EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Corey Washington was the first Giants undrafted rookie to break out in the 2014 preseason, catching the winning touchdown pass in each of the Giants' first four games, including a 73-yarder in the Hall of Fame Game vs. Buffalo. When the five-game preseason concluded, he led the Giants in catches (10), yards (155) and touchdowns (four).
Those figures dwarfed Washington's regular-season production of five receptions, 52 yards and one score.
As the Giants today began their final two weeks of offseason work, Washington expressed confidence he will make a more significant contribution in the games that count in the standings.
"My confidence level is high," Washington said after an organized team activity. "I am gaining Eli (Manning's) trust and coach (Tom Coughlin's) trust and he is throwing me out there with the ones, so I just have got to continue to work and keep it up."
Washington is getting every chance to show what he can do this spring. Victor Cruz has not participated in the drills as he continues to rehabilitate from his knee surgery, and Odell Beckham Jr. has been held out of team drills for two weeks because of hamstring soreness.
"He has had a nice spring," Coughlin said of Washington. "He has worked hard. He has had a good attitude. He has had a smile on his face. He has done most everything we have asked him to do. I think every time he has been called upon he seems to have responded. … I think the opportunities he has had offensively, he has taken full advantage of his year to learn, and I think he has matured a little bit. He has had a solid spring."
Manning, who has thrown numerous passes to Washington, concurs.
"I think Corey has had a good camp," Manning said. "He has made some plays and has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and playing faster. I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades, but (now he is) just kind of adding the complete package to his game. I think that he has had a good camp and done some good things."
Washington is the Giants' tallest receiver at 6-4. To many, that makes him a natural target for Manning close to the goal line, which is a role Washington would love to fill.
"I am not going to speak too fast, but coach is using me a lot down in the red zone, green zone area," Washington said. "I figure I can come in (as the) fourth receiver (and in) goal line and the red zone."
Washington said he has improved significantly since his debut season.
"Everything has slowed down now," he said, "so I am getting adjusted to everything and working on me, working on my craft and helping the team out."
Take a look at Giants WR Corey Washington
Washington has an unconventional background for an NFL receiver. He played two seasons at Georgia Military College and two at Newberry in South Carolina, where he caught 95 passes and scored 22 touchdowns in two seasons. The Arizona Cardinals were impressed enough to sign Washington on May 13 last year. They waived him two weeks later and the Giants claimed him. He soon became one of the most talked-about players in camp.
"I came from Newbury. You probably know where Newbury (is)," he joked with reporters. "I have got to show the coaches that I'm going to keep working and gaining their trust. Like I said, gaining Eli's trust and coach's trust to throw me out there to help this team win games."
If he can do that, Washington could earn a bigger role on the 2015 Giants.
- Middle linebacker Jon Beason, who played in only four games last season before undergoing foot surgery, has been pleased with his progress this spring.
"(I'm) extremely happy," Beason said. "I am able to run around. It feels great. Change of direction feels good. It is literally a non-issue. We are just being smart. I am still limited, just based on the time of year."
Beason said he looks forward to working in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
"As a MIKE backer, the onus is on me to get guys lined up and in the right situation," Beason said. "The good thing about this defense is Coach Spags puts pressure on everybody. Everyone has their own 'OBW's - Oh by way. Little small tidbits that if this happens, that is when we have to be ready for it. The beauty of it is we won't be able to be dictated to. We will be able to get lined up and no matter what they do, we are going to be ready for it. That should cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses."
- The coaches are closely looking at several rookies, notably tackle Ereck Flowers and safety Landon Collins, the team's top two draft choices, who are currently working with the starters.
"There are a bunch of installations," Coughlin said. "When you have an installation and a review, they do fine with that. Add something new and it is a little bit more difficult, so that is how you see it. They have hung in there and worked hard and they are obviously making progress. They have to."
"Everything is slowing down," Collins said. "It is fantastic to be out there with the ones, because those are the guys that know the defense and have been here for a couple years. They are going to have a great understanding of what they see and what is going on in their head is very helpful."
- Beckham continued to participate in individual, but not team, drills.
"Seems to be a little bit better today," Coughlin said. "They did more with him."
Asked if Beckham will participate in the team's minicamp next week, Coughlin said, "I don't know. I only know what they tell me. They probably won't be able to project that until we see this week."
- Second-year safety Nat Berhe continues to miss practice with a calf injury.
"We have been standing here," Coughlin said. "This would have been the ideal time for him. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get to where he can really drive, so it has been very slow."
- Defensive ends Damontre Moore (who missed the first four weeks of the offseason work taking classes at Texas A&M) and Owa Odighizuwa have also missed team drills.
"They are being held back," Coughlin said. "We want to get Damontre in some, but we don't want to do anything that is going to set him back. He may get a little bit more work than he is getting, but not a lot. Owa is being held out. It is a leg."
- Linebackers Jameel McClain (back) and Jonathan Casillas (injection) did not practice today.
Check out the best photos from Monday's practice