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What are coaches really looking for from Evan Engram?


Giants Coach Ben McAdoo discusses his expectations for Rookie TE Evan Engram:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When the Giants selected Evan Engram 23rd overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, they knew the former Ole Miss tight end could catch passes. What they really want to see now is improvement in his blocking.

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"That's the biggest term of them all right now," Engram said today. "There is a lot of technique stuff I'm trying to get down and working on. It's something I embrace. It's something I know I can get down. There is a lot of technique, a lot of small things that go into being successful at it."

In four years at Mississippi, Engram caught 162 passes and scored 15 touchdowns. As a senior in 2016, he had career-high totals of 65 receptions and eight scores. But most of the blocking he did was protecting the quarterbacks when he wasn't running routes. The Giants want him – as well as veteran free agent Rhett Ellison - to help knock down defenders when they run the ball.

Despite his relative lack of experience, the 6-3, 240-pound Engram is confident he is up to the task.

"I got a little stronger and put on a little more weight," Engram said. "I'm learning some things, learning some more technique that helps me in the trenches, so definitely. I feel like I improved a lot and I'm excited to get the pads on (Tuesday).

"I feel like I'm definitely more evolved in protection and the running game since we started. Definitely, that's a big part of the game and something I have to get down. I embrace it, and that's probably the biggest thing on my plate right now."

Coach Ben McAdoo said Engram is expected to handle multiple tasks, as are the other tight ends, including Will Tye and Jerell Adams.

"We ask a lot of that position," McAdoo said. "It's one of the most challenging positions on the team to play and learn. We throw a lot at him: to have to play fullback, line tight-in from a wing-type position, in the slot and number one receiver, as well as special teams. There's a lot thrown at him. We feel he can handle it. He has to work at it, and it's not going to be easy. He's going to make some mistakes, but as long as he learns from his mistakes, he has a chance."

Aside from the increased blocking load, Engram said his current job description is comparable to what he played under in college.

"Honestly, the offense in college, the tight end was by far the toughest position to learn," Engram said. "So I was already kind of adjusted to that, being asked to do a lot. But like I said with the blocking, this is a lot of different technique stuff that I have to learn that I didn't really get to master and nearly get the reps in college. Tight ends are kind of the Swiss army knife, especially like ours, so there's a lot we have to learn. But, there's a lot of technique for us to learn so we can be successful in the things we have to do.
"When I'm in the slot, I do a lot of similar things that I did at Ole Miss. They kind of move me around; backfield, slot, outside. It's kind of similar to the way they bounce me around a little bit, use my versatility. That's probably the biggest similarity."

*New kicker Aldrick Rosas performed admirably in his first test with his teammates watching, but McAdoo said he knows just one method to truly turn up the heat on kickers.

"Put 80,000 people in the stands and watch him kick," McAdoo said. "That's the best way to put pressure on him. It's a great environment out here. Our fans are tremendous, they're out there and they're yelling some things at him, too, that helps put the pressure on him. So we do appreciate that, but there's nothing like kicking in games, even in preseason games. That's the best way to put pressure on him."

*Mark Herzlich, who now wears No. 44, is still primarily a linebacker, but is also taking snaps at tight end.

"He's a pro," McAdoo said. "I've been around a guy like him, a guy like Spencer Havner in Green Bay when I was there, he played on both sides in multiple positions on both sides. So those guys, guys like Mark, are truly unique and special that they can flip the jersey and flip the switch and go to the other side of the ball and be a contributor there. He made a couple nice plays for us."

*Running back Shane Vereen left practice early with lower body soreness. McAdoo said he could have returned, but the Giants preferred to use caution.

*The players are off tomorrow. When they return to practice Tuesday, they will wear shoulder pads for the first time this year.

*Safety Jadar Johnson, a rookie from Clemson, has left camp and decided to retire.

"My reaction is I wish the man nothing but the best," McAdoo said. "He's a young man that has a bright future ahead of him."

View the best photos from Sunday's Training Camp practice

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