just trying to be smart."
*Also missing practice were cornerback Donte Deayon, safety Curtis Riley and tight end Garrett Dickerson, all with hamstrings.
*The players are off tomorrow for the first time since camp began. The team will next practice on Wednesday.