Five things we learned from the Giants' press conferences that kicked off voluntary minicamp:
Football is back.
The Giants took the field on Tuesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the start of a three-day voluntary veteran minicamp. New head coaches are entitled to hold an additional minicamp, and the Giants are one of seven clubs this year to meet that criteria.
Here's what we learned during Tuesday's media hour:
1. SHURMUR KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE
This week marks the first opportunity for new head coach Pat Shurmur to look around and see what his team looks like on the field. The Giants reported for the start of their offseason program earlier this month, but Phase 1 was strictly limited to strength and conditioning, rehabilitation and meetings. Now the Giants enter Phase 2. The next three weeks of the program include individual player instructions and drills, as well as the offense and defense working separately. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
"Well, I think the big thing for us is our game is very simple – it's about the ball, it's about negotiating the ground and it's really about man whipping man," Shurmur said. "Now this time of year there is not any contact so to speak, so that third part you can't work on very much. But, we can work on throwing and catching; the defense can work on defending and trying to strip. We can work on the coordination of running plays and defending plays and the kicking and the punting and all of that. So those are the things we are trying to do. We've given the guys two weeks of meetings and we've put together a mini camp, there's not a whole lot of scheme, but there is enough here to challenge them mentally and then hopefully by the end of these three days we'll walk away and know a lot more about our players as we move forward. "
2. SHEPARD EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW OFFENSE
Third-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard certainly sounds excited about the new regime. After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign in which he battled ankle issues for most of the year, Shepard says he's looking forward to playing in Shurmur's new offense, which he brought from Minnesota.
"I'm loving it so far," Shepard said. "As an offensive guy, you look at the film…and you can't help but light up. You see guys like (Vikings WR Adam) Thielen and (Vikings WR Stefon) Diggs – you saw what they did last year. A guy in my position can't help but smile."
3. VERNON ADJUSTING TO NEW ROLE
Olivier Vernon finds himself in some new surroundings. After two seasons in the Giants defensive line room, Vernon is moving down the hall to join the linebackers. James Bettcher, the team's new defensive coordinator, has brought his 3-4 base defense to East Rutherford from Arizona. Earlier this month, Bettcher compared Vernon to Chandler Jones, who led the NFL with 17.0 sacks in 2017. Vernon said lining up outside in a two-point stance won't be too difficult an adjustment.
"It's nothing really different for me, I've done that in the past," Vernon said. "Right now, it's just different play calls, different terminology. So, that's basically it."
On the comparison to Jones:
"Yeah, I mean he was still rushing a whole lot," Vernon said. "I think he led the league in sacks last year. So, he was still down there rushing and getting after the quarterback and when it came down to the schemes and stuff like that, using him and dropping him and stuff like that. So, we've just got to see."
4. FRESH START FOR JACKRABBIT
Like Vernon, Janoris Jenkins came over as part of the Giants free agent class of 2016. After a Pro Bowl season his first year with the Giants, Jenkins battled through a tough 2017 campaign and only suited up for nine contests. Jackrabbit is looking forward to a fresh start with the Giants' new regime.
"It's a fresh start for everybody," Jenkins said. "We've got a new coaching staff, new general manager and everybody is clean. You just come in with positive energy, focused and ready to go. I promise y'all that Jackrabbit says it won't happen this year what happened last year. There won't be any animosity between players, no disrespecting the coach. There will be none of that. New York Giant football is back."
5. SOLDER READY FOR NEW CHAPTER
One of the newest faces at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center is Nate Solder, whom the Giants signed as a free agent this offseason. The left tackle comes over from New England, where he started 95 of 98 games protecting Tom Brady's blindside. After seven seasons in Foxboro, Solder says he's ready to start this next chapter in his career.
"I'm so excited," Solder said. "I'm so grateful for this opportunity. A great organization, I'm getting to know my teammates slowly but surely and we're learning everything that we need to learn, hopefully. The way they received me, the high quality of the way they run things around here, the quality of people that I've been around here the couple weeks that I've been here has been as good as any."