Training camp is known for competition. Players thrive off it, coaches encourage it, and fans are excited by it.
One of the closest competitions of the 2014 New York Giants training camp is at the fullback position. It’s Henry Hynoski versus John Conner. The “Hynocerous” versus the “Terminator.”
The two players are statistically even, according to a study done by Bleacher Report, and neither has one strong advantage over the other. It could be a question of who can adapt to new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo’s new system most easily and quickly.
Fourth-year veteran Hynoski thinks that he can be the guy.
Making the Adjustment
“I have actually found it pretty easy. It’s a lot different than what we’ve done here in the past, but I ran similar stuff in college (Pittsburgh),” said Hynoski of the new West Coast offense.
“There are some differences, some of the things we ran in college were with different terminology, that type of thing. Coach McAdoo has been a great teacher, same with (running back coach) Coach (Craig) Johnson, so being able to work with those guys, being able to learn from them, has made the progress really easy for me so far.”
Despite coming off of a 2013 season in which he suffered a knee injury in the team’s first OTA that caused him to miss most of the off-season and preseason, only to return and then suffer a season-ending shoulder injury in the third game, Hynoski is confident in his strengths and not worried about his prior injuries.
“I feel great physically, from my injuries and everything; that’s a second thought now,” Hynoski said. “I am not even thinking about that. I feel in really good shape, really good condition. My weight and my size is where I want it to be at, so I just feel great.”
Hynoski also feels like his strengths match up with the new offense. He views fullback as a multi-faceted job that involves having many different abilities.
“A lot of it has to do with reading,” he said. “As a fullback, you are kind of like a running back. You’ve got to read the flow of the defense, read the holes with the lines opening.”
“With all of the experience I have being a running back in high school, carrying the ball in college, I think it does play into my strengths. They (the Giants) ask the fullback to do more than blocking. You have to run, block, and catch and luckily, I can do all three things pretty well so that’s a perfect mold for this offense.”
Though he is confident in his ability to perform and meet the team’s standards of playing, he always feels that there is room for improvement.
“Nothing is ever good enough,” he said. “I always said, if I have 20 ‘iso’ blocks and I have 20 pancakes, I want to make it harder. If I have 19 pancakes, I want 20. Nothing is ever good enough in my opinion, so I just want to improve in all aspects of my game.”
Given his injury-plagued preseason last year, Hynoski is excited to play in the upcoming training camp. He called last year a motivating one, one that only added fuel to his always burning fire.
“Got to try to hit the ground running”
Getting off to a good start begins in training camp. Hynoski’s goal is to become a well-rounded fullback who can satisfy the many different demands of his position.
“In the past, I was primarily used as a blocker,” Hynoski said. “Don’t get me wrong; that’s what I love doing and that’s the number one priority for a fullback, but I think in this camp, I’ll be able to show my versatility a little more – catch the ball, run the ball a little more also.”
What about the competition that he faces from fellow teammate Conner?
“The bottom line is me and John, we’re friends and we’re teammates,” Hynoski said.
“We’re helping each other because the ultimate goal is to help the team, and if we’re helping each other, and we work together, that’s better for the team. So that’s how we’re approaching it, and I think that that’s the right thing to do.”
The driving force for Hynoski actually exists outside of the football field, albeit not too far away.
Hynoski’s father, Henry Sr., was a 1975 sixth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns. His career was cut short due to injury, but he always remained the younger Hynoski’s inspiration.
“My dad was my idol growing up,” he said. “I always heard the people in my local area say how great my dad was and that’s what made me want to become a football player.”
That admiration that inspired Hynoski to play football still exists today.
“Even if I have a good play in practice, I’ll call my dad at night and he gets excited. It’s still a thrill to me to see me making my dad proud because he was my idol, my whole life. Just to see him, how proud he is of me when I do something, or being in the NFL, it’s a great satisfaction for me.”