OTA No. 7 of 10 is in the books.
Following Monday’s practice, coach Pat Shurmur and players met with the media inside the fieldhouse at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“Another productive day,” Shurmur said. “I think the OTAs have gone well. You saw today we had a ‘move the ball’ period, which we did one last week as well where the guys are calling it – offense, defense, personnel is getting in and out and it’s really the key part of playing the game because it’s the most like a game at this point. I think they handled it well.”
Here are the main takeaways from the media session:
1. Landon Collins is approaching 100 percent. Safety Landon Collins had been getting the quarterback treatment this spring by wearing a red jersey as he comes back from surgery on his fractured arm, but the two-time Pro Bowler was out there in white today along with the rest of the defense.
“He’s getting better,” Shurmur said. “Well, I wouldn’t say [his status] has changed. I would just say that we’re going to be a little bit cautious because it’s a break that’s healed. We’re trying to get him in as much as we can, but a little bit at a time. But he looks good. He’s getting his extra running, he’s getting everything he needs mentally and I’ve been very pleased with his progress in all areas.”
“I check with the doctors sometime this week, or next week,” Collins said. “I’m very close [to 100 percent]. Just right now, we’re just taking the precautions, not putting me into the team things, getting my arm caught or anything. We’re right around the corner from the season, so we’re not about to risk anything.”
Additionally, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to progress from his season-ending ankle injury, but the Giants will cross that bridge when they come to it in terms of him being fully cleared to return.
“Obviously we will visit on how he is doing and, again, we talk frequently,” Shurmur said. “We’ll visit how he is doing and put him out there and give him a little bit more as we go.”
2. Giants looked to get younger players more involved after personnel meeting. The Giants held a big personnel meeting this past Thursday, and Shurmur felt it was time to get “a real good look” at what they have in some of the younger players as they enter the final stretch of spring football. The Giants have three more OTAs this week and then mandatory minicamp next Tuesday through Thursday. After that, players won’t be back on the field until training camp at the end of July.
“We were kind of at the halfway point at OTAs,” Shurmur said of the meeting. “We’re seeing a lot good things from our front line guys, but we felt like today was a good day to see what some of the younger, fresher legged guys could do and then we gave them 14 plays there and we did it in a setting where it was basically a scrimmage so we could see how they would function getting in and out of the huddle, how they would line up on plays that weren’t scripted, and it will be a good tool for us to evaluate some of the young guys.”
3. Engram is a dangerous chess piece. Balanced, unpredictable, simple – those are three themes emerging from what we know about Shurmur’s vision for the offense. That’s why he is happy to see No. 88 in the huddle. Second-year tight end Evan Engram can help in all of those facets, notably in how he makes the opponent have to think long and hard about what package to put on the field. Is he a wide receiver? Is he a tight end? What do you do when he’s out there with Rhett Ellison?
“I try not to talk about the first, the second or the third receivers,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s something that when people start stacking up rosters and really depth charts outside the building. So we’re going to put the players in there and use them to the best of their ability and try to get them the ball. The fact that we have a pass-catching tight end is something that is very valuable to a team because now a defense has to decide when you have two tight ends and him being one of them, him being Evan, that are they going to stay base or play nickel? And then the chess game begins from there.”
4. Shurmur likes fullbacks. Fullback C.J. Hamm played 18.3 percent of the offensive plays last season (12.8 per game) in Minnesota, where Shurmur was offensive coordinator before being hired to coach the Giants. Hamm played in all 16 games, made one start, and even scored a touchdown on a one-yard run. Occupying that role for the Giants this season could be Shane Smith, who played in 11 games with four starts last season.
“Yeah, I like the use of a fullback,” Shurmur said. “I think there are ways that you can use him strategically, whether it is the grouping that he is involved in or how you get him the ball. I think when you have a fullback in there you always have the element of seven-man protection, which is good for the quarterback.”
5. Halapio “opened his eyes” to chance to play. After bouncing around with a handful of teams, Jon Halapio is opening people’s eyes in the Giants organization, including his own. Originally a sixth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2014, he had never played in a game until last season, when he appeared 10 times, including the final six weeks starting at right guard. Incoming general manager Dave Gettleman saw enough to re-sign him in March, and now he is competing with Brett Jones, his best friend, for the job at center.
“He has done a very good job,” said Shurmur, a former starting center and co-captain at Michigan State. “Pio is very smart, he’s got good instincts – he snaps the ball well, which is a really refreshing thing for a center. That was supposed to be humorous (laughs). But no, he does all of those things well and he’s very competitive and he knows how to play the game. I think Jonesy is doing the same thing. They’re just in there competing. I wouldn’t over-evaluate who is getting the first-team reps, but I think if you’re talking about Pio specifically, he has really sort of opened his eyes that he has a chance to play.”