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2023 Spring Football

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Wink Martindale quotes Ted Lasso in talking about Deonte Banks

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Moments after the Giants selected cornerback Deonte Banks in the first round of the NFL Draft, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale gave general manager Joe Schoen the kind of forceful bearhug he'd like to see his players execute on the field against opposing ballcarriers.

Banks is a 6-2, 205-pound defender with outstanding coverage and tackling skills. On Thursday, in his first public remarks since the draft, Martindale was asked about the importance of having a corner like Banks in his defense.

"I think it's important to have a cornerback like that in anybody's defense," Martindale said. "He's very instinctive. What's Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He's got a short memory when things don't go right. He's tough minded, he's physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we're excited about it. He's getting into the groove. There're still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we're really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket."

Last year, cornerback Sauce Gardner was the fourth overall selection in the draft and went on to become the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Banks was chosen 24th in April, but Martindale is not looking to weigh him down with onerous probabilities.

"The expectation is that he plays football," Martindale said. "Like I said, I brought up the Ted Lasso quote, that's the way he is. He's a smart kid that is grounded and he doesn't make it bigger than what it is. I'm sure that they're going to catch an eight-yard out on him and everybody's going to be up in arms, but that happens to every corner. We'll be okay. I think the expectation is to go in there and play and play well."

And how about Schoen? Does he still have marks on his back from Martindale's draft room celebration?

"I hope so," Martindale said.

View all the action from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.

*Count offensive coordinator Mike Kafka among those thrilled by the arrival of tight end Darren Waller, who was acquired in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

"He's a really talented player," Kafka said. "He's a great person. He's a really good teammate. That's one thing I've learned about him. He cares about his guys. He's competitive, which we really like. We value that here.

"He's doing everything we're asking him. He's working hard, putting in the time and effort to learn the offense and get in sync with D.J. (Daniel Jones) and the quarterbacks. He's done a great job."

*Speaking of Jones, who had his finest season in 2022, what are the coordinator's expectations for the quarterback in his second year under Brian Daboll and Kafka?

"When we did our scheme eval, each position group identified several things we can look to improve on.

"Nothing specific that I would share in a public forum. Those are things we have a plan for, trying to work through all the little fundamental things. Yeah, we definitely have a plan. The coaches are doing a great job of implementing that in the offseason."

Moments later, responding to another question about Jones, Kafka said, "Any time you can kind of get in the second year of the program, there's familiarity with the verbiage, familiarity with the communication. The conversations happen a lot faster. Now we're working to streamline it, working to be more efficient with it, efficient with the situations that we're asking him to be in, making those decisions."

*Richie James, who had 24 of the Giants' 29 punt returns in 2022, left the team as a free agent. So, who will take that job this year?

"We're trying to find who's going to be the guy," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. "The preseason is going to be important. It's a long way away, but we've got a ton of guys out there catching and they're all working hard and doing what they're supposed to do."

*Martindale and Kafka each interviewed for head coaching positions early in the offseason. The former was a contender for the Indianapolis Colts job that ultimately went to Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.

"Like I said before, it was a great process to go through," Martindale said. "I think anytime you have a chance to talk to a different organization, and especially the owners, it's eye opening, and you can learn things from it. How they see the game, where they see their organization going, so that part was really fulfilling for me. But I've also said that this isn't a steppingstone job here. This is a destination. And I believe that, or I wouldn't say it. That's one thing that (Colts owner) Jim Irsay and I have in common. I'm as authentic as there is, and he made that comment. He said, 'I just love your honesty.' Really, he's the same way. It was a fascinating conversation that we had.

"I just love the fans here. I love this organization, the Mara and Tisch family, Dabs, Joe, the leadership of it and the culture that we're building, and we're continuing to build during these OTAs."

Kafka also interviewed with the Colts, as well as the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. Like Martindale, he is back for a second season with the Giants.

"When those things don't happen, it's kind of the nature of the business," Kafka said. "If they do happen, they do. If they don't, they don't. You move on past it, you learn from it, you grow. No different than I tell any of our players when things happen."

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