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Giants Now: PFF names Wan'Dale rookie to watch

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PFF picks Wan'Dale Robinson as Giants' rookie to watch

Wan'Dale Robinson put together an impressive junior campaign at Kentucky last season.

Robinson caught 104 passes for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games. The receptions and receiving yards set single-season school records, while the 104 catches ranked third in the nation.

Pro Football Focus' Michael Renner recently chose one rookie to watch this season from each team, and the second-round pick was the choice for the Giants.

"Robinson was the heart of Kentucky's passing offense last season," Renner writes. "He accounted for 45.7% of the Wildcats' passing yardage in 2021 (1,342 yards). He's a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands and broke 22 tackles after the catch in 2021."

Robinson finished with a 91.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last season, which ranked as the best among all SEC wide receivers. He had 8+ receptions in eight of Kentucky's 13 games last season. Additionally, he ranked sixth among wide receivers with 22 missed tackles forced and 16 deep catches, highlighting his ability to line up all over the field.

Prior to transferring to Kentucky, Robinson spent two seasons at Nebraska where he registered 134 rush attempts for 580 yards (4.3 avg.) and four touchdowns, adding 91 receptions for 914 yards and another three scores.

Since drafting Robinson, both Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen have stated that they have a plan for how they want to use the rookie wide receiver, which was reiterated recently by his former position coach.

"You can tell by the Giants drafting Wan'Dale in the second round that they had a clear vision for what they want him to be," Kentucky WR coach Scott Woodward told the Giants Huddle podcast last month. "That was one of the things after the draft that I talked to Wan'Dale about. When he talked to Coach Daboll, they just had a clear vision of what he wanted him to do for them…

"He was our No. 1 receiver. He lined up and he ran the big boy routes. He was running those 20-yard outs, those 20-yard ins, all of those play action passes that the Rams do so well and the 49ers and all these teams do so well in the NFL. He was our guy that we were throwing that ball to. He can run the route tree. Yes, can he do all of those gadget things? Absolutely because he's just so dynamic. But I think he's going to fit perfectly in that offense because being drafted so high in the second round, it just shows you the clear vision and the plan that the Giants have to use him."

View the top photos from Tuesday's training camp practice as the team prepares for Thursday's preseason opener against the Patriots.

Darnay Holmes embracing 'Dirty 30' nickname

Darnay Holmes earned something this summer other than a top spot on the depth chart at nickel cornerback. He got a nickname.

"I call him Dirty 30," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "I just love his toughness, and I'm not saying he plays dirty. I'm just talking about how he embraces the grind of practicing every day, doing things right and asking the right questions. He's got some qualities that we haven't had before at that position."

Holmes, a fourth-round draft choice in 2020, has embraced the nod to his playing style and jersey number.

"I think it was something that was earned," Holmes said. "I feel like I'm a relentless player, so I feel like it's very fitting. … I grew up in an impoverished area. Pretty much growing up in those type of terms you've got to always have your guard up and put your best foot forward. When things get rough, you just keep your head down and keep on working. So, as I said before, a very fitting name."

View photos of Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes through the years.

Rookie Evan Neal feels comfortable back in No. 73

Evan Neal felt a little more comfortable walking onto the field for Tuesday's practice. It wasn't just because the right tackle has started to settle into his new life as a rookie in the NFL. Rather, he was back in No. 73, the jersey number he wore from his freshman year of high school through his All-American career at Alabama.

"Kind of like when Michael Jordan wore number 45 but had to switch back to 23," Neal said. "It doesn't really affect the way that you play by any means; a number can't play for you. Just feeling more comfortable with your number."

The number opened up this week when the Giants released offensive tackle Matt Gono, who had been on the exempt/left squad list. Neal, who was wearing No. 70, was glad it opened up but would have been fine with keeping the one he was assigned upon being drafted.

The patience paid off for the seventh overall pick. Unlike fellow first-rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux, who donated $50,000 to charity to get No. 5 from veteran kicker Graham Gano, the swap didn't cost anything to Neal.

"It's just the number that I've always worn," Neal said. "So it's just grown on me."

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