The New York Giants wrapped up organized team activities (OTAs) this week at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
For the first time this year, the entire team -- rookies, veterans, offense, defense, and special teams -- hit the field for 10 practices in preparation for the 2015 campaign.
Spring football is a time for players to knock off the rust and set the stage for the new season. With mandatory minicamp set to begin next week, Giants.com looks at five players who did just that and benefitted from OTAs:
1. OT ERECK FLOWERS
Days before the Giants opened OTAs, starting left tackle Will Beatty, who has not missed a game since 2011, suffered a torn pectoral muscle while weight lifting that forced him to undergo surgery. From the time it happened on May 19, the approximate recovery time is five to six months.
Enter Flowers, the Giants' first-round choice out of Miami and ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Even before Beatty's injury, the Giants said they believed Flowers could one day be a franchise left tackle. That process has been expedited beginning with OTAs, where Flowers lined up with the first team on a new-look offensive line.
He even took additional reps with the second team to cut down on the learning curve as the rookie prepares to play one of the most important positions in the game. Along with safety and second-round pick Landon Collins, Flowers now has his feet wet as he will be expected to produce right away.
2. WR COREY WASHINGTON
As an undrafted rookie out of Newberry, Washington made the roster last year after catching four touchdowns in the preseason, three of which proved to be game-winners. However, that production didn't carry over to the regular season as he caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 14 games.
The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Washington remains an intriguing player entering his second year as he took advantage of increased reps with top receivers Victor Cruz (rehabbing from his 2014 season-ending knee injury) and Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) limited in OTAs. Washington said he wants to prove that he is more than a receiver who just catches jump balls. His quarterback has noticed.
"He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster," Eli Manning said. "And I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades but just kind of adding the complete package to his game."
3. TE JEROME CUNNINGHAM
Like Washington, Cunningham seized an opportunity while a player in front of him was out with injury. Larry Donnell, who had a breakout season in 2014, is dealing with Achilles tendinitis, which resulted in increased work for Cunningham with the first team.
"I'm just out there with the number ones just getting a lot of reps and doing well," Cunningham told Giants.com.
"The first week didn't go so well, wasn't going so smooth, but the second week, [I'm] starting to get comfortable with the offense and starting to move around a lot faster."
Cunningham added: "When [Manning is] looking at me, I can sense that he's going to throw to me, and even if he looks away, I know what I have to do to get open. So if he does come back to me, I can still receive a pass. It's nice to actually get those reps so you can build that chemistry."
4. SAFETY COOPER TAYLOR
With no returning starters at the position, the Giants seized an opportunity to select a safety in the draft, trading up to select All-American Landon Collins out of Alabama. The question then quickly turned to who will be lining up as his backfield mate.
At OTAs, that player was Cooper Taylor, a third-year pro who missed all of last season with a foot injury. The last few weeks have given Taylor a chance to knock off the rust after being away for so long. Meanwhile, second-year safety Nat Berhe did not participate in team portions of OTAs with a calf injury.
"I'm not worrying about [the foot] at all," Taylor said. "Taking that much time off from the game, especially at the NFL level, it's definitely something you've got to get your groove back into. But OTAs are great for that. It's a bunch of learning, especially with the new defense. A lot of guys are picking things up, so it's been a good transition."
5. WR DWAYNE HARRIS
Tom Quinn wasn't the only Giants coach to get excited about the free-agent signing of Harris. The special teams coordinator definitely gained an ace for his unit, but so did offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
Entering his second season with the Giants, McAdoo got his first opportunity to see how he could use Harris, who is looking to carve out a larger role offensively after four seasons in Dallas.
"That is exactly why I chose to come here," Harris said. "They do look at me as a receiver and the things I can do on the offensive end. The things I did in Dallas limited me because I was doing a lot of special team work and then outside of that I was blocking for [running back] DeMarco Murray.
"I was one of the guys who was on the field all the time except when the defense was on the field. Being able to come here and show people I can play receiver and the things I can do when I have the ball in my hands is going to be fun for me. I think it is going to be fun for the organization to see what I can do."
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