Following Tuesday’s minicamp practice, coach Pat Shurmur and players met the media on the patio at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Here is what you need to know from the pressers:
1. The Giants have “come a long way” this spring. Minicamp is the culmination of work that began on April 9, the first day of the Giants’ offseason program. Until this week, player participation has been voluntary, and new head coach Pat Shurmur said they have had “90 percent attendance throughout” the spring.
“We’ve come a long way,” Shurmur said. “There are hours and hours of work in the weight room, in the meeting room and on the practice field, and when you watch a practice, I think it’s important that they are playing fast with no anxiety, and when a mistake occurs, which happens in practice – now Jacksonville (the Giants’ Week 1 opponent) didn’t see that mistake, so as long as we don’t repeat it, that’s what practice is for. So that’s what you go through. They’ve got to come out here and do it and those mistakes that were made and I noticed a handful and then there are some other things that you didn’t quite notice and you will see on tape, you get them corrected and you move on. So that’s why you have to practice a team game.”
2. Odell is cleared to practice. Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been cleared to practice. Beckham, who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury, participated in individual drills and ran a few routes with no defense.
“He was out there today,” Shurmur said. “He was cleared to train and he did a good job.”
“Obviously, he ran maybe three or four routes, but he looks good coming out of his breaks,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “From what I have seen, he looks sharp and ready to go.”
3. Snacks eager to play with Ogletree (and hit Saquon). Defensive tackle Damon Harrison isn’t one to give an inch to a rookie, especially a running back taken second overall in the draft. That’s just the mindset that took him from the undrafted ranks out of William Penn to becoming the premier run-stuffer in the game.
“Saquad, that’s what they call him, or something like that,” Harrison said of Saquon Barkley and his tree trunks for legs. “I’m excited to get out there in training camp, so I can hit his a** [laughs]. See what he’s made of. I told him, it’s not Penn State. He’s not going up against [defensive tackle] Josh Banks at Wake Forest. But no, the guy’s explosive, you can see how they will use him in the offense, which will be to our benefit.”
Meanwhile, Harrison is excited to play with some of the new pieces on defense, including linebacker and defensive quarterback Alec Ogletree.
“He comes downhill, man, and that’s something you can appreciate as a nose tackle and a defensive tackle,” Harrison said. “That means those centers and those guards have got to make decisions really fast. If not, he’ll be in the backfield and he’s a smart guy. I’m just excited to get in an actual game with him because I know those guys on the line, they have to respect what he brings to the field, so that should open up a lot for me.”
It's a two-way street for the proven vets. Ogletree is looking forward to Harrison cleaning things up in front of him.
“Exactly, it’ll be a lot cleaner,” Ogletree said. “He can hold a double team, or split them if he can make the play, for sure.”
4. Eli believes the O-line can be “special.” None of the five positions on the offensive line remains the same from this point a year ago. The Giants signed left tackle Nate Solder and guard Patrick Omameh, and drafted another guard in Will Hernandez. Ereck Flowers moved from left to right tackle, and Jon Halapio and Brett Jones are competing for the job at center.
“I like this group,” Manning said, “and feel like they can be a special group.”
Manning has liked the camaraderie he has seen forming within the group, which is an invaluable part of the offseason program.
“It seems like a great group,” he said. “They get along well. They eat lunch a lot together and are big character guys. It is important to them. It seems that they can have fun and enjoy being around each other. Just the work that goes into it. They take great pride in their craft and in communicating. That’s a good thing, I like that. Now it is just a matter of everyone coming together and being on the same page as I am making calls and making sure that we are all seeing things the same way so they can move fast and do our assignments.”
5. Bettcher’s defense will help the Giants’ offense down the road. You have to expect anything and everything when you’re playing against James Bettcher’s defense, something Manning and company are learning every day at practice. Bettcher is known for having many variations of his 3-4 scheme, and by the time the season rolls around, Manning will have seen them all.
“An aggressive style,” Manning said. “They try and pressure the QB and bring five guys. Disrupt the QB and not let him sit in the pocket. They are always tough to prepare for because they are multiple. It is great work for us to be able to get that work instead of having a team that is pretty simple with one or two coverages. Once we start playing other teams, we should be prepared for other things.”